What’s the mystery?

11 Oct

For as long as I can remember, at least since my oldest was a preschooler, we have been taking the kids on Mystery Rides. I don’t even know how it started, I just know we’ve always done it.

A Mystery Ride is exactly what it sounds like. We are taking the kids somewhere and to them, it’s a mystery because we don’t tell them where they are going. We let them guess, but we never tell them if they’ve guessed correctly or not; they don’t know until we arrive at our final destination. As the kids have gotten older, they’ve gotten better at asking their questions when they are making their guesses: Is it inside or outside, is it a place we have gone before or not? Sometimes to throw them off we’ll make them bring a sweatshirt and wear socks and sneakers (as if we’re going to an outside destination) when really we might be going to a movie or a museum. We’ll let them throw in a movie in the van, usually reserved for rides of 45 minutes or more, when really we’re going indoor mini-golfing up the street. It’s as fun for us throwing them off as it is for them to guess.

For us, creating a sense of mystery for the kids makes what might be a somewhat ordinary activity (like a movie or out for ice cream) that much more exciting. It makes a mountain out of a mole hill, as they say, and for us that’s important since with a big family we often can’t afford to do some of the huge attractions we wish we could do. Going out to eat or to the movies is not something we do often, so the excitement in itself of actually going is made that much bigger by the mystery that surrounds it. Sometimes we laugh too, because their guesses are bigger than the actual destination, like the time my youngest daughter guessed that we were going to Disney when in actuality they were going to a baseball game with their dad. She was pretty sure it was a trip to Disney though, despite the fact that 1) I wasn’t going and 2) there was no luggage.

Some of the Mystery Rides we have done in the past include: movies, out for ice cream or out to eat, beach at night, letterboxing-which in itself is a mystery because you go to a different place each time, indoor mini golfing, Bass Pro Shops in Massachusetts, Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts, the drive in movies, museums like the Providence Children’s Museum, a show like Disney on Ice, a basketball game at a local college, etc.

One of the funniest Mystery Ride moments we had recently was when we took the kids to the pre-screening of A Dolphin Tale on a Tuesday night, a school night. We had stopped to pick up some out-of-state friends who were in town visiting, so that was the first part of the mystery. Then, we headed into the city, to a different theater than we would normally go to. We were nearing the place where all of the “on ice” shows tend to be. My second daughter started guessing, shouting from the back seat, “Toy Story On Ice, Princesses on Ice, Disney on Ice!” Each time, we’d say no, and finally she said, “Something On Ice, Anything at all On Ice??”  Despite the fact that nothing was on ice that night, they were so thrilled when we arrived at the IMAX theater, and they loved A Dolphin Tale, which was in 3D.

A Dolphin Tale was a great Mystery Ride!


Yesterday’s Mystery Ride was apple picking at Steere Orchards in Greenville, RI. We live about five minutes from a couple of local orchards but to be different we chose this one, about 20 minutes from away. We hadn’t been apple picking as a family in years. It was a warm day for October, almost 90 degrees and the orchard had advertised hay rides and free music along with samplings of their foods. We rounded everyone up and got them to get their sunglasses, sneakers and a bottle of water each. We told them it was outside and to a place none of us had ever been before. It was such a fun day, one we’ll remember for years to come. The added bit of mystery made it that much better!

We took the hay ride first before we picked our apples.

Daddy and his daughters

The girls and I loved the little store at the orchard and they loved the old-fashioned scale. I'm pretty sure though, that none of the bags of apples near it have the right amount of apples in them any more!

Me and my girls

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One Response to “What’s the mystery?”

  1. Nina Tandon Cerbo October 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    Love it!!

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