As voted by Trekaroo families, here are the Reviews of the Day from back in the day to today.
Kids Cooking at Stew Leonard’s.
Stew’s has always been a family friendly spot to do some grocery shopping. They have the farm theme mastered. Our kids enjoy the displays, samples, décor and the animatronic shows. This is theme park grocery shopping at its finest and the produce is the best around!
My 9 year old daughter and I recently discovered that Stew’s also has an offering of cooking classes aimed specifically at kiddos! This is right down her alley. She loves to get her garb on and help me out in the kitchen when I am cooking or baking. We were happy to see they had a Halloween Cupcake making event so we signed up and eagerly awaited our date.
We arrived at Stews already knowing what fun a shopping trip we would have. She was thrilled to find the GIANT pumpkin outdoors with a contest to guess the weight and have a chance at winning an ipad (we did not win). This was a great photo-op.
We were a bit bewildered when we entered, running late as we often do, as to where to check in. Check in is at the customer service desk in the main store. We were directed to go upstairs and follow the signs. The signs were well- marked but it was a bit intimidating weaving through employee only areas.
We checked in again in a large, well-equipped modern kitchen with our fun chef/instructors who were dressed up for Halloween as a Rubik’s Cube and a minion from Despicable me. About 10 children were signed up for the class which was designed for ages 5 and up. There are other classes available for the younger set. Our leaders were good with the children and well prepared. As the kids straggled in they kept them distracted with a coloring contest at tables before the festivities began.
When all the participants had arrived the kids got suited up in their aprons and gloves and began their class. Parents were not required to stay for the 1 and ½ hour, $25 class so it is a good chance to get your shopping done kid-free. My daughter was a bit disappointed that the baking was not part of the class. These ladies had baked sheets of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes in advance and had also prepared the various icings and decorations. Each child was provided a station and shown the first of 6 cupcakes they would decorate after some brief instruction.
They each made a variety of cupcakes ranging from a scarecrow to an eyeball and a spider web. Each was very different and of course each child had their own spin. My daughter liked the Jack-o-Lantern the best. There were plenty of fixings for each child and the instructors were helpful. The only negative was that the kids had to share some of the icing so there was a minor delay, but nothing overwhelming for this group.
After decorating the cupcakes the kids finished their coloring pages and the instructors handed out prizes for the most creative while the kids enjoyed some popcorn and juice. My daughter enjoyed this ‘date’ time with me and would love to try this again!
Disclosure: My daughter was provided this class complementarily from Stew Leonard’s to write this review. I was not required to express any specific opinion and all opinions are my own
Astro Orbiter is a revolving ride in the Tomorrowland section of the Magic Kingdom. The ride itself is actually above the People Mover, so you have to take an elevator to embark. The line is always long which I contribute to the factor of the elevators and their maximum capacity. This ride is one of those run-to-it-at-rope-drop rides that will save to precious waiting in line time. The view from the ride is breathtaking and Cinderella's Castle certainly does stand out. We have ridden the ride during Wishes and it was simply stunning.
For more than 50 years, the Hughes family has made farming at Springridge their livelihood and life. From the beginning crops of sour cherries to the most recent of pumpkins and strawberries, Springridge Farm has been an area favorite for not only its produce but for its freshly made baked goods, sauces, and jellies. In recent years, a family fun yard has been built on property and is educational and fun for children and adults!
My family had the opportunity to visit Springridge Farm during its annual Christmas Open House. Running from late November through mid-December, the farm is home to several fun activities including ornament decorating, cookie decorating, and a visit with Mr. North Pole himself! Yep, Santa makes his rounds throughout the barn on weekends from 10am-4pm! We were able to talk for a few minutes with the jolly old elf and my daughter had her picture taken with him.
Fun Farm Yard
This yard is a fun, safe play yard for children! Adjacent to the barn, the fun yard houses a corn trail, farm animals, giant sandbox, and a real antique tractor! Wagon rides are also available with farm yard admission. The ride lasts around 10 minutes and is a great way for families to learn all about the farm and its beginnings. On clear days the CN Tower is visible from the escarpment!
Admission is $5.00 per per person or an annual pass may be purchased for $80.00 for a family of four.
Bakery and Gift Shop
The Barn is the home to an enormous, two-story gift shop and bakery/cafe. Lovely pieces of art, handmade woolen items, and jewelry is available for sale and at extremely reasonable prices. Freezers full of farm made meat pies and other fruit pies, and sauces are near the front counter and ready to be taken home.
The best part about the farm? The Bakery! It was hard for my family to decide which freshly baked treats to try! With 4 in hand, we sat at one of several cafe tables and sampled sausage rolls, cheese pastry sticks, orange cranberry muffins, and chocolate croissants. Each bite was fresh and yummy! Freshly made sandwiches, soups and heartier options are for sale at the bakery counter as well, so bring your appetites!
And the verdict is…?
Fun! Fun! Fun! Although the weather was very cold, my family and I still trekked out to the Family Fun Yard and had an incredible time! We adored the barn animals, my husband and daughter made multiple trips through the corn trails, and the wagon ride was super fun! The bakery’s sweets were tasty and Santa making his rounds certainly put a smile on my daughter’s face. If we lived nearby, I’m certain we would make multiple trips every season!
Disclosure: My family and I received complimentary admission to the Family fun Yard for the purpose of this review. My review is honestly written and, as always, my opinions are my own.
Mountsberg Raptor Centre, located in Campbellville, ON, allows both children and adults to view and learn about Ontario’s native birds of prey and gives an insider’s view to their natural habitat and habits.
My family and I had the pleasure of taking a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the Raptor Centre in late November and, boy, what a pleasure it was! Our guide for the day, Amy, started our tour with detailed information regarding these beautiful birds. She explained to my daughter how particular types of feathers allow for catching prey in different ways, how a raptor’s claw placement on their feet determine how they feed, and why having feathers on a snowy owl’s foot is so important to their survival. My daughter loved learning about the birds and was completely enthralled with Amy’s stories and descriptions of the birds. Amy then went on to tell us about falconry-an ancient sport of using falcons for hunting purposes. We were shown falconry equipment and given a depiction of how one would train a falcon and maintain and care for their bird. We were shown gloves that are used to hold a bird of prey and were given the opportunity to try them on. Amy let us know that each Raptor Encounter tour is personalized and asked if we were squeamish at all, in which case she would leave out parts of the tour and add in other bits to replace them. After a huge, resounding “No!” we proceeded to the next part of the tour.
Our next stop was the care facility, a large unit where the raptors are housed and treated. With 15 species of raptors, each bird is housed and cared for individually, taking into account any special needs and requirements. Amy explained to us how every bird at the centre has been through some sort of trauma and can never be released back in the wild. We were told what raptors eat at the centre, and a few times shown just how they eat. For example, the Loggerhead Shrike catches its food and then uses native thorny trees to...well, I’ll leave that to the reader to look up the details. The Loggerhead Shrike is critically endangered and, as of the last count, only 15 pairs have been counted in Ontario. The Raptor Centre is helping to increase their numbers by being part of a recovery team that does just that. We were also given the opportunity to actually hold a screech owl.I happily accepted the task and the teeny owl was calm and easy to handle. My daughter was a bit leery of handling the bird and opted out.
Our final stop on our tour was a trek to the outdoor pens. Well-kept and spacious, the larger, heartier raptors are housed there. We were able to come nearly face-to-face with a Bald Eagle, a Golden Eagle, a Snowy Owl, and several other beauties. My daughter has had a fascination with Bald Eagles for a few years and was absolutely delighted to be within a few feet of Pawgwashiing Migizi, or “Pawgwa” as they caretakers call her. Her full name is Ojibway Indian and translates to "Bald Eagle of the Shallow Water”. Pawgwa was discovered along a lakeshore with a broken wing that had healed improperly and now resides in the Raptor Centre.
We learned so much that day about birds of prey and how we, as North American citizens can help lessen the impact that humans have on these amazing birds.
Additional Learning and Activities
The Raptor Centre is housed on The Mountsberg Conservation area, a protected wetlands. In addition to The Raptor Centre, loads of other family-friendly activities are available. Hiking, biking, fishing, boating, and snowshoeing are just a few!
The area opens at 8:30am year round and the gates are closed between 5pm and 7:30pm depending on the time of year. Gate entry fees are $7.50 per person.
Also available is the Birds of Prey Show, held twice daily on weekends at 12:00pm and 2:00pm and additional shows during the summer are held daily. The Birds of Prey Show is included with gate admission. After the show make a pit stop in the Exhibit Gallery to learn even more!
A gift shop and snack bar are also on site for souvenirs and snacks.
And the verdict is…?
Two thumbs up! Our knowledge of raptors and birds of prey was increased immensely because of our visit. Those who love these types of birds will delight in the personal tour and behind-the-scenes look at daily life in the centre. Those that aren’t so familiar with raptors (as we were) will enjoy the centre just as much!
Raptor Encounter Cost– $55.00 (+HST) for 2 people.
Additional guests (to a max. of 5) are $6.00 per person (+HST).
Disclosure: My family and I were given complimentary admission to the Raptor Encounters tour for the purpose of this review. This review is honestly written and, as always, my opinions are my own.
From the friendly staff to the generous portion sizes, the Smokehouse Grill is a great place for families! We ate at the Grill for breakfast and dinner during our weekend visit to the Westgate River Ranch in Central Florida.
The wait staff are so friendly and efficient. They took great care of us throughout our visit and even remembered what we preferred to drink! We felt like welcome guests.
We chose to eat indoors as well as out on the screened-in patio. Both dining areas are clean and comfortable. The outdoor area overlooks the Kissimmee River. It's fun to watch the airboats leaving the docks in search of alligators.
The breakfast buffet offers a wide variety of familiar favorites including local fruit, a made to order omelets station, cereals, and much more. Everything we tried was fresh and delicious. There's plenty of choices to please even the pickiest eater in your family.
The sandwich platters are generous! We could easily have shared one entrée but the food was so tasty that we wouldn't want to. The kids menu has a good variety of choices and can be modified to suit preferences.