They won’t always get far on it, but kids (and parents) will whine. I try not to respond to it, but sometimes I slip into a stir-crazed state of empathy and can’t help but jump on the boredom is bad button. Then I’m up in a whirl, searching for kid-friendly activities that will, like dogs, air them out and make ’em drop. Yes, yes, blah to the blah, kids should 100% learn that boredom is part of life, that I’m not a camp director, that as much as they’ve learned self-soothing skills, it’s important to entertain and delight themselves. I’ve battered (probably not the best word choice) it into their heads: play with yourself (which will mean something else in time). But there are times when we all need a family-friendly activity to stimulate our imaginations and lives. Enter my non-food-related activities… in Florida (though, NO, I haven’t moved there yet! I’m still in Austin getting every last drop out of this remarkably versatile town. Austin really is whatever you want it to be).
Mother & Son at the Gumbo Limbo observation deck, April 2011
GUMBO LIMBO (NATURE CENTER) – 15 minutes from home
I think it’s bad business including the word “Gumbo” in the name of a crustacean paradise that’s not a restaurant. Add insult to sea creature injury, one of the rescued sea turtles at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is named, “Jalapeno.” Tease with the Tex-Mex much? Still, we easily can make a day of it here, winding through a decked nature trail and meeting stingrays and learning about the life cycle of frogs… only to return home to have Papa offer them some fried (salty!) frogs legs. This is why I refuse to let our children name anything they might one day eat.
SUGAR SAND PARK – 10 min. from home, 7 min. from Phil’s office
Seriously, I wonder how many Weight Watchers points I need to log upon entry to sugar sand park. Yes, in case you missed it, sugar is right there in the title. You know, like a pot of sanding sugar served alongside hulled strawberries the size of toddler fists. It’s like the universe adores my abdomen pudding and wants to keep it forever. Thankfully, I wasn’t able to spot any cotton candy by the carousel, but that might be due to the plain fact that I was crying. Those public park “donated by” signs get me bawling each and every time. “Ronald McDonald House” is all I need to see before I get the ugly about to cry face. This park is truly magnificent and each and every state, city, town should get some sugar. *Also, love how they have $1 movies on weekends, including popcorn and drink… but, ah, notice the hair colors… not exactly sun-kissed kids aplenty. I will stab the next person to say, “Yeah, well, welcome to Boca.” Go scratch it.
When it rains, it pours… also known as WTF to do with kids when it’s raining or hot as ball sacks (there is more to life than Town Center Mall). Enter: Children’s Science Explorium (which is basically just the indoor part of Sugar Sand Park), a multi-room hands-on children’s museum… ah, but it’s free to one and all (accepting donations)!
TOO SCHOOL FOR COOL
Footsteps from our home and we’re at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens (I’m crossing every part of my body—and am even willing to sell the better parts—if only the kids are both accepted into the Morikami Park Elementary School for Kindergarten next year). Perhaps they need someone to teach a personal essay/ creative writing after-school program. Wishful thinking. Wish for me (it’s lottery-based).
MIZNER PARK (aka Papa’s Office & Boca Raton Museum of Art) – 15 – 20 min. from home
Really, though, all we’re doing at Mizner Park is eating ice cream at Sloan’s, shopping, and dining, so this place might not make the kid-friendly food-foe list. Though, I personally kinda live at that Fourbucks.
RAPIDS WATER PARK – 25 – 30 min. from home
We hit this place up in April, and I was in heaven. The steeper the fall and exquisite torture, all the better. Luke is my man! That little guy will hop on anything where he passes the height requirement. Whereas little miss, well, just no. She’ll stick to the wee slides and splash pad fountains. We’ve gotta work on that.
ZOO ZOO GOIN’ TO THE ZOO (but which one?) 30 min. from home
I love to love options. There’s the Palm Beach Zoo, which we love, but mostly because it’s close to our cousins Susan & Joel. And then there’s our favorite zoo, where we actually get to feed the giraffes (they lick you)! That’s the Lion Country Safari plus the drive through safari.
Closer to the Palm Beach Zoo is the South Florida Science Musuem, home to the Planetarium & Aquarium. There’s something incredibly soothing and magical that happens at the planetarium. When I lived in Manhattan, I’d go all the time, though mostly when I was in high school for the Pink Floyd laser light shows. Closer to our home is a much smaller stop at the Schoolhouse Children’s Museum, where I believe the kids get their pioneer on. Nearby is also the Boca Raton Children’s Museum.
MONKEY JOE’S – INDOOR INFLATABLE PLAYGROUND – 15 min. from home
In Austin there’s Pump-It-Up and another inflatable wonderland in Lakeline Mall. And in Boca, there’s Monkey Joe’s. Thank God. It’s great exercise, they love it, and I can check my email (I also love the matching ID bracelet system, takes me back to the NICU at St. David’s Medical).
Even I went to Boomers as a kid, stuck in Delray & Boca on Spring Break. Think mini-golf, laser tag, batting cages, and climbing playgrounds for kiddies.
I LIVE for picnics. Oh, the planning, the plaid, the civilization of it all. Noodle salad and vino beneath a shaded tree. So, we’ll for sure stop at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, where I plan to bring water colors, folding easels… and our children. Not to mention heading there for the Festival of Trees for a proper Christmas display for our family of Jews.
When all else fails, there’s always a day at the beach (with a few coats of sunscreen, glasses, and hats because I’m psycho like that)…