Monday, June 26, 2017

Five things to know about taking a trip to Newport Aquarium

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Many families have taken trips to the Newport Aquarium but tell us it's been a while. I thought we would take a visit and see what's new, see if we could find fun things to point out about a trip there that aren't as obvious or might be new since your last visit.  And, you'll want to take a trip back again.

  • During the summer, they do have a special admission deal you should know about. During the summer months, they have a one-kid-free deal per adult ticket after 4pm Sunday-Friday.  You have to get this deal online, not at the window. So, that's an adult and a child for $24.99.  You are thinking......I don't want to go there so late in the day.  Don't worry! There are plenty of other things to do in that area, you can go for lunch at Newport on the Levee, walk over to Ohio (see below) and be back by 4pm for the aquarium.
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  • Seahorse scavenger hunt.  When you are in the aquarium, there's one large room dedicated to seahorses.  My kids tend to wander around and yes, they are engaged but they move through it rather quickly and I find myself saying "come back, look at this!" to get them to read more or learn about the creature.  In a packed room, we were the only ones that noticed laminated cards in slots against the wall around the room.  The cards were a scavenger hunt for the kids to go through the room and identify seahorses.  This was super fun and they paid much closer attention to what they were seeing!
  • Relatively new, the shark bridge brings a little excitement to the visit. It is VERY secure so if you are less imaginative about these kinds of things like I am, it's not that scary. But, for my kids, it was a great way to exit the facility.  If you didn't know, the aquarium pretty much forces a flow in order and the shark bridge is the last attraction.  My kids liked looking down at the tank from above, definitely a different view. And, I liked that even though it was packed, the line moved quickly. There's also a shark interaction area before the bridge that we really liked.....look for the shark eggs. If you don't know what they look like, ask!
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  • The new Stingray Hideaway attraction is definitely the best part of the aquarium. It is highly interactive and just a really attractive, open area of the facility.  The tank is large and so many people can fit around it so that even if it's busy, there's plenty of room.  The tunnel that takes you into the tank to stand up and look out is small but fun for crawling all together.  My kids expressed clearly that this was their favorite part of the entire place.  They could have stayed in that area itself for at least an hour touching the rays.  There was a small shark to touch as well, an education station for looking at things like shark eggs and a hand washing area.
  • Did you know that there is a walking bridge over to Ohio directly on the east side of Newport on the Levee? It's so close to the aquarium and makes for a lovely walk over the river to Sawyer Point Park. This is a very interesting park, whether you go left or right after crossing the bridge.  There are playgrounds, a sprayground, walking and biking paths, green space, great spots for photo opportunities and more.  If you don't want to spend money on food during your visit, pack a picnic and start your visit at the park. I don't think I would ever go back to the aquarium without building in time to cross the river and enjoy this park.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Ten great field trips for Kentucky kids and families

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In Kentucky we have a lot of history to explore- some good, some bad, but all a part of our past. If you are looking for places to suggest to your child’s school or places to take your family on your own here are the ten best places to start with. Many of these places offer special group rates for school field trips, so be sure to call ahead when you are planning your next educational trip!

 photo IMG_6116_zpsmnd3ekpu.jpg1. My Old Kentucky Home State Park – Aside from the fact this is the inspiration for Stephen Foster’s My Old Kentucky Home, it’s also a great way to peek into a history and way of life that is completely foreign to many of us. They also offer special programming like The Stephen Foster Story and summer fireworks.

2. Fort Boonesboro – There are plenty of places in Kentucky where you can visit Daniel Boone’s history, but Fort Boonesboro really drives home the reality of frontier life in the early days of Kentucky. It’s hard to imagine that just a little over 200 years ago Kentucky was the original western frontier!

3. The Jack Jouett House – You’ve probably never heard of Jack Jouett, but he was known as the “Paul Revere” of the South. He rode his horse through the night to warn the Continental Congress that the British were coming, sustaining lifelong disfigurement in the process. He eventually settled in Kentucky, and many of his descendants still live in the area.

4. The National Underground Railroad Museum – Kentucky was a “border state” during the Civil War, so many slaves passed through here on their way to freedom. It’s important to learn about this history, as ugly as it was, so we don’t lose sight of what freedom really means.

5. The Trail Of Tears Commemorative Park and Heritage Center – Much of this history went undocumented, but this is one of the few places we know there was an encampment of Cherokee people who were being forcibly moved to “Indian Territory.” Four thousand people died making the journey.

6. Shaker Village – Once the home of a strict religious sect called the Shakers, this place features numerous beautiful buildings that were built by hand by these industrious people. Here you can learn about the frontier way of life and what it took to build a functioning city in the middle of nowhere.

7. Steamboats – To get the full picture of what river life was like before mass produced automobiles and paved highways, you have to look to the river. It was, after all, the Interstate Highway system of its time. You can visit The Howard Steamboat Museum and The Portland Museum (LFF Review Here) in the same day to get an idea of what life and trade was like before the internal combustion engine.

 photo IMG_4232_zpsjhsf32zo.jpg8. Falls of the Ohio – We slightly cheated here;this is not in Kentucky. However, its proximity to Kentucky makes it very accessible and it's one-of-a-kind in the world.  Cross the Ohio River for this one. It is, hands down, the best place to see a wide variety of fossils that were left behind 400 million years ago during the Devonian period. If your child has any interest in geology or paleontology this is a great resource.

 photo IMG_2405_zps8mkzm1b0.jpg9. The Louisville WaterWorks Museum – Did you know that Louisville was once known as “The Graveyard of the West”? As people moved west and society expanded, sanitation wasn’t always the first thing on their minds. This led to epidemics of diseases like typhus, and eventually The Louisville Water Company developed one of the earliest and most sophisticated water treatment facilities in the world. It’s no small achievement considering there are still plenty of places in the United States that lack safe drinking water.

 photo IMG_0417_zpsinpxcsg7.jpg10. Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park – Kentucky proclaims a long list of historical figures, and Abraham Lincoln is probably the most notable of all of them. Lincoln was born in a tiny one-room log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky and would rise to become the 16th President of the United States. At this site there is a replica of the log cabin, and visitors can also check out the natural spring that provided his family with clean drinking water.  See more information about taking a day trip to Hodgenville and photos here.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Blueberry picking at Blues End Farm in Shelbyville

 photo 20170609_105735_zpsuwpebrlx.jpgMy family loves picking local fruits, so every summer we try to get in some time for strawberry and blueberry picking. On recommendation by a friend, we tried a new blueberry place this year called Blues End Farm. The farm is in Shelbyville, just about 30 minutes from Louisville just a few miles from I-64. For more family fun in that area, visit

After looking at the farm's website, we noticed that they ask that you call ahead. I called on a Thursday and asked if they had blueberries available and they said yes! We planned to head out the next day and they welcomed us. We followed the directions on their website and did get a little confused – just ignore the sentence about going into someone’s field and you’ll be good! When you arrive at the farm, there is a house to the left where they have a few buckets (although it might be a good idea to bring some of your own like empty milk cartons) and then the blueberries are to the right. You can drive out to the bushes, but there are only a couple good parking spots out there and it is just a few hundred yards away.

 photo 20170609_103434_zps3ay70bdp.jpgWhen we got to the blueberries, the husband of the family was there to let us into the nets. The fields are covered in nets to keep birds from getting to all the blueberries! He also did a great demonstration with us, showing us the perfect blueberries to pick and how to tell when they are really ripe! He stayed out in the field working and talking to us on and off while we picked. We asked questions about the farm and their other offerings, including maple syrup and their Bed and Breakfast. While we were there, there were two other groups of people there, so it was very quiet.

 photo 20170609_101136_zpslzinf43a.jpgAfter we had gotten our blueberries, we headed back to the house where the wife was to weigh and pay for our blueberries. They are $2.80 per pound, which we thought was very reasonable, especially for organic blueberries. They were all out of maple syrup because of a rough winter, which was sad, but we will definitely look into that for next year.

I think we have found a new blueberry place for us! We liked the quiet, quaint atmosphere and the personal experience we had there. It was also great getting to support a local couple who just love to grow and eat blueberries. They said that they grow varieties of blueberries that are generally ripe through mid July, so make sure you head out there before then, and of course, call ahead of time to make sure they’re available!

By guest contributor:
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Monday, June 5, 2017

Review of Barren River Lake State Resort Park

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LouFamFun's Barren River Lake album on Photobucket

As it's likely clear from our website, we are really interested in promoting all of the wonderful places without Kentucky for families to explore and visit.  We know that plenty of folks will venture far and wide to find family fun on vacation but we hope to show that there's also an immense amount of interesting places and true natural beauty here in Kentucky that make for outstanding destinations.  And, without the cost of airfare and really long drives, it's instantly more affordable.

Recently, we took to I65 to check out Barren River Lake Resort Park.  Here are some details we think you'll want to know and will help you plan your visit.  This map helps show you the layout. You can test a place out and know if it's a great trip when you think.....would I go back?  YES!  We want to go back.  We were there for two full days and one night. I think you need at least two nights to enjoy it and not feel rushed.

Please go through the slideshow above to see more photos. We have included just a few below.

At the resort park, there are four options for lodging and each of them have different benefits and price points.  The camping, the lodge rooms, cottages and villas - ranked from least to greatest in terms of cost.  We did not tour or experience the camping - so here's a link to more details and reservation info....and a map of the campsites.

 photo IMG_3855_zps7mdpysla.jpgLodge rooms - The distinct benefits of the lodge rooms are there proximity to the pool and lodge and the views of the sunset.  The sunset views are best seen if you have a room in the second building, especially the elevated floors.  Also, the lodge rooms are just enough for what you need if you plan to be outdoors most of the day.  The rooms are clean, have nice balconies and plenty of bathroom space.

 photo IMG_7425_zpsjixeqpaz.jpgCottages - If you plan to stay a while and want to save on dining, the cottages provide the proximity to the lodge, pool and marina along with a full kitchen, dining and living areas. Also, they have a green space in the middle area that's great for kids and families. These cottages are very much a "home away from home"if you want to spend a week at the lake as there are linens, cookware and space to spread out.

 photo IMG_7349_zpsfzyedw3r.jpgVillas - The villas are the largest space with high ceilings and quite views of the lush greenery all over the lake.  They have two porches and a very open living, dining and kitchen area.  The bedrooms and bathrooms are split between two sides of the villa so I can totally see two families sharing the cost and spending the week at the lake together. Like the cottages, the villas provide what you need for the week. However, these are not as close to the lodge as the cottages and do not have the green space and playground right out the front door but they do have a really nice private feel to them. And, I noticed a small path that leads from the villas down to the beach area through the woods. 

 photo IMG_3858_zpsf5vc58yq.jpgYou can definitely make this an active trip. There is an excellent paved 2.5 mile walking/biking path.  Do bring bikes!  They also have multiple playgrounds for free play and a small indoor gym for weights and cardiovascular workouts.  There are basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts as well as shuffleboard and you can check out the supplies at the lodge.  And, there's a full 18-hole golf course. There's also seasonal horseback riding ($18 per person for 45 minutes) during the summer months. Of course, there is an outdoor pool near the lodge.
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There are two hiking trails. We hiked the one through the woods and it was a really nice moderately rigorous hike.  We did spot poison ivy (like we do on hikes pretty much anywhere) so be prepared with long pants for hiking!  If you want to try out orienteering, they have that too - we didn't have time on our visit to try it.

 photo IMG_3803_zpspuf6hask.jpgFishing
Remember, you do need a KY fishing license to fish so get one before you go.  They do have equipment to loan out at the lodge. We brought our own and found a cove left of the beach. It was a quaint, quiet spot.

The beach is open in the summer months and provides a shallow walk in area for swimming in the lake.  It is roped off and there are bathrooms nearby as well. And, if you just want to pop in for a visit, there's no cost to enjoy a day at the beach.  The view from this area is lovely and there's quite a bit of parking.

While we were there, we did not utilize the marina. However, we did notice that it was really close by for convenience and looked it up online.  You can rent boats for the day or even just a few hours.

 photo IMG_7400_zpsfhqv1635.jpg photo IMG_7389_zps2msijgsr.jpgWe dined twice at the Driftwood Restaurant and the food was really good both times.  For dinner, we ordered off of the menu though they did have a buffet that tons of people were taking advantage of because it was prime rib (I think).  We didn't want such a huge meal that day.  My husband had catfish, I shared some chicken with my daughter and my son had a burger and fries. Our meal was fresh and just the right amount of food.  The view was lovely as well since the restaurant has windows on most sides and looks out over the state park greenery.  The restaurant offered a kids eat free deal so that made it very affordable, the same deal applied at breakfast (when ordering off the menu).  But, at breakfast, we opted for the buffet.  The breakfast was really worth it. We ate so much.....we just skipped right over lunch that day.  They had everything you would want for breakfast and kept close eye on the buffet to refresh items.  Definitely ask the server about specials like kids eat free as those deals might change! 

If you want to venture off of the state park property and explore town, it's really manageable.  There's one main road that goes in and out of the state park back to the highway so you would have a hard time getting lost!
Things we noticed:
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  • It will take you about 15 minutes to get into town.
  • There's an IGA grocery store on the way to the state park so if you need to stop to load up on groceries, it's very convenient.
  • Ask the lodge personnel for a list of local restaurants - we noticed a few on our way in and out that looked really good!
  • There was a shaved ice place on the way in so if you are visiting in the summer months, that would be a fun stop.
  • We are at Freddy's on our way in and it was a delicious, quick stop that we don't have near home. The frozen custard was wonderful and we loved their super skinny cut fries and special sauce.
  • There's an indoor fun place called Ralphie's Fun Center. If you have a rainy day during your visit, this would be a good place to check out.  I noticed they have daily specials that are pretty good deals. 
  • They host the Glasgow Highland Games the first weekend in June so if you want to be there during a time of lots of happenings and people around, that's the time to go.  And, if you want to avoid that's good to know when it is!
  • Cave City attractions are not far away. If you are planning an extended stay, it may be worth a day out and about for a cave tour or zip-lining. 
I hope that you will explore the website and check availability for Barren River Lake State Resort Park.  It was very easy to find, offered an array of outdoor activities that all families can enjoy and is more affordable than a jaunt on an airplane looking for water!

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Friday, June 2, 2017

99 Days of Summer from Kentucky Tourism

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Everyone - Kentucky Tourism has put together an AMAZING set of fun places to go and things to do throughout the summer months.  They highlight they fantastic fun that families can enjoy right here in Kentucky without have to travel far.  You know those super long car rides are hard on everyone and airfare can be so expensive.  So from festivals to lakes, Kentucky Tourism shows that we have it all right here.

There's a daily post starting after Memorial Day but you can access the calendar they have to click through and find ideas.

Here's the link to all of the ideas: 
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