Kids Have Fun In the Quad Cities

Iowa & Nebraska

DON'T LEAVE THE KIDS BEHIND! The "little folk" will find a full plate of exciting and fun-filled--to say nothing of educational (but you don't have to tell them that!)--activities waiting for them in the Quad Cities. For instance, there are two wonderful zoos... Kids love NIABI ZOO (309-799-5107), because of its manageable size (30 acres), because of its petting animal section (who can resist cuddling a baby goat?), because of the lion pride ("Oh, look Mommy, it's the Lion King!"), because of the Mel McKay Express (a miniature steam train that circles the park) and because of the two elephants called Babe Sh-Bang and Sophie. (Niabi Zoo Road near Coal Valley; open daily 9:30am to 5pm, weekdays, 9:30am-5pm, weekends, September through mid-October; children under 3 free.) FEJERVARY PARK AND ZOO (319-323-4804) has meant one thing to Quad Citians for generations--Monkey Island! Actually, Fejervary Park and Zoo features examples of more than 200 animals common to the upper-Midwest, from the barnyard to wild places. But it's the delightful antics of the more than two-dozen residents of Monkey Island that brings young and old back again and again. Nearby are picnic areas, a handicapped-accessible play structure and a public swimming pool. (1800 West 12th Street, Davenport; open Wednesday through Sunday and holidays 10am-4pm, mid-May through mid-September; free.) ...and two excellent children's museums! The FAMILY MUSEUM OF ARTS AND SCIENCE (563-344-4106) is a unique, fun-packed, hands-on museum for children and families of all ages with interactive exhibits that let young and old share the joy of discovery, investigation and learning together. Touch a tornado, make a cloud ring, "drive" a combine cab and visit a farmhouse in "The Homestead" comparing farm life in the 40s with the present. Create and experiment with sound and music in "Rhythm Alley." Preschoolers enjoy a two-story playhouse in their own "Child's Garden." A 50s diner is the centerpiece in "Heartland" where you investigate the workings of the human heart. Also outdoor playground area and changing traveling exhibits. Great idea for grandparent visits. (2900 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf, Iowa. Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9am-7pm, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm, closed major holidays. Admission charged. At QUAD CITY KIDS & COMPANY (309-762-1995) the point is to be "hands-on." Kids love to play in the Eagle Country Market, with stocked shelves, a cash register and a working scanner. There's also a beauty salon and a doctor's office and a cave where fossils can be uncovered. A popular highlight of Kids & Company is a beautiful collection of miniature houses. (600 Valley View Drive, Moline; open every day except Friday, September through May; daily June through August; call for hours; children under 2 free.) The largest water park in the region, WACKY WATERS (319-388-9910) has activities for the entire family. The 35-acre park includes 5 water slides, an 8,000-sq.-ft. kiddy pool with a buccaneer ship in the middle, an 18-hole miniature golf course, go karts, paddle boats, volley ball, a video arcade and more. Although concessions are available, Wacky Waters encourages families to bring picnics. (8228 North Fairmount, Davenport, I-80 exit 292; open daily 10am-7pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day.) East Moline is home to the Quad Cities' largest playground, called EMPIRE (East Moline Playground Innovation Recreation Efforts). The 14,000-sq.-ft. playground, located on Illinois Route 84 on the East Moline/Hampton border, features wooden swings, mazes, slides and more.

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