April 24, 2017

Playground Fun for Little Ones at Charles E. Lakin Park

I have to be honest, I'm not really sure the name of this park, but it sits behind the Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus off 16th and Avenue G. I searched the Council Bluffs Park Directory and it doesn't seem to be listed, so for now I'm calling it the Charles E. Lakin Park until I find out otherwise. Either way, the name doesn't matter because there is lots of fun to be had at this park in Council Bluffs!

 This Council Bluffs Park has a clay base instead of rocks, along with two different sections to play in. You'll find a big jungle gym with slides, monkey bars, a bridge, and all the fun stuff jungle gyms have.



The money bars are the newer circular style we've been seeing. My husband thinks it's to keep kids from climbing on top of them, and I think it's for saving space. There is also a little rock climbing wall that was a favorite of my twins.


On the other side of the jungle gym is an area for little kids, with lots of fun things to play on. This section is recommended for ages 2-5, and my twins who are 4 spent most of their time playing in this area. There are tons of cool shapes and designs to crawl under, over, around, and through that make for endless possibilities while playing.

 



 


The Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus also has a little pathway you can stroll down. It makes for a great way to wrap up the playing and get the kids to head back to the car. If you haven't been to this park, I highly recommend stopping by one afternoon or evening. Especially if you have toddlers or preschoolers!








April 17, 2017

Alamo Drafthouse Summer Kids Camp 2017

The Alamo Drafthouse Summer Kids Camp is returning for 2017! Simply your local air-conditioned Alamo Drafthouse this summer, and escape on a cinematic adventure with your family. We're talking kid friendly movies at ridiculously cheap prices, to help us escape that Midwest summer heat we know is coming!

The best part about this summer kids camp is that 100% of the proceeds benefit local non-profits! Here in Omaha, Project Harmony is one of those non-profits. This year, Alamo Drafthouse expects to donate $100,000 to approximately 35 nonprofits nationwide during Summer 2017, and you can help by buying tickets to any or all of the movies, ranging in price from $1, $3, and $5.



Alamo Drafthouse Summer Kids Camp Schedule 

June 2017

  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • Minions
  • Matilda
  • Zathura: A Space Adventure
July 2017

  • The Iron Giant
  • Trolls
  • Muppets from Space
  • The Spongebob Movie
August 2017

  • Song of the Sea
  • Speed Racer
  • Jumanji
  • The Secret Life of Pets



Picnic and Play at Kirn Park in Council Bluffs

There is no shortage on parks in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Each one offers its own unique features and reasons to visit, something our family does quite often. Situated at the top of a hill on High School Avenue, Kirn Park and Kirn Field were once the site of the city's first high school. To this day it still sees teams hitting the field and kids hitting the playground.


At Kirn Park you will find a nice playground with plenty of things for the kids to do. A jungle gym, monkey bars, slides, swings, and digging toys with a gorgeous view!  


After playing you can enjoy lunch or dinner on one of the picnic tables. Bonus points for coverage in case of rain, and a grill for cooking! 


A drinking fountain, trashcans, and a port-a-potty are also available for use. 



The track around Kirn Field is still there and usable. Several people were walking and running around it while we were there playing. As well as several different soccer teams starting practice on the field. 



I'm not sure how many and what types of games are played at Kirn Park, but the bleachers are still there and in decent condition. A plaque hanging at the entrance takes you back in time with a date of 1936! 



Plan a visit to Kirn Park in Council Bluff, and enjoy a location with history while you are having some fun!









March 31, 2017

Easter Egg Hunts in Council Bluffs

Easter is coming around the bunny trail and eggs are being found all over the city! Grab your baskets and mark your calendars for these Easter Egg Hunts in Council Bluffs for 2017! I will add to this list if anymore come up, and if you know of one please leave a comment below.

Easter Egg Hunts in Council Bluffs


Easter Egg Hunts in Council Bluffs 2017

April 8th at 10AM at Roberts Park
April 8th at 10AM at Green Meadows Pool on Parkview Drive
April 8th at 10AM at New Horizon Presbyterian Chruch on Valley View Drive
April 9th at 2PM at Manawa State Park - put on by Salem United Methodist Church
April 12th at 10:30AM at Council Bluffs Public Library
April 15th at 11AM at Walnut Grove Baptist Church
April 15th at Lake Manawa on the North Shore hosted by Boy Scout Troop 528
April 16th at 9AM at Emanuel Lutheran Church on 24th N. Broadway

What's New in Branson for 2017

I have tons of great memories of Branson, Missouri from childhood. My grandparents lived lived in Galena for a bit, and I we would visit. One summer I stayed for a week and still remember how fun and relaxing it was. Our time was filled with Silver Dollar City, taking in shows, and even riding the Skycoaster. It's been years since I've been back, and I need to change that soon so my kids can experience it. Especially with everything that's new in Branson for 2017!

What's New in Branson for 2017

What's New in Branson for 2017

Presley's 50th Anniversary

The Presley Family opened Branson’s first music theater on June 30th, 1967. In 2017 they will celebrate their 50th Anniversary in their original location. This is a truly amazing accomplishment in the entertainment industry, especially to be in the same location. Two original members of the show, Gary & Steve Presley still perform nightly in the show. There are now fourth generation Presleys performing in the show. The family originally performed in caves in the Ozarks before building their theater on Highway 76.

Photo Credit: Explore Branson

Andy Williams Performing Arts Center 25th Anniversary

Andy Williams Moon River Theatre opened its doors on May 1, 1992. Andy was the first non-country music performer to open a theatre in Branson. The theatre’s design reflects the beauty and environmental integrity of the surrounding Ozark Mountains. The 48,000-square-foot structure is set among 16 acres landscaped with rock formations, waterfalls and a stream. It is the only theatre ever to be featured in Architectural Digest. For the interior, it was Andy’s idea to create a beautiful auditorium for live performances along with a lobby area that had a museum-like atmosphere so that he could display pieces of art from his personal collection. Since his passing, Jimmy Osmond has taken over the theatre as a promise to his friend and mentor to keep the legacy alive. Andy Williams memorabilia is displayed throughout the theatre and a wide variety of entertainers grace the stage throughout the year, just as he envisioned.

Titanic Museum Attraction

Titanic Museum Attraction, honoring James Cameron’s “TITANIC” in celebration of the iconic movie’s 20th anniversary, has a limited engagement new gallery to showcase many, never-before-seen elements from the movie – costumes, set pieces, props, signed scripts and more. March 12-June 13. Titanic Branson looks forward to “TITANIC” re-release in 2017 and to honoring its 20-year anniversary.

Showboat Branson Belle 

Showboat Branson Belle gears up for an even bigger 2017 aboard the 700-passenger paddle-wheeler. An all-new show “Country On The Lake” adds a different genre of music as the noon complement to the popular evening variety show “Celebrate.” Designed as a concert cruise – featuring multi-talented rising country stars performing #1 hits from yesterday’s classic rock to country favorites of today, backed by a live band – it includes tributes to country stars of the ’90s with songs by Garth Brooks and Faith Hill, plus many classic, memorable songs.

The Runaway Mountain Coaster

The Runaway Mountain Coaster is a thrill ride that uses the natural topography of the area to have an exciting user-controlled trip for an experience few will ever forget. Riders are seated in individual carts engineered to exacting safety standards. The carts are pulled to the top via a chain, similar to roller coasters. At the top of the mountain, carts are released to travel down the hill, winding in and out and around the hills for a fun and unique experience.

Raiding the Country Vault

Raiding the Country Vault opens mid-March at The Starlite Theatre. It brings chart-topping Nashville stars together with musicians who have played with Country music’s most iconic acts, performing a set list featuring the biggest hits of America’s most beloved music genre. The producers are planning to bring “Raiding the Rock Vault,” from Las Vegas, for select summer dates.

Fritz's Adventure

Fritz’s Adventure is a dynamic family attraction that brings the excitement and challenges of outdoor adventure into a multi-dimensional indoor environment. Experience three stories and 80,000 square feet where you can enjoy elements of the world around you that, anywhere else, would be prohibited or discouraged. All ages are encouraged to explore the family adventure together. BIGFOOT Bigfoot on the Strip is the fifth attraction investment in Branson for the owners of Branson Zipline Canopy Tours, Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zipline, Parakeet Pete’s Steampunk Balloon and Fast Shot Shooting Gallery. The centerpiece of this $10 million attraction is a 200-foot free-fall tower. Two of the rides are extreme rides for serious thrill seekers, while the third is a calmer ride offering more of an Ozarks viewing experience.

Johnny Morris' New Gold Course 

Bass Pro Shops founder and noted conservationist Johnny Morris has teamed up with golf icon Gary Player to create a world-class short course that will deliver an unparalleled experience for golfers. Winding through breathtaking rock formations and showcasing some of the most dramatic views in the Ozarks, Big Cedar Lodge will unveil its newest golf experience in the spring of 2017.

History of Fishing Museum

The History of Fishing Museum is the largest collection of antique fishing lures, rods, reels, boats and motors entirely collected by one man and his wife. It is valued at more than $4 million. The first lure was bought when Karl White was eight years old. The lure is still in the collection today – almost 70 years later!

The Sky Deck 

A ride on Parakeet Pete’s Waterfront Zipline at Branson Landing, takes you to The Sky Deck on Mt. Branson with spectacular views of Lake Taneycomo, the entire Branson Landing and Historic Downtown. You can “Zip and Sip” or plan your own private party with live music, catering and cocktails.

Christmas Tree Tour 

Who doesn’t love a beautiful Christmas tree, radiant day and night with the warmth and joy of the season? Now the already amazing holiday season in Branson is even better as the community strives to become “America’s Christmas Tree Town” like no other. Many cities have a single iconic Christmas tree each year. Branson has the largest variety of the most wonderful and unique Christmas trees found anywhere! Discover over 100 dazzling trees – in addition to the music shows, shopping and festive family fun – making Branson an even more tree-mendous holiday destination than ever before!

CAF Airpower History Tour 

The B-29/B-24 Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force will bring to Branson the aircraft, pilots and crews from over 70 CAF units across the United States to create the AirPower Squadron – an ever-changing assortment of military aircraft touring together to bring the sights, sounds and smells of World War II aviation history to audiences across the nation. The AirPower Squadron always includes at least one of the two rarest World War II bombers in the world – FIFI, the most famous, flying Boeing and B-29 Superfortress and Diamond Lil, an equally rare B-24 Liberator. Aircraft accompanying the B-29 or B-24 will include other World War II aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang, the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-25 Mitchell, along with an assortment of fighters, trainers and liaison aircraft. September 14-17 at the Branson Airport (BKG).

Branson Forward 

Branson Forward is a dream of a bigger, brighter, more amazing Branson experience than ever before with spacious walkways, landscaping, park benches, interesting landmarks, and amazing spaces for visitors to explore and enjoy. Over the next seven years, Branson plans to invest more than $100 million and transform five miles of Highway 76 into a more vibrant, dynamic, fun, attractive and interactive entertainment corridor certain to delight and amaze the next generation of Branson visitors. All this is being implemented with absolute minimum disruption to the non-stop fun and entertainment opportunities jam-packed along our city’s famous corridor.

Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Fued 

Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud is coming soon to the entertainment district in Branson. It’s Feudin’ Feastin’ Family Fun at The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Show! Become part of the longest-running feud in history and help the Hatfields and McCoys try to settle their differences in a hilarious dance and comedy revue mountain style while enjoying a full Southern Homestyle Feast. Opens 2018.

Learn more at ExploreBranson.com

March 30, 2017

Things To Do in Council Bluffs This Weekend

As the weather gets warmer, lots of fun events around Council Bluffs start popping up! Grab the family and pick something fun to do together in town. If you know of anything going on this weekend in Council Bluffs, please leave a comment so others can learn about it as well!

Things To Do in Council Bluffs This Weekend


Things To Do in Council Bluffs This Weekend

March 31st: Open Gym at In-Motion Gymnastics from 6:30-8:30PM.
March 31st - April 9th: Cabaret is playing at The Chanticleer Theater.
April 1st: Grand Re-Opening of Squirrel Cage Jail from 11AM-4PM.
April 1st: B-Tween Minecraft Party at the Council Bluffs Public Library from 1:30-2:30PM.
April 1st: Tinker Lab: 3D Pens at the Council Bluffs Public Library from 1-4PM.
April 1st: Family Fun Fair at Charles E. Lankin Human Services Campus from 2:30 - 4:30PM.
April 1st: The Naturalist School at Hitchcock Nature Center from 8AM-12PM.

Things To Do in Council Bluffs Next Weekend

April 8th: BINGO! at the Council Bluffs Public Library from 1:30-2:30PM
April 8th: Tinker Lab: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Dice at the Council Bluffs Public Library from 1-4PM.
April 8th - 9th: Last shows for Cabaret at The Chanticleer Theater.

March 28, 2017

What's New at Honey Creek Resort this Summer

Warmer weather has been teasing us here in Iowa lately. Does it have you itching to plan a getaway, too? While you are thinking about all those adventures this summer, don't forget about Iowa’s hidden gem: Honey Creek Resort!



You may remember that I visited Honey Creek Resort last summer, and fell in love. The location, activities, and staff all make this resort a must visit. We stayed in one of the 28 luxury cottages that surround the property, which I highly recommend. There is also The Lodge on Rathbun Lake where you can rent rooms as well. Among the already awesome amenities like bike rentals, naturalist guided hikes, and golf at The Preserve on Rathbun Lake, there are some new highlights coming to Honey Creek Resort this summer!


  • All-day dining at Rathbun Lakeshore Grille with a new menu this summer.
  • Adventure through the water with watercraft rentals at Honey Creek’s own landing Marina! Previously you had to go through an outside service to rent boats so this is huge! 
  • A giant lake blob that is sure to provide a ton of fun for kids!
  • Pass hours at the remodeled Buccaneer Bay Indoor Water Park, complete with a two-story water slide, lazy river, hot tub, and arcade. My 11 year-old son had a ton of fun at the water park and arcade while we were there. 

Have you been to Honey Creek Resort yet?

March 23, 2017

Music & Movies in the Park Schedule for 2017

The Music & Movies in the Park Schedule for 2017 is here, and it is awesome! Mark your calendars and grab your lawn chairs for free music and movies at Bayliss Park this summer! From June 8th - August 4th you can enjoy:

  • Free Music at Bayliss Park on Thursdays at 6:30PM
  • Free Movies at Bayliss Park on Fridays after dusk, around 9PM




Music in the Park Schedule for 2017


June 9th Beauty and the Beast (2017)
June 16th: Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)
June 23rd: Secret Life of Pets (2016)
June 30th: Trolls (2017)
July 7th: Sing (2016)
July 14th: Finding Dory (2016)
July 21st: Doctor Strange (2016)
July 28th: Jungle Book (2016)
August 4th: The Great Gilly Hopkins (2016)

Music in the Park Schedule for 2017

Coming May 2017

March 20, 2017

10 Epic Midwest Theme Parks to Experience

Spending the day at a theme park is a great way to spend a nice summer day. Theme parks are great because they tend to cater to all age groups so the whole family can go, you can go with some friends, or just you and your significant other if you choose. There are hundreds of theme parks spread all across the United States and quite a few can be found right here in the Midwest. Today I am going to be sharing with you just a few of the best theme parks in the Midwest, maybe you can take a huge road trip and see them all one day! 

Epic Midwest Theme Parks to Experience




10 Epic Midwest Theme Parks to Experience

1. Cedar Point - Sandusky, OH

Cedar Point is a part of the Cedar Fair Park company and can be found in Northern Ohio. Cedar Point is home to some of the most thrilling and exciting rides in the U.S. For example, the Top Thrill Dragster is a ride that reaches 120 mph, goes as high as 420 feet and is over in the matter of 17 seconds! It is quite an adrenaline rush and a definite must when visiting Cedar Point. 

2. Kings Island - Mason, OH

Kings Island is another park that is part of the Cedar Fair Park company. It is located in Mason, Ohio which is just about 20 minutes outside of Cincinnati. Kings Island is a great family friendly park being filled with kids rides as well as some pretty intense rides as well. One of their most famous rides is the Beast, which is the longest wooden roller coaster in the world and has been since 1979! It is a really fun ride and definitely something that the park is famous for. 

3. Dollywood - Pigeon Forge, TN

If you are looking for a great place to have a family vacation, Dollywood is the place to be. Pigeon Forge in general is a great location to visit for a nice family vacation and you can't miss out on visiting Dollywood while you're there. I love Dollywood because I feel like that it is a mix of carnival type feel and a theme park. You get rides that you will find at a carnival like the Dizzy Disk but you also get the theme park type rides like the Lightning Rod!

4. Six Flags Illinois Great America - Gurnee, Illinois

Six Flags has several locations all over the country but one that can be found in the Midwest is in Gurnee, Illinois which is about 40 miles outside of Chicago. At this particular location they have a lot of great rides and a lot of them are fun themed rides including Batman: The Ride, The Bedrock Boulder Roller, the Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, and Superman: Ultimate Flight. They have nearly 70 different rides and attractions so there is definitely something you will find that is a blast for you! 

5. Nickelodeon Universe - Bloomington, Minnesota

This one is another great one for the kiddos! Nickelodeon Universe is jam packed full of fun Nickelodeon themed rides. There is everything from Avatar, to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even the Rugrats! I love that they incorporate everything from old school Nickelodeon characters up to the newer shows as well. This does seem to be more geared toward children because it is all based on Nickelodeon but the rides are just as fun for adults as well!

6. Holiday World - Santa Claus, IN

If you are someone that LOVES all of the holidays throughout the year, you will love Holiday World! This park is solely dedicated to all of the holidays and each section of the park is a different Holiday theme including Christmas, Halloween, 4th Of July, and Thanksgiving. They also have a water park attached known as Splashin' Safari. This place is so much fun and not as well known as some of the other parks listed so be sure to check it out if you visit the Indiana area!

7. Silver Dollar City - Branson, MO

Nestled in Branson, MO is Silver Dollar City with big thrills, family fun, and amazing craftsmanship. Reach 66mph on the WildFire, get soaks on Lost River of the Ozarks, and enjoy more than 30 other rides, as well as over 100 crafters selling goods. Not to mention the beautiful sites of Table Rock Lake near the theme park, making it a great place to plan a vacation.

8. Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun - Kansas City, MO

Enjoy two parks in the same place when you visit Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun in Kansas City! Towering swing ride, twisty coasters, water rides, themed areas, and Camp Snoop. So much in one place making it perfect for the family. This park is loosely based on Jules Verne's 'Around the World in 80 Days' but with two days you could easily enjoy both parks with the family. 

9. Adventureland - Altoona, IA

A theme park I've visited almost every summer of my life, Adventureland is just a short 2 hour drive from me. Growing and changing, Adventureland is home to more than 100 rides, shows, attractions, and Adventure Bay water park! Space Shot, The Dragon, and the Sky Ride that was purchased from the World'd Fair in 1975 - it's a neat relaxing ride across the top of the park, and gives you a chance to see all the stuffed animal prizes that have been dropped on top of the bumper car building. 

10. Arnolds Park - Arnold's Park, IA

This charming theme park is a family favorite in the Midwest. Arnolds Park sits on the waterfront of Lake Okoboji were you will find a ferris wheel with gorgeous views, the Legend Roller Coaster that has been riding the track since 1927, and many other nostalgic rides like the Tilt-a-Whirl, Log Flume, and Bumper Carsr. 

Theme parks are so much fun and I love visiting and testing out different parks to see which ones are my favorite. Whether you have little ones to entertain or you are looking for a thrill of a ride, you can most definitely find what you are looking for at any of these parks. Have fun this summer and if you're looking for a fun vacation spot, check out any of these awesome parks.

March 12, 2017

Delightfully Delicious: 712 in Council Bluffs

712 used to be just an area code for us. Recently, it became much more than that when 712 in Council Bluffs opened its doors! Using as much locally grown produce and locally-sourced meats as possible, the 712 restaurant + bar is bringing us something we've needed for a long time. A local contemporary restaurant for family dinners, romantic date nights, work get togethers, and girls night out. Yes, 712 is the perfect place for all of those and before we dive into the 712 menu, lets take a look inside to see why!


The atmosphere and decor made me smile as soon as I opened the door. A nod to Council Bluffs all around the walls, carried the 712 name right into the decor. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by the hostess stand and a little waiting area. I snapped a pic during the rare moment it was empty on a Friday night, and they turn over tables quite quickly so there isn't much waiting - when you have a reservation.


A gorgeous mural fills one whole wall of 712, and features iconic Council Bluffs history and all those things that makes us, well, Council Bluffs, Iowa!


There is a nice sized bar at 712, featuring two televisions and 23 craft beers on tap, that include several local brews, and more being added. There is no shortage on wines at 712 either! Make sure you stop in for Happy Hour from 2:30PM  5:30PM where you can enjoy $1.00 off glasses!



Now, let's dig into the 712 menu! Two sided and loaded with delicious eats and drinks, there is a variety of items to choose from on this menu. Plus, they were offering two daily specials the night we were there. There are several starters and salads to kick things off with. Handheld eats include a burger and flatbread that I've heard great reviews on, as well as the grilled cheese that I'm going with next time, and the 712 Cubano that is quickly becoming a local favorite. Dinners and larger meals included pork chops, ribeyes, Plum Creek Chicken, salmon, and more.


We kicked the meal off with a bottle of Canti Italy Moscato and let me tell you, it gave my favorite a run for it's money. I've looked for this bottle twice since eating at 712 and have yet to find it. If you spot it anywhere in the area, let a girl know!


The Starters at 712 are a great mix of sliders, fried pickles, crab cakes, meatballs, and the housemade tater tots we dug into. Not quite what I expected but delicious and cheesy nonetheless. I spotted a plate of sliders come out and those pretzel buns were enough for me to mentally add them to my order for next time.



I ordered the Salmon, and highly recommend it! Cooked to the perfect tenderness and the flavor was on point. Laid upon a bed of rice and broccollini made for a situation where the fork didn't hit the table. I can not remember what was all in the rice, something about oysters, and it was very tasty!


My dinner date ordered the Plum Creek Chicken and highly recommends that as well. Served on the bone, this chicken was loaded with flavor. I've actually had Plum Creek Chicken at Jams, in the Old Market downtown, and really liked it as well. I have to say, Jams has been my favorite 'local food' eatery for awhile, but I'm pretty sure 712 just changed that - especially because it's right here in town!


For dessert, I had my first Creme Brulee experience. The custard was delicious and it was fun watching the caramelized top broken open. The slices of bananas on top were tasty with the custard and I totally could have eaten more of them! There are a few other desserts available if Creme Brulee isn't your thing. I recall something carrot and maybe chocolate torte being offered but my mind was already on the Creme Brulee.



Hopefully you are drooling and ready to pick up the phone and book a reservation at 712 for a delightfully delicious lunch or dinner!


Details about 712

Location: 1851 Madison Avenue in the old Valentino's space
Hours: 11AM - 10PM Monday - Thursday | 11AM - 11PM Friday & Saturday (Closed on Sundays for now -they will be opening for brunch VERY SOON!)
Phone Number: 712-256-5525