Just like we shared yesterday, we are having a staycation this week! We are trying to do things that we don’t normally get to do in our area! Yesterday, we shared that although we have a basic zoo membership, we made it more vacation like by adding a train ride, carousel and dinner at the zoo – things we never normally do!
Well, the next day, Tuesday, we did something that we hardly ever do; we visited a place called Thanksgiving Point. It is about an hour south of us, plus it is super expensive. Well, all month long (August 2012), they have what’s called two-buck-Tuesday. It means that all venues are only $2 per person! This is a huge savings for our family of 7!
We decided to visit Farm Country which includes real farm animals and museum like exhibits related to farming!
Even more fun, they have live pony rides! Our kids go completely crazy over live animal activities! Well, so does the rest of the state…. due to the deeply discounted $2 entry fee and the popularity of the pony ride, Alex was in line a very long time! You may not be able to tell due to the differences in the angle of the camera, but in that 45 minutes he didn’t make it very far – just a few feet! 🙂
Right when we got there, Alex got in line with two of the kids in the stroller and stayed in line the whole time. Myself and the older three kids stayed in line here and there, but then would go explore the farm. We visited the whole farm and all of the exhibits taking our time. Alex was still in line! We waited with him the final 45-minutes, but it was about a 2-hour line.
However, it was totally worth it as the kids just had some much fun riding on ponies for about 2-minutes each (yes, 2-hour wait for a 2-minute ride 🙂 Baby Josiah was so excited! He could hardly stand it! In fact, when we had to take him off, he threw one of his first fits in his life at 15 months old – a clear sign he is heading straight to the 2-year old stage. He didn’t understand why he had to get off and he started crying and then threw himself onto the ground and cried and cried prostrate on the outdoor floor. He wouldn’t understand if we tried to explain – but he had 2 minutes of pure joy and several minutes of pure unhappiness. So at least we know he thoroughly enjoyed those 2-minutes!
And don’t forget the pony he was riding – as you can see by the picture, the pony Baby Josiah is on is either disgusted, silly or pooped! He was the smallest pony of the bunch, so who knows what he was thinking 🙂 But it sure makes for a candid picture! Can you spot what we are talking about?
So then next on our daily adventure, across the street from Thanksgiving Point is Cabela’s. We have never actually stepped foot in our Cabela’s that’s been here, but we had so many people tell us it is like a outdoorsy museum inside of a store and more than worth driving to one and visiting! We’ve been hearing this for years and this Cabela’s has been open for 7 years (and 1-hour from us), but we just never visited.
Well this was the day and boy were we ever surprised by the amount of fun we had! I honestly thought it would be a quick in – see a few things and a quick out! But NO, we were there for three hours! Yes, inside the store, not shopping, not window shopping, but seeing the sites they had for 3 whole hours! That is just how much there was to see!
First, they had this giant aquarium room where there was a long hallway with very large tanks on either side of us! It was a lot of fun including different types of fish like bass, trout (different types), catfish and more – but that was all I can name and identify 🙂
Then they had an African Animals room (you can see a snippet of this display in the bottom left of the above image) where they all types of animals from Africa from the lions to the many horned animals that I cannot remember the name of right now – LOL!
They also had a big mountain with “fake” snow-covered caps with many animals that you would find in colder weather and Yellowstone! Elk, deer, grizzly bear, long-horn sheep, mountain lions and mountain goats just to name a few.
Next, they had this large room called the “Big Game Room” meaning big animals like more Elk, Deer, Moose, Bears, and more. There was a talking wax figure hunter-guy that would tell you stories and facts about hunting and living in the wilderness.
And then not to mention animal after animal in every nook and corner of the store. It was crazy!
Honestly, I would have to say that there were at least 300 – 400 animals throughout the store, maybe more when counting all of the fish and bird species too!
On the upper level – they had a restaurant where we enjoyed an ice-cream treat. The kids and I either had pushpops or ice cream sandwiches, but Alex chose a bowl of Cabela’s own baked beans for his ice cream treat 🙂 Well, when baby Josiah saw daddy’s “ice cream treat” he kept pushing the ice cream sandwich I was sharing with him out of his way and wanted baked beans instead. Let’s just say that daddy was proud he went for the “man” treat in the “man” store 😉
Also on the top level, they had a “Shooting Gallery.” For .50, you got 20 shots and so we let everyone take a “shot” at it! I must say, it was fun and for being the first time ever shooting a gun whether real or fake (fake in this case :)), the kids were actually quite good and got much better scores than I even did! But I cannot claim to be good at it as I haven’t ever tried either! Alex taught all of us as he is the only one with experience. His favorite target for target practice was his college textbooks many moons ago (yes those unthrifty days of ours when he could have sold his books back for cash, but no, that is not what an unthrifty couple does, it is far more fun to shoot up hundreds of dollars of textbooks instead!).
Finally, after being there for nearly three hours, we decided to visit the Bargain Cave of the store. Yes, now that we are The Thrifty Couple, we couldn’t skip the Bargain Cave. Good thing as Baby Josiah found a stuffed black bear on clearance for .50 – so yes – we bought him a souvenir for .50! The only other thing we walked out with was a gift for a friend that is moving out of state. But we managed after 3-hours to have tons of fun and only spend a bit on shooting tokens and ice cream as all of the other adventures were FREE!
Again, I never imagined that we would have so much fun inside of a Cabela’s! I don’t know if all are this way, but if you ever get a chance, stop by and visit and maybe you will find yourself several hours of fun for no money if you can avoid the stuff!
Now one of our rules for this Staycation was that we would eat breakfast at home, pack a lunch and allow ourselves to enjoy dinner out without feeling guilty. This is where the bulk of our Staycation budget is going – but eating out is a treat for us and something that use to get us in lots of financial trouble!
But even though we are allowing ourselves dinner out and not feeling guilty about it, doesn’t mean we can try and get a deal! So just about 5 minutes up the road from Thanksgiving Point and Cabela’s, what do we have…..an IKEA! IKEA is like Cabela’s in that its a store where you can go and enjoy yourself; our family loves to go just for the fun of it! We don’t get to go often because it is an hour away!
But as it was Tuesday, you can’t guess what we were excited about (check out the huge banner we spotted from the freeway)! Yes, you know exactly what we were thinking – CHEAP dinner out! As soon as we got in the store, we reserved a spot for the kids in Sma’land (the free kids playarea with supervised IKEA staff so you can shop/eat while they play!). It was a 40 minute wait for them to get into Sma’land so then we went to the Restaurant and the best part is that their food is already affordable, so Alex and I were able to get the 15 meatball combo with drink, salad, mashed potatoes and lignonberries for only $5.99 each! Plus all 5 of our kids got free kids meals and so all 7 of us at for $12!! Even better is that we did sign-up for the IKEA Family (it’s free) for a lot of extra freebies and even an extra 30 minutes of play for the kids in Sma’land. We posted about this before with the details on the FREE IKEA Family membership HERE.
Then the kids got to play in one of their favorite playlands. It made for a great end to the day! So we ended the day at IKEA and spent very little money for a whole day of fun!
Here’s the total $14 at Farm Country for all 7 of us, Ice Cream and shooting practice for less than $10 and a Swedish themed dinner and play for $12. There are not many ways to have that much fun and eat for 7 people on a vacation day! Oh… let’s not forget the .50 for Baby Josiah’s souvenir either 🙂
Catch Up with our 2012 Staycation with the links below: