If you have little ones that love climbing, bouncing, jumping and running around they are going to have a blast at We Rock the Spectrum in Boca Raton. It is such an amazing children’s gym where children with all abilities can come play and enjoy the amazing equipment. I took my 6 and 8 year old daughters to their new bigger and better location in Boca Raton, FL. They loved their zip line and the many different swings they have. The trampoline and the climbing wall was a huge hit with them too. They also have a really cute gym area where they have kid sized treadmill, stationary bike and other exercise equipment. The dress up area can keep a kid occupied for a few hours. For those looking for a quite time there are these big comfy chairs in the front to read books. They have a huge pretend play section where my girls had a blast playing for a long time. The variety of toys they have for kids to play with is just great. There is a also a toddler area that has a wall full of age appropriate toys.
The gym was designed for kids of all abilities but specially kids with autism so that they can have a safe and fun environment to play and interact with other kids. The slogan for the gym is “a place where you never have to say I’m sorry” and the staff goes out of their way to make sure everyone is comfortable and no one feels out of place. Parents with kids with special needs are always looking for places that are friendly and safe for their kids and this gym fulfills that need. Parents and family members are encouraged to come play with their kids and have fun as a family. This is a place where everyone can all play and grow together without the worry of equipment and environment that is not friendly to children who have special needs.
Owners Gail and John opened We Rock the Spectrum about two years ago because they felt that there was a need for a place where kids with all abilities can come and play and enjoy themselves. The smiles on the faces of all the kids there is proof enough that they have succeeded in what they wanted to achieve. They try and make children and their parents feel welcome and John will go around and try and remember all the kids names. Their new location is huge and has so much more to do and even a huge separate room for classes and parties.
A lot of the equipment they use is specialized equipment that is designed for children with sensory processing disorders and it helps them with their sensory functions while they play. Our favorite thing about the new location is the Calming Room, where kids can step away and take a few moments to themselves if they need.
Their New Location Reopening is on July 21’st, 2019 from 11:00 am to 4:00pm with vendors, DJ, special guest appearances. A fun event for the whole family that you won’t want to miss.
This month’s Local Focus features Odette Photo + Art run by the super talented Odette Fernandez Lopez. Odette moved to South Florida from Cuba four years ago with a strong drive to do something and to make a name for herself in her new home away from home. She always had a strong interest in photography and would take pictures when ever she got a chance. As a professor in Cuba, she started writing a column about photography and seeing the huge interest in her column along with the great feedback from readers made her look at photography as more than just a hobby.
Odette taught herself how to take great pictures. She made it a mission to take/edit pictures on a daily basis so she can perfect the art. When she takes on a project she likes to get to know the family so that there is an element of comfort and her clients feel like they can be themselves which shows in the pictures she takes. Her favorite quote is “When you take a photograph of someone, you take a portrait of their soul” and this truly reflects in her work. Her focus is on children’s photography and her bubbly personality makes her a perfect person to work with kids. She works with families doing family portraits, covering events and even doing photography for blogs and websites.
Odette Photography offers different packages that you can choose from to fit your needs and budget. Check out more of her work here.
Click here to contact Odette Photo + Art to book a session.
* All images are property of Odette Photo + Art and are used with permission.
We took and incredible trip to India with our kids over the summer for our tour business, Knutson Travels. It was our girls, 7 and 4, first trip to India and we were there for almost a month. Since we went to India in summer break, we were a little apprehensive about the heat. Coming from Florida, we had a little advantage over the heat but it still took us by surprise. Luckily, we came prepared. Some of the things we had planned for before we left were the heat, safety, health, food and entertainment. Here are some must have things if you are travelling to India or any other country with kids:
9 Things to bring to India on a trip with kids
1) Hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes: We used the hand sanitizers quite a bit when we used public transport and before handling food when hand washing wasn’t an option. The wipes were used to clean trains seats and airplane tray tables or whenever we thought we were in a particularly germy location (full disclosure on using them to clean on public transport, only use them if you are ready to see how your wipes look after you are done, it is not pretty). I am glad we brought these since our focus was to make sure no one got sick on this trip. You might look like a germaphobe but bring them anyways. We had multiple different little bottles of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes in our bags all the time.
2) Bug spray and bug bands: These are a must have if travelling in the warm summer months. Our girls wore the bug bands a lot. These work so well that I thought there weren’t any bugs around. We decided to not put them on the girls one day and it turned out to be a bad idea. They both got bit multiple times so the bands went back on and stayed on. For the grown ups we used bug spray as needed. These are the bug bands we used and they were very effective.
3) Motion sickness, belly sickness meds: Trust us on this one. You will need these at some point on your trip so make sure you have them handy. You can get stuff in India too but its best to bring medicines you are familiar with, specially for the little ones. We brought along Dramamine for kids travel packs, Pepto for kids and Nauzene kids. Also brought along a big bottle of Pepto for us. Smartest idea.
4) Visine: We got caught in a dust storm one day and we were so glad to have Visine. This is one of those, you might not need it but good to have . As a side note about Indian pharmacies you don’t need a prescription for a lot of the medicines. The pharmacists are also very helpful in finding the right medicine for you.
5) Nutella/Peanut butter individual packs: Our kids are the pickiest eaters in our household and while we did want them to experience all the amazing food in India, we needed a backup for times they weren’t in the mood to try new things. These packs are so easy to carry as you can just stick a couple in your bag. We brought 3 boxes of these and used most of them. You can bring individual packs of peanut butter or almond butter, whatever your family prefers.
6) Electrolytes: Tummy issues is a problem that you could face while travelling coupled with extreme heat, dehydration becomes a real issue. There are quite a few options available for dehydration salts and packs. We picked the Propel individual packs because although they are milder than others our kids are familiar with the taste and enjoy it. We did use these everyday because we were in the sun quite a bit and were trying to avoid dehydration at all costs.
7) Cooling towels: Since we were in India in the summer, a lot of my suggestions are from our experience with the heat. We tried to minimize our time in the sun but if you are in India in the summer it is kind of unavoidable. If you are going to be out sightseeing, grab a few of these cooling towels and stick them in your bag. Just wet them when you are ready and put around your neck (in our case, we used them on our kids bright red cheeks) and they start working right away. We only brought one and lost it pretty early during the trip so we we’d recommend at least bringing a couple. I like these ones because they come in individual bags and you can attach them to your bag.
8) Car seats: We used Uber and Ola a lot in India and while there were some cars that did not have seat belts (mostly because they had seat covers on) we still used our BubbleBum car seats quite a bit. Honestly, these are excellent for travel if your kids are old enough for a booster. We used to lug around two big car seats on all our travels and that was not much fun. These are inflatable and roll up relatively small to fit in a backpack. We had the kids carry them in their own small backpacks. They inflate super quick and we used them enough for me to recommend bringing them.
9) Tablets: Hear me out on this one, although we don’t like kids being on their tablets much while we are travelling because I don’t want them to miss out, there is also a lot of down time when kids need something to do. I like the Kindle for kids because they are relatively cheap so you are not out a bunch of money if they are lost or damaged, it is easier to manage the time kids spend on it and kids can read books on it . Our kids used them when we were in hotels and plane/train rides. Don’t make it too hard for yourself and bring some electronic entertainment for the littles. There will be times when you will be too exhausted to provide them any entertainment.
We are excited to bring you our new monthly feature focusing on a local business that caters to kids. We are lucky to have so many businesses that focus on kids in our area. Our goal is to shine light on each such business that you and your family can enjoy.
For our first ever business feature, we selected the Plaster Carousel Family Fun Center located in Coral Springs, FL. Plaster Carousel has been in the community for over 30 years. Not much has changed since they first started because the way they do things works. With a selection of over 300 projects and focus on providing the best customer service they’re an incredible choice for someone looking to have a fun and creative time with a loved one. It has been a family favorite for decades. The prices range from $15 to $50 a project and includes paints, brushes, all other supplies plus studio time ( Pro-tip: They will let you come back to finish a project if you run out of time). The longevity of Plaster Carousel has provided generational appeal, parents who used to come as kids now bring their own kids here. It’s also a place to come hangout, put your gadgets away and roll up your sleeves and pick a project and start painting. A place where time goes slow but memories are made fast, a place where every family member can find something that will interest them.
Scott and Debbie have a great love for the arts which is why they recently purchased The Plaster Carousel. Their main focus is providing impeccable customer service and making sure everyone is having a good time. Debbie is there most days in her painting apron just ready to jump in and help with anything that is needed and Scott is always around with a good story. They both have created a place that is so inviting and relaxing and without any distractions. It makes for a great place for everyone including people with sensory issues. Scott and Debbie are very accommodating to individual needs. They want it to be a place the whole community can enjoy.
If you are looking for a place for a girls night or a date night, Plaster Carousel is a great option for spending good quality time. Recently, they have started special programs for adults where they are open extended hours on certain days for adult only painting time for a fun evening with friends. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events and activities to plan your visit. Check them out if you need a place for a kids birthday party, a fundraiser, team building events and camps. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will be back very soon! Check out their website here.
Check out more things local in our Local Focus feature.
Summer in Florida means a lot of sun and water fun. Splash pads and water parks are the best places to keep you and your family cool and entertained.
Two water parks, one for toddlers and another one for kids with spouting fountains, water cannons, play structures and slides. Take a dip in the big clover shaped pool and beat the heat. Also, a great place to host birthday parties.
- Cost: $3.25 Children 18 years and under and seniors 62+$3.75 Adults
- Where: 1300 Coral Springs Drive, Coral Springs, FL 33071
- Hours: Mon./Wed./Thurs./Fri. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday 12 Noon – 4 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Wade into the zero-depth pool where children can play in the water playground featuring slides, tunnels, water spouting animals, hand wheels, water curtains, water dumping bucket and so much more.
- Cost: $5.25 per person, per session
- Where: 401 S. Powerline Rd., Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
- Hours: Session 1 – 10am-1:35 pm, Session 2 – 1:45pm- 5:20 pm.
Two slides to keep you and kids splashing down into the cool waters below. Two areas to play in. A zero depth pool for toddlers with a play structure, water spraying animals, palm trees with tipping coconuts and a plunge pool with slides for kids 48′ and over. Lots of umbrellas and lounge chairs where you can sit and relax.
- Cost – Residents: $4 children 4 years and older and adults. $1 for children 3 and under. (Resident ID required)
- Cost – Non-residents: $7 children 4 years + and adults. $1 for children 3 and under.
- Where: 6200 Royal Palm Boulevard, Margate, FL 33063.
- Hours: June 10 – Aug 20, Open daily 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Swim in the 50- meter pool or have the kids splash around in the children’s zero- depth wading pool featuring a curving water slide.
- Cost – Residents: $1.00 children (17 and under) $1.25 adults
- Cost – Non- Residents: $ 3.00 children (17 and under) $6.00 adults
- Where: 10610 West Oakland Park Boulevard, Sunrise, FL 33351
- Hours: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm daily.
Pool to cool off with zero- depth entry with a double tornado slide. Little ones can play on the water playground with water spouting at them. Picnic tables and chairs are available to relax and enjoy a snack from the concession stand.
- Cost – Residents: $2 children 12 and under, $3.25 adults
- Cost – Non Residents: $2.50 children 12 and under, $3.75 adults
- Where: 9300 NW 58 Street, Tamarac, FL 33321
- Hours: 10:00 am – 6;00 pm, daily.
Miami- Dade County
A shallow play area for kids smaller than 48′ with water shooting cannons, splash fountains, waves of water and two water slides. Children 48′ and above and adults can enjoy the Pirate’s Plunge with three water slides, water shooting cannons, splash fountains, shallow water play area, low rise slides. Float around the lazy river which is lined with water sprayers and fountains.
- Cost – Residents $7 ages 2-13, $12 for ages 14 and older. ( I.D. required)
- Cost – Non-residents $7 ages 2-13, $15 for ages 14 and older.
- Where – 1550 NW 37th Ave, Miami, FL 33126
- Hours – 10:00 am – 4:45 pm
This summer we headed to New Jersey for a wedding in the family. With only one free night we decided to head to New York. We stayed in a hotel in the Financial District, so we decided to head over the Federal Hall to check out the statue of George Washington. The best thing about kids is that they are easily entertained. They had a great time hanging around the statue and posing for pictures. If you not still full of of a massive bagel from breakfast, the Financial District is a great place for lunch. There are a bunch of food carts and restaurants with mouth watering food.
Next on our list was the Charging Bull. Since we were walking everywhere we stopped at Trinity Church and checked it out. We loved it and surprisingly so did the kids. They had so many questions specially about all the tombstones. Next we headed to our intended destination of the Charging Bull. The area is so full of tourists that it is hard to get close to the bull. Eventually we succeeded and some pictures in front of the bull. Maybe something we should have skipped given the long wait.
On to more fun things, we headed to The Sea Glass Carousel at The Battery Conservancy. It is a bit of a hike from the Charging Bull specially if you are not used to walking a lot. Wear comfortable shoes not just cute! Bring a baby carrier or a stroller. Bring snacks! Once you get there though things will get better. Luckily when we got there we didn’t have to wait in line. At just $5 a ticket the rides are pretty reasonable. We got our tickets and headed into the beautiful blue green interior made to look like you are in the ocean. After hopping on our desired fish we enjoyed our ride while beautiful music played. Put your feet up, relax and give your tired feet a break.
After a quick lunch and a short nap back at the hotel we headed out to the Rockefeller Center. We bought our tickets online which saved us a wait in the long long line. You still have a long line for security check and it takes a while to get up to the top. The kids didn’t necessarily love it when we got to the top but we did so it wasn’t all bad.
Being the cool parents we are we headed to M&M World next. The excitement in the kids eyes was just enough to say that they were in one of the best places on Earth. After spending far too much time and more money than I care to admit on M&M’s we stopped for a quick bite to eat before we headed back to the hotel.
We couldn’t leave New York without checking out the Statue of Liberty. We decided to stop at Liberty Park on our way out because we didn’t have time to go to the Statute of Liberty. Its a great park with a great view of the statue, that is if you don’t mind looking at the back of it. We didn’t and kids didn’t seem to mind either although they did initially wanted to see the front of it. Once they started playing in the playground they forgot about that rather quickly though.
We saw pretty much everything that we wanted to in the short amount of time. New York is always a experience for the kids and adults and as expected we came back with awesome memories.
Gather the kids and head over to the Palm Beach Zoo for a day filled with animal fun! The zoo welcomes you with a big interactive fountain right when you enter it and it is the best sight for a hot sunny Florida day! Don’t forget to bring your kid’s swimsuit or better yet put it on them, they will want to play in the fountain as soon as they see it. Parents can sit on a shaded bench and watch their young ones squeal with all that fun!
The zoo is perfect for little legs. Even though it has hundreds of animals and birds it is just the right size for little ones to enjoy without getting too tired. Most of the habitats are beautifully designed to look like natural habitats of animals. This means that kids and parents can observe the amazing animals in a natural setting.
Along with all the animals and birds you and your kids will enjoy, there is a kids zone which has a Wildlife Carousel and a Safari Train. The rides cost $3 each and benefit the zoo’s animals. At the Explorer’s Play tent children can experience hands on activities, educational games, animal encounters, story time and meet and greets. Click here for the schedule.
Every couple of years my husband’s extended family takes a trip (13 people, 5 kids, 8 adults), 3 years ago it was Disney World, this time Quepos, Costa Rica. We rented a house through HomeAway for our Orlando trip, so thought why not do it again.
We picked Quepos, on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, near the Manuel Antonio National Park mainly because of the options we had available. We looked at HomeAway and found the perfect home for us, overlooking the ocean, fully staffed and a pool. (Quepos Home)(we do not receive compensation for including the link, but because it was such an amazing experience we have included). Flights from S FL we very reasonable, we found a JetBlue flight from FLL to San Jose for under $250 roundtrip. We were looking to rent a van, but my brother-in-law had a friend whom frequented Costa Rica refer a driver and we were sure happy for the help. Not that driving in Costa Rica would have been difficult, we just had one more person to show us around, Costa Rica.
Once we made it to Quepos, we had the pleasure of finding the house, now for a family originally from Montana the terrain seemed to be fitting, it was in the middle of nowhere and if it had been the rainy season we would have needed 4×4. The fact that it was in the middle of nowhere was ideal because we were secluded and felt like we had our own slice of Costa Rica.
While in Quepos we enjoyed the man offerings the area had to offer, we took a boat ride to watch the dolphins and snorkel. We visited a Vanilla plantation to see how vanilla is cultivated…we also got to sample some great cookies and ice cream. We also took a trip to a waterfall (which was really just a small stream), which to our drivers surprise because it was the first time he had taken tourists to such a place, it’s something they normally do as locals.
By far the biggest delight on the trip was the kids were able to have fun with their cousins. One found memory is the little zip line on the road to Manuel Antonio park. The zip line isn’t something we would have to do if it were for the kids as it is very small but affordable. Keira was super excited to go on it, so she went first and as she was waiting for her cousin to go (because she thought it was a little scary), Keira asked the employee if she could go again and they were happy to let her go for free. After talking herself out of the ride Keira’s cousin decided not to do it, so we left. After our lunch and site seeing around the Manuel Antonio area, Keira’s cousin decided to try the zipline…which meant Keira had to go again…three more times! In all, Keira did the zipline 5 times that day.
It was a trip none of us will forget and we don’t typically travel to places we’ve already been, but we might make an exception for Quepos!
If your family loves animals, you cannot miss Lion Country Safari. As Florida’s only drive thru safari its the best place to be on a warm sunny day. You can watch all the animals while in the comfort of your air conditioned car. At the entrance you get a CD that guides you through all the animal exhibits and it feels like you are getting a private tour at your own pace. You can spend as much or as little time as you want watching the animals.
With over 900 animals, encounters, animal feeding experiences, various conservation programs, rides and a water spray ground there is enough to keep your entire family entertained. They offer various programs for toddler all the way to adults that are designed to give you an experience with the animals at the safari through stories, crafts and animal presentations, lectures and enrichment programs. Check out the petting zoo to feed and brush the sheep and goats. You can also feed the Giraffes and Budgies for a small fee for the food.
The safari has a bunch of rides like the Carousel, El Paso Train, Flying Elephants, which are all complimentary. There is a mini golf course and a maze that you can enjoy free of cost too. The paddle boats and the Safari queen are available daily and also at no additional charge.
If after a long day you are looking to cool down than you need to head to the Safari Splash which is an interactive water spray ground with 23 water options. Then head on over to the two water slides to continue the water fun. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit, you don’t want to miss on all this fun.
Lion Country Safari is also a great place for birthday parties. They have party packages available that will fit your needs and provide tons of fun for your party guests.