Sunday, December 23, 2007

Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, WI

The Chazen Museum of Art is located on the east end of the UW-Madison campus. Children and adults can go through the museum in a couple of hours and cover 2000 years of art from ancient Greece to 20th century New York. Artists in the permanent collection include Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Andy Warhol. The Chazen usually has two exhibitions in addition to the permanent collection.

The museum's size makes it a very intimate setting to view art. It is probably most age appropriate for children who can stick with the "look with your eyes, not with your hands" rule. Parents of children who are not old enough to be aware of museum etiquette should keep it in mind though for a weekend when the babysitter is available and they want to get reacquainted with culture.

Entrance to the Chazen is free. There are also free concerts in the museum on most Sunday afternoons between September and May.

Chazen Museum of Art
800 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 263-2246
chazen.wisc.edu

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Mattel Toy Store at American Girl in Middleton, WI

Mattel just recently opened a Mattel Toy store in their American Girl headquarters in Middleton. It's a fabulous place to go for some great deals on Mattel toys, including Fisher-Price, Matchbox cars, Barbie, Hot Wheels and others. They have a lot of great specials, many 50% off. They have 50% off clearance sections, where the boxes are a little banged up or damaged, but the toy is fine. You can get some great deals!! You never know what you're going to find as their stock rotates weekly. So if you see something you want, don't wait! It will most likely be gone the next time you come back. They not only carry toys, but also Fisher-Price baby items, such as infant swings, bouncers and bathtubs at discounted prices. If you haven't yet finished your holiday shopping and have kids on your list, you NEED to check this place out! Oh, and they have some fantastic coupons on their website, too.

The Mattel Toy Store at American Girl
8400 Fairway Pl
Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 836-4848
mattel.com/matteltoystore/

(Thanks for the review Julie!)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Chuck E Cheese's in Madison, WI

Chuck E. Cheese only slightly resembles the Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlors from the early 80's arcade era. The singing robots are still there as well as the ticket dispensing Skee Ball machines. The video games are for younger children. They still cost only one token (each token costs 25 cents or less) to play and they all dispense tickets now. The tickets can be traded in for prizes at the counter. Another big difference from 20 years ago is that there is a large climbing structure and a smaller one for toddlers so they can burn off some calories after eating pizza. There are also rides besides the games and play structure.

We were there for a birthday party. Each guest received tokens to play, pizza, drinks, and cake. At the end of the party the kids also received a goody bag full of small toys, candy, stickers, and a coupon for 10 free tokens.

It was a great way to spend and afternoon during the middle of winter. They got to run around, play games, and win prizes. Everyone took a long nap when we got home.

Chuck E Cheese's
438 Grand Canyon Dr
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 829-2659
chuckecheese.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Capitol Kids in Madison, WI

Capitol Kids is a fabulous store in Madison for kids. Located on the Capitol Square, it's a convenient spot for anyone to get to. They have a great toy selection for kids of all ages. A nice place to find a holiday gift for that special someone on your list. They have beautiful clothes for kids there, too. Some really cute stuff! You should stop in and check it out. Don't miss it this holiday season.

Capitol Kids
8 S Carroll St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 280-0744
capitolkids.com

(Thanks for the review Julie!)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Next Generation Hair Salon in Madison, WI

The Next Generation Hair Salon does nothing but cut kids hair. There are two areas that children get their hair cut. The front has two cars to sit in and two animals that the children can "ride" and watch cartoons while they are having their hair cut. There is also a room in the back with regular chairs. It has a door which came in handy when our daughter screamed the whole time through her first hair cut. The stylist handled the melt down like the professional she was and our daughter got a nice haircut. We will be taking all our kids there for their haircuts until they are too big to sit on the animals.

The salon was a little tricky to find the first time. It is in the shopping center behind the Pizza Hut on University Avenue across the street from Hilldale Mall.

Next Generation Hair Salon
4062 University Ave
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 238-5437
http://www.dianejonsalon.com/nextgeneration.asp

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Beerntsen's Confectionary in Manitowoc, WI

Beerntsen's Confectionary is a fabulous little candy and ice cream shop that I have frequented since I was a little girl. Beerntsen's is located in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and has been around since 1932. My parents used to take my sisters and I there for home made sandwiches, sundaes and, of course, their yummy candy. My parents still live in the area, and when we go to visit, we always make sure to stop at Beerntsen's. Our daughter's love it as much as we do! It's a great tradition.

Beerntsen's Confectionary
108 North 8th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
(920) 684-9616
beerntsens.com

(Thanks for the review Julie!)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee, WI

The Betty Brinn Children's Museum is a wonderful museum at the end of Wisconsin Avenue overlooking the Milwaukee Art Museum and Lake Michigan. The space is big enough that there is room for the kids to play and climb and not have to wait in a line. The toddler area is enclosed and separate from the rest of the exhibits for the older kids so you don't have to worry about the toddlers accidentally getting knocked over.

There is parking underneath the museum so no need to go out into the elements between the car and the museum entrance which is nice in the winter.

Although we've never had a birthday party there, they do have party packages.

Betty Brinn Children's Museum
929 W Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 390-5437
bbcmkids.org

Friday, November 2, 2007

Madison Public Library: Lakeview Branch in Madison, WI

Lakeview library is our neighborhood library branch. Located in a mini mall, you would never guess that it was so wonderful inside. It has a nice children's area, with a play/reading space and a fish tank to keep the kiddos occupied while you're looking for books. The magazine room, which is in the back of the library. is spacious, warm and cozy, with many large windows and a fireplace. This is where many of the library's activities take place, including the preschool story time, which is a big hit with my three year old. I love the fact that you can browse the Madison Public Library's website for items, request them and when available they will be shipped to whatever library branch you choose. Very convenient when you have kids.

Madison Public Library: Lakeview Branch
2845 N Sherman Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 246-4547
madisonpubliclibrary.org

(Thanks for the review Julie!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Playthings in Madison, WI

Playthings is a toy store with high quality toys, not the kind of toys that have television cross promotions with six restaurant chains.

Playthings carries costumes for dressing up, dinosaurs, dolls, sailboats, and science experiments pretending to be toys. They also have more recognizable characters like Thomas the Tank Engine and a huge Playmobil selection. You can't go wrong giving a kid a toy from Playthings.

Playthings
702 N Midvale Blvd
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 233-2124
playthingstoystore.com

Monday, October 8, 2007

Fireman's Park in Verona, WI

This is the best swimming beach close to Madison. It's a converted quarry, not a natural watershed destination, so there is no significant residential or agricultural fertilizer runoff that makes most of the other lakes algae-ridden.

It's a little pricey for non-Verona-residents ($4 for adults, $3 for kids), but it has a concession stand, lifeguards, a diving board, two water slides (a big one and a little one) and a playground.

Fireman's Park
570 Bruce St
Verona, WI

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Madison Children's Museum in Madison, WI

I've also gotten the annual membership. I found it's busiest just before lunch, so early or late both work best.

There are plans in the works for a major expansion of the museum, taking over a building on North Hamilton.

Madison Children's Museum
100 State St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 256-6445
madisonchildrensmuseum.org

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Roman Candle in Madison, WI

A pizzeria and ice cream shop. I've taken the kids there many times and they've always enjoyed it, but since I work downtown, I've often gone there for lunch just for me.

They can be fairly quick if you order by the slice, and they have free wi-fi. They've also been known to host birthday parties, and when I had them host a birthday party for my child, they helped me arrange for a magician, as well.



Roman Candle

1054 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 258-2000
theromancandle.com

They have another location in Middleton:
Roman Candle
1920 Parmenter St
Middleton, WI
(608) 831-7777

(Thanks for the review Media Ninja!)

Bristol Renaissance Faire in Bristol, WI

About a two hour drive from Madison, the Bristol Faire is a great day of renaissance fun for the whole family. Unlike a lot of renaissance faires, there's lots of trees and shade. You can go in street clothes, or dress up in costume, as you like.

Kids can enjoy a variety of rides and treats, grownups can enjoy a wide variety of shopping, and everyone can enjoy a bunch of open air performances, shows, and jousts.

Wear good shoes, the faire is BIG, and there's a lot of walking to be done. Bring an all terrain stroller for the wee ones, and sunblock for everybody.

Use a two-for-one coupon from a Bucky Book, and catch it on a kids' free day, and you can save quite a bit of money on admission. The faire is seasonal, open on weekends during the summer, so check the website for the schedule.




Bristol Renaissance Faire
12550 120th Ave
Bristol, WI
renfair.com/bristol/

(Thanks for the review Media Ninja!)

Zuzu Cafe in Madison, WI

Zuzu Cafe is a nice rest stop after visiting Henry Vilas Zoo across the street. They have a train table for toddlers and yummy sandwiches.

Zuzu Cafe
1336 Drake St
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 260-9898

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Pasqual's On Monroe in Madison, WI

There are always piles of kids at Pasqual's at dinner time. It's open, seat-yourself atmosphere and cheesy food appeals. They lack a changing table in the bathroom, however.

Michael's Frozen Custard and Wingra Park are right across the street for post-dinner activities.

Pasqual's On Monroe
2534 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 238-4419

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Aikido of Madison in Madison, WI

If you're interested in getting your kid into a martial art, you might strongly consider Aikido. The dojo, located on Atwood, is very friendly, and the philosophies of Aikido are just enough different from some of the other martial arts that parents who have reservations might find it a more appealing choice.

Aikido of Madison
2219 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 231-3935
aikidoofmadison.com

 

(Thanks for the review Media Ninja)

Sequoya Library in Madison, WI

This is the self-proclaimed busiest branch of the Madison Public Library system. They have a large children's book and video collection plus frequent storytimes for younger kids. The are comparatively few activities for older kids.

The library is undergoing a major expansion due in 2008, but that has not impacted the existing building except for parking.

The new library is now open.

Sequoya Library
513 S Midvale Blvd 4340 Tokay Boulevard
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 266-6385

http://www.madisonpubliclibrary.org/about/sequoya.html


(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Wingra Park in Madison, WI

Wingra Park is a Madison city park on Lake Wingra. Through a private company, they rent canoes, kayaks, pedalboats and sailboats and offer concessions. They have a large field for soccer, etc. plus basketball hoops and a playground. They recently removed all of the swings (except two baby swings) from the playground -- I have no idea why.

It does not have a public shelter, so it's not considered a "major" park.

Wingra Park
2425 Monroe St
Madison, WI
(608) 233-5332

(Thanks for the review ChrisDolan!)

Gymfinity in Madison, WI

Gymfinity is a fun indoor gym. They have classes, but I've just visited their open gym. They have two foam pits, a springy track, climbing pads, balls, balance beams, etc. The open gym gets pretty busy in the cold-weather months, so arrive early to get in before they fill up.

Gymfinity
6300 Nesbitt Rd
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 848-3547
gymfinity.com

Ginza of Tokyo in Madison, WI

If you have kids who are somewhat adventurous with food, I recommend Ginza of Tokyo restaurant. A Teppanyaki-style establishment, if you sit at one of the large hibachi tables, they prepare the food in front of you with a fair amount of theatricality. (My kids are especially delighted when they make an onion volcano while cooking.)

The hot meals they make on the hibachi are good, and if you want to supplement it with some sushi, it can add just the perfect adventurous touch.

For sushi for kids, my kids recommend the following varieties:

Good starter sushi:
- Smoked salmon (tasty, and smoked, so not really raw.)
- Tamago (egg sushi, cooked like an omlette)
- Philadelphia Roll (smoked salmon and cream cheese.)

And for the more daring children, some really tasty sushi made of things that might make other kids go "ewww!".
- Ikura (Salmon caviar, very salty.)
- Unagi (Cooked Eel in barbecue sauce, very yummy.)

And finally, for someone who just has to try something raw:
- Negihama (raw yellowtail fish with green onions in a roll.)

Ginza of Tokyo
6734 Odana Rd
Madison, WI 53719
(608) 833-8282
http://www.ginzaoftokyo.net/

The restaurant has other locations in Madison as well:

Ginza of Tokyo
4802 E Washington Ave
Madison, WI
(608) 661-8890

Ginza of Tokyo Inc
122 State St
Madison, WI
(608) 251-2171

(Thanks for the review Media Ninja!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI

The Henry Vilas Zoo is one of the best places to visit in Madison. There is no entrance fee to the zoo, which is wonderful. It is also the perfect size to take children, small enough that you can make it through in an hour, but with enough variety to hold their interest. There is a newly renovated Children's Zoo, which includes a goat feeding area where, for 75 cents you get a pellet filled ice cream cone to feed them. The Children's Zoo also is home to the Conservation Carousel, which for one dollar you can ride almost any animal you can imagine. There is also a large play area for the kiddos. The zoo recently acquired three new giraffes, which my three year old can not get enough of. She would go to the zoo every day, if she could!!

Henry Vilas Zoo
702 S Randall Ave
Madison, WI 53715
(608) 266-4732
vilaszoo.org

(Thanks for the review julie!)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Merrimac Ferry in Merrimac, WI

The Merrimac Ferry crosses the Wisconsin River about 10 minutes from Devil's Lake State Park. It is free. You can get some ice cream while you wait if there is a line. It's a novel way to cross the river instead of a boring old bridge.

Merrimac Ferry
WI-113
Merrimac, WI
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/water/merrimac-history.htm

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Little America in Marshall, WI

This is an amusement park with child-friendly rides - bumper cars, merry-go-rounds, bumper boats, etc. There are also a couple of roller coasters (the wooden one is surprisingly very fun), a mini-golf course, and go-karts. You can buy a wristband good for unlimited rides and mini-golf for $20.

There is a special section for littler kids too (under 4 maybe).

We went on a Friday afternoon and there were short or no lines for the rides. Overall, a very fun day.

Little America
700 E Main St
Marshall, WI 53559
(608) 655-3181
littleamerricka.com

(Thanks for the review Anne!)

Kindermusik with Debbie in Madison, WI

Kindermusik with Debbie is a great way to expose your child to music and dancing. I highly recommend the program. It's a great way to bond with your child. Debbie is an experienced teacher and great with children. The Kindermusik program is of high quality and has a great curriculum for children 0-7 years of age. You can preview a free class by contacting Debbie.

Kindermusik with Debbie
1501 Gilbert Road
Madison, WI
(608) 274-6635
youngstir.com/debbie/

(Thanks for the review aforer!)

Hero's in Middleton, WI

(Update: Hero's indoor inflatable play area business is closed now. They have changed the name to Sussy's Bouncy House and rent inflatables since this was originally posted.)

Hero's offers a 'Stay & Play' open house which has indoor inflatables, a game arena, and carnival games. This is a great place to take the kids to get some entertainment and burn energy. The staff are great. They are friendly and keep the kids entertained. It's worth the drive. They also offer concessions on site. For hours and pricing, take a look at their website.

Hero's
8233 Forsythia St.
Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 831-9569
herosparty.com

(Thanks for the review aforer!)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Original Wisconsin Ducks in Wisconsin Dells, WI

The "Ducks" are boats with wheels that were used to move troops during World War II. Nowadays they are used to take tourists through the woods of the Wisconsin Dells and up the Wisconsin River. Other than a few uncomfortable minutes where they try and sell you a book and postcards in the woods, the rest of the hour long ride is a nice change from waiting in line at the other attractions in Wisconsin Dells.

It is about $20 for an adult, $6 for kids, and young children are free.

Original Wisconsin Ducks
1890 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
(608) 254-8751
wisconsinducktours.com

Burke Park in Madison, WI

Burke Park is a nice, shaded park with a climbing gym that has a toddler section for the little ones and a more challenging area for the older kids. It also has swings, a teeter-totter and a train sandbox. There is a covered picnic area when the kids need a snack or lunch. Wonderful park. It's worth the drive to the town of Burke.

Burke Park
5365 Reiner Road
Madison, WI

(Thanks for the review julie!)

Friday, August 17, 2007

UW-Madison Arboretum in Madison, WI

The Arboretum has over 1000 acres of plant life and includes wetlands, forest, ornamental trees, prairies and more. The best part about the Arboretum is its countless and varied hiking paths. We go there dozens of times each year, and we always seem to find new trails to explore. Some go through deep woods, others cross an open plain. Some are hilly, some are flat. Some go by water, and some traverse sandy stretches. There's even a boardwalk that extends over a marsh. We put our little one in a front carrier and let our preschooler lead the way. We're so happy to see our kids enjoy the Arboretum, and it's especially fitting since it's where we first got engaged!

UW-Madison Arboretum
1207 Seminole Highway
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 263-7888
uwarboretum.org

(Thanks for the review Triple_M!)

Keva Sports Center in Middleton, WI

While this facility is geared to adult sports leagues, in the winter months they offer kids "open play" on Mondays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., as well as Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. It's primarily geared to very young children (7 or under) and features stations with different activities (e.g., t-ball, soccer balls, hoola hoops, bouncy castles, running space). It's a great way to let the kids run off some energy and costs just a couple of bucks per visit.

Keva Sports Center
8312 Forsythia St.
Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 662-7529
kevasports.com

(Thanks for the review Triple_M!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Windom Park in Madison, WI

About the only thing going for this park is that its near our house. The play equipment is sparse especially compared to the one on the other side of the fence at the apartment complex next door.

Windom Park
1920 Windom Way
Madison, WI 53704

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monty's Blue Plate Diner in Madison, WI

Monty's is a diner on Madison's near east side. It has some diner fare, but it also has some really tasty vegetarian twists like the "Sheldon", a vegetarian reuben, or "Sloppy Faux" - a sloppy joe with seitan. Incredible breakfasts are also served all day.

We went there on a Tuesday night and it was packed. The reasonable prices and the good food ensure a wait just about anytime you go. The staff keeps an amazing attitude with customers especially children. One of the wait staff even attempted to do the pretend ice skating routine that was being given.

Just to add to the heaps of praise: get pie there. It is awesome.

Monty's Blue Plate Diner
2089 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 244-8505
foodfightinc.com/montys.htm

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sheraton Bloomington Hotel in Minneapolis, MN

A few weekends ago, we went to Minneapolis for a family reunion. We stayed at the Sheraton in Bloomington, MN. The price was extremely reasonable the weekend we were there. It was right off 494 so it was only 10 minutes to Minneapolis for the reunion, but more importantly IKEA and Mall of America.

The hotel was full of families attending a conference. Yet it was fairly quiet in the rooms. When you opened the door there was always someone crying, yelling, or running up and down the hallway, but inside our room, you couldn't hear anything unless they were right outside. We did hear a girl crying a little bit, but it was so quiet that if we didn't have super parent-of-a-baby hearing, we probably wouldn't have noticed.

We were supposed to have a crib, but when we asked they told us "rooms are reserved, not cribs". We had a Pack and Play with us so it wasn't a big deal, but it might have been for someone else who was traveling lighter.

A hotel's pool comes in a really close second to not hearing every little thing that your neighbor does there. The pool was a good size and accommodated the large number of kids swimming and jumping in the pool. There weren't any steps so our three year old daughter couldn't get out of the pool easily and getting in to take a baby for a dip it out of the question since it would be really hard to climb up and down the ladder and hold them. The pool area tile was also super slippery.

The hot tub was really generous and there had to have been twenty people in there at one point. It was easier to get in and out of carrying a child and our daughter could get out herself if she needed to.

There was also a small Little Tikes playset area for smaller children near the pool if they didn't want to get wet or you have to motivate them to get out of the water.

There was a restaurant, bar, and a TGIF nearby, but it didn't seem like much else to walk to.

Overall, the rooms were good size and the staff was extremely nice. The pool was alright, but for taking a dip with smaller children go to the hot tub. There is a lot to do nearby if you drive.

Sheraton Bloomington Hotel Minneapolis South
7800 Normandale Blvd
Minneapolis, MN 55439
(952) 835-7800
http://www.starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1493

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, WI

Bay Beach Amusement Park is located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. My parents would take my sisters and I here every summer, and we looked forward to it every single year. There are a ton of rides for kids of all ages and there's no admission fee, plus at twenty five cents a ticket, the price just can't be beat! Most rides cost only one ticket, a few like the carousel, the bumper cars and ferris wheel are two tickets. Plus, there's a train that takes you for a little ride around the park. If you have kids, you MUST check out this fabulous place!

Bay Beach Amusement Park
1313 Bay Beach Road
Green Bay, WI 54301
(920) 448-3365
http://www.ci.green-bay.wi.us/geninfo/baybeach_web/baybeachhome.html

(Thanks for the review julie!)

Warner Park Parent/Child Playtime in Madison, WI

Parent/Child Playtime, a Madison School and Community Recreation Program,takes place at Warner Park in Madison. A great open space to take your 0-5 year old where they can run, climb, ride trikes and other riding toys and play with various age-appropriate toys. Located in Warner Park's gymnasium, Playtime is a wonderful place for kids to interact with other kids and develop social skills, while parents get a chance to chat with each other. It takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 to 12. A Family ID to Warner Park Community and Recreation Center is required, but this yearly pass is quite inexpensive (I think ours was $10). There is a $3 entry fee, but you are allowed to try it for free the first time you go. This place is INVALUABLE to us in the wintertime when there are few other places to let your kids run around and release all that pent up energy.

Warner Park Parent/Child Playtime
3110 N. Sherman Ave.
Madison, WI
(608) 245-3690
http://www.ci.madison.wi.us/parks/warnerpark/index.html

(Thanks for the review julie!)

Madison Children's Museum in Madison, WI

The Madison Children's Museum is a fun place to take your kids. They have many exhibits and play areas where kids can really get involved, whether it's pretend play, making music with instruments or brushing a cow. They also have many programs for toddler, preschool and school-aged children. If you live in the Madison area and have kids, I would highly recommend purchasing a yearly membership, because if you attend any of the weekly programs for kids, your admission is then free. Definitely worth it! It does get crowded because of it's popularity, so I recommend going early in the a.m.

Madison Children's Museum
100 State St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 256-6445
madisonchildrensmuseum.org

(Thanks for the review Julie!)

New Zoo in Green Bay, WI

Green Bay, Wisconsin has a new zoo and it's called The NEW Zoo! The NEW Zoo has many animal exhibits, including a Snow Leopard, a Red Panda, and my personal favorite, the penguins. The most incredible spot at the NEW Zoo has to be the Giraffe lookout tower where, twice a day, you can get an eye-level view of the giraffes and actually hand-feed them! It's amazing!! I have never had a cooler experience at a zoo.

New Zoo
4378 Reforestation Rd
Green Bay, WI 54313
(920) 434-7878
thenewzoo.com

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Underwater Adventures Aquarium in Minneaoplis, MN

The aquarium at Mall of America near Minneapolis, MN is awesome even if it's too short and a little pricey.

The attraction starts with a walk down a simulated canyon with taxidermy mounts including a fox, skunk and muskrat. I'm not exactly sure why it starts that way, but I think maybe it was to simulate the flow of water down the Continental Divide to the ocean.

After the short trip down, you finally arrive at the aquarium itself. It is incredible. The fish are huge. There were saw fish and nurse sharks that had to have been 10 or 12 feet long. There was also a turtle the size of our coffee table! I was glad to see that after trying in vain to point out "Nemo" amongst all the animals swimming around in the big tank that there was an exhibit that had fish and jellies from "Finding Nemo" in it. That saved a lot of time answering the "Where's Nemo?" question.

After seeing all the animals, I understand why it was $17 for an adult(13+) ticket at the time of this writing, but it seemed really short probably because the people mover, despite its slow speed, still moves you through pretty quickly. We walked back to the start a couple of times along the part of the floor that doesn't move. It let us see all the animals and really spend some time there. Definitely step off the mover and look at the fish.

Kids under 3 were free.

Underwater Adventures Aquarium
Mall of America, 120 East Broadway
Bloomington, MN* 55425
(952) 883-0202
sharky.tv
*Minneapolis, MN is nearby.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Millennium Park in Chicago, IL

Millennium Park is an incredible place to take kids. It is home to a giant chrome "bean", called the Cloud Gate, that reflects the Chicago skyline. There is a concert stage as well. My favorite part by far is the huge twin water fountains. Each of the two fountains change to show Chicagoans on their three story tall displays. Every 15 minutes or so, they their lips together and a stream of water sprays out of their mouths. Parents can kick off their shoes and wade in water no deeper than a puddle with the smallest of children without getting wet above the knee in between the fountains.

Millennium Park
155 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 565-4800
millenniumpark.org

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pink Elephant at Interstate Citgo in De Forest, WI

There is a giant pink elephant wearing glasses just off the Interstate north of Madison. If you have to get gas north of Madison, you might as well get gas next to the pink pachyderm.

Pink Elephant at Interstate Citgo
4995 County Road V
De Forest, WI
(608) 846-9550

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Peck's Farm Market in Spring Green, WI

Peck's Farm Market. We have a 4 year old and 6 year old. They like to feed the goats and look at the animals. There is a small playground there too. There is a market that sells flowers, good vegetables, bakery and other things to eat. There is also a gift shop. It is fun for the whole family.

Peck's Farm Market
E3217 Us Highway 14 and 60
Spring Green, WI 53588
http://www.pecksfarmmarketeast.com/

(Thanks for the review sheri!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Milwaukee County Zoo in Milwaukee, WI

The Milwaukee County Zoo is a lot of fun. We have a really great time riding the train and the carousel. They do have free days for families. About the only complaint that I have is that you have to wait in line awhile before getting to the parking lot. It seemed like a lot of people parked on the street and walked in. I also might pack a picnic instead of eating the cafeteria food. The zoo is open all year round.

Milwaukee County Zoo
10001 W Bluemound Rd
Milwaukee, WI 53226
(414) 771-3040
milwaukeezoo.org

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Milwaukee Public Museum in Milwaukee, WI

Lots of interesting displays. Has a great live butterfly display.

Milwaukee Public Museum
800 W Wells St
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 278-2700
mpm.edu

(Thanks for the review j rose!)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Happy Bambino in Madison, WI

Happy Bambino is an incredible store for moms, dad, kids, anyone looking to buy unique baby and children's items. Locally owned and operated by 2 mothers, it carries everything from baby carriers to Booty Balm (a personal favorite!) It offers a children's play area to keep the little ones entertained while you shop, and the sales associates are knowledgeable and very friendly. Have a question about slings or cloth diapers? They'll have the answer. They offer a used clothing section called the Eco-Boutique for children of all ages and maternity wear too! I personally have found some fabulous bargains for my daughter. Good stuff! They also offer all kinds of classes and groups, including Parent and Child Activity classes. If you live in the Madison area and haven't been to Happy Bambino, make sure you check it out!

Happy Bambino
2045 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 204-6147
happybambino.com

(Thanks for the review Julie!)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

First Stage Children's Theater in Milwaukee, WI

Excellent introduction to theater for children. Plays target specific age groups. Performances held at Todd Wehr Theater at the Marcus Center for Performing Arts on Water Street.

First Stage Children's Theater
929 N Water St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 273-7206
http://www.firststage.org/

(Thanks for the review j rose!)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Ella's Deli in Madison, WI

Ella's Deli is one of my favorite place to eat with kids. The food is typical American restaurant fare with a nod to New York delis.

The best part of Ella's though is all the toys. Just about every table has a game in it and there are all sorts of moving eccentricities squeezed into every non-dining space. There is a carousel out front which I think is a dollar to ride when its open in the summer. Cowboys and cowgirls can still spend time in the saddle for a dime on a horse inside when the carousel is closed.

They also have a kid's night once a month where they have simple crafts out for the kids to do.

Nostalgia warning: back in our rock clubbing days we would see the bands who played Madison the night before eating breakfast there on their way out of town.

Ella's Deli
2902 E Washington Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 241-5291
ellas-deli.com