When searching for things to do with my kids, I often overlook the simple.
I get caught up in events and attractions that are marketed as family fun which frequently include crowds, high admission and over-commercialization. Sometimes in the middle of all that tailor-made fun, the fun gets lost in the shuffle.
Last year, about this time of year, we went off the beaten track and found some good old fashioned FUN.
We went to our local regional airport and met some friends for lunch “ The Blue Hangar Cafe at Northwest Regional Airport.
Blue Hangar Cafe – Northwest Regional Airport is located 1/2 mile east of I-35W on 1171 just North of Texas Motor Speedway. The Blue Hangar Cafe can be reached by phone (817) 490-5146.
It started out with a small group.
Each of us casually mentioned it to a friend.
Each friend mentioned they wanted to come along.
Before we knew it we needed a table for 30.
A table for 30?
We better call ahead!
The call was placed and picked up by the owner of Northwest Regional Airport. He encouraged us to come on over and enjoy the day. He surprised us by relating that Northwest Regional Airport is the largest privately owned airport in North America. There are over 500 planes on the ground. He mentioned that if he was available while we were there he would show us around.
When my minivan full of children arrived at the airport, I was taken aback by the fact that an airplane was driving on the road toward me! Once inside the airport, the cars and the planes share the roads surrounding the runway. The cars are expected to yield “ which I did.
We found the Blue Hangar Cafe and sat down on the patio to wait for our friends. The Blue Hangar was buzzing with lunch activity and just outside the runway was buzzing with airplanes taking off and landing. We saw 7 in the first 5 minutes we were there. My boys were thrilled.
Did they want to see?
They were so excited to be up close.
No touching! Fingerprints will show on this shiny plane.
The kids listened attentively while they were shown how the wings worked. This particular plane has places on the wings where you can look through to the ground near the front. I am sure if I had listened better I would know what that was called, but it was something I had never seen before.
After the plane anatomy lesson and a tour through his hangar which included some really cool old cars in various stages of restoration, the pilot suggested a place where we could safely stand to watch him take off.
We then descended on The Blue Hangar Cafe and took up their entire back room with tables full of moms and kids. I had a chipotle chicken wrap and the boys all had burgers. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cafe had a children's menu. Food for myself and my three boys was under $20. Mid-meal the table of older boys I was supervising decided they couldn't handle eating INSIDE when planes were taking off like crazy OUTSIDE. So, despite 100 degree temps they picked up their plates and went out to the patio. Being a responsible adult ¦ugh ¦I went to.
BUT it IS amazing. You sit right next to the gas pumps that are alongside the runway.
Planes come in, fill up with gas, park for awhile, load, unload, taxi, take off and land all within a few feet.
We also visited the Pilot's Shop which has some flying collectibles and toys. There were allowance-friendly toys starting at 50 cents.
The Blue Hangar Cafe is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 2:00 for lunch. They open on Saturday at 7:00 for breakfast and boasted that they have the best pancakes in town.
Not wanting to let perfectly good pancakes sit uneaten, I returned on Saturday with my husband and boys to test them out.
Pretty amazing pancakes.
Pretty amazing view since the airport is even busier on Saturday morning.
Oh, and we ran into 3 other families from our initial adventure trip ¦I guess we weren't the only one who think Northwest Regional Airport is a cool place to visit.