Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fort Medford at Bob Meyer Park

Location: 2 Commonwealth Rd. (Off Gravelly Hollow Rd), Medford
Bathrooms: Yes
Eating area: YES 
Attractions: Native American themed playground,Basketball courts, baseball/softball fields
Wheelchair Accessible Playground: YES

Click on any of the pictures for a closer view!

After being cooped up in the house due to Hurricane Irene, we were all itching to get out and play outside without wind, water, and threats of tornadoes! Thankfully, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day to explore the Fort Medford playground and the new wheelchair accessible playground at Bob Meyer Memorial Park.

Fort Medford is actually two playgrounds in one. The first is the original Fort Medford, a Native American themed wooden playground complete with teepees, totem poles,and Native American decor. The other is the "J and I Samost", the more recent and modern wheelchair accessible playground. Both playgrounds will occupy your children for HOURS!

Fort Medford

Fort Medford is the wooden playground with lots of nooks and crannies for your children to hide.  My son hid so well that I grew a little frantic when he didn't answer my calls. Finally, he emerged from his "best hiding place, ever!"

My kids LOVED the large sandbox (note to self...next time bring sand toys!). There is another sandbox in the handicap accessible playground as well.   Off of the sandbox area is a place called "Tot Corral" where the baby swings reside and an additional fenced in area for the little ones.

 The teepees were a hit! The kids were playing "house" and pretending to cook and had fun eating their snacks inside like it was a tent!

 The kids had so much fun on the numerous slides, the wooden bridges, the hidden tire swing, rockin' canoe, and so many other areas! I think the sign on one part of the playground says it all, this is a playground where your kids will become explorers and discover a whole new world of fun!

J and I Samost Wheelchair Accessible Playground

To the left of Fort Medford you will find "Burlington County's First 100% Handicapped Accessible Playground" with its large wide ramps, special swings, easily accessible equipment at various heights, and rubberized surface that is good for wheelchairs, walkers, and kids falling down! This is truly a park where kids of all abilities can play together.

My kids had ball with the various rock walls, the sandbox, the sway chair, and making music on the drums! Another really cute addition is a hidden puppet show area. Another note to self...bring toys for the kids to put on shows!

 Click on the collage for a larger view

At this area of the playground you will also find the covered pavilion with several picnic tables set up.  It was the perfect place to have snack/lunch and to take cover from the sun! A little bit behind this playground is a path leading to the bathrooms.  When we went, the bathrooms were locked, however, I am assured by several of the moms present at the park that day, that the bathrooms are usually open. 

The covered pavilion, great for playdates and birthday parties!

My only complaint was the maintenance of the park. It and the surrounding fields, are in need of a good mowing, weed picking, new mulch and a general clean up. It always saddens me to see awesome playgrounds, that must have cost a good penny, to go into disrepair. After talking to several moms at the park, they had said this has been brought up several times, yet nothing has been done. One mom said that someone had come out to pick the weeds, yet a large pile of those weeds was still in view and within reach of the kids.  I know towns are facing budget woes, but the cost of letting a playground fall into ruin, seems to me, more costly than putting forth daily maintenance. I will be visiting again and will hope to report that the playground has been attended to and refreshed. Should this keep you from playing at this playground? No, but maybe if more people bring this to the attention of the powers that be, maybe something will be done.

  • Bring sand toys.  The sandboxes are a big hit and your kids could play in them for hours with some toys, buckets and shovels.
  • Bring puppets or stuffed animals and have the kids put on a show at the puppet show area
  • There are plenty of picnic tables and seating for a birthday party, but you will need to check with the Medford Parks and Recreation for information on possible reservations.
  • Bring sunscreen...most of the playground is in the sun
  • Don't forge the wipes...I did! My kids were playing in sandbox and were very sandy. Wish I had wipes to clean them and their clothes a little.
  • Bring a bat, and any ball and play in the fields (if not in use)
See you at the Fort!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Just My 2 Cents: The Weekend's Best Picks (Aug. 27 and 28)

So much to do this weekend (Saturday August 27 and Sunday August 28) ! Here are just a FEW of my favorites. Make sure to check the Family Penny Pincher calendar for event details and for additional events happening this weekend! Also, with the impending storm, these events are subject to cancellation.

Saturday, August 27th
Farmer's Markets 
  •  Hurricane Party at Nest 1301 Locust St. (Philadelphia) Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. FREE. Flock to Nest  for a Hurricane Party and take shelter in the 3,000 sq ft playspace. Free to all. Jam with musician, Jay Sands as he preforms Calypso with steel drums in the playspace starting at 1pm, create your own lei in the art studio, dance the "Hoola" in the dance studio, and enjoy free food and beverages provided by Plenty. UPDATED: Due to the severity #Irene our party is today (Sat. Aug. 27th) only. So "hurri" over & get 15% off all Fall classes, music, dance, arts & crafts and our 3000sf playspace!
  • Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic Local Lowe's Stores. Saturday at 10am. FREE. This weekend build and decorate a school locker with stickers, chalkboard and chalk.
  • Princess Royal Craft Event: Local Disney Stores. 10:30 to 1pm. FREE. Visit Disney Store for an enchanting craft activity. The story begins with you... dress up your favorite Disney Princess or create a new Disney Princess, then write her "happily ever after" story.
  • Lakeshore Learning Craft: Local Lakeshore Learning Stores.  11am to 3pm. FREE. Make a honeybee hive.Guaranteed to make a buzz among kids, this made-to-hang honeybee hive is swarming with worker bees.


Sunday, August 28th
Most attractions are closing on Sunday due to the impending Hurricane.

Hurricane Party at Nest 1301 Locust St. (Philadelphia) Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. FREE. Flock to Nest  for a Hurricane Party and take shelter in the 3,000 sq ft playspace. Free to all. Jam with musician, Jay Sands as he preforms Calypso with steel drums in the playspace starting at 1pm, create your own lei in the art studio, dance the "Hoola" in the dance studio, and enjoy free food and beverages provided by Plenty.
UPDATED: Due to the severity #Irene our party is today (Sat. Aug. 27th) only. So "hurri" over & get 15% off all Fall classes, music, dance, arts & crafts and our 3000sf playspace!

Have a great weekend and keep safe!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cape May County Park and Zoo

Location: Cape May Courthouse, NJ (directions)
Bathrooms: Yes
Eating area: Yes (can reserve picnic areas and gazebo for special events for a fee)
Parking: Yes and free
Attractions: Over 550 live animals, World of Birds and Reptile House, Pathway to Diversity, playgrounds
Around the area: Town and beaches of Historic Cape May and other beach towns
 Fee: FREE (donations are greatly appreciated)

A trip to the Jersey shore is not complete without visiting the Cape May County Park and Zoo. It also makes a great day trip! The recent beautiful weather was just perfect to pack some lunches, load the kids into the car, and view the animals running wild (I mean the lions, tigers, and bears...not my kids!).

We drove nearly an hour and a half with the windows down, viewing tons of farmland, farm stands, garden centers, and antique stores (couldn't help but make a few pit stops to check out the merchandise!). We arrived at the zoo right around 11am and found plenty of parking in their free parking lot.   

The park is over 200 acres (85 acres being the zoo) with so much to offer! You will find two playgrounds with benches, walking and biking paths, covered pavilions (available for reserving for a fee), and the gazebo by the lake.  All areas are great for having a picnic or a snack before or after visiting the animals.  There is a Safari Cafe selling food and there are a number of stations inside the zoo selling drinks. However, NO food is permitted in the zoo. Our kids enjoyed the two playgrounds while my husband and I rested on a nearby bench in the shade. Both playground areas have swings, slides, and climbing equipment and plenty of seating.
The playground area designated for older kids

The younger (under 5) kids playground
Undeniably, the main attraction of the park is the zoo. It features over 550 animals displayed in a very unique natural-like setting. The zoo is located in a forested area, so the trees provide lots of shade which is very much appreciated on a hot day! The "boardwalks" lead you through the North American forest creating a sense of calm and relaxation, but also anticipation and excitement as to what you will find as you wander deeper into the forest! Before you know it you have reached the African plains and you are so close to the giraffes and zebras!

Entrance to the African Plains!

View of the giraffe

close up of zebra
We also really enjoyed the lush tropics in the World of Birds enclosed free flight aviary. Wow! We saw all kinds of really interesting birds flying right above our heads!
 And of course, the Reptile House...filled with snakes, turtles, and the famous Albino Alligator was fascinating to everyone except my husband who LOATHES reptiles!
The amazing number and variety of animals kept the attention of my little ones and they were so excited to see more. They LOVED feeding the goats at the farm animals exhibit, seeing the crocodiles swimming, coming almost eyeball to eyeball with a bear, viewing the bald eagles, and laughing at the crazy monkeys!  Here are some of the other animals you can expect to see in this slideshow:

The Cape May Zoo is one of our favorite zoos for a number of reasons.  First, it is affordable being FREE! Second, it is not overwhelming and you are able to view the entire zoo in about 3 hours, and third, the zoo exhibits are unique in that they are shown in a natural state within areas of untouched forest. This zoo is definitely worth the trip!

  • The zoo is not open late (10am to 4:45 in the summer and closes at 3:45 in the winter), so I suggest getting there early. As with other zoos, the animals are more lively in the morning when it is cooler than in the hot afternoon sun. 
  • Pack a lunch.  The fact that the zoo is in a park with plenty of eating areas, it makes the best place to have a picnic. Remember you cannot bring food into the zoo. 
  • Bring hand sanitizer.  All the kids love to feed the animals and there are two areas with coin operated food machines. While there are hand sanitizer stations available, I don't think they are close enough to the touch zoo.  By the time, we got to the station, my daughter already had her thumb in her mouth! I should have had sanitizer immediately following the feeding!
  • Print out the map! (here is another map)I think the zoo's layout can be a little confusing and sometimes have you wondering if we went down certain walkways.  Also, trying to find the bathrooms seemed like a chore. Familiarize yourself with the layout ahead of time.
  • Use the bathrooms when you first enter the park! The bathroom facilities are located right before you enter the zoo and another bathroom facility is near the tiger exhibit.  Make sure everyone uses the bathroom before heading to the African plains...its a long walk back!
  • You might to bring a few dollars for the Wildlife carousel and Butterfly Junction Train Station.  They are two dollars per ticket.  I like that they are tucked off to the side of the entrance and exit, because if you maneuver just right your kids just might not see them!
Hope you have wild time!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just My 2 Cents: The Weekend's Best Picks!

So much to do this weekend (Saturday August 20 and Sunday August 21st) ! Here are just a FEW of my favorites. Make sure to check the Family Penny Pincher calendar for event details and for additional events happening this weekend

Saturday, August 20th

  • American Indian Corn Roasting Festival: Briar Brush Nature Center (Abington, PA ) 9:30am to 3:30pm. FREE. Experience traditional American Indian dancing, signing, and   drumming during the 31st annual Roasting Ears of Corn Festival at  the Museum of Indian Culture. The day is yours to peruse the  marketplace for handmade arts and crafts, watch flint knapping and traditional cooking demonstrations and even learn to throw a tomahawk. Briar Bush educator and Lenape expert Ehren Gross recants his own personal stories, further immersing you in the culture of the first Pennsylvanians. Bring a lunch or buy traditional American Indian foods like corn soup and Kiowa fry bread. 
  • Collingswood Crafts and Fine Art Festival (Collingswood, NJ) 10am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday 11am to 5pm. FREE. Haddon Avenue in downtown Collingswood will host nearly 200 craft and fine artists from throughout the United States. Respected artists will present juried contemporary works in wood, clay, glass, metal and fiber: the newest in hand crafts and exciting visual art. 
  •  National Geographic Little Explorers Lions (Local Pottery Barn Kids Stores) 10 am. FREE. Pottery Barn Kids is bringing the science museum experience to their stores!  Kids ages 3 & up will learn about lions, tigers, and other big cats through hands-on activities, songs, and more!  Children will receive a badge for every event they attend and kids who attend both events this season will get a special prize while supplies last.
  • Riverfront FamilyFest (Wilmington, DE) 11am to 4pm. FREE. Horizon Services' Riverfront FamilyFest is a free, fun event for families with kids of all ages that turns Riverfront Wilmington into a playground for the day.  
  • FREE Ticket to Camden Riversharks Game! (Campbell's Field, Camden) Saturday at 5:35pm and Sunday at 1:05pm. FREE. The Rivershaks will be hosting a book drive all weekend. Any fan who brings three new or gently used books to the box office from August 19th to August 21st will receive free admission to a Riversharks game. Fireworks at the Saturday Game and kids can run the bases. Sunday is Sundae Sunday!
Sunday, August 21st
  •  Phillies Blood Drive (Citizen's Bank Park, Philadelphia) 6am to 2pm. FREE.
    The event, held in partnership with the American Red Cross, is being held to meet the critical need for blood this summer and offers presenting donors some rare opportunities such as all presenting blood donors will receive a Special Event Shane Victorino Jersey Style T-Shirt, several lucky donors will be randomly selected to be a Phillies VIP Fan at an upcoming home game, featuring a photo on the field during batting practice, tickets, among others, opportunity to take photos with the 2008 World Series Trophy (please bring a camera) and the chance to mingle with the Phillie Phanatic and more! Fans are asked to pre-register to donate blood at www.redcrossblood.org/phillies or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. Great cause!
  • Living History Sundays at Pottsgrove Manor (Pottstown, PA) 1pm to 4pm. $2 per person. On Sunday afternoons during the month of August, Pottsgrove Manor’s living history volunteers will demonstrate 18th century trades, crafts, and pastimes. You may even get to join in!Featured activities will include drilling with Revolutionary War soldiers, learning about their gear, and helping them roll cartridges; learning how to "make your mark" with ink and a quill pen; and churning butter.

  • Brandywine River Museum (Chadds Ford, PA) FREE Admission from 9:30am to 12pm. Exhibiting American art in a 19th-century grist mill, the Brandywine River Museum is internationally known for its unparalleled collection of works by three generations of Wyeths and its fine collection of American illustration, still life and landscape painting.

  • Bucks County Zoo (Warminster, PA) Kids (13 yrs and younger) FREE Admission for kids from 11am to 4pm. Adults $9.  The facility is a 5,000 sq. ft. indoor zoological exhibit housing over 60 animals, including tropical birds, raptors, primates, exotic cats, mammals from around the world, arachnids, reptiles including crocodiles, alligators, giant pythons, lizards and tortoises, and amphibians.
Have a great weekend!

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    Delaware Museum of Natural History

    Location: Wilmington, DE (directions)
    Bathrooms: Yes
    Eating area: YES, inside cafeteria and outdoor patio
    Parking: Yes and free
    Attractions: life-sized dinosaurs, sea-life and shell exhibit, nature trail and butterfly garden
     Fee: ONE DOLLAR every Tuesday in August!!

    Last Tuesday, the day of the terrible storms and possible sighting of a funnel cloud in Wilmington, I took the kids for the first time to the Delaware Museum of Natural History.  I know, that probably wasn't the best timing, but that is what you get when you don't check the weather!

    Anyways, the trip to the museum was a super easy one hour drive. We arrived at the Museum just as the first drops began to fall, but were still able to find plenty of free parking in their amble parking lot.  I was able to snap this picture right outside the museum before the rain became too heavy!

    You enter the Museum under a replica of a giant squid and immediately come face to face with the giant head of T Rex, everyone's favorite dinosaur, right? My son squealed in delight and ran to give the "Terrible Lizard"a great big kiss!

    Our first stop was the Dinosaur Gallery and Hall of Birds. The kids were amazed to see these large dinosaurs towering above them! My computer obsessed daughter (Gee, wonder who she gets that from?) played on the computers and made her own dinosaurs and my son made friends with the  Parasaurolophus head!

    Next, we ventured into the new special exhibit called "Turtle Travels" (available until Sept. 5th). The museum describes this as an interactive exhibit that, "offers a turtle’s-eye view of life in the slow lane. Follow a turtle’s footprints on a life-size board game and explore firsthand what it’s like to be a turtle facing habitat challenges" My kids really liked this part of the museum a lot! We viewed live turtles up close, read books on turtles, and pretended to be a turtle.  Kids can run, play and touch everything in this area! It was a lot of fun!

    Next, we made our way to the Shell Gallery which has a unique entrance...a simulated Australian Great Barrier Reef! It was a little intimidating to walk over glass with views of coral beneath your feet so my kids just sat and stared at the display and my son even tried to "swim" the reef! In addition,  the museum boasts, "visitors can see a 500-pound Giant Clam shell, learn about scallops, nautilus, and other mollusks, and touch a variety of real shells from our collection of more than 2 million -- which ranks among the top 15 in the United States!"

    Finally, our last stop was the Hall of Mammals. "Displays in this section of the Museum bring mammals together from around the world: North and South America, Antarctica, Africa – as well as animals that live in Delaware streams and marshes." Once again, my daughter loved the computers to watch videos of the animals, while my son's favorite was the dung beetle!

      I really liked that the the Museum itself is not very big, which was nice because it wasn't overwhelming. It was easy to keep an eye on the two kids as they ran from one display to another.The layout of the Museum also has a very nice flow to it making it easy to go from room to room and see all there is too see! You could plan on spending at least 2 hours or more depending on the interest level of your kids.

    Unfortunately, on our visit, the rain and wind really picked up and we could not go outside on the nature trail or butterfly garden.  The thunderstorm was very big that all the lights went off  in the museum..it was pretty cool, but the museum had to close. So, we will definitely be taking advantage of another Dollar Tuesday and will further explore the museum...but this time I will check the weather!
    •  Dollar Tuesdays are in effect until the end of August, so hurry and make the trip! Regular admission is $8 for adults and $6 for kids!  So this is a great deal!
    • If you have a Bank of America Credit Card, ATM and/or check card,you can get FREE admission on the first full weekend of each month with the "Museums on Us Program" 
    • Pair your trip to the Delaware Museum of Natural History with a visit to the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library located, literally, right up the street! Winterthur also has a "Terrific Tuesday" with reduced admission of $5 per child with one free adult!
    • Pack a lunch and eat at the cafeteria or sit outside! Vending machine is available in the cafeteria.
    See you at the Museum!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Smith Kids' Play Place in the Park

    Location: East Fairmount Park, Philadelphia
    Bathrooms: Yes in the Mansion playhouse and Bathroom Access from the outside playground
    Eating area: YES on the Mansion covered side porch
    Attractions: 6 1/2 acre playground, Giant Wooden Slide, 24,000 sq. ft.Indoor Mansion Playhouse 
    Around the area: The Philadelphia Zoo, The Please Touch Museum, Mann Music Center
     Fee: FREE (donations are appreciated)

    The Smith Kids' place is an impressive mansion indoor playhouse and outdoor playground that your kids will L.O.V.E!! You must make time to visit this truly unique play area! Smith has been getting a lot of press recently and has becoming pretty popular, but this is not a new play area at all...in fact it opened in 1899 and has been a favorite play place for Philadelphia area children for over a century!

    There is so much to do and so many things to play at the indoor playhouse and outdoor playground that you should plan on spending several hours at the park. At the playhouse mansion there are covered porches with picnic tables for having snack,lunch, or for a birthday party.  If you need snacks, there is a vending machine available with access from the outdoor playground. One reason I love coming to the Smith Play Place is the location! It is so easy for this suburban Mom to get to, the parking is plentiful, and there are so many other attractions(The Please Touch Museum, The Mann Music Center, and the Philadelphia Zoo)  within close proximity that you could easily spend the entire DAY in the Fairmount Park area.

    Yes, THIS is the playhouse!
    The beautiful and big (24,000 sq. ft) Mansion playhouse is the first thing you will see upon entering Smith Kids's Place. The large expanse of lawn in the front of the mansion is also another great place to have a picnic. The kids can run around, toss a ball, or just enjoy the view of this historic building.  The playhouse has three floors of fun and so many ways for kids to stretch their imagination! On the first floor, the kids can put on a puppet show, ride a train, and play house!

    Take a flight of stairs down to the basement area to find the area set up like a street scene complete with a working traffic light and bikes for all kids to ride around and a trains to ride or climb!

    On the top floor, play with building blocks, trucks, a shopping cart, puzzles, a play house with babies and more! The book room is also located on this floor. Pull a book from the shelves, sit at the tables and read or just enjoy the view!

    A view of the outdoor playground

    So, all of that was just the indoor mansion playhouse....now for the outdoor playground which is the size of 6 football fields!  You kids will enjoy the famous wooden slide, the giant spider web with trampoline, the pirate ship, the tire and saucer swings, and TONS more! This playground is A.M.A.Z..I.N.G!!!  There is even a special tot lot for the tiny youngsters and plenty of benches for adults to take a rest...because you are going to need it! Take a look at just some of the fun at the outdoor playground:

    • Make sure before you make the trip to check the weather.  SMITH reserves the right to close the Playground or Playhouse in the event of inclement weather, including rain, snow, excessive heat, etc. So be sure to check the forecast before making plans to play at the park.
    • The park has lots of special events that go on throughout the year. Check out their events calendar and became a fan on facebook to be kept up to date!
    • Bring sunscreen! The park does have some nice shade, but you will be exposed to the sun so bring the sunscreen
    • To make the most of your trip to the Fairmount Park area, Visit Smith Park, then have an early dinner, and then go to the Please Touch Museum on their First Wednesday where admission is only $2! Or, go the Mann Music Center for a morning concert and then head to the park to play and have lunch!
    See you at Smith!

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