Tag Archives: travel

Arkansas Places to Visit: Beatles Park & Parachute Inn Restaurant

 

Y’all, Summer vacation is here!!! Okay, technically, as homeschoolers, we school year round, but we do take breaks as needed. Right now, a break is needed. lol We’ll be back at it in about a week. Hopefully. Maybe. Even when we are doing lessons in the summer, it’s a lighter load and more spread out. My mom is a public school teacher, so we also like to take advantage of her time off in the summer to spend more time with Nana. Recently my oldest four children spent a few days with my parents so that the oldest three could attend a summer farm program near their home, and our second daughter got to experience two days of Camp Nana and Camp Pawpaw. (Let’s just say, she wasn’t in a hurry to come home.)

When it was time for my kids to return to the real world (AKA home), my mom and I decided to meet up in the little town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Now many, if not most of you, have probably never heard of this tiny little map dot town, but it’s near where I grew up. Walnut Ridge is a small town located in Lawrence County, Arkansas with a whopping population of about 4,700. There were a few spots around town on my list of places to visit in Arkansas though, despite growing up just a few miles down the road. I’m a big fan of exploring, big and small. There’s always something fun and interesting nearby to see, no matter where you live. Rural Arkansas is no exception.

(This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links will not affect your pricing but I will receive a percentage, which benefits my family and keeps this blog growing. 🙂 )

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That day we got to check off two of the items on my list of places and things to see in Arkansas. Our first stop was Beatles Park. My 7 year-old son recently discovered The Beatles through a book called The Beatles (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) and was very intrigued. (On a side note, there is an entire series of the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers books along with a series for artists  and inventors and scientists. I knew he’d enjoy seeing Beatles Park.

In 1964 the famous band made a couple of brief stops at the Walnut Ridge airport and caused quite a stir in the small, rural town. In September of 2011, a monument downtown,  designed to look like the cover of their Abbey Road album, was unveiled commemorating the 1964 event and a downtown street was renamed Abbey Road. In 2012, a guitar-shaped plaza was built downtown.

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We were only able to make a quick stop for pictures and to stretch our legs, but the kids had a lot of fun posing for pictures and learning that the Beatles had actually been in Walnut Ridge!

Our next stop was the airport for lunch. We went for lunch on a plane! However, we weren’t eating your typical airplane food.

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The Parachute Inn Restaurant is a fun, quirky place with Southern home-style cooking. They offer a lunch buffet but also have a full menu to choose from. Now here’s the fun part – you get to dine in a reconfigured Southwest Airlines Boeing 737! They do have regular restaurant seating just inside the door, but you’ll want to take the small step up to the left. Trust me. The seats have been adjusted and tables added to make dining booths, and the kids can hang out in the cockpit while you wait for your food. (You can check them out on Facebook for more details on their menu and directions.) This would be a fun stop on a road trip for sure!

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We lucked out; arriving right at 11 a.m. for an early lunch meant we had the whole plane to ourselves and the chicken didn’t even go out on the buffet until right after our drinks arrived! It was perfect timing! (Now don’t let the lack of a crowd worry you. They started getting busier at the end of our meal, as the lunch rush started.)

Be sure to add the Parachute Inn Restaurant to your next trip through Northeast Arkansas!

Hours:
Tue-Thur 8am-2pm
Friday 8am-8pm
Sat 11am- 8pm

10 Sky Watch
Walnut Ridge,Arkansas
72476USA
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5 Tips for Disney World with Little Ones

We’re baaack! From Disney World that is!

I did not intend to have such a long break from the blog, but life got a bit crazy(ier) here for a bit. It’s not exactly slowing down now, but I did find a few minutes to sit and write.
We just spent a week in sunny Florida after surprising the kids with a dream trip to the amazing Walt Disney World parks. If you missed it, there’s a video up on my Facebook Page of us telling the kids. They were surprised for sure. It was a lot of fun!

While there, we learned a few tricks for visiting Disney World with small kids, so I figured I should share them with you!

1. How to Wear Magic Bands
When you go in the gate at each park, you’ll have to scan your band AND your finger print. The best way to do this is to have your band on your left wrist due to the set up. For adults, it’s not a huge deal to wear your band on the right wrist and cross your left arm over to scan the finger. That’s what I did because I wear my Fitbit on my left arm. However, for little kids that crisscrossing arms and reaching up to get their little fingers flat on the scanner is tough! So definitely make sure you get their bands on their left wrists. You also have to use the same finger each time, so if you mess it up the first day, you’ll be crisscrossing little arms all week.

For even smaller kids (our 3 year old), parents can carry or wear the child’s band and even use their own fingerprint for scanning. The bands are sizeable to fit small kids, but our little one kept taking hers off, so I wore it to avoid it being lost. I just turned hers backwards on my wrist so there was no confusion about which one belonged to who (they were the same color).

2. Baby Carrier – A MUST Have!

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Invest in a quality baby carrier if any of your kids are under the age of 5, maybe even two, depending on how many littles you have. This was a lifesaver for us. Between our 2 carriers (We actually only used 1 for most of the trip) and a double stroller, we pulled off multiple 12+ hour days. One kid could nap on my husband’s back while another kid or two (or three lol) rode in the stroller.

3. Snacks for Bus Lines
We stayed on resort (best decision ever!! I’m so glad I listened to my husband on that one!), so we rode the Disney buses to and from the parks each day. It worked out great for us! However, if you stay until closing or watch a late show, there’s a good chance you will have a long wait in a crazy, possibly confusing, line. Bring snacks for the kids while you wait! If you’re out of snacks by then, stop on your way out and buy a popcorn. There will be plenty of little ones crying, so save yourself some sanity. 🙂

4. Stay on resort!

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Seriously. Yes, I know it can be more expensive. Yes, it’s totally worth it. We arrived Sunday afternoon and did not move our van all week. No gas being used, no fighting traffic at 8 a.m., no paying for parking, etc. However, if you do choose to drive your own vehicle to one of the parks while staying on resort, you get free parking. By far though, the best part of staying on resort was being able to split up our party. When the boys wanted to stay for a 5:00 show that the girls cared nothing about watching (and were starting to meltdown anyway), I packed them up, headed back to the hotel on the bus, and ordered pizza that arrived even before the boys were back. On Friday morning when the girls had 9:00 appointments to be transformed into princesses – the boys got to sleep in and met us for lunch at Epcot. If we had stayed off resort, we’d have had to all stay together all day, every day. That would have meant the boys missing out on some fun stuff or all of us dealing with really overtired little girls for hours.

5. Bring snacks
Staying on resort, we had a meal plan that included snacks. However, it was still helpful to have our own snacks on hand. I brought some little ziploc bags with us each day that were filled with crackers, veggie chips, trail mix, etc. As I mentioned above, these were great for waiting in bus lines, but they were also very helpful in restaurants as we waited for seating or food, in the hotel room in the morning before we grabbed breakfast, etc. Bigger kids are fine waiting until a meal arrives at the table. Our 16 month old doesn’t understand that as well. 🙂

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This is just a small list of the things my husband and I have discussed that made our trip easier. Are you wanting to take your large family or multiple little ones to Disney World? Feel free to email me any questions or leave them in the comments!

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Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

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My husband and I wanted to window shop and visit some of the different stores in Downtown Gatlinburg, but we knew to do that with our kids, it would be best to break it up a bit with fun activities for them.

The first activity we chose was Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze.

We did receive complimentary admission to this attraction in exchange for a review, but all opinions are mine.

I had never experienced a mirror maze before this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but hoped the kids would enjoy it. That they did! Lots of mirrors, LED lights, and fun music! One kiddo was not so sure about walking into the Infinity Room which features mirrors on the floor, but once we assured him he wasn’t going to fall through, he was good! Then a mini dance party ensued, and his daddy had us all laughing. 😀

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Overall, I wasn’t super impressed, but I wasn’t terribly disappointed either. Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze is a small attraction, but my kids had fun, and that was the whole reason we went into the maze in the first place.

My only regret with the Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze, is that I let my husband lead us through it. You see, he has a really crazy accurate sense of direction. For example, he drove from a small town in West Virginia that he’d never been in before renting his car there that morning, to our house in Arkansas, in less than 12 hours, taking a different route than the one he took to get to WV – no wrong turns, no GPS, and no map. Yeah. I’ve also seen him drive a Jeep into the woods on one side of a park he’s never been to, drive through the woods to the other side, and then take us straight back to the campsite where we started as if he lived there. Needless to say, a mirror maze is not exactly a challenge for him. He pretty much led us straight from the entrance to the exit. Party pooper, that’s what he is. However, had I been leading, we probably would have been lost in there for for a while. The dead ends and rotating mirrors definitely had me confused. And if I’m going to be totally honest, the rotating mirrors freaked me out a little because well, have you ever taken five kids 6 and under in a mirror maze? Haha! I felt like I was herding cats through there. And two of them were being carried! It was entertaining for sure! I’m betting the other families we ran into inside the maze got a good laugh out of watching us!

This is a smaller mirror maze, and to me that made it more suitable for my smaller kids. It’s certainly not a big attraction (the “marvelous” in the title may be a bit of a stretch 🙂 ), but it was a good place to take a break and have a few minutes of good, clean, family fun before supper.

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Though I don’t feel it’s worth the single ticket prices (Adults: $9.99 at the door or $8.99 online, Kids: $7.99), it could be worth including it in one of Ripley’s multi-attraction combo passes.

Located at:
623 Parkway

Gatlinburg, TN

OPEN 365 DAYS A YEAR
Sunday – Thursday 10:00am – 11:00pm
Friday & Saturday 10:00am – 12:00am

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Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies


Last month our family was blessed with a much-needed break from the real world as we traveled to Gatlinburg, TN for a week of family time and relaxation. It was wonderful. We truly didn’t want to leave.

While we were in Gatlinburg, we got the chance to visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which happens to be right in the midst of Downtown Gatlinburg.
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We received complimentary admission in exchange of this review. However, all thoughts and opinions are mine.

Sidenote: Having never visited Gatlinburg before, I was surprised at how many shops and businesses were packed into one street. I’m not sure what I was expecting – maybe a bit more spread out across town like Branson, MO? Anyway, it was really cool to see a large Aquarium sticking up in the middle of all that!

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We were a bit worried about parking at first. There is ample parking spaces, but there’s no way our big van would fit in the parking garage. There’s a large parking lot just down the street though, so it wasn’t a big deal at all.

Anywho, back to our trip to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies!
Lots of oceanlife, hands on learning areas, 2 play areas, a snackbar/restaurant, a Pearl Harbor exhibit, and more! Yes, you can see all that in one building, in Gatlinburg, TN. Yes, sharks and penguins in the mountains!

The main level exhibits start just a few feet from the front door, and they did not disappoint! Beautiful, exotic fish and amphibians, a waterfall, many types of jellyfish, seahorses, crabs, and other sea life. I really enjoyed moving from display to display as my boys told me things they already knew about many of the species and my oldest read some of the information provided about others we weren’t familiar with.
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I could have watched the jellyfish for hours. They are just amazing creatures – as long as they are in an aquarium that is. 😀

There are so many fun and interesting things to see an do at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, you will have to check it out for yourself. I’m certain with 5 kids in tow I missed some things. However, one exhibit I found to be very unique was the aquarium filtration and monitoring systems are visible to guests and explained through fun, interactive displays!

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The most impressive feature of Ripley’s Aquarium for our family is the Shark Lagoon exhibit. With a moving sidewalk, you can ride through the 340 feet long tunnel as sharks, giant stingrays, sawfish, tarpon, and other sea life swim around and above you. (Our crew had to go through multiple times.) We happened to reach this area just in time for the sharks’ lunchtime! That was awesome. My boys are still talking about it.

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Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies has two playground structures for the kids to climb and slide to their hearts’ content while parents can sit on benches nearby and rest their feet, feed babies, etc. Much to this mama-of-five’s joy, the two structures, which are beside one another, have entrances on separate levels of the building and are NOT connected. So don’t worry – your little one can’t enter on the ground level and escape on the second level. 😀 My kids had a great time playing though.

Throughout the aquarium, I was very impressed by the hands-on and interactivity elements of so many exhibits. From touching crabs, rays, and jellyfish, to being under and inside tanks and exhibits, my children loved every minute of the experience and learned a lot.

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The newest exhibit at Ripley’s Aquarium is the Pearl Harbor Exhibit, a one of a kind exhibit, combining both history and aquatic life!

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Again, more interactivity! I was pleasantly surprised at how much my boys really enjoyed the Pearl Harbor exhibit – playing, reading, learning, observing, and asking questions! The Pearl Harbor exhibit is brand new this year, and just like Ripley’s Aquarium’s other exhibits, this one has something for everyone. Visitors of all ages were enjoying it the day we were there.

As a homeschool family, I was also excited to learn that Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offers special programs for homeschool students! Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to attend one on this trip, but if you would like to learn more, they have information on their web site HERE. They also offer several other unique experiences for all visitors. (Swimming with a stingray, anyone?)

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Overall, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies was one of the highlights of our vacation. I’m really glad we chose to visit at the beginning of the week, when our little kids were more well-rested and could enjoy the experience as much as the big kids. Definitely plan to spend at least 2-3 hours on your visit and have exhausted kiddos when you leave! We had a blast splash!

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To order tickets or for more info:
https://www.ripleyaquariums.com/gatlinburg

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is located at:
88 River Rd, Gatlinburg,TN 37738

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is open 365 days a year, but hours of operation vary by season. That info can be found HERE.

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Super Why Live: You’ve got the power! {review}

 

Last Sunday was a big day for my boys. After church we enjoyed lunch with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. When lunch was finished, we headed to Memphis (an easy 1 1/2 hour drive from our home in Northeast Arkansas) to see Super Why Live: You’ve Got the Power! Thankfully the drive gave the little ones a chance to get a nap in before the show. It had been over 10 years since I had been to the Orpheum theater, but it was just as beautiful as I remembered. Even though it is located in the heart of downtown Memphis, a the corner of Beale Street and Main, parking was not an issue. We quickly found a spot just across the street from the theater.

Having never taken my kids to a live show of this kind, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the show or from my boys. (My youngest is only 18 months old after all.) It was a great experience though! I was impressed on both accounts. The lights, fun music, aerial stunts, and of course seeing their favorite Super Why characters was more than enough to get both of my kiddos excited and keep them entertained for the duration of the show. If only we had video of Stanton dancing and head bobbing! Kids (and parents and grandparents) of all ages could be seen in the audience, and the show offered something for everyone. I had lots of fun watching the show myself, and even more fun watching my boys enjoy it. I was also pleased that there was a short intermission break. This gave us a chance to grab a snack at the concession stand and let the kids stretch their legs for a minute or two.  It also allowed this pregnant mommy a chance for a quick potty break. 🙂 Then it was back to more singing, dancing, and searching for super letters (large red letters, projected to different areas of the theater) with Super Why and the gang from Storybrook Village. We also learned the answer to the question, who has the greatest super power? By the end of the show, my youngest was starting to get restless, but he stayed interested in the show, and we avoided a meltdown. Overall, it was a great family outing!

If you have some big Super Why fans in your house, I definitely recommend checking out one of the upcoming shows on their tour. My little Lincoln was still talking about the show yesterday!

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: Mommy the Zookeeper was provided promotional tickets in order to write the above review.  However, all statements are 100% mine. Your opinions may differ.

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HUGE Savings on tickets to Super Why Live!

 

Want to take your little ones to Memphis, to sing and dance the night away with Super Why and his friends? You still have time to buy your tickets, and here is an awesome deal for you! Now you can get great seats for only $19!

Pay only $19 for tickets to Super WHY Live! Use code SUPERFB

To get the discount, go to www.superwhylive.com, then GET TICKETS in the market of your choice, and look for the FACEBOOK PROMOTION BOX.

 

I hope to see you there on Sunday!

 

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Save 55% on tickets to see Super Why Live!

It’s almost here! Sunday afternoon I will be headed to Memphis to see Super Why Live with my boys! The show is going to take place at the beautiful Orpheum Theatre, and I have no doubt that we will have a great time. I can’t wait to see my little ones dancing and singing along with Super Why, Woofster, and the rest of the gang. Have you ordered your tickets yet? If not, today is your lucky day! Check out the link below to SAVE on your tickets with a Groupon Deal of the Day! This is an awesome savings! I hope to see you there!

 

Click here to claim your Groupon Deal of the Day on Super Why Live tickets!

 

 

 

 

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I’m super excited; we’re going to see Super Why!

Sunday, July 22 at 3:30 pm our family will be settling into our seats at The Orpheum Theatre Memphis to watch Super Why Live: You’ve Got the Power! Our little zoo members are definitely excited about this. When I told Lincoln, he said, “Super Why!” and ran to me for a high five. He’s obviously a Super Why! fan. It was the first show he actually watched, and it’s still a favorite at our house.  Super Why and the Super Readers have succeeded at making learning fun for my little ones without annoying Mommy at all. Actually, Woofster is my favorite. 🙂

A little about Super WHY from the makers…
“Reading is power and Super WHY is the only preschool property created to help kids learn the fundamentals of reading through interactive storybook adventures.  Produced by Out of the Blue Enterprises in conjunction with DHX Media, the series has a groundbreaking multimedia aesthetic – with a winning combination of two- and three-dimensional animation formats, relatable and engaging characters and immersive environments.  The program represents a novel approach to preschool educational television, featuring a team of superhero characters with literacy-based powers, who jump into books to find answers to everyday preschool challenges.”

Want to join us at the Memphis show? CLICK HERE for ticket information.

Check these upcoming tour dates for a show near you!

Date City Venue
Wednesday, July 18 Monroe, LA Monroe Civic Center – Jack Howard Theater
Friday, July 20 Birmingham, AL BJCC Concert Hall
Saturday, July 21 Knoxville, TN The Tennessee Theatre
Sunday, July 22 Memphis, TN The Orpheum Theatre
Tuesday, July 24 Raleigh, NC Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, July 25 N. Charleston, SC North Charleston Performing Arts Center
Friday, July 27 Atlanta, GA Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre
Saturday, July 28 Tampa, FL Straz Center for the Performing Arts
Sunday, July 29 Miami Beach, FL The Fillmore

Be sure to visit www.superwhylive.com to sign up to receive the latest tour news and announcements and follow @superwhylive on Twitter. 

We can’t wait to see what the residents of Storybrook Village have in store for us!

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