Fredericksburg is just over an hour's drive from Arlington (our home). I, however, had a planned stop along the way. The girls' very favorite restaurant is Cracker Barrel. There are no Cracker Barrel restaurants located near our house, but there is one in Dumfries, Virginia, which is approximately the halfway point between Arlington and Fredericksburg. The girls and I enjoyed a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel as well as the roaring fire in the Cracker Barrel fireplace. Clare ate pancakes. Meg ate eggs and biscuit. Baby Anne ate eggs and sausage. Everyone was very happy. Usually at Cracker Barrel we stop by the front porch to rock in the rocking chairs and play checkers, but Saturday was far too cold for that, so we headed to Fredericksburg.
I've been to Fredericksburg twice and both time I was fooled by the Route 1 split just before you get to the downtown area. On Friday, I dropped and broke my phone, so I did not have my Waze app to guide me out of my confusion. (My dead phone is also the reason no pictures accompany this post.) Eventually, I found the Children's Museum.
The Children's Museum is located in a storefront and is not much to look at from the outside. Happily inside is a very different story. The museum is one huge room divided into many play areas. There is a dress up area that includes a lighted stage. There is a bank, a diner, a dentist office. There is a mountain of tires for the kids to climb. There is a real car that the kids can climb through and explore.
Baby Anne's favorite play area was the grocery store. In addition to attempting to eat the plastic bananas, she loved the grocery carts. As I mentioned recently, Baby Anne is not yet walking, but she is an excellent cruiser. Once she steadied herself behind the mini grocery cart, she pushed it all over the museum. I let her do this for a ridiculous amount of time, but finally decided I needed to distract her so others could use the cart. My attempts at distraction failed and she threw a huge fit. Whenever she would see another child pushing one of the carts, she would chase after them and try to steal the cart away. One three-year-old girl was terrified of our 15-month-old Baby Anne due to this manoeuvre. I realize the third child in the family must be tough and all, but that was kind of ridiculous.
Meg and Clare's favorite play area--by far--was the art studio. I must say it was the best kids art studio we've run across. In addition to preset stations, there were bins of craft supplies for the kids to choose from and use. There were fabric squares, pieces of scrap paper (of all colors and patterns), pipe cleaners, egg cartons, CD cases and those fluffy little balls. The kids were free to glue, paint, color and create...and create Meg and Clare did. I have no idea how many craft projects we came home with. At one point in the afternoon an announcement was made that there would be an art class. The interested children gathered around a table and made a green eggs and ham craft in honor of Dr. Seuss's birthday.
With the drive to and from Fredericksburg, the stop at Cracker Barrel and three hours of play at the Children's Museum, this was a full day activity. Not only were the kids occupied, they had a wonderful time. This is definitely an outing I will keep in mind when the need for a long outing arises in the future.