Rader Family Farms, Normal, Illinois

Since Abby was a baby, Derek and I have taken the kids to a pumpkin patch each Fall. We have been to Boggio’s, Tanner’s, and Edward’s. This year I read about one that we hadn’t tried before and we decided we would try it out. We went to Rader Family Farms at 1238 Ropp Road outside of Normal. The farm opens at 10 a.m. on the weekends, so we headed out at about 9 and made it there just as it was opening. It was a pretty easy drive down I39 and not too far from the exit. There was a large area for parking and lots of signs making it easy to know where to go. Image

Right away, I knew this was not going to be another Jollay Orchards mishap. There looked to be so much to do. The signs on the way in were beautifully done and so artistic.

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I am not an easy going person. I get stressed out about things. If I go somewhere new and I don’t know where to go or how much things cost or what’s going on, I get nervous. I LoVeD all the signs. It made it so easy to know where to go, how much things cost, what was included, and what was going on.

We got our wristbands for $8/each and Cara (age 2 and under) was free. The large corn maze was not included in that, but the Kid’s Maze was difficult enough for us so that was actually a good thing. There were so many neat activities for the kids to do. The kids climbed the haystack, rode in the mower pulled caterpillar, climbed on a spider web, ran across the tire track, raced ducks, played in the little village, tried to lasso a steer, climbed a mountain and slid down, rode big trikes, played in the tire sand box, played in the corn, saw and pet farm animals, jumped on a pillow, rode on horse swings, navigated the kids’ corn maze, and rolled in giant rollers like hamsters.

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After all the activities, we worked up an appetite and decided to head into the gift shop area to find some lunch.

IMG_8014I was really impressed with the selection. The prices weren’t bad either. I had the BBQ pulled pork farm hand meal. The sandwich wasn’t big but it was enough. The kids’ meals were a great deal. Abby and Cara had the mac & cheese. It was Kraft-ish but not. Abby could tell and didn’t love it but it was fine. Cade had a hot dog. All the kids’ meals came with apples, a cookie, a bottle of water and a pumpkin sippy cup (which sells for $1 in the gift shop).  We ate at a picnic table under a tent and everything was very clean and even decorated with little pumpkins and gourds.

After we ate we did a few more activities and then it was time to head home. We were at the farm for about 3 1/2 hours and it was a great fall day.

Rotary Park, LaSalle, Illinois

How many times have you been on a long road trip and wished you had a great place to stop and let the kids run around and burn off some energy? This has happened to me more times than I could count. Usually we are stuck with a fast food play land or a rest stop. But how great would it be to have a wonderful park with an amazing playground, walking trails, and a pond that is easy on and off from the interstate? Well, if you are traveling on Interstate 39 in north central Illinois, you are in luck. Just a minute off the interstate is just that park you have been looking for.

Take Exit 57 on I39 (Route 6) and head west. If you were traveling south on 39, turn right off the interstate. If you were traveling north on 39, turn left off the interstate. Turn right on East 5th road. You will see a sign for Rockwell Cemetery and the park will be just up on the left side of the road. You can see I39 from the park. It is that close.Image

There is an amazing playground there. It is castle themed with lots of slides, climbing obstacles, and bridges. There are different kinds of swings and some spinning and rocking equipment.

There are walking/bike trails and a nice pond. When we visited, the park hadn’t been open very long and there are still a lot of things that are going to be worked on. There were places where shelters will go in. Image

So next time you are traveling on Interstate 39 and need to make a stop, or if you live in the Illinois Valley, make a visit to Rotary Park (aka Castle Park) and your kids will thank you.

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