We love our fam. We love going out! When we get in the car to come home from somewhere, often Cora’s first questions are, “Where ELSE are we going today? Are we doing anything else fun?”
So here are five of our favorite activities as a family. The cool thing? Most of these are super cheap, if not entirely free!
1) The Ranch
This is the NATIONAL Ranching Heritage Center. I’ve been going since I was a kid, and it is one of the most unique museums I’ve ever visited. It’s one of Lubbock’s coolest gems. It is a 19 acre park with almost 50 historic structures, most over 100 years old. These houses, dugouts, schoolhouses, barns, etc. have been relocated from all over Texas and arranged along an outdoor path in chronological order to demonstrate the evolving history of ranching. As you walk the path, you can see inside the buildings which are decorated with period correct artifacts. On certain Sundays, there are people dressed in the style of the time that can give further historical information about the structures (my family and I were TOTALLY volunteers as a kid…I’m pretty in love with this place).
In addition to just being awesome, the Ranch Hosts coordinate several awesome events throughout the year. All of these are free, so we always donate to this awesome organization! Here’s what we’ve taken our kids to so far:
- Christmas at the Ranch: the path is lit with candles, and volunteers dress and demonstrate the different ways Christmas was celebrated in their time and region. In the barn there is music, dancing, and refreshments. There is also a Western Santa, and to-date this is the only Santa our kids have visited! Hank thinks Santa lives at the ranch all the time…
- Trick-or-Treating: A couple of years ago, volunteers passed out period correct candy at each structure and there were games to play long the way. SO fun.
- Ranch Day: The entire park was filled with live demonstrations of ranch life (cabin building, cattle branding, horse breaking, COOKING–we ate biscuits straight from the dutch ovens, blacksmithing, and so much more). Kids collected stamps by completing different ranch “jobs” and collected their pay which they could redeem at a general store. Their favorite part? The old fashioned laundry station… I’m getting a bucket and a line!
2) Blue Sky
So yeah, it’s just a restaurant. But isn’t dinner with 3 tiny people always an event? This is a favorite restaurant because 1) it’s just plain tasty and 2) they have a GIANT SANDBOX. How genius. If only every restaurant had a giant entertainment pit you could just toss the children into! When the weather is nice, we eat on the patio and the kids play and get exhausted. It is always well taken care of, and we’ve found everyone to always be friendly and polite while playing. If you have kids, Tuesday evenings are kids eat free! I’m pretty sure it’s two free kid’s meals for each adult entree purchase (which is the only time we actually get Cora any food. Most of the time when we eat out, we feed Complainy McGripester peanut butter before or after, because who wants to waste money and have a fight about food?)
3) First Friday Art Trail
The first Friday of every month, the arts district in downtown Lubbock hosts a small festival. Totally free to view, the kids get to walk around and experience art. They mostly don’t know what they’re seeing (sometimes that’s a good thing…last time there was an
entire gallery with canvases stamped with lingerie…HA!) But they are learning art appreciation, and we just have fun together. We practice lots of listening and hand holding! Their favorites right now are any art exhibit that happens to have candy to pass out. There is usually great live music that they dance to, and we often do dinner and/or dessert at one of the fabulous food trucks. Oh and horses! There are usually officers on horseback who are great with kids who love big animals. Is it the first of the month yet?
4) Spectrum Site (Science Spectrum)
Just a neat Science Museum. We get the membership (SO worth it!) and the kids and I go all the time. 3 floors of fun, animals, and of course, bubbles and water and things to make you good and messy. Jeff leads us on all the special exhibits which usually provide a free night for members. So of course, Dad is their favorite because he does all the special stuff. Every summer they have exotic animals come for a weekend. There is a great Omnimax theater, but our babes aren’t quite ready for that. Soon though!
We love that our kids can play and learn. Michael Scott was right…you put your hand on the giant metal ball, your hair stands up from electricity, and you just know science. Right?
As much fun as special outings and restaurants are, sometimes you have to go out to get light bulbs, diapers, and string for the weed-eater. Rather than listen to a chorus of groans from the backseat drivers, we call our errands “adventures”. With the kiddos, so much of the tone of the outings can be based on the perspective WE set. So whether we are going to have fun at a carnival, or spend some time with a basket full of busy kids in Target – we would rather see it all as a grand adventure.
Many Saturdays involve my favorite trifecta where we visit Home Depot, walk around Target, and then lunch or early dinner at one of our favorite places, Qdoba. When we get to Home Depot we look for the race car cart and answer millions of questions about taking care of the house. The promise of a trip through the toy aisles at Target keeps everyone mostly compliant – even though we don’t usually get anything! Qdoba has fun drinks for the kids and even serves applesauce, so while we all enjoy burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and chips and queso, Cora gets to eat too!
Every outing isn’t perfect. Sometimes the kids are tired or distracted or just naturally having a hard time listening, but we tackle all of our trips together and there is always laughter (even if some tears slip in there every now and then).
What does your family like to do? Are there other events we should check out with our crew? Let us know!