Latest Reviews
from trekaroo family travelers

Crayolabird
Crayolabird
Icon_reviews_xsmall 105 Icon_helpful_votes_xsmall 55
January 06 2017
1 family found this helpful
Violetwhite_word
"Indoor Pool with Waterslides During Special Hours"

Splashdown has been a staple in the Columbia community for years.  Recently, however, the watersides themselves underwent a complete remodel and you no longer use inner tubes to slide!  You just slide down on your body.  

Be sure to check the hours for Splashdowm ahead of time because they aren't always open.

Over the last month or so I've got to this facility three times and here are my impressions, also based on the experiences of my kids because I didn't actually swim - I was watching my twin four year olds in the baby pool while my older children went down the water slides.

The watersides: my kids and my nieces and nephews LOVED them!  They said the water was warm and no one complained about going up the stairs or needing to wait long.  The rode them countless times and even my nephew who is six could touch the bottom in the pool where you land.

In that same pool there is a diving board and a rope swing that operate exclusively and it seems to switch by the hour i.e. from 1-2 the rope swing is open and from 2-3 the diving well is open.  The line for the rope swing got a little long but for my kids, it was fun enough that they didn't mind.  There are several picnic tables all around the pool where you can put your things and the pool was actively lifeguarded while I was there (calling out some kids that were being to silly in line for the rope swing, etc.)

Within this same large contained area, there is a fenced off baby pool with a locked gate.  Inside the baby pool area there are picnic tables and chairs and several elevated areas where you can put all your gear without it getting wet.  The baby pool is beach entry and goes to about 2.5 at the deeper end.  The water isn't super warm, my kids always got too cold to swim after about an hour and change but they still had a lot of fun.  There are no water features or play structures in that area, which probably would've helped them to play longer if they'd been available.  I did also notice, on our first visit, that there was a lot of black pebbly material on the bottom of the baby pool.  When I came back for our second visit they were actually in the middle of solving the problem and by my third visit it was gone, so it appears that they are actively maintaining the facility.

There is also a snackbar in this large pool area with reasonable prices.  They sell soda, whole pizzas, chips and ice cream bars.  One of the days we went they had a "snack n slide" promotion where for $3 you get a large soda, chips and an ice cream, which is a really good deal and my kids loved that treat.

Additionally, there is another pool down a short hallway where you can just play and swim, more of a regular swimming pool.  The water is chilly, my kids said, and they didn't swim and play long.

The restrooms are clean and the shower water got warm.  I need to mention that there is only ONE family changing room in the entire facility.  So if you are a parent of children of the opposite gender over the age of 5, you have no choice but to wait for that one room if you want to shower and change with your child.  I have had to wait for quite a long time to use it in the past, depending on how crowded the pool is.

Otherwise, my crew is always excited when I tell them we are going to leave the snow, cold and rainy weather outside and spend some time swimming here.  With only its' two water slides, it can't be compared to Great Wolf Lodge or other indoor water parks.  But as a local attraction to keep kids busy for an afternoon, it does a good job.

About:
Splashdown at Columbia Swim Center
10400 Cross Fox Lane,
Columbia,
Maryland 21044
Crayolabird
Crayolabird
Icon_reviews_xsmall 105 Icon_helpful_votes_xsmall 55
January 06 2017
1 family found this helpful
Violetwhite_word
"A Kid-Friendly Choice on the National Mall"

I chose to visit this museum during winter break with my four sons ages 14, 11, 4 and 4.  My sister and her four kids (ages 12, 10, 6 and 5) joined us.  We parked along the street right in front of the museum on the Constitution Avenue side (if you'd like to do the same, for sure get there by 9:45am and put the parkmobile app on your phone ahead of time so you can pay and refill your meter from your smartphone from inside the museum).

We were there by 9:40 and there was already a line out front.  By the time the doors opened at 10am the line was all the way down the block and it stayed that way all day (by the time we left at 1pm I couldn't even see the end of the line!). This is really due to the slow process of going through security, so just be prepared and maybe bring something for your kids to do while they wait, I heard a woman say they waited in line for 45 minutes to get inside.  I should also mention, though, that I've come in the spring and fall on a week day and walked right in so I'd say it's more of a holiday/summer concern.

While I was in line, the man behind me saw I had a cooler lunch bag with me and asked if I was worried because the sign out front says NO FOOD.  I told him that you just aren't allowed to eat in the museum but I've packed a lunch for my family every time I've ever come and we eat downstairs in the large cafeteria and I've never had a problem.  

Once inside we headed straight to the new Q?ius lab on the groundfloor.  It's designed with older children in mind (the website says 11 and up) and is set up with computers and microscopes with touchscreen experiences and items to touch and explore.   The older children especially enjoyed the "collections" exhibit where you have access to thousands of collection items that you can put under microscopes.  I appreciated that this area is cordoned off so that the older kids could enjoy their quiet experience while they younger children couldn't get over into the drawers and damage anything.  My 14 year old son enjoyed this so much we had to drag him away.  My sister was particularly impressed with the attentiveness of the staff.  When her six year old son asked a question about a jaw, a staff member went and found a specimen for him and spent several minutes helping him to understand. My four year old boys were surprisingly amused for about fifteen minutes on the computers before I was needing to actively engage them and after about half an hour total they were done.

The large dinosaur exhibit is still under construction although they have a large temporary exhibit with much to see if you have dinosaur lovers in your family.

You walk through the mummies to get to the insect zoo - just be aware they there are REAL unwrapped mummies in cases down at the eye level of little kids.  My four year old son was very disturbed by the infant mummy we looked at, so just be aware and steer your children past if you think it's a concern.

The insect zoo is always fun with a little tunnel to crawl through, a large home model with buttons to touch and every time I've been there, there has been a staff member out with some kind of insect to touch for those who are willing.

The museum is so large, we've never seen it all in one visit, but other exhibits my crew particularly enjoy are the gems and minerals (such great I Spy and opportunities for creative name-games here!) The newish mammal exhibit is VERY well done and I highly recommend the film there.  It's short and fun and my kids love it.  This time we also visited the activity room for young children, called Q?rius Jr. This hands on room had puzzles and puppets, microscopes and dress-ups, things to touch, books  and a table with craft/stamping activities.  There is always someone monitoring the door so kids can't escape and they only let in a limited number of people at a time so it's never too crowded.  We enjoyed ourselves for quite a while before we headed home.

This museum is a wonderful resource for anyone curious about the world around us and just the nature of the exhibits and especially the two rooms for kids make it a very family friendly place to visit.   We love it!

About:
National Museum of Natural History
10th St & Constitutional Avenue,
Washington,
District of Columbia
January 06 2017
0 families found this helpful
Violetwhite_word
"Stumbled upon this gem"

We found this small diner as we were driving from Vermont to Rhode Island.  Kids announced they were hungry for lunch and we didn't see many options.  So, we gave this place a try.  What a great find!  Mostly locals in the diner (which I always take as a good sign).  
Menu was big and varied...burgers, quesadillas, popcorn shrimp etc.  In addition to the regular menu, they had a long specials menu.  
I Love ice cream and they had a huge menu...but unfortunately, they don't serve ice cream this time of year.  I'll just have to go back!

About:
The Flip Side Grille
10 Route 12,
Fitzwilliam,
New Hampshire 03447
January 06 2017
0 families found this helpful
Violetwhite_word
"Good option after skiing"

We came off the mountain after a day of skiing with three kids, plus Grammy and another family...so total we were 9 people.  We were concerned we wouldn't be able to get a table big enough to accommodate, but there was ample space for groups in this loft style restaurant.  
Located above the Sitting Bull restaurant/bar as a loft style room.  Fun to sit and listen to the band playing in the Sitting Bull, but not great if you want to chat with friends.  
Menu is primarily pizza, but they have several appetizer options as well. Kids loved the Nachos.  
Good solid choice for apres-ski with the family!

About:
Vermont Pizza Company
77 Okemo Ridge Road,
Ludlow,
Vermont 05149
January 06 2017
1 family found this helpful
Violetwhite_word
"Great lesson for beginners"

Mountain Explorers is geared for ages 7-14 which was perfect for our 9 and 11 year olds.  Our kids had only skied once before and were eager to get back onto the slopes. The kids are in groups of about 5 kids based on ability.   All the instructors were friendly and got the kids engaged right away.  
Class runs from 9:45-3:30 (just enough time to have a run with the parents to show off their new skills).
Kids start on magic carpet and make it to the lifts at some point during the day.  We saw our kids on the slopes towards the end of the day working with the instructor.  At the end of the day, we had time for at least one if not two runs.  
Lunch is included in the program - and it's fairly substantial.  They get a choice of entrees from the cafeteria (burger, chick fingers, french fries and even a brownie at the end).  
Down Side: Lift tickets and ski rentals are NOT included.  
**You can rent skis on the mountain, but they are almost 3 times that of what we paid in town at The Totem Pole. It's worth it to make a stop there before your head onto the mountain.**

About:
Mountain Explorers Ski School at Okemo Mountain
77 Okemo Ridge Road,
Ludlow,
Vermont 05149