Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Watkins Regional Park, Upper Marlboro, MD

Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro is a great little park that has great facilities. As you enter, follow the yellow brick road as this park is themed to The Wizard of Oz! In addition to a mix of shaded and sunny spots, this park is also equipped with a colorful rubber mat, Dorothy's house, ruby red slipper slides, and more. There are also several slides, places to climb, and many swings, so the lines never seemed to long. We also really appreciated that there were clean restrooms (not portapotties), a water fountain right on the premises, and many shaded picnic tables lining the back of the park.

When you are finished having fun at the park, simply walk across the parking lot and you will also find Watkins Regional Park's other great amenities, including a small walking farm, mini golf, carousel, nature center, tennis bubble, and train. They also have camping sites and hiking trails that allow you to immerse yourself in nature. This park definitely has what it takes to keep younger and older kids happy for quite a while. I would say 2-9 years old are the most appropriate ages to enjoy the park. (Note: The park is wheelchair accessible, but the actual playground does not have much in the way of ramps. However, the small walking farm is wheelchair accessible).

Hours for the train, mini golf and carousel:
-Summer hours (Tues-Sat, 10am-7pm; Sundays 12 noon-5pm)
-These amenities are closed on Mondays
-Operating hours are subject to change without notice due to inclement weather and unforeseen emergencies

Park is open from dawn to dusk

Contact Info:
General Information:
301-218-6700; TTY 301-699-2544 
Camping Information:
301-218-6702; TTY 301-699-2544
Picnic Area Reservations:
301-699-2400; TTY 301-699-2544
Athletic Field Permits:
301-446-6800; TTY 301-699-2544

Website: http://www.pgparks.com/Things_To_Do/Nature/Watkins_Regional_Park.htm

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington DC

Were you ever curious about how money was made? Did you ever wonder why it would be so difficult to make counterfeit money? Or perhaps you might have interest in how much money they print each day? All of these questions and more are answered on this tour. 

There are certainly a great deal of benefits to living so close to our nation's capital. One of those benefits is the ability to visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. With only two locations in the United states where paper currency is made (the other is Texas), this is a very cool tour that kept my 7 and 9 year old boys interested for the full 40 minute tour. As you walk through the building led by a tour guide, she takes the group through the 4 stages of how money is made. My kids were fascinated by the huge printing presses and the box showing what 1 million dollars in 10 dollar bills looks like. They also loved the friendly factory worker who made sure that even though we were at a window above the factory, he held up the sheets of money for us to see, and then behind the glass wall, he pulled out a laminated sign that he made that said "I love my job"! We all got a good chuckle from that.

In terms of acquiring tickets, there is a ticket booth on the side of the building, where you wait in line for FREE tickets. The line opens up at 8am. You wait in line and get tickets based on availability (you get to choose from the available times). The booth is only open until they are all out of tickets. We got there at 8:15am and there was already a long line. The line did move quickly, but by the time we got to the front, all of the 9:00am and 9:15am tickets were already given out. We could have chosen a time in the afternoon and went to do something else, but we chose 9:30am, and waited by the front of the building until it was our turn. Once you go inside, you are not allowed to take pictures other than in the lobby before the start of the tour, and afterwards in the small gift shop that you come out into at the end of the tour. All in all, this was an enjoyable trip that my boys will remember.

Website: http://www.moneyfactory.gov/washingtondctours.html

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