Ok, so I've decided to NOT post the Thanksgiving Point Gardens until I have more fun pictures. We'll be going all summer since we got a pass, so I'll leave that til later.
I WILL however, try to catch up on the other places we have been that I haven't posted about. First one:
THE LIVING SEA AQUARIUM
So, it was small. You have to understand, "my" aquarium is the National Aquarium in Baltimore. So it was hard to just kind of drive around some little back roads in Salt Lake until we came upon what looks to be an old grocery store turned aquarium.
Having said that, it was cheap to get in, and JUST the right size for my family. Sure, I had a great time in the Baltimore aquarium, but would my little baby and my boys who tend to run off? It's just right for a quick afternoon with the cousins. And it was cheap enough that I felt pretty good about donating some dollars to get some penguins.
There are other bonuses. I never lost my kids--even wandering Janey. So I could sort of relax and let the kids wander where they might. There were LOTS of hands-on exhibits, and Jeffy, yes, my sensory dysfunctional child, reached right on in and TOUCHED a sting ray. More than once. And these were no ordinary sting rays. When you put your hand in or above the water, they will JUMP OUT AT YOU, to give you easier access, I guess. Very friendly sting rays my son touched. And then he moved on to the star fish and other smaller sea creatures. Very big step for my boy.
We went to a live animal show, which I was really quite worried about. Janey doesn't sit still and Ethan is terrified of any living non-human thing. So, I tried to position us in such a way that Ethan would not freak out, but so I could stand up with Janey. It's true, Ethan sort of screamed and moved 3 rows back every time they brought out something new. Birds, snakes, tarantulas, etc. But we made it through and he might have thought it was a little cool. Jeffy surprised us all again by actually TOUCHING the snake afterward. Seriously.
They also had a great little walk-through exhibit about Utah's natural habitat and whatnot, and though I'm pretty sure none of it actually soaked into my boys' brains, they enjoyed playing on the boat!
And then, of course, there are other cool exhibits (GIANT OCTOPUS!), fun little reefs to crawl around in, an aquarium you can look at from both sides so as to pretend you are IN it, and puzzles to do. So, it is kid friendly, and very fun. It was a good experience over all, and it's always fun to be with the clan.
So, I'd for sure do it again, and I'm sure the kids would too, without getting too bored. It's a keeper.
MUSEUM OF ANCIENT LIFE
This is part of Thanksgiving Point, and since we bought a pass for ALL the properties, we can go to this anytime we want. It's the only thing that is truly open all year, so it really makes it worth it. I was worried, at first, that it was a one-time kind of place, but I am happy to say I was completely wrong. We could go here every couple weeks all year and be just fine.
First of all, it is the LARGEST dinosaur museum in the entire world. ENTIRE WORLD people. And it is literally 5 minutes from my house. I figured, when I heard that, that the other museums just must be pretty small, but no, they could be big and still be trumped by this awesome museum. It was practically a maze. There were so many exhibits, I feel like we barely scratched the surface.
How do I explain it? There are lots of dinosaurs. They are all over. Some of them you can stand under the feet on one floor, then walk up the next and be under the head. There are hallways made to look like the dark of space with stars (which Ethan refused to go in), and actual rooms where you can watch them work on the bones, and excavation tools you can look at, and fossils you can touch, and all sorts of scientificy things.
Then there are toys and puzzles and computers. There are rubbings. There are build-a-dino velcro walls and models. There are mosaics you can draw part of.
But most of all, there is . . . The sand and water room.
That's right, there is a room with a giant tub of sand with a constant stream of water coming from several different fountains. It is a sort of ellipse which you can stand around, or crawl under and go to the middle (which has a raised floor for shorter folk). Kids are building dams. Kids are making rivers. Kids (mine) are burying as many dinosaur figurines in as much sand as they possibly can. It is a Build Destroy Build sort of game that went on for probably 30 minutes before I dragged them away. Janey splashed a bit as well. And the provided smocks make it so the kids don't get TOO wet.
After we were washed off, I wandered around to get out and went the wrong way, because we didn't go out the door Jeffy had seen from the outside, so we snuck back in the exit and found the room full of sand. This, the kids went into barefoot, grabbed a few paintbrushes, and began to dig up life-sized dinosaurs. I was tired by then and made them come out after only a few bones. (Janey was sick and tired of the whole place by then.) But I got them out with promises that we could come back as many times as we wanted, and that made them happy.
There is also an IMAX 3D movie, but I am afraid that may be too much for the kids right now. I think maybe Jake will just take Jeffy sometime. But that also costs extra. But there were also other "free" exhibits that the kids really want to check out, so there is plenty to do that we haven't done.
So, all in all, these outings (which are things I NEVER would have done sans husband in the past, and which I braved ALL on my very own), have been so great and fun. I definitely recommend both to any locals or visitors to the area. If you come, give me a call, I can get you in to TP half price!