Saturday, January 7, 2017

Top Five places our family loves in Aberdeen, WA

Once again, as I said in this post, I often wonder where the locals really hang out in the places I visit (or when I move to a new place). So, I am going to share my top five local hang out spots from the places I have lived.   I posted about OmahaSpokane, and Scottsdale so far. Today's city is not as big or as well known, but equally loved by our family: Aberdeen, WA! 
Today's Top 5: Aberdeen
If you have heard of Aberdeen, you either live in Grays Harbor or are a Nirvana/Kurt Cobain fan. Aberdeen is known as the place where Kurt Cobain grew up, the place he "escaped". But locals don't really like to be know for that. And to be fair, it is so much more than just the place Kurt Cobain was from. When driving through Aberdeen to get the the ocean, you probably get a poor impression of the city because the area you drive through is basically the part of town that is in the worst shape. Plus there is a big homelessness problem in Aberdeen and you will see it as you drive through. 
But at the heart of Aberdeen is everyday working people that are quirky, and loving, and fun. It is a small community where the mayor is your neighbor and little league football field is the place to be on Saturdays. Where Friday nights in the fall will find the whole town at the high school football game, Where a thriving theater community is prevalent. It is a place where kids have opportunities to really develop their talents with involved families and community members. It is a place where the neighbors all know each other and watch out for one another.
And this little community is the place that I most recently left a little piece of my heart! The people make this city what it is, so it's good to know where they all hang out. 
Here is my list of the Top 5 Places where I hung out in Aberdeen with my family: 

What is it? A gym, swimming pool, sports center, preschool, etc.

My Experience with it: When I moved to Aberdeen, several people told me to joint he YMCA. I did because I thought it would be good for sports and activities for the family and I hoped I would be motivated to work out. I had no idea how much time I would spend at the Y. It is really a hub of activity for the community. I worked out there, my kids took swim lessons and played sports, and my youngest even went to preschool there (best preschool in town!). So, I had a lot of experience with the YMCA in a lot of different areas. And I can tell you, I talked to half the town at the Y each week! People participate in Y programs and work out there. It is a local hang out! I miss the Y!

Where is it? 2500 Simpson Ave, Hoquiam, WA 98550

What does it cost and what can you do there? OK, so admittedly as a visitor to Aberdeen/Hoquiam, this might not be the main hang out, but it is on my list because I was literally here daily.  Often I was there multiple times a day. There is a ton to do there-free swim or swimming lessons, working out, playing sports, taking classes, preschool, etc. There is even a drop in child care area so parents can work out in peace for an hour and a half/day. If you are living in or near Aberdeen/Hoquiam, you really should get an annual membership (Membership rates and details can be found here) AND as a visitor, you CAN get a day pass-it would be worth the cost to swim during open pool time with the family! 
2. Little League Football field and baseball field

What is it? Little league football and baseball fields/games

What is my experience with it? My sons played little league football every year we lived there. They did not play baseball, but baseball is even bigger in town than football. The little league games are actually fun to go watch and they have great facilities, The little league baseball fields are in south Aberdeen and the football little league plays home games on the same field that Aberdeen High school plays their games on. Lots of the locals come to the games. If you are visiting town you will likely find a big group of people to meet or visit with at these events. Plus they are entertaining (my husband was assistant coach and he got booted out of the game by the ref at the very first away game. The ref was an idiot...BUT, It can get a little heated out there, but is just pure entertainment to watch). There are always great concessions to buy that help support the programs too, so come hungry and just plan to stay for the day and watch all the games! :) 

Where are they? Aberdeen Little League Baseball fields/Pioneer Park Sports Complex: 214 S Tildon . The Aberdeen Little League Football plays at Stewart Field: 800 Willard St  Stewart Field is also where you will find half the town each Friday night in Fall cheering on the Aberdeen football team, the other half of town is usually cheering Hoquiam high school! :) 

What does it cost and what can I do there? Go watch some kids sports and eat some food to support the organizations! Admission to games is usually a donation and food prices vary, 

3. Bishop Center 

What is it? A performing arts center/theater

What is my experience with it? Right after moving to Aberdeen, my oldest son was asked to sing with the Grays Harbor Symphony at a Christmas performance at the Bishop Center (You can watch his performance here). Shortly after that, my husband, oldest son and I were in Les Miserables there, and just this year my middle son played Michael Banks in Mary Poppins there. We have also gone to watch quite a few shows there. The shows are Phenomenally well done and the special events are always entertaining! 

Where is it? Located on the campus of Grays Harbor College. Address is: 

What does it cost and what can you do there? There is a variety of special event shows that come here as well as Orchestra and Choral performances and main stage theater productions twice a year. Prices vary for each show. They are currently rehearsing for Anything Goes which will open in March. Check out all the upcoming events here.

4. 7th Street Theater

What is it? A theater in Hoquiam

My Experience with it: This theater, like Bishop center, has special events that come through (even Macklemore stopped here on his small town tour last year!). There are monthly movie nights as well. BUT my main experience with this theater was working as a board member for the group 7th Street KIDS. Each summer the KIDS group puts on a musical in 6 weeks with kids ages 7-16. And they are great! They also do a mini-camp show that is a 2 week long program with a short musical for ages 6-12. My kids were in Honk!, My Son Pinocchio, and my younger daughter played Baloo in Jungle Book Kids version (at mini camp). So, I have a special place in my heart for the summer show put on by 7th Street KIDS! 

Where is it? 313 7th Street, Hoquiam, WA 98550

What Does it cost and what can you do there? There are a lot of special events happening at the theater with varying prices. Check out the list of upcoming events here. (Notice Hoquiam High school performs their musical here each year-I wish I could see Little Shop of Horrors next month!!!) And take note of their popular Movie series!

5. Sam Benn Park and Finch Park

What are they? Parks, they are both parks

My experience with them: Yeah, I know I am cheating on this one as this is clearly two different parks. But guys, I have to include both because my kids liked Sam Benn best, but Finch has a spray ground, so I couldn't ignore that appeal. So, this is a two for one! 

Where are they? Sam Benn: 300 Hanna Ave, Finch: 608 W Sumner.

What can I do there and what does it cost? FREE! Parks to play at for free! Sam Benn is my kids favorite as it has disc golf, a playground, basketball courts, and usually their friends were there! But I am including Finch here too because on a hot summer day you will find LOTS of friends cooling off at the spray ground there. Finch also has a playground, covered picnic tables, basketball courts and a baseball diamond. 

Honorable mentions: 
  • Rainier Lanes Bowling at 415 W Heron, Aberdeen (Fun place to bowl with a mini golf area and some arcade games. It's right by Safeway)
  • Lake Sylvia at 1812 N Lake Sylvia Rd, Montesano, WA 98563. LOVE this place. The only reason it's not on my list is because it is Montesano! Go there! (You need a Discover Pass
  • Harborena at 2112 Simpson Ave in Hoquiam. Fun Skating spot. My kids loved it.
  • Extreme Fun Center in the Mall at 901 S Boone St in Aberdeen. This place opened right about the time we moved away, but we went back to visit and spent some time here. If we lived in Aberdeen still, this would be a major hang out I am sure! It is a lot of fun! Check it out! 
  • Coming Attractions Movie Theater in the mall at 1017 S Boone St (the other side of the mall from the Extreme Fun Center). 

Beckees Top Five Places to hang out in Scottsdale with the Fam

Once again, as I said in this post, I often wonder where the locals really hang out in the places I visit (or when I move to a new place). So, I am going to share my top five local hang out spots from the places I have lived.   I posted about Omaha and about Spokane so far. 

Today's Top 5: Scottsdale
So, after living in Omaha for 8 years (with a one year break in the middle in Spokane), we moved to Scottsdale, AZ where my husband was doing a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic there. So, like Spokane, it was only a  year spent there, but unlike Spokane, I was not on bed rest! :) Yeah! We loved Scottsdale and really tried to take advantage of the beautiful sunny weather! I learned that I love hot places. I had great air conditioning in our rental house (and basically everywhere), so the extremely hot summers didn't even bother me. It was actually a pretty heavenly year. 

In no particular order, here are my top 5 favorite Family hang outs in (and around) Scottsdale: 

1. Fountain Hill Park 

What is it? A Park surrounding a lake with fountain. With a disc golf course and a Spray ground (important stuff in Scottsdale)!

My Experience with it: I know, this is not in Scottsdale, but in Fountain Hills. But guys, I love it here. Seriously, LOVE it! From where we lived, it was a short drive up to Fountain Hills. It was a very oft visited park for us since we love disc golf and the splash pad was a great place to cool off in the Arizona heat. I would guess we came here once a week at least...

Where is it? 12925 N Seguaro Boulevard, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268 

What can you do there and what does it cost? FREE to disc golf, play on the playground or splash pad, or to walk around the park). But since you will already be in Fountain Hills, you should stop over and spend some money on some of the most delectable chocolates ever at Chocofin! YUM! 
2. Lost Dog Wash Trailhead in McDowell Sonoran Preserve 

What is it? Hiking Trails in a preserve

My Experience with it: We like to hike and be active as a family as much as possible, so this was an awesome find! When my kids started school in Arizona, we discovered that there was a parking area and trail head for great hikes, just past their school. It was awesome. So close to home, and really fun! We went on these trails often. Once or twice a month at least. They are family friendly, but stay on the trails to avoid the walking cacti. And MAKE SURE to bring WATER!!! (Gotta stay hydrated in that hot climate)

Where is it? Located at the North end of 124th Street beyond Anasazi Elementary School. (Go to Anasazi at 12121 N 124th St in Scottsdale, drive north past the school and you will drive right into the parking lot for the trail heads)

What can you do there and what does it cost? You can hike some awesome trails! It's FREE! Bring Water!

3. Camelback

What is it? Another Hiking Spot, right in the middle of town

My Experience with it: Here is where I get to hang my head in shame. I only tried to hike this 2 times, both times we had all our kids with us. The youngest 2 were 1 and 3 at the time. It was hard to help them up and at some point I turned around with them both times and sent my husband the rest of the way up with the older kids. So, I have never made it to the top. It is now a bucket list item to do so! Side note-if you have young kids like that it may be a tougher hike than they can handle...but if youare fit and can help them, you can totally make it. BRING WATER though...

Where is it? There are 2 trails up. Echo Canyon Tail parking is at 4925 E. McDonald Dr. And Cholla Trail (which incidentally does NOT have parking at the trail head) is at 6131 E. Cholla Lane. But you can park down the street. Here is the official page with info about Camelback. Also Check out this page for some great info about where to park when planning to hike either of these trails. 

What can you do there and what does it cost? Hike. Hike to the top of Camelback then come back here and shame me for not making it to the top. Oh, it's free, but parking is a beast so plan to go early in the morning (like 4 am early) or plan to take a while to park. BRING WATER!!! Staying hydrated in the AZ heat is super duper important friends! 

Please check out this awesome site for lots of info about Camelback.  

4. Phoenix Zoo

What is it? A zoo.

My experience with it: One of my biggest regrets about my time in Scottsdale is that I did not discover the zoo sooner. It was my own fault really. Lots of friends told me to go, but I just honestly didn't want to pay. But near the end of our year there, my mother in law came to visit and she and I decided to fork out the big bucks and take the kids there. 

Where is it? 455 N Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008  

What can you do there and what does it cost? First of all, as I mentioned above, it is expensive (base prices are about $25/day for ages 14+, $15/day for ages 3-13. Free for ages 2 and under), but it was worthwhile to spend some time there. In retrospect I should have bought a membership when I first moved there and we for sure would have made it worth the $170 it costs for the Family membership (Now I have enough kids over the age of 3 that I would need to buy the $270Family Plus plan, but I still think that would be worth it.)  BUT there really is a lot to do there. Obviously there are lots of cool animal exhibits, but they also have (for additional costs) a 4-D theater, a train, a carousel and camel rides.

5. Wet N Wild Phoenix

What is it? An awesome water park

My Experience with it: Let me tell you something, when we were moving to Scottsdale, most of the houses had pools. I searched and searched for a house without a pool because I had 5 kids under 10 years old and none of them were great swimmers (ironic as I am now living in Yakima and looking to buy a house with a pool). I quickly regretted that decision (though I did feel safer at home without a pool in the back yard). We needed a place to go a cool off. We discovered there was a Wet N Wild water park in Phoenix, AND we discovered that there was a deal on season passes. So we splurged and bought season passes for the whole family. It was a bit of a drive away, but the kids and I spent a big chunk of our summer there. 

Where is it? 4243 W Pinnacle Peak Road, Glendale, AZ 85310

What can you do there and what does it cost? Prices are a little much for daily passes, but you can usually get a great deal on season passes. Current daily prices are listed here and season pass info is here. As far as what you can do, there is a variety of slides, a wave pool (my fave), and a lazy river. Lots to do and a great place to cool off during the summer. 

It was super hard to keep this list to 5 items and here are a few Honorable mentions that really could easily have been on this list. So, make sure to check these out as well!

  • McCormick Stillman Railroad Park at 7301 E Indian Bend Road in Scottsdale. It is a blast! Do not miss it.
  • Pools are a huge deal in AZ since it is so hot! Most houses have pools, so if you live there, make friends, if you stay at a hotel, plan to make use of the pool, or if all else fails, go to a public pool. There is a list of public pools here. 
  • Professional Baseball teams do Spring Training in Scottsdale/Phoenix area. If you are there for that, make sure to catch a game!