Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pheasant Branch Conservancy in Middleton, WI

Pheasant Branch is a sprawling conservancy in the city of Middleton. The north end of the conservancy is a large, roughly square park. The southern portion is a narrow stretch of woods snaking through Middleton. It's got a good gravel path for walking or biking, and has great shade in the summer. Skiing is available in the winter.

Parisi Park sits just south of the intersection of the conservancy and Park Street, and there's another small park at the very northern end of the conservancy. The nearby Middleton Aquatic Center (waterslides!) and tennis courts make this a good day trip for a family looking for a variety of activities.

Pheasant Branch Conservancy
4864 Pheasant Branch Rd
Middleton, WI 53562
pheasantbranch.org

(Thanks for the review Honkus!)

Mid-Continent Railway Museum in North Freedom, WI

We took a ride on the annual "Snow Train" from the railway museum last weekend. Our son loved it - the train was filled with lots of small children, there was a lot to see, and the ride was the perfect length. Fifty minutes was long enough that it was still fun for the kids, but not so long that they got too squirrely.

"Conductors" and "Engineers" walk around in full regalia, which is also fun for the kids. It's relatively inexpensive, and there's a decent gift shop where you can buy a wooden train whistle. Even in the winter, the steam heat kept the cars toasty. The museum itself is sort of in the middle of nowhere - they have many old trains on the grounds, and a larger museum that we didn't duck into. We just wanted the train ride. If you've got kids who are even mildly interested in trains, check out their daily rides this summer.

Mid-Continent Railway Museum
E8948 Diamond Hill Road
North Freedom, WI 53951
midcontinent.org

(Thanks for the review Honkus!)

Flat Top Grill in Madison, WI

The Flat Top Grill stir fry bar is a healthy alternative to burger and fries. The menu lists combinations of ingredients from the stir fry bar to create the different dishes in it. You walk up to the stir fry bar, fill your bowl with the ingredients, and add different colored sticks to let the cooks know what options you would like. They fry it up and then it is brought back to your table. The only tricky part of the whole experience is how to pick out the food, put it in a bowl, and carry it and a squirmy baby over to the cook.

Overall, it's a pretty inexpensive lunch and the food was fairly healthy and tasty. Kids under 10 eat free all day on Mondays.

Flat Top Grill
534 N Midvale Blvd
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 236-0500
flattopgrill.com

The Village Green in Middleton, WI

Traditional Sconnie table fare can be had at the Village Green in downtown Middleton. This is a very kid-friendly place with two exceptions: they're not open on Sundays, and the bar allows smoking, hence the 4 stars.

The staff is attentive yet laid back, while the clientele is also relaxed and typically family-friendly. There are lots of yummy foods like fried cheese curds for the kids, and there are also a couple of video games. The interior is decorated with trains, trains, and more trains. Best of all, they serve great burgers on sheets of waxed paper and have Capital seasonal on tap! The bathrooms are small, so change your young 'uns before you go if possible.

The Village Green
7508 Hubbard Ave
Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 831-9962

(Thanks for the review Honkus!)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Portrait Innovations in Middleton, WI

If you are looking for a place to get your kids pictures taken, this is the spot. I've taken my girls there numerous times and have had wonderful results each time. I just had them in for our baby's one year pics and some Valentine's pics of both of them, and they turned out adorable. The photographers spend a nice amount of time taking pictures on different backgrounds. There's no sitting fee, and you can add as many people that you want to the pictures. So if you want to get a couple taken of you with your kids, you can do that for free. They also encourage you to bring a change of outfits for your kids. You get to see and pick your picks immediately and receive your pictures that same day. Plus, the cost is VERY reasonable. I spent much less on these sets of pictures than I did on my first child's one year pics that were taken elsewhere. Much less. There is a lego table in the waiting area to keep the kiddos occupied while you're picking pictures. My oldest loves it. I highly recommend Portrait Innovations!! It's a fabulous place.

Portrait Innovations
1701 Deming Way
Middleton, WI 53562
(608) 824-8720
portraitinnovations.com