Home > fatherhood > My top 10 family outings of 2012

My top 10 family outings of 2012

Seems like the “in” thing to do in blogging is make a “Top _______________ of 2012” list.  While I don’t typically follow trends for the sake of it, in this case I’ll oblige.  One of the things my wife is AWESOME at is finding stuff for us to do on weekends.  Sometimes she finds free things, sometimes she finds deals/groupons, and sometimes we decide something is worth the money and pay for it.  Sometimes whens she presents them to me they sound exciting, and at other times I balk a little, only to eventually be in the position to have to admit I was wrong after it turns out to be great.  The amount of free or low cost things out there is really great, and for a two year old we can usually sell him on anything by saying it’s a “special surprise”.  Besides, at that age, it’s not like he’s asking to go to Six Flags or anything like that yet.

With that said, here are the best that I can think of off the top of my head.

#10  – Going to the spray park in the summer (Cost = free).  Great way to spend some time in the summer with a little one.  It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t really know how to swim yet because there’s no danger in drowning with this.  If a kid pees, it just goes down the drain.  The only issue is that some of the bigger kids can be imposing, but good parental involvement can make this less of an issue.  The only other danger is the one kid who thinks it’s funny to put a bucket over one of the spray heads that’s not active at the current moment, only to have the bucket fly up into the air when the water comes back on.  Usually that’s a self-inflicted action though.

#9 – any festival with a live band.  In our case we went to several, the most memorable ones being the Food Truck Rally ($5pp plus cost of food), and the Light Festival at the Heard Museum (forget the cost).  My son loves music (specifically guitars) so for him to see it live in action is great.  There’s always the opportunity for some cute hopping/bopping/dancing, and the bands really seem to love it when there’s kids rocking out with them.

#8 – Toddler Tumble class at the local Rec Center (cost=$35 for six weekly classes).  Dollar for Dollar this was a great way to spend some weekends in the fall.  We would usually pair this with a trip to the playground or a walk across the field to the local firestation after class.  I’m shocked that more families don’t take advantage of their local recreation center or YMCA offerings, as they’re usually very cost effective.  Besides, what’s more funny that seeing a bunch of toddlers all flopping sideways while trying to do a forward roll, or using the gym equipment for any/everything except what the instructor intends?

#7 – The ICE! Exhibit at the Gaylord Texan Hotel.  (Cost = somewhat expensive, not sure exactly because my wife got a groupon, plus $12 for parking).  You can see pictures of these huge, impressive ice sculptures by clicking that link.  They also had ice slides, and the added perk of it being at the Gaylord Texan, something we liked so much we went back, which brings me to…

#6 – The model train exhibits we went to. They have one at the Children’s Hosptial (Cost=Free plus $2 parking), and one at the Gaylord Texan Hotel lobby (Cost = Free plus $12 parking).  Having a kid who loves trains, he can watch these for much longer than his usual attention span is.  The Gaylord Texan’s lobby is beautifully decorated for the holidays and is worth a trip in itself.

#5 – The Dallas Museum of Art Kids weekend.  Cost=Free.  Each year the museum has a weekend where they bring in some extra kid-friendly stuff in addition to the room they already have.  This was one where I balked – It just didn’t sound that cool to go all the way downtown for, and I had visions of my son breaking out of the kids room and running amok in the main part of the museum and then having to deal with art snobs making comments to me.  But we went, and met up with one of my wife’s friends and her nephew, who is around my son’s age.  It turned out to be great – lots of hands-on stuff to do that held his attention.

#4 – Klyde Warren Park, via the M-Line Trolley Cost = Free (for both), plus about $8pp for food truck lunch.  The Klyde Warren Park is a new park in the city of Dallas, which has everything from a kids play structure to an outdoor reading area where you can check out books, magazines, and board games for free.  There’s a central grassy area of the park where folks were playing soccer, football, and such.   Food Trucks line the street for lunch.  This outing was made even more awesome by how we got there.  We parked and took the free, non profit M-Line trolley which rolls through an area of Dallas and is accessible to the park.  We came across a group of guys who thought my son was cute and offered him the chance to play with them and their full-size NFL football, and as usual he thought he was just as big/strong/capable as them.

#3 – The 207 birthday parties we were invited to this year.  Cost = birthday present for the birthday boy/girl.  Of course, 207 is an exaggeration, but it sure seemed like it.  These aren’t really family outings per se, but it’s always great to check out how other parents choose to celebrate their child’s birthday.  There are always some special moments, some funny moments, and it usually ends up being a fun day.  Admittedly, we were invited to so many that I skipped a couple, but all in all these made for a lot of weekends where we didn’t have to try to come up with something special to do on our own.  And we got to eat cake.

#2 – That time at the Supermarket with the firetruck.  Cost = however much we paid for groceries that day.  You can click on that for the full explanation of exactly what happened, but in short, we were at the supermarket and saw a firetruck and crew get called to respond to an emergency, which was really cool for a two year old who loves firetrucks to see it in action.  But even when there is no exciting firetruck, something as simple as going to the supermarket can be a source of excitement for my son, provided that they have one of those shopping carts with the car attachment in front of it.  Another favorite is going to Sam’s and eating all of the free samples, which can work out to being a lunch for my little guy if he likes enough of the samples.  He can usually charm his way into seconds and thirds.

#1 (for Me) – Fenway Park.  Cost = $70 for tickets, $10 for a stuffed Wally the Green Monster Doll, priceless memories.  If you read the “About” section of the blog, you know I’m originally from Boston.  I’ve been going to Fenway since I was five and still remember that day of my first game with my dad for lots of reasons.  In this case, we were already in Boston for my brother’s wedding, and we had a free day to spend in the city.  My wife and I split up so that she could meet a friend for lunch with our son and I went to Fenway to get one of those 100th anniversary Red Sox caps from the souvenir store.  As I walked by a ticket office, I stopped in just to see in theory how much it would cost to get into the game.  When I found out they had reasonably priced tickets available, I made two calls, one to my wife and one to my mother, who we were planning to have dinner with that night.  Both gave me the green light, and we ended up staying in the city for the game.  My son lasted about 3 innings, which was 1.5 longer than I had planned, and we got to see pregame warmups up close, meet Wally the Green Monster, and see David Ortiz hit a home run.  I’m sure we will go back sometime when my son is older, but I felt I needed to grab the opportunity while I had it this time.

#1 (for Son) – Touch-A-Truck.  Cost = $5 per person (charitable donation).  If you click that, you’ll see my blog post about this, in which I wrote that this was the most exciting day of his life.  I think the title still stands.  Where else can a truck/bus/EverythingElseThatGoes fanatic actually get into all of the vehicles, pretend to drive them, blow the horns, watch demonstrations, meet actual personnel who work with each type of vehicle and volunteered to show the kids the ins and outs.  I still remember getting out of the car and walking toward the area with all the vehicles, holding my son and watching him bursting with excitement as we approached the area.

My intention in writing this post, besides re-examining the year for myself, was hopefully to illustrate that if you look for it, there’s lots of great kids stuff out there in most communities, many of which are low or no cost, and gives kids experiences they may not otherwise get.

Categories: fatherhood
  1. January 2, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Similar life you are having. Nice to know I m not the only one. How old is ur kid ?

    • January 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting. He turned two in October. He thinks he’s a grown up though…

  1. February 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

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