Museum of Industry and Chocolate World

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Sunday Oct 9, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

We started the day at the Museum of Industry in Baltimore. I thought it would only take an hour to go thru so we did not rush to get there. We spent over an hour and could have stayed longer but had to get  Bruce to the airport. They have a guided tour which you can join at any time. I highly recommend the tour because the staff shows how the machines work and gives great information about the exhibits.  You even get to help operate one of the machines. We did not get to hear the entire tour but we hope to return soon. There is a transportation section, printing section, cannery, blacksmithing, sewing factory and more.  It is one of our free museums with our Historic Ship Membership. They also have homeschool days four times a year. It is definitely worth checking out!

We dropped off Bruce at the airport and headed for Hershey. Claire was first to see the Hershey Kiss light post. She was so excited. She said she wanted to live here. We went to Chocolate World where we first went on the free ride that tells you how chocolate is made. The kids enjoyed it so we of course had to ride again. Claire liked the talking cows.

The next activity was the Create Your Own Bar. I was a little skeptical because of the price but it turned out really neat. You enter and receive your disposal apron and hairnets which the kids kept as souvenirs. You then go to a computer where you pick the ingredients that you want in your bar. Then you go to a room where you get to watch your bar go down the line and be mad.  Then you go to another computer area where you get to design your wrapper. Lastly, you get to pick up your bar.

The last activity of the day was a trolley ride. I really wanted the kids to do this because I wanted the kids to hear the story of Milton Hershey. He has a great story. He went bankrupt four times, had a ticket on the Titanic and left a legacy for disadvantage kids. His story has lots of great life lessons. They gave us lots of chocolate during the hour tour which thrilled Claire. The trip to Hershey has even turned Cobey into liking chocolate.  It was a great day and the kids are begging to come back.

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Baltimore- Day Two

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Saturday Oct 8, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Military Museums, National Parks, Travel

We had a rough start to the day. No one had slept well. We stayed at Hilton Garden and the hotel was fine except Claire did not get her french toast which is her favorite thing there. And they don’t know how to cook grits this far north. Cobey and Bruce haves colds so the first stop was the CVS. We then tried to find our way to Fort McHenry. We were very close but it took almost an hour. There was first a VERY long VERY slow train that came to a stop. We then try to find our way around the train when we find a bridge out that we had to navigate around. We were only a few miles from the fort but it took forever.

Cobey loved the visitor center. His favorite part was the interactive time line. He liked how “modern” it was. The visitor center is small but has a great movie and some interesting exhibits. The fort is well preserved and has displays in most of the buildings.  You could also walk around the outside and top of the fort. The kids did the Junior Ranger program which was okay but not a stand out at all.

The fort is famous for the battle during the War 1812 where Frances Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. The fort was also used during the civil was as a prison and World War I as a hospital. Bruce and Cobey said the fort was their favorite part of the day.

We then headed back to Inner Harbor for the Star Spangled Banner Museum and the Flag Museum.  They have a small museum with a film. The film was interesting but was hard to hear and understand. We then got a guided tour of the house where the flag that flew over Fort McHenry was made. This was my favorite part of the day. I learned the flag at that time had 15 stripes and that it was put together in a brewery across the street. The tour guide was interesting and informative. The picture is showing how big the actual flag would have been. Amazing!! Claire loved the room inside the museum where she got to dress up and pretend to cook by the fire.

We finally made it to what Cobey had been asking for the Historic Ships We first went into the USS Torsk a submarine. There is no guide, no audio and very little printed information. It is interesting to walk thru and get a size perspective. I really liked the USS Constellation. There is a great audio tour – one version for adults and one for kids. I listened to the kid one and it was very good at teaching about the boat and what life would be like on the boat. It did not get into what kind of action the ship saw. You get to see all four levels of the ship and Cobey even got to try out the sleeping arrangements.  This tour turned out really good.

The last stop was the dragon paddle boats for Claire. She had been asking to go on the them for two days. We decided we enjoyed the Sawn boats in Boston better. You got to relax more and the scenery was nicer.

We ended up getting the museum membership for the Historic Ships. It is better than a Go Card!  Our membership will last till Dec 2012 and gets us in free to over 15 Baltimore History Museums and over 30 Maritime Museums.  Some of the museums are already free so look carefully to see if it will pay off for you.  As much as we travel I know it will pay for itself very soon!

We at at Denny’s because Saturday is Kids Eat Free! We are at the Embassy Suites tonight and the kids had a great time at the pool. Now for a good nights sleep.

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An Evening at Inner Harbor

Posted by Carmen Ledford on Friday Oct 7, 2011 Under Claire, Cobey, Good Eats/Not So Good Eats, Homeschool, Kid's Corner, Travel

The drive was miserable. The GPS took us a strange way thru DC and added almost an hour to the the already long drive. We only stopped once to go to the bathroom. We ate lunch in the car with food we had packed to save money and time. We arrived at Inner Harbor at almost four. I had wanted to take the kids to the aquarium before but it is a little pricey.  For admission and the dolphin show it would have cost us 102 dollars. I found a special if you enter after five on Fridays in October so we purchased our tickets for 48 and then headed for dinner.

The place I had in mind for dinner was closed so we ended up at J Paul’s Tavern. The atmosphere was great. We ate outside looking out on the harbor.  Bruce and I had steamed shrimp, Cobey had crabcake sliders and Claire had grilled cheese. The food was excellent! We told the waitress we were in a hurry and the service was extra fast. The kid’s meals came with a great ice cream sundae with whipped cream and sprinkles. They gave Cobey one even though he did not have a kid’s meal. The prices were reasonable for the location and quality but not cheap. Kids meals were 7 and entrees between 10 and 30.  It was a good meal and I would return.

After dinner, we headed for the aquarium. It was better than I remember and I was impressed with the exhibits.  There is not a huge impressive shark tank where they dive like at tother aquarium but some of the smaller aquariums were amazing. Some were just stunning.  There were also animals that I had not seen before. I loved the tanks in the rainforest exhibit because the fish and animals were so different there. We also saw a sloth and learned some facts about them.  Next we went to the dolphin show which was cute. They shared a few facts about dolphins and the ocean. The kids absolutely loved it!

After the show, we went into the newest exhibit- Jellies Invasion. This was the only time I  regretted the discounted tickets because it was packed. I was stepped on twice. Even though it was crowded, I wanted to stay because they had some very cool different jellyfish. It is a well put together exhibit and wish I could have enjoyed it more.

The last stop, besides the gift shop for Claire to buy a dolphin of course, was the Australian  exhibit. I loved it because Claire got to feed an archer fish. The fish spits at the insect in a trees to get it to fall out of the tree. The fish got Claire right in the face. She loved it!  She walked away saying this was the best aquarium in the world. The dolphins and archer fish were by far her favorite things.

The other thing the aquarium does not have unless we missed it – is touch tanks. They had staff stationed throughout telling about the animals which was great. We have been to aquariums in NC, Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Atlanta, and Boston. I would put it middle of the pack. This one had some of the best exhibits but I like the hands-on activities a the others.

After a long drive, the day ended on a positive note with a great dinner and great fun at the aquarium. The aquarium exceeded my expectations. I don’t know if it 104 exceed but definitely worth 48.


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