After several days of going, going, going, we took a breather this morning and slept in. It was nice to lie in bed, snuggle with the girls and watch the Olympics coverage. Although I wouldn’t normally be turning on the television much (if at all) while on vacation, the fact that the Olympics are on kind of negates that rule. This is the first Summer Olympics that Hannah has really been aware of – she was only 5 for the last one and she doesn’t remember it. So our 2012 London Olympics memories will be wrapped up in vacation ones, but that will just make both things that much more special.
After our lazy start, we took Ron to lunch at Chick-fil-A so he could get a chance to experience the restaurant that’s quickly becoming one of our favorites. Hey, with free ice cream cones for the kids, free wi-fi and a play area, it’s already top on my list. Now they just need to expand north to Michigan…
Since we hadn’t been in downtown Wilmington yet, the girls and I headed there after lunch. We drove around a little bit and then stopped at the Wilmington Railroad Museum for a good portion of the afternoon. I wasn’t sure how much the girls would really enjoy the museum – they like trains but nothing like some of the boys we know who’ve been obsessed with them. But this museum was one of the best I’ve ever seen at catering to kids. Not only do they have a great play area for kids with lots of train tables and train-themed books and toys for kids to play with, but there are several ‘Can You Find’ scavenger hunt lists that the girls loved.
Becca absolutely adores the I Spy books (she checked all of them out from the school library over and over this past school year), so this was right up her alley – kind of like a 3D version of the books. The one the girls liked the most was on a model train scene set up right in the lobby of the museum – they went through it twice because they were having so much fun.
Their other favorites were the big model train room with hundreds of feet of trains running, and the actual train engine outside that they could climb in and pretend they were working on a moving train. Hannah and Abbi also loved finding all of the ‘hobo symbols’ scattered throughout the museum and seeing what they all meant. The staff were really friendly and helpful and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon there.
Our next plan had included a carriage ride around downtown Wilmington, but it was HOT out today, so we headed back to the a/c in the hotel (and more Olympics) and figured that we’d try the carriage ride later when it was cooler. For dinner, we headed back downtown to try The Pilot House, right on the Cape Fear River. Just as we got there, a storm rolled in so we couldn’t eat outside – but we still had a wonderful meal. Still no seafood for the girls – they got buttered noodles and grilled cheese (and Ron got another burger, sigh). But I had salmon with wild rice and seasonal vegetables and it was amazing. I have to say that this restaurant was great with the girls – they had kids menus to color on, crayons, and several choices on the menu for them. They even easily changed the pasta alfredo to buttered noodles for Abbi and Hannah.
After dinner, the rain had stopped and the temperature really cooled down, so we walked out of the restaurant and right along the waterfront. It was so beautiful – the air was cool and crisp after the storm and the view was amazing. We wandered down to the main downtown area at Water and Market Streets, where the girls were thoroughly entertained by a street juggler – and we found a familiar sight. Kilwin’s is one of my favorite places to get ice cream over by Lake Michigan, and we were excited to see one here.
We stopped for ice cream (yum!) and then waited for the next carriage tour. It was fun to be downtown at night and see everything all lit up. The carriage tour was a lot of fun – the guide was very knowledgeable about the buildings and history of Wilmington and even pointed out some local spots where tv shows or movies were filmed. Ron was especially excited to see the courthouse steps from the show, Matlock.
It was a late night, but we’d gotten a late start to the day so everybody was still awake enough to watch more Olympics coverage when we got back, before crashing. Tomorrow we have another boat tour, this time on the Cape Fear River, and I think the girls and I are going to check out Fort Fisher and the NC Aquarium, and stop back in Carolina Beach for lunch (and maybe a quick dip, we’ll see). We’ve had such a good time here in North Carolina – it’ll be hard to say good-bye on Tuesday.