Category: Travel

The Best Way to Travel Around China With Kids

Travelling anywhere with your children can be very challenging, but also rewarding if done right. Taking your children to China means opening them up to new sights, sounds, and smells, all whilst learning about this ancient civilisation that is rapidly connecting to the 21st century, but still maintaining the charms of a traditional way of life.

We’ve put together this brief guide on where to go with kids, and when to do it, so that both you as parents and your children can get the most fulfilment from your next trip to China.

Where to go

If you are going to travel around China with your kids, it is well worth planning your itinerary well ahead, keeping a tight schedule on travel arrangements, and ensuring that you fill most of the time with activities that your children will enjoy.

One of the main things to bear in mind, though, is that China is a large country, and not all places of interest are grouped close together. So, you should try your best to plan your itinerary so that travel distances are close. Otherwise, you could end up spending half of your time on public transport during your trip. Certainly, it is best to try and keep your kids occupied by cutting out these lengthy journeys.

Another thing worth doing in the planning phase is to learn as much as possible offered by different places in China, check out any cultural experiences or festivals coming up, and then plan your itinerary based on this, making it as kid friendly as possible. If you’re not entirely sure of what to do or where to go, then you could opt to enjoy tailor made China tours. We’ll give you a list of suggestions and places to go based on your preferences, and then you can easily create your ideal itinerary and tailor-made tour.

Here are some of the ideas we offer that your kids may enjoy:

·         A rickshaw ride through the Hutongs of Beijing

·         Making dumplings with a family cooking school, trying to keep the mess to a minimum!

·         Sliding down the toboggan at the Great Wall of China

·         Hiking and Biking around the Guilin or Yangshuo area

·         Head to the Panda centre at Chengdu in Sichuan province

When to Go

You should try to avoid travelling around China during any public holiday. This is when the rest of China travels, and there are over a billion Chinese. The public transport networks will be clogged up, sometimes there are huge delays and even standstills, and this is not the kind of stress that you’d want when travelling with children.

However, going to China at these times could provide you with one of the best ways to soak in the best of Chinese culture, and is definitely advisable if you plan your itinerary well, as your kids are bound to love it.

Here are some of the major Chinese holidays in 2018:

·         New Year’s Day                                   January 1, 2018

·         Chinese New Year                               February 16-18 2018  

·         Lantern Festival                                   March 2, 2018

·         QinMing Festival                                 April 5, 2018

·         May Day                                              May 1, 2018

·         Childrens Day                                      June 1, 2018

·         Dragon Boat Festival                           June 18, 2018

·         Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival             September 24, 2018

·         National Day and Golden Week          October 1-7, 2018

If you’d like any further suggestions on when to go or the kinds of activities you can do with your children on a trip to China, then please get in touch with a reliable China travel specialist, and they’d be glad to advise you.

20 Fun Things To Do In Hamilton, Ontario With Families!

By: Grace Cross, Editor of The Baby Spot

Twitter

Originally Posted Here

Just over a half an hour from Toronto, Ontario, lies Hamilton, a city that is flourishing so quickly it is not to be missed. After recent price hikes in the Toronto and greater Toronto market, we find Toronto city ex pats settling in Hamilton. A steel city from its past, Hamilton is in a flux of change of construction and rebuilding. Many chefs, artists and businesses are flourishing here and now Hamilton’s many secrets are being discovered.

Whether you are a local looking for something to do, to a tourist from outside of the city or abroad, Hamilton does not disappoint. The locals are incredibly friendly, proud and knowledgeable about their beautiful city, the architecture is beautiful and there are so many hidden gems in this city that one article will not do it justice. Here are the fun things to do in Hamilton.

Our list is everything we have found to do in Hamilton so far. There will always be more things to do as the city is changing. If something pops up, we will add to this list, but if you have discovered something great and we have missed it, please leave your ideas in the comment section below!

We have included things to see and do both for families and for parents who are looking for a child free time. Everyone can benefit from this list!

WATERFALLS

This is no secret to the locals but a big surprise to those visiting. Hamilton has over 100 waterfalls in the city that snake along the Bruce Trail into the Niagara Peninsula. Yes, each waterfall is breathtaking and a must see. From Albion Falls to the Devil’s Punch Bowl, this makes a perfect date or family hike! Bring a picnic or just hike to see the falls and go down the mountain to enjoy a nice lunch in the city. Whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed.

It is said that Hamilton is the waterfall capital of the world! This is a major attraction for both tourists and locals alike! Depending on the waterfall, the hiking trails range in difficulty. Not only will you see a breathtaking waterfall but also experience some of Southern Ontario’s beautiful nature walks on the famous Bruce Trail. Hamilton has so much natural beauty and now you and your family can spend days exploring all of its scenic waterfalls!

DUNDURN CASTLE

This castle is breathtaking and overlooks the bay! Whether you want a historical adventure inside this beautiful castle or to walk its grounds with your family, you will not be disappointed, no matter what time of year it is! We recommend seeing Dundurn Castle during every season because it is so beautiful.

This Italian style villa was built in the 1830s, learn more about the family who lived on the upstairs and servants who lived below. The Duchess of Cornwall is the museum’s Patron and also, the great, great, great granddaughter of Sir Allan MacNab, the former home owner.

If you come on a Saturday afternoon in the summer, you will most likely see many wedding photos taking place in and around this beautiful castle. We love going in the morning or in the evening for a nice stroll.

The tours are not to be missed! Regular tours are there to show visitors the grounds. Learn a piece of local and Canadian history! Dundurn Castle is either a perfect family day or a day date with your hubby.

BAYFRONT PARK

A great family outing! Bayfront Park is to be explored. Right in the heart of the city lies a beautiful park that is easy to walk (bring the little ones who have just started to walk or the elderly) the trails are easy to navigate and the paved walkways are wonderful for walking or bike riding. Find a quiet spot and teach your little one to ride their bike or bring a picnic lunch and find the beautiful gazebo by the bay. Did you find it?

A great spot for family photos, Bayfront Park is not to be missed. Parking is free! What a find considering this is a big city.

HMCS Haida National Historic Site

History buffs and attraction lovers alike, this is your place! The HMCS Haida National Historic Site is located at 658 Catharine Street North, Pier 9, right by the Lakeshore. This WW2 Tribal Class destroyer is now not only a memorial of the war but a floating museum! You can choose a tour or a self-guided tour, which comes with a booklet to show you everything that you will need. The self-guided tour is very easy to follow and is good for families who have children who may want to go a little slower or faster.

Are you a war buff? Interested in something different to see? Check out this HMCS Haida, it is a historical treasure, resting in front of the city.

GAGE PARK

On Gage Avenue South and Main Street East lies beautiful park lands. This is a fine example of what a city park should look like. This 10th century era park is a gem for generations to enjoy. It has a splash pad for the children in the summer, a beautiful rose garden and a Children’s Museum located on site. The fountains around the park are gorgeous. Absolutely stunning and make for great family photos.

Gage Park is beautiful for a date night walk or a great place to go for a family bike ride or walk. There is so much to see and do this place is not to be missed.

CANADIAN WARPLANE HERITAGE MUSEUM

It’s time to go up the mountain now to the Canadian Warplane and Heritage Museum. Located next to Hamilton airport, this museum is not to be missed! From heritage planes that our Canadian WW2 vets rode in to a flight simulator (we crashed accidentally into the city of Hamilton, we are not meant to be pilots) this is an adventure for the whole family!

Some of the guides are people who lived through World War 2 and sometimes share personal accounts of what it was like. All of the staff are extremely knowledgeable. For an extra fee, you can be a passenger and fly in some of these amazing planes!

Children and adults alike can climb into some of the planes to see what it was like flying these across Europe. There are so many things to look at and so much to be proud of. We took our one year old here and she had a blast! She was amazed at the planes and felt like such a big girl when she climbed into a cock pit. This is truly a great place for the whole family. Go early to avoid the crowds and enjoy! Upper James is just a short drive away for lunch.

THE JAMES STREET NORTH ART CRAWL

It is up to us as parents to inspire our children. The James Street North Art Crawl is the place to do it! We love Hamilton as it is big city with a small town feel.

Every second Friday of each month between King William and Barton Street is the art crawl. All of the galleries in the area open the same night and stores stay open from 7-11pm.

Go in and out of galleries and events and see what is inspiring Hamilton. This is a very relaxed event and you can go with your children or friends to enjoy this amazing night on the town!

WEIR’S LAVENDER AND APIARY

We love this place. Lavender fields in Hamilton! Located in Dundas Ontario (one of the towns that joined Hamilton years ago) is Weird Lavender and Apiary. Take beautiful photos in the lavender fields or speak to the family about beekeeping. Don’t be afraid, these are the friendliest bees we have ever encountered. Walk away knowledgeable about the bee industry and which bees you may encounter that were brought here from Europe.

Learn how we should try to plan indigenous plants to Southern Ontario to keep these mild mannered bees a live.

Weir’s Lavender and Apiary has both French and English lavender which means you have the edible more subtle lavender (English) and the stronger lavender (French). Have your children play in the striking purple lavender fields, take photos and enjoy.

There is also a great gift shop full of keepsakes for the whole family!

VALENS LAKE SKATING TRAIL

We want to include things you can do in Hamilton all year around and just because the winter months are long in Canada does not mean you should not visit and stay inside!

Valens Lake Skating Trail is something out of a dream. Walk, or, ahem, skate through the woods. There is nothing more Canadian than lacing up your skates, the smell of pine and the crisp cold snowy air.

Be surrounded in pine and spruce trees as this old camp ground road is recreated into a 425 meter skating path at Waterdown Rotary Memorial Park.

It’s a great place for the family to skate, to suggest for a photo opportunity (think engagements or engagement photos for family members) and more!

ART GALLERY OF HAMILTON

We are obsessed with the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The second floor is free for all to see with some famous Canadian paintings. There is also a structure of a mini mega city surrounding a car that will make the children fall in love with museums! This is a great place to educate the whole family on paintings, sculpture and more!

The whole museum is free on Fridays and they have so many classes for children. We love the café and their gift shop is not to be missed. From fun little artifacts to buying paintings, this is a fun way to get something for yourself or your family that you will always remember. Go to this museum regularly as you will always learn something new, or better yet, become a member.

THE LAKEFRONT

The Lakefront is a popular destination for Hamiltonians and visitors alike! Connected with Burlington’s Lake front, park at Spenser Park in Burlington and walk, ride or roller blade down the beautiful lakefront trail. If you feel a little hungry, stop off at Hutch’s, a famous restaurant in Hamilton that has been there for decades. Go inside and see the amazing 50s diner that is so popular and grab some comfort food to go. Stay inside and eat with a beautiful Lakefront view or continue on your adventure and see how far you can go on the trail!

WILD WATERWORKS

Need to cool off from a hot day in the city? Wild Waterworks is a perfect way to have a great day with your whole family! From the wave pool to the little squirt works for the kids, your whole family will be busy all day long! Make it easier on everyone by booking a cabana and head to the Easy River for some coveted rest and relaxation.

If you’re looking for a discount, simply go after 4pm and enjoy the park at a cheaper rate. For all others, go early so you can have the whole day to get your slide on!

TALL SHIPS

The tall ships are a sight to be seen for the whole family! These majestic ships are at Pier 8, where the 11 vessels follow each other before they dock. They offer free deck tours and harbour cruises, live music on the dock and more. Your children will admire the beautiful ships as they grace the bay.

WHITE HERN HISTORIC HOUSE AND GARDEN

What a hidden gem right downtown! The White Hern House and Garden is filled with all of the original things from the families that lived in their house. If you frequent historic house, you know that this is not always the case. The staff is amazing and they know how to make this tour even more fun!

Hear about some tales and folklore about the locals or admire the fascinating objects of how people once lived in Hamilton. How did this property stay in the hands of the same family for more than a hundred years? You are just going to have to visit!

VALENS CONSERVATION AREA

Going up to Flambourough is an amazing day trip for the family or with friends. Valens Lake has a great camping ground with 225 campsites and 125 of those states have electrical and water hook ups! Spend the night in nature and enjoy without driving for hours from the city!

Check out the beautiful Lookout Tower, Valens Lake and the Fishing Bridge or spend the day at Valens Lake Beach!

DUNDAS VALLEY CONSERVATION AREA

The views, the hiking, the trail center! From winter to summer, this is a place you want to visit again and gain. Check out the lush Carolinian forests, the beautiful meadows or be brave and dip your feet into one of their cold streams. There are so many rare plants to see! Go bird watching, hike as long as you like or go for fantastic photo opportunities. Whatever drives you, you will love the 40 kilometer trail system. A word of the wise, if bringing your precious pooches, keep them on a leash!

You can walk, ride, horseback ride, and ski in the winter! This trail has something for everyone.

HAMILTON FARMERS MARKET

Since 1837 Hamilton’s Farmers Market has been a source for Hamiltonians and their visitors to get their fresh produce and more! With over 60 vendors to check out, you can get local, national and international foods for both you and your family to enjoy!

There are also flowers and other goodies and presents you can pick up. Go in for a bite to eat or stay and roam the vendors for hours. The choice is yours!

DYMETS FARM

Head up to Dundas to enjoy this family farm! From their famous pumpkin patch in the fall to a great market place, pretend this farm is yours for the day as you explore its many facets. You can even have Dymet’s Farm host a birthday party there! This is a must visit place for locals and visitors alike!

ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS

Though headquartered in Burlington, many of its gardens and sites sprawl into Hamilton. From Jazz and Blues Wednesdays to its fascinating gardens and trails, this is the perfect place to spend with your children or on your own! Visitors come from all over the world to walk through the Royal Botanical Gardens and you should not be a stranger.

There are endless things to do for children that you can make multiple visits and attend one of their many events and just scratch the surface of the Royal Botanical Gardens. It’s best to get a membership so you and your family can visit and revisit all year!

BATTLEFIELD HOUSE MUSEUM AND PARK

It’s time to dive into a piece of Canadian history as we head to Stoney Creek for this one. The Battlefield House Museum and Park has a stunning monument as its crown jewel. Children will marvel at its size and this is a great time to educate them on Canadian history. The park and gardens are stunning as well.

The Battle of Stoney Creek took place in 1812 and there are battle re-enactments which is a sight to see! Bring the whole family and watch as you slip through time and watch the Battle of Stoney Creek. This somber moment makes us feel like a part of history and gives your children a new perspective on what happened so many years ago.

The museum is fantastic, with staff dressed for the period time and are full of fascinating information. Your children will get to step into past for a few hours and have experiences that they will never forget!

What makes Hamilton great is that it has endless spots for date days and for the whole family. Hamilton has hidden gems, its staple spots and new must see places every month! We will continue to update this list so that you get the most out of visiting Hamilton, Ontario Canada!

Iconic Attraction Full of Knowledge, Science and Fun

“Inspiring a lifelong journey of curiosity, discovery and action to create a better future for the planet.” – Ontario Science Centre

Toronto, Canada is the city that I was born and grew up in. Therefore, it is a city that I hold dear to my heart. It has so much to offer to their residents and to those visiting from out of town. This could be why The Baby Spot (global parenting magazine) has named Toronto the city of the year for 2017.

There is so much to do and see in Toronto and one particular place that should be on everyone’s list is an iconic cultural attraction called, the Ontario Science Centre. It is full of knowledge, science and fun for everyone in the family with no age restrictions.


My family and I visited the Ontario Science Centre this past summer and I have to confess that I don’t remember ever visiting them (maybe when I was much younger on a school trip). So it was a great opportunity for my three-year old daughter and I to experience a first together.

When we arrived at the Centre, I could not help but notice that there were a lot of people visiting and knew it must be a special place. One very important piece that I have to mention is that even though it was really busy, the Ontario Science Centre is so big and entertaining that we didn’t feel crowded. I think this is an amazing feature as it can be stressful to be in a place that feels overwhelming with big crowds.

We grabbed a map at the entrance which I highly recommend to everyone as it helps with guiding you through the six levels at the Ontario Science Centre. Yes you read that right – six levels of fun!

I will highlight our most memorable activities and provide a few tips along the way.

Kidspark 

Kidspark would have to be our favorite part of the Ontario Science Centre as there is a lot to do there for our toddler. It is divided into two sections which I thought was neat and a great way to space out the crowds. Kidspark is the opportunity to ‘spark’ your child’s imagination and curiosity through play, building, water, music and so much more. This is ideal for kids eight years and younger and if you are wondering if your toddler or infant can have fun, they sure can! There is a designated play area for children three years and younger which my daughter truly enjoyed.

Special Exhibition

The special exhibition hall which is located on Level 6 is a space that is changed every 4 – 6 months or so. On our trip the exhibition was the Wildlife Rescue which we really enjoyed. This special exhibition took us on a journey to Africa and Indonesia where we saw the dedicated efforts of caretakers who successfully raise and release young elephants and orangutans to the wild. We explored the innovative ways used to capture, raise and release endangered species back to the wild in the Species Recovery Center. This was very insightful for us to learn and it was great for our toddler to see. This exhibition has just been extended until October 9th so if you haven’t seen it yet, you should make some time to check it out!

TELUS Rain Forest

You don’t need to travel far to experience the rain forest ambience as the Ontario Science Centre and TELUS brings it to you. It is absolutely breathtaking and it was my favourite part of our trip. You can walk up near the waterfall and there is a bridge that you can brave to cross (I made it safely). 😉

After crossing the bridge there are some reptiles that you can see secured in their spaces and a description of what they are. You also hear thunder in the rain forest which really makes you feel like you are really there. *Momma Braga Tip: If you are looking for a great place to take some photos in, this is the place!

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree

The Maple Leaf Forever Tree is a sight to see and we really loved seeing this beauty! This tree is a sculpture created by the Ontario Wood Carvers Association from part of the silver maple tree that inspired Alexander Muir’s 1867 song “Maple Leaf Forever.” It features 35 hand-carved leaves, each depicting a historically-significant person, place or event in Toronto’s history, the sculpture is the result of more than 10,000 volunteer carving hours. This beautiful artwork was formally handed over to the Science Centre on July 19 of this year, in celebration of Ontario 150. It is definitely something to see during your visit!

The Ontario Science centre offers top science experiences, memorable exhibitions, engaging programs and breathtaking films so that visitors can do far more than observe; they can interact and participate.

We learned so much and it really got us all to think a little more. You can tell that a lot of thought and planning goes into the layout and exhibits on each level.

A really neat part of the Centre is that you can find healthy snacks to purchase and there is a restaurant on level 6 called the Valley Restaurant with yummy and affordable options to eat. But if you want to pack your own lunch you can and there is space to eat in or you can enjoy the Terrace on Level 3 where you can eat outdoors. I really love this option to bring your own food and I am sure many other families love it too!

We will definitely go back to see what new and exciting things they will have for us to see and learn. The learning opportunities are endless for any age and I think that is what we loved best. We highly recommend to put the Ontario Science Centre on your list to visit. We do recommend to check out their events when planning your visit, make sure to visit their calendar and see how you can plan your next visit.

If you are interested in purchasing your tickets online you can and if you would like to make a donation of a gift of science you can also do that. To learn more about their donation program, please click here.  Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to see all the neat things that they are doing.

Special thank you to the Ontario Science Centre for having us and keep inspiring minds. See you again soon!

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

-Momma Braga


 

 

 

 

*Please note that this article is not a sponsored or paid post. 

Centreville: A Hidden Gem, A Ferry Ride Away from the Big City

Growing up in Toronto, there was many things to do as a family but one of my ultimate favourite places to go to was Centre Island or more specifically Centreville. I remember loving the ferry ride to get to the island and then spending the day on all the fun rides. Those are the moments that I remember and cherish to this day.

Now with a family of my own it was my turn to provide these same fun memories to my daughter who now at the age of two can enjoy more of them.

Here are my five top reasons why Centreville is a great place for families to visit.

Escape from the Big City

It is hard to believe that Centreville is only a ferry ride away from the busy city of Toronto, Canada and gives guests a scenic ride to the Island with unbelievable views of the city with planes flying overhead into the airport. Once you arrive at the Island you can already feel such a calming atmosphere. The scenery is landscaped beautifully and there is so much to see on the island. It is a great place to see and a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Click here to see a map of the island.

Momma Braga Tip: To avoid long line ups, it is best to purchase your ferry boat ticket online as it will save you time. Infants under the age of 2 are free; Children from 2 to 14 is $3.65 CDN; Student (under 19 with ID) is $5 CDN; Senior ($65+) is $5 CDN; and Adult is $7.50 CDN. This price is to and from the Island.

Photo Credit: Karen Braga
Photo Credit: Karen Braga

Centreville Amusement Park

From rides and games to a wide selection of food outlets, there is something for everyone at Centreville, like they say! Centreville celebrates 50 years of fun this year and has been a hot spot for families with young children for many years. Even though many know about Centreville Amusement Park, I think families don’t realize how toddler friendly it is. There are many rides and attractions for toddlers and that is the best part! There are of course some rides that are not recommended for toddlers but I find Centreville full of many more options.

Momma Braga Tip: When planning your visit, check out the website to see what type of rides they have and it also lists how many tickets you need to ride each one. The neat part of this section is that it lists the intensity of the rides under: Smooth, Moderate and Extreme. I also recommend to check the hours of operation as well before visiting, click here.

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There is no entry fee to enter Centreville Amusement Park (which is fantastic!) but to enjoy the rides and attractions payment is required. There are different rates depending on what you would like to do. Each ride requires a certain amount of tickets to ride them and you can also buy a pass which will provide you unlimited access to the rides for the day. You can purchase a Family of 4 All Day Ride Pass ($108 CDN) which must include at least 1 Adult; Individual All Day Ride Pass Over 4’ ($35.35 CDN); Individual All Day Ride Pass Under 4’ ($25.25 CDN); Sheet of 25 Ride Tickets ($23 CDN); Sheet of 65 Ride Tickets ($55 CDN); and Season Pass ($66.50 CDN). Please note that some rides require an adult to accompany a small child and therefore the adult will require a ticket. Keep this in mind when making your decision on what to purchase.

Momma Braga Tip: We purchased the Family of 4 All Day Ride Pass and we purchased it online to save some money ($105.50 CDN) as this way we didn’t have to worry about how many tickets we needed. If you are looking to buy a pass, I recommend to purchase it online to save yourself some money.

Nikki Favourites: Our daughter had a few favourite rides that she recommends for all her young toddler friends which are: Centreville Train; Antique Carousel; Kiddie Boat; Fire Engines; Touring Cars; Twirling Teacups; and the Pony Express.

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Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/centreville/rides-attraction

Far Enough Farms

A staple of Centre Island is the Far Enough Farms and a must see with your little ones. My daughter loves animals so of course this was on our must see list. Far Enough Farms is locating just east of Centreville Amusement Park and is open daily 365 days a year from 10 AM to 5 PM and completely free to enjoy! Yes! I said FREE! There are 40 different species to see at the farm and you can learn about them through the farmers and farm hands that are always on hand to answer any of your questions. We truly enjoyed this part of our visit and of course so did my daughter!

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Fun Games

Can’t forget about all the games that you can play to win some stuffed toys to add to your collection! Check out all the games they have on site by clicking here.

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Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/centreville/rides-attraction

Great Food Outlets

Plenty of yummy food to eat at Centreville and they are all great! We didn’t bring our own food as we decided to fully experience Centreville. Here is a list of all the available food outlets. We ended up eating at the Carousel Café which we just adored. They are located a short walk away from Centreville.

Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/food-and-drink/carousel-cafe
Photo Credit: http://www.centreisland.ca/food-and-drink/carousel-cafe

These are my top five reasons to visit the Centreville Amusement Park and if these reasons are not enough…..I think the most important part was it provided a city escape to spend time together as a family. Overall, we all had a great time and what tugged at my heart strings was seeing the pure joy in my daughter’s constant smile as she enjoyed every minute of Centreville. I got to see what my parents use to see in me and for that I am truly grateful for.

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

–          Momma Braga
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4 Tips on Visiting Legoland with a Toddler

Legoland Discovery Centre Toronto is located in Vaughan, Ontario. They first opened their doors in 2013 so it is fairly new. I have always been intrigued to see what Legoland was all about and thought this would be great for us to do on one of our family’s staycation days this summer.

So that is exactly what we did and after feeling a little overwhelmed with our trip to Legoland, I thought it would be great to put a few tips together for other families with toddlers who may want to visit.

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  1. Purchase Tickets in Advance

It is highly recommended to purchase your tickets in advance as the website states that it is the only way to guarantee entry. There are two types of tickets, Online Saver Ticket ($15.40 CDN each person) and Flexi Ticket ($24 CDN each person). With the online saver ticket you need to select the date and time of your arrival and the Flexi ticket does not restrict you to a particular day and time. There is also the option of the Annual Pass which I would recommend if you are planning to visit often. Children 2 years old and under are free.

With a toddler it can be difficult to select a definite time and therefore we went with the Flexi Ticket as it offered us the flexibility that we needed.

  1. The Layout

Not sure why I was expecting anything in particular with regards to the layout of the centre but I did and felt overwhelmed with it. When you first arrive you need to check in and then you have the option to take a photo that you can later purchase as a keepsake.

You then enter Legoland and you first start off in a room where you are greeted by a staff member. There are some displays in this first room and then the first line-up to the very first ride begins. After this ride, you will see the photo booth where you can purchase your photos (you may also get a picture from the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride).

The neat part after the photo booth is Miniland which was my favourite as it was a mini version of Toronto’s landmarks made by Lego. After travelling through Miniland, you have arrived at EVERYTHING!

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Everything else is all in one big room which was the overwhelming part for us and of course for our toddler who didn’t know where to go first.

Therefore be prepared for this type of layout as it may save you from being disappointed.

  1. Check the Map before Arriving

The website provides a map and overview of all of their activities/attractions. I recommend to check it out first to see what they have to offer. It can also help guide you when you get there as not all activities are available for toddlers as there are height requirements. Here are some attractions with restrictions to be mindful of: Kingdom Quest Laser Ride child must have the ability to walk unassisted and children over 130cm may ride without an adult. Melin’s Apprentice child must be at least 90cm and must be accompanied by an adult. Children over 120cm may ride without an adult. Lego Fire Academy & the Lego Construction Site child must be between 90cm and 140cm to enter. All children must also wear socks in this attraction.

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Photo Credit: Legoland
  1. A must visit, Duplo Village

Duplo Village takes up a tiny section of Legoland and is the area that seems to really cater to toddlers from 1 to 5 years of age. The blocks are big to build with and there is a slide in this area that they can go down.

This area would be a recommended spot for toddlers as it will be fun for them.

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These are my four top tips on visiting Legoland with toddlers. Overall, our daughter did have fun but to say that we would go again, not likely. Maybe when our daughter is over 90cm tall she may enjoy it more as there will be a lot more that she can do.

In the meantime, we will enjoy other activities that will be more accessible for her age and height. Legoland might be great for older children and children who love lego. It just wasn’t good for us at this time but maybe it will be one day.

Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

3 Big Baby Steps to Taking a Vacation Break from your Babies

By Michele Giacomini

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You love your kids. No one would ever dispute that. You work hard to provide for them and care for them, and there’s pretty much nothing you wouldn’t do for your sweet cherubs. You’re a Power Parent, pure and simple. You do it all, you do it well and you do it 24/7/ But let’s face it, being a parent can be exhausting!

Many parents find it hard to take a break from taking care of their children (We’re talking full-on vacation here!). Whether it be the cost, the time, or the unsurity of leaving your babies behind, the arguments for taking a vacation sans kiddos are countless. BUT YOU SHOULD!

Much like weekend break from the work week, parenting is a tough job that moms and dads alike need to put on a temporary hold occasionally, so they can continue to care for their children with gusto. So if a traditional vacation is not in your near future, why not try for a mini-vacay!

Here are some pointers for parents needing to press the pause button on parenting.

Try some of these solutions to some of the top excuses, and you’ll find yourself taking a relaxing break before you know it.

Baby Step 1 Tip – Funding a Flop

Pinching those pennies pays off. While it would be nice to make an escape for a week or two, the reality is, it can be expensive to be gone so long. Here’s a great compromise, Casinos!

Now I know what you are thinking, but I am NOT advocating that you go hit the tables to help fund your next vacation getaway. What I am sharing is that one doting mom I know signed up at her local Indian Casino to be a “member.” When she shared this with me I was surprised, because she’s not a gambler. She explained that she gets great overnight deals that include drastically reduced accommodations, discounts for the restaurants, and full access to the pool and fitness center. She says it’s like her own “mini resort getaway” right down the road.

For about $100 US she sometimes gets a one or two night stay, and dinner out. Most importantly, her pocketbook hasn’t been hit too hard, and she looks forward to going home to her kids, refreshed and renewed.

You can also check with other larger hotel chains that allow you to sign up for deal notifications.

Another parent friend shared her “recycling” tip. She saves recycling money in a jar, and when the jar fills up, it’s BREAK TIME. Her kids know it too, and they look forward to her overnight escape as they generally get to go to their grandma’s house for a proper spoiling. WIN-WIN!

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Baby Step 2 Tip – Not Enough Time in the Day

Less is more. If time is an issue, plan to carve out what you can. If that means instituting Date Night or Date Day once a month, do what you need to in order to make that happen! We all know that dates don’t have to be extravagant and expensive in order to be incredible! So pack a Sunset picnic, or grab some bikes and hit the trails, or maybe go take a scenic hike. The down time will be well worth the effort. Plus, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be ready for weekend getaways in no time!

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Baby Step 3 Tip – Nobody does it Better

Nobody’s perfect, and that’s okay. We know that when it comes to parenting, you do it best. But your babies need a break from you too, so call in The B Team. Hey! If the professional sports teams can do it, you can too!

Who could be your B Team Players? Trusted adults, of course! Try trusted relatives or trusted friends. Some mom groups set up weekend swaps, so that they can watch each other’s children while couples and single parents alike can get a well-deserved break (and some of those breaks end up being “staycations”).

Regardless if you take a two day break, a one day break or just half a day, the benefits of the recharge not only benefit you and your partner, but they benefit your children too. Remember, baby steps, baby steps, baby steps. Cuz when mama’s happy, everyone’s happy.

 

Michele “Miss OMG” Giacomini is a Lifestyles Writer and the author of Looking for B.O.B. (Brightsides of Bull$#!+). She writes about everything chocolate, wine, food, travel and shoes…for everything else, she just makes fun of it. You may follow her on her blog at DayTripperMag.com or Twitter: @DayTripperMag1

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10 Tips on Visiting Canada’s Wonderland with a Toddler

Canada’s Wonderland is a 330-acre theme park located in Vaughan, Ontario, which is north of the popular city of Toronto, Ontario. The park first opened in 1981 as the first major theme park in Canada and remains as the country’s largest.

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Living in Ontario, it is always a perk to have this amusement park near by as new attractions are added every year. This year we took our daughter, Nikki and it sparked the idea that I should put some tips together to help other families who are planning their first trip with their toddlers or even older children.

Here are my top ten tips to make your trip more enjoyable and possibly save you some money 🙂

1. Purchase Tickets in Advance

By purchasing tickets in advance will save you time and money at the front gate. There are many ticket options available such as Daily Pass, 3 Day Advance, Good Any Day, 2-Day Ticket, Admission & Fast Lane and of course there is the Season Pass which is usually recommended if you are planning to go more than twice in the season. With the online ticket purchasing you can add other additions such as parking, meals, fast lane (gives you the ability to speed pass the lines on some rides), Dinos and FunPix. Please keep in mind that when a purchase is made online there is a processing fee added to the end.

Momma Braga Tip: If you have a Costco membership then I would recommend to purchase an Admission Pass from them as it is $38.49 CDN + tax which saves you some money. This admission works for ages 3 to 59. According to Canada’s Wonderland’s website a Junior ticket is $36.99 + a processing fee + tax. It appears that Costco could be the best method for the whole family if you have a membership. Children under the age of 3 do not have to pay.

2. Plan Ahead

Canada’s Wonderland has a lot to do and see, it could become overwhelming for a family with young children. By planning ahead of time, you can ease this feeling and help your family enjoy everything that you want to do. Visit the website to see what special events they may have and view the map to see what areas you want to visit. By having a ride map or plan can really help your family enjoy the day to the fullest. Also saves time on wondering where or what to do next.

Momma Braga Tip: The park has Baby Care Centres, Diaper changing areas and/or family restrooms, these can be located on their park map. See where they are as it can help you locate them quickly when you need them. Most of the restaurants inside of the park are also able to warm up baby bottles.

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3. Arrive Early

The amusement park opens at 10 AM and if you would like a close parking to the front gate without paying extra for premium parking, I would recommend to arrive before 10 AM. The later you arrive, the further you need to park and with little ones we all know how tough the walk can be.

4. Visit the Height Check Station

For the safety of all park guests, all rides have rider height requirements based on the manufacturers’ recommendations. To view the height requirements, you can click here. This is why I recommend to visit the Height Check Stations to have your children measured to know which rides they can go on and it will save you time on getting them checked at each ride. The Height Check Stations are located on either side of International Street. Colour-coded wristbands are provided at these locations and they correspond to the colour found on the Rules and Regulations signs located at the entrance of each ride.

5. Picnic Outside or Splurge on Delicious Meals

This one truly depends on your own family’s preference and budget. The park does not allow outside food or drinks but food is allowed to stay in your cars and eaten outside of the park. However, baby food and formula are permitted as is plastic bottled water.

There are grass areas outside of the park that you can have a picnic on. To leave the park to eat, just make sure to get your hands stamped in order to get back in. Parking closer to the gates will help greatly if you decided to picnic outside. There is also the option to eat inside the park as they have many delicious meal choices. Of course it can add up but if you have budgeted to splurge then this is a great option. To learn more about the dining experience at Canada’s Wonderland, click here.

Momma Braga Tip: A must try at Canada’s Wonderland is the famous Funnel Cake.

6. Prepare to Walk

The park is on 330-acres so you can say that there is a lot of walking to do to get around. Make sure that you all have comfy shoes and a stroller will be great for young children. The park does offer single and double strollers for a one day rental. Rentals are on a first come basis and may not be reserved in advance. The rental fee for a single stroller is $15 CDN (+ $5 deposit) and for a double stroller is $25 CDN (+ $5 deposit). The deposit is refunded upon the satisfactory return of the stroller.

Mommy Braga Tip: Bring only necessities with you inside the park such as extra clothing for your toddler as we know back up clothes are always needed. My recommendation is to travel light. You may bring in a bag and there is a search of bags before entering the park. There is the option of putting your stuff in a locker for a rental fee (from $15 CDN to $30 CDN) but I do think it is a bit pricey for families.

7. Download the Free Canada’s Wonderland Mobile App

I thought this was neat and really wished I used it while I was there. There is a free mobile app that is available for your Apple or Android. The App can be used with the parks free Wi-Fi and there are some neat features on it such as: get wait times on your favourite rides; enjoy special offers and discounts inside the park; easy-to-use interactive map; carry your season pass on your mobile phone; updates on special events and promotions; find your favourite rides, shows, and restaurants; buy tickets and season passes quickly and easily; and use car finder to mark your parking spot and let the app remember for you. Seems like they thought of it all with this app!

8. Sing Songs or Play I Spy to Entertain the Little Ones in the Ride Line Ups

Some ride lines can be long and of course for our little ones it feels even longer. I recommend to make standing in line fun by singing your favourite songs and even playing a fun game of “I Spy with my little eye.” It makes the time go by faster and keeps your little ones entertained. It worked for us!

9. Plant Snoopy, Kidzville, Splash Works, and Dinosaurs Alive….Oh My!

There is just so much to do! Planet Snoopy and Kidzville are areas that I recommend for families as there are a lot for our little ones to do there such as rides, daily character meet-and-greets and live entertainment. Planet Snoopy features Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus. Kidzville is filled with brightly coloured buildings, rides and restaurants. If it is a hot summer day then take advantage of Splash Works which is Canada Wonderland’s Premier Water Park and something to check out if you have time. There is an area that is great for toddlers to splash around. Then there is Dinosaurs Alive where you can find more than 40 moving and practically breathing life-sized dinosaurs, including several you can control. This experience is designed to thrill guests for all ages but it is not included in your admission ticket. To try this it costs $5 CDN (+processing fee+tax) for each person.

Momma Braga Tip: The restaurant line ups appeared to be a lot shorter than in other areas in the park.

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10. Take Lots of Pictures and Have Fun

Of course take lots of photos and remember to have family fun! I think this is the most important tip of all! I know we had a great time and my daughter had the time of her life!

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Until next time…..Happy Parenting!

– Momma Braga

Eight Travel Tips for Tots (and the Parents that Drag them Places)

*Special Guest Post by O. Michele Giacomini

It’s that time of year when parents stress out over planning and packing for a vacation, for which they will attempt to bundle up the entire house, including their kiddos, to take on their awesome adventure. Much of that stress comes from worrying about what to do with the kids WHILE travelling. But there’s no need to worry. Follow my tips and you can be sure to have a pleasant and memorable journey of joy!

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Before we begin with fun tips, let me share a little logistics tip that has served me very well over the many, many years of travelling with my children:

Book flights, train travel, etc. during your child’s natural nap time times. If your children sleep through the night well, then truly consider booking an overnighter redeye flight, or train travel. You may be a little grumpy the next day from lack of a good night’s sleep, but your child won’t be, so that makes everything better. Remember, a cranky kid makes a cranky family.

IT’S ALL FUN & GAMES…

Tip #1 Safety in Numbers Sit near other families in airports and train stations. I recommend camping out in a corner space where you can corral the kids so they can play until their heart’s delight. If you’re next to some other families, you might even make a new friend or two in the process!  (BONUS TIP: Pack a lightweight tablecloth to spread on the ground to play on, and bring a small pack of baby wipes—they really come in handy for all sorts of uses)!

Tip #2 Video Games

While I am not a proponent of these handheld devices on a regular basis, they are great for children while travelling. Keep those devices muted, and everyone around will think you have the best behaved children in the universe! I recommend the old devices. The only drawback is, you might find yourself fighting over these games with your child if you long to play Donkey Kong. Remember to be a good sharer!

Tip #3 Carry-on Chaps

One carry-on that your family brings should be dedicated to travel games, books, crayons, notebooks to draw in, and be sure to throw some stickers. Please remember to pack snacks, lots and lots and lots of snacks! (You will thank me for this).

Tip # 4 Smart Phones or Tablets

Download a lot of your child’s favorite books. Many local libraries allow you to download up to two weeks, FREE!  I know one parent who takes photos during story time each night of their children reading favorite books, (for a week before they travel). She uses these photos as “extra stories” on hand that she doesn’t have to pack. Her child simply re-tells the story from the picture, (which is a great learning skill, by-the-way). It’s fun and a lot lighter on the load!

Tip #5 Travelling is in The Cards

My favorite tip is to bring along a deck of cards. It’s small and lightweight, plus you can do so much with them! You can make up games: math games, sorting games, etc. You can also build houses out of cards. Kids love this stuff! If you learn a magic trick or two with those cards, you are sure to be a hit with your child and probably a whole lot of other people!

Tip #6 Yoga! Yoga!

Take photos or make flash cards for fun and kid-friendly yoga poses. They are another great way to get the body moving, stretching and a fun boredom buster (especially if you join in too). Who cares about doing these in public? Chances are you’ll never meet any of these people watching you again…so yoga like nobody’s watching!

Tip #7 Mother May I?

Airport terminals and train stations make for a great places to create a little fun. The classic game of Mother May I, and others like it, gives your child a chance to get some wiggles and giggles out before departure or during those long dreaded layovers.

Tip #8 Take Your Children for a Walk

This works really well if you have two grown-ups travelling with your child(ren), because one person can stay behind with everyone’s travel gear, while the other walks the terminal with the kiddo(s). My husband and I always played Tag Team, so the second one of us got back, the other would take the children for another round.  (Now that our children are grown, we continue to do it, just to sneak in that extra exercise)!

One variation of this is one parent can stay behind with the child and play, while the other parent takes a stroll alone…parents need a break too, so they don’t become grumpy travellers!

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Using these suggested travel tips should have you relaxing and enjoying your family vacation from take-off to return.

Bon voyage, baby!

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Michele “Miss OMG” Giacomini is a Lifestyles Writer and the author of Looking for B.O.B. (Brightsides of Bull$#!+). She writes about everything chocolate, wine, food, travel and shoes…for everything else, she just makes fun of it. You may follow her on her blog at OMGmissOMG.blogspot.com or Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/OMGMissOMG/