FindandGoSeek's BLOG

Posted by missmagpie on 22nd May 2014

5 Things You Must Do in Vermont this Summer

If only it were that simple to narrow it down to just five things! Vermont is like ripe fruit in the summer. For optimal enjoyment everything must be enjoyed while it is at it’s peak.

Burger Night

It is pretty much a given that on most summer evenings in Vermont, folks can enjoy a home grown meal in a field. It is just what we do, and have been doing, long since before the ‘localvore’ movement. On Friday nights the field you are likely to find us in belongs to Bread and Butter Farm where they serve their grass fed beef burgers, buns baked in their bakery and veggies grown on their land. Local bands provide the music and you can bring some chairs if you’d like.

Hike Vermont

Some may argue that Fall is the prettiest time to walk our trails, but I would counter by saying that Vermont shines when the trees are lush with green leaves, the moss is thick underfoot and wildflowers are blossoming all around you. Pack a picnic lunch and try one of the easier trails with your kids like Snake Mountain or the Elmore Fire Tower Trail.

4th of July in Burlington

Technically you should mark July 3rd in your calendar because that is just how Burlington rolls. This is the biggest fireworks show and Independence Day Celebration around. Things get going on the Waterfront around 3:00pm and don’t stop until well after the fireworks display which begins somewhere around 9:30pm. ECHO is Celebrating the Lake with a party that includes dinner, music, face painting, and a killer view of the fireworks.  Locals may tell you that parking and getting out of town is such a hassle it is not worth it.  I say why not book a room at the Hotel Vermont now and save yourself some trouble!

Go Biking

Ok, I don’t mean like around your hood. I am talking about out on the Causeway or on of our other amazing trails. Seriously we have more spectacular scenery here in Vermont then we know what to do with.  Could you get tired of looking at that view?

Fair and Field Days

How much fried dough can you eat? Where I come from they call it funnel cake, but that is really neither here nor there. It all tastes like summer. Your family could probably attend a fair every weekend all summer long if you really wanted to. Starting with the Vermont Dairy Festival the first weekend in June right up until Champlain Valley Fair at the end of August.

 

About

instagram-travel-thursday-IG-picture Instagram Travel Thursday is a hosted weekly blog post collection. It helps to promote great travel around the world. Follow along with the adventures of other expert travel bloggers each week.


Posted by missmagpie on 25th November 2013

Passports with Purpose 2013: Extraordinary Prizes for an Inspiring Cause

Passports With Purpose

WHAT is Passports with Purpose?

buildOn Building Schools

For the last five years travel industry bloggers have been rallying together to raise money for charitable organizations.  I am talking about groups who really need it.  They created an annual fundraiser called Passports with Purpose. In their first year, just a few of them banded together and raised $7,400 for Heifer International.  Last the year, they raised over $110,000 for Water.org! The number of contributing bloggers has now grown to well over 130 writers.  It is amazing what a community of like-minded folks can do, right?!

I am grateful to be a part such a supportive travel blogging community and very excited to join this worthwhile effort. This year the designated beneficiary is buildOn and the goal is to raise $115,000.  The money will be used to help build three primary schools and fund three Adult Literacy Programs in the Sikasso Region of Mali, Africa.

GIVE + GET Prizes

You can help too and it doesn’t cost very much. For just a $10 donation you will be entered to win one of the many awesome prizes (like trips, gear and electronics) that have been secured by each of the participating bloggers.  FindandGoSeek is excited to partner with Hotel Vermont to donate a one night stay + breakfast for two at Juniper. We recently stayed at the Hotel Vermont and can tell you it doesn’t surprise us one bit that it landed on Trip Advisor’s Top Ten Best New Hotels in the US for 2013! This hotel has gone all out when it comes to wrapping local and luxury into one.

Hotel Vermont

Here is how it works:

  • Donors make a tax deductible donation in increments of $10.
  • For each $10 you donate, you are entered to win the prize of your choice.
  • Donations will be accepted from November 25th to December 9th 2013.
  • Winners will be randomly selected and all winners will be notified on December 16th.

The Details

You might have a few questions about donations, how they choose which non-profit to fund or even how to get involved next year.  There is a FAQ right here that will answer all of that for you. Plus this wouldn’t be possible without the incredible PwP team and our Sponsors – so thanks!

Also you should know if you win our prize for the one night stay at Hotel Vermont it has these restrictions:

  • Good for 1 queen/double or king trundle room.
  • Accommodations are based upon space availability.
  • Not valid holiday weekends May – March, University of Vermont Graduation Weekend, VT City Marathon Weekend, August 1 – September 30.
  • Redeemable by July 1, 2015.
  • No Cash Value.
  • Prize is non-transferable

Please join us and check out the PwP prize catalogue for this awesome cause today!

Posted by missmagpie on 18th November 2013

Travel Book Review: The Family Traveler’s Handbook

 Family Traveler's Handbook

 

Traveling with kids can be daunting if you have never done it before. The planning, the packing, the car ride, the plane ride, the hotel…the list goes on and on.  With a little know-how, traveling with your family can be one of the most joyous and memorable experiences ever. These days there is ample information available to help parents plan a family vacation, however I recommend real-world advice from parents who have been there and done that.  One parent I trust is Mara Gorman.  She is the author of a new guide called The Family Traveler’s Handbook. Mara has been traveling with her two sons since their infancy. She is no stranger to day, weekend and extended trips. She knows the ins and outs of vacation rentals vs. staying in a hotel and even when it is more economical to purchase an “all-inclusive package”.

Mara has also experienced some less than ideal situations on the road. Yes, sometimes it happens. Kids get sick. They need to nap. They don’t eat adult food. The sun doesn’t shine (ever) during the week long beach vacation you planned. She has plenty of solutions for those concerns too. When it comes to an expert, I definitely think she qualifies.

Mara is a fellow Vermonter. I recently sat down with her to ask her about traveling to the Green Mountain State with her children:

You are originally from Vermont. When you come “home” to vacation with your kids what are some of your favorite places to visit?

We have so many that it’s hard to list just a few! My family is from Central Vermont, so that tends to be where we spend a lot of time. In the summer, we really love to head over to Stowe to ride or hike on the rec. path there, eat at The Blue Donkey or Crop, and play mini golf. The zip line at Smuggs is awesome at any time of year, and we also love some of Vermont’s museums including the ECHO Center and the Montshire Museum of Science.

The Mad River Valley is our home base and in the summer my kids can’t get enough of swimming in the river (especially at the Lareaus swimming hole), visiting the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market, or hiking to Sunset Rock in Warren. In the winter we love to ski at Mad River Glen and snowshoe in Camel’s Hump State Forest. And in all seasons we love having dinner at Hostel Tevere or ice cream at the Sweet Spot (my boys swear it’s the best ice cream in the world).

We are heading into ski season in Vermont, what advice would you give to families planning a ski trip for the first time?

If you’ve never been to Vermont to ski, I’d say be prepared for any and all kinds of weather. There’s a saying that if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and I think that’s definitely true of Vermont winters. Make sure you have an appropriate vehicle and tires to get where you need to go and bring plenty of layers that you can add or take off as you need to.

I’d also recommend staying at a resort that caters to families like Okemo, Sugarbush, or Jay Peak. At Smuggler’s Notch, you don’t have to drive once you get there – on-demand shuttles will take you everywhere you need to go in the resort. The ski school is top notch. And there are tons of things to do other than skiing, from tubing to snowshoeing, to playing in their huge indoor FunZone (my kids loved the pingpong and giant inflatable slides).

And don’t forget to bring your camera – Vermont is gorgeous in the winter. You’ll definitely want to take lots of pictures.

Get a Copy of the Book Now

This book is part of a series DIY Travel Guides written by some of the most successful travel bloggers.  You can purchase copy of The Family Traveler’s Handbook at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I think it would make an excellent holiday gift for the parents in your life that are looking to get out and explore this season!

What is covered in this book:

  • The What and Why of Family Travel
  • Before You Go: How to Plan Your Trip
  • On the Road: Making the Most of Your Trip
  • Special Considerations in Family Travel

About MaraMara Gorman

Mara Gorman is an award-winning freelance writer and family travel blogger at The Mother of all Trips. The blog’s name was inspired by a 13-month adventure across 6 states, 3 countries, and 2 continents that she took with her husband and toddler. Since that first extended trip, Mara has logged thousands of miles of travel with her children across North America and Europe.

Mara’s lifestyle and travel articles have appeared in a variety of USA Today special-interest publications and on websites like AOL Travel. She is an avid skier, loves museums, and cultural travel, and has never met an ice cream that she didn’t like. She also believes in serving global causes, especially those that help women and children; this belief is exemplified by her role as a board member of the travel blogging fundraiser Passports with Purpose. Mara lives in Delaware with her husband and two school-age sons.

Posted by missmagpie on 8th October 2013

FindandGoSeek Giveaway Rules


FGSsqHotelVT-01

No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway.

Any legal resident of the United States that is 18 Years of age and older may participate in the giveaway.

Unless using a professional contest widget, winners will be selected randomly using random.org’s true random generator and will be notified by email.

Winners will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected.

Vouchers are not redeemable for cash and cannot be sold.

Unless specified in an individual contest, Prizes are non-transferable.

FindandGoSeek is not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged or anything that goes wrong after you receive your prize. Giveaways are shipped as is.

Employees and their families as well as and Contractors of FindandGoSeek are not eligible to participate.

Additional restrictions may apply.

Good luck and thanks for participating!

Posted by missmagpie on 12th September 2013

3 Great Harvest Festivals in Vermont

Fall Fun in Vermont

Unlike a holiday, which gets only 24 hours to distribute its magic, Autumn in Vermont is an 8(ish) week parade of glory that just keeps on giving. As the leaves change and the temperatures drop, days at the beach are traded for adventures at the apple orchard. Creemee stands close up shop and the cider doughnuts roll in. Fairs and vacations are replaced with the crowning jewels of Fall- Harvest Festivals.

It’s hard to say which part I love the most: the food, the scenery, or the cause for wearing some sweet boots and chunky knitwear. My only regret is that it is physically impossible to attend every single one. However, with celebrations across the state and New England as a whole from mid September until Halloween you can make a pretty solid go of it. So get out your calendar and pencil these in:

Shelburne Orchards Small Farms Food Fest (September 15)

Kick off this season in true Vermont fashion by celebrating all the local farms and food producers that make our state so unique. From pies to pickles, come hungry and leave stuffed full of seasonal treats.There’s a full schedule of musical acts and tons of activities for the kids including a tractor petting zoo and hay bale maze. Even so, there’s guaranteed to be a line a couple dozen deep waiting for a ride on the rope swing. And no cutting. I’ve been waiting all year.

Note: there is an entrance fee of $5 for anyone over 6.5 and under 65. Additionally, bring plenty of cash for all the amazing vendors.

SONY DSC

Fall Harvest Festival at Adams Farm Market and Orchard (September 14 & 15)

Make it a double header this weekend and head out to Adam’s Orchard in Williston. From 10-5 both Saturday and Sunday, get your fill of Hayrides, cider demonstrations, and apple picking. There are also free performances by the No Strings Marionette Company a couple times each day which are worth the trip alone. The festival is divided between the farm stand and the orchard which are on opposing sides of the main road, and parking is available at each. It can get a little muddy in the field if it’s been raining so come prepared should that be the case. And because this is Vermont, and it could be 40 degrees or 90, the cider slushies (genius.) are at the farm stand. You’re welcome.

Adams Farm market harvest Festival

Old Fashioned Harvest Market in Underhill (September 28 & 29)

Full disclosure: this festival is my JAM. Seriously. It’s practically my Christmas. The beauty here is that the entire town turns into a yard sale of epic proportions. And the cider is fifty cents per cup. Fifty CENTS. What else can you buy for fifty cents any more? The ability to pay for your groceries in peace that comes with handing your kid the two quarters they’ve been hounding you for since you crossed the threshold into the store? Not as sweet as fresh pressed cider.

My pro tips for this confluence of awesome are these:

  • Go early. Like really early. The yard sales set up before I’ve usually even turned on the espresso machine, and there is a parade at 9. If you’re really in it to win it, you should have secured your treasures and be basking in the glory of them by this time.
  • Go to the soup stand. Go before you’re hungry for soup. Because soon there will not be any left.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’re only going to want to park once and while there is a central green, there are points of interest spread far and wide.

Fall Fun in Vermont

Summer felt short (July full of rain, I’m looking at you). Autumn is shorter. Cider doughnuts, prepare yourselves. I’ve got my boots laced up and my cozy sweater all laid out. I’m coming for you.

About Sara Goldstein

Sara GoldsteinWife of a rock star, mother to his proteges. Snack slinger, band aid applier. Amateur comedian on stage and off. Professional laugher. You can follow along with her here.

Posted by missmagpie on 19th August 2013

Champlain Valley Fair Ticket Giveaway

Champlain Valley Fair

Are you planning to go to the Champlain Valley Fair this year? There is still time to save 25% on admission tickets & unlimited ride bracelets at Price Chopper until August 23rd.  However, 5 lucky families are going to go to the fair for free!  And one of those 5 winners will then be entered into a grand prize drawing to win tickets to see Austin Mahone! We’ve got tickets and ride bracelets and we are giving them away.

How to Enter

We hope you have spent this summer exploring Vermont, finding great things to do with your family.  Perhaps your child went to a new camp, maybe you found a new playground and got a creemee afterward.  Whatever you have been up to lately, parents everywhere want to hear what is great (or not so great) about your family’s experiences. So to enter the free drawing:

  • Log on to FindandGoSeek
  • Find the listing or event you want to review
  • Write and submit your review

Now you’re entered–it’s that easy! Note: you can enter more than once by submitting reviews for as many things that you have visited.

Contest Rules

To be eligible, you must be at least 21 years old and a registered member of FindandGoSeek.net. After becoming member of FindandGoSeek, you must write a review that characterizes your specific experience (good or bad). Accepted reviews are automatically entered into the random drawing. Contest starts at 11:00 noon EDT on August 19, 2013 and ends at 3:00PM EDT on August 23, 2013.

Writing A Review

Some things to remember about writing reviews on FindandGoSeek. Reviews are your own opinion of a specific place, event or activity. Be objective and truthful.  Tell us how your really feel and why.  Useful reviews are detailed and specific, and give the reader a feel for your experiences.  Think about what kind of information you want you ask a friend or relative to recommend a day camp, pre-school, restaurant, playground or hiking trail for your kids.

Champlain Valley Fair Giveaway

Family 4-Pack WinnersChamplain Valley Fair

One winner will be chosen daily, at random from the reviews the reviews posted on FindandGoSeek.  Drawing will be done daily at 3:00pm from August 19, 2012 – August 23, 2012. That winner will receive:

  • Four Admission Only Tickets. Each ticket is Good for one admission only on the date punched on the ticket.
  • Four Ride Bracelets. Each ride bracelet is good for one day usage only.
  • Admission Tickets and Bracelets are valid for use August 24, 2013- September 2, 2013 from 10am – Midnight
  • Parking is not included
  • Prize Pack Value: $168.00 per family.

Austin Mahone Concert Ticket WinnerAustin Mahone

The five daily winners will then be entered into the grand prize drawing to win tickets to see Austin Mahone on Monday, August 26th. This drawing will be done at 3:30pm on August 23, 2013. Winner will receive:

  • Four tickets to the Austin Mahone Concert at the Champlain Valley Expo on August 26th at 7:00pm
  • Prize Value: $171.00 per family

All winners will be contacted via email and will have 24 hours to contact us to claim their prize. The winners will also be posted on this website within 12 hours of being selected.

If you have previously won anything from FindandGoSeek, you are not eligible to participate in this giveaway. Employees and Contractors of FindandGoSeek are not eligible to participate. Offer is not redeemable for cash.  Additional restrictions may apply.

Good luck and thanks for participating!

Posted by missmagpie on 12th June 2013

4 Creemee Destinations

Ice Cream Bob's

It’s finally June. While it’s been fun these last few weeks alternating between knit hats and sun hats, at this point I’m inclined to think summer is sticking around for good. And thank goodness for that. My son, for one, has about had it with being told to change his clothes every morning he races downstairs (pants? It’s going to be Florida hot today! shorts? Honey, it might snow). After the fifth day in a row he threw up his arms in exasperation asking, “What do I look like? The weatherman?”. Oh, Vermont. You crazy.

The pay off for sticking out the winter and surviving those last few cold snaps, when you wonder if you’re going to make it, is large. Besides the swimming holes, picturesque green mountains and occasional lazy afternoon at the lake, Vermont packs the perfect addition to a summer day: the creemee. It’s also the easiest way to spot a tourist. “A creemee? What’s that?”

Though the spelling or moniker in general may be up for debate, there is no arguing with the cold, hard (well, soft actually) fact that the creemee is the cornerstone of Vermont summer. And despite my propensity for making the creemee stand the destination in and of itself, sometimes you need a little more adventure. Here are some of my favorite picks for a sweet summer afternoon, or evening, with a creemee on the side.

Beansie’s Bus

Beansie's Bus

Nothing says “summer is on the way” quite like the first day you cruise onto North Avenue in Burlington and like a ray of sunshine, there sits the big yellow Beansie’s Bus. Parked from April-October right next to prime sunset peeping real estate, Beansie’s and Battery Park is a regular evening destination. The creemees are no frills vanilla, chocolate and twist, making decisions light. While not my favorite cone on the tour (full disclosure: I’m a maple gal, myself), there’s something about ice cream from a bus that makes people happy. As an added bonus, on Thursdays in July and August you can catch the Battery Street Concert Series. Free and family friendly, there’s no better (or cheaper!) way to spend a beautiful summer evening!

Bayview Eats 

Bayview Eats

Overlooking Mallets Bay in Colchester, Bayview Eats has rocketed to the top of my creemee destination list. For one thing, the location is unbeatable. As the name so aptly points out, the bay is right there for peeping or jumping in if you come prepared. Across the street is the sprawling Bayside Park  complete with skatepark, beach volleyball, tennis courts, playground, picnic area and pavilion. Secondly, their creemees are top notch. They’re made with fresh St. Albans Co-op Creamery milk and of course real maple syrup in the maple flavor! What sort of abomination would it be otherwise? I also have to give them an extra creemee high five for the inclusion of the “baby size”. Sometimes you just want to enjoy your own creemee and not just the drippy, soggy cast offs of a sticky, sloppy two year old.  And sometimes it’s the third night in a row you find yourself bellying up to the creemee window and you think, maybe I have a problem. I’ll go easy. It’s called moderation kids!

Ice Cream Bob’s

Ice Cream Bob's

A creemee-in-hand stroll along the waterfront is a summer ritual of tourists and locals alike. Located at the very bottom of College Street right across the tracks from the ECHO Center, Ice Cream Bob’s is a great, no frills pit stop when you’re meandering along the lake or breezing down the bike path. On a recent chilly day we took a trip to the ECHO Center, and so as to not let the fall like temperatures get the best of us, we popped by for a creemee anyway. Do you hear that, weather? We’re ignoring you until you get with the program!  To mix things up a bit, I opted for the black raspberry which was subtly fruity and delicious. I’d tell you about the vanilla chocolate twist, but my son inhaled it like someone was going to steal it from him. I guess that’s a good sign.

Bluebird Coffee Stop

Blubird Coffee Stop

My family has spent many a summer evening on Church Street eating, people watching, and causing general mayhem. The first warm night we venture downtown to find restaurant tables spilling onto the street while the sounds of street performers drift from block to block all nine and a half months of winter are forgotten. Obviously none of those evenings are complete without dessert. Though there are many choices available, my hands down, no question go to is Bluebird Coffee Stop on the corner of Church and College. I’m not exaggerating one iota when I say this is the best creemee I’ve ever had. Unable to choose between mocha (mocha!?) and maple? No biggie — they have it twisted. Need something to get you through the final push until bedtime? They’ll pour a shot of espresso over a dish and toss some chocolate covered espresso beans on top. Is that even legal? Seriously. I’m considering teaching my kids a few show tunes and bringing a hat for people to toss change in while they perform just to support my habit.

About Sara Goldstein

Sara GoldsteinWife of a rock star, mother to his proteges. Snack slinger, band aid applier. Amateur comedian on stage and off. Professional laugher. You can follow along with her here.

Posted by missmagpie on 22nd May 2013

5 Great Things to Do This Memorial Day Weekend

 

Memorial Day Parades Vermont

Happy Memorial Day weekend, there is so much do to! 

On Saturday, join in the fun in Essex Junction at their Annual Memorial Day parade. This year’s theme is Home of the Free – Because of the Brave.  After the laying of the wreaths at 9:30, the parade will leave the Champlain Valley Exposition at 10:00 and head towards 5Corners in Essex Junction. The parade route is approximate 1 ½ miles long.

Also on Saturday it is opening day of the new BIGGER THAN T-REX exhibit at ECHO. There will be Skeletons of Gigantotosaurus, Mapusaurus, and more carnivorous dinosaurs. Kids will love the hands-on dig pit, video of actual dinosaur excavation, and playing the Wheel of Dinosaur Misfortune.

The fair comes to town early at the University Mall! All weekend long enjoy carnival rides, games, and concessions in the U-Mall parking lot. Don’t you just love the Tilt-A-Whirl, Tornado, The Zipper, and more?

Parade enthusiasts can do a double whammy on Monday – there are back-to-back Memorial Day parades in Middlebury and Vergennes. Middlebury begins at 9:00am at Porter Field off of South Street and finishes at monument across from the intersection of Rte. 7 and Washington Street. Then head on up to what is known as on one of Vermont’s largest Memorial Day celebrations in Vergennes. This parade begins at the High School and winds through the city to end up at Vergennes City Park. Enjoy 2 miles of color guards, veterans’ groups, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, lots of colorful floats, antique cars, parade horses, fire trucks, marching bands, kids on bikes and a whole lot more.

For more great Memorial Day Weekend events check out our events calendar.

Posted by missmagpie on 20th May 2013

8 Ways to Swing into Summer

Battery Park

With a solid six years dividing my two little people, it can be challenging to find activities that engage them both at the same time. Too boring for the seven year old and he starts using his little sister as a human hurdle. Prior to having a second child, I don’t think I ever uttered the phrase, “STOP! SHE’S A PERSON!” Too advanced for the younger one and I’m spending the afternoon staving off a heart attack.  One place we can find a bit of harmony is a playground. But as with activities in general, not all are suitable for all ages. Seven years of extensive research later, I’ve got the skinny on who to take where.

Battery Park

Come for the playground, stay for the lake (and killer sunset) views and cremee bus. Battery park is a locale that pleases pretty much all ages. With two separate play structures it’s easy to keep everyone safely engaged. A stand alone tall slide and at times highly coveted tire swing spark the older kids interest while the infant and adapted swings give all kids options for fun.

Quick tip: The seagulls can be ruthless. Seriously. Don’t leave food open unattended and don’t let your baby hold a sandwich. Ok, I’m sort of kidding about that. A little.

Pomeroy Park

pomeroy park

Set back from the road and safely fenced in, Pomeroy has been a long time favorite. It’s nestled in the heart of the Old North End, so parking is limited, but it’s summer! You’re riding you bike anyway, right? This one has more infant swings than most of the parks around (4!) and a nice row of regular swings as well. While the big kid structure is fabulous, the little kid option leaves a bit to be desired. The short slide with a sizable drop off makes managing it alone too much for tiny legs. Also racking up another tick in the “big kid” column is the monkey bar circle. Best place around to hone those impressive playground skills.

Quick Tip: There are no public bathrooms nearby!

Calahan Park

Calahan Park

A soccer and little league hotspot, Callahan Park has 2 areas to play which are located about 100 yards apart. The area for the little ones has great structure with a nice low slide and long handles. The big kids space is alright, but not exciting enough to make it a destination.

Quick tip: Lots of action at this park and it gets busy on the weekends especially during Little League!

Bayside Park 

bayside park

One of our favorite summer haunts is Bayside Park in Colchester. Across the street from Lake Champlain and complete with a skatepark, tennis courts, volleyball and picnicking space you definitely get the most bang for your buck. And since the plentiful parking is free, the buck is non existent. The side-by-side play structures were built in 2010 and the larger of the two is one of the best around. Several slides, a rock climbing wall and lots of things to hop and hang on put it at the top of our list. Situated back off the busy road with lots of grass to roam on, it keeps it stress free for parents of the younger set as well.

Quick Tip: Don’t forget your bathing suits and sunscreen. The lake is right there and who can resist a quick dip?

Roosevelt Park

Another Old North End gem, this park quickly climbed the list of our favorite spots just last year after my daughter was born. My son loved the enormous play set, and I loved the shady spot under the trees I could park little sis. But these days, you know what else climbs things quickly? Two year olds. If you thought you felt an earthquake last week, rest assured it was just my heart trying to beat it’s way out of my chest as she quickly scurried out of the zone I had deemed appropriate and into 911 territory. While the design is thrilling and challenging for bigger kids, the measures to keep them safe also make it difficult for a slightly panicked parent to ascend the thing and catch brave (if not senseless) toddlers.

Quick tip:  Infant swings are a great option for parking littles, but the too daring for their own good toddlers, may be outmatched by this towering gym. For big kids though, it’s the top of the heap.

Oakledge

oakledge park

Oh, Oakledge. So pretty but so neglected! One of the few wooden play structures left, it could really use some updating. While I have nothing against wood structures, besides splinters, this one has seen better days.  We tend to hit this spot more for the other things it has to offer like the lake and picnic space and consider the playground supplemental.

Quick tip:  Wind your way down the bike path, or drive to the far pavilion and check out the tree house! Also worth noting there is a fee for parking May-October.

Ethan Allen Park

Ethan Allen Park

Located right off North Avenue, Ethan Allen Park is a great place to combine a playground pit stop with a mini hiking adventure. The play area is suitable for all ages with slides of various sizes, including the mini side-by-side, my favorite feature for sliding with little ones. There’s some nice picnic space and a fair amount of parking as well. Playground aside, what keeps us coming back, is the Ethan Allen Tower. Up the hill, through the woods is the castle-like look out built in 1905 to honor the Vermont Revolutionary War hero. The view from the top is stunning even if your kids couldn’t care less because, well, it’s a castle and they have defending and sword fighting and hair letting down to do. Or maybe I just run with a dramatic crowd.

Quick Tip: Mother’s Day-Memorial Day the tower is open weekends from 9am-sunset. Memorial Day-Labor Day it is open daily from 9am-sunset. Labor Day-Columbus day back to weekends from 9am-sunset.

Maple Street Park

Every summer there’s that string of days when you suspect Vermont has been relocated to the surface of the sun. Those days when even your eyeballs are sweating and the sprinkler isn’t going to cut it. Head off the whining (because whining makes it feel at least 20 degrees hotter on average) and get thee to Maple Street Park. The playground is vast including an awesome geodesic play dome, see-saws, and swings. There’s a skatepark and BMX bike park as well. The crowning jewel however are the pools! The pools, like the playground, include plenty to keep kids of all ages wishing summer was a year round event. From the zero entry wading pool complete with spray features to the impressive (and terrifying!) high dive, you stand a good chance at enjoying a whine-free afternoon.

Quick tip: While open to the public, pass holders are allowed entrance at 12:15 followed by drop-in guests at 12:30 Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday is 11:15 and 11:30. It does occasionally fill to capacity but we’ve found it is relatively quiet in the later hours. As an added bonus, there’s much more shade to be had later as well. There’s also a better chance at staking out a lounge chair. However with all the “mommy look! Mommy! Mom, watch! MOM MOM MOM!” I use the term “lounge” loosely.

About Sara Goldstein

Sara GoldsteinWife of a rock star, mother to his proteges. Snack slinger, band aid applier. Amateur comedian on stage and off. Professional laugher. You can follow along with her here.

Posted by missmagpie on 29th April 2013

Volunteering with Kids in Vermont

Working Together

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the handful of years I’ve been a parent it’s that kids have a very natural desire to help and feel important. Finding ways to involve even the youngest of children in the daily household operations can go a long way in boosting their self esteem. From sweeping up the bowl of cheerios, which seemed to triple in volume when crashing to the floor, to carrying the groceries inside everyone can get in on the action. And while tedious to watch a toddler pick up one itsy bitsy morsel of cereal at a time, consider he’s laying a solid foundation for a lifetime of team work and accountability.

Obviously the world today can use a little of that team work. There are many ways to expand that labor of love out into the community and incorporate the pint-sized family members in making a real difference. Not only for today, but for the communities they’re going to inherit.

Green Up Day

Grab some gloves and comfortable shoes and get out into your neighborhood for Green Up Day! Strap the littlest “helpers” on your back while you get in there and give them the birds eye view. Or, my son’s favorite, give the older ones a pair of those sweet claw grabbers and set to work. (I’m just going to cross my fingers his use of these stays limited to volunteering and not forced highway clean up. So help me…) There are locations around the state where designated bags and information about drop off are available. When you’re finished, head to Burlington Subaru’s showroom on Shelburne Road for a BBQ to celebrate your handwork. Or check out the Green Up site for gatherings in  your area.

Burlington Emergency Shelter

Funded 100% by community donations, Burlington Emergency Shelter has been making a difference in the community for 30 years. And nothing builds community quite like sharing a meal. Through their handy online calendar you can sign up to provide dinner for neighbors in need any time. They ask that you prepare or purchase enough food for 28 individuals and deliver it to the shelter at 7pm.  Folks sit down at 7:30, and staying to enjoy the meal you’ve brought is always welcome. To be honest, my family has yet to participate but I’m eager to get involved. I make no claims of being a culinary wizard, but my son recently told me my homemade mac and cheese was “better than grandmas. sort of. I guess”. So I’ve got that going for me.

Meals on Wheels

Things to do in Vermont with Kids

Providing meals for nearly 300 Burlington seniors on a daily basis is no small undertaking. However, the dedicated men and women at Meals on Wheels get the job done like a well oiled machine. Monday through Friday starting at 10:30, volunteers deliver meals throughout the city to those in need. And as important as the food itself, for older citizens with limited mobility, are the smiles and conversation that volunteers provide. Who delivers smiles better than kids?

COTS

Since 1982, the Committee on Temporary Shelter has worked to provide shelter and support for the homeless of Vermont. While you must be 18 to volunteer in the shelter, there are many ways younger kids can become involved in making a difference. The cornerstone of their fundraising efforts is the annual COTS walk . All ages are welcome to participate. Kids can solicit pledges and walk or lend a hand in organizing the day of.  Throughout the year they have an ongoing wish list which could provide the framework for a child led drive and donation collection!

Raising kids who can balance self importance with the awareness of the greater good is a delicate dance. Giving them first hand experience of making a difference in the world around them is a great start. Right after they sweep up those cheerios.

About Sara Goldstein

Sara GoldsteinWife of a rock star, mother to his proteges. Snack slinger, band aid applier. Amateur comedian on stage and off. Professional laugher. You can follow along with her here.