The past few weeks it has ranged between 90 and 97 degrees outside, often with a heat index of over 100, and I’m 33 weeks pregnant. Normally, hours of outdoor play are mandatory for me (and therefore my children), but the excessive summer heat combined with my biggie-pregnant state has forced us indoors. Not surprisingly, I’ve found several creative (and cheap!) indoor activities within close proximity to Fredericksburg and I want to share them with you!
Last week, a dear old friend of mine was visiting her hometown of Midlothian from Denver. She suggested that we meet halfway between Fredericksburg and Midlo to get our kids together and play, which led us to the Bass Pro Shop in Ashland. I admit, I was skeptical when she suggested it. It’s a retail store, right?! Can you play in a retail store?? The answer: YES. And DO IT. Spending money while you’re there is easy to do and encouraged, but it’s not required.
From the minute we got out of the car, my children were captivated. I didn’t think I’d pull them away from the fish pond adjacent to the building! Maggie “ooo-ed” and “aah-ed” over the real lily pads (pretty awesome, I admit) while Brendan all-but-launched himself into the water to catch a fish with his bare hands. I finally lured them (pun intended) to the doorway, where my five-year-old aspiring doctor noticed all the antlers and literally fell on the ground and dramatically declared, “Bones! Bones are my life!” (I can’t make this stuff up.)
Just inside the door, we found leather sofas, comfy chairs, an impressive stone chimney…and taxidermy. Lots of taxidermy. I thought perhaps my daughter would be intimidated (I knew my son would love it), but she was right there beside Brendan excitedly jumping up and down each time they discovered a new creature. The bear was especially impressive, because we do have a black bear that lives in our Fredericksburg neighborhood but we’ve never seen it in person. I couldn’t contain them to wait for my friend and her son, so I did my best to waddle quickly they darted toward the waterfall at the back of the store.
The waterfall was just one part of a large aquarium on the back wall of Bass Pro Shop. Inside the tank, there were fish larger than my three-year-old! Very cool. We climbed the stairs to see what was on the second floor (can it get better?!) and found more taxidermy (an albino deer!). I was pleased, as this was now turning into a fun educational outing, and then their eyes were drawn to the four-wheelers. I quickly drew their attention to the animal tracks on the floor in an effort to keep them [mostly] off of the floor displays, and thankfully at that time my friend and her sweet little family arrived.
We spent our remaining time in the children’s department, which has so many awesome Christmas and birthday present ideas. There is also an enormous tree house in the middle, featuring a saloon-type swinging door. On our way out, the friendly sales staffer shared that every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5 pm beginning June 25 and ending July 24 (so this weekend is the last weekend) there are free family activities and workshops. How did I not know about this?? From noon until 2 pm on those days, there are free crafts. Other free activities include a casting challenge, shooting arcade, and catch and release pond photo download. If you missed the family camp this summer (as I did), then I encourage you to keep an eye out for it next year. But take a visit sometime! It’s totally worth the short drive and you’ll stay cool in the air conditioning!