With a baby and toddler, traveling can be daunting, especially when kid-friendly doesn't turn out to be baby and toddler friendly.

We've realized what a difference that is, so we are here in hopes to share and learn about the best places to go with our babes and tots in tow.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Charlottesville, VA

My friend's husband is stationed in Charlottesville, Virgina for a year. So we were brainstorming some things to do there while she took turns going back and forth to visit with her three year old daughter.

Last summer, I accompanied my honey for a convention and brought the kiddos for some C'Ville fun. While daddy was working we checked out local playgrounds and parks we discovered while dropping daddy off at the Omni. It is funny how quickly you spot playground equipment once you have children. We also checked out Virginia Discovery Museum located on the east end of the downtown mall. It is right across from the carousel--also a must do with the kiddos. Our son was two at the time and our daughter was only about four or five months old, but the Discovery Museum was a perfect place to kill a few hours with some hands-on, interaction, educational fun. Below are some of the permanent exhibits there.
-Busy Ball Wall
-Observation Beehive
-Barnyard Theater with Dress-Up
-Bernoulli Blower
-The Puppet Tree
-The Showalter Cabin
-Walk-in Kaleidoscope
-Gear Wall
-Rain Forest Hallway
-Wentzscope (large viewing microscope)

There was the amazing light exhibit during our visit and they had a huge lite-brite wall. I was equally impressed as my son, as it brought back fond memories. My son also loved the gear wall and that kept him busy for some time.

Check out some of their other exhibits and the schedule by clicking below.
Virginia Discovery Museum
East End of the Downtown Mall
Post Office Box 1128
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 977-1025

$6 per person, all ages (under 1 year old free)
Children must be accompanied by an adult

Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-5:00
Sunday 1:00-5:00
Closed Mondays


We also took advantage of the outdoor dinning within the downtown mall. There are several fountains you can sit near and it worked like a charm in mesmerizing our son while we ate peacefully.

We also took a trip to Monticello...and the kids fell asleep on the way there...on the 15 minute drive... Isn't that what ALWAYS happens? SO, we chatted a bit in the car and decided to wake our son up and to put our sleeping daughter in the stroller with the car seat. We also decided that a lengthy touring trip of the actual grounds was not in our future on this trip. Did I mention that my son had given up naps at that time? So this unexpected, small nap made him grumpy and mean. Instead of the tour we had envisioned, we took advantage of the Griffin-Discovery room. http://www.monticello.org/site/visit/griffin-discovery-room
It is located on the lower level of the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center, and we discovered by accident. I was bribing my son--go ahead, judge me--we a snack, when we decided to take a walk down a flight of stairs and there was this amazing please touch, child-friendly room that brought some of the highlights of the Monticello tour more in focus for little eyes. I LOVED IT, but more importantly, so did my son, and it was FREE.

It is funny how everything turns out for the best sometimes. I've learned not to fight so hard when things go awry, and this is the perfect example. Not only did my son get to see smaller replicas of items in the Monticello house and slave grounds, but also had enough information for my husband and I to gain some understanding of Monticello too. We had to pry the building blocks away from my son when we left. He did not want to leave the masterpiece he had spent half an hour building. So, all in all, a successful trip for the kiddos and us! The were other kid-friendly activities to do there, but we didn't push our luck that day. Below is a link of more you can do with the kids.


GPS address (otherwise invalid):
931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway
Charlottesville, VA 22902
Gates are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Monticello is open every day of the year, including Sundays, except Christmas

Adults $22(Mar - Oct), $17 (Nov - Feb) $8
Children 6-11, year-round (under 6 free)

Other things to visit while in Charlottesville are the gorgeous grounds of UVA, ice skating ring near the Omni hotel, Carter Mountain Orchard and Thomas Jefferson Parkway and Kemper Park. Things we'll have to hit next time!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Sea-Tac Airport

Seattle has a special place in my heart for a variety of reasons. I grew up in the outskirts of this hip town, back before it was really known for grunge, Microsoft, Starbuck and such. Granted I only lived there when I was a toddler and again from elementary school and middle school, but I have great memories of the good, clean outdoor, family living. I still have many friends there, and my sister and her family live two hours away from Seattle. We actually had the Seattle area on the top of our places to live list. Uncle Sam had other ideas...

These days, Seattle is special to my heart because of Sea-Tac Airport and the kid-friendly activities and art throughout the airport.

There is a 1,400 square foot place space for kids, which is close to the central terminal, behind security. Along with soft play equipment, all in airport theme, there is a family restroom, with rocking chairs for nursing or holding your babies! All clean and all wonderful! Especially delightful for a long delay, or while waiting for a shuttle. It's been on my mind as of lately because I will be heading out that way again very soon.


Also there are art installations all over the airport, fun for both kiddos and parents. My favorite is in Concourse A, there, along the sky is Trimpin's Contraption, "On Monkeys, Matter and the King." I am actually a little confused on the actual name of the piece. I had to do a little search online and think I have it right. I noticed it when I was without kids the first time, then fast forward a few years, and my son noticed it on our trip out to Anacortes to see my sister. Below is an image. It is a multi-media kinetic sculpture. You know, one of those set ups where a ball rolls down a ramp, and lands into a windmill, then onto a bear that bicycles and moves the gears...a domino style, cause and effect experiment...you get the kind of art. Can you tell I only took art history in college and besides looking at it in various mediums, in various museums, I have no skill in the area? Anyhow, I just love this kind of art-incredibly innovative, creative and so mesmerizing.

Below are some links to some images of the exhibit.



And here is a link to other art in Sea-Tac Airport.


Do you know of any other airports that are kid-friendly? I'd love to hear about it!