Category Archives: Uncategorized

Look Park–Northampton, MA

We’ve done write-ups of playground and parks and museums and festivals of all sizes here in the Greater Boston area.  Nothing is too large or too small.

I grew up in Western Massachusetts, and we do have a decent amount of readers out that way, too.  Occasionally I feel compelled to feature things from that region, too, and not just for that crew (hey, they already know about many of them!)  We know many of our Boston area readers are adventurers looking for day trips.  Those of you who went to one of the Five Colleges know what I’m talking about.  It’s also nice to share places close to my heart.

Look Park was my local park growing up, and it’s a really nice one.  It’s private (non-profit) and runs on a trust, admission fees, donations, fundraisers, and grants.  That said, the $5-7 general admission is technically a parking fee, and it is per car rather than per person, and if you walk or bike in for the day, you’re exempt.  A seasonal pass is worth it for locals.  Some, but not all, of the activities have a small fee, not more than a few dollars each.

I'm in orange on the train, surrounded by my mom, my daughters, my nephew and my brother.

I’m in orange on the train, surrounded by my mom, my daughters, my nephew and my brother.

And there are a lot of them:  pedel boats, bumper boats, mini golf, a small zoo, tennis courts, an outdoor theatre, walking trails,  snack bars, a pretty good sledding hill for the winter, and more.  The highlight for many is the kiddie train.  This isn’t a toddler choo-choo of the sort you’ll occasionally see in mall food courts and what not.  It’s a small scale C.P. Huntington steam train, and it goes all around the park, through the zoo and a tunnel.  When I was a kid the tradition was to yell and bang the ceiling when going through!

There are pavilions and a Garden House to rent for larger events, but no one blinks an eye if you lay a blanket down under a tree for a family picnic.

They are having fun, despite lack of smiles--honest!  But when there is lots to do, sometimes you've just gotta rest under a tree.

They are having fun, despite lack of smiles–honest! But when there is lots to do, sometimes you’ve just gotta rest under a tree.

Of course I’ve got to mention the playgrounds!  There are three, two smaller toddler ones, and then one area with yet another toddler one and a big kid one.  They’re fine; the main one in particular is quite large, and will keep the kids entertained, active, and happy, but with no write-home-about unique features.

The seasonal splash park stands out more.  It’s colorful, with fun flower and umbrella sculptures, and a nice awning for parents (or tired kids) to rest under.

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They host all kinds of special events, including concerts, and a children’s summer series. 

As much as I enjoy this place, would I recommend it as worth the two hour drive as the primary destination?  I don’t know.  Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about it being the only stop because it is in Northampton, a vibrant and kid-friendly college town with lots of restaurants, galleries, theaters, and attractions.

Playground Hunt followers will especially enjoy the A2Z Science and Learning Store as well as the fact that Pulaski Park, a smaller downtown public park, is currently being rebuilt, in large part to make it more nature and child friendly.

Many of you loved our Eric Carle Museum write-up and the places are close enough to do them all in one day. Go for it!

 

 

Miles Standish State Forest–Plymouth/Carver, MA

We had a smashing time on our first camping trip with our dog!  And by that we mean “We had a great time!” and not “A spooked pooch smashed our tent poles!” so that’s good.

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It was sort of a test trip to see how well she did and how much she enjoyed it before gauging whether to take her on longer trips father afield this summer, and it was a success. Being a quick experimental weekend, we didn’t want to go too far from home.  Many Boston area families who want to go camping without traveling far try Harold Parker State Forest or the Boston Harbor Islands (the second link leads to Angelika’s post about camping on them last year–we all hope to go back soon!) but at about an hour south, Miles Standish State Forest isn’t far either.

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Saturday was National Trails Day.  It was an appropriate day to be out hiking and camping, and a great place to do it.  Miles Standish is a pine barrens, which is an interesting ecosystem to explore.  They consist of plants that do well in sandy soil, hence why they are often found near the coast.  You’ll see lots of pine trees and oak scrub.

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And berries!  It is a good place to go if you love berries.  The ground is smothered in blueberry bushes, and there are also expansive cranberry bogs. Sadly we were a bit early in the season to enjoy both of those, but they were interesting to learn about.  Pine barrens actually thrive in wildfires.  The large hardy pines survive , and the low lying stuff is fertilized with the ash.  In most ways our fire fighting advancements are a very good thing, but it means many existing pine barrens need to be managed with controlled burns.

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While we were relieved the trip went blissfully smoothly, with three days experience we don’t feel qualified to offer too much dog camping advice.  At the same time, it didn’t feel like much of an adjustment.  When we had kids and were discussing our first post-kid camping trip a friend told us, “You two are experienced campers and super comfortable out there!  You’ll be fine!” and they were right.  The big adjustment is actually having the kid or adopting the pet.  Bringing them along on a new-to-them activity doesn’t usually throw a wrench in it if your comfort level is high.

Engineer daddy Craig giving the girls lessons on pendulums, harmonic motion, and on building their own rope pulls so they can propel themselves.

Engineer daddy Craig giving the girls lessons on pendulums, harmonic motion, and on building their own rope pulls so they can propel themselves.

It doesn’t mean new campers will necessarily struggle–just that if you’re going to feel overwhelmed, it’ll happen whether or not you have little creatures along.  Want to try camping with enormous creatures?  Take your horse!  Miles Standish allows equestrian camping as well, in a separate area.

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Another thing to take into account with canine camping is your daytime activities, since many attractions aren’t dog friendly.  Edaville USA and Plimoth Plantation are right outside Miles Standish but we’ll save those for day trips with friends and family.  Long Beach allows dogs all day in season on leash, although the parking lots can fill up quickly on gorgeous days.  Dogs are also welcome in the waterfront park areas, where you can review some history at the Mayflower replica and Plymouth Rock and then choose between a playground, a splash park, or a seaside bike trail.  Whether you go for the day or stay overnight or whether you bring four legged friends along or not, there is plenty to see at this nearby destination!

Patton Park Playground–Hamilton, MA

Read ahead as we get back to our roots with a playground review!  I checked the tags, and I don’t believe Angelika  reviewed Patton Park Playground yet.  She probably wouldn’t have, because it was just as underwhelming as A.P. Rounds was before we rebuilt it.  Even if she had, it’d be time for an update because this playground was also rebuilt last summer!  It is definitely worth a visit.

Bridget and Craig on the large dome climber

Bridget and Craig on the large dome climber

Patton Park is a beautiful community space in Hamilton, MA.  It’s got a lot of open green space, multiple athletic facilities (including a skating pond!), a summer concert series, and an iconic tank statue the kids love to climb on, probably placed in homage to General Patton, who the park is named after.  It’s been long known for all these things, but not so much for the former droopy playground.  But that’s no longer the case, and I’d bet the playground is one of the biggest draws now!

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The fundraising for this build was also led by a community group.  Although I believe the DPW staff did the construction, a lot of the volunteers’ arduous work went into fundraising, with the final pull being around $240,000.  Their initiatives were creative, well-run, and well-attended, but part of the reason they were able to pull in so much so quickly is due to the Community Preservation Act.  It’s neat to see first hand the difference this can make (Hint, hint, hint, Stoneham-ites!)

We recommend checking out the final result! Some of the highlights include a “pirate ship” main structure, a toddler area, climbing cubes, a dome web structure, a zipline, and more.

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Best shot of the large “pirate ship” due to not realizing there was a bad unphotoshoppable “floater” in what would’ve otherwise been the good shot til I got home. Sorry guys. Fun car climber in the foreground.

This these things that look like gamer dice or alien pods have climber handholds all over them to practice your bouldering.  Artistic and functional!

This these things that look like gamer dice or alien pods have climber handholds all over them to practice your bouldering. Artistic and functional!

The zipline!  Even though my little peanut is checking it out here, it appears to be adult-weight worthy

The zipline! Even though my little peanut is checking it out here, it appears to be adult-weight worthy

More thumbnails:

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Even though Hamilton is a 25 minute drive or so from the Stoneham area this playground is on the way to some of the area’s best beaches and attractions, and it is a worthwhile destination on its own.  It’s also worth noting the plaza across the street has a Dunkin Donuts.  I believe it a rule for Boston area parents and caregivers to show up at local playgrounds with a large iced coffee in hand (and maybe a treat for the kids) so I can’t close this review without mentioning this very important detail *wink wink*.  Hope to see you there!

 

Danvers-Wenham SwampWalk

“Hey, mommy!  We’re bringing you to the swamp today!”

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Some mothers might hear those words Mother’s Day morning and wonder if the kids were exacting revenge for having been subjected to that celery-parsnip soup last week:  “You want green sludge! We’ll show you green sludge!” At the very least they might wonder if they are allowing one too many screenings of The Princess Bride.

Yeah, I essentially got to view a skunk cabbage bouquet for Mother's Day--but liked it!

Yeah, I essentially got to view a skunk cabbage bouquet for Mother’s Day–but liked it!

But no, my kids know they have a nature geek mommy and that I’d be genuinely pleased and excited to hear those words as part of their Mother’s Day plans for me.

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We’d been wanting to check out the Danvers-Wenham SwampWalk for a while, so we met up there with some friends, who had originally recommended it: Daryl, Emmaline and Gideon.  Sadly their mom Meghan had to miss it due to her obligations as an emergency services pediatrician.  I figured she could rescue the kids who were already sick, while we’d work on her kids’ base immunity by smearing them around in some dirt.

The swampwalk is a loop off the Danvers Rail Trail, and a great place to see some of our local wetland plants and animals.  If you do decide to tour it as part of your bike trip, you’ve got to park the bike at the entrance to the boardwalk section, but they’ve got bike racks set up there.  It’s also accessible by foot, just a short ways in from a parking area.  It’s dog-friendly (on leash, of course), so we brought Moxie and our friends’ dog Scout.

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At about a mile and a quarter, it is a relatively short doable walk for kids, and our 2-year-olds walked the whole thing without struggle. That said, much of it is an elevated boardwalk, so gauge whether you think your little one will be careful when it comes to staying on it when you are deciding between babywearing and toddling.  Because the water is shallow and we’re not in alligator country, risks are probably more  unintended mucky mudbath related than immediate danger related, but you might want to read up on some safety practices first anyway.

Okay, okay, so they did get rests and shoulder rides near the end…

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There are several beaver lodges along the walk, and the 4-year-olds thought they spotted one bobbing along but it was too far away to get a definitive sighting.

We saw probably about a dozen common brown water snakes, both on land and swimming, so if you’ve got ophidiophobia, you might want to sit this one out.  I love snakes, but would not want to go on a goose-ridden hike, so I understand.  They greatly interested the kids, and thankfully did not interest the dogs one bit.  They get quite large and thick; we saw ones at least three feet, and they can get to nearly twice that.  They are non-venemous and avoid you when crossing paths, but are quick to bite when handled, so be cautious that way.

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Check out the big guy in front of that large tuft. Sometimes we look for letter shapes in nature. It’s easy to spot Ys, but Ss can be a bit tougher. This friend helped us with that! Thanks!

It was a gorgeous sunny day, so we were a bit surprised we didn’t see any turtles out basking.  The pre-schoolers are both little chatterboxes, which is sometimes not conducive to spotting wildlife, but is thankfully very conducive to engaging them deeply and educationally on wildlife when we do see it, so it evens out.  But apparently turtles don’t have great hearing, especially when it comes to high pitched noises like 4-year-old voices, so it was probably just co-incidence.  We also didn’t see (or feel) excessive bugs, surprisingly, but we put on our repellant and sunscreen ahead of time just to be safe.

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We DID see a wide variety of birds, and you bird watchers among us will lament that we are not great at identifying them.  I’ll have to be sure to bring along my trusty Audubon Guide to New England next time.

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We were excited to get another great local outdoor destination off our bucket lists. Any requests for a future write-up?

 

 

Hounds and History–Dogtown Commons, Gloucester, MA

If you’re anything like us, you usually head to Gloucester for the beaches and galleries, and maybe some great seafood.  Today, we decided to try something different.

We woke up to a morning a bit rainier than originally forecast, a postponed playdate due to a sick friend (get well soon, Em!), outdoor activities and chores partly limited due to my sprained finger, and a dog who was rearing to get out.

A good sentiment before a long hike!

A good sentiment before a long hike!

We figured it was an appropriate day to go to Cape Ann but stay inland for once.  Dogtown Commons is a historically protected wilderness in Gloucester and Rockport.  It’s about 3600 acres (not too different in size to our beloved Middlesex Fells!)

Some beautiful natural sights we saw:

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Even the dried grass is interesting to look at, especially as it camouflages our dog quite well!

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It has an extraordinarily rich, and sometimes slightly spooky history, which made checking it out on an overcast day appropriately atmospheric.  Telling your kids some of the legends will keep them engaged and interested on a day hike.  There’s a great article here with some history.

A marker of an ill-fated bullfight.

A marker of an ill-fated bullfight.

In short, some of the excitement involves the fact it is suspected the first settlers picked the rocky and hilly area to hide from pirates.  Some of the last settlers were accused of being witches.  And there is no shortage of stories from in between, including one of a very bloody bullfight. (Not the traditional kind you might think of.  Apparently a drunk guy wrestled his pet on dares from friends…and eventually lost.)  Oh, and some think the area is haunted.

Bridget's leaning against a huge boulder, pensive.  Thinking about ghosts?

Bridget’s leaning against a huge boulder, pensive. Thinking about ghosts?

The area is overflowing with glacial boulders, and there many formations to admire and huge erratics to climb.   During the Great Depression, philanthropist Roger Babson hired out-of-work stonecutters to carve inspirational quotes and historical references on the boulders to mark some of the old building foundations and sites.

Bridget found a rock that said "study" and pretended to practice her letters.  The site of an old school?

Bridget found a rock that said “study” and pretended to practice her letters. The site of an old school?

...and Craig proceeded to move her aside and sit on the "Y" to change the meaning.  Probably not the first goofy dad to do that.

…and Craig proceeded to move her aside and sit on the “Y” to change the meaning. Probably not the first goofy dad to do that.

 

People don’t seem to be exactly sure where the name comes from, but it is suspected to be canine based.  No, it is not a formal dog park, although it is hugely popular with dog walkers who are more than welcome and who are partly inspired and drawn by the name, I’m sure.  It seems the most popular theory, cited in the links above, is that many of the residents were Revolutionary War widows.  Living alone, it was common for them to have dogs for protection.  After they died or moved on, some of the dogs stayed as strays, and it was not rare to see them running around or hear them howling.

We imagine Moxie was so sad to leave she blew us raspberries!

We imagine Moxie was so sad to leave she blew us raspberries!

Gloucester is a gorgeous and quintessential New England town with many things to do.  But one of these times, go visit this lesser known enclave.  It’s only a short hop away for many of our outdoorsy readers–check it out!

Fiona can't wait to come back!

Fiona can’t wait to come back!

Disneyworld Playgrounds–Orlando, FL

Neither family has been posting as much in the winter.  There are a lot of reasons for this.  We get busy with school, the holidays, illness, and more.  And even really outdoorsy families like us can have trouble making it out and about when the weather gets really erratic like it has been.  Snow and cold are one thing.  Freezing rain or horrendous driving conditions are another.

But part of the reason is we’ve been away–the Beal family went on a Florida vacation!  Now this is not a travel blog.  Nor is it a super personal one.  It tends to have a more local focus.  There is no reason for me to write up an extensive itinerary of our vacation.  But Playground Hunt DOES have a strong playground focus, of course!

And did you know in addition to all the rides and characters and hotels and shows Disneyworld has a good handful of playgrounds?  They have involved movie-set vibes, and the kids seem to find them as exciting as the more high-tech attractions.  Many people use them as “layovers” of a sort–to kill time before a meal reservation, or while grown-ups are going on a really wild ride, or as a meeting place.  But they are fun and well-done enough that they are destinations on their own even with so many distractions–Bridget and Fiona wanted to head back to each one several times.

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Animal Kingdom has one called The Boneyard.  It’s set up to be like an archaeological dig site with tunnels and crates and an old Jeep replica to climb on and fossils to unearth and brush off like at the similar (but much smaller) Stone Zoo feature.

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Hollywood Studios has a Honey I Shrunk The Kids play area.  The movie may be an older classic now but the playground doesn’t feel dated.  It’s as if you and your kids are shrunk down to ant-size and plopped in a suburban yard and you get to run around in the towering blades of grass and spider webs and abandoned toys.

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Those two play areas are most appropriate for the 5-12 crew, but Laughin’ Place under Splash Mountain in the Magic Kingdom is a toddler sized replica of Brer Rabbit’s house.  And The Seas with Nemo and Friends at Epcot is a smaller scale play area, but some kids might be nervous about the fact it is shark themed–mine weren’t fazed, though!

Anyway, this is slightly off topic in the sense it isn’t greater Boston or New England based, but our interest in exciting new playgrounds made this short post on the subject seem worthwhile–just in time for February vacation if any of you are heading down!  Have a great week whether you will be near or far.

 

 

Groundhog Day is underappreciated!

We think Groundhog Day can tend to be a bit forgotten and neglected as far as holidays go.  And it involves the types of things we at Playground Hunt are very into:  the outdoors, animals, seasons, weather, and more…

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Here are some ideas on ways to acknowledge it this year:

This is the official website for the holiday.  It has links to a great Weather Discovery Center, information on history, tourism, lesson plans, and more.

Here is a Punxsutawney based souvenir shop where you can pick up everything from mugs and hats to slippers and golf balls.  And, er, bags of chocolate posing as groundhog poop!

There are actually dozens of great Groundhog Day books out there for kids. Ask your local librarian!  But one of our favorites is The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun by Wendie Old, which is just a nice overview of the holiday and the animal in a kid-friendly format.  Gretchen Groundhog, It’s Your Day by Abby Levine is another favorite, in which she bucks convention and saves the day.

Take some time to learn about groundhogs themselves (also known as woodchucks) and include some other North American wildlife in your studies while you’re at it.  The National Weather Service website has a special section for kids, to learn more about weather and the seasons.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can invite some friends over for some celebrations!

–If your kids are old enough, play the Groundhog Day movie.  Once will probably do.  But then you can play this really awesome song called I Hog the Ground by Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips and Stephen Burns from Blues Clues.

–Make Porcupine Balls (yes, I know they are called porcupine balls but they kind of look like curled up groundhogs) or make Dirt Worm Cups or just serve any hearty mid-winter comfort food.  Decorate cookies and give half a winter theme and half a spring theme and guests can choose their favorite and make bets on what the groundhog will predict.

If it is sunny, go outside and play shadow tag.  If not, stay inside and play “Pin the Shadow on the Groundhog”.

We have lots of fun in the snow–but let’s face it–by the end of winter, many people are missing spring.  If you are all starting to get a bit tired of it all, make a pinata representing winter (like a snowman shaped one, for example, but be creative) and beat the stuffing (well, candy) out if it to release your frustrations and get some treats!

Bridget as a baby, dreaming of spring.

Bridget as a baby, dreaming of spring.

We used to host an adult version but admittedly never adapted it for kids, but we’re not ruling that out!  While it did break up the cabin fever, we remembered there are other party excuses this month to break up the tedium as well–Mardi Gras, Superbowl, Chinese New Year…so while we are always sure to do well acknowledging Groundhog Day, we might pick yet another “forgotten” holiday to throw a bash around.   April Fool’s?  Daylight Savings Time? May Day? Flag Day? The solstices?  What would you pick?  Let’s hear your ideas!

 

Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art–Amherst, MA

You know that giggle?  That super cute giggle?

With my girls, it is kind of a rat-a-tat-tat.  It’s a bit like mine but it sounds cuter coming from them.  It’s one of those noises that gives you a parenting high.  And a grandparent high–they love it because it can be appreciated long distance over the phone or Skype.  It’s the reason you tell silly jokes or why you actually KEEP that colander on your head for several hours after it got used as a hat in a fit of silliness (is that last one just me?).

You know what else makes my girls giggle like that? The Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie books.

On Thanksgiving weekend, a friend and I were looking for playdate ideas.  We were contemplating the Eric Carle Museum but we weren’t sure.  We’d been relatively recently.  Although VERY worthy, did we want to devote time or ticket prices to that, or someplace we’d never tried before?

Two things cinched it for sure–library passes (although admission is very reasonable at just over twenty dollars for a family pass and free for teachers) and the fact the current featured artist is Beal girl favorite Mo Willems.

Western MA is or was home to many extremely acclaimed children’s authors:  Dr. Seuss, Jeanne Birdsall, Leslea Newman, Bill Cosby, Jane Yolen, and more.  I’m guessing this is part of the reason yet another famous  kid’s author and former resident–Eric Carle, still alive and active at 84–decided on the location for his picture book art museum.

Like many museums, original artwork is off limits for photos, but they had this mural print up as a prop.  Notice our friend Moloaa flapping like a pigeon!

Like many museums, original artwork is off limits for photos, but they had this mural print up as a prop. Notice our friend Moloaa flapping like a pigeon!

The museum has several galleries featuring original artwork from authors/illustrators.  Carle seems to always have some of his original collages on display, and other galleries rotate, hence the Mo Willems feature right now.  But let’s face it–adults or older kids are the ones who might be more apt to get a thrill about the fact it is the original art (drafts and notes are often included in the displays as well) which is why it is a good thing there is loads more to do there.

Fiona working on her collage.  She LOVED their laundry starch glue.  Okay, so did we, because it is washable!

Fiona working on her collage. She LOVED their laundry starch glue. Okay, so did we, because it is washable!

Our kids ran straight to the art studio.  That day, they were teaching good old Carle style collages, although they have varying themes on different days.  Tables are set up based on age and skill level, and there are plentiful assistants, supplies, and references.  There are also some toys and mini-exhibits off to the side, in case one of your kids finishes before another.  Studio time is included with every visit, but they also offer more formal classes you can sign your kids up for if you live out that way.

Okay, I  made one, too.

Okay, I made one, too.

They have their own library, with a fantastic Very Hungry Caterpillar wooden play structure outside the entrance.

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There is a theatre with both movies and a live-action stage.  Sometimes fun but short informational clips are shown for free, and sometimes major features or productions are put on for an additional fee.  They’ve also got a snack area with vending machines and a very nice gift shop.  They occasionally host various festivals and have rentable event space.

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This kid-oriented museum is definitely worth a visit but it is more of a jaunt for our Greater Boston readers. Thankfully there is plenty to do in the area if you decide to make a day, weekend, or vacation out of it.  We ALWAYS stop for cider donuts at Atkin’s Farm right next door.  The Yankee Candle Flagship, Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory, vibrant and walkable downtown Northampton, and lots of hiking are all within 15 minutes or so, with many more kid-friendly options in Springfield, Worcester, and the Berkshires.  We hope  you get a chance to check it out someday!

 

Hike year round!

It’s a bit too early to say for sure, but it looks like we will avoid a Major Halloween Storm this year.  I hope I didn’t just jinx us! *ducks* But it is not too early to think about winter hiking and outdoor play, especially if you decide to acquire some supplies or plan some trips.

Check out our post from late spring about outdoor play in the rain:

http://www.playgroundhunt.com/blog/splish-splash/

Now let’s adapt it for the snow!

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We’re both fans of the local children’s hiking club Babes in the Woods, and it goes year round!

If you’re on your own do what feels most comfortable, but if you’re carrying a baby or small toddler, I strongly recommend some sort of over-the-boot traction device.   Microspikes are a popular choice.  You don’t need the type of full-on crampons one would use to climb Denali when you’re just taking a quick day hike, but they are a bit hardier than the Yak Trax you might use walking your dog.  There are varying price points, though, and if you’re just getting started the retailer at your local outdoor store will be more than happy to work with you.  The same non-cotton layering guidelines that are best for the rain are the same for the snow, and mittens are better than gloves on a really cold day because they’ll trap body heat better.

Bring your pull sleds sometimes!  They can be a lot of fun, and good for when the kids get tired.  Try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing!  We’re super outdoorsy, so we snagged a Chariot with ski attachments at the REI garage sale (see above photo).

There is lots of fun to be had winter hiking, but remember kids generally get dangerously cold easier than adults, so watch them carefully.  Tiredness and irritability may just be signs of moodiness on a moderate weather hike, but those are two beginning signs of hypothermia, so take them more seriously on a winter hike.

Some other things to watch out for:

–Remember trails can be tougher to follow if they haven’t been busy since the last snowfall. The usual well-worn path may be covered up, and  familiar environments can simply look different with leaves off the trees and boulders half covered.  Be extra mindful of trail markers.  This combined with the fact winter weather is especially unpredictable up high, means it can make sense to start off slow and low.

–Be careful around bodies of water.  It can be tough to tell if ice is safe (some tips at link) and you may feel most comfortable just staying off of it unless  you’re with an experienced guide.

–Speaking of water, bring plenty.  Like on the rainy days, sometimes it is trickier to tell if you feel thirsty.  To keep kids interested and tempted, consider warm drinks in a thermos.  Tea, cocoa, or even a brothy soup–yum!

It’s not all preps and checklists, though. There is a lot of fun to be had!

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Stop and build a snowman.  Stop and learn about the fascinating “snow fleas” that may be all over the ground cover.  Learn about winter berries and pine cones.  Looking for animal tracks is different, and generally easier, in the snow.  Learn about Snowflake Bentley, and then take a magnifying glass and check out some snowflakes of your own.  And share your ideas with us!

And then?  Go home and curl up with some hot cocoa and popcorn in front of the fire or a good movie.  We hope to see you out there! But first, go out and trick-or-treat and have a great time! THEN come back and plan!