Fun At Morris Arboretum

*While this is a sponsored post, all reviews are our own

There’s nothing more soothing to the soul than being out in nature and can even help you de-stress. As school starts in less than 2 weeks, we needed to relax from the chaos of school supply and clothes buying and headed out to Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to check out their 92 acres of plants, trees and gorgeous layout including their tree adventure exhibit which is 50 feet high. They were kind enough to provide complimentary entry for our adventure. As you pull in, the winding driveway makes you feel as if you’re pulling up to a castle which the Welcome Center looks very close to it.

We headed into the Gift Shop to pick up the Scavenger Hunt papers which rotate every so often. Their papers asked the question of ‘Where does the White Rabbit live?’ and you have to visit 10 different spots throughout the Arboretum. My little scholars poured over the clues and the map and we headed out along the path. The first stop was the Tree House exhibit. The bridge led to a giant robin’s nest with 3 eggs which held their first clue. After we checked out the nest, we walked along the other bridge path to the squirrel’s nests (which were nets in the floor that you can scramble around on). They all loved trying to walk from one side to the other except for Chase. He stepped on it and said no way Mommy, he’s not the best with heights so we watched the other kids scramble around.

There are so many beautiful setups including a rose garden with fountains, sculptures everywhere and even an electric toy train setup.

Each flower, plant, shrub and tree have either a tag or a plaque that tells you their name, scientific name and where they are from. They come from all over the world which is amazing and gorgeous. There’s a swan pond where we saw the cutest ducklings and chipmunks running all over.

Each area is wheelchair accessible which is perfect for everyone. The staff is so friendly and answered any questions my kids had. And we even figured out the answer to the scavenger hunt! We had such a great time here that we’re already planning to come back.

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Hanging With Dinosaurs in Philadelphia

We made a bucket list of all the things that we would like to see this year, a lot of which we have actually accomplished so far. But one of these have had my two youngest begging to go see: dinosaur bones! We were on the lookout for a museum we could visit that offered my children the chance to see dinosaur bones and that would fit in with our busy summer schedule. The Academy of Natural Sciences, located in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, were amazing to make their dreams come true. The wonderful staff provided us with complementary admission to go through their three story museum and to take a look at their brand new animatronic bugs exhibit!

Their new exhibit of animatronic bugs is amazing. My older kids thought it was so cool how they moved and loved reading the different signs telling you all about them. Being so large helped us see the body details better which was neat. My youngest only liked some of them as he’s a little iffy about bugs in general.

After exploring the bugs, we headed over to the live animal show. They showed us a red tailed hawk and an armadillo (which my daughter has now been begging us to get her one). The facts were explained so even my youngest could understand.

The museum offers something for everyone: from a live butterfly exhibit to dinosaur bones to a mummy and so much more! There are three levels to explore. The dioramas made you feel as if you were in this habitats and they even had one that they were working on so visitors could see how the staff put them together. There’s a dig section where your children can look for fossils. And the top level is very hands on with books, a giant microscope, and several aquariums with spiders, scorpions and snakes oh my!

It was a perfect day and my children learned so much. If your travels bring you to Philadelphia, please check them out!

Getting Your Trip Approved by School

With the new school year starting in 3 weeks, at least for my children, many parents stop thinking of traveling with their children and will maybe decide on a trip for Christmas. It doesn’t have to be that way, most trips are easily turned into educational trips if you know how to word them to their school the right way. We’ve gotten approvals to go to New York City; Williamsburg, Virginia and even to Disney World in Orlando during the school year! Here are a couple of easy tips that have been able to grant my children the approved absences for school and can help you with your trips too.

1)      Try to stay away from going on vacations near major holidays. While you can usually get approval for excused absences, some schools won’t approve them. By going a couple weeks before or after a major holiday, you can also save money as the prices sky rocket during those times.

2)      Look around the city you’re visiting for educational museums or locations, even unique places offer these options. I love using the websites https://www.atlasobscura.com and https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/states/ to find places that most people wouldn’t have heard of. For instances, if you say you’re going to Disney for a trip sometimes schools will decline the excused absences. But if you say you’re going to visit St. Augustine, which is a historic town and alleged site of the Fountain of Youth, you will have better luck getting approved.

3)      Get your form submitted early. Don’t wait until the week before. Make sure your form is legible and clearly points out the educational aspects of your trip.

4)      Talk up the educational parts to your child. They’ll go to school and tell their teacher and friends about the amazing trip Mommy and/or Daddy is planning. They’ll get excited which spreads around them!

5)      But most importantly, even if you don’t get approved, still go! The world is large and children can learn so much more out there than they could ever learn in school! We haven’t gotten approved for some trips but I don’t let that stop us from going. I work with their teachers to get their school work if we’re going to be gone for a week or more so they don’t fall behind. So have fun, enjoy life and experience the world!

Making a Splash at Sahara Sam’s

*This is a sponsored post but all reviews and pictures are our own

This heat wave had us running to Sahara Sam’s Oasis Indoor & Outdoor Water Park in Berlin, New Jersey to cool down and have some fun. This place is amazing! They are open year round and offer both an indoor and outdoor water park. You can buy full day tickets, such as what was provided to us, or half day tickets or even a year round membership which is definitely worth it if you live close enough.

They have areas for all ages including a toddler area and an adult only warming tub (not quite hot enough to be a hot tub, just an area for adults to warm up). The indoors water park has sky lights so it feels as if you are outside and offers head first mat racing, an indoor pool, a lazy river, a surfing simulator, two tube slides, a play area with sprinkling water and three smaller water slides, a family raft tube, a body slide, and  a leap pad crossing with a basketball area roped off for older kids. The outdoor sections offers a splash pad, a leisure pool and a wave pool. The lazy river was their favorite especially as they tried to push each other under the waterfalls.

The indoor pool was the perfect temperature and had benches on the sides of the pool so my youngest could reach and still play around with us. We must have ridden the family raft tube 3 or 4 times, they loved it!

We played continuously until the familiar whine of hungry children started. Sahara Sam’s offers something for everyone’s tastes. We chose to dine in the Desert Palm Café and enjoy the outdoor area. They also offer a food truck set up outdoors by the pool and Chickie’s & Pete’s inside by the entrance. The food is a little on the expensive side so be prepared for that but oh it was worth it. After we let lunch settle down, we headed out to the wave pool to have some fun. My little fishes loved the wave pool, Chase giggled each time he rode over a wave.

This place is the perfect family outing if you don’t feel like heading to the beach or fighting the crowds to a public pool and if you want to swim in the middle of winter. Your family will have so much fun and I’m making plans to come back here this winter!

We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz!

We were invited by Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for dinner and to watch the wonderful musical Wizard of Oz. My children were so excited to attend as they’ve never been and I haven’t been here in over 15 years so I might have been just as excited as they were.

As we walked in, it doesn’t look like the theater changed much. So many childhood memories came flooding back. You can either get tickets for dinner and the show or just the show. They offer many different shows throughout the year. The remaining shows for this year are The Wizard of Oz from June 21 to August 4; Swing from August 9 to September 15; Sister Act from September 20 to November 10; and A Christmas Carol from November 15 to December 30. They also offer children’s shows: Seussical from July 6 to August 3 and Cinderella from November 30 to December 30. The shows change every year so check out their website for all their shows http://www.dutchapple.com.

We were seated in the second row, perfect for my two youngest to see the stage. As soon as you walk in, the delicious food aromas draws your attention to the buffet. Their salad bar has everything you could want on a salad and their hot food bar offered fish, chicken and veggies; even perogies! I was in food heaven. But don’t fill up on the buffet just yet. They also have a dessert bar and make-your-own ice cream sundae bar! Each show also offers specialty drinks with or without alcohol that come with souvenir glasses.

After we stuffed ourselves and felt like we couldn’t move, it was time for the show! It was amazing! The actors and actresses were phenomenal, my youngest laughed so hard I think he snorted the one time. We’ve seen the movie but it’s a whole other experience watching it on stage.

If you haven’t been here before, plan on making a stop. It’s money well spent and the experience is perfect for parents and children!

Hersheypark Happy

If you’ve never traveled to Hershey, Pennsylvania; please add this amazing city to your travel itinerary. Hershey offers many wonderful museums including the Hershey Story and the AACA Museum, delicious restaurants and gorgeous hotels including the Hotel Hershey which features a wonderful spa where you can receive a whipped chocolate bath. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? There is another family fun attraction that Hershey is known for and that’s Hersheypark! Thank you to the wonderful folks at the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company for inviting Single Mom, Strong Traveler to spend the day at the park by providing tickets. While this is a sponsored post, all the review is our own. It was an amazing day!

As you pull into town, check out the light posts. They’re Hershey Kisses, how neat is that! And you can smell chocolate as your get near to the park, just the smell makes my mouth water. It does cost $15 to park so don’t forget that cost. You are allowed to bring in one sealed water bottle per person but no other food or drinks. You can leave the park for lunch and return with a hand stamp. When you park, enjoy the tram ride to the park and save your feet for the park. Hershey Park is very large, 121 acres and every inch is filled with fun. There are rides for all ages and heights, check out the candy categories to find your height level. This makes the rides so much easier especially for smaller children. Chase, my 4 year old, loved looking for his color throughout the park.

Hersheypark is two parts: the regular amusement park rides and the water park. We decided to spend the morning going on the regular rides then hitting the water park after lunch to cool down. There are shops along the walkway to the park entrance. As you walk in, you can feel the fun and excitement in the air. And you could certainly see it in my children as my two youngest could hardly stand still. Make sure to grab a map so you can keep track of where you’re going. The park is divided into 6 regions: Founder’s Way, Kissing Tower Hill, Midway America, Pioneer Frontier, The Boardwalk and The Hollow. It made it easier to figure out what rides we went on.

Throughout our fun day, we rode the Comet for my youngest’s first big roller coaster: the Comet. It’s a white wooden coaster and perfect for him. He loved it all except for the first hill. We also jumped on Lightning Racer, a dual coaster where the trains ‘race’ each other to the finish line; the Super Dooper Looper, a one loop coaster; the Wild Mouse and Laff Trakk, an indoor roller coaster that spins the riders around throughout a glowing fun house. The park is so much fun and your day will fly by before your eyes. A couple other rides that we decided were our favorites are the Music Express, Reese’s Xtreme Cup Challenge (an indoor interactive ride where you shoot targets with laser tag guns), the Howler, and the WaveRider in the water park.

If you’re looking for great park food, check out Founders Way Funnel Cake for amazing funnel cakes or Chickie’s & Pete’s for mouthwatering burgers and crabfries. There is a food stand for all tastes and diets including some delicious ice cream stands.

After lunch, we headed to the waterpark to cool down. It’s huge and there’s a water slide for everyone! Chase ride his first big water slide and loved it! Riley tried out the Wave Rider and lasted for a while. I didn’t get too many pictures as I forgot my waterproof case at home.

So come along with us and check out the fun! And if your fancy is intrigued, check out their website at www.hersheypark.com. This truly is the Sweetest Place on Earth and it’s calling your name to visit!

Experiencing the Crayola Experience

With the heat rising to 100 degrees, we headed up to the coolest place in Easton Pennsylvania; the Crayola Experience. If your children are like mine, my fridge is covered with drawings and we go through crayons like crazy. Thank you to the amazing people at the Crayola Experience for providing Single Mom, Strong Traveler tickets in exchange for our visit and honest review. This place is amazing. The best parking is in a parking garage around the back side as it’s hard to find street parking. From the very beginning, you will see the Crayola crayons all over the front and back of the building. My youngest loved the crayons but was a little worried that they would fall on us at first.

When you get in line for your tickets, the staff will provide everyone with a bag for your souvenirs and two tokens for the fun upstairs. There is an elevator for the floors so you can bring a stroller up with you if you need it.

There are 4 floors filled with so much fun and amazing things to try. The first exhibit we came to, which starts on the 2nd floor, was to pick a name for your own crayon. This is one of the attractions you need the tokens for. It’s one token per crayon. They are 5 different colors set up in the room and you can pick what you want your name for it to be. My youngest picked cornflower blue and named his Chase N Mommy. It prints out a label and drops a crayon out. Then you go the wrapping machine where it explains how to lay the label and crayon down in order for it to wrap correctly. Then you have your own named crayon! You can buy more tokens if you’re interested. Right next to the crayon naming section, is a movie section that will show you how crayons are made and is quite interesting.

You’ll then enter the Rainbow Rain, where you can stand under an electronic melting wax rainbow, and Stomp & Play. This is the electronic section. There is an electronic floor where you can step on it to play games.

Then move over to the Art Alive section. You can create anything you like and have it transferred to the wall screen and watch your art come alive!

The 2nd room has Toddler Town: a place just for your toddlers to climb through a playground and enjoy a giant lite bright screen. Your older children can color at the Colossal Caddy or watch their paper creations come alive through computer animation. Then as a family, head over to Become A Star and print out your own coloring photo page of you or grab some delicious ice cream.

Model Magic and Modeling Madness is where your second token is needed. You select your modeling magic clay from 5 different colors and enjoy creating. Grab your creation and head to Cool Moves to turn into a crayon! Then head through the history hall to more excitement on the 3rd floor.

At the top of the steps: Welcome to Crayonapolis and learn how to travel your boat through the waterways! Learn how locks and canal systems work and explore the town. This was so much fun as we’re planning on going to a lock and canal system later this summer and gave them a little more understanding.

After docking your boat, heading through to the Color Playground. Let your children climb through a giant crayon and explore 3 different levels and finish sliding down. This was a great way for them to release some energy after walking around. After they slide down, enjoy Scribble Square where they can color on a hippopotamus or the floor with dry erase markers and chalk. While they’re climbing, grab a snack or a drink and sit at one of the many benches or tables.

The 4th floor offers 3 different stations: Drip Art which is where you swirl your paper while dropping paint on the paper, Meltdown where you draw with melting crayons, and Melt & Mold where you can melt your favorite color crayon into a mold and make a new crayon.

The Crayola Experience is an amazing place and all my children gave it 5 Crayons or Thumbs Up! As we were leaving, my youngest asked if we can come back for his birthday. It’s such a unique attraction that if you’re anywhere near Easton, please make plans to check them out! And don’t forget to look for the worlds largest crayon before you leave!

Strasburg Scooters

If you’ve never been to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania; then you definitely have to come for a visit. You might not even want to leave. While this is my hometown, I’m still finding so much new and fun stuff to do and see and eat, it’s constantly changing and growing. It’s always fun to play tourist where you live.

Well my children went to visit with my parents for the weekend so I decided to try something I’ve been dying to do but just haven’t had the chance yet. It’s a scooter tour with Strasburg Scooters, located right in Strasburg by the train station. Marc and Nikki Crusemire for providing a complimentary tour. I highly recommend you try one of their tours. It was so fun and the guides are very informative.

My ticket was for the 3 hour ride on a single scooter. While I’ve ridden ATVs, tractors and so forth; a scooter was a new experience but now I want to buy one. You’ll start out your experience by checking in and getting fitter for a helmet. As you go back outside to pick your scooter, the tour guides will come around and explain step by step how to start it and what the controls are. You’ll need to be there 45 minutes before your tour starts. The scooters are simple to understand and they have you go about ten feet back and forth until you’re comfortable operating it. Then they’ll send you for a ride around the block to get used to riding with traffic and turning. Once your whole group is comfortable, off you go!

The tour takes 3 hours and is about 40 miles around the back country roads of Lancaster. Our tour guide was Ross. Safety is a big priority so your guide will explain how to cross each intersection and wait to make sure everyone gets across safely. As we rode along, he would stop and explain what certain buildings and places were and provide information about the Amish and their way of life.

A neat aspect of the tour is they stop at Amish homes along the way and give fruit snacks out to the Amish children. They hear the scooters and run to the road to meet him. It was so cute, they started doing this about 4 years ago with permission from their parents.

The views on the tour are amazing, I fell in love with this county all over again. Stop by if you’re in Pennsylvania and take a ride!

Adventures Beyond Mom

My children and I go on a lot of adventures just us but they love going places with their grandparents, aunts and uncles as well. Sometimes those adventures make them more excited because, and this is their words ha-ha, Mom isn’t as cool. No hurt feelings, I love having a great family network and support for the kids. These adventures can help them grow as a person and strengthen their family bonds. And sometimes I’m jealous of the places they get to go.

My parents live near the shore so they get to go to the beach quite often, more than me, and they love it. We call my daughters little fish as they never want to leave the water while my boys are more sandmen and try their best to dig to the other side of the world.

Other great adventures they get to go on with my parents are to a zoo by their house, rides on the boardwalk including a water park, and even a Christmas trip to historic Williamsburg, Virginia as a family vacation. This was by far my favorite whole family vacation. It is beautiful there during that time of the year and I highly recommend that you visit during that season if you don’t mind the cold.

They’ve also started to do individual trips with each of them. My one daughter plays viola and my father took her to see Lindsey Stirling in NYC who she loves. I think this was her favorite trip.

My 10 year old son has been stating for over a year that he is going to join the Coast Guard once he graduates high school so my parents surprised him with a trip to Coast Guard Days in New Jersey. From the smile on his face, that was the best day of his life so far. My other two older children are still deciding on where they want to go with them.

Along with the amazing adventures my parents take them on, my sisters and brothers-in-law have taken the kids on adventures around their towns and have gifted trips for birthdays instead of presents. They’ve gone pumpkin picking during the fall and spent the night.

My oldest son went skiing for the first time and actually did pretty well. His second trip was to a Philadelphia Phillies game with my middle sister and brother-in-law, he loves baseball (plays center field) and had a ball. My daughters chose to go to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with them for their birthdays. They chose to visit the Liberty Bell and Liberty Hall, they love learning about historical sites. My middle son ventured to Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey as his birthday trip. Now that is an amazing aquarium, I love the Shark Bridge and tunnel. And they also have the best named penguin there ‘Cassie’, I might be a little biased ha-ha.

All these amazing experiences help shape my children’s views of the world and help them grow as an individual person. And I love how they learn so much without realizing that they’re learning. They will talk about the trip for days afterwards and look for new places to add to their lists. I’m so grateful for my family for helping them explore this world as well. Do your children go on adventures with family members? Where was their favorite trip?

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