Saturday, June 25, 2011

Shopping & Train Rides at Lodi Station Outlets!

Growth spurt.

I hate those two words.

Anytime those two words enter my life, it means tearing through dressers and boxes of clothing to determine what still fits my two girls, followed by a list of what I need to go out and purchase for them.

Rarely am I ever given the time to shop on my own. If it's the weekend, I want to spend time with my family, so we all go shopping together. If you've seen us at the mall, you know that any shopping area must have a playground or kid-themed play area or else my two impatient daughters make everyone as miserable.

Given the choice, I love to shop outlet malls. I don't like to spend a lot of money on clothing for myself, so I certainly want a good deal when it comes to clothing my kids will outgrow the next time they ask for seconds at dinner.

Last weekend, I had the chance to check out the Lodi Station Outlets in Lodi, OH. Locals know that we have a lot of outlet malls here in Ohio, so it's no surprise that I had yet to make it to this one. I had driven past it several times - it's just off I-71 when driving towards Cleveland - but until last weekend didn't get the chance to check it out.

Here's where it gets awesome: not only is it an outlet mall, they also have a train you can ride! I don't mean an itty-bitty kids-only train, I mean an amusement-park-sized train for all to ride. My train-obsessed daughters were sure to love it.

When we arrived, we started our day by getting lunch at the Steam Cafe. There's a very nice food court at the center of the shops, which also serves as guest services and the station for purchasing train tickets. We ate lunch and the girls got to meet Chugga, the mall mascot.

We then decided it would be best to take a train ride next, as the girls were mesmerized by the train. We got our passes and jumped aboard with my friend Heather and her family.

Heather thought she was photobombing the kids - I think they were photobombing her instead.

The train ride takes about 15 minutes and is a lot of fun. You can purchase an individual ride pass, or an unlimited day pass for just fifty cents more. For the serious train riders, you can purchase a yearly pass that lets you ride as many times as you want for an entire year.

Once the train ride was over, my children wanted to go to the playground they spotted during the train ride. My husband then took the kids to the playground so I could get some shopping done.

Lodi Station Outlets has many of the brand names I like to buy. For the kids, there's Gymboree, Children's Place and Carter's. For me, there's the Lee outlet, Jockey, Gap, and Bath & Body Works. In two hours, I had amassed several bags of goodies, including several new outfits for the girls, a new pair of Lee jeans and 3 pairs of underwear for myself, and some hand sanitizer from Bath & Body Works. All that for under $100!

Along with the usual outlet store savings, you can also sign up for the Hot Ticket preferred member card which gives you additional savings in many of the stores. I was able to save an additional 20% in one store thanks to my card.

Best of all, I managed to get all of this shopping done with practically no whining from my children, because they were happily playing and taking train rides all afternoon. We ended the day with ice cream before heading home after a successful day of shopping.

Will I be going back? Absolutely. Simple entertainment for the kids plus good deals to be found equals a great shopping experience for me. Even my husband (who is often the one watching the kids while I shop) had a great time riding the train.

Full disclosure: I was invited to attend a bloggers' day out at Lodi Station Outlets. In return for my time, I was provided with a sample bag from some of the shops as well as coupons and additional compensation.

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