October 1, 2011

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Sandy

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A Day on the Town

Sandy Sites Entertain the Entire Family

Heather Stewart

October 1, 2011

My daily challenge is to entertain my 18-month-old son. Sounds pretty easy, right? Just toss a few balls, make a few vroom, vroom noises with the toy truck and whip out great snacks for story time.

I wish it was that easy. Toddlers have the attention spans of gnats. They grow bored with new toys before you can even pry them from the Fort Knox-quality packaging. And those raisins they loved yesterday? Yuck! They’ll never want to eat them again.

If it wasn’t for all of the fun things to do and see in Sandy City, long hours spent cooped up in the house would be unbearable for both of us. When the day has dragged on too long (which is usually by 10 a.m.), it’s time to head out the door for a Sandy adventure.

Sandy is for Fun Lovers
First stop? The Classic Fun Center, which for a nominal fee offers hours of climbing, sliding and bouncing fun. My boy could spend all day bouncing on the giant inflatables, squealing and shrieking in chorus with the other happy toddlers. But the morning hours—before the older kids arrive—are definitely best for the wee ones.

Afterwards, for more cheap fun, we head down to the South Towne Mall. Although I’d prefer to browse boutique clothing stores or try on lipstick at Macy’s, we usually head straight for the main attraction—the carousel. For less than a buck, both of us hop on and my boy rides his painted pony with great glee and concentration, as if he were embarking on a glorious adventure.

On weekday mornings, the carousel is filled with joyous toddlers and preschoolers. But on the weekend, kids of every age saddle up for a fun ride while their parents sneak in some shopping or watch from a nearby table in the food court.

And speaking of food—once we’re sufficiently dizzy from the carousel, it’s time for lunch.

Restaurants can be treacherous places to take toddlers. My diaper demon likes to fling food on the floor, particularly if it doesn’t meet his high expectations. So I’m very cautious about the places I take him. Fortunately, Sandy is a very family-friendly town, and most establishments are quite understanding about terrible toddlers.

Chick-fil-A, for example, has a great kid’s menu and a fun play area. While my boy loves his French fries, he also loves Chick-fil-A’s healthy fruit cup and chicken noodle soup. If you’re looking for an indoor play area but don’t want fast food, Joe’s Crab Shack may be the ticket with a kid’s menu that includes fish sticks, steam pots and even snow crab.

But if my child is too energetic to behave in a restaurant—which is more often than not—we can always head over to one of Sandy’s 29 community parks for a picnic. An outdoor picnic lunch is the perfect way for a small child to run, jump, swing and play hard enough to get all the wiggles out—all while Mama plops down to rest and enjoy a shady breeze. The Alta Canyon Park is closest to our home and, conveniently, is also adjacent to the Alta Canyon Sports Center, which offers year-round fitness programs and an Olympic-size swimming pool (and did I mention the nursery?).

After a serene picnic lunch, I’m usually newly invigorated while my son is winding down—just the right state of mind to enjoy a trip to the Living Planet Aquarium, located a short jaunt from the mall. My little one is just old enough to be entranced by the mysterious sea creatures at the aquarium. Thrilled, he runs from tank to tank shouting “What’s that?!”

With stingrays, penguins, sharks, jellyfish, eels and more than 250 other species, the aquarium has too much to see in just one day. And with annual memberships at $23 and $19 for adults and children, respectively, the aquarium is a great value for year-round family entertainment (children under two are free). Plus, it’s an excellent place for my toddler to meet up with his older cousins for an activity that they can enjoy together.

After a day full of terrific activities, I often stop by Kid to Kid, a charming resale shop for all things kid, so I can head home armed with some “new” toys. My boy doesn’t care if his toys come in glossy new packaging. He just wants to play! I can grab more wooden blocks—you can never have too many—or some new-to-him storybooks. And doesn’t he need bigger pajamas, since he is growing so, so quickly?

Together, we had an exhausting and exhilarating day in Sandy. My baby is sleepy and worn out—just how I love him! He’ll sleep well, while I kick back and enjoy a few hours of well-earned peace and quiet.

More than Friendly Faces
Sandy can be an exciting place for children to learn and explore. But one not-so-fun day stands out in my mind: I had to drag my child with me to get my car inspected. Oh, the horror! He climbed on the chairs, pulled leaves off the plastic plant and tried to yank papers off the attendant’s desk. In desperation, I pulled out my secret weapon—a lollypop. He grabbed it from me greedily and settled down for some serious sugar intake.

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