Build your way around LEGO City
Want to wow your LEGO-loving kids? Inspire grandpa to build the 5,900-piece LEGO Taj Mahal? Create a LEGO stop-motion animation video? Win LEGO prizes? Then Build Your Way Around Town with us March 1-April 8 in the LEGO City of St. Joseph. Sponsored by United Federal Credit Union, this month of events will entertain all ages!
- Mar. 1: Builders' Bash. 4-8:30 p.m., Silver Beach Carousel. This kick-off event showcases 100+ LEGO creations made by local builders 4 to 18 years old. Free hourly drawings, special $1 Carousel rides and a chance to talk with the creators make this a great night for the entire family.
- Mar. 1-April 8: Amazing LEGO Display. Seasonal hours, Silver Beach Carousel. If you didn't see the Carousel's jaw-dropping display at the Builders' Bash, be sure to stop by right through Spring Break.
- Mar. 2-4: Big City Build. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri. & Sat.; 12-5 p.m., Sun., Shadowland Ballroom. Jason Spear and the Western Michigan LEGO Train Club take LEGO layouts to a new level. They'll create a magnificent cityscape featuring familiar buildings from St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids and multiple trains. Come learn new ideas and skills from the pros. You'll find piles of play bricks for hands-on building, too.
- March 5, 12, 19 & 26: Monday Prize Drawings at the St. Joseph Today Welcome Center, 301 State St. Encourage your children to turn in entry forms each time they visit one of the six participating sites. They'll be entered in random drawings for a chance to win LEGO and DUPLO prizes donated by United Federal Credit Union.
- Mar. 10: LEGO Bingo! 1-4 p.m., Curious Kids' Museum. Games and prize giveaways for ages 2 to 10 start every half hour.
- Mar. 17: Skyscraper Competition & Stop-Motion Animation Workshops. Krasl Art Center, Noon-1:30 p.m. and 2:30-4 p.m. Your 5 to 12-year olds will want to get in on this fun. Pre-register today.
- March 22: LEGO Carnivale. The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, 6-8 p.m. Enjoy LEGO games, build stations, snacks and more. Pre-registration requested.
Make your dog's day
The end of winter and start of spring can be pretty boring for dogs, too. So, get your pup's tail wagging and bring him or her along this March to sniff out new places in and around St. Joseph. Mary Schaut, vice president of FuzzyButz Pet Bakery & Boutique in downtown, offers these traveling tips:
- Research before you go. Southwest Michigan has a long list of pet-friendly stores, fishing charters, wineries, breweries, beaches, farms and more to visit. Also, stop in FuzzyButz and ask for their list of more than a dozen places in downtown that welcome pets.
- Carry "Good dog" treats. When you stop for a snack, be sure to have a healthy option for your dog. FuzzyButz offers an alternative to name-brand dog treats - all are fresh-made, many from locally-grown ingredients. Mary says owners go for the peanut butter varieties, but most dogs wish they'd pick the liver-flavored choices.
- Keep your pup hydrated. Many pet-friendly places offer bowls of water but pack a bottled water and bowl in your backpack or purse.
- Wipe paws. If you stay over, and Mary hopes you do, clean off sand, etc. before entering the hotel or store. St. Joseph welcomes leashed dogs on their scenic trails and walkable Victorian-era neighborhoods, but please pick up and properly dispose of any pet droppings.
Spring Break on a budget
Teachers and students are already counting the days (probably the hours) until spring break. But not everyone can look forward to escaping to warmer southern destinations. If your budget is constricting your travel, cheer up the family with a boredom-busting getaway to Michigan's Great Southwest! Here's how to silence complaints of "There's nothing to do."
- Indoor Beach Party. Make reservations now at a Southwest Michigan hotel. Pick a property with a heated indoor pool, bring your swimsuits and flip flops and create a tropical vacation. To enhance your together time - choose a suite or a place you can wake up to a complimentary breakfast.
- March 28-31 and April 2-7: Wonderland Garden, Noon-4 p.m., Curious Kids' Museum, 415 Lake Blvd., St. Joseph. Have you ever taken a trip down a rabbit hole? Walked through a keyhole? Entertain your kids for hours in this enchanting land of activities and crafts.
- March 30-April 8 (closed April 1): Dream with Da Vinci!, spring break hours, Curious Kids' Discovery Zone, 333 Broad St., St. Joseph. Leonardo Da Vinci, the "father of modern science" was an artist, mathematician, inventor and dreamer. Inspire your "future Da Vincis" with catapults, parachutes, a hang glider, a gear wall/table, spinning wheels, an art area and much more!
- March 29-April 8 (closed April 1): Moana's Tropical Adventure, spring break hours, Silver Beach Carousel, 333 Broad St., St. Joseph. The Carousel House has become a balmy, Hawaiian paradise. Special activities are planned every day, including a chance to see the 100+ kid-made creations in the Amazing LEGO Display. Come Thursdays for Family Fun Nights and enjoy special $1 Carousel rides, games and hourly prize drawings. Find updates and hours on Facebook.
- April 2 & 6, Wandering Spirit Camps, 9 a.m.-noon, Krasl Art Center, 707 Lake Blvd., St. Joseph. 5 to 7-year olds will create Gelli plate patterns and African-influenced tapestries; 8 to 12 years olds will discover the beauty of batik landscapes and bold Kente cloth designs.
- April 3: Cookies & Creations - Watercolor, 3-4:30 p.m., Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, 13988 Range Line Road, Niles. Perfect for ages 5 to 10; parents are encouraged to paint with younger children. Come early to look for signs of spring on the trails.
- April 4: Cookies & Creations - Acrylics, 2-4 p.m., Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, 13988 Range Line Road, Niles. Learn to paint a floral scene on canvas. This is a definite boredom buster for 10 to 16-year olds.
Get your Irish on
If you're planning on wearin' the green in March, there are plenty of ways in Southwest Michigan to jig your way through the month with your family and friends. Below, we've listed some music gigs we hope you'll join us at. And if delicious craft beers and whiskeys be what you're looking for, there's plenty of kegs and barrels along the Makers Trail to quench your thirst.
- March 9: Kennedy's Kitchen, 8 p.m., The Acorn Theater, 107 Generation Dr., Three Oaks. Traditional Irish music and fun jigs for St. Pat's Day. (Children's tickets are available.)
- March 16: Erin McDougald, 8 p.m., The Acorn Theater, 107 Generation Dr., Three Oaks. This critically acclaimed, improvisational jazz vocalist returns for her annual St. Patrick's Day birthday concert and to release her new cd, Outside the Soiree (ticket price includes a cd).
- March 17: Rockin' Road to Dublin, optional pre-show dinner starts at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m., - The Mendel Center, 1100 Yore Ave., Benton Harbor. Don't miss this incredible evening of Irish Dance fused with rock and Irish music. Plan to arrive early for the Shamrocked Irish Feast with a traditional spread of corned beef and cabbage, build-your-own Reuben station and shepherd's pie served with beer on tap. Must be 21 or older to attend the pre-show dinner.
- March 18: Chris Behre, 2:30-5:30 p.m., Dablon Winery & Vineyard, 111 W. Shawnee, Baroda. Chris has a way of reaching into your soul with his rhythmic, folk, acoustic and rock blend of self-composed and cover songs.