Everything is WICKED awesome at Legoland Discovery Center Boston.

Everything is WICKED awesome at Legoland Discovery Center Boston.

Great news for Lego lovers–Legoland Discovery Center Boston opened at Assembly Row in Somerville on May 23! Contributing writer Nicole Estrella had a sneak peak and shares her family adventure below. – Anisa

DSC_0003I know driving into Boston can intimidate some folks but it is very easy to get to the Legoland Discovery Center. It is directly off the highway. There will be a T stop on the orange line  sometime later this year and we all know its always more fun to ride the T.

I pulled up to Assembly Row with the three kids with so much excitement that we almost parked illegally.  It must have been Tessie the giant Lego giraffe that distracted us.

Once we got the parking situation handled we ran to the door.  A first sight is a  very colorful and bright room exploding with Lego decor. Again, its wicked awesome.DSC_0052

Admission is a bit of investment but covers all the fun inside: $18 for children ages 3 to 12 and $22.50 for children 13 and over.

Your adventure begins with a factory tour for some very important information by Bonnie and Bertie. After you are given the 411 you move on to build your own mini figure inside a futuristic circular room surrounded by super sized screens.

Here comes what I thought was the best attraction, Kingdom Quest Laser Ride ! DSC_0019WHOOO HOOO this was totally awesome. Hop into your chariot and get ready to laser blast the baddies. Your mission if you choose to accept it is to  rescue the princess.  My face is totally serious in this picture because I took this mission very seriously. Game face ON!  I got beaten by four children under the ages of 9. I am used to it.

The ride was over, and it was time to move on to the next Legoriffic room which was miniland.  Miniland is a replica of Boston built out of Legos. It is an interactive display filled with touch screens and sound effects.  Every Red Sox fan will delight in the Fenway Stadium of Legos!DSC_0024

Miniland opens up into a giant room with lots of different stations to enjoy the many ways you can play with Legos. Some of the play stations are Lego Racers Build and Test,  The Lego City Play Zone,  Lego 4D Cinema, The Lego Friends House, Merlins Apprentice Ride and for smaller children The Lego Duplo Farm.

This room is a wide open space so if you have more than one child it feels pretty safe to let them separate.  I bring four kids under 9 wherever I go so I have to be able to trust that any place we attend is safe. I jokingly said out loud that I lost a kid, she wasn’t really lost, and immediately a staff member said we have a procedure for that.

The first thing we noticed was the the super awesome fun  Merlin’s Apprentice Ride. Of course I only had one child big enough to ride by herself so if you do the math that leaves me with two other children who do not have a grown up to ride.  The dilemma was avoided when two wonderful staff members hopped on the ride with each one of my kids.

Around and around we went pedaling as fast as we could to get our seats to fly into the sky. There was nothing but big smiles all around, including this mommy’s smile. I guaranteed all the mommies and daddies will love this ride too.

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Remember what I said about the giant room feelings safe, good thing because poof they were off.  Legoland Discovery Center Boston has an area to tailor to every child’s interest.

I had one child that ran to play in the adorable Lego Friend House

I had two that ran towards the Racers Build & Test.

And one that headed to straight to the bathroom. Isn’t that the way it always happens? The funny part is she loved the bathroom. Can you blame her?

A little while after the kids were done in their separate areas they all reconvened in the City Play Zone.  I tried to sneak in behind the kids but I was stopped. No grown ups allowed. Bummer.

Remember to bring socks, you can not play barefoot in the City Play Zone. If you do happen to forget then you can purchase a pair for $1.

There is a cute cafe located inside the main play room as well.  You may not bring outside food so be sure to eat before you go if you want to avoid having to purchase food.

The last attraction of the day for us was the 4D cinema. We saw Spell Breakers. The kids loved it, they were laughing and trying to grab the Legos that popped out of the screen.  I warn you you will get wet.

Some of us moms and dads, eh hem, still love to play. Legoland will be offering adult night each third Wednesday of the month starting in June. I wonder if they will let me in the City Play Zone then.

DSC_0051The kids and I agree  that everything is WICKED AWESOME at Legoland Discovery Center Boston. To ensure your visit at Legoland Discovery Center Boston (tickets do sell out!), purchase your tickets online prior to your visit here: Legoland Discovery Center Boston ticket.

Family Adventure: Boston Duck Tour

Family Adventure: Boston Duck Tour

I think I have maybe posted one or two photos on Instragram, ever.  I’m more of a Facebook gal.  But when the New England Aquarium posted their Instagra m photo contest to Facebook to celebrate World Oceans Day, I couldn’t resist the topic: Submit a picture that exemplified how your family “lived blue.”  I actually won with a picture of my daughter learning the basics of surfing on a paddleboard with the quote, you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf. WOW! I never win anything.

Boston Duck Tour KidoinfoAlthough we have always wanted to go on the Boston Duck Tours for years, the cost of tickets (plus parking) is a bit expensive for our budget. So I was thrilled to have won the tickets for my entire family: The Duck Tour (a guided tour of Boston via land and sea) was AWESOME! The tour guide provides a history lesson for all the passengers while driving by the sites.  It’s a lesson that is an experience. It is so much more fun than just reading word for the kids.  We learned about historical events that took place as we passed by the events actual location. We learned about heroic figures such Paul Revere, Sam Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

Our tour started at The New England Aquarium which is located on what is considered Long Wharf.  It is a beautiful spot located on the Harbor. As soon as all the passengers are aboard and take a seat, the tour guide first lets us know that it is customary to quack at any other Duck Tour vehicles going by. Lucky for us parents, NOT, the children are handed these lovely plastic shaped beaks that quack.  The tour starts off on the road and takes the passengers all over the city of Boston.

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The kids were peaking their heads out of the side of the truck. It was such a gorgeous day with the sun shining and the breeze off of the Harbor. They were looking up at the tall buildings and trying taking in everything at once.

I was particularly excited that we drove by The Frog Pond because I have wanted to take the kids ice skating there. In the summer the Frog Pond has a wading pool and lots of events for the kids. I have never been to the Boston Commons so it was nice to drive around it and get an idea of the entire lay of the land. The Boston Common also offers lots of events and activities for families so be sure to check it out.

We drove by other sites such as the Massachusetts State House (old and new), The Boston Museum of Science, Quincy Market and a protected piece of the Berlin Wall. As we drove around you noticed lots of families walking and enjoying splashing in water fountains.

After the land part of the tour the vehicle entered the Charles River.  The kids were all smiles as the vehicle morphed from a land to sea vehicle.  Upon the Charles River we learned more history of the water ways and how it has evolved. All the children on the tour even got a chance to drive the boat! Our tour guide was exceptionally good with the children.

While on the Charles River we passed by the Community Boating center where we got a view of children during their sailing lessons and an unsuccessful windsurfer who lost his balance.  We quacked at other boaters going by. At the end of water tour we saw the spot which is to become The Charles River Skate Park which will be the biggest skate park in the US!

Our family loved the entire experience.

The Boston Duck Tour, albeit a bit pricey, is well worth the money. I would recommend it to any family who would like to take an adventure in Boston. I loved the “Dirty Water.”

Helpful Hints + Resources:

 

Win a trip to see the Boston Red Sox on April 28!

Win a trip to see the Boston Red Sox on April 28!

 Kidoinfo is giving away one ticket to two winners to see the Red Sox v Astros on April 28! (Details below.)

Just announced! Buy 1 (ticket package) get 1 free! Buy one package at $109 you will get 2 for the price of one. All packages include bus service across the street from Fenway, Grandstand Ticket, snacks on the bus, plus pizza after the game. To reserve your space on the bus, call at 877-641-9122 or email tripleader@justenjoyyourself.com.

Take a family road trip (by way of a fun bus) to see the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Sunday, April 28th with Just Enjoy! travel group.

614941_272906992815762_1302143780_oWatching a game at Fenway Park is pure magic–the open field, the crack of the bat, and the cheering crowd when the Red Sox score a run! Make memories with your kids that will last a lifetime when you watch the Red Sox take on the venerable Astros in an early-season matchup. Just Enjoy! believes that a day at the ballpark should be fun, hassle-free, and AFFORDABLE so they have put together an awesome bus package designed with family fun in mind.

334943_272904789482649_1751693357_oJust Enjoy! has thought of everything one needs for a perfect game day excursion, including Grandstand ticket (upgrades available), round-trip coach bus service (convenient pick-up RI locations), snacks and entertainment for the ride, and pizza after the game–major league excitement!

621899_272906002815861_192591180_oThe Details
Red Sox v Astros Fenway Park Family Package
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Game starts at 1:35pm
Bus pickup: Various Park & Ride locations around Rhode Island
Tickets: $109 per adult and $79 for children (age 10 and under).
Just Enjoy’s fantastic family discount: Buy 3 tickets, get half off the 4th!

Just-Fun-Kidoinfo
CONTEST DETAILS
Want to win a ticket? Submit your name in the comments below with the name of your favorite sports snack!
We will randomly select 2 winners. Each winner will receive one ticket (includes: Grandstand ticket, round-trip coach bus service, snacks and entertainment for the ride, and pizza after the game).
Deadline to enter to win: Noon EST, Monday April 22, 2013
Winners will be notified by 11pm EST, Monday April 22, 2013

36 + Hours in Providence with Kids

36 + Hours in Providence with Kids

Since Providence is such a cool place to hang with kids, we love sharing our favorite family-friendly things to do in the area on a regular basis. Although the recent New York Times article, “36 Hours in Providence, R.I” mentions many fab things to do and see in the city, it’s not tailored for families, prompting me to update my Kidoinfo post from 2007, “36 Hours in Providence (with Kids).”

I’ve a packed a lot into the weekend and I know in reality that children need naps, nourishment, and places to roam. Although you may only want a playground and a family friendly place to eat, I provide plenty of options depending on the weather, the age of your kids, and your sense of adventure. Have fun playing in Providence!

FRIDAY

Afternoon
Play at the lovely shaded Brown Street Park (corner of Brown Street and Creighton Street) on the East Side. Interesting collection of climbing / play structures and cool programming for kids of all ages. Visit the Friends of Brown Street Park website to see current schedule of events. (FREE)

More places to play: Top 5 Favorite Green Spaces in the Providence area.

Dinner
Grab a slice of pizza from Antonio’s or a burrito from Gordito Burrito (256 Thayer Street). These two yummy food spots conveniently share a space with casual counter service and a mix of tables and bar stools.

Evening
Take a stroll down Thayer Street for people watching, book stores, and funky shops. Have a frozen treat from FroYo (219 Thayer Street ) or Ben and Jerry’s (237 Meeting Street). Depending on the age of your kids and what’s playing watch an indie film at The Avon Cinema (260 Thayer Street) or nearby at the Cable Car Cinema (204 South Main Street) or skip the stroll and head over to Providence Children’s Museum (100 South Street in the Jewelry District) for MetLife Family Friday — Free at Five! The Museum is open free of charge every Friday evening through Labor Day from 5 – 8 pm.

SATURDAY

Morning
Have coffee on the patio outside at Seven Stars (820 Hope Street), while the kids eat ginger star cookies and watch the birds. If it’s summer, skip the cafe and head over to the Hope Street Farmer’s Market in Lippitt Park (corner of Hope Street and Blackstone Boulevard). Sip coffee from New Harvest Coffee Roasters and savor pastries from the Seven Stars or Olga’s Cup and Saucer booths. Children can meet the farmers, sample the food, play in the playground, frolic near the fountain, and listen to music under the trees while parents soak up the social scene and buy food to pack for a later picnic lunch.

Take a walk through Swan Point Cemetery (585 Blackstone Boulevard), and find the resting place of famous souls like science fiction pioneer H. P. Lovecraft. Incorporate a history lesson, play name games, and sharpen math skills. (FREE)

Lunch
Have a picnic lunch at Roger Williams National Memorial (RWNM) (282 North Main Street). A small lovely landscaped urban park located on a common lot of the original settlement of Providence, Rhode Island, by Roger Williams in 1636. The memorial commemorates the life of the co-founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and a champion of the ideal of religious freedom. (FREE)

Afternoon
Visit the RISD Museum (20 North Main Street), three blocks from RWNM. Find the Alexander Calder, the sarcophagus, and the Buddha. Museum admission is FREE the last Saturday of the month and pay-what-you-wish every Sunday from 10 am-1 pm. If it’s open, visit the RISD’s Nature Lab (around the corner at 13 Waterman Street). You and your kids will get to see an amazing variety of specimens on display, including birds, bears, and bones. (FREE)

Visit the children’s room in one of America’s oldest libraries: Providence Athenaeum (251 Benefit Street). (FREE)

If the kids still have energy, play at India Point Park (at the end of Gano Street on the East Side). Great climbing structures, beautiful mosaic mural, lots of room to run around, and lovely off-shore breezes. (FREE)

Dinner
Have delicious sweet or savory crepe at the Duck and Bunny (312 Wickenden Street). If the weather is nice dine in the private back garden or enjoy a yummy Ethiopian meal at Abyssinia (333 Wickenden Street) where you eat by scooping your food with bread rather than utensils.

Evening
Experience Waterfire in downtown Providence. (Check website for schedule.) This award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence includes over eighty sparkling bonfires for a full lighting and enchanting music from around the world. Visitors stroll the paths of Waterplace Park alongside the rivers enchanted by street performers and other magical surprises along the way. Free but donations accepted. Get there just before sunset to watch the bonfires being lit. (FREE)

Take a walk through Burnside Park. (Situated in downtown Providence, adjacent to Kennedy Plaza.) Visit the fountain and check out the statue of Ambrose Burnside, a general in the American Civil War from Rhode Island. Trivia: His distinctive style of facial hair is now known as sideburns, derived from his last name.

Visit the window displays outside Big Nazo Lab (60 Eddy Street, across from Providence City Hall). If you’re lucky you may get a sneak peak inside. Caution: The puppets may be scary for some kids. (FREE)

SUNDAY

Breakfast
Have a hearty breakfast at the hip artsy Julians (318 Broadway) located on the West Side. Best to arrive early or come prepared with snacks and games for the kids while you wait for a table at this popular restaurant. And make sure you take a trip the bathroom with your children to see the Star Wars figure collection.

Morning
Visit the Dexter Training Ground (73 Dexter Street), a 9-acre city park on the West Side. Plenty of open space and shady spots for free play. The park is located next to the Cranston Street Armory (310 Cranston Street). The massive castle-like structure was built in 1907 and may spark your children’s imagination with stories of knights and maidens. Popular with the film industry, the armory has been used for a number of films including Underdog. (Click here for directions to take the Providence Underdog tour.) (FREE)

Lunch
Eat pizza outside at Geppetto’s Grilled Pizzeria (57 Depasquale Square) in Depasquale Square on Historic Federal Hill. Then stop at the fountain and make a wish as you throw in a coin. Or if still full from breakfast, skip lunch and have gelato from Venda  Ravioli (265 Atwells Avenue).

Afternoon
Visit Roger Williams Park (1000 Elmwood Avenue). The park’s 435 acres feature over 100 acres of ponds that weave their way through the rolling landscape. Major attractions include the nationally-recognized Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, the Botanical Center, the Carousel Village, and the Temple to Music. Imitate the animals at the zoo, watch a space show at the Planetarium, and play in the Hasbro playground, a totally accessible playground for all ages and abilities located near the historic carousel in the Carousel Village.

Dinner
Dine at Apsara (716 Public Street), located off the beaten path not far from Roger Williams Park. The affordable eclectic menu includes Cambodian, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, and Chinese. BYOB. (Note, this is not the same as Apsara on Hope Street).

For more things to do in and around Providence, read the Kidoinfo List of 100 things to do or the Kidoinfo A-list.
 Please tell us how you would spend some or all of your 36 hours in Providence with your children.

 

Family Matters: Summer Staycations

Family Matters: Summer Staycations

Some of the best summer fun can be had close to home. Plan some staycation outings for August. Photo: Mood Board Photography.

Staycations have become a fashionable necessity during these days of higher gas prices and reduced work weeks, unemployment, or the fear of losing a job. For many, the idea of a pricey vacation is simply out of the question and for others this may be a preferred way to explore your community. Enjoy this list of ideas I originally wrote for the Kidoinfo Staycation Guide.

RISD Museum of Art

Museums, observatories, planetariums, zoos, and aquariums.

You may already have a favorite zoo or museum but for staycation fun, visit someplace new or revisit the familiar by starting at a different entrance or exhibit to see things you typically miss. Some places also offer sleepovers or special tours. Check if the venue has reduced entrance fees one day a week or a reciprocal arrangement with a place where you already hold a membership (e.g., one zoo membership may allow you into other zoos for free). Libraries often have free or discount passes to a number of local venu

Bonus Activity: Have kids keep a log of all the venues you visit, listing their favorite thing they did or saw.

Mini-adventures close to home

Plan a hike with your kids. Start at the local nature center to gather maps of local trails. In Rhode Island, the Audubon Center of Rhode Island has a number of wildlife refuges located all over the state. These trails are free and open to the public and offer trails of different lengths and levels. Local parks also provide many places to explore. One of our favorite ways to explore nature is to go letterboxing or geocaching, activities that combines the elements of hiking and treasure hunting.
Bonus Activity 1: Make/Design your own letterbox.
Bonus Activity 2: Play backyard bingo

How to be tourists in your own state

Although kids may go on tours as part of a school field trip, you may be able to arrange a special outing for your family or for your playgroup friends to get a behind-the-scenes look at a local business. Call ahead to find out if the business is willing to give you a tour and make arrangements. Tours ideas include: fire stations, police stations, movie theaters, television, radio stations, or newspaper facilities, ice cream shops, sports stadiums and farms.
Bonus Activity: Send a thank-you card. Have your kids draw, write, or include a picture of their favorite part of the tour.

Read more on GoLocalProv. Every week I share tips on how families can make the most of their family time – including helpful hints that make parenting easier and connecting you to great local happenings.

Family Matters: 4 Great Summer Activities (3 for Under $10!)

Family Matters: 4 Great Summer Activities (3 for Under $10!)

Summer weekends are stretching out before us, and before we know it all the kidos will be on vacation. Here are four of my favorite ways to have a local adventure with the family… for about $10 (or less!).

Rhode Island’s carousels

There are many lovely carousels, most of them historic, located around the state. Plan to visit all this summer…. see if you can visit all the major ones before Labor Day.  Where: Providence, East Providence, Watch Hill, Pawtucket, and Newport (as well as nearby Fall River, MA, Attleboro, MA).
COST: $1 — $2 per ride. Get details here: Carousels around Rhode Island.

WaterFire

It’s a bit different every single time, it never gets old for kids of all ages and best of all, it’s free. Fires are always lit at sunset, and for older kids, things wind down close to midnight (which is a quieter, magical time). WaterFire,Where: Along the river, Downtown Providence, COST: FREE

Summer Reading Program

Rhode Island’s Summer Reading Program varies in specifics from library to library but in general incentives are provided to encourage children to read a book each week such as weekly raffles, free admission passes to 13 places like the Roger Williams Park Zoo and the Providence Children’s Museum for each book read, and prizes and a party at the end. There will be approximately 240 performances this year by storytellers, entertainers and educators, along with crafts, activity sheets, and many special theme-related events to encourage continued participation throughout the summer.
COST: FREE. Some of the performances may require pre-registration but these events are usually fabulous, free and open to the public. Check library for details. Get more details here: Summer Reading Program.

Polo (yes, polo)

It may be the sport of kings, but here in Rhode Island, kids go for FREE. The Newport International Polo Series, takes place every Saturday throughout the summer and early fall, at 5:00 pm in June, July, August and at 4:00 pm in September.  The matches are open to the public, and take place on the polo grounds of historic Glen Farm in Portsmouth, on the outskirts of Newport. Tickets are available at the gate on the day of the match. Tailgate picnics are welcome with field-side general admission for lawn seating or grandstand seating.
COST: $12/adult and kids up to the age of 15 are free. Get details here: The Newport International Polo Series.