adventures with kids · travel with kids

Louisville Zoo: Tips for an Unforgettable Trip

The Louisville Zoo surprised and delighted us. We are members at the Nashville and go fairly often. We expected this zoo to be really similar to it, but we were thankfully mistaken. A special thank you to our friend Grace and her family. We visited the zoo as her guest, and we were grateful to her for the experience, and for helping us navigate. She guided us through like a pro!
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They have a a carousel just like our zoo!

One of the things that stood out most to me, were the animals we saw. So many that we don’t have at our zoo like lions, polar bears, gorillas or sea lions. I planned on taking tons of pictures, but it’s the videos that really get across how amazing the animals were so that’s what I will attempt to share here.

Lion

I could have stayed here for the longest. I loved how active he was while we were there and how close up we were able to get!

Polar Bear

Check on the zoo website before you visit. Our group was able to see the polar bear and grizzly bear feeding and demo. I was so impressed with the knowledge of the staff and that there were experts at almost every station to teach us more about the animals.

Grizzly Bear

The grizzly bear was so much fun to watch. We not only got to see it’s feeding and demo, we also got to watch him eat a melon and play a little head nodding game with it which made more sense after watching the demo and seeing that was part of it.

Tiger

I can’t tell you how many times we said “perfect timing” while we were at the zoo. It rained twice. Once while we were under the cover of the carousel and once under the cover of the tiger exhibit. We were able to see the tiger feeding and demo and the tiger was also very active for us before and after putting on such a great show.

Gorilla

When we first got to this exhibit neither of the gorillas that were visible to us were active: one was sleeping and the other was over in the corner. I’m so glad we waited and were patient. The sleeping one woke up and the kids played a head scratching game with him.

Splash Pad + Food and Beverage

If you visit the zoo in the summer, be sure to have your kiddos wear swimwear under their clothes. There is an awesome and sizable splash pad where they can cool off. They also sell Dippin Dots and frozen wine in this area. The splash pad is well-placed because we encountered it about the time our crew was getting tired and hot.

As far as lunch, there are burgers and chicken sold near the splash pad, or there is another food and beverage location in the Africa area which is where we ate. You really can make a day of being here.

Zoo Favorites

Our favorite features of this zoo were that there were many animals we can’t find at our zoo, the demos and being able to see them fed, and the splash pad! This will definitely be on our list when we return to Louisville. And we will return!

Noteworthy things to try next trip that we missed this time: pony or camel ride, sea lion show, train ride (wasn’t operating the day we were there).

adventures with kids · kids · nashville

Adventure Science Center

Adventure Science Center is an absolute gem located in Nashville. It’s a fun time of exploring and learning for kids and grownup kids.

On a recent visit, I thoughtfully planned our trip based on what had and had not went well on past visits. Honestly, the only negative I can think to mention is that it can be quite crowded at peak times.

With that said, my game plan was: Go on a weekday. Get there early (as in when they open – the website said 10 but we arrived at 9:30 and doors were already open). Eat lunch early. There’s a Subway on the top floor and it gets crazy crowded around lunch time. We strategically ate at 10:45 and we were the only ones in there. When we walked by an hour later it was packed, and a long line to place your order.

Both of my girls love this science center. We have been to others, and our Nashville center does the best job of catering to younger and older kids that I have seen. My children particularly love the space area and Human Body area.

Other tips?

  • Bring a backpack or fanny pack. Lugging around a diaper bag or heavy handbag is the worst.
  • Keep your phone nearby because there will be plenty of photo and video ops but you will want to be hands-free so you can plan and participate in all the fun.
  • When you pass by a bathroom, have all your peeps use it. That way you can maximize your playtime instead of trekking your way back to the potty when someone announces they have to “go.”
  • Do the Planetarium experience. It was something we will never forget. The reactions of my kiddos was priceless. There are several shows – We chose “Nightwatch.”
  • Kids will want to flock to the climbing apparatus in the center, but in my opinion the cooler and more fun activities are along the perimeter of each floor. My children love the space area and human body area especially.
  • Save money. If you are a teacher at a public school in the state of Tennessee bring your badge for free/discounted admission. Our school sells a City Saver coupon book and the coupon admitted one of my children for free. I also ordered ice water for us to drink at Subway!

 

adventures with kids · foodie · nashville

Visiting Nashville Farmer’s Market with Kids

 

Even before kids, going to farmer’s markets has been one of our favorite things to do.

We’ve been going to the farmer’s market in Nashville for almost two decades, and it’s definitely one of our happy places.

If you ask our girls their five favorite things to do at the farmer’s market they would tell you:

1. Get Jeni’s Ice Cream.

 

Yes it’s a chain, but it is the BEST ice cream. It’s the creamiest and has the most unique flavor combinations. We love getting the trio and sharing. This lets us try three different flavors without breaking the bank and without getting two full because we also eat lunch at the market. That brings me to the next favorite thing for kids which is have lunch at the market.

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The trio at Jeni’s

2. Have lunch at the farmer’s market.

Why it’s cool: it’s like a big food court only kicked up several notches. The girls love that there is something for everyone and we don’t all have to order from the same vendor. My oldest daughter raves about Bella Nashville’s pizza cooked in wood fired ovens. You’ll find that vendor near the back. Both girls love watching the pizzas being made and put into the oven. Picky eater? My little one gets a hot dog from The Picnic Tap. The Picnic Tap is one of the most kid friendly vendors there. They have games and toys for little ones to play while they wait. My husband and I love that there are many ethnic food options! We love and have tried: Greek, Thai, and French crepes. Both girls love eating in the main food court area and always comment on the “light bulb fairy lights.”

3. The I ❤️ Nash sign.

 

Grownups and kiddos love stopping to take a pic with this highly Instagram-able sign.

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4. Fresh fruit and veggies! The girls love getting fresh produce from the vendors. We especially love finding The Peach Truck’s booth. We can’t come and leave without a bag of delicious peaches!

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5. PLAY IN THE WATER!!

Right beside the farmer’s market, located under the overpass, you’ll find hidden the best ever splash pad: The Rivers of Tennessee Fountains at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. We always put swimsuits on under our clothes and bring sunscreen and towels with us on farmer’s market days so the girls can run and splash and play.

If you’ve never been to the Nashville Farmer’s Market with your kiddos, I hope you try it and love it like we do. If you have, I’d love to know what you and your children love about the market in the comments!

adventures with kids · kids · nashville

American Girl Doll Hair Salon Spectacular

Back in May, when friends were talking about signing their kids up for camps for the summer, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a hairstyling camp?”

I did a quick Google search and found out our American Girl store was having a Doll Hair Salon Spectacular over the summer. Sold!

I took AC today and she LOVED IT. She clocked in an hour with one of the stylists and there were only three girls, including her, in the class. Anna Claire can already do almost every braid so I was a little worried she would be bored or might not learn anything.

Not to worry! She learned a LOT! She learned several tricks she didn’t know on how to use her topsy tail tool, how to incorporate a headband into a hairstyle, and how to be more neat and methodical in parting small strands of hair.

She was the most excited about learning more tricks for how to smooth and detangle. They use several tools that we didn’t have at home so we shall be procuring those. If you have a hairstyle loving girl check out my post on our favorite hair tools.

It’s so fun to find ways to support your kids in their talents. ❤️

Madeline didn’t meet the age requirement for the class, but she had a ball watching her doll get hair and nails done and trying out the toys on display. Needless to say Madeline’s birthday wishlist grew a lot today!

adventures with kids · Anna Claire · birthday · kids · nashville

Birthday Twins: Double Digits!

These two hit it off as best friends in Kindergarten, then Cassidy moved at the end of that year. Her mom and I recognized the friendship as something as something special and have stayed connected the past five years, making the effort to get the girls together. We have had some fun times!

I took Anna Claire to Restoration Hardware Cafe a few weeks ago, and had since begged me, “Oh Mommy, it would be perfect if we could come here with Cassidy and Miss Grace for our birthday. Then we could go shopping after!”

Cassidy and Anna Claire share a birthday, both born on June 25. I remember hearing that Michael Jackson had died that day on tv shortly after having her. She just ran in the room and told me George Michael and Anthony Bourdain share their birthday too – she asked Alexa on her new Echo Dot.

We have all been excited about this day, us moms as much as the girls. We had so much fun exploring Restoration Hardware, enjoying the beautiful cafe, having lunch and dessert at Cheesecake Factory, shopping til we almost dropped, and Starbucks to end the day perfectly. We love these friends and sharing this special day with them each year.

One of my former students made these shirts for the girls. We have had so much kindness shown to both girls this entire birthday experience!

adventures with kids · foodie · kids · nashville · Uncategorized

Summer Cooking Camp at Whole Foods

Our daughter who’s nine has expressed a long-time interest in all things culinary. She’s a little foodie who will eat just about anything and her food knowledge exceeds that of most adults. She is an avid watcher of Cooking Channel, Food Network, and especially loves The Greatest British Baking Show. Her dad is a classically trained chef, and she has taken classes locally, but the kids didn’t get to do very much in our local classes because of the teacher-student ratio. She desperately wanted to do something more hands-on.

One day when we were at Whole Foods in Nashville, we picked up a schedule of cooking classes and enrolled Anna Claire in an Easter treats class. We were so impressed with how much kids were allowed to do during this one lesson, and there was almost an instructor per child. She loved it and learned so much, we signed her up for the weeklong summer camp.

It was a financial sacrifice for our family, but when the interest, effort and passion is really there, and the doors open to meet it, we find great value in that. We always want to support both girls in any way we can to achieve their goals and dreams.

Cooking class day 1: Anna Claire got to grate, zest, use serrated knife for the first time and pan-sear.

Today’s theme was picnic. The kids made a potato salad all by themselves. AC said it was very similar to the one we make but mustard based. They diced the potatoes, grated the carrot, and all that. She raved about the corn on the cob with chili lime butter and she especially loved the tomato and manchego tarte.

Cooking class day 2: Today’s theme was party. Anna Claire was so excited to tell us about the mini meatloafs they made using muffin tins. They layered biscuit dough, ground beef, shredded cheese and ketchup. She is confident she could recreate this solo, and the instructors let her make the meatballs.

Cooking class day 3: AC asked to arrive early because she gets to help set up and with the mis en place. She said they had smoothies for them when they arrived – mango/pineapple/spinach.

Today’s theme was breakfast. They made monkey bread using the same pizza dough recipe they used before- glazed in simple syrup and rolled in cinnamon sugar – she goes to bring some home and they were delish!

She was excited to explain that the kitchen has a special proofing drawer that cuts down the time it takes the dough to proof.

She also said all of the ingredients they used came directly from the Whole Foods store so that automatically raised the quality of the outcome.

They made parfaits, sausage balls, hashbrown nests (with eggs, cheese, bacon, red bell pepper.) Anna Claire said the teachers asked her to demonstrate dicing the red bell peppers because she did such a nice julienne.

Cooking class day 4: AC has been the most excited about this day! They got to make homemade pasta and called in an expert pasta maker to be the kids’ instructor. They made two pastas: pappardelle and tagliatelle. The kids were able to use the pasta machine and AC is begging for one. She does have a birthday coming up…

Cooking class day 5: The theme was luau and also AC’s graduation. They invited parents to come in for an extra half hour at the end of class for a tasting of all they made. The kids prepared kabobs with pineapple and chicken. The teachers said they were a little grossed out handling the raw chicken and putting it on the skewers. They also made a macaroni salad, fruit salad and chocolate coconut pie.

I have been so impressed with this program. The kids literally have done all of it. I even see them cleaning the tables and tending to the dishes when I pick her up each day!

The age range of this camp is 7-9 and she is 9, but will be 10 at the end of this month. There is a camp for ages 10-12 but she wants to wait and do it next summer.

Photo Credit📸: Salud instructors

adventures with kids · nashville

Restoration Hardware Cafe

My nine-year-old daughter Anna Claire and I have wanted to visit Restoration Hardware and its cafe. Today we were in Nashville, just the two of us, which is rare. We typically have my spirited five-year-old with us too. It seemed like the perfect day to treat my big girl to this experience.

From arrival to the end, we felt so special here.

We had already had a good lunch so we were just wanting to have coffee and tea in the cafe and then explore.

A hostess greeted us, and immediately made us feel at ease. There wasn’t a table available, and a 30 minute wait, so they gave us the option to put our name down for a table and wait, or take a to-go cup upstairs to the roof. My girl had wanted the formal tea service, but decided to go ahead to the roof so we could have time to shop afterward, so that’s we we did.

(I have to add that even the paper cup of tea felt special because it was served with the cutest jar of honey!)

The elevator, Anna Claire declared, was the nicest one she had ever been on, and the stunning chandeliers and light fixtures throughout the entire building we keep you saying, “Wow!”

You absolutely have to see the roof! My daughter immediately declared that “THIS is how to live!” Everything is furnished beautifully, of course, and there were many fountains and foliage that made it feel extra special. I didn’t think the roof would be an option for us on this rainy day but we got lucky because it had stopped briefly for the time we were there.

When we got back downstairs, I checked to see if by any chance there was a table available, and she told us one of the better ones was! We got couches!

From here, our minds were blown at the attention and awesome service we received. We explained to our waitress that my daughter had wanted the tea service, but there was no table when we arrived. She asked what kind of tea she had, and came right back with the tea service and also brought us chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were huge and still warm, right out of the oven. And Anna Claire’s tea was jasmine silver needle which tasted just like my jasmine essential oil! It was the neatest thing.

This is such a special experience that I absolutely recommend for mommy/daughter bonding. Followed by shopping at Green Hills mall, of course.