Category Archives: Search by State

Booneville MO | Authentic Vintage A&W and Frothy Frosty Root Beers

On our cross country road trip to Washington state, we cruised through St Louis this time ’round and waved to the arch as we went by on the bridge. We had tried to launch our trip a few months earlier and we were in St. Louis, MO camping and sight seeing when we had to turn back for home. (Long story, but the company my husband worked for at the time announced they had sold the company and were issuing live final checks, so we had to be physically home to manage that transition, but that’s a story for another time.)

St Louis, Missouri

As we drove through Missouri, the hours on the road were beginning to be felt. Our goal each day was around 500 miles — about 8-10 hours of drive time at our pace. We needed to take a break, so when we saw a A&W restaurant road sign it peaked our curiosity.

When I was a little girl, my grandparents would take me to an A&W Drive-In in Electric City, WA.  I loved the frothy foam and vanilla ice cream on top of a big heavy frosty glass jug of root beer.

A&W Vintage Menu
This menu board is similar to the ones that my grandparents would use to order from when I was a child. They were fashioned after the drive thru menu where you would press the button and speak thru the speaker to place your order. Check out those cheap prices compared to today! Photo Credit: oldlarestaurants.com
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Photo Credit: Yelp.com

Each of the A&Ws in the 70s used to have an old fire pit in the center of the restaurant that you could sit around (like the one pictured above). In the particular A&W I grew up with, you would sit down at your booth and there was this sort of little juke box looking menu at each table that served as your menu. I believe you could even use it to “call in” your order if I recall correctly (I was only 4 or 5 years old at the time). We would get a the appropriate sized burger — a Papa, Mama, or Baby or Teen Burger or a hot dog and of course that a root beer!

The 3-Bears way of ordering food!
Photo Credit: Flickr

We did have to drive a mile in off Interstate 70 (see map below). We took 40 in and their parking lot was empty enough that we were able to pull in with our rig and trailer without an issue and park.

Kids sleeping and watching a movie on iPhone

Map to A&W in Booneville MO
Map to A&W in Booneville MO
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The exterior of the Booneville MO A&W. Photo Credit: Yelp.com

A few things had been updated in the restaurant like the lamps and the seats reupholstered. But there was the fire pit (see pic above of this A&W) with the original chairs around it. Pretty cool!

A&W Pitstop Experience

And those big heavy frosty frothy mugs were just as I remembered! Our kids were love’n it!  By the way, don’t miss a great teachable moment! A root beer float is a great way to illustrate and experience the three states of matter: liquid [root beer], solid [ice cream] and gas [frothy fizzy bubbles on top]!

A&W Pitstop Experience

A&W Pitstop Experience
Notice how the burger and fries wait until the root beer is enjoyed and gone?! Mmmmmm – so good!  lol

A&W Pitstop Experience

A&W Pitstop Experience
Our youngest son thinks all fries should be dipped at one time! ha!

With tummies full and old and new memories cherished, we loaded up our tribe to head back down the road. The kids quickly settled in and we made good progress to Nebraska. When we had to stop and do a bathroom break in Nebraska, this was our view. I personally love how we can just pull over on an exit and use the bathroom without having to worry about stranger danger at a public restrooms or unwanted germs!

Our view for a bathroom break

Taking a quick bathroom break
My super travelers!

The next day would be the Fourth of July and prove to be a difficult day. Be sure to read about it here!

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Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!

Atlanta, GA | Atlanta Botanical Gardens

The kids ready to enter the Atlanta Botanical Garden

    The kids ready to enter the Atlanta Botanical Garden

Those of you who know me, know that I like to grow things. I am wired to nurture whether it be children, critters, or plants. So, the Atlanta Botanical Garden has been on my wish list for a long time as a place to explore and we had the opportunity to do just that this last week! The main attraction was the Chihuly Exhibit which is placed throughout the entire garden to delight and give you the opportunity to explore the many types of gardens.  Here are a few of the highlights we saw along the way. Mind you, photos are great, but to experience these for yourself — you must see these glass and neon sculptures in person to fully appreciate them. They are amazing! #atlantabg #myfavchihuly

Chili Glass Sculptures at The Atlanta Botanical Garden
Chihuly Indigo Blue Icicle Tower, installed in 2015
LJ at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Our 6-year-old had to try out the cool outdoor seating along the Kendeda Canopy Walk.

As we entered the garden, we chose to go to the right and walk the Kendeda Canopy Walk to see four Chilhulys and the Cascades Garden where the giant topiary — the “Earth Goddess” — resides with a beautiful reflection pool full of brightly colored Chihuly glass. Nearly all areas are handicap accessible with nice wide paths to enjoy. If you’re limited on time and only have an hour to explore, you might want to check out some of their recommended “Power Hour” tours.

Earth Goddess at The Atlanta Botanical Gardens

The background on how the Earth Goddess was built and constructed to be a living topiary.
The background on how the Earth Goddess was built and constructed to be a living topiary.
The Earth Goddess at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens with Chihuly Glass Sculptures
The Earth Goddess at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens with Chihuly Glass Sculptures

Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers along the way! 🙂 I loved seeing a beautiful bearded iris growing along the path — my Grandmother used to grow these along her house every year.

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Stop and smell the flowers!
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My Grandmother used to grow the most beautiful bearded irises.

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens make a great stop to stretch your legs if you’re visiting Atlanta. It took us about two hours to walk through the gardens at a leisurely rate, but I left feeling like I could have seen even more. We didn’t make it to the Children’s garden the day we visited, so we will have to go back and share that as well.

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The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the sights while you take a walk.
Erin Castillo 2016 5kidsandarv.com
Blue and White in the Levi Parterre, a permanent Chihuly piece in the Atlanta Botanical Garden

For a moment I felt like a princess walking in her palace grounds with the groomed hedges in the Levi Parterre garden. Had it not been sweltering hot in the middle of July, I would have loved to sit on one of those benches for a bit. Definitely best to visit early in the day throughout summer months and prime weather conditions in Atlanta will be in the months of April/May and October/November.

Get great inspiration from the many beautiful planters at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Get great inspiration from the many beautiful planters at the Atlanta Botanical Garden
Orange Glass Chihuly Fountain Sculpture by Gift Shop
Three Graces Tower  (2016)

I’ve been working on my own garden this year, so it was a real treat to see how professionals approached an edible garden. The vertical garden was a beautiful assortment of textures! I would have loved to see some aquaponics as an addition to how they were growing food.

Edible Garden

Edible Garden and perennial wall.
Edible Garden and perennial wall.
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Walkway to the Edible Garden area.

Also on my wish list is to return in the evening with my husband to view the Chihuly Nights where the garden glass sculptures are lit up with neon. There’s a restaurant on location making it a perfect date night destination! (Garden admission is required to access the restaurant.)

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Chihuly “Saffron Tower” (2008) with water mirror reflection pool in the Glade Garden. Remember, they ask that you not throw coins into the water features.
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Tiger Lilies infront of the Zebra Reeds (2015)

The Fuqua Orchid Center was mostly closed off except for one small section, but that section was full of gorgeous and rare orchids to enjoy. It was like stepping into a slice of paradise! Own an orchid? Check out the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s blog.

Chihuly Black and Green Stripe Herons with Icicle Clusters (2015) in the Fuqua Orchid Center
Chihuly Black and Green Stripe Herons with Icicle Clusters (2015) in the Fuqua Orchid Center

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Stepping into the Fuqua Orchid Garden is like stepping into a tropical paradise!
Stepping into the Fuqua Orchid Garden is like stepping into a tropical paradise!

We ended up purchasing a membership since it was the best value ($109 for 2 adults and up to 8 children + you get 4 visitor passes to use throughout the year).  Don’t forget that your membership card also gets you a discount in the Gift Shop! Chihuly in the Garden and Chihuly Nights will only run from April – October of 2016, so be sure to stop in if you are traveling to Atlanta during those months!

Atlanta Location:

ADMISSION:

Adult $21.95
Child ages 3 to 12 $15.95
Child under 3 Free
Garden member Free

Weather Policy: The Garden is open rain or shine. Most gardens are located outside so dress appropriately for weather. There are indoor air conditioned and heated areas for visitors including the visitor center, café and conservatory and orchid center. Refunds or rain checks on admission ticket purchases are not granted for weather related reasons.

PARKING: On-site parking is available in the SAGE Parking Facility:

Time Period Cost
Drop-off period (0 – 30 minutes) Free
31 – 60 minutes $2.00
Each additional 30 minutes $1.00
Maximum daily rate $15.00

DIRECTIONS:
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is located adjacent to Piedmont Park at 1345 Piedmont Avenue, Atlanta, GA, 30309.

View Google Maps

REGULAR HOURS (as of July 9, 2016)

April – October
Tuesday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Wednesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Garden is open from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Monday, July 4 for Independence Day.

Chihuly Nights Hours
Wednesday – Sunday, 6 – 10 p.m.

November – March
Tuesday – Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Please note: The Children’s Garden is closed for renovations until summer of 2016. The Garden is undergoing capital improvements including renovated gardens and new amenities. Closed Mondays and in the daytime on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

REFRESHMENTS
In Atlanta, enjoy a Garden inspired menu from the team of Chef Linton Hopkins, a James Beard Award winner and popular local restauranteur, at the new Linton’s restaurant. Light snacks and refreshments are also available seasonally. Outside food and beverage are not permitted. During daytime hours, Garden admission is required for Non-Members. During Chihuly Nights, Garden admission is required for both Members and Non-Members.

Linton’s Information

For visitor info, go to the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Web site at http://atlantabg.org/visit/visitor-info

Be sure to observe this garden etiquette when visiting… http://atlantabg.org/content/1-visit/2-visitor-info/garden-etiquette.pdf

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Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!

When things don’t go as planned … two lessons learned on the Fourth of July

At the midpoint of our trip when we were half-way from Georgia to Washington State, we had our first obstacle to overcome. The previous day had been full of rough roads from construction in Nebraska and we were looking towards less jolting and smooth roads in Wyoming with the Grand Tetons as our destination that day. We had started out around 9 am, pulling out of a Walmart parking lot after overnighting in the parking lot next to some semis. This was the view outside my bedroom window that morning…

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We were all in good spirits as it was our nation’s birthday, July 4, 2015. We were making our way through Nebraska with our five kids ages 2 to 14 and our RV travel trailer towing behind our Excursion. We had only been on the road for an hour-and-a-half and had already pulled off on the road twice for potty breaks when one of my oldests said, “Is it possible to stop at the next exit? I need to go to the bathroom.” I sighed in exasperation and said, “Really? Seriously?! You couldn’t have gone the other two times we stopped?” It wasn’t that it was an inconvenience to stop (we are towing the family bathroom right behind us so it makes it actually quite easy when it comes to bathroom breaks) so much as it was one more delay to progress as I was eager to get to Grand Tetons.

But as it may, we were nearing the noon hour and my husband saw a billboard for Taco John — a fast food place we used to have in his hometown growing up — and as it had been over 20 years since he’d had a taco from there, we decided to make our stop the next exit in the little town of North Platte, Nebraska — home to Buffalo Bill — to see if those tacos were as tasty as we once remembered them. Taco John was about a mile or two in off the free way, and our GPS helped to route us to it quickly taking us through town. But as we pulled up to park near Taco John, my husband started pumping the breaks and with a concerned look on his face simply said to me, “Our brakes are squishy. I think they may be going out. The pedal is going all the way to the floor.” He was able to stop in a spot that was off the main road and near the restaurant, so we just decided to go ahead and feed the family and deal with the problem on full stomachs.

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5 Kids and RV Taco Johns in Nebraska

After our crew had eaten, Jes popped the hood on our towing vehicle and checked the brake fluid reservoir. It was empty! We had topped off all fluids before embarking on our journey across country and we quickly concluded that something must have happened while towing. But where we had parked was not a spot where Jes could safely get under the vehicle to check the brake line. So we had two things to solve: 1) figure out where to get more brake fluid on a holiday when stores were closed and 2) to find a safe spot to check out what might be causing us to lose brake fluid.

We checked our GPS and spotted a Ford dealership around the corner from where we were parked and thought they might be able to help us fix it… Nope. They were closed to celebrate the 4th of July.  We then spotted a auto parts store not too far away… Nope. Closed for the 4th of July.  We saw a small grocery store near the dealership and had hope — surely they would have brake fluid? They did, but it was the wrong kind. The reality of our situation began to sink in at that moment. We headed down the road and saw a small gas station open with a mini mart and we thought we might stop and check there… While my husband headed inside the “what ifs” began to hit. I began to worry, “What if we can’t find anyone open?! What if no one has the special brake fluid we need?!” As almost as quickly as the worried thoughts had come, I knew that worry was simply a lack of faith, so as I sat in the cab waiting with the kids, I bowed my head and we prayed for God to help us find the right oil and to figure out the situation. And then we continued to wait.

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As we waited, my middle son noticed two women smoking in a not so safe spot — not to far from propane tanks!
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Hooray! The right kind of brake fluid! Making a special note after this experience to always have a couple of these stowed away!

Thankfully, my husband emerged quickly from the store with three containers of brake fluid. He topped off the reservoir and closed the hood and I hopped out of the vehicle to help him navigate backing the RV onto the street as there was no way to pull forward and around in the tiny parking lot of the mini-mart gas station.

He drove slowly through town and navigated back to the Walmart Super Center located near the freeway and parked toward the back of the lot by some semis that were stopped to rest. The kids hung out in the car while I watched the area around my husband while he climbed underneath our tow vehicle to check out the brake line. Sure enough, some how the back brake line had gotten severed and  crushed and was leaking a steady stream of fluid. There was no way we could head over a mountain pass, let alone get on the freeway with our vehicle in this condition. Feeling stressed, both my husband and I, along with our children, bowed our heads in prayer, asking for God’s wisdom in how to handle the situation we found ourselves in at that moment.

Sure enough, some how the back brake line had gotten severed and  crushed and was leaking a steady stream of fluid.

Then with a deep breath, we went into problem solving mode. Our next thought was to see if we could get to a spot where we could unhook our tow vehicle from the RV. There were two RV places to stay nearby. One was flooded by the river and closed leaving us only one option. The good news was it was nearby. We called ahead while we sat in the Walmart parking lot and thankfully they had a spot open for us to park and stay the night while we came up with a game plan. We ended up checking into the Holiday RV Park and paid about $43 for the night after Good Sams and cash discounts.

Once we were settled in our site and unhooked, my husband began calling around. We tried the nearby Pilot truck stop and unfortunately they didn’t have anyone working because of the holiday. We also tried calling Good Sams which we had purchased for emergency situations such as this, but it wouldn’t be until the next Tuesday (3 days later) until they could send someone out — the day we were suppose to arrive at our destination.

After exhausting all of the options available to us, Jes decided to attempt the job himself — he had done jobs like this with his father who was a mechanic and even though it had been about 20 years since he had turned wrenches with his Dad, he felt confident he could fix it with the right tools and parts. So he unhooked the truck and he and our middle child (armed with extra brake fluid in the car) drove a mile to the nearest Advanced Auto Parts store — the only one we could find open on the holiday — to see if he could find parts to fix it himself. In the meantime, the heat of the day was setting in and it was over 96 degrees out, so I took the other four kids to the pool in hopes that it would lift our spirits.  We had been on the road for three days and laundry was already piling up, so we started a few loads to run while the kids swam.

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Cooling off in the pool at the RV campground we found on short notice.

While four of our kids and I were at the pool, Jesse and our middle son were able to find the parts needed to repair the severed brake line. They returned to the campground and were busy with the repair underway only to discover that he needed one more piece to finish the repair. Since everything was taken apart, he couldn’t simply drive the Excursion at this point, so he and our middle son took the pieces they needed and began to walk a mile+ back to the Advanced Auto Parts store in the afternoon 96 degree heat.

Upon arriving at the Advanced Auto Parts store, the manager who had helped them previously, noticed how hot our son looked and gave him a free water when he went up to buy one. And the part that we needed was not readily available in their inventory listing, so the manager began to take down boxes of other parts to see if the same part could be found in another box. He was able to successfully find the needed part and even took it back to crimp it with a special tool needed to join the two together — a tool we didn’t have — to connect it to the other part Jesse had brought with him.  It was because of this one man’s willingness to help us, that we were able to finish the repair job.  Jesse and our 11 year old son walked back once again in the heat with the parts that were needed.

I had just changed out of my swim suit when I went out to check on how things were going with the repair. Jes had returned from the auto parts store and had just put everything back together and was ready for me to help bleed the brake line and showed me for the first time the pieces that had been damaged. Our best guess was that it had happened the night before while going over some bumpy construction as at one point, we remember being concerned about the bumps. We had evidently bottomed out and hit the pavement  and the brake line got not only crushed, but severed in that moment.

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We definitely bottomed out and hit the road as we went through that construction! Here you see the line crushed and broken in half.
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Jesse happy after a job well done! Thankful for how God answered our every prayer and that my husband had the ability and faith to complete the job!
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This pedal matters a lot when you’re traveling by RV!
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Our son with the water bottle he went to go pay for and the manager paid for it himself in the spirit of Independence Day.

With the truck repaired, we decided to drive it for a bit to test the repair out before hooking up and heading across a big mountain range. We drove it through town, grabbed some dinner, stopped in at a “tourist trap” for the kids to shop a little bit and came back to our RV to rest and finish up laundry. There’s something about taking a shower in a normal shower that refreshes you as well.  The kids recall laying on the merry-go-round that night and spinning while fireworks exploded in the area around our campground.

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No, this isn’t a real fort. It’s a store with some tourist paraphernalia to see and buy.

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We would have loved to check out Buffalo Bill’s place in North Platte, Nebraska, but had to save it for another time due to the holiday and needing to stay on our travel schedule.
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Our 2.5 year old daughter sizes up the native american in the grassy area behind the tourist shop.

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Our 5-year-old checks out a diorama of Buffalo Bill's Show in North Platte, Nebraska
Our 5-year-old checks out a diorama of Buffalo Bill’s Show in North Platte, Nebraska

Buffalo Bill diorama

Buffalo Bill diorama
Buffalo Bill (William Cody) started his famous Wild West Show near his ranch in North Platte. The first rodeo was held in North Platte on July 4, 1882.
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One of our older boys wanted a “Jack-alope” which we thought looked good on the dash. It’s good to find ways to smile through difficult circumstances! 😀
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Leaving our emergency overnight pit stop — the Holiday RV Park in North Platte, Nebraska. It cost about $49 after discounts were applied. At the time of our stay, they had a pool, playground, showers, playground, and small RV spaces.

With all of us clean, fed, and with clothes folded and put away, we tidied up our trailer and started out for Wyoming the next morning, refreshed and ready to continue our journey towards Washington State.

Now, a year later, as I reflect on that fourth of July, there are two main takeaways from that experience:

  1. Don’t fuss over delays — they may very well be God’s providential answer to prayer.
  2. One person can make a difference in someone’s life.

PROVIDENCE:

Before leaving the comforts of our home, I had all sorts of scenarios run through my mind of what could happen and this one was not even one I had considered. The timing of how everything transpired that day was more than “coincidence”; my husband and I believe it was providential. Had my son not asked to stop to use the bathroom, we would have continued on the freeway and very well could have been without brakes to stop traveling at a high speed! When I think of what could have happened, I shutter at the thought and am grateful for God answering many a prayer for protection as we traveled.  As we recount all the things that happened that day…

  1. We were able to stop safely.
  2. We were able to drive the car and travel trailer a short distance to find brake fluid on a holiday when a lot of stores were closed.
  3. We were able to find the right kind of brake fluid.
  4. We were able to get back across town to a better spot.
  5. We were able to find a spot that was reasonably priced to stay the night and unhook to deal with our emergency.
  6. We were able to make it within walking distance to the one open auto parts store in town.
  7. We were only able to fix the repair with the help of a kind and generous person — otherwise our trip would have been delayed and we may have missed out on wheat harvest.
  8. We got a chance to rest a bit in the middle of our journey and clean some things.

God, in His goodness, answered the prayers of all of those who were praying for our safe journey. There would be many times those brakes would be pushed to the test and the brakes would hold firm and keep our family safe (I’ll have to write about the California experience sometime.) And our kids learned one more time, that we don’t serve an imaginary God, but the one true God Jehovah-Jireh (our provider) who cares for our every need.

HOW ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:

The gentleman that helped my husband that day at the auto parts store went over and above to help meet our needs that day.  My husband shares that had he not helped search through boxes for the right part and offered to use his machine in the back to do the step we had no tool to do, we would not have been able to complete the job and we would have had to have waited for a mechanic which would have cost us days in the schedule and possibly affected our ability to get to Washington in time for wheat harvest which was coming early that year due to the high heat.  This manager at Advance Auto Parts store, not only went beyond in his customer service, he also encouraged us and especially our son learned a lesson on the power of kindness as he received a fresh ice cold water to quench his thirst.

OH! AND ONE MORE THING…

I guess there’s a bonus tip from what we also learned … it is a good idea to keep some extra brake fluids in our storage area for unexpected issues! From North Platte, Nebraska we headed out towards Wyoming which I’ll share more about in another post. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more…

— Erin & Jes + our 5 kids and a RV


Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!

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Chickamauga Battlefield & the Chattanooga National Military Park

 

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I will never forget the first time I visited a historic battlefield from the Civil War in Atlanta and walked the rows and rows of headstones of soldiers that had fallen in battle. There was awe as I read stories about grandfathers, fathers, and sons all going out to fight and falling to their deaths as Sherman marched to Savannah. It was the first time I realized that what I had read about in my school books, actually happened and those families still remembered and felt that loss. It really happened. And there was a great cost to both sides who fought over this freedom.

Being history lovers, we always look forward to the opportunity to explore and learn something new — especially in our home state. So when we went to Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the nations oldest and largest battlefield, we were amazed at how much land this battle encompassed. We started out at the Visitor’s Center at Chickamauga (which I recommend you do the same). If you’re in a RV, note that they have RV parking to the left of the Visitor Center (just follow the signs) which is great!

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Chickamauga Battlefield - 5kidsandarv

We were surprised to see the largest collection of antique rifles we had ever seen. The boys were in rifle heaven.  They even got to see a blunderbuss — a rifle that they had seen on the TV show, Pawn Stars — and stood within inches of one (see pic below).  The Fuller Gun Collection of American Shoulder Arms collection spans about six rows if memory serves me correctly; certainly an impressive collection. There was even a rifle that had a built-in coffee grinder in the stock!

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Rows and rows of antique rifles - 5kidsandarv

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Peyton pointing at a rifle he likes

Wax soldier charging - Chickamauga Battlefield

Chickamauga Battlefield - Wax Soldier

They had some wax soldiers to help illustrate how the soldiers fought and even a real Battery Wagon. I especially love how they preserved the cannon balls that were lodged into the trees. I’ve seen this at Kennesaw Mountain National Park’s Civil War Museum as well and it just shows the reality of what was flying thru the air and the force that these pieces of artillery had to destroy whatever was in it’s path.  They also offer a short film, but we had arrived towards the end of the day after the last film had already started to show.

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Model of a Battery Wagon and how it would have been pulled. Chickamauga Battlefield

There is also a selection of cannons in front of the Visitor Center, showing the variety of military arsenal used at the time. After we finished at the Visitor Center, we loaded the kids up and drove thru the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park where the battle took place. What impressed me was that there were a multitude of memorials erected in the memory of those that had fought. (Most of the 1,400 monuments and historical markers on the battlefields were planned and placed by Boynton and other veterans of the battles.) We would be driving along and a sign would simply state, this is where General so-and-so fell and died. Very sombering to know that a life — someone’s son, brother, husband, or father — ended there. We stopped by the Wilder Brigade Monument — a tower constructed around 1899 to aid in viewing the national park — and Jes and the older boys climbed the stairs to the top while I stayed in the car with the sleeping littles.

Did you know? The four Union generals given credit for bringing an end to the Civil War (Generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George H. Thomas, and Philip Sheridan) were all in Chattanooga in the autumn of 1863.

Chickamauga Battlefield Tower

Chickamauga Battlefield Tower Top

Did you know? Arthur MacArthur, Jr. was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, November 25, 1863. His son, Douglas MacArthur, was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II.

Cannons on display at Chickamauga Battlefield

Chickamauga Casualties

Did you catch that? About 37,000 men that were killed, wounded or missing! A battle that included 124,000 men! That’s a huge confrontation!

So, when I saw the little cabin (see pic below) used as the outpost for treating the wounded on either side, I couldn’t help but to think of the numbers of men lying in this very grassy knoll, probably lined up in row after row, hoping to live and survive the excruciating pain as they faced an amputation to survive… Be sure to read the following taken from the reader-board shown next to the boys. (Still can’t believe this home housed a family of NINE!)

Snodgrass Cabin - Chickamauga Battlefield

Snodgrass Cabin

We only spent a few hours at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park as we were headed towards Chattanooga to camp, fish and explore, but we saw a lot, learned more about the Civil War, and it didn’t cost us anything but our fuel. (Awesome!) Hope you check this out if you’re in the area! It’s worth the visit and if you end up visiting, be sure to leave a comment of how it was in the comments below!

Details-Costs

WHAT KIDS CAN LEARN THRU THIS EXPERIENCE:

  • Civil War History
  • Battery Wagons
  • Cannons
  • Visual progression of how guns and rifles developed over time

You’ll walk where Confederate and Union soldiers fought in the bloodiest two-day battle of the war on September 19-20, 1863. The Visitor’s Center offers exhibits, bookstore, Fuller Gun Collection of American Shoulder Arms and 23-minute film.

Cost to go thru the Visitor Center:
Adults – Free
Seniors (65 and over) – Free
Active Military Personnel – Free (with ID)
Students – Free
Children 12 and under – Free*
*Be sure to ask for a Junior Ranger Packet which is free and a great teaching tool.

Point Park on top of Lookout Mountain is the only Designated Fee Area located within Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP. The fee is $5.00 per adult (age 16 or older). Children 15 years or younger are free.


TIPGet a national parks pass and gain free admission into any National Park in the country.


Hours:
Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 am to 5 pm Eastern Click here for more details.
*Visitor Centers are closed New Year’s Day and Christmas.

Tours:
The historic Cravens House on Lookout Mountain is open for tours Saturday and Sunday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the summer. Cravens House closes at 5 p.m. Contact Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center at 423-821-7786 for additional information. For additional tours offered click here.

Pets are more than welcome in the park. However, please remember to keep them leashed at all times.

Be sure to check the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Web site for possible re-enactments around the time of the battle’s anniversary (September 19-20)

See Map Graphic
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
3370 Lafayette Rd
Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742
(706) 866-9241

Also nearby is the 6th Calvery Museum, Lee and Gordon’s Mill, and Lookout Mountain, tour Ruby Falls and ride the world’s steepest passenger railway at Incline Railway.

Map of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park 

Click Map to Enlarge


Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

 

5kidsandarv-approved5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business, agency, or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents to engage and explore with their children. As always, whenever trying something new, please use your own good judgement in what best suits the needs of your family to keep everyone safe while having fun.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today.”
Copyright 2016

3 Safety Tips to Know before You Go

We had been hitting the books hard this past week with school and the guys were ready for some R&R, so when we saw that the weather was going to be a warmer winter day in the 60s, fishing was the order of the day.

My 15YO dove into our Falcon Guide for Fishing Georgia and we settled on his idea of a nice little lake near a Girls Scout Campground called Lake Marvin, just of I-75 near Calhoun, GA.  We didn’t mind driving a ways and a small lake sounded manageable for keeping tabs on the boys while they fished.

First off, if you have an RV, this is NOT a RV-friendly route. As we came within a few miles of the lake, we immediately began to climb a hill with a severe grade and sharp switch backs. Great for a motorcyclist wanting to enjoy a fun ride — not great for a RV trying to just get up and down the hill and around corners. DO NOT attempt this in an RV, I repeat, do not attempt this hill. We were not towing our RV when we took this day trip and I’m glad for it. It would have been a nightmarish repeat of our California experience (which I’ll post about another time). But I digress.

Lake Marvin near Calhoun GA

So we arrive at this pristine pretty little lake just down the road from the Girl Scout Camp. It has a boat launch and a dock that squeaks when you walk on it (and it even squeaks from the water movement — lets just say it’s got a very squeaky dock.) Signs about use were posted and it was pretty clear that if you weren’t there to fish, you were considered to be trespassing (I’ll come back to this in a bit). Cost to launch a boat was $2 and each angler was $5. Kids under 12 were free to fish, so we only needed to pay for our two older boys and their launch fee.  (By the way, all funds go to help keep the lake stocked and cared for by the Girl Scouts Organization according to signage — a great group to support so be sure to pay the fee.) There was a primitive restroom just off of the parking lot as well. The location was nice and clean and the garbage can we used had been recently emptied.

Lake Marvin rules

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fishing poles waiting to be used

fishing off the dock

So, we unloaded the kayaks and the boys were on their way in no time. We set up our 6YO on the dock with life vest and fishing pole rigged and ready to cast and our 11YO worked on making some hot chocolate on a little camp stove we brought along.

Lake Marvin Kayaks

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Hot chocolate

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It was a quiet site with only the occasional motorist going by on the road not far from where we were situated.  Our 3YO busied herself with finding pinecones and my husband even set up our son’s hammock and took a bit of a rest. Ahhhh, this is how a Saturday should be spent… simply relaxing. Our 6YO son decided it was more fun to throw pinecones into the lake instead of fish, so an imaginary naval assault broke the quiet calm.

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Kickin it in a hammock

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About a couple of hours into our visit, a car pulled into the lot and some teenagers — two boys and a girl — got out and walked off down a little trail along the lake. They seemed to be local. No fishing rods were in hand, so technically, they were breaking the posted rules. Not too long after, they re-emerged and headed off down the road. Then about a half hour later, another car pulled in to the parking lot. This group of three — this time, it was two women and a man — looked a little unsavory and their car looked like it was being lived in with stuff piled in the back seat leaving only room for someone to sit to the side.  What was odd from the get-go was how one grown woman asked the other grown woman to hold her hand on the way to the bathroom. My Mama-safety-senses began to tingle. That is not something most women say, nor do. Even still, we greeted one another and one of the women grabbed a fishing pole and headed to the dock. She hung out for about 10-15 minutes on the dock and then gave up declaring that no fish seemed to be biting.  (And no, she didn’t pay the $5 use fee.) They said good-bye to us and loaded up into their car as if they were going to leave and then oddly, they pulled back over near the bathrooms and turned off the car, then got out and all three went to the restrooms. The two women, oddly enough, went into the same restroom and were in there for about 15 minutes. Folks, I had been in this restroom earlier and it was not roomy. It was basically an open hole with a toilet seat. Noticing their odd behavior, my Mama-safety-senses were in full alert mode and I was put a little at ease when my husband showed me he was packing. There was no wi-fi or phone signal in this location, so if we were robbed or if Lord forbid something worse happened, we needed to be able to defend ourselves. Like a mother hen, I kept my younger three close and ready to throw in the back of the truck if need be while my husband watched the situation. Eventually the women re-emerged from the bathroom, got in their car and drove off (thankfully) down the road.

I know the purpose of this blog is to encourage you to travel and explore, so I don’t want to instill fear, but I want to be open in sharing this experience because the reality is unfortunately that we live in a world where there are some folks that break the law and aren’t safe. I was glad my husband was prepared to defend us if needed and doubly-glad that we didn’t need to take action to defend our family. Trust your gut in these situations. It’s better to err on the side of over-safe than not safe-enough in my opinion. It was a great opportunity to talk with the kids after-the-fact about maybe putting some better boundaries for our family in place when we go to a location. We need to be able to communicate to get help if need be so cell service is a must, we need to definitely keep within eye sight of one another, and we need to be prepared to defend ourselves if needed.

This is not a location we ever intend to ever go back to — not because the boys didn’t catch anything that day — but it just doesn’t have enough visibility nor is it monitored enough to keep those who aren’t using the lake for fishing away.  So, as for fishing, the trip was a bust, but we still had some great relaxing moments and were reminded that whenever we are out and about, we need to be watchful and aware of our surroundings.  And if you live near this lake and know history of this area, I hope you feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. I’d like to think this is an isolated experience on our part, but locals would know the situation probably best. Just be safe in your travels while having fun!

What Donna taught me…

While in college, I worked in the Public Relations office.  This is where I met Donna.

Donna was well-traveled for being in her 50s and one thing I quickly learned about Donna was that she always had an upcoming trip on her calendar. She was a fascinating person to listen to as she shared about different sights she had seen and things she had experienced. (I can still picture her with her 35 mm camera hanging on a strap around her neck.)

We became such good friends that after I left college we would continue to stay in touch — she was like a Grandma to me. On one of my visits home, I went to visit her.  I was surprised to learn that Donna didn’t live in a brick and mortar house — her home was at a mobile home park. As I entered her small living space, my eyes quickly surveyed the room and noticed that not only did she have hand-crafted items for decor (like the vibrant afghan crocheted quilt that hung over the back of her sofa), but scattered throughout the room were found objects she had treasured and brought home with her from various trips from all around the world.

In the last five years since her passing, I have finally realized the greatest gift Donna gave me… I saw how she prioritized what mattered to her and on her one-income working as a professional she chose to live simple when it came to her physical home and live large in the world she loved to explore and travel.

Which brings me to an article today that really resonated with me…and reminded me of my friend Donna.

Jay Cassano of Fast Co. writes, “Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” says Gilovich. “You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

“The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things”

My friend Donna didn’t need scientific data to tell her that people mattered to her. Or that travel brought her a sense of happiness since she was an explorer at heart.

And those who are selling their homes and hitting the road in their RVs to work jobs from anywhere in the country are not odd or gypsies… they have simply decided, like my friend Donna, that stuff isn’t as important as experiencing life with others.

That’s why we do what we do. We live simply on one income and say ‘no’ to a lot of material things, so we can say ‘yes’ to experiences together as a family.

In the article, Cassano writes, “We consume experiences directly with other people,” says Gilovich. “And after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.”  This is indeed true for me personally. My life intersected with Donna’s for a little while and she inspired me with how she chose to live life in setting priorities in order to do what she wanted to do. Thank you for that, Donna, I miss you friend. Today, I’m remembering your smile, the camera that hung around your neck, and the cardigans you crocheted for my twins when they were born. Donna, you are part of my story.  ♥

Our life when not RVing | Part-time Job for the between travel times

One of the things about being home we’ve had to consider is how our eldests (we have twins) could earn money to fund their many interests.  I think we’ve come upon something that fits our need to hit the road and has the flexibility to say “no” when it doesn’t fit our family plans. What is it you ask?  Working as a background extra on a movie set.

moviemaking

My older three were recently booked for a movie as background extras and it has been a great fit for our family. Since we homeschool, we can work our studies around when the boys have to work and the work environment when the boys are on location is such that while they are waiting to be in a shot in the holding area, they can work on an assignment.

Atlanta is becoming the second Hollywood some say — filming popular motion pictures like the Hunger Games and the TV show, the Walking Dead. If you want to get started in working as a background extra, you’ll want three professional photos of yourself in various outfits. You’ll also need to know your measurements like height and weight. These details need to be included on the photo along with the color of your hair and eyes — and finally your age.  The casting company will send out certain criteria they are looking for — usually with an age range. If you fit the age range, you’ll want to submit your photo via email and the details that are listed in the casting call. Then you wait. And wait. And maybe you’ll be chosen or maybe not.  I met one father of a 15 year old that said his son had been in four movies as a background and submitted for about 20 casting calls — so don’t expect to get in each time.  And as for our experience, they chose people from all looks and ethnicities, so you never know what the casting company will go for when they are looking for background extras for their movie.

Be prepared for a long work day as a background extra. You’ll need to plan on additional time getting to and from the job site. In addition, you need to expect to work a long day.  Law dictates that anyone who is under 18 is limited to a 10-hour work day, so the kids get paid their hourly rate for the first 8 hours and then overtime is at a designated slightly higher rate.  They expect you to be there no later than 15 minutes prior to your call time (your call time is when you clock in essentially.)  So, a 10-hour work day is really an 11-hr plus commute time there and back for us. When we were called to work as a background extra, the casting company called and discussed what days we would be working. The start time usually varies and you won’t know your call time until the day before. In our case, this movie has the boys booked for 10 days that vary over the course of several months.

Be prepared to furnish your own wardrobe as a background extra. Depending on the needs of the film, the casting company may ask you to bring several outfits. You are to arrive ready to go in the outfit that you like best, but be prepared that Wardrobe may change you into something else. They will also have some clothes as an option depending on your fitting size.  I do have to say that this is the more difficult part of this job for me as I scramble the day before their booking (because they don’t tell you until the day before what you’ll need to bring) to pull together enough wardrobe for three people to bring to set.

If you are interested in looking into this as a possible source of income, you can do a local search for casting agencies in your area. Not only L.A. films, but also in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and elsewhere around the nation depending on the movie being shot’s needs.  You can also go onto Facebook and “Like” these casting companies and select the default to show alerts in the top of your feed. (Heads up: I don’t understand Facebook’s algorithm because I’ve done this step, but it still doesn’t post alerts in my feed, so I have to go to the page to check on updates.) Just be forewarned that you want to make sure it’s a legit casting company. Some have posed as a casting company and requested information including social security numbers. Be careful when submitting that you are working with a reputable casting company.

You have to be able to keep a secret. You are often asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement promising that you will not share details about the film or share on social media sites film details.  You are not even allowed to take photos on set.

If you’re looking to pick up a part time job that gives you flexibility to travel, this is one option that you may want to consider.


*Due to a non-disclosure release form the kids signed, we can’t go into details regarding what the movie is, where it is being shot, or specifics about the movie until after it has released in the box office.

So you don’t think you have enough money to travel…

Quote by Graham Cooke
Our boys exploring the gentle giants — Redwood trees in Northern California — something that has long been a dream of ours to experience.

When you have a dream and chase it, you say no to the things that you might want now in order to experience what you want later.

When everyone is at a movie opening night, you wait to watch that movie until Apple has a digital rental for $4.99.

When others are eating out, you’re eating at home and fixing dinner even though you’re tired and don’t feel like it.

When others get a fancy latte concoction at the local coffee bar, you’re brewing a pot at home.

When others go out for ice cream at the ice cream shop, you go to the grocery store and buy what’s on sale and have a sundae party at home.

When others are upgrading their phone to the latest technology release, you say to yourself, “My phone is just fine – thankful it works” and avoid the Best Buy or the Apple Store.

When others are getting a new car (or new used car), you take care of the one you have and remain thankful she still carries you where you need to go and throw some duct tape on that seat that’s starting to tear from use.

When others go to the nail salon to get a mani-pedi, you pull out your nail clippers and nail polish and give yourself your own mani-pedi.

You clip coupons and look for deals when you have the time to do so.

You don’t run into town whenever you need something, but instead make purposeful trips and stock-up.

You cancel that outrageous Cable/Satilite contract, buy an Apple TV and Netflix membership and your annual cost goes from $1,800 (estimating an average bill of about $150 a month) down to roughly $200 only annually.

Delayed gratification. It’s tough. It’s no fun. It’s doesn’t earn you popularity points on Facebook. But that’s OK, ’cause you’re on a mission to make a dream into a reality.

But when you say “no” to the things that bring pleasure now so you can say “yes” to experiencing something you’ve always wanted, well — there are no words to describe how that moment feels when you reach that goal. Simply amazing.

Want to travel, but you don’t think you can afford it? It’s like Mr Cooke says, “… you must be prepared to do things you’ve never done before.”

Now go chase that dream!

Dream Big! You can do it!

Memphis, TN | Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid – Part 2

Memphis Tennessee

As the rain began to fall, we moved on from the National Ornamental Metal Museum and started heading towards the freeway when we saw this curious building and the logo had our boys’ looking for the entrance in no time as their father led the way.

Rainy day on the way to Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid

As it turned out, Bass Pro Shop had just opened their doors in this location and is one of the largest retail stores in the world. It was a flurry of activity and my Mama-Safety-Senses were on high alert as we rolled into the crowded parking lot towing a 34′ travel trailer. Thankfully, we didn’t hit any other cars and managed to find a spot long enough for our set up along the side of the parking lot near the retaining wall.

As a family with four boys, we were in for a treat.  Walking thru the doors, we entered a Cypress Swamp Waterfowl Habitat complete with towering cypress trees, and an 84,000-gallon alligator habitat, live ducks, and floating boats that you can board and experience on the water (well, experience them floating anyway).

Evidently, the pyramid structure was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County until Shelby County sold its share to Memphis in April 2009.[6] The pyramid design plays on the city’s namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. It is 321 feet (98m, about 32 stories) tall and has base sides of 591 ft.  It is by some measures the tenth tallest pyramid in the world.

Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid in Memphis TN

This location also touts The Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center, an interactive wetlands education museum, a 28-story free-standing elevator with views at the top on their glass observation deck all for a nominal fee, there’s also a restaurant you can go to that overlooks the Mississippi river, an archery range, and in addition to two large levels of shopping, they also have the Big Cypress Lodge, the first hotel inside a Bass Pro Shops, with 103 rustic rooms and tree-house cabins inspired by vintage duck hunting camps.

And no, if you’re wondering if Bass Pro Shop is paying me to tell you how awesome this location is, well, they’re not. It’s really that magnificent. Truly they’ve outdone themselves and no other Bass Pro Shop will ever feel quite as cool to my boys now. (sad sigh)

We did some shopping for boots for one of our boys and grabbed some snacks from the general store which touts long lines and an amazing fudge assortment. The boys also had fun shooting in the Bass Pro’s shooting arcade and my husband and I somehow managed to keep our five-year-old from falling into the water that had easy access at various points in the retail location.  My husband, who loves to barbecue, enjoyed their great selection of barbecuers and smokers.

Overall, it was a little hairy getting into the parking lot with our travel trailer and construction still going on, but in all, it worked out and we were able to find a spot to park.  (You should note that this location does not allow overnight parking as some Bass Pro Shops usually do. We easily spent a couple of hours here.) Although I normally lean towards educational museums or national landmarks, there’s something to be said about taking advantage of local attractions or business offerings that fit the interest of your family.

Details-Costs

WHAT KIDS CAN LEARN THRU THIS EXPERIENCE:

  • There are a variety of fish in the large tanks — some kids would not normally be able to view due to locale and muddy waters.
  • Target practice with the shooting arcade.
  • How to market a product to meet the desires of a consumer.

It took us about an hour-and-a-half to go thru the museum buildings and walk around the grounds. Here are the details for planning your budget and outing…

Things to do:
– 28-story free-standing elevator
– two restaurants if you wish to dine there
– a spot to bowl
– shooting arcade for young and old alike

RV parking available along the side of the parking lot and in the back.
*Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian. Be sure to check their website before you visit to see if there are any other restrictions as things change from the time of this posting. 


TIP: Bring a picnic lunch on a nice spring or fall day! They have a couple of picnic tables and a lovely courtyard. If you go on a Saturday or Sunday, you may be able to see a demonstration. Check the Web site for details.


Hours:
Mon – Sat:  8am – 10pm
Sun:  8am – 7pm

Aquarium and Fish Feeding
Every day: 10am and 5pm

Alligator Feeding
Tue, Thu, and Sat: 2pm

For a more enjoyable visit, plan to spend 1–2 hours.

See Map Graphic
Bass Pro Shop at the Pyramid
1 Bass Pro Drive
Memphis Pyramid, TN 38105
901-291-8200


Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!

5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.

5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!