As voted by Trekaroo families, here are the Reviews of the Day from back in the day to today.
I love this place! It was so fun to see the Eagles, peruse the different learning activities for the kids, and learn about the Eagles and eagle conservation in the education room. The staff was well informed and ready to answer whatever questions we had. We also were able to take a picture while standing by an Eagle! We will be visiting again for sure!
I'm not sure that my four and five year old appreciated this tour as much as my husband and I did. Older kids (ages 8+, maybe even younger) could learn a lot of interesting area history on this tour. My five year old girl really enjoyed watching the mules pulling the boat up and down stream. My four year old boy enjoyed watching the lock opening and closing.
This is a one hour tour. There is a ranger/guide that narrates the trip. Our guide did an excellent job of explaining the role of the canal in local history to the children on the tour. My kids were just a bit too young to really "get it." First, she explained how the locks function as we were going through the first lock. She brought around a "key" (a big iron rod) to help open the lock so that kids could see it and touch it. She explained the history of using mules instead of horses.
Most of the trip, the guide explained how families took the boats up and down the canal to bring coal from Western MD to the Washington DC area. She explained the role of each family member and showed pictures of what jobs the children would have had on the boat. She also brought around a piece of coal for kids to see and touch.
If you have an extended visit to the area or are local, I totally recommend this tour for families with elementary school age kids.
Our family of four visited Thronateeska Heritage Center one summer afternoon. We were lucky enough to receive a guided tour through the Center. This option is available for anyone for only a nominal fee, and I highly recommend it. Without the tour, we would have enjoyed ourselves, but certainly not as much as we did. I’m always leery about history centers with my young boys…scared that they are not yet old enough to appreciate the exhibits. Lisa, our guide, clued right into their ages and took us on a tour that captivated the whole family.
Thronateeska is a science museum, train car display museum, and a planetarium all in one. It teaches visitors about history and exploration in the Albany area, as well as around the south.
The science museum included several hands-on exhibits for kids, situated in stations around the museum. There was a station for current events, like the 20th memorial of the flood of Albany, for archeology, paleontology, space exploration, sounds and colors, and more.
The boys loved the archeology exhibit that allowed them to climb on a “dig” and unearth items in drawers hidden within the exhibit. They examined flint arrowheads, many of which were found in the river that runs through Albany. They worked on a dinosaur puzzle, examined dinosaur bones, and discovered how pollution affects the water supply.
My youngest played “TV Camera Man” against the green screen while the oldest checked out the extra large kaleidoscope. Both of the boys loved playing on the “skeleton” of a piano, and then mixing colors with lights along the tall walls. We saw a solar powered car, an astronaut’s uniform, and much more!
After taking in the science museum, we headed outside to the back of the building. Here we found the old Union Station Depot with several train cars and a coal steam engine. We were able watch the model railway, which is housed within one of the train cars. It is an HO-scale model with multiple trains that wind through towns and forests.
The boys enjoyed the model railroad, but my youngest was delighted (to say the least,) at the steam locomotive and the red caboose. The exhibit also includes a baggage car and a mail car that made trips to New Orleans and Jacksonville.
The Wetherbee Planetarium is a 40-foot full dome planetarium. There is a small fee for watching a planetarium show or live presentation, but the minimal cost is worth every penny. We watched samples of several different shows, all of which captivated both boys. See the website for a schedule, many of which are suitable for kids as young as kindergarten.
Thronateeska offered high-quality hands-on exhibits suitable for children of all ages. I recommend a visit with the kids, especially a guided tour. Examine the sea shells, investigate dinosaurs, walk the solar system hallway, see the locomotive, and take in a planetarium show. You can whip through in about 90 minutes like we did, or investigate more thoroughly by spending an afternoon.
Disclosure: Thank you to Thronateeska Heritage Center and Albany CVB for the complimentary tour and planetarium montage. While we appreciate the generosity, all opinions here are my own.
If you are looking for a fun and peaceful way to experience Kings Canyon , horseback riding is the way to go. The stables are located in Cedar Grove, just No prior experience is necessary, these horses are walkers. They have been family operated since 1903. One hour rides are $40 and two hour rides are $70. My kids are seven so we opted to take the one hour ride (anything longer would have been too much at that age) which was perfect for our family. The scenery was simply beautiful, though the trail was a bit dusty in places. I loved riding the horse along the river with the narrow, towering canyon surrounding us. Our trail guide wasn't much of a talker , which was nice because we got to enjoy the peace of our surroundings but I would have liked to have a bit of the history of the area with maybe some fun stories mixed in along the way. He did point out a couple plants which I appreciated.
- I recommend calling ahead to make reservations. If you don't there is a good chance to get on the trail since Kings Canyon is so remote. If you opt to ride in Grants Grove, reservations are essential.
- It can get quite hot in Kings Canyon so I suggest booking a morning trail ride before the temps rise too high. It climbed up into the nineties while we were there.
- Closed toed shoes and long pants are a must.
- Always tip your guides!'
Disclosure- My family received complimentary trail rides as part of a media visit to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. All opinions are my own.
We walked all through the Botanic Garden on a hot and rainy afternoon in the summer. The kids picked up little pamphlets that had some written activities for them to do. They were good for about ages 10 and up, but several of them lost interest in them. We all liked the different rooms that housed different types of plants: tropical, desert, orchids, etc. The medicinal plants were the most interesting because a few of them were edible such a papaya, pineapples, and aloe.
The Children's Garden area was enjoyed by all the ages of our kids (baby to 14) because there was lots to explore. The whole area wasn't super large, but there was a bamboo "forest" that was grown into paths and the kids liked hiding in there. The youngest of our kids enjoyed pumping water and watering the plants with watering cans. Their shirts and shorts got watered as much as the plants which made it tricky for walking around DC later in the day.