When our girls were little, we often struggled to find easy vacation ideas. There were so many times when we wished someone would just pull it all together for us so we didn’t have to read a bunch of reviews and try to figure out if an attraction would be good for preschoolers. Luckily for Chicago-area parents, the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau sent this list of 11 places to take your children before kindergarten.
What’s great about the Quad Cities is that it is an easy drive to a reasonably priced location. There are a lot of places along the way to stop and let the kids burn off some energy. Along the way, don’t forget to watch the bald eagles on the Mississippi River.
1. Nahant Marsh
Most kids are nature lovers – and Nahant Marsh in Davenport, Iowa, is the perfect spot to nurture that love. Hike the trails, look for wildlife, and even have a chance to meet the turtles and snakes inside the education center. Nahant Marsh is home to over 150 species of birds; more than 400 species of plants; and a wide variety of animals. For more information, visit www.nahantmarsh.org
2. Putnam Museum and Science Center
The Putnam Museum and Science Center in Davenport, Iowa, is such a great resource. At every visit, you’ll see kids learning something new. The Science Center has more than 45 hands-on stations. For more information, visit www.putnam.org
3. Davenport Skybridge
A great stop for wild kids when cabin fever hits, the skybridge is a wonderful spot to take in the panoramic sights of downtown Davenport, Iowa; burn off some energy, and talk about colors as the LED lights pulse through the skybridge. For more information, visit www.cityofdavenportiowa.com
4. Figge Art Museum
“If you think your child is too young to appreciate art, you are mistaken,” says blogger Kim Woodward. “There are loads of great opportunities for the youngest kids at the Figge Art Museum, including a great Family Activity Center for hands-on opportunities.” For more information about the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, visit www.figgeartmuseum.org
5. John Deere Pavilion
You don’t have to journey far to see the reach of agriculture in the Quad Cities area. Learn about the history of John Deere and give kids hands-on learning opportunities in the kid-friendly Discovery Zone at the John Deere Pavilion in Moline, Ill. For more information, visit www.visitjohndeere.com
6. Niabi Zoo
Many of us have visited Niabi Zoo, but you can never visit too often. Learning about animals, how they live, and how to protect them is so important for kids at any age. For more information, visit www.niabizoo.com
7. Fryxell Geology Museum
Located on Augustana College’s campus in Rock Island, Ill., here’s a good chance you didn’t even know this museum existed – and what a shame! Once you visit, you’ll be looking for a time to go back. Discover real dinosaur fossils, learn about the history of the area, and marvel over the unique fluorescent mineral display. For more information, visit www.augustana.edu
8. Sunderbruch Park
This beautiful oasis is located in the heart of west Davenport – and it’s a great place to hike, learn about plants, insects and animals, and even learn about dinosaurs in Iowa. It’s a true hidden gem. For more information, visit www.cityofdavenportiowa.com
9. Family Museum
The Family Museum in Bettendorf, Iowa, is a mecca for children to experience hands-on learning. “My favorite part of the space is that it gives kids a peek into different careers – from retail to engineering and from farming to medicine,” says Woodward. “Plus, it’s just plain fun!” for more information, visit www.familymuseum.org
10. Quad City Botanical Center
Did you know that you can get a taste of tropics all year in the Quad Cities? Visit the Quad City Botanical Center in Rock Island, Ill., all year for great opportunities to learn about plants and habitats. In the winter, kids can visit the indoor gardens, feed the fish, and play in a giant sand pile. In the summer, the Botanical Center opens one of the best outdoor water play areas in the Quad Cities. for more information, visit www.qcgardens.com
11. Miss Effie’s Country Flowers and Garden Stuff
There are tons of reasons kids love visiting Miss Effie’s – space to run, picking flowers in the summer, and even spotting barn cats and chickens. And the secret is, they’ll be learning about living on a farm and where our food actually comes from, and it’s not the grocery store. For more information, visit www.misseffiesflowers.com
Discover these and many more marvels on the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities. Contact the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau at 800-747-7800 or visit their website at www.visitquadcities.com.
The Quad Cities is located on the Mississippi River and is made up of the riverfront cities of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa, and Moline, East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois. The area is just a 2-½ hour drive from Des Moines, Iowa, and Chicago, Illinois. It is easily accessible via I-80, I-74, I-88 and several major state highways.
Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times the Fun. Image courtesy of Family Museum.
Category: Shari's Corner