Monday, May 20, 2013

6 Play-Places To Go & When To Save Money

In the (Formerly CitiPass) GoPlaySave Book, there is a buy 1, get 1 free admission to BounceU in Apex. BounceU features large bouncy houses and slides. It is a very clean environment and the staff really seems to care about their jobs. This is an $8 value for regular bounce sessions and $6 value for the abbreviated sessions on the weekends.

Three Bears Acres in Creedmoor has a great deal on Thursdays. The cost is usually $13 per child and $7 per adult. On Thursdays it's $10 per child and adults are free!! I have never been, as I just learned about it. I heard they have a graffiti wall, loug for kids and a safe archery area. I don't know how you make archery safe for a preschooler, but I guess it works. I cannot wait to go, but it will have to be on a Thursday. The idea of this place is for kids to do all the things they're usually told not to do, including yell, scream, run, paint the walls, climb, jump and more.

Kidzu Children's Museum in Chapel Hill is free on Sunday afternoons. It's usually $5 per person. I have heard this is a much smaller version of Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, but still very nice. I've never been but it's good to know you can try something for free every once in a while that is usually sumwhat pricey.

Speaking of Marbles Kids Museum (Raleigh), on Wednesdays if you show your Food Lion MVP card you get $1 off general admission (for up to 4 people per family). Every third Tuesday of the month is Target $2 Tuesday, which means you can bring the whole family from 5-8 p.m. and play for just $2 per person. This is sponsored by Target, obviously. If you have a Triangle GoPlaySave Book (formerly CitiPass) you can get 20% off one item at the Marbles Gift Shop with the coupon.
The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is a wonderful place to play during the week or one the weekends. It's open year round, but doesn't have all of its exhibits open year round (for example, the Giraffe Bridge where people can stand inches away from munching giraffes), the Carousel and more. But being 20 yards from a live elephant and watching the baboons chase each other is family fun all year long! I searched long and hard and polled some friends and it would seem the best way to save at the NC Zoo is to buy a family membership. It's $74 and allows unlimited visits and also gets you free admission to the NC Aquarium (Fort Fisher) and other Zoos across the U.S. (some, not all). I will continue to look for good discounts, but in the meantime, I may just have to buy the membership. Just a couple visits to the Zoo and a trip to the NC Aquarium and it will pay for itself. Also, if you are an N&O Zone subscriber, they offered a buy 1 get 1 pass in the May 2013 Newsletter.
Buy 1 ticket and get 1 free to Durham Bulls minor league baseball games if you have a Triangle Go/Play/Save Book (formerly Citipass) and you go Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday with your coupon.

Kristin Wilson, the mother of two preschoolers, is a guest blogger for Triangle Money Saving Mommas and has her own blog, The Not-So Stay-At-Home Mommy, about where to take your kids in the Raleigh, Durham and even Chapel Hill areas that are kid-friendly and why. Visit to view her blog.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pick Your Own at Vaughan's Strawberry Farm in Holly Springs

Unfortunately, this wonderful strawberry patch no longer exists for this purpose. It was so close and convenient to my home, but due to an illness in the family, they decided not to grow strawberries for the first time in 2015.

With more than 30 rows of strawberries at Vaughan's Strawberry farm it's fun to pick your own with your kids. I took Dani (2) and Jordan (3 1/2) and we had a blast.

I wouldn't recommend eating while you pick, as strawberries need to be washed thoroughly before eaten (and are one of the dirty dozen, the 12 fruits and vegetables most likely to contain high levels of pesticides) but they are delicious fresh and still warm from the sun.

Vaughan's has improved their kid-friendliness by adding three see-saws and a castle with a slide for the little ones in addition to letting them feed the chickens and the pigs ($.50/cup of feed).

My oldest loved the pigs, which stuck their little snouts through the fence and let her pet them. Dani loved the chickens, who clucked and strutted around the food dish until she dropped it inside the fence, and then they all came running over to eat.

Picking your own ($1.85 per lb) is 50 cents a pound cheaper than buying them all ready to take with you ($2.35/lb).

We will probably go back soon (maybe this weekend). I have been making home made fruit leathers and knock-off NutriGrain bars with fresh strawberries and sugar filling. (Much cheaper and much better for my kids - minus some of those 5-syllable ingredients).

825 Wilbon Road
Holly Springs, NC 27540

HIGHLIGHTS: You can feed the pigs and the chickens (for a small fee), play on see-saws, a small play castle with a slide and of course there's the strawberry picking, which is seasonal and a great opportunity to help teach kids about plants (for example, I explained to the girls that plants eat and drink through the roots that stick in the ground and the leaves absorb the sunlight and that helps strawberries grow).
LOW LIGHTS: I'm not a big "bug" person, and my kids are a little squeamish with spiders, which of course are found everywhere in a garden/farm. Dani (2) is a little young to pick strawberries, and more than once I had to explain to her that the green strawberries are babies and not ready to be picked.
COST: $1.85 per pound of strawberries, 50 cents for the pig/chicken feed.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

PlayNation In Morrisville - Worth the trip

I so was not in the mood for an adventure this morning, but I fed off my exploring buddy, Amanda's, positive energy and cruised over to Morrisville to visit PlayNation.

It's an indoor playground with a bouncey, blow up slide, play houses and great little backyard playhouses. I would love one of these beauties in my backyard, especially the ones with the tire swings. My kids love tire swings. It's really a great bad-weather activity, but it doesn't really feel like you're inside most of the time because of the outdoor playground equipment.

Dani (2) took off running before I could even pay and was climbing stairs and flying down very fast slides right away. She later warmed up to the large blow up slide. She had an absolute blast!

There was one huge drawback of this place, though, and a couple minor ones. The big one: they had, on display, snacks and juice, almost a small child eye level and most of these are not snacks I would offer my kids. The minor drawbacks included a sumwhat dirty looking floor. I can honestly say I went straight for the hand sanitizer as soon as we got in the car, and I don't usually do that. It might have been clean, but the padding on the floor was a bit dingy, making it look dirty, and the doors and handles looked like they need to be wiped down pretty thoroughly (ie, the door to the office from the play area). Also, the location is strange. It's in an industrial park area and it's all the way around the back side of one of the buildings. But those two minor issues didn't bother me; they were just noteworthy.

I will certainly go back!

300 Dominion Drive - Suite 425
Morrisville, NC
HIGHLIGHTS: This place is great for little ones because they have such short attention spans and there are so many options, including bouncy house/slide, tire swings, baby swings, slides, play house, a snack area separate from the playing kids, bridges, rock climbing walls and more. Oh yeah, and they have birthday parties there, which I thought was a wonderful idea for a little one's party.
LOW LIGHTS: The snacks are at the front desk where you pay and right at children's eye level, it seemed a little under kept in terms of its cleanliness, and it was a bit hard to find - I would have NEVER found it without the address and suite number and even then I had to turn around a couple times en route. Some of the slides were a bit slick. This could be a drawback or a positive. Either way, with little ones I'd watch them because my friend's daughter went flying off the end of one and landed a few feet later. Fun for some, injury for others. (I was notified by the owners that the flooring is being replaced soon, and that it is regularly disinfected, but wasn't meant to be permanent in the first place!)
COST: $5 per child. Call for prices on birthday parties if you're interested.