Family Fun Review: Dinosaur Discovery Museum – Kenosha, Wisconsin


 Dinosaur Discovery Museum

Nitty Gritty:  

Website: http://www.kenosha.org/dinosaurdiscovery/index.html
Admission: FREE general admission
Location: 5608 Tenth Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53140. It is located by a streetcar stop.
Parking: There is a free parking lot
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 12 – 5 p.m. They are closed on Mondays and Holidays.
Amenities: They have family restrooms on the main floor.  No nursing facilities.
Stroller Friendly?: You can bring a stroller though I can see it can get pretty tight if it were crowded.  
Crowded?: We were here on a holiday weekend on a Sunday and it was not crowded.
Gift Shop: Yes, they have one but it is tiny. There are plenty of dinosaur toys to purchase, but they are all behind glass cases.

The Fun:

Once you walk into the Dinosaur Discovery Museum through the doors, you will encounter the highlight in the main gallery – the dinosaur bones. Take your time to explore this room and discover the link between meat eating dinosaurs, theropods, and modern day birds. The dinosaurs exhibited will show you how these meat eating dinosaurs changed over time to represent today’s modern day bird. This is the main gallery and the only exhibit featured.
Rawr! A T-rex greets you when you enter the main gallery.
After getting our fill of dinosaur bones, we hopped on the elevator (only way to access the bottom level) downstairs to check out the on-site paleontology lab with actual dinosaur bones of “Little Clint”, a juvenile t-rex from their last excavation in southeastern Montana . The room also has tables so that anyone that wanted to read and learn more about dinosaurs could do so here. Or, as in my son’s case, he had fun coloring dinosaur sheets and making dinosaur rubbings.

Highlights:

  • The main gallery featuring more than 7 different types of dinosaur bones to look at 
  • Viewing actual dinosaur bones of  “Little Clint” a juvenile T-Rex 
  • Dinosaur craft activities on the lower level

Tips:

  • Best way to maneuver the museum? Enter the gallery and start from your left.
  • The museum is small (one main room and lower level activities), so you’ll only need about 45 minutes to an hour to enjoy everything. 

Bottom Line: Though the Museum may be on the small side, it still manages to awe any dinosaur fan.   If we are in the area again, we will be sure to stop by here.

Want more activities to do in Kenosha? Hop on the streetcar and check out the Kenosha Public Museum.

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Family Fun Review: Kenosha Public Museum

Kenosha Public Museum

Nitty Gritty:   

Admission is free (suggested donation of $2) at the Kenosha Public Museum and is located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Kenosha’s Harbor Park. There is a streetcar stop nearby and plenty of parking.  It is stroller friendly. There are no places to eat here, but there are places around downtown to grab food and have a picnic at the picturesque Harbor Park. 
The Fun: 
Kenosha Public Museum is both a natural history and art museum.  When you enter the room, you’ll come face to face with a scary looking fish. This was enough to send my two-year-old in the other direction.
How scary!
 But we gave it another try and quickly zipped past the “scur” fish and then came face to face with the oldest and largest wooly mammoth ever found in North America.  

 

The second floor houses their special exhibits and the fine arts. My husband is a huge baseball fan and was delighted to see the temporary exhibit “Reggie Jackson and the Original 500 Club”.  They display items such bats, gloves, and uniforms  that were used by the many home run greats  Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron.  Walk to the room across the hall and you’ll also find the fine arts section here with fake “wildlife” such as tigers, bears, and zebras.  That alone was enough to keep the little ones entertained. The best part (according to my 2-year-old) was seeing paintings of dinosaurs.

Bottom Line:   

Yes, check out this great free museum. It is very well worth your time if you’re in the area.

Tip: 

  • It’s best to start on the first floor and work your way starting from the left. 
  • Go to the second floor for awesome views of the harbor.
  • Check out the field station area for hands-on fun!
  • There’s no photography allowed for the Reggie Jackson exhibit.
Want to explore more of Kenosha’s Museums? Check out the Dinosaur Discovery Museum.

Polaroid Photo Friday: Lighthouses, Streetcars, and Sculptures

How sad to say goodbye to summer! We’ve had quite an eventful summer with trips to Cleveland and Wisconsin Dells and we wanted to end our summer on a lowkey note.

We decided to venture somewhere closer that was only a couple hours away. Can you guess where?


This last photo should give it away.

Yep, we were in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin and we were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and lowkey it was. It was the perfect way to end our summer and we are looking forward to visiting in the near future.

Reviews of our adventure to come.

This is part of DeliciousBaby’s Photo Friday and R We There Yet Mom?’s Friday Daydreamin’.

Dad vs. Food – Cleveland – Melt Bar & Grilled

The hubs loves food. In fact, one of his favorite shows is Man vs. Food. So when we travel, we always make it a point to see if Adam Richman has visited any of the areas we go to. If he has, you better believe that we will be visiting that restaurant. On our latest jaunt to Cleveland, we saw Adam went to Melt Bar and Grilled where grilled cheese is the name of the game.

Adam’s Experience:

The challenge directly from Melt Bar and Grilled:

Our monster grilled cheese featuring 13 different cheeses, 3 slices of grilled bread and a pile of hand-cut fries & slaw. Over 5 lbs. of food! Finish it all without any help or trips to the bathroom and you will be awarded a Melt t-shirt or Melt Pint Glass, a $10 gift card and we’ll immortalize you in our online Melt Challenge Hall of Fame.


Our Family’s Experience:

We went to the Independence, Ohio location right after our outing at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. It was about 5 minutes away. This particularly location is at a strip mall with a parking lot.

Atmosphere: Instead of putting your name down for a table, you get a name tag. We waited about 10 minutes before they called our “name” Gene Simmons. There’s kitschy and fun decor everywhere. To add to the kitschiness of the place, they were playing the Flintstones on the television. Even the menus are on old vinyl record covers.

Food: The hubs decided not to partake in the challenge. Instead, he opted to make his own DIY grilled cheese sandwich with 4 different cheeses instead of the required 13. According to the him, it “was the best grilled cheese sandwich” he’s ever had. I ordered the Monte Cristo and it was huuuge. I think I ate a quarter of it before I became full. It was definitely yummy.

monte cristo

hubs DIY grilled cheese – see that cheese oozing out?


Family Friendliness:
There is no kid’s menu, but you won’t need one. Grilled cheese IS the main item offered, so it’s easy enough to share something with the lil ones. They didn’t offer any crayons or coloring pages either, so it may be worth it to bring something to keep the kids entertained.

Bottom Line: Yes, I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. We were afraid that the line would be crazy and we’d have to resort to take out, but I am so glad we came here. What a fun place! It is one of our favorite restaurants during our whole trip.

Interested in seeing what we did on our Cleveland trip?

Day one: Seeing elephants and splashin’ around at a waterpark
Day two: University Circle Fun
Day three: Trains, Science, and Rock & Roll

Bristol Renaisance Faire – Fun Times in the Rain

Since my husband has never been to the Bristol Renaissance Faire and it had been ages since I’ve last gone, we thought it would be great to visit this year with the kiddos.

Nitty Gritty: Admission is $19.95 per adult and kids 4 and under are free.Discount tickets are available at participating Walgreens. The Bristol Renaisance Faire is located close to the border between Illinois and Wisconsin. Preferred parking is $5 (I wouldn’t park anywhere else unless you want the exercise). There is a lot of ground to cover, so you can bring your stroller though it may be a little tricky maneuvering through the crowds. Also, the grounds are gravel so it may be even more difficult for those non-jogging strollers. There are privvies (bathrooms) located throughout.

 

The Fun: Oh, where to start? The year is 1599 and you’ll feel as if you have been transported to a completely different era complete with knights, queens, jesters and other costumed people roaming about. The best part is that not only do the actors pretend, but other people come donning their renaissance best (or just arriving in costumes).

You’ll find your typical fare food such as brats, bbq, fish and chips and of course the huge turkey legs. Remember to bring cash!

Unfortunately for us, the weather man (or should I say the weather app) didn’t forecast the torrential downpour. We only got through a quarter of the grounds before having to call it a day. Who needs to watch the Mud Show when everywhere became THE mud show! The Ren Faire is open rain or shine and it was pretty entertaining seeing some of the actors out and about still having a good time in the rain.

We did catch one show – the Royal Falconer – and I think the falcons must have sensed the rain brewing because they didn’t perform their tricks. There are tons of unique shops (hello, made to order kilts!) that I would have loved to check out.

In the little time we were there, we had a blast!! There’s still so much we wanted to see and do – more shows, kids area, elephant rides, more food! We’ll be waiting ’til next year and we’ll be sure to double and triple check our weather app and hope for a sunny day!

Tips: 

  •  Bring cash! Cash is definitely king at the Faire. You’ll need it for parking, food vendors, games, and some of the stores.
  • The walking path is mostly gravel and rocks so wear the appropriate shoes. We learned the hard way with sandals. Gravel + pouring rain = lots of mud + really muddy feet
  • A little planning goes a long way. Check out their website for the schedule of shows. If we’d plan a little better, we would have loved to see more such as the Mud Show, The Joust, and Acrobatics.

Disclosure: Our family was provided complimentary admission.  I was not required to express a particular point of view and all opinions are my own. 

Wisconsin Dells – Train fun

We did the Dells classics which included the Tommy Bartlett Show and the Ducks.  Our trip to Wisconsin Dells would not be complete if we didn’t get to ride a train (as requested by my 2-year-old).

Riverside and Great Northern Railway

Nitty gritty:  

 Admission is $12 an adult, $8 for children 3 and up. Anyone under three is free. Try to look out for discounts in the Wisconsin Dells book. There is a cute little cafe at the depot where everything is miniature in size. There are also picnic tables on the grounds. The bathrooms were a little run down. Don’t forget to check out the store for a souvenir for your train fan. There’s also a train table there to keep the little ones entertained while waiting for your train to depart.

The fun: 

We took our 2 sons on a train ride at the Riverside and Great Northern Railway in July. The trains are miniature in size (15” gauge for those parents of train fans) and the cars are windowless. It was the perfect size for our family of 4, but I could see it getting tight if you had more people. The ride itself was nice and relaxing as we cruised 10 – 15 mph through the woods and even over a bridge. Since it was only 35 minutes long, it was short enough that my toddler didn’t get bored, but at the same time long enough to really enjoy the ride. We’ve been on a lot of train rides, and one unique part was actually getting off so the train could be moved at the turntable.

turntable action

The conductor then took that time to give us a little history about the train. Since the grounds aren’t that large, you could probably spend about an hour here including the train ride.

Tips:

  • Train rides leave every hour on the hour
  • There are picnic tables for those who want to enjoy lunch outdoors

Bottom Line: For any train fan, this is a must stop! The admission fee may be a little on the high side (well what isn’t in the Dells!), but just know that your money is going to a good cause and supporting this volunteer-run operation. It is money well spent!

Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille 

Nitty Gritty: 

We visited Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille on a Saturday afternoon in July and there was no wait. It is located adjacent to Knuckleheads Amusement and Bowling and right across the parking lot of the Great Wolf Lodge and Waterpark. The Tanger Outlet Malls was across the parking lot as well.

When you first walk in, you’ll be notice at how huge this place it is. One thing’s for sure – you can tell that this place was meant to hold families with their very spacious booths. In fact, we were able to fit our party of 7 in one booth.

We’ve been to a few other train restaurants with our train-obsessed son, and this definitely stands out as one of the best. The trains were bigger than what we’ve seen, plus it delivers your food to your table. One surprise we saw with this particular train was that it had the blew bubbles as well. The person controlling the train must have noticed that my son got excited every time the train chugged by that she made sure the train stopped by our table more than once.Though not all seating is by track (would be impossible with the size of this restaurant!), we did see that there were many booths located on the track.

The food itself was pretty good with nice sized portions. You gotta try their homemade rootbeer that comes in a frosted mug. Yum! There’s other homemade sodas as well.

Bottom Line: 

Needless to say, my son had a great time. In fact, he had such a great time that he has been requesting to eat “train food”. It’s a must for all those choo choo fans.

Interested in more train fun in the Dells? Check out Midcontinent Railway Museum. Or if you are in the Chicagoland area, check out these train places that my 2-year-old would consider worthy of your time.

Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to Riverside and Great Northern Railway . I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view. The opinions I express are entirely my own.

Wisconsin Dells Vacation – Ducks and Clowns Waterskiing

Two road trips in a month?!? What were we thinking? Well, after our successful Cleveland trip, we knew our boys could handle anything – especially if we were only driving a few hours away. We figured this would be a piece of cake.


We decided to go to Wisconsin Dells since it was only 3 hours away from our lil ‘burb. Every Midwesterner has heard of Wisconsin Dells and has probably even vacationed there. Even though the Dells may be known as the Waterpark Capital of the World, we were curious to see if it offered other activities geared towards young tots such as mine.

I thought we would start our Dells vacation by exploring the quintessential Wisconsin Dells – the infamous Duck tours and the Tommy Bartlett Show.

Original Wisconsin Ducks

On my past Dells visits, I would always see those famous Ducks roaming around. Instead of carrying soldiers as it has in the past, this 7 ton half land, half water vehicles, now carry enthusiastic passengers curious about these vehicles’ capabilities – including our family.

Nitty Gritty:  

We enjoyed our tour on the Wisconsin Ducks on a Friday evening in July. During the summer, the last departure is at 6:00 p.m. There are plenty of Ducks eager to take passengers, so we never waited more than 10 minutes for our turn. There’s a concession stand where you can buy food and bring it with you on your ride. Admission is $24.41 for adults, $12.25 for children 4 – 11, and those children under 3 are free. Don’t forget to look for discounts.

The Fun:  

After taking a picture for our Duck photographer, we were on our way and eager to experience what the Ducks were all about. It did not disappoint! Our Duck maneuvered through the woods, down steep drops and turns, then dipped into the Wisconsin River where you could see beautiful views of the cliffs and sandstone.

Then finally, we splashed in Lake Delton. The entire ride was a perfect mixture of excitement and relaxation. Even my two-year-old toddler, whose attention span is usually nonexistent, enjoyed the ride immensely exclaiming “Whoa!!” with every sudden turn and drop. On the other hand, I felt that the ride was safe enough for my 7-month-old. In fact, he had fallen asleep when we were on the Wisconsin River.
Our guide told cheesy jokes with his narration, but honestly I didn’t mind at all. I think that’s what made it so entertaining. Though I have to admit, his request for tips towards the end was a bit awkward. I’m all for giving tips but believe it could have been done in a different manner.

Tips:

  • Tours leave every few minutes, so you won’t ever have to wait too long for the next tour.
  • Don’t sit in the back if you don’t want to get wet from splashing into the Lake.
  • For better views, stay on the left side of the boat. 
  • You can bring food on the Duck.
  • Bring $4 cash if you’d be interested in purchasing a booklet or to tip your driver

Bottom Line: 

Yes, I would definitely recommend this to any fun-loving family. In fact, going on the Ducks may now have to become our family tradition. Hopefully, by that time the way tips are requested will be changed so it isn’t awkward.

Tommy Bartlett Show

If you’ve ever been to the Dells, I’m sure you’ve seen the numerous billboards for the Tommy Bartlett Show. The show has just celebrated their 60 year anniversary, making it one of the longest running outdoor shows. I personally had never been there and was curious to see the Dells’ most popular show.

Nitty Gritty: 

Admission costs $21 for those 12 and up. Kids 6 to 11 costs $11. Children 5 and under were free. No outside food or drinks allowed but there is a concession stand and people going up and down the aisles selling food. The walk from the entrance to the stands is far and a little hilly. If you bring your stroller, there is stroller parking. If you are staying at the Kalahari resort, admission is free. Parking is free and plentiful.

The fun: 

We were here on a Saturday for the 4:30 p.m. show. The family-friendly show has a little bit of everything from water skiing to comedic juggling to thrilling acts. The first half we enjoyed seeing stunts on skis that included barefoot skiing and of course their famous skiing pyramid that the Tommy Bartlett show is known for.

My son was particularly intrigued by the waterskiing clown.

The adults in our group enjoyed the second half better with stage acts with the comedic jugglers, death defying acts (literally – the man on what I call the giant hamster wheel almost fell!) and the acrobats. They did a great job of involving people from the crowd which made it for an even funnier experience.

Having had a jam packed day, I was afraid of how my 2-year-old would react to being seated for an hour and half show. Worries aside, he was captivated from the minute the show started and even though he may have been tired, he had resisted sleeping for fear of missing something exciting.

Tips:

  • There are really no bad seats
  • There are two shows daily at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Reserved seating is available only for the 8:30 show.
  • The night show has a light and water display that I would have liked to see if it this show wasn’t past the lil ones’ bedtime.

Bottom Line:  

Now I know what I have been missing all these years! Everyone that visits the Dells should make it a point to at least check out the show for themselves. Even though the ticket prices may be a little on the high side, there are numerous discounts everywhere.

Check out our train-tastic day at Wisconsin Dells!

Disclosure: Though we received complimentary tickets to the Original Wisconsin Duck Tours and the Tommy Bartlett Show, the opinions expressed are, of course, my own!