Category: Summer

Kid Friendly Cape Cod: Heritage Museums & Gardens and The Adventure Park

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The kids and I are on Cape Cod for two weeks. We have gone to the beach, played mini golf at Pirate’s Cove, eaten more ice cream than we should, and jumped at the inflatable park multiple times. So when I asked William what new activity he wanted to try, he immediately said The Adventure Park at Heritage Museums and Gardens.

The Adventure Park at Heritage Museums and Gardens

The Adventure Park is an aerial, forest adventure for ages 7+ in Sandwich, MA. There are five separate climbing trails of varying difficulty. Participants are given harnesses and a brief tutorial before they head out on the trails.  Yellow trails are easiest, green trails are harder, blue trails are intermediate, and black trails are the hardest. Younger kids are limited to the yellow and green trails.

William is 8 years old, so he is allowed to do the one yellow, and two green trails. His ticket allowed two hours of climbing. The website claims that you can make it through a trail in about 20 minutes but we found that to be a bit misleading. You might be able to make it through if there is no one ahead of you, you are familiar with the equipment and how to use it, and everyone is in great shape. It took William, my brother, and my sister-in-law two hours to make it through all three trails. Partly because the people in front of them on one of the trails were a bit slow and afraid of heights.

Tickets are expensive! It is $45 for a combined Adventure Park and Heritage Museums and Gardens pass. However, I’ve seen deals on Groupon and other local coupon sites so it’s worth doing a quick search for discounts before going. The price is totally worth it! William has been talking about this nonstop since we went.

The Climbing Trails

Each trail has different obstacles and is at different heights. The yellow trail’s obstacles are the easiest and the trail is lowest to the grounds. The black trail is most difficult and highest.  The black trail is the only one without a zip line.

The zip lines were my group’s favorite obstacles! Probably because they were the easiest to do. William loved some of the more difficult obstacles including one that involved crab walking across narrow boards while bent over-an obstacle that caused one member of the group in front of them to cry!

Even though the yellow and green trails are the “easy” courses, my brother and sister-in-law were exhausted at the end of the two hours. They reported that the course requires a lot more upper body strength than they anticipated. William, of course, would have gone on another four trails if allowed! Nothing slows this kid down and he never admits to being tired

A few more notes: there are no bathrooms over at the Adventure Parks. There are only porta potties. There are hydration stations throughout the park, which is very helpful on hot days like today. You can also walk the very short distance across the street to the Heritage Museums and Gardens entrance to use an actual bathroom.

Heritage Museums and Gardens

While William, my brother, and my sister-in-law were climbing at the Adventure Park, my mother and I took Ania across the parking lot to the Heritage Museums and Gardens. Tickets to the Heritage Museums and Gardens are $18/adult and $8/child. It is a separate entry free from the Adventure Park.

I could have spent all day at here. The gardens are amazingly beautiful.  Dotted around the landscape are museums like the Automobile Gallery with a large collection of classic cars. The garden hosts special exhibits around the property as well in some of the buildings and on the grounds.

Flowers at Heritage Museums and Gardens

The first time we came here, I thought the kids would be bored, but it’s very family friendly! Many paths meander around the grounds. Ania called some of them “secret paths” because they wound between and through the flowers and trees. There is also a maze and labyrinth both of which the kids enjoy. There are several flower exhibits and interesting water features and fountains. The main kids’ attractions though are the Hidden Hollow play area and the American Art and Carousel Gallery.

Hidden Hollow

Hidden Hollow is nestled in a small valley near the center of the gardens. If you have kids, it alone is worth the price of admission and I recommend leaving a lot of time to play here.

Heritage Museums and Gardens

Treehouse in Hidden Hollow

It’s not a playground in the typical sense. It is a natural play area with lots of activities. There is a large treehouse, amphitheater, outdoor musical instruments, art area, and a water play area. William tends to gravitate straight to the water area, which consists of many steel buckets, an old-fashioned water pump, and a few water troths. It doesn’t sound like much, but I watched kids play in there for hours!

Hidden Hollow at Heritage Museums and Gardens

Hidden Hollow

This trip, Ania went straights for the blackboards set up in a circle. There was colored chalk on each one and a paintbrush to erase your work. She immediately got a bucket of water to both erase and paint with the water.  She also spent some time playing with the musical instruments while I watched other kids use tubing to create a ball run down a hill.

After an hour of watching Ania draw and play, we were extremely hot, so we dragged her way to go to the American Art and Carousel Gallery that was, thankfully, air conditioned.

A few more notes: Plan to spend some time here. The kids always want to stay longer than I think they will. Also, while they do their best to shade the Hollow, make sure to have sunblock because it can get quite sunny.

American Art and Carousel Gallery

This was our first time to this gallery and it was so cool! My mother loved the art, but Ania and I loved the Carousel. Okay, she loved the carousel. I get dizzy on rides that go in circles, but I loved the air conditioning and the numerous benches to sit and watch her.

The Carousel was hand carved by Charles Looff in 1908! You can read more about the history here, but it’s a truly gorgeous antique.

A few more notes: Rides are included in the price of admission and there is an actual bathroom in this building.


Hidden Hollow at Heritage Museums and Gardens

Hidden Hollow

The museums and gardens’ exhibits change seasonally so it’s worth checking out the website to see what’s going on. In the summer, Heritage hosts family concerts and in the winter, it’s decorated with lights and open select weekends. We love Heritage Museums and Gardens! I definitely recommend you take time away from the beach to visit this special place.

The Adventure Park and Heritage Museums and Gardens on Cape Cod!


Guys, I had great plans for my two week vacation to Cape Cod! On the schedule was blogging three times a week, planning out the next month of posts, researching the homework debate and the education method articles I started, and making a social media plan. Lofty goals and I was excited to start on them.

But then we got here. And I realized that this is finally my chance to spend time with my two kids. At 8 and 4.5, they are changing so much, so quickly. They go to school full time, they are involved in an increasing number of activities, and I work full time.  Time to just be with them is rare. We squeeze conversations into car rides and playing together is often put off so I can make dinner or vacuum the floor.

Though I love writing, I am taking this chance to play with my kids, to cuddle with them, and listen to their stories about their lives, to learn what they find funny right now. I’m delighting in my daughter’s  creativity and my son’s energy. The blog will still be here when I get home.

My 8 year old's picks to read this summer: Summer Reading

(This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you purchase an item from the link, I will receive a small amount of money. There is no cost to you.)


My eight-year-old son, William, was not an early reader.  We weren’t worried, he wasn’t behind in school, but he didn’t learn to read at the age of three or four or even five.  In kindergarten and first grade, I struggled to find books he wanted to read and then bribed him to alternate reading sentences, pages and then chapters.

I admit it. This book loving Mom was disappointed. I’ve dreamed of sharing my love of reading with my kids. I envisioned all of us curled up on cold winter nights each engrossed in our own books. A Reading still isn’t my son’s favorite thing to do, but he does now request books to read.  And this summer he made a list of both his favorite books he wants to re-read and new books he wants to try. For my reluctant reader, this is a huge. I hope this list inspires your reader too!

My 8-year old’s Summer Reading List

  1. The 13-Story Treehouse series by Andy GriffinsThe 13-Story Treehouse series
  2. Secret Agent Jack Stalwart series by Elizabeth Singer HuntSecret Agent Jack Stalwart Book #1
  3. The Yeti Files seriesby Kevin SherryMeet the Bigfeet (The Yeti Files #1)
  4. The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler WarnerBoxcar Children
  5. Amulet Series by Kazu KibuishiAmulet
  6. Dog Man series by Dav PikeyDog Man
  7. Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers by John DoughertyStinkbomb and Ketchup Face
  8. Book Scavenger series  by Jennifer Chambliss BertmanBook Scavanger
  9. The Adventures of Captain Underpants series by Dav PikeyThe Adventures of Captain Underpants
  10. Hardy Boys: The Secret Files by Franklin W. Dixon


As you can see, his preference is for silly, adventurous, or graphic books. I’ve vetted all of these series and find them to be various levels of complexity but all suitable for second through fourth grade. My personal favorites are Book Scavenger and Boxcar Children. I like the Jack Stalwart books the least because they are repetitive. William doesn’t care though and flew through the whole series. I even caught him reading them by flashlight in his room, in the middle of the night. I was so happy! Toss one into the pool bag or take one on your next beach vacation for your eight-year-old to enjoy.

What are your children’s favorites? What is on their summer reading list? Let me know in the comments below!

Eight Year Old's Summer Reading List

7 Things You Need In Your Summer Pool Bag!

(this post contains affiliate links to Pool Bag

Let’s kick off this blog with a topic near and dear to me-going to the pool with my kids! We are lucky members of a pool that boasts a large grass area to play in with a playground, sandbox, beach volleyball, and, of course, a large pool. On the weekends, we have been known to spend twelve hours a day there. I am much too lazy to drive home to get anything I might need so  I learned early on what was necessary to pack in advance for our marathon days in the sun!

Summer Pool Bag1. Pool/Beach Bag

The first thing you need to go to the pool is a great pool bag. I’ve tried MANY different bags. Ask my husband, our closet is full of discarded tote bags. I have finally narrowed it down to the Saltwater Canvas Whale Bag . This bag is AMAZING! It holds so much stuff but remains light enough to comfortably carry. As a bonus when we go to the beach the bag doesn’t fill up with sand. I can give it one quick shake and it’s good to go

Turkish Towel2. Towels

Last year I switched all of our beach towels to Turkish Cotton Towels.  They are absorbent, soft, and they dry super fast. Have you ever gone swimming and an hour later wanted to wrap yourself in a nice, dry towel only to find that yours is still cold and soggy from your last dip in the pool? Me too! And I hated it. I was thrilled to find these towels that dry in half the time so are perfect for our long days at the pool.

3. Sunblock!

Your day at the pool or beach will end in disaster without a great sunblock! But if your kids are like mine, you fight to get that sunblock on them. And if you are like me, you’ll obsess about the benefits/pitfalls of chemical vs. physical sunblock, spray vs. cream, and spf 15 vs. spf 30 vs. spf 100. I try to choose a sunblock with a rating of 4 or below by the Environmental Working Group and they have to work. My favorite, never fails, sunblocks are COOLA Unscented Spray Sunblock, Thinksport Kid’s Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+,  and Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sport Stick.   Every summer I strive to find a balance between sunblock that is easy to apply, contains the least amount of toxic chemicals, and actually prevents my kids from burning. These three consistently work.

4. Goggles 

 Aqua GogglesYou know how swimming in the pool without goggles can cause eye irritation? Yeah, I recently read that it’s not the chlorine irritating your eyes. It’s urine. URINE! I stocked up on goggles after reading that article.  My kids are picky and want goggles that are comfortable and don’t leak. After some trial and error, we found the Aqua Sphere Moby Kid Goggles  . These goggles are a hit with my kids.

5. Packing Cubes

The Saltwater Canvas Whale Bag is huge. To keep all the bathing suits, towels, goggles, swim toys, etc. organized I use eBags Packing Cubes.  I throw two in the bag. One holds the goggles, dive toys, and sunblock. The other holds our bathing suits. I have a million of them around the house because I use them when we travel. If you don’t have them (I highly recommend them when traveling!), you could also use gallon size ziplock bags. They won’t hold as much but they work to hold wet suits and to contain the chaos.

6. Activities to keep the kids busy!

I find that tossing a few toys into the bag helps preserve my poolside reading time. For my craft loving daughter, I keep a set of Crayola Colored Pencils and coloring books in the bag. For my sports loving eight-year-old son, I keep a baseball glove and tennis ball. Those are essentials in my bag but, at various times, I’ve also brought books, a chess set, deck of cards, dive toys, and watercolors. The goal is to bring something that is relatively small and light that will keep them busy long enough for you to get one full chapter finished!

7.  Beach wagon

Summer wagonImagine when you have a pool bag filled with toys, towels, bathing suits, and clothes. You also have a cooler full of food for the day. You pull into the hot parking lot and find a spot as far away from the entrance as possible. It’s 1,000 degrees out and your kids bounce out of the car and go running to meet their friends. They “can’t hear you” when you call to them for help carrying everything. Resigned, you shlep all the stuff yourself. By the time you make it to your picnic table your frazzled, hot, and cranky. And your hair is frizzy. Does that sound familiar? That was me before we bought this baby: Beach wagon. We actually bought ours at Costco, but this one is similar. It folds up in the back of my car, is lightweight, and it holds everything I need for a day out. Bonus, it also holds my four year old for the days when she decides walking is beneath her.

These are my 7 essential items in our pool bag! What do you carry in yours?



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