Charlotte, NC header

Author Archive

10 Parent-Hacks for Amazing & Memorable Trips to the Farm this Fall

Posted on |

Want to make sure your family trip to the farm is amazing? Farms in the fall are perfect places for family fun and lots of memory-making. But, bringing your whole crew anywhere can sometimes be a little stressful, right? So, we have some tips to help you make your fall farm trip easy with nothing but fun and happy faces.

Parent tips for farm trips
Famoda Farm

Wear the correct clothes.

A farm is a great opportunity to take some adorable, matching farm-themed photos, but it’s important to realize that it is a farm. Farms have dirt, fire ants, and typically a lot of sun. Cute smocked outfits, warm “fall” clothes, and open-toed shoes might look great in photos but may not be comfortable, practical attire for having fun at the farm.

If your main goal is photos, consider either outfit choices that are comfortable and can get dirty or take your photos and schedule another visit for full farm activities.

We recommend wearing:

  • Clothes that can get dirty
  • Closed-toed shoes that are comfortable for walking such as tennis shoes or boots
  • Layers, even on cooler fall days it can feel really hot in the sun especially if you spend an hour wandering in a corn maze.
  • A hat or sunglasses if it’s a sunny day
Moo Cow farms cow cuddling
Moo Cow Farms

Bring snacks and water.

Most farms will allow you to eat on the property or at your car. Some serve food, but not all. Most do not have a place to refill water bottles.

We recommend making sure you have plenty of food and water.

There will likely only be porta-potties at the farm so plan accordingly.

Wear your sunscreen. It can get hot in October in our region.

Apple slingshot
Apple slingshot at McLadke Orchards

Go over farm etiquette before getting out of the car.

It’s important to go over basic farm rules with your kids if they are unfamiliar with farm etiquette. Farming is hard work and it’s important to respect the farmer’s property.

Follow all farm signs and rules.

Be sure to treat plants with respect. Only pick what you plan to pay for and don’t destroy farm property such as forming new paths in a corn maze.

Don’t throw produce such as pumpkins or corn unless it’s part of a farm-approved game.

Watch your kids closely. Farm equipment can be dangerous.

Don’t feed animals unless signs give permission to feed them and only feed animals food that is approved by the farm.

If you have the opportunity to touch or hold animals, remind your children to be gentle.

Feeding animals at Goat Daddy's Farm
Goat Daddy’s Farm

Be prepared before you get lost in the corn maze.

Corn mazes are fun but they also are in direct sunlight and involve a lot of wandering around trying to figure your way out.

Your kids will likely insist on picking all of the turns which often results in walking in circles for hours.

  • Make sure your preschooler/toddler understands that they have to stay with you because losing a child in a corn maze is more excitement than most of us want when visiting a farm.
  • Take a photo of the corn maze before you enter. That way if you get lost and tired, you can still find your way out.
  • If all else fails, follow the wall-hugger trick.
  • Make sure you have your water with you.
  • Go to the bathroom before your start the maze.
  • If your kids are little, they usually won’t know the difference between the entrance and exit so you can always have a short visit into the corn maze and just exit out the way you came before everyone gets tired.
Corn maze
Denver Downs

Pick the right farm.

If you want to pick apples or pumpkins, make sure the farm lets you pick them before arriving. Some orchards and farms only sell pre-picked produce.

Some farms allow you to enjoy all the activities for one price, whereas others charge per activity. If your main event is picking apples, paying once for the jumping pillow or hay ride might be the right choice. If your main activity is playing at the farm, consider one with an all-inclusive price.

Denver Downs Slide
Denver Downs

Check to see what forms of payment they accept.

Some of the farms in the region only accept cash or check. Make sure you are prepared.

You Can Fly Like a Bird (but without wings) in Concord, NC

Posted on | No Comments

Have you heard of iFly in Concord, NC? If you’re looking for something totally amazing to do with your family, and you’ve ever thought that it would be cool to fly (not in a plane) but like a bird, this is a place you’ll want to check out.

Your flight dreams can be a reality now at iFLY Indoor Skydiving in Concord, NC. Not only will we give you all the details, but we tried it ourselves so we also have the inside scoop on what to expect and how to prepare your kids.

Thank you to Explore Cabarrus for hosting us and iFLY for providing us with this experience.

iFly

What is iFLY?

iFLY is an indoor skydiving simulator where you enter a wind tunnel that is strong enough to allow you to float in the air. In fact, experienced flyers can even perform tricks such as flips.

How does iFLY work?

To fly, you reserve a time online and sign a waiver. Kids 3 and up with a parent are allowed to fly, but it may be a little frightening for some children (more on that later).

Once it’s your turn, you will be suited up in a protective suit, protective eyewear, and helmet. Be prepared to remove all jewelry (including rings) and anything that could come off of your person. You also will not be able to take your phone or camera into the wind tunnel area (this is a safety precaution).

Your flight instructor will then go over basic safety instructions with you and you will watch a short orientation video followed by a review with your instructor. This time mostly focuses on teaching you how to position your body and what hand signals your instructor will use to communicate with you.

After you are ready, you will be escorted into the wind tunnel lobby. This area is sealed off for safety and has a bench where your group can watch the flight. Your instructor will then demonstrate how to enter and exit the tunnel.

Your instructor then allows you to go in the tunnel one at a time. He will hold you and keep you in position until you are steady enough to float. The first flight is often focused on helping you figure out how to position your body. Many people fly more than once in order to gain confidence and the ability to move around in the chamber.

We each had one minute in the tunnel. It did seem really short but it was a neat experience.

iFly kids

Will kids enjoy iFLY?

Our children were 11 and 8. Our 11-year-old really enjoyed it but our 8-year-old became frightened during the experience. The instructor noticed that she was distressed and removed her from the tunnel.

The air does blow extremely hard, and my 8-year-old felt like she couldn’t breathe. It was just the sensation of the air but it was frightening for her.

The instructor did convince her to go back in after our family had finished. They turned down the fans so that she could walk around the chamber and so that she wasn’t frightened. I was glad that they did this so that she could finish with a positive experience.

Pricing and Location

iFLY is not cheap, but it is an interesting and unique experience and we were impressed by the knowledge and care of the staff.

We only had one flight each, and I would recommend purchasing at least two so that you have a chance to get familiar with the process first and then can utilize those skills.

You can find pricing on the iFLY website. There are a number of packages that allow you to get more flights for a discounted cost.

7840 Lyles Lane NW
Concord, NC 28027

704.851.4359

Have you ever visited iFLY before? What was your opinion?

Explore the Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, & Preserves in Charlotte, NC

Posted on | No Comments

Local mom Bethany Winston reviews the Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, and Preserves in Charlotte, North Carolina. This free day-trip destination includes a treehouse-themed playground, hiking, and an indoor nature center.

Things to Do at Reedy Creek Park and Nature Center in Charlotte

Recently, my family discovered an amazing nature center and preserve about 6 miles northwest of downtown Charlotte: Reedy Creek Nature Center and Preserve located inside the large Reedy Creek Park. This county-owned park was completely free, including parking. While there might not be an admission fee, don’t make the mistake of thinking that means that this nature center is not worth the drive from Greenville.

Find a place to stay near Reedy Creek. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Family-Friendly Things to Do at Reedy Creek Park

Playgrounds

Reedy Creek Park has three playgrounds that we discovered. The first playground was on our left almost immediately after entering the park. It’s a large playground with plenty of slides, ramps, and ladders. The play structures were not particularly high and I think even smaller children would enjoy it as long as they are comfortable climbing short ladders.

There was little shade on this playground and it was hot on the day we visited so my kids chose not to play long, but it was a large, interesting playground and I’m sure would have been a completely different experience if we had visited earlier in the day or during a cooler season of the year.

Playground at Reedy Creek Park

Adjacent to the playground, we also found basketball courts and picnic shelters. There was also a rather large dog park on our right before we reached the playground.

Just a little bit farther up the road, we found the parking lot for the Reedy Creek Nature Center. This area of the park was wooded (quite a relief due to the heat).

Outside the Reedy Creek Nature Center, we found a second playground that felt like a hidden magical world tucked away in the forest. The playground included natural-themed play structures such as artificial tree stumps and the main focal structure was a treehouse complete with a bridge.  My kids played for a good hour on this playground and probably would have been content to spend the day on it.

Later in our day, we drove up to the third playground which was beside a lake. This “playground” only had a couple of swings and a volleyball court, but it was an easy walk down to a beautiful lake with a fishing pier. We saw several families picnicking and fishing in this area.

Reedy Creek Nature Center

The Nature Center was small but it was free and even better air-conditioned. Inside the Nature Center, our children were able to look at animals and small science displays. We also found a quiet area for pretend play where our children could dress up as rangers and play in a pretend campsite.

The room had a couple of rocking chairs for adults too. It was very quiet on the day we visited and we had the spot to ourselves. Our kids had a lot of fun and didn’t want to leave even after a long playtime.

Inside of the Reedy Creek Nature Center at Reedy Creek Park

Hiking at Reedy Creek Park

After a long day of fun (we had already spent hours at Discovery Place in downtown Charlotte) our kids were too tired and hot for us to dare attempt sustained hiking, but the map showed several easy hikes on the preserve that we hope to try on another day.

One hike lead to a historic site and was only an hour’s walk. The grounds also had butterfly gardens, bird feeders, streams, vast wooded areas, and lakes. We were able to obtain a free map from the Nature Center so that we could still take a short stroll. The trail system was clearly marked and it was possible to take both short walks along the trails and longer hikes.

Trail system at Reedy Creek Park in Charlotte

Tips for Your Visit

  • If you visit on a hot day, be sure to pack sunscreen and bug spray. While the preserve does have a lot of shade, there are several open spaces with little shade.
  • Plan plenty of time if you want to get the full experience. The preserve alone is over 900 acres of woods. Fortunately, the park does have a decent road system and multiple parking lots, so you can drive to the parts of the park in this article if you are short on time or if your children are tired (like us).
  • Don’t forget your fishing supplies. The park has two fishing lakes. Visitors over 16 must have a fishing license.
  • The Nature Center has a gift shop for those who would like to purchase souvenirs.
  • Bikers will find plenty of bike-friendly areas but are limited to the gravel trails and paved roads.
The nature preserve at Reedy Creek Park in Charlotte

Hummingbird Festival at Reedy Creek Nature Center

Each August, a hummingbird festival is held at the Reedy Creek Nature Center. It includes bird banding, science experiments, bird hikes, art vendors, and storytelling sessions. The events are held throughout the week, and some require pre-registration. The front desk at the Nature Center recommended coming early to see the most hummingbirds.

About the Reedy Creek Nature Center & Preserve

Reedy Creek Park, Nature Center, and Preserve
2900 Rocky River Rd.
Charlotte, NC
980.314.1119

Hours:
Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 5 pm
Sunday, 1-5 pm

Have you ever been to the Reedy Creek Nature Center?


Your guide to cheap day trips near me and inexpensive day trips near me

For more inexpensive day trip ideas see our list of day trips under $25 from Greenville.


Parent-Tried Tips for Getting Your Kids to Talk

Posted on |

How do you get kids to talk to their parents? How do you spark meaningful conversations with kids? You love your kids and you want to hear about their day and what’s happening in their lives. But, how do you encourage your kids to talk to you? Try these tips from parents just like you for encouraging kids to communicate and talk to you.

We have all been there (well, at least most of us). It’s the first day of school or our kid goes to camp, and we can’t wait to hear all about it. Then our kid comes home and only provides information in one-syllable answers … “fine.” Or maybe, our kid talks or at least used to, but our life has gotten so busy that we realize we haven’t had a deep conversation with them in days or even weeks.

Talking with our kids is important. In fact, the Palmetto Basics includes talking to your kids as one of the most basic ways to help your child’s brain grow. We also know that talking with our kids and as a family can continue to strengthen relationships and our children’s personal growth as they grow older.

What are some tips then for getting our kids to talk or better to talk to them in a way that invites conversation? We polled our readers to hear what they do to foster family conversations and these are their tips.

Encouraging Kids to Talk to Parents
(more…)

Make These “You Rock” Valentines

Posted on | No Comments

Need an idea for school Valentines this year? The time-honored tradition of handing out small cards with a little candy, stickers, pencils or other small trinkets to the class is one school children look forward to year after year. Who doesn’t like receiving nearly 2 dozen little presents and notes? If you’re looking for something a little different this year, check out these homemade “You Rock” Valentines.

(more…)
×