I call my style “frazzled momma hanging on the edge of chaos and praying for bedtime.” I often refer to myself as Last-Minute Lisa, and I am truly okay with that. So, in the spirit of uniting mothers across Tarrant County who, like me, attempt to plan fun outings with their kids for spring break but fail in executing said plan . . . this post is for YOU.
After living and working in the Fort Worth side of the metroplex for the past 20 years, I have found a lot of fun things to do to get the kids off that couch and into the sun. I can’t think of a better time to try them out than spring break. For one, the weather is AMAZING for us in north Texas, and two, everyone else will be hitting the usual spots like the Fort Worth Zoo (on half-price Wednesday), the Fort Worth Children’s Museum, and the famous cattle drive in the Fort Worth Stockyards. All great places that are dear to my family, but all places that will be insanely busy the week of spring break!
So, take a look at some of my family’s favorite spots. I have no doubt you will find a thing or two that will be a perfect fit for your family.
Tornado Terry’s Family Amusement Center
Tornado Terry’s, located in Keller, is more than 5,500 square feet of arcade heaven! For a fee of $15 per person, you can enter the “Fun Zone” and have unlimited play. I know, $15 can add up if you bring the entire family. But, hear me out.
I have found that $15 in other arcades equate to about four to five video games before your card balance reads a big, fat zero. Tornado Terry’s one-time fee doesn’t require you to constantly feed the machine tokens or quarters to play. A simple push of the “start” button, and away you go. And games? Boy, do they have them — more than 70 different ones!
For us children of the ’80s, it takes you back to the games of yesteryear: PAC-MAN™, Donkey Kong, and my all time fave — Q*bert! It is a win-win for mom AND the kids. It even has a concession stand area with snacks of all kinds and a party room available to rent out. Your favorite gamer will be in awe of all of the “antique” game graphics that we moms grew up on. I promise!
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Truly a hidden national treasure in north Fort Worth, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) allows you to take a look into one of two places in the United States where paper money is printed.
Often referred to as the “Money Factory,” the BEP offers FREE 45-minute guided tours every Tuesday through Friday. It is, for obvious reasons, an extremely secure facility. No phones, cameras, or devices of any kind are allowed to accompany you on the tour. Visitors — children included — will have to go through security screening prior to entering the facility.
After the tour, don’t forget to hit the gift shop (gift shops seem to attract my children like giant, magnetic force fields) for a cool souvenir of your day at the place where money gets its start.
A few tips:
- No reservations are required; however, groups larger than 10 should call prior to going to allow BEP staff to plan ahead.
- I would recommend this tour for kids ages six and older. The tour gets a little long for the wee ones and won’t be near engaging enough for them.
C.R. Smith Museum
Our first trip here, many years ago, was a treasured family outing. Admission costs have increased a little since then, but so have the number of fun things to see and do.
Nestled off of State Highway 360, the C.R. Smith Museum is a must-see for any aviator buffs as well as the entire family. It is housed in a 35,000 square foot building with fun for everyone. It was built in honor of the aviation pioneer and long-time American Airlines president, C. R. Smith, a native Texan.
Filled with interactive exhibits and a full-sized, rare Douglas DC-3 airliner, the museum won’t disappoint with the amount of aviation history and facts that welcome you around each corner.
A few tips:
- They are closed on Sunday and Monday each week.
- To avoid the crowds, go right when it opens at 9:00 a.m. or a few hours prior to closing at 5:00 p.m.
- Admission prices are $7 for adults and $4 for children ages two to 17. Military discounts are given for those on active duty at the price of $4.
- No food or drink is allowed inside the museum.
I recommend packing a picnic lunch and traveling over to nearby Founder’s Plaza. Spread out a blanket, crack open that picnic basket, and watch the planes land at and take off from DFW Airport. The kids will LOVE it! At the plaza, you can find easy parking, picnic tables, and a radio that broadcasts air traffic from the FAA tower. How cool is THAT?!?!? The plaza itself is open 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. daily.
Last, but not least, is one of our family’s favorite past times to do together: Geocaching®! The great things about Geocaching are that it can be done just about anywhere, doesn’t cost a lot of money, and gets the entire family OUTDOORS!
Geocaching is the digital world’s version of the modern day treasure hunt. Even your tech-driven kids who eat, sleep, and breathe any digital entertainment will beg to go.
To geocache like a pro, you will need a few things to ensure that your hunt will yield some amazing treasures: a GPS system (most smartphones have this capability), a small bag of dime store treasures (things that an elementary teacher would have in her treasure box at school work perfectly), a pen (to sign the log book), and a good pair of walking shoes. And now, all that is left to do is visit the Geocaching website and pick a cache to find!
Basically, when you geocache, you program coordinates into your GPS system that will take you to hidden caches. Some are extremely easy to find, and some will take a bit of patience and perseverance. Your eyes will need to look high and low once you reach the spot where you GPS says to stop.
Once you find the cache, open it, record your name and date in the log book, and then chose a treasure to keep from the cache. In its place, leave one of your own treasures for the next friends to find. Take a minute or two to look through the log book before returning the cache to its proper spot. Part of the coolest thing is to see how people from near and far find the same cache.
A few tips:
- Some of the caches are off the beaten path and are more strenuous to find. Always make sure to wear sturdy walking shoes and to take a bottle of water.
- In the Fort Worth and surrounding areas are more than 3,800 caches waiting to be found.
- One of our favorite places to treasure-hunt is Eagle Mountain Park near Eagle Mountain Lake; however, you can find many geocaches close to home, too.
- One of the best geocaching websites with loads of helpful hints and tips is Geocaching.com.
- Oh, and the BEST part: Geocaches can be found all over the world! Taking a road trip over spring break? Be ready with a GPS and a bag of trinkets, and you can geocache all along the way.
These are just a few of my family’s favorite things to do around Cowtown. What are some of your family’s most requested spring break spots?