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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guest Adventures - Alamance County

This is a guest post by Jennifer Aceves. If you're interested in contributing to GSOFamilies, please email gsofamilies@gmail.com

On Saturday we took our 3 year old and 5 year old on a day trip to Alamance County. We started out in downtown Graham, home to the Alamance Children's Museum. Downtown Graham is very quaint and quiet. The courthouse is at the center of town and around the circle are a few shops and restaurants. The Children's Museum is a couple of blocks from downtown, close enough to park one place and walk to the other if you wanted.

We got there in time for lunch and had been recommended to try Barrister's but ended up eating at the Graham Soda Shop instead. The inside reminded us of Lou's Cafe from Back to the Future, very nostalgic. The food was nothing special, but was decent and reasonably priced. From there we walked to the Children's Museum.

For a children's museum on a Saturday afternoon it was not crowded at all! It is a pretty typical children's museum, with an art station, a dentist office, a farm, a restaurant, a train table, and a post office. The girls right now are really into pretend play so they had a great time in these areas, though the museum also has a few unique features. In the center of the museum is a huge metal "beanstalk". It stretches all the way to the high ceiling with netting around the leaves so the kids can climb all the way up. Mine weren't that daring but if your kids like to climb on the play places at Chick-Fil-A or McDonalds, they'd love this! Right beside that is a room made out of glass so the kids can paint right on the walls. There is also a room with giant foam blocks for building. However, we spent most of our time outside. There is a grassy area with bouncy balls, monster feet, and a jungle gym, and a huge sand pit, and the best part of all is a little stream for "fishing" and splashing and playing. If you go here when the weather is nice I would definitely recommend bringing a change of clothes! My 5 year old only got a little bit wet but my 3 year old needed a complete change. With admission at $5 per person, it is worth the trip, especially if you pair it with another local attraction, such as Burlington City Park.

City Park is a favorite with our girls because of the rides. It is a nice park, with athletic fields, walking trails, a good sized playground and picnic shelters, but the rides are what the kids love. They have a train (much like the one at City Lake Park in High Point/Jamestown), a carousel (a much nicer one than City Lake Park), and 3 other kiddie rides like you'd find at a carnival. At $0.75 per ride, it is also pretty reasonable; we spent $10 on tickets and the girls rode 2 kiddie rides plus all 4 of us rode the carousel and the train. So for $30 plus the cost of gas, we spent a fun afternoon in Alamance County!

Guest post by Jennifer Aceves. Thanks Jennifer for sharing your adventures with us!
If you'd like to contribute to GSOFamilies, please email gsofamilies@gmail.com

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Date Night in Greensboro

I am always open to trying new places, especially locally owned and operated businesses. I had a Living Social voucher for Bloody Mary's, a relatively new oyster bar and grill downtown. My friend and I weren't starving, so we settled on a half peck of steamed oysters and a few drinks. The oysters were delicious, and the restaurant atmosphere was nice. The waitstaff could use some training (she didn't know the drink specials or prices, wasn't sure about the beers, and didn't know the prices for the oysters which are listed as Market Value on the menu), but other than that we thoroughly enjoyed the drinks and oysters. In the end, for four drinks and the oysters, our bill was only $2 after the $36 voucher was applied! Granted, we already spent $18 on the voucher, but for a night out - not bad! Next time we'll have to try a bloody mary to drink - someone else ordered one while we were there and it looked amazing!

After dinner, we headed to Yo Daddy for dessert and another drink. For almost $20, we got a small cup of yogurt with a few toppings, a cupcake, and two beers. Yikes. The yogurt was yummy (mixed Waffle Cone with Cookies and Cream), and the cupcake was ok (Peanut Butter Cup) but nothing fantastic. The cake part of the cupcake was maybe enough for one bite; it had a peanut butter filling and about two inches of frosting on top. They do have some good craft beers available, and an average wine selection, but overall it was overpriced and it wasn't anything spectacular - there are better dessert options in Greensboro, in my opinion. However, they do have a really neat "Bubble Room" in the back, that can be reserved for parties and such. The staff member we spoke to said there is no fee to reserve the room, so that is a good option for small gatherings (maybe 20-25 people).

In the end, we supported two new local businesses which makes it all worthwhile - shopping local and spending local is important!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nightmares Around Elm Street Tour

Several months ago, I picked up a Groupon for Carolina History and Haunts tour of downtown Greensboro. I finally had a date that worked to attend the tour with a friend, and made an evening of it downtown last night, Friday, April 5.

We started with drinks and appetizers at MCoul's before walking over to the tour near the Melvin Municipal Building. The tour started around 8pm, and there were about 25-30 people. I know the company limits the number of guests per tour to ensure quality, so if you decide to take the tour, be sure to make a reservation!

We learned so much about the history of Greensboro - the tour first visited Blandwood Mansion and learned about the history and possible haunts associated with the building. We walked over and learned about historical graveyards and cemeteries that either were or still are in downtown Greensboro. We learned about stories both from decades ago and more recently (in the past year, even) that would made my skin crawl. Without giving too much away, let's just say the tour is totally worth your time and money, especially if you are interested in the paranormal, but even if you are a paranormal skeptic. We learned about the building where MCoul's is, the Carolina Theatre, and some of the shops on Elm Street.

Dressed in tails and a top hat, carrying a candle lantern, Dan the Tour Guide did a great job of interacting with the people on the tour, providing historical information, and giving background on why certain places are said to be haunted. It may seem weird to take a tour of the city where you live, but it was a good time and a great evening out. I highly recommend it!

Friday, April 5, 2013

NC Zoo Trip

Wednesday, April 3 was the middle of Spring Break for Guilford County Schools. I headed to the NC Zoo in Asheboro with my two girls and a friend - an 8 year old, a 3 year old, and a 2 year old. We have a family membership, which is great because I don't feel like we need to see everything at the zoo every time we visit. We can take our time (important with toddlers!) and walk through North America on one visit, and Africa on the next. The membership pays for itself after two visits, so it is well worth it to take advantage of the deal!

We always start our zoo adventures with a stop to rent a double stroller. I always have a backpack with me with lunch and water bottles, so if the kids aren't in the stroller, the backpack is. And let's be honest - our zoo requires A LOT of walking! I think the prices just went up to $10 for a double stroller (I seem to recall it being cheaper last time we were there), but it is still well worth the expense. Even the 8 year old likes to sit and catch a ride sometimes!

We headed to Africa, and visited the Dinsosaurs exhibit for the first time too ($10 extra for the four of us). It wasn't as big as I was expecting, but it was really neat to see and hear the dinosaurs moving and roaring! The kids absolutely loved it too, especially the one that "spits" at you! Spring is definitely a good time to visit the zoo - all the animals are out and active. The gorillas and the giraffes were definitely the most-loved by the kids during this trip though, they were so close and active! Plus a baby gorilla and a baby giraffe are just fascinating for kids.

I like that the zoo offers the tram service to move to different points throughout the zoo. We always utilize it when we are there, and the kids think it is fun to ride a tram. In fact, they'd probably be just as happy riding the tram as they are with seeing the animals!

All in all, if you're looking for a fun way to spend a day with your kids, the NC Zoo is great. Be prepared for lots of walking, animal sightings, and fun!

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