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Welcome to GSOFamilies - the all-inclusive resource for families in the Greensboro, NC area. Any information shared on our website, twitter page, Facebook page, or Facebook group may also be included on our website! Please see a full listing of our social media and community groups here: http://www.gsofamilies.com/p/gsofamilies-social-media-and-community.html
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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Greensboro is GREAT for Families!

Greensboro has a lot to offer people of all ages. I moved to Greensboro for college in 1999, and have been here ever since. I've owned a local business, and started my family. My oldest is in a magnet school through Guilford County School system, and my youngest will join her when she's old enough to attend school. Greensboro really is a great place to raise a family, and we have an abundance of affordable or free options to learn, grow, and play. Many of the people I've met through GSOFamilies are transplants to the Triad area - so what is so appealing about Greensboro? I polled the GSOFamilies Facebook group and have compiled the responses below. You can also view our Best of Greensboro directory for all sorts of family-recommended businesses!

GSOFamilies LOVES Greensboro, North Carolina!

The Greensboro Science Center
The Greensboro Science Center is probably one of the top family attractions in Greensboro. It has several components, which are all included with your admission. The museum is indoors, where kids can learn about dinosaurs, fossils, weather, the human body, and more. Kids Alley is a separate space within the museum for kids to play and explore their imagination. The Carolina SciQuarium has penguins, otters, stingrays, a fishing cat, snakes and fish, turtles, and a shark tank. The Animal Discovery Zoo outside has a petting area at the Friendly Farm, and a touch area in Discovery House, plus an assortment of animals like crocodiles, tigers, wolves, anteaters, gibbons, lemurs, a red panda, wallabys, giant tortoises, and (my personal favorite) the meerkats. Finally, the OmniSphere has a 40' dome ceiling and shows incredible 3D movies (there is an extra fee for the movies).
Tip: You can read a few reviews by local families of the Greensboro Science Center on our Local Outings page http://www.gsofamilies.com/p/local.html

Farmer's Markets
Greensboro has several farmer's markets. You may have heard or read about the growing trend of Eating Local and Buying Local, or Farm to Table. The Piedmont Triad Farmer's Market is open year round, has a booming outdoor/seasonal selection of produce from local farms, and also is home to the Moose Cafe and A.B. Seed Co. This is what we call the "big" farmer's market, but that doesn't mean it's the only one. The Greensboro Farmer's Curb Market is open on Saturdays year-round, and Wednesdays during the warmer months. It is a more intimate location, and can get quite crowded, but also boasts special events like Strawberry Pancake Day, Blueberry Day, Farmer's Appreciation Day, and other events with live music, all for free (of course you pay for the food you eat or buy, but there's no admission charge). There are several other farmer's markets that pop up during the spring, summer, and fall, but these two are the main ones. If you can't make it to the market on a regular basis, many of the farms offer CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) where you can buy a share each week and it will either be delivered to you or to a specific location for pick-up. It is an affordable option for many families, as the prices are extremely good for the quantity of product.

The Parks
Greensboro has a really incredible park system. Greensboro Parks and Recreation manages 170 parks, gardens, and special facilities within the city.  These parks offer everything from summer camps and sports, to environmental programs and outdoor adventures. The parks have recreation centers and shelters for rent for picnics and parties. We have public gardens, the greenway trails, and city lakes to boat, fish, and enjoy. Greensboro even has two free spraygrounds, one at Barber Park and one at Keeley Park that are great summer spots to take the kids. Many neighborhoods in Greensboro have their own park, which helps facilitate neighborhood camaraderie. Furthermore, Guilford County also maintains several parks in the area, offering a variety of activities like swimming, sports, fishing, boating, picnicking, and hiking. The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park is maintained by the National Park Service and is full of history and trails to enjoy.

And not just the weather, either! Between the end of November and beginning of February, an area of downtown Greensboro is turned into a winter wonderland at Winterfest, and features an outdoor ice skating rink with a 100 ft. ice slide, a light bridge for night time skating, snack shack, music, seating for spectators and the opportunity for birthday parties or private party rentals. The Festival of Lights happens in downtown Greensboro at the beginning of December, and is one of my personal favorite family activities in Greensboro. It features carolers, live musicians and entertainment, food trucks, local crafters and businesses, and of course the tree lighting! The Greensboro Holiday Parade is incredible and features floats, marching bands, and the giant Macy's style balloons. Check out our photos from the 2013 parade. You also don't want to miss the balls in the trees in the Sunset Hills neighborhood. The homeowners put up hundreds of lighted balls high in the trees and take collections for local food pantries. It is such at attraction now that they even have a night 5k run/walk!

The Food
Greensboro is home to dozens upon dozens of locally owned, incredible restaurants. Sure, we have our fair share of chain restaurants (who doesn't?) but there are just as many, if not more, local restaurants to get your grub on. There's no way I can cover all of our great eateries in one paragraph, so please feel free to comment on this post with your favorites too! Read the recommendations on our website, too. Some of the notables to Greensboro are Yum Yum Better Ice Cream and Hot DogsNatty Greene's Brew PubM'Coul's Public HouseSushi RepublicSmith Street DinerIron Hen CafeCheesecakes by Alex, and Crafted: The Art of the Taco. Plus, if you're at Friendly Center, don't forget to stop by Great Harvest Bread Company for a slice of bread, and The Juice Shop for a smoothie!

The History
I took a tour of downtown Greensboro through Carolina History and Haunts and thoroughly enjoyed myself while learning more about the history of this town. Greensboro has a LOT of history, from Civil War battles to the Woolworth's Sit-In to protest segregation, the city has been a central location for significant historical dates and movements. The Greensboro Historical Museum has free admission and provides an opportunity to learn about the city. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum is housed in Greensboro, and numerous parks and markers around the city detail specific events and locations marked in history. Just outside of Greensboro is the Old Mill of Guilford, a fully operational, water-powered 18th century grist mill.

Cultural Arts
If you're looking for music, dance, or creative arts, the Greensboro Cultural Center is your destination. Just around the corner is Greenhill, the home for art in NC and home to ArtQuest, an inspiring hands-on art space for exploration and creativity. ArtQuest offers classes, camps, and parties for children. Of course, don't forget the Greensboro Symphony, the Carolina Theatre, and the upcoming Greensboro Performing Arts Center.

Festivals and Entertainment
Greensboro has so many festivals each year that it is hard to remember them all. We already mentioned the Festival of Lights above, and the Holiday Parade. There's also the Fun Fourth, which includes the Freedom Run, Block Party, Parade, Street Festival, and of course music and fireworks. New this year is Juggleboro. Then there's the regular events like First Friday and Around We Go Indie MarketMusic for a Sunday Evening in the Park (MUSEP)Beach Music in the Park, and all the fun that happens at Center City Park like Fitness by the Fountain, Center City Cinema, and Tunes at Noon. The Greensboro Arboretum hosts Summer Solstice, and Bicentennial Garden hosts Parisian Promenade and Art in the Park. One of the cutest events is the Mad Hatter Tea at the O'Henry Hotel - travel through the rabbit hole and enjoy the magical world of Alice in Wonderland. Don't forget about the minor league baseball team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers! This is by no means an all-inclusive list - so please comment on this post with any other festivals and information!

What did we miss? Please comment or email gsofamilies@gmail.com with your additions! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A magical Frozen birthday party with Anna and Elsa

My youngest daughter turns 4 this month, and we had her birthday party celebration yesterday, May 10, 2014. The plan was to have all of our friends join us for a cookout in the backyard, with an extra special surprise appearance by Princess Anna and Queen Elsa from the Disney movie Frozen. The massive downpour right at the start of the party foiled our cookout plans, and we ended up with about 50 people inside our house for the party. It was crowded, but still a lot of fun!

Birthday Girl Lorelei with Princess Anna and Queen Elsa

I found Tale As Old As Time Parties through a friend on Facebook. Gotta love social media! It's two high school girls who dress up as Disney princesses and come to your child's birthday party (or whatever party) and do kiddie makeup, story time, temporary tattoos, photo ops, and autographs. I have to say, it is a completely brilliant business idea and I'm a little envious that two high schoolers thought of it. You can see the girls in their characters here on their website http://www.taleasoldastimeparties.com/#!page3/cee5 and you can definitely tell they are dedicated to this business.

Makeup for the birthday girl

Makeup for the birthday girl

My girls are currently obsessed with the movie Frozen, so Anna and Elsa were the natural choice for our party. I kept their appearance a surprise from the kids, and Anna and Elsa apparently have cell phones because they called me from down the street when they arrived to let me know they were on their way to the party. The price was incredibly reasonable for 1.5 hours and the characters were great at fielding all of the questions a room full of kids can throw at them about every.single.aspect. of the entire movie. The princess and the queen applied makeup to the kids, and helped sing Happy Birthday to my daughter. While the kids (and adults) were eating cake, Anna and Elsa read a story to the kids, and then it was time for temporary tattoos, autographs, and pictures.

A goofy picture with Princess Anna and Queen Elsa

I am so impressed with Tale As Old As Time Parties. Their costumes were phenomenal, and they stayed in character from the time they walked up to the house until after they left. Even their mannerisms, postures, and the way they spoke matched the movie characters. My girls not only believe that Anna and Elsa were here, at our house, to celebrate Lorelei's birthday party...they also believe that I am the absolute coolest and best mom EVER because I knew how to get Anna and Elsa here.

Story time with Anna and Elsa 

Basically, this was THE best birthday party, and Tale As Old As Time Parties made all the difference.

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