Disclosure: Amazon links below are affiliate links - you don't pay more if you click or purchase, but I will grab a teeny tiny cut away from Amazon, win-win!
While they can be overwhelming and exhausting, I honestly love going to baby expos and trade shows to discover the latest and greatest maternity / baby / kids' products and introduce them to all of you!! Last Sunday I wandered the halls of the vast Playtime New York trade show, which featured over 200 up and coming American and international brands in children's fashion (and other related products). It is truely difficult to narrow it down to a reasonable number of "top picks", but here are 10 products and brands that really blew me away!
Disclosure: Amazon links below are affiliate links - you don't pay more if you click or purchase, but I will grab a teeny tiny cut away from Amazon, win-win!
#1. Rookie Humans: artistic crib sheets
I'm a sucker for a good photo opp, and these imaginative crib sheets hand-drawn by artists are that and then some! Great for photographing your child, and for simply watching them sleep on beautiful bedding. Made of 100% cotton sateen, each sheet costs $34.99 on their website or Amazon. Personally, I'm really rooting for them to partner up for a line with QuickZip - give them both a shoutout on social if you'd love to see this, too!!
#2. Lil' Pyar: hot air balloon mobiles
I don't know what it was about these hot air balloon mobiles, but they really caught my eye. I think they're such a fun but not babyish way to decorate a nursery! Not just cute and stylish, but also functional - you can store items in the balloon's basket (hang it next to the changing station and fill with diaper cream and loation?). They have tons of different designs, and even a blank one, which if you ask me, would make an amazing baby shower item - guests could all leave a little message or drawing for the little one!!! These mobiles retail for $60 - $64 on their website.
3. Goose Grease: fair trade wooden peg dolls
Not just cute toys and collectibles, these fair trade wooden peg dolls are hand-crafted in Colombia. They have an amazing variety of collections, from custom families to artists to superheroes to cake toppers (the only set currently available on Amazon), even pets and DIY blank dolls. A set of 4 runs for about $28 on their website, and they even have accessories such as doll houses and chess sets!
4. Chérubin: leather baby shoes hand crafted in America
Baby moccasins are huge these days. I sure love them - they're cute, easy to get on and off, comfy for the kiddos, and wonderfully flexible for new walkers! What I especially love about these shoes by Chérubin is that they're handmade by leather artisans right here in America. And oh yeah, they're also hella cute and come in tons of designs, not just the moccasins but also boots, mary janes, and matching pacifier clips! You can buy them for about $60 a pop on their website or Amazon.
5. OMY: coloring projects
From wall paper to backpacks to puzzles to pocket maps, OMY creates products with fun designs that your kids (and you!) can color! You can purchase on their website and Amazon.
6. KaiKai & Ash: toy storage boxes
These adorable 13" canvas toy storage boxes by KaiKai & Ash really caught my eye. Functional, playful, colorful, a great way to customize any child's bedroom or playroom! You can buy them for about $17-19 each on Amazon.
7. Moon + Beck: gender neutral cute & comfy clothing
Seriously cute, soft, and comfy ("moombex" bamboo + spandex blend) gender neutral clothes for babies and toddlers, designed by a mom in Tennessee. Prices range from about $16 (head wrap) to $42 (hoodie) and you can find her entire collection on her website.
8. Oeuf - creative children's hats
I knew they had amazing cribs, but I didn't know Oeuf also made great children's clothing!! I fell in love with their hats at the show, namely the floppy eared rabbit and unicorn (see above photo)!! You can shop their entire collection on their website and Amazon.
9. Ikue by Maruju - coordinating swaddles, bibs, & more
While Maruju has been a staple in Japan for over 90 years, Ikue, meaning "layered fabric" in Japanese, is new to the American market (and actually looking for a distributer, if anyone is interested!). They have gorgeous 100% cotton muslin fabric that gets softer with each wash, in a variety of products, from swaddles to bandana bibs to stroller strap covers. Buy all in the same print, or mix and match! I especially love the brightly colored animal camouflage line. You can find them on Amazon, and stay tuned as they'll be taking part in an upcoming giveaway right here on US Japan Fam!!
10. Tsukihoshi - Japanese split-toe shoes
Whether you have a lil' Ninja at home or simply dig unique international style, you've got to check out Tsukihoshi's Tabi Tabi split-toed shoes! Designed to allow ultimate flexibility of the feet as if barefoot, Tsukihoshi has been designing these traditional Japanese split-toe shoe socks since 1873. You can shop the Tabi Tabi line on Badorf Kids ($34.95 a pair) and you can also find their "regular" sneakers on Amazon ($29 - $68 per pair).
So what do you think? Loving any of my picks? Already own some? Have a product you'd like me to review?? Share in a comment below!!
Originally posted on Mommy Nearest (Jan 2015)
Whether you’re a Brooklynite or residing in another part of the city (or state!), there are countless family-friendly things to do in the borough—and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM) is right up at the top of the list. Babies, toddlers, school-aged children and their grownups will all have a blast at BCM. Here are some highlights of what you'll find and love:
Visit the special zone for little ones
BCM’s Totally Tots room is for children ages five and under and has tons to do. My little guy was especially crazy about their water-play section (they have smocks but you still might consider bringing a change of clothes, socks, and shoes if you have a water baby like me!). They also have a climbing structure, musical instruments, a blue sand box, a reading tent, puppet theater, building zone and more. No exaggeration—my toddler would have been content spending the entire day here.
Little ones will also love Totally Tots Art Studio Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays @ 10am – 12pm and Brooklyn Block Lab (Thursdays @ 2:00-5:30pm, Fridays @ 10am-1pm, Saturdays @ 10am-1pm, Sunday @ 10am-1pm).
Explore a kid-sized city
My personal favorite exhibit is World Brooklyn. There, visitors meander in and out of shops that teach kids and grownups about the vibrant history—and culture—of Brooklyn. Plus, each area is filled with hands-on activities to take part in. You can make play pizza in the Italian restaurant, dance along to videos from around the world in the Global Beats Theater or shop at the International Market for Shabbat or Kwanzaa.
I love that BCM has made a point of emphasizing the importance of nature and sustainable living. In fact, Brooklyn Children’s Museum is New York’s first LEED-certified green museum. Inside, you’ll find a little pond aquarium and greenhouse, and weather permitting you can take a walk through (or get your hands dirty in) their outdoor garden.
Their bathrooms feature changing tables, one lowered sink and stepping stool for children, and even a mini urinal. They welcome strollers, and have a ramp out front and an elevator and ramps inside. There’s a large cafeteria for snacks or just taking a break, and they also have a sensory room for children with special needs (open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4:45pm). BCM also hosts birthday parties, summer camps, and tons of festivals and special events, so be sure to check out their program schedule for what's coming up!
Super cool visiting exhibits
Be sure to check their website to see what temporary exhibits are there now and coming soon!
Hours, Admission and Directions
Location: 145 Brooklyn Avenue at St. Marks Avenue, Brooklyn
Admission: $11, children under 1 free. There's "pay what you wish" admission on Thursdays from 2 to 5pm. Your NYC ID will also get you free admission (child and guests must pay).
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm (til 6pm Thursdays)
How to get there: By subway, take the 3 to Kingston Avenue, the A to Nostrand Avenue, or the C to Kingston/Throop Avenue. By bus, take the B43 or B44 to St. Mark's Avenue, or the B25, B45, or B65 to Brooklyn Avenue. If coming by car, take note that there is no parking lot but street parking is generally easy to find. Go here for detailed directions.
Be sure to check out our other posts on the best activities for kids in New York City!!
Sure, chocolate and flowers and jewelry are nice. But they're all about romance, and commercialism. And that's not what MOST moms really want, or need. But what do moms actually want for Valentine's Day, birthdays, Mother's Day, or any day, for that matter?? I asked and you answered, check out this hilarious montage from YOU AWESOME MAMAS!!! Turns out nothing says love like changing some stinky diapers while mama naps, has coffee, and showers in peace!
Huge shoutout to the lovely, brave, and hilarious mamas who contributed to this video!!
How about you? What do you want for Valentine's Day? What have been some awesome (or not so awesome) things you've received?? Leave a comment below!!
Don't forget to like, share, and subscribe to my YouTube channel - I do lots of fun montage videos like this as well as family-friendly travel, product reviews, and cute stuff featuring my 3 littles!!
We are excited to bring you a fun giveaway from Mommy Scene filled with wonderful prizes for your family and cute little ones!
Enter to Win these Valentine's Day Inspired Family Essentials!
This giveaway is coordinated by Mommy Scene, sponsored by the participating brands, and is open to US entries ages 18 and older. No purchase required to enter. One winner will be randomly chosen and contacted through e-mail, and their name displayed on the giveaway page after the giveaway ends on February 24, 2017. Mommy Scene and participating blogs are not responsible for fulfilling brand-sponsored prizes. Prizes will be shipped directly from each brand. Have fun and good luck!
In case you're new to the blog, I should preface this post with the fact that my husband is from Japan. As in, I met him clubbing in Tokyo one night while I was teaching English in Japan for 2 years! We did a year and a half of long distance, then I moved back over there, we lived together in Yokohama for 3 years together, got engaged, married in Hawaii, moved to good ol' NYC, popped out 3 kids, and the rest is history!
Suffice it to say, raising our kids to know Japanese language and culture is extremely important to both of us. Also important is taking a family trip back to Japan every other year (we would go more often if budget wasn't an issue...one ticket costs about $1500!!)
We had decided this summer my husband would take our 4 year old son alone, and I would stay behind with the girls because we just couldn't fathom the difficulty of the 24 hour door to door journey and a week of jet lag in each direction with TWO toddlers! It was a nightmare when we took Kenzo in 2014 when he was 20 months old. Multiply that times TWO??? Ugh.... But, when hubby broke the news to his parents, apparently they weren't too thrilled, so we have decided we will suck it up and all 5 of us will be making the trek this coming summer (just before the twins turn 2, so they can get cheap lap child tickets, which cost 10% of the regular fare!!).
So, as I embark on planning this epic journey with three children, I realized I never did a blog post or video recapping our last family vacation to Japan in 2014!! So, without further ado, check out our short and sweet video montage!!
I'll be coming back and posting more articles about what to do in the various cities, tips for traveling to Japan with kids, and much more. So, stay tuned!!
Please feel free to leave a comment below with any questions about where we went, places or things you are curious about in the video, recommendations for places you've been in Japan, etc!!
There are a plethora of sleepsacks on the market today. From lightweight to ready for the Arctic and for infants through toddlers. Some will simply keep your child warm without the danger of having a loose blanket in bed, while others boast nifty features such as adjustable comforting swaddles, "quiet" velcro, houdini-proof zippers, cut outs for the feet of young walkers, and straps to keep the sack from getting twisted up during a restless night's sleep.
I was recently introduced to a sleepsack with one specific feature I myself find to be extremely useful. The Antipodes Merino sleeping bag features an open slot on the front and back for the crotch strap of a seat belt, making it stroller-friendly!! How cool is that??
After receiving one from a brand rep to test out, I can tell you the seat-belt slot isn't the only thing we're loving about this sleepsack!
Fabulous Features of Antipodes Merino Sleeping Bag:
Below you can see one of my 15 month old (19 pound) girls modeling the sleeping bag. It appears snug across the chest because I chose to snap under her arm pits - you would need to do this for an infant, and would usually unsnap for an older baby or toddler to allow for better air flow especially in warmer weather, however it's nice to have the option until they outgrow that enclosure.
I do want to add one sneaky way we are using this sleep sack, in case anyone else is facing the same issue! One of my girls will NOT stay in her BundleMe in the stroller. She kicks her way out immediately, then proceeds to pull off her socks and shoes. AGH!!! But the Antipodes Merino is a great solution for this... Load on the layers - tights, pants, socks, shoes etc, and then put the sleepsack on top and strap her into the stroller. BAMN! #MicDrop hahahaha!!
So, pretty amazing sleepsack, am I right!?? You can purchase one on their website or Amazon (affiliate link) for around $80-100. And you can also win one in a HUGE 15-product jackpot giveaway right now by Mommy Scene!!
Enter to win here!!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge and was compensated for my honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
We are excited to partner with Mommy Scene again to bring you this Mommy-To-Be & Me Giveaway packed with wonderful products for families. Enter to win this entire gift collection for moms and kids! Giveaway ends 2/10/17.
Mommy-To-Be & Me Prize Collection
Enter to Win these Essentials for New Moms & Families!
This giveaway is coordinated by Mommy Scene, sponsored by the participating brands, and is open to US entries ages 18 and older. No purchase required to enter. One winner will be randomly chosen and contacted through e-mail, and their name displayed on the giveaway widget after the giveaway ends on February 10, 2017. Mommy Scene and participating blogs are not responsible for fulfilling brand-sponsored prizes. Prizes will be shipped directly from each brand. Have fun and good luck!
Tis the season, y'all! Colds, flu, and boogies galore! I gotta admit, before becoming a mom, I thought poopy diapers would be the nastiest part of parenting. But for me, cleaning snotty noses is by far the worst (I should mention we haven't dealt with any kind of stomach flu yet, so I may have to edit this post after that one hits us, yikes!). 4 years in and I'm finally not full-on-gagging over cleaning noses anymore, but it's still dis-gus-ting!
Thankfully, there are some tips and tricks and fabulous products out there to make the job a wee bit easier for us. Most importantly, you have GOT to get a nasal aspirator that you love. There are manual ones (powered by your hand or mouth), there are portable battery operated ones (check out my review of one), and there's even one that you hook up to your vacuum cleaner!
A good nasal aspirator will quickly clear out the nose, keep it clear for longer, and according to my pediatrician, might even help prevent sinus infections. But the best for one parent may not be the best for everyone. Things to consider are noise level, suction power, cleaning process, size, portability, and price.
With those in mind, I bring you my review of the BabySmile Nasal Aspirator S-502! I'll be comparing it to the others we currently use: a bulp aspirator, the BabySmile portable aspirator, and the BabyVac.
NOISE LEVEL (Score: A-)
The S-502 performs well here as it's fairly quiet for a full-powered plug-in nasal aspirator. It's like a quiet hum / buzz. I wouldn't expect the noise to scare a child, it certainly didn't phase any of my 3. Manual bulbs and NoseFrida would be a better choice for children with sensitivity to minor/ moderate noises, and of course the BabyVac is by far the loudest on the market since it hooks up to your vacuum cleaner, yikes.
SUCTION POWER (Score: A-)
The S-502 is very cool because it offers THREE power levels. So, you can crank it up or down depending on what your kid has going on in that itty bitty nose. But don't worry, even the highest level is safe, my husband tried it out on himself and thoroughly enjoyed it finding no discomfort whatsoever. In my opinion, the S-502 performs better than any manual or battery operated devices I've tried. But if I'm being honest, and I always am, it falls just short of BabyVac, which has the best and fastest suction I've come across.
CLEANING PROCESS (Score: B)
There are a lot of parts to clean on the S-502, which is annoying, but they're pretty easy to clean thoroughly. Bulbs are notorious for breeding mold inside. If you can stomach it, take a looksy at this horrifying picture of a bulb cut in two! YIKES!!! And I've had some major trouble getting the BabyVac nose part and tube clean, as well as various battery operated suckers. But the S-502 comes apart into many pieces, all of which are pretty easy to clean and dry, and you can visually check to make sure it's all clean before putting it back together and storing it or using it again. Some parts are OK in the dishwasher, but not all, so be careful to read the very detailed manual!
SIZE & PORTABILITY (Score: B)
This is probably not something I would bother to pack and bring with us on vacation if we were flying (maybe if we were driving...), but it's a great size for at-home-use. It's light weight (less than 3 pounds), and plugs into the outlet with a nice long cord so you're not super restricted about where you have to use it. As far as baby devices go (think humidifer, air purifier, sound machine, etc), it's fairly compact, measuring 9.4" x 3.3" x 6.9", fitting easily onto a shelf or in a drawer in your changing table.
PRICE (Score: C-)
Retailing for $114.70 on BabySmile's website and on Amazon, it's not super cheap. Comparatively, you can get a bulb for under $5, and a BabyVac or battery operated nasal aspirator for around $20. That said, I haven't seen anything else on the market quite like the S-502 - it's redesgned after nasal aspirators used in hospitals, and is available for home-use at a fraction of the price.
OVERALL SCORE & OPINION (Score: A-)
Overall, I found the BabySmile Nasal Aspirator S-502 easy to use and performing well at clearing out the nose. It's quiet enough that it shouldn't cause additional fear or trauma for the child (let's face it, putting something in their nose is scary enough), and compact/light enough that it's easy to tote around the house or store away somewhere. While I didn't find it to suction quite as well as the BabyVac, the fact that it is MUCH quieter and doesn't require using with a vacuum (we now have Dyson cordless which doesn't work too well with our BabyVac), made it win out overall. The main drawback for me is the price tag, but you can just suck it up (pun intended) and make the splurge, or add it to your baby registry if you plan ahead! And hey, you can also WIN ONE!!!
ENTER BELOW TO WIN A BABYSMILE
NASAL ASPIRATOR S-502!!!
Giveaway open to US residents ages 18 and over. Giveaway ends at 11:59PM EST Thursday, January 26. Winner will be randomly selected, contacted via e-mail, and have 24 hours to respond with mailing address before another winner is chosen. GOOD LUCK!!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
An infant compatible lightweight double stroller that has an easy and compact umbrella-style fold, great push, loads of storage, huge canopies, and can haul a ride on board? Sounds like an impossible order and yet Joovy has somehow made our wildest dreams come true with their TwinGroove Ultralight! I received one free for review, but as always, you can count on me for the truth and nothing but the truth. In a nutshell, we absolutely love it!!! Read on for my full review and what I have found to be the hits and misses in the design and functionality (and don't miss my demo video at the bottom!).
What I love about the Joovy TwinGroove Ultralight:
It has an extremely compact umbrella-style fold (measuring 15" x 30" x 13"). If you keep the wheels unlocked it's very easy to pull it along behind you or push ahead of you, and if you lock the wheels it's easy to store upright against a wall (no, it's not self-standing). The process of folding is multi-step but super quick once you get the hang of it: 1) lock all 3 front sets of wheels, 2) push seat backs forward all the way, 3) pull up 2 locking levers at back of stroller, 4) step down on the folding mechanism on the side, 5) push handles forward and down until stroller is locked shut. Once you've done it a few times it takes literally 15 seconds (much easier than trying to direct someone else how to fold it while you're getting 2 screaming kids into car seats LOL).
I love the full range of these independently reclining seats - from quite upright with a great view all the way down to nearly fully reclined and infant compatible! There's even a mesh foot enclosure that flips up and over the foot rest for newborns (of course, if using with newborns you would also want to buy and use a full infant body support pillow or at least a head support pillow - shown in use in below left photo). How you actually recline and straighten the seat is not my favorite feature, as far as I can figure it does take two hands, but it's fairly straight forward and simple (check my demo video to see it being done). There are also nice leg rests that go up and down easily. We haven't had any major grime to deal with yet, but yogurt and other snack mishaps have easily cleaned right up with a quick wipe down with a wet towel.
It has 2 decent sized storage baskets under the stroller that are only accessible from the rear and only when the seats are upright. The left and right underbaskets are separate and there's a 5 pound limit for each, so you can't fit anything HUGE or super heavy down there, but the mesh bags hang on top of the metal frame, so you can't stretch the basket out like I've had an issue with on other strollers. I decided to ditch my double diaper bag and instead pack smaller bags to go under the stroller - diapers, wipes, nursing cover and toys on the left, snacks and water bottles on the right. It's been working great!
You can also go without an add-on parent console since they have built it in for you! The back of each seat features a small zippered compartment where you can store wallet, chapstick, keys, etc as well as a small open mesh compartment good for a small water bottle or cell phone. The stroller comes with a plastic cup holder that hooks on the side, but I had a terrible time with it not staying in place (maybe I wasn't using it right?), so I gave up on it and took it off.
Finally, each seat has a little mesh pocket where you can keep stuff you want accessible to your child, such as a toy, bottle, or pacifier!
I wouldn't recommend hanging anything heavy in the back from the handles, I haven't tried and this stroller seems much sturdier than most umbrellas, but it could potentially flip the stroller backwards. If you need more storage, the SureShop bag by Hatch Things is awesome, it hangs and clips onto the side of strollers, you could even use one on each side, though it would make the stroller significantly wider when in use.
The Weight & Weight Limit:
With an in-use size of 32.25" x 30" x 42.75", the TwinGroove Ultralight weighs 26 pounds, not exactly light, but as far as double strollers go it makes good on its namesake "ultralight"! I'm 5'8" and the handles are at a very comfortable height for me, and were fine for my 5' sister-in-law, too. But here's where it rocks... each seat has a whopping 50 pound weight limit, with a total weight limit of 100 pounds!! Yessssss!!!
This part probably can't be endorsed by Joovy as I don't think they've done any testing or approved any after markets such as this, but I do want to mention that we've been using it on a daily basis for a month now to carry our 18 pound twins in the seats and pull our 38 pound 4 year old on his Englacha Junior X-Rider sit/stand board. I was nervous if it would be compatible with this, and if we would somehow break or warp the Joovy's frame, but it has been kicking butt! Another reason the Twingroove Ultralight does well pulling a ride on toddler board in my opinion is because the stroller handles are independent, so there's no across-handle to get in the way of the child when sitting or standing behind the stroller.
These are great full coverage independently operating canopies, with UV protection and (small) velcro closing plastic peekaboo windows.
What I don't love about the Joovy TwinGroove Ultralight:
As soon as I started posting photos and professing my love for this new stroller on my social media, I got a couple of warnings from friends that it wouldn't do well in snow. I brushed them off until I tried to take it out a week ago when there were a couple of inches of fresh powder on the ground. And you know what? They were right... we didn't even make it off of our block. We were skidding around and there was no way I was going to make it up and over the mound of snow that had accumulated at the corner. Abort mission. Repeat: ABORT MISSION!!! As an umbrella stroller, the wheels are just too small and gripless to be able to do well in snow (a dusting if fine, as is relatively smooth compact snow, but that's about all it can handle). But other than that it's done well on many types of terrain, even horribly cracked sidewalks and pot-holed roads - thanks to the 3 sets of double wheels (if one set hits a hole the other 2 sets carry the stroller over without a fuss!
It also doesn't have a belly bar or snack tray as add-on options, but those are pretty standard losses in an umbrella stroller, I mean, they would take away from the compact fold! But, you can always get those velcro tethers for snack cups.
One of my favorite things about the stroller is the great view the kids have from the seat because they're not reclined deep within a pocketed seat. But, that's also a slight hazard I have found for my own very curious toddlers. It is a tight squeeze into our building's elevator and through the grocery store aisles, and there is nothing to keep their arms and legs inside the stroller. So, I have to be very vigilant, steer clear of breakables, and go slowly in and out of the elevator making sure limbs are clear.
So, who would I recommend this stroller for? Just about anyone with 2 or more kids!! It's great for twins (from infancy til they reach 50 pounds each), twins plus one or 2-3 singleton siblings (with ride-on board). It's great for travel, as a spare in the car, and even as your daily stroller! Other than the not-great-in-snow issue I mentioned above, the main thing that might make it not the best stroller for you is if you have one or two infant car seats that need to be hauled in the stroller since this does not have the ability to do so.
The Joovy TwinGroove Ultralight comes in black, grey, or turquoise (like our beaut) and can be purchased for $299.99 on their website, Amazon, and in many stores.
And if you get or have the TwinGroove Ultralight, I highly recommend the Manito Elegance Alpha Stroller Shield - it creates a fabulously warm and cozy greenhouse in winter, protects them from the rain, has a front window that opens so you can hand kids snacks or give them fresh air or take kids in and out without having to remove the cover, and it fits this stroller fabulously!! We love ours!!!
Here's my demo video - check out the TwinGroove in action!!
If you found this post helpful, here are some others you may love by yours truly!
Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
So you're traveling to Charlotte with your kids, or moving there, or maybe you've been living there for ages but your kids are just now reaching the age of "WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND LET THEM BURN OFF SOME STEAM" - yeah, you know that age, it begins around the time they learn how to walk and getting into all sorts of mischief!!
In any case, you've come to the right place, I'm about to share with you some of the most awesome facilities and drop-in activities for your little ones. There is TONS to do in Charlotte, so I've narrowed it down to ones geared toward the toddler through elementary schooler set, since those are the ages of my three kiddos and we recently spent 10 days exploring Charlotte with them while visiting family.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it should help you get out with your crew and have some major (exhausting!!) fun! OK, Here we go!
Not just an indoor trampoline park, Sky High also features a ropes course (48"+), lazer tag (10 years and up) and trampoline versions of basketball, dodgeball and a rope swing. This place will give you an amazing workout, and the best part? You won't even realize how many calories you're burning because it is SOOOO much fun!!! I took my sister-in-law, my husband, and our 3 year old son and we all had such a blast. They even have a trampoline area just for younger kids ages 2-6.
If your kids like bounce houses, Monkey Joe's is their dream come true!! It's a franchise with locations throughout the US, and 3 right here in Charlotte (Pineville, University Area, and Matthews). We went to the Pineville location and found it clean, practically empty (2 days before Christmas), and incredibly fun! We spent about 2 hours there and my son pretty much had to be removed kicking and screaming. Well, he would have been kicking and screaming had he not been so exhausted! There were a couple of bounce houses for just bouncing, some with obstacle courses (lots of ladders and slides), and even a few for toddlers where parents were allowed to go inside with them.
While not located in Charlotte proper, this children's museum is so awesome I just had to include it! All 3 of our kids, as well as the accompanying grownups, had a ball! They have a ton of different zones to play in, so whether your child prefers playing with blocks or water toys, pretending to be a doctor, farmer, grocer, or race car driver, they'll certainly find enough to keep them entertained for several hours. They have a large toddler zone for the wee ones, and a huge jungle gym smack dab in the middle of the building (my son's personal favorite, as well as the theater area where he played dress up and put on a puppet show for us after having watched the live performance by Discovery Place staff). The facility was huge and immaculately clean, with a small dining area with a couple of high chairs where you could bring your own snacks or use their surprisingly healthy vending machine.
It's not a huge aquarium, but Sea Life at Concord Mills Mall is pretty spectacular!! With over 50 aquariums around the world, Sea Life sure knows what they're doing in terms of design and experience. I was really impressed with the atmosphere - you felt like you were walking through an underwater paradise, a stroller-friendly one at that! They have 10 interactive zones, including a tunnel you walk through surrounded by fish, a touch tank, and my personal favorite, a huge octopus that you can watch being fed and played with!! Kids get a booklet to stamp along the way and get to collect a prize when completed. They will also be delighted by the jungle gym near the gift shop!
Other very honorable mentions totally worth checking out with your kids:
Adventure Landing - a fun activity center in Pineville with mini golf, go carts, kiddie carts, batting cages, bumper boats, and an arcade. Pay per activity or buy a package.
Bounce U Charlotte & Matthews - a great nationwide bounce house chain with open bounce, parents night out events, toddler time, glow in the dark bounces, and more! Open bounce for about $7.99-10.99.
Carolina Place Mall - yes, great for shopping, but they have a FREE kids' play area on the ground floor just outside of Sear's. Shoes come off and tthere's a height limit, probably maxed out around age 6, though I've never seen it enforced. They also have really cool motorized toys to rent and ride around the mall on - for kids and adults!
Carowinds - a fabulous amusement park with kids' and family rides, exciting roller coasters, a water park, animatronic dinosaurs, live entertainment, and more! Open seasonally (May - September). Tickets from about $40.
Discovery Place Nature - a great place for kids to get hands on and learn about animals and nature both in- and outdoors. $8 per person ages 2 and up.
Discovery Place Science - a science museum in uptown Charlotte built for kids, more for older elementary schoolers and up but plenty of fun for the younger ones and adults, too, with an IMAX theater to boot! $13 for children, $17 for adults, under 2 free. Discount package for museum and IMAX tickets.
ImaginOn - an amazing 102,000-square-foot facility in uptown Charlotte that is a collaberation between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, featuring free story times, great play centers, and more. Check their calendar for story times and other activities!
Lazy 5 Ranch - located 35 miles from uptown Charlotte, it's a bit of a drive but it's a cool place to get up close and personal with exotic animals by taking a wogon ride safari and feeding the animals! $11 per adult, $8 per child or senior, free for under 2.
Pineville Ice House - indoor ice skating rink in Pineville. $7 admission, $3 skate rental (size toddler through 15), $3 helmet rental.
Ray's Spalsh Planet - an indoor water park located in uptown Charlotte. Discount for Mecklenberg County residents. Admission $6/8 for children and seniors/disabled, $8/11 for adults, free under 1 year, $3/5 for dry ticket (non-swimmer).
Sky Zone Trampoline Park - jumping prices are about $13/hour and jumpers are separated by age and size, so jumping with your kids may not be allowed.
The Speedpark - located at Concord Mills, with go carts, mini golf, 110 foot fun slide, bungee jump, ice skating, and more.
So what do you think? Have you been to any of the places I listed? Do you have more to add?? Leave a comment below!!
Disclaimer: I received free admission to some of the above places, however all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
About Me ^_^
I'm just a NYC mom blogger and YouTuber living in Bay Ridge Brooklyn with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1)! Sharing the trials and tribulations of raising bi-lingual bi-racial bi-national babies in the Big Apple! Humor, honesty, family travel, product reviews & giveaways, galore!