The Alachua County Mamas
(ACM) meetup group is an incredible volunteer-run organization for parents with young children. The $32 annual membership fee allows you to apply for membership. Once a member, Moms and their children are able to participate in numerous play-dates, parties, and other activities (some for moms only e.g. book club, nights out, game nights, etc.). Within the group there are age-specific activities and others that are open to children of all ages. Some of the events are small and some are more of a general announcement, like the one pictured here at a local family fishing day event.
ACM is currently in the midst of a fund-raising effort for the March of Dimes
. Two major upcoming events to support the effort are the Family Fun Day Carnival
on 3/10/12 and the March for Babies
walk on 3/24/12.
As someone who is new to the area, ACM has been a lifesaver in helping us make friends and learn about the Gainesville community and its resources.
I'm over at the Innovation Gainesville (iG) blog
again today talking about life as a new Gainesville resident with a toddler. Spoiler: Gainesville is a GREAT town for kids!
I have been away from Gainesville a lot lately. On a weekend trip to St. Pete Beach and this week attending the Equity Summit
in Detroit while getting in some much needed time with friends and family in the chilly Midwest. Mister Rock Star has come along for the ride and has been enjoying the change of pace, and doting relatives, as well. But it means missing some great events around town. So here is another blind date recommendation, the 30th Annual Downtown Festival and Art Show
, which is happening this Saturday and Sunday (11/12 & 11/13). Check it out and tell us how it is!
We've visited the Florida Museum of Natural History
in Gainesville at least six times already. Here's why: $4 to park, free admission to the museum which is incredible (donations are encouraged). Hands-on interactive displays, many with a great wow-factor. There also is a butterfly rainforest with a $10.50 admission and another temporary exhibit which costs $8. Their permanent free exhibits are great. For lunch you can eat at the cafe or bring your own and eat at the picnic tables outside of the museum next to the "frog wall." Their Discovery Room is full of hands-on activities for little ones. In summary a really nice museum for people of all ages.
is a true working farm on the north side of Gainesville that celebrates the Halloween season with a huge corn maze, a mini corn maze, petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides, a large bouncy thing (?), a vortex tunnel, a tractor-pulled mini-train, play house, pretend horsey races, a spooky forest walk, slushes, and deep fried oreo cookies. $10 for all of the above with the large maze (except the slush and cookies). $8 for everything with only the mini maze. We'll be back for pick your-own-strawberries in April!
Morningside Living History Farm is part of the Morningside Nature Center
. Admission to the farm is free which is open September through May, Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:00-4:30. A picture perfect living history museum where little ones can feed Penny the Cow, ramble around, and observe the park staff dressed in 1870 period clothes and performing daily duties in the woodshop, kitchen, forgery, et cetera. Added bonus: tasting homemade biscuits with hand-churned butter and cane syrup.
Morningside Nature Center is part of the City of Gainesville's Nature Operations Division
. Located at 3540 East University Avenue
the Center is a 10 minute drive from downtown Gainesville. Admission is free and the property includes an educational center, 5 miles of walking trails, and some great interpretive displays like the ones pictured here. No one was around during our visit (on a national holiday) and following the cell phone dial-in tour doesn't work with the Rock Star. But despite our ignorance over what we were seeing we enjoyed the fresh air and beautiful new place to explore. The property also includes the Morningside Living History Farm which was closed during our visit but didn't stop us from having a lot of fun at this great park and has given us a reason to visit again, soon!
The Union Street Farmers Market
happens every Wednesday from 4-7 pm in downtown Gainesville. It's on the smaller side of farmers markets but we still love to go. Here's what you can expect vendors to be offering: seasonal local produce; plants; soap; bread and pastries; candles; fresh cheese, milk, and eggs; crystals; paintings and more. There is also a popular homemade popsicle cart hawking unique flavors such as chocolate sea salt and peach cobbler for $3 each.
Added bonus of live music, kids playing on the lawn in front of the band, and excellent people watching! We like to make a night out of it and head to one of the local downtown restaurants for an early dinner after picking up our goodies at the market.
P.S. These photos don't do this market justice, there are actually a lot of people there. I'm just shy about taking photos in crowded areas.
As I mentioned in the first post
of this blog, Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
was the place that got Happy Gainesville started. Here's why:
$45 annual family membership fee. Leashed dog friendly (although we haven't brought The Optimist there with us yet). Rose garden. Bamboo garden. Butterfly garden. Hummingbird garden. Children's garden. Gardens galore.
Plus tranquil little spots to sit and reflect all over the place and plenty of great spaces for our toddler to run free and explore nature. They also have a fantastic gift shop.
We spent 3 hours there one morning last weekend. It's going to be a our new weekend routine to grab a dozen bagels from our favorite bakery and head to Kanapaha for a much needed recharge to start each week. Go check it out when you can!