We never fail to have a full day of fun when we trek to Gadsden to play. The Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts does an outstanding job with their exhibits that are geared toward interactive play. So, grab a friend, chat it up, and make the drive down 431 to Gadsden to enjoy the snow and their annual Festival of Trees.
Hardin Center During the Holidays
The Festival of Trees
Festival of Trees XXVI is happening through December 31 and includes trees decorated by more than 30 local schoolchildren and groups. These Big Screen themed trees delighted even my pre-tweens with themes like “Inside Out”, “The Wizard of OZ”, and “The Neverending Story”.
After you tour the trees, you can enjoy the beautiful exhibit of paintings on glass by John Paul Lyon upstairs. My kids had fun picking out their favorite painting. Also, be sure not to miss the mini Gadsden city replica and run the train while you are upstairs.
Let It Snow!
When you have wrapped up those areas, hit the Imagination Place’s LET IT SNOW exhibit. This winter wonderland runs through January 31. Special events, Snacks with Santa (December 10) and Polar Express Day are up and coming, however, you do not need a special event day to enjoy the snow. We had a group of 5 children ages 6-10 who played the day away. We enjoyed the snow exhibit for a couple of hours, grabbed lunch, visited Imagination place for another couple of hours, then went back for more snow fun before heading back to Huntsville. The kids played in the ball pit, enjoyed the snow (all the fun without the wetness), slid, made animal tracks, and climbed the snowy mountain. The main snow exhibit can be found in the entry building along with the festival of trees and art exhibit.
Across the courtyard, Imagination Place offers all of its exploratory fun from a bank to a store to a construction pit to a hospital and everything in between. Pirates will love the back lit ocean room, and little readers will enjoy the story section. Moms and dads can easily catch up with friends while children play in close proximity.
Every time we go, my children leave reluctantly and immediately ask when we will return. I highly recommend this day trip for anyone looking for some unique fun – especially during the holidays if you have family to entertain. Field Trips can be scheduled with Holly Guinn. Exhibits can be enjoyed from 10AM to 5PM Mon-Sat and 1PM to 5PM Sun.
There are plenty of places to grab lunch within a short walk just outside the center as well as a cafe in the center, and, if you can make time for it, there is lots of delightful shopping along main street. Frankly, we can always easily fill the day with play. Admittedly, I really want some time to shop one day as well. But, I cannot complain about a day of play for the kiddos and time to catch up with friends without the interruption of “mom” “mom “mom”.
This latest exhibit is really delightful, particularly when snow is typically non-existent in North Alabama. The trees set the mood, and the day of play was a nice getaway. Enjoy!
Hardin Center Holiday Details
Location: 501 Broad Street, Gadsden, Alabama (map)
Phone: (256) 543-2787
Cost: Admission is $8 per person and includes Imagination Place Children’s Museum. Admission is free for Hardin Center members and for children under 24 months.
Hours: Let it Snow ends January 31, 2017 and Festival of Trees ends December 31, 2016. Both exhibits are open 10 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 1 pm – 5 pm on Sunday. The Hardin Center will be open daily with the exception of Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
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Christa Landingham and her husband are Madison County natives and life-long residents. They have boy/girl twins and two crazy puppers. She loves all things teaching, organizing, and supporting local small businesses. In her “free-time” she loves to garden, travel with her family, volunteer, and comb local thrift stores. Pearl Jam is her jam.