Monday, August 13, 2012

Morris Arboretum

Click on the pictures for a larger view

Bathrooms: Yes, some with changing tables
Eating area: Yes, Compton Cafe on site, and vending machines, 
Attractions: 92 acres of lush gardens and sculptures, Out on a limb tree canopy walk, miniature village and Garden Railway, various historical buildings, and refreshing fountains
Around the Area: Quaint town of Chesnut Hill and Wissahickon Valley Park (Forbidden Drive)
Fee: Kids under 3: Free, Kids 3-17: $7.00, Adults: $16.00
 Or get FREE passes for the whole family with your Library Card with their Museum Pass Program

The kids and I took advantage of this gorgeous summer day to check out the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.  We scored FREE passes for 2 adults and 4 children for FOUR days by checking out the passes through our local library's Museum Pass program.  That is a savings of $184 for our family!! I LOVE the Museum Pass!  

We were most excited to explore the "Out on a Limb" exhibit and to climb 50 feet above the ground into the trees! The kids had a great time pretending to be birds sitting on the eggs, and  jumping on the rope netting and seeing how far they were from the forest floor! The kids also had a great time putting the huge megaphones on their ears to listen to the sounds of the forest! 

Our next stop was to see the miniature Garden railway exhibit. This seasonal exhibit features renditions of storybook and historic buildings made of natural materials set in the garden complete with naturally made tunnels and overhead trestles.  The kids had a blast following all the trains and watching them appear over their heads,  moving under trees, and crossing over small waterways.  Of course...there is a Thomas train for fans! 

Our next favorite stop was the Log Cabin.  This exhibit provides some much needed cool shade, a refreshing dip in the stream and a splash of water from a old fashioned water pump! Parents will find some much needed R&R on the chairs while the kids tidy up the cabin, play school, build with Lincoln logs, or splash around and explore the stream! The kids LOVED this historic building.

Throughout the arboretum you will discover various species of trees and flowers, interesting works of art and sculpture, cool insects, and refreshing fountains and streams! 

  • Check the weather before planning your trip.  It's all outdoors!
  • Check the event calendar for lots of fun activities!
  • Wear comfortable shoes, there is a lot of walking!
  • Strollers and wheelchairs are fine! Most of the walkways are paved.
  • Visit the Visitors Center and get your "passport".  The kids get them stamped at various exhibits. The passport also has great educational information and activities related to the exhibits. Also, pick up some Family Fun cards for extension activities!
  • If you kids are anything like mine, you might need to dress them in bathing suit trunks!  Or at the very least bring a change of clothes and maybe some case someone gets wet!
  • Wear sunscreen!
  • Two words....insect repellent!
  • Pack snacks and lunches and eat at the dining behind behind the Visitors Center. There is a cafe on site and drinking and snack vending areas scattered throughout the arboretum if you are in a pinch.
  • Before or after your trip, head down to the quaint town of Chestnut Hill! The kids can eat and play at the Little Treehouse Cafe, and enjoy ice Cream from Brendenbecks! Bruno's is another great spot for food (right on the corner of Germantown Ave.and Northwestern Ave.) with easy access to  Wissahickon Valley Trail (Forbidden Drive). 

Have fun exploring The Morris Arboretum!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Imagination Kingdom Playground

Bathrooms: Yes
Eating area: YES (covered pavilion, and picnic tables)
Attractions: castle themed playground, baseball fields, 
Wheelchair Accessible Playground: Yes

Click on the pictures for a large image

The kids and I ventured out on one of the nicer, less humid summer days to Imagination Kingdom Playground and park located in Pemberton, NJ.  I can't believe this was our first time playing at this hidden gem! What an amazing playground for kids of all ages and abilities! The castle theme park is a favorite among my kids and from the expressions of oohs and ahhhs from the other youngsters, the theme had caught their attention too! 

So where do you begin? Every prince and princess should cross the bridge over the "blue waters" into the inner courtyard where their imaginations may lead them to climb a rock,scale the castle walls, or tackle the giant web thingy!! Whatever the kids decide to do, they will be busy for hours!

Whoever designed this playground understands kids and thought of everything. The large wheelchair accessible ramp and wide bridges allow for children of all abilities to be part of the fun and there is much to see at so many various heights!

There are sooo many places to climb and explore! But don't worry, the ground is covered by some sort of recycled material that is soft underfoot. It's gentle enough for little boys who don't like to wear shoes!

 You will  also find some really interesting equipment here that you may not have seen at other parks. We loved the musical section complete with bongo drums, and "Ring a bell" that you could actually ring with the musical notes provided instead of having to find a stick! The tire swing suspended from a giant catapult was cool, and the giant family sized see saw horse was great for young and older kids!

There is even a wonderful "tot" area that will challenge your little ones and keep them engaged! I loved the ABC and animal climb! 

This is a definite "destination playground"! This site is perfect for playdates, mom groups, birthday parties or for just a few hours of fun!  The whole playground was clean and well kept including the bathrooms that had a changing table! The  large covered pavilion is a great spot to seek shelter from the elements or  for lunch and snacks.  Bring a bat and ball or play some soccer in the fields just a few feet away. Most of the playground is in the sun...but there were some benches and tables in some cool shaded areas too. 

  My kiddos gave this playground two thumbs up and we think this "kingdom" is perfect for the little princes and princesses in your life! Check it out today!

Let your imaginations run wild!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Manderach Memorial Playground

Bathrooms: Two Restroom Facilities (Porta Potty near the playground)
Eating area: Yes, under covered pavilions
Attractions: 70 acre park with castle themed playground with two long tunnel slides, baseball field, basketball, 2 sand volleyball courts, 1.1 mile paved walking/running track (see aerial map)
Around the Area:  Philadelphia Premium Outlets (approx. 10 minutes from park)
Fee: Free

This weekend's Sunday drive took us to Limerick, PA to check out Limerick Community Park and its famous Manderach Memorial Playground. In just about an hour, we reached our destination. Squeals of excitement erupted from the backseat when the kids saw the 30 foot high castle named "Lisa's Lookout" with two loooong tunnel slides protruding from the top floor of the castle.

The kids ran straight for the stairs to climb the castle and attempt the tunnel slides. Believe me, half the fun of the slide is the climb to the top! Little ones will need assistance as it is quite a hike!  The steps to the top are roomy enough for adults to climb and the slide is big enough to allow adults to ride down with kids. Yes, I couldn't resist and I had to ride the slides too! When my son reached the bottom of the slide, he exclaimed, "That is the best slide ever!" and I completely agree!

As my kids repeatedly climbed the tower, rode the slide, and then ran to get back in line, I was able to sit back and truly look at "Lisa's Lookout." It is quite an impressive structure dedicated to Lisa Manderach and her 19 month old baby, Devon, who were horribly murdered in 1995. The two long tunnel slides look like two long arms reaching out to the children in a symbolic hug; welcoming all who enter and encouraging smiles and laughter amongst such a painful past.   It is a beautiful, and fitting, tribute to a mother and child whose memory will be forever remembered.

Surrounding the castle tower slides are saucer swings, a tire swing, and a large castle themed playground equipment with lots of climbing equipment.  This side seems to be dedicated to the older kids, while on the other side of the tower is the area for younger children.  This side has more traditional swings, and a smaller castle-themed playground, just the right height for little ones!

What I really liked was that the entire playground complex was completely surrounded by a large fence and allowed for only one way in and out.  That makes monitoring the kiddos a lot easier!

Take a break from all the fun by eating your lunch in the covered pavilions, or using the vending machines to grab a drink. There is also a concession stand, that wasn't open when we were there, but purchasing food might be possible on special days. There are two bathroom facilities available, but the one closest to the playground had a porta potty...not my favorite.  However, you could take a little walk and use the facilities a little further away from the playground.  Either way, bring some wipes, and sanitizer!

This park was given the title of Best of Philly 2006: Best Playground (Montgomery County) and it is a well deserved title! We will definitely be visiting again. It was clean, well kept, and made the kids (and adults) really happy!

  • The playground is CLOSED the first Monday of every month from 7am to 2pm for inspections and maintenance. 
  • Bring a towel for the tunnel slides, the older kids say it makes the slide really fast
  • Bring bikes, scooters, etc to ride the trail
  • Bring sporting equipment to play in the surrounding fields
  • There were a lot of people there and  I felt comfortable having my husband and grandparents with me to help monitor the kids.  Even though there is only one way in and out, I think you need to bring at least two people, at least for younger ones, to help monitor the kids.
  • Pack a lunch and make a day out of it!
  • Plan this visit combined with some shopping at the Limerick outlets and you can definitely make this a day trip! 

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