Monday, January 26, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Delaware Children's Museum

Daily Vacationer Jr is giving away a Family 4 Pack to the
Delaware Children's Museum!
***(Details below)***
The Delaware Children's Museum is full of practical play.  And by practical, we don't mean boring (this place could never be boring!).  Instead we're talking about a place that is filled with hands on, interactive fun that also teaches kids (and their caregivers) about important topics and basic life skills.  Pretty much every nook and cranny of the Delaware Children's Museum is another chance to learn how to thrive when dealing with real world experiences, problems, and opportunities (except for maybe the new Pirate Ship - that thing is just pure swashbuckling fun).
With all the interesting sounds coming from it, the first place you'll be drawn to (after climbing around in the amazing Stratosphere of course) is The Power of Me.  Here you can test yourself to see your reaction time, agility, and flexibility and see the different parts of your body and how they all work.  The Power of Me teaches kids (and adults) how to best take care of their bodies while encouraging activity and healthy eating in a fun way (our heart rate was certainly going after a turn on the rowboats and playing some games on the rock wall!).  We noticed that the Food-o-Matic Diner (nutrition), the bluescreen theater area (fun movement), and the tall slide in the center were big hits with the kids running around in this area.
Right next door to the Power of Me, it's time to don the hardhats in the innovative world of Structures.  Here you can role play every single job of a construction process from designing and testing to building completion.  While this area looks sparse at first, you quickly discover that there is a type of block/construction toy for almost any interest level.  For even very young kids, the tower near the entrance helps them pick out various shapes in their everyday world.  Some of our favorites of this area were tracing the different structures at the architect drafting board, testing our block buildings against earthquakes, and creating an actual arch with big blocks.

Structures flows naturally into ECOnnect with a walk through the Eco House, a sustainable house that's big enough to play in and small enough for kids to feel right at home.  ECOennect was definitely our personal favorite zone.  The camping/woods area reminded us of all the times we'd pretend to camp out as kids (but so much better).  On a practical level, this area teaches kids about the animals who can be found in this region as well as camping safety tips while also giving them an appreciation for the intricacies and beauty of nature.  Located just next to the woods is the fun water area.  Put on a plastic smock and learn about the flow of water through rainstorms, dams, locks, and floating ships (or just splash your hand around to enjoy the feel of water - there was quite a lot of that going on).
ECOnnect has recently expanded its fun to include a pirate ship (with a great slide for littler kids), as well as the museum's fantastic Touch Tank Aquarium.  The Aquarium is the home for cartilaginous fish, bony fish, and invertebrates, so you'll have a chance to see rays, Hippo Tang fish ("Dory" from Finding Nemo, star fish and so much more.  We particularly enjoyed seeing the horseshoe crabs and sea urchins.  And don't forget to go up and around the Aquarium for some bird watching.
Bank on It, directly across from ECOnnect, was probably one of the most practical exhibits we've ever seen at a children's  museum.  This area takes you through every aspect of money from earning it and spending it to investing it and saving it.  Kids who like thinking games will love setting up their own lemonade stand and attempting to make it profitable.  Other favorites we saw for kids in this area included playing with an ATM and using a pneumatic tube just like at a real bank.  Bank on It takes the confusion and unrealistic "magic" out of currency and demonstrates the real life work to attain money and the different ways of putting it to good personal use.  This is especially a great place to visit with older kids who are beginning to handle their own money.
Next door in Training Wheels, the youngest visitors (0-preschool) get a fun and safe place to run around all their own.  Explore a world of all things transportation from a trip on the train, to working in the car shop, to learning about gears and wheels.  The littlest of visitors will enjoy exploring or just relaxing in the soft padded boat in this area.  (Caregivers of very little ones will also appreciate the little carpeted reading nook in ECOnnect as well as the nursing room in Training Wheels - with a chair and toys for older siblings).
Make sure to stop in at Studio D for some downtime and art exploration.  Paint  a picture, sculpt with clay, or do any of the other fun crafts the museum may have depending on the day.  We loved that there was also a little area with soft seating for reading books and doing puzzles for the kids that aren't quite old enough for paint and clay.  We were also thrilled that you could leave your kids' painted masterpiece on the drying rack until you were ready to leave.
The Delaware Children's Museum often hosts special exhibits (like the current Block Party that we explored and loved last year too) and has a calendar full of special events including their Junior Engineers series and Grand Adventures for grandparents and their grandchildren.  Once a month the museum offers $2 admission on a Wednesday night from 5pm to 8pm.  And their new late Friday and Saturday evening hours gives more time for play, learning, and enjoying special activities (like their Sea Life Scavenger Hunt).
We had a wonderful time at the Delaware Children's Museum and especially recommend it for caregivers with older children.  While they still have the hands on play that younger kids love so much, there are a lot of concepts and areas of fun that will intrigue kids who would normally be "too old" for a children's museum (they also have an admission price that can't be beat as well as FREE parking!).  Whether it's matching colors at a pop up activity station, learning the power of a dollar at Bank on It, or braving the elevated maze of the Stratosphere, the Delaware Children's Museum inspires and teaches kids about themselves and their surroundings in a way that helps prepare them to grow up in confidence.
(Closed on Mondays)



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Linvilla Orchards: Fore the Planet!

Is it raining/snowing/cold again?? If you're looking for an engaging inside activity, look no further than Fore! the Planet, Linvilla Orchard's indoor mini-golf course.  It promises 18 holes of serious fun, and it definitely delivers.  With golf club sizes for everyone, Fore! the Planet can be a fun afternoon out with friends or a family event.  The game is suitable for almost all ages, but don't be fooled by the size - the course is trickier than it looks and those searching for a fulfilling competition will find it here (and those looking to just hit a ball around until it finally lands in a hole - any hole - will also find that here).
The course was put together by the Academy of Natural Sciences, making Fore! the Planet literally all about the planet from environmental issues to animal adaptation.  Each hole comes with a description and some educational info.  We'd advise not skipping the lessons, as they often hold the key on how to score better at various holes, plus they are fun and engaging in themselves.
Open until April 4th,  make sure that you schedule a day for this fantastic mini golf course!  Daily Vacationer Jr had a ton of fun attempting the course (we noticed an advantage with the kid-sized clubs...hmmmmm...), and we loved reading about and exploring the details at each hole.  Our absolute favorite holes were #6, Backyard Explorer, and #15, Spawning Salmon.  Hats off to Linvilla Orchards and the Academy of Natural Sciences - this is a great idea!


More Photos
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Local Destination: The Philadelphia Home Show

Is there a better way to get inspired to do a little home makeover than spending some time at the Philadelphia Home Show? (We think not!)  The 2015 Philaelphia Home Show, hosted at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, is bursting at the seams with all of your home remodeling and designing needs. From hand-crafted Amish cabinetry, to gigantic slabs of granite, to 20-person Jacuzzis, there is something for everyone!  Make your way to aisle 100, where you can begin your journey and weave your way through the endless booths, staffed with folks that can answer any questions you might have.  And when you think you need to stop and take a break, head over to test out the patio furniture and massaging reclining seats towards the middle of the show room. 
During this final upcoming weekend be on the lookout for appearances from The Fabulous Beekman Boys from The Cooking Channel and Jeff Devlin from DIY's "I Hate My Bath" and HGTV's "Spice Up My Kitchen".   Be sure to check out Habitat for Humanity's Upcycle Challenge where local experts and designers demonstrate their skills in repurposing.  Pull out that camera phone for a chance to WIN at the Selfie Stations and by snapping pics of #DenisesFavs (The Painted Home).  The Philadelphia Home Show is in town for one more weekend only! NOW is the time to add pizzazz and not to mention VALUE to your home!
**Remember there is FREE parking at the IKEA in South Philadelphia and FREE shuttle service courtesy of Philly Phlash (during Show hours only)**
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Philadelphia Home Show Ticket Giveaway

This coming weekend marks the opening of the 2015 Philadelphia Home Show at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  Running this weekend (Jan 17th thru the 19th) and next weekend (Jan 23rd thru the 25th), the Philly Home Show is the best way to discover wonderful and innovative ideas on utilizing and installing new products, remodeling, construction.  Get inspired to make your home the very best that it can be from DIY Network and Cooking Channel experts and shop from some of the coolest and most reliable vendors and businesses.  (Make sure you use that FREE PARKING at the Ikea South Philadelphia with shuttle service from the Philly Phlash!)

In the hopes of inspiring our readers to transform their house into a space that they love, we are giving away a FOUR PACK OF TICKETS to the Philadelphia Home Show (courtesy of The Painted Home).  Enter below and GOOD LUCK!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, January 12, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Kid Sized Adventures

After spending a year exploring the Greater Philadelphia area, Daily Vacationer decided that we were sorely missing something in our blog posts and recommendations.  From art and science museums to parks and historical sights, nearly every place in the area has something for families and children (not to mention ALL the locations that are specifically made for children).  The more and more we came across these opportunities, the more we felt like we needed to share them with our readers.  And with that thought, we decided to expand Daily Vacationer to include blog posts and social media specifically for people with younger kids: Welcome to Daily Vacationer Jr.!
We absolutely love how much we get to see and do, and we are troubled at how often we meet people who feel that they cannot or should not visit places in Greater Philadelphia because they have children.  Granted, there are some places and moments where we would not recommend bringing kids, but they are actually pretty few and far between.  With Daily Vacationer Jr. we hope to inspire those in the area to include and immerse their children in all the great stuff that the Philadelphia area has to offer.
To start off with, here are some things you should know:
Yes, you are allowed in art museums with children (even the really intimidating ones), and they even have their own kids programs and tours.
Science museums are the best and everyone should go as much as possible.
We have some of the coolest children's museums in the country right in this area.
You basically can't go anywhere without stumbling over a cool park or playground.
Arboretums and gardens are like magical worlds for kids.
Our area is crammed full of history (hello - cradle of American democracy) and most of it is presented in cool, interactive ways.
You MUST go to the zoos and aquarium (there are no excuses for this one). 
This is not NYC - the public bathrooms are not going to kill you (and family sized stalls are fairly easy to find).
Most places are handicapped and stroller accessible, and even the historic buildings that are not have some pretty interesting freight elevators that you get to ride (plus the kids will probably think it's the best part).
Children two and under are almost always FREE, so start exploring right away.
Follow the places you are interested in on social media to find out about discounts and free days, events and exhibits, and special programs (or just follow us and we'll tell you).
Remember that the only way we are going to pass on a love of arts, sciences, nature, history, etc, etc is by creating and taking advantage of opportunities for our children to experience and enjoy them.
So travel with Daily Vacationer Jr. here at the Daily Vacationer blog or on Facebook, Instagram (dailyvacationerjr), and Twitter (DailyVacaJr) for kid sized adventures in the Greater Philadelphia area.  Hope for the best, come prepared for the worst (you know what we mean), and start making some incredible family memories right here, right now.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Daily Vacationer Jr: Garden State Discovery Museum

Daily Vacationer Jr is giving away a Family 4 Pack to the
Garden State Discovery Museum!
***(Details below)***

From the very first day that we visited the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, NJ, we have been crazy about it.  We've been going there on weekdays, weekends, special events, and quiet days for almost a year now, and each experience has been absolutely fantastic.  From the variety of the play areas to the helpfulness of the staff, we really can't say enough how much we love this place.  An absolutely cannot be missed location in the Greater Philadelphia area if you have little ones.
With something for everyone, the Discovery Museum covers every area of interest, and then introduces kids to things that they may not have experienced before.  The animal lover who makes a beeline for Vets and Pets can be drawn into the Science Lab next door.  The sports enthusiast might venture from the Get Fit area to behind the desk in News and Weather.  From working on a construction site to performing in the theater, no one will be getting bored anytime soon.
The scale of the rooms and activities is perfect and a little magical.  For example, when we hung out in the California Pizza Kitchen (hands down our favorite area), it looked and felt just like we were at a real one.  We could easily sit in the booths, but somehow, so could a toddler.  The same thing happened with the booths and counters at the Silver Diner (another favorite).  When we climbed to the loft in the barn in Little Discoveries and up the ramp of the house at Under Construction, it felt like we were going all the way up to a second floor, but preschoolers were also climbing and running around no problem.  The worlds are designed for kids, but there is nothing cramped about them.  Parents can join in the fun and explore everywhere themselves along side their kids.
What is also great about the Discovery Museum is how learning is mixed in with the fun.  You can run around the Climbasaurus and hang out in the Dino Dig at the Dinosaurium, but you can also learn about fossils and how paleontology happens.  In Under Construction, you can build structures with blocks, but then flip a switch and see how your building withstands an earthquake, making kids attempt to construct more and more stable structures.  Ease into medical emergencies with the newly renovated Cooper Checkup while learning about the human body.  The Science Lab visually demonstrates pneumatics with scarves and momentum with Duplos.  Flip over the slices of pizza and discover if you're holding a half, fourth, or eighth of the pie. 
The Discovery Museum in its entirety is convenient, uncluttered, and clean.  A large coat room by the entrance leaves everyone free to play without worrying about leaving belongings somewhere.  There is a snack area in the front where you can enjoy something you brought from home or something yummy purchased at the J-Dogs stand.  The Discovery Museum Store allows you to bring some of the fun home with you.   Also, on your way in to the exhibits, be sure and check out the shows and craft times that will be happening throughout the day.
The Discovery Museum is designed to be enjoyed by a huge variety of ages.  There are three specific crawlers only soft play areas (two in the Dinosaurium and one in Little Discoveries), so even the youngest can have a fun time.  For the 4 and under set, Little Discoveries is a barnyard world built just for their enjoyment.  Older kids will have a great time playing hockey like the Flyers, putting together their own segment for the News and Weather, and taking a turn on the Climbing Wall.  Parents and grandparents will be delighted to find ample seating throughout the Museum.  Daily Vacationer Jr recommends a stop at the Silver Diner when you start to get tired where you can hang out in a booth watching clips from 50s and 60s musical performances and TV shows while your kid puts together your "order".
The Discovery Museum is just what it says it is: a place to discover.  Step inside a real bubble, change a tire, dress up as a knight and defend your castle, draw on the wall in a dark room, watch an underwater cyclone, come face to face with live animals, film yourself in front of a blue screen, or just make the biggest fake pizza ever and sit in a comfy booth to admire your handiwork.  This is one place that anyone with kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces, etc. should not miss out on.  And do yourself a favor and purchase a membership - there's no way you can experience everything in one day!  The Garden State Discovery Museum is someplace to keep coming back to and finding something new to enjoy each time.

The Garden State Discovery Museum is available for party rentals.
(Check out their chalkboard painted party rooms!)
(We recommend the Garden Combo for the best deal.)
View the Interactive Map!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Share your favorite places to bring the kids in the Greater Philadelphia Area through Twitter (must be following DailyVacaJr) or Instagram (must be following dailyvacationerjr) with the hashtag #kidsizedadventures for another chance to win a Family 4 Pack to the Garden State Discovery Museum.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014: What a Vacation!

As we take the time to reflect on this past year, we at Daily Vacationer are absolutely blown away by 2014.  We were able to see and do more things than we ever imagined in the Greater Philadelphia area - and we loved every second of it!  We had such a great time during all of our travels and explorations, and truly loved every place that we visited and every experience that we got to have.
If pressed, we would have to admit to having a few favorite moments: tagging along with the Philly Bike Tour Co., enjoying the beautiful music of the Philadelphia Orchestra, getting a grand tour of the Battleship New Jersey, looking at fun from a child's perspective at the Garden State Discovery Museum, searching for dinosaurs during our own Dino Week, and experiencing an intimate look at the Woodmere Art Museum.  Daily Vacationer also needs to express a sincere appreciation to The Academy of Natural Sciences who were the first ones to take a chance on letting us visit and have since become one of our home away from homes in the city.
Beyond the personal fun and enjoyment we get out of our travels, Daily Vacationer is thrilled to have been able to meet so many of the people who are behind the scenes at the events and locations that residents and visitors to the Philadelphia area get to experience - zookeepers who talk adoringly about the animals they care for, curators who take us through every nook and corner of their museum (or battleship or estate) and answer inane questions like whether or not they have a nickname for their sphinx, scientists who patiently explain things in a way our non-scientific minds can appreciate, gardeners who stop what they are doing to tell us what they are doing, children's museum staff members who spend their days making things unbelievably fun for others, families who open adventure parks or run farms together, and those who love their neighborhood/town/city so much that they devote their lives to telling others about why it is so wonderful. 
The people that we have had the privilege to meet this year have an incredible passion for their nook of Greater Philadelphia - and it is contagious!  Every place we visit we leave wondering how we are ever going to do it justice and hoping that the pictures we took are going to be enough to convey how awesome it really is.  From Philadelphia, out the Brandywine Valley, down to Wilmington, and back around again to Southern New Jersey, we love where we live and we love exploring it.  And hopefully (HOPEFULLY) we have managed this year to inspire some of you get out there and love it as well.
We look forward to a wonderful 2015 with new adventures and new daily vacations!  We are excited to be expanding our family to include a kids version of Daily Vacationer (Daily Vacationer Jr.) and we can't even tell you everything we'll get to enjoy.  Because that's also one of the great parts of Greater Philadelphia: You can vacation around it everyday and still have so much left to experience!

None of what we do would be possible without the help and support (trust and understanding) of A LOT of people.  So here is our 2014 list of sincere gratitude - thank you so so much (and we're sure we're forgetting a few):
Penn Museum
Adventure Aquarium
The Franklin Institute
Garden State Discovery Museum
Parkway Museums District
Academy of Natural Sciences
Longwood Gardens
Philly Bike Tour Co.
The Philadelphia Orchestra
The Kimmel Center
Diggerland USA
Philadelphia Chocolate Tours
Brandywine Zoo
Glen Foerd Estate on the Delaware
Fairmount Park Conservancy
The Play Café
Arasapha Farms
Philly Phlash
Tyler Arboretum
Philly Love Notes
Philadelphia CVB
Philadelphia Visitor Center
Creamy Acres Farm
Scott Arboretum
Chestnut Hill
Smith Memorial Playground
Association for Public Art
Delaware River Waterfront
Hill Creek Farms
Morris Arboretum
Johnson's Locust Hall Farm
Camden Children's Garden
Camden Riversharks
Elmwood Park Zoo
Brandywine River Museum
The Battleship New Jersey
Please Touch Museum
Cowtown Rodeo
Philadelphia Zoo
Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Philadelphia Flower Show
Historic Philadelphia
American Swedish Historical Museum
Free Library of Philadelphia
Camden Waterfront
Duffields Farm Market
Reading Terminal Market
South Street Headhouse District
Independence Seaport Museum
Whitall House/Red Bank Battlefield Park
Valley Forge
Woodmere Art Museum
Philadelphia Museum of Art
New Jersey State Museum
Delaware Children's Museum
City of Wilmington
Delaware Museum of Natural History
Delaware Art Museum
Linvilla Orchards
Historic Kennett Square
Downtown Haddonfield
Cohanzick Zoo

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