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How to Park a Big Honkin’ Truck in Downtown Seattle and Get the best priced tickets to the Space Needle

Kimberly 1 Comments

City touring can be a pain when you need to consider finding a parking space for your big honkin’ truck.  Then there’s the issue of getting the best value out of the attraction tickets you purchase.

As a full time traveling family, we are not actually on vacation and can not afford to splurge on every tourist attraction on our route.  Therefore, we must be picky with our touring dollars and are always looking for the best bang for our buck.  This time was a total score and I’ll fill you in about the ticket specifics later in this post.  Timestamp of snap: 0:01.3

At this point, I’m pretty good at uncovering the value in attractions.  See this, skip that, I can make those decisions pretty quickly based on online reviews and facebook comments.

So when we were exploring Seattle and it came time to search out ticket options for the Space Needle,  I knew which websites to focus on to find the best deal.

Through my research I found that Sunday was the least crowded day to visit and specifically Sunday night yielded the best viewing opportunities.  A quick google search told me sunset would hit the Seattle area at 8:23pm, so I booked our elevator tickets for a 7:30pm viewing time.

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Sure enough, there were no real crowds to speak of at this very popular landmark when we arrived for our reservation time.

As an aside, I’ll tell you that right next to the Seattle Center, the downtown area that houses the Space Needle and several other well known landmarks, is a pay parking lot.  It cost us $15 to park for the evening.  Sure it was tight, but I live with “a dually drivin’ boss” so as long as there’s an open spot, he can make it work!

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The views at the observation deck of the Space Needle were breath taking! Watching the sunset over Pugent Sound was a memory our family will cherish.

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Then, when the sun dipped below the horizon, the city skyline twinkled as far and wide as the eye could see.  The observation deck is open until 11pm on Sunday’s* and visitors can stay at the top as long as they like with their ticket so we had plenty of time to check out all the sights.

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We loved picking out other locations we have visited on sea level.  There were also a great number of interactive exhibits within the Visitors’ Center.  We learned all about the construction of the observation tower for the 1962 World’s Fair and that it was built to withstand winds of up to 200 miles per hour (89 m/s) and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude.

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So, wanna know how much this aerial tour of Seattle cost our family of six?  $144 (not including $15 parking) which is a real splurge for our family, but I should mention that we purchased a combo ticket and after we descended from the Space Needle, we headed right next door to explore the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit.  A visit to this museum was top on my list so the combo ticket was definitely the most affordable option available.  Separately the Space Needle tickets would have been  $86  and the Chihuly tix would have cost us $88.20.  By purchasing the combo ticket we were able to maximize our downtown Seattle experience, pay for parking only once and save $30.

Tune into our Seattle episode of One Epic Adventure to find more great things to do with kids in Seattle!


*Please check websites for actual times

Attraction Review: Out of Africa Park Camp Verde, AZ

Kimberly No Comments

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A one of a kind experience.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, AZ is about as close as you can get to the “real thing” while maintaining the safety that humans need from these wild animals! Take away the fences necessary to keep us safe and you really feel these animals are at home in the wild.

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Dean and Prayeri Harrison have always had a heart for bringing God, people and animals together in a natural setting. Their journey brought them to Arizona from California with a few other stops on the way. In 2005 the current Out of Africa habitat in Camp Verde was open to the public. You can read more about the founders here.

Highlights!
Make sure you get the most out of your paid admission which is good for all day in and out services for the Wildlife Park. There are some events that happen on a schedule and others that you can do at your leisure. Check the website for the most up to date times and days but make sure you don’t miss these!

Safari Tour:
This 40 minute open air bus tour takes you through the African Bush Safari with many stops where you can see the free range animals in their habitats. Although you cannot get off the bus, there are some chances to feed the camels and giraffes (and even get a smooch if you choose). We had close up views of zebras, antelopes, oryx, 14ft+ giraffes, water buffalo, ostrich and watossi cattle.

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The tour is so educational and you will leave with a wealth of knowledge. Did you know that string cheese comes from water buffalo and that a giraffe’s 16 inch tongue is dark so that it doesn’t get sunburn when it is eating all day?

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Tiger Splash:
Depending on the day and the tigers moods you may see one or two tigers put on a show in the Splash pool. The zoo keepers are great and play with the tigers and ultimately try to get them to take a jump into the pool. This is a must see!

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Giant Snake Show:
Even if you aren’t a huge snake fan (me!) this is a great show and happens in the same area as the Tiger Splash shortly after. We met Tapestry, a 16 foot python that was rescued from an abusive wonder. THere is a chance for volunteers to lift and hold her as well take up close pictures and feel her “satin” skin.

Predator feed:
This event only happens three days a week so do your best to plan your visit around it! At 3pm they feed all the large carnivores and you have the chance to walk with the meat truck as they throw whole turkeys and big slabs of beef over the fences. The animals were literally salivating and pacing as they heard trucks pull up. Animal instincts took over and we saw some animals fighting over first dibs.

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The whole park is stroller/wheelchair friendly (including trams). You can walk the park by foot (about 1.5 miles) or take the tram that runs every twenty minutes from stop to stop.

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There are bathrooms near the front and at Tram Stop 2 which is the main hub for the special events. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop on your way out for that special souvenir.

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What to pack:

  • A water bottle (there are drinking fountains to fill up at multiple stops)
  • Sunscreen/Hat/Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Money- there is no food or drink allowed in the park, so bring money to buy lunch or snacks from the Jungle Hut
  • Binoculars (although the animals are so close, I doubt you will use them much)

Pricing:

Adults: $29.95 (13+) Children $14.95 (3-12)

Hours: 7 days/week 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

We arrived at the park just before 11 and caught the first safari tour, had lunch and did the other specials highlights listed above and wrapped our day up around 4. Please allow yourself most of the day to thoroughly enjoy all that the park has to offer.

Call them wild, call them crazy, whatever you do, just don’t call this place a zoo!

This review was created for FulltimeFamilies.com, the resource for Full-time RVing Families by Jennifer Holt of Free2Breathe.com

 

 

Attraction Review: Meteor Crater, Arizona

Kimberly No Comments

Location: The largest and most perfectly preserved Meteor Crater in the world is located just minutes off Interstate 40 about 35 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ. Take Exit 233and head 6 miles south to experience this wonder. There is even an RV park right off the exit if you are looking for somewhere to stay.

 

Parking: There is a large lot designated for RV’s and buses so there is no problem parking if you are pulling the rig with you (we were).

Services: When you enter the building you immediately are directed to the admission booth. After your paid admission you have access to the following services: Restrooms, Drinking Fountain, large gift shop and Subway Resturant

Hours: Memorial Day to Labor day: 7am-7pm Non-Summer: 8am-5pm

Price: Adult $18 Junior $9 (6-17) 5 and under are Free

Included with admission is entrance into the Discover Center packed with information about the Meteor Crater and related topics.

There is a 10 minute free video shown on the top and bottom of each hour in a very nice theatre with comfy chairs and a cinema quality screen. Weather Permitting, there is a one hour guided tour along the rim of the crater. Unfortuately, I am unable to attest to the safety of this with children, because the wind gusts were over 70mph when we visited and they were not doing the tours for obvious reasons!

Tips: All areas are handicapped accessible so feel free to bring the little ones in a stroller and use the elevators.

Highlights: Meteor Crater features an excellent Discovery Center with many interactive exhibits for the kids (and adults). The whole family will learn about the discovery of Meteor Crater and how this crater has led to the discovery of many other craters throughout the world.

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There are both inside and outside views of the crater so don’t be deterred if you happen to visit on a rainy day. When you head outside there are multiple observation decks, most of which have designated stand alone binocular sites pointed to specific locations throughout the crater.

Whether your budget is $1 or $2000 there is something for everyone in the gift shop. I was very impressed with the diversity of products. You could find everything from post cards, stickers, Route 66 memorabilia, space themed objects and most impressive was the selection of unique gems and rocks.

Whats the crater all about? Meteor Crater is the result of a collision between an asteroid traveling 26,000 miles per hour and planet Earth approximately 50,000 years ago. Meteor Crater is nearly one mile across, 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. To put the size in perspective the crater would fit 20 football fields surrounded by enough seating for 2 million spectators!

Overview: Expect to spend 1-2 hours here and a bit more if you do the one hour guided tour.

What to bring: You don’t really need much but I would recommend bringing water if you do the guided tour. And, of course, bring that camera or video camera to remember your time at the Crater.

Discovery CenterOur family enjoyed our visit so much and wouldn’t imagine missing it when passing through the area!

This review was created for FulltimeFamilies.com, the resource for Full-time RVing Families

Meteor Crater in Northern Arizona
http://www.meteorcrater.com

Slippin’ at Slide Rock State Park, Sedona, AZ with Video

Kimberly No Comments

slide-rock-state-park-fullOne of our all time favorite locations is Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, AZ.  This is our second time here, our first being Spring 2011.

Here’s a flash back photo of our last trip to this amazing, natural 80 ft water plume, teeming with fresh snow melt.

Tonia Sedona April 2011This time we were able to explore and enjoy the area with 5 other traveling families! What a treat!

Some of the bravest among us took the 50degree plunge, with the kids taking home the top awards for most courageous and most rides!

If you find yourself in the Sedona area, this park is a must visit attraction, but try to steer clear of the weekends, when we hear it’s packed to the canyon walls!

sliderockOne thing I love about being able to re-visit some of our favorite spots is the opportunities for before and after shots.  Here’s one of DJ!

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DJ in Sedona April 2011

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DJ in Sedona April 2014

To see who “took the plunge” and who chickened out… Check out the video!

 

Havin’ a Dam Good Time with Some Dam Fine Folks

Kimberly No Comments

Our family LOVES to tour dams… I want to believe it has to do with the educational aspect of directing the flow of water and turning it into electricity, but I’m pretty sure it’s because we let the kids say “dam” during the entire dam tour.

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The Glen Canyon Dam was no exception to this rule.  Created in 1964, the dam tames the waters of the Colorado River and created the National Recreation Area known as Lake Powell.

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We were fortunate enough to tour this feat of modern engineering with the Arnold Family and the Hamilton Family.  Our dam tour guide as actually a dam electrical engineer who’d been at the dam for since 1965!

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There was a great dam junior ranger program there for the kids and an informative movie.

All in all we enjoyed our tour of the Glen Canyon Dam.

 

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