Saturday, May 25, 2013

Hope Park

Today we decided to check out the new Hope Park in Frisco. This is a park that is designed for kids of all different abilities, including children with special needs, and was built by volunteers from the community. You can read more about Hope Park here. Hope Park just had its grand opening on May 11, 2013.

We were pleasantly surprised to see how big it is! It is similar in nature to Windmill Playground in Prosper...but it's about twice as big and much closer to our house. Woohoo!

A view from the outside...

One side of the gated park has no wood chips on the ground. The floor is that soft, squishy artificial turf. This side is divided into a Tot Lot and a Big Kid Lot.

Pictures of Tot Lot:

And some of the Big Kid Lot:

Just like Windmill Playground, Hope Park has a lot of unusual play features.

The kids all loved this big swing:

And the merry-go-round:

And whatever this thing is:

Walking the tightrope:

There were lots of bouncy bridges and moving platforms all throughout the park.

Each side had several swings, including toddler swings, regular swings and these larger swings with full back support.

Another section of the park had wood chips on the ground and more play equipment. It also had a sandbox area.

In the middle is a covered picnic table area.

What a great park! I wish we had something like this when I was a kid. Seriously!

Since we had never been to Frisco Commons before, we decided to check out the rest of the park.

We cooled off at the Veterans Memorial.

Then we headed to the nearby Double Dip Frozen Custard. My oldest son had won an award at school that included a free cone.

I'm so excited about this cool park. If you haven't been to Hope Park, it's definitely worth checking out!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch

A few months ago, I bought a Groupon for Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch. The 5 of us could get in for $20, so I thought it was worth a try. The ranch is located about an hour northwest of us. I wanted to go before the weather got too hot. So today was the day!

Parking is on the grass.

We arrived 5 minutes before opening and waited with a few other families.

This ranch reminded me of the movie "We Bought a Zoo."  The animal exhibit area is fairly small, but the staff  did a great job with hands-on interaction with animals throughout the day.

We started by looking at some of the exhibits, including zebras, lemurs and kangaroos. Then we went to the petting zoo. Inside the petting zoo were goats, sheep, pigs, an alpaca and some rabbits. Animal food was available for $2.

Then the ranch announced there would be a presentation with an albino king cobra, so we headed over to that. It was fascinating, and we could get so close.

After the king cobra, the staff brought out a different snake to pet.

Then we heard the announcement that the safari tram was loading, so we walked over to that.

The first stop was a field of horses and zorses (horse/zebra cross). There were buckets of food attached to the tram, so the animals came right up close.

A zorse.

The next stop was a field of zebras, pigs, spitting camels and ostriches. The driver put food on the ground next to the tram, because we weren't supposed to pet these guys.

The last stop was a field of camels. I think these were the most entertaining. The food buckets attached to the tram were re-stocked.

What a grin!

Family pics with the camels:

The tram ride lasted around 45 minutes, and adults and kids all enjoyed the close-up interaction with the animals.

Next, we heard an announcement for a special bear demonstration, so we walked to that. These 2 bears were rescued by the ranch last year from an illegal photography company.

Then we walked to the picnic area to have lunch. I had read on the website that there was just a tiny snack shack so it's best to bring your own lunch...but the ranch actually just opened up a pizza restaurant and bar by the bear home. Maybe next time we'll try that.

Lots of people brought lunch--there were covered picnic tables.

In the middle of lunch, the barrel rides started, so the kids and I took a spin on those. The driver was a little wild, which made it more fun.

While we were finishing lunch, we heard an announcement for a demonstration with the lemurs. So we headed over to see them again.

Baby lemur.

We also went to see the kangaroos again, and Joshua liked this baby one.

We got to pet the tail of a lemur.

And then, as we were about to leave, the ranch had a presentation with a skunk. So we stayed for that.

We really enjoyed this ranch, and it was a great way to spend Mother's Day. We were there 3 hours total. We basically just listened for the announcements of the next presentation/demonstration. I think they have different animals presented throughout the day. The safari tram ride was definitely the highlight of the day. The staff all seemed very passionate about the ranch and the animals.

If you go, I recommend going in the spring or fall. And not right after a big rain, because we walked on a lot of dirt that would turn to mud. I don't recommend a stroller, as I saw a few people trying to push strollers through the gravel, and it looked very difficult. The petting zoo animal food was one of the only things not included in admission.

Overall, this is a fun place, and I hope we go back sometime.

Have you been to Sharkarosa Wildlife Ranch?