Aug 302015
 

Tips For Visiting Hersheypark

Many years ago, I took a road trip with three friends.  We made several stops along the way and Hersheypark was one of them. That road trip was long before I had kids or was even married for that matter, so when the kids saw a commercial for Hersheypark recently and asked to go, I couldn’t say no.  I remember loving it when I went all those years ago, so I knew they’d have a great time there.

So, a few weeks ago, we took a road trip to Pennsylvania and Hersheypark was one of our first stops once we got there.

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With that being said, we are a Disney family.  We go every year and we are very familiar and comfortable in big amusement parks.  Hersheypark is smaller and quite a bit different from Disney, so navigating it was a bit different than bigger amusement parks. We spent two days at Hersheypark and we wanted to share our best tips for getting the most out of your day at the park.

Disclaimer: My family received complimentary passes to Hersheypark, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Aug 252015
 

As a kid, I always looked forward to going back to school shopping with my mom.  It was so much fun going from store to store picking out a whole new wardrobe for the upcoming school year.  Now that I have my own children to shop for, I love that I get to spend some time with them picking out some new duds for them to go to school.  My oldest is going into the middle school this year and he’s really coming into his own when it comes to fashion.  He definitely knows what he likes and what he doesn’t like.

**Thanks to Simon for sponsoring our back to school shopping trip at Merrimack Premium Outlets.  As always, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

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I decided to take my boys up the the Merrimack Premium Outlets up in Merrimack, NH this past weekend to do their back to school shopping. Heading to an outlet mall can bring about a lot of adventure, especially in the back to school shopping department. I love heading to the outlets for things like back to school shopping because in addition to already discounted prices, they usually have lots of great deals for all the back to school shopping season.  Here are some tips for back to school shopping at an outlet mall!

Premium Outlets brings together the finest brands, unique outdoor settings, and savings of 25 to 65 percent every day. Continue reading »

Aug 232015
 

8 Things You Must do When You're in Philadelphia

I have wanted to visit Boston’s sister city, Philadelphia, for years and a few weeks ago I finally got a chance to spend two amazing days in the city of brotherly love.  Philly is only a little over 5 hours from my house, so now I am scratching my head about why I had never gone there before.

The first thing I want to mention about my time in Philly is that the streets of Philadelphia are much easier to navigate than the streets of Boston are.  The next thing I want to say is that as much as I love Boston, and I really do, I think I loved Philadelphia almost as much.  It’s a city rich in culture and history – not to mention cheesesteaks.  We had so much fun exploring Philly and if you are planning on going anytime soon, I have narrowed down a few things you just have to do while you’re there.

1.  Climb the Rocky steps!

Running up the Rocky steps (AKA East Entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art) is a must-do on your visit to Philadelphia.  While we were there, we saw a bunch of people recreate the scene from the movie & since I was in flip-flops that day, I sent my boys to do it, too.

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At the bottom of the stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you will find the bronze statue of Rocky Balboa.  The statue was made for Rocky III and after filming for the movie completed, Sly Stallone donated the statue to the City of Philadelphia. Continue reading »

Aug 182015
 

If you have ever heard of a “Cirque” show, you probably have an idea of what to expect during a show – especially if you watch America’s Got Talent.  But did you know that there are different “Cirque” groups?  Up until last week, I had no idea.  We’ve all heard of Cirque du Soleil, but for the last 20 years, Cirque Éloize has been taking people by storm in more than 440 cities around the world.

Cirque Éloize was founded in Montreal in 1993, over a decade after Cirque du Soleil and for the month of August, Cirque Éloize’s iD is playing at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods.

Cirque Éloize’s iD blends old-school acrobatics with street dance and hip hop. I got a chance to see the show last week and trust me, it’s not like any circus you’ve ever seen before.

But before I tell you what I thought of the show, I wanted to share a little bit about a fun opportunity I had the afternoon before the show.

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If you follow me on Instagram, you may have followed along with the fun last Friday when I joined several other local bloggers for an exclusive behind-the-scenes blogger workshop with some of the cast members of Cirque Éloize’s iD.

Pretty cool, right?

As soon as I entered the Fox Theater at Foxwoods,  I couldn’t help but notice the impressive set.  As you can see, it’s massive and as I would find out a little while later, it’s even more complex than it looks.  The set features about 10 doors & windows that the performers use throughout the show to come & go through – plus a quite a few moving parts. Continue reading »

Aug 112015
 

A Visit to America's First Zoo  The philadelphia zoo

In 1859, Philadelphia became home to America’s first zoo.

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The Philadelphia Zoo sits on 42-acres of land and is home to more than 1,300 animals, many of them rare and/or endangered. With animals such as Cheetahs, hippos, giraffes and so many more, the Philadelphia Zoo is one of the leading family attractions in the city and it brought in over 1.35 million visitors last year alone.

One of the things I love the most about the Philadelphia Zoo is that has focused on educating the public about exotic animals and that it actively promotes and participates in worldwide conservation efforts for endangered wildlife. The zoo features many state-of-the-art animal exhibits and that is one of the reasons they truly stand out. Continue reading »

Jul 272015
 

If there is one thing that can be said about my boys, it’s that they love to be in the water.  Last year, our family went to Water Country in Portsmouth, NH for the very first time and we all loved it so much that we couldn’t wait to get back again this year.

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**Disclosure:  My family received complimentary admission to Water Country in exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

Last week we packed up and headed up to Water Country, which is New England’s largest waterpark, for the day.  I am a huge list maker, so I sat down the night before to make a list of everything we needed in order to spend an entire day at a waterpark.  I would seriously hate to forget something, so making lists helps me make sure I have everything I need.  I always say that I would rather bring too much than need something and not have it.

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Here is my list of items to bring with you to the waterpark in order to have a great time with the family: Continue reading »

Jul 202015
 

My boys are only three years apart in age, but at the particular ages they’re at right now, they seem to have a lot of trouble agreeing on things they like to do. My oldest is a few weeks shy of his 11th birthday and he’s got a major case of the tweens going on.  No matter what I suggest, it’s not cool.  Even things that are very cool, he always finds something to complain about.  My little guy on the other hand, who is just shy of his 8th birthday, is still a little kid and much more agreeable to pretty much anything I suggest doing. Thankfully there is one thing that they both still agree on – the zoo.

Stone Zoo

**Disclosure: My family and I received complimentary admission to the zoo in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

My family and I recently had a chance to visit the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA for the very first time recently and I have to say that I was really impressed.  I’ve been to my share of zoos over the years and unlike its larger sister zoo, the Franklin Park Zoo, the Stone Zoo is much more low-key and smaller in size, making it a great place to visit with little ones. The day we were there it was not very crowded and it’s not too far from where we live, so I’m over here scratching my head about why we’ve never gone there before. Continue reading »

Jul 162015
 

The Killington Grand Resort Hotel

When a lot of people think about the state of Vermont, they think of winter and probably more specifically – winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. But did you know that the Green Mountain State has a ton to offer in the summer as well?  Not only are the mountains breath-taking to look at, there are so many family friendly attractions and activities in this charming state.  My family had a chance to experience one of those family-friendly attractions last week.  The brand spankin’ new Adventure Center up at Killington Mountain that I told you about yesterday was a huge hit with my kids, but today I wanted to tell you about where we stayed while we were there: The Killington Grand Resort Hotel.

At the Killington Grand Resort Hotel you will find that they offer a 75-foot outdoor heated pool with two hot tubs (open year-round), a state of the art health club that includes a sauna & steam room, the Killington Grand Spa – a full service spa, a game room, coin operated laundry services, multiple conference rooms, complimentary WiFi throughout the hotel, complimentary DVD library plus XBOX games and components, the Grand Essentials Coffee and Sundry Shop (open daily) and Ovations Restaurant & Rendezvous Lounge, which is their onsite restaurant. Continue reading »

Jul 152015
 

The Adventure Center at Killington Mountain

Bored.

It’s been the word of the summer around here.  My oldest, who is a few weeks away from his 11th birthday has come down with a severe case of the tweens and my little man, who is a few weeks away from his 8th birthday, goes along with everything (and I do mean everything) his big brother says.

Since the boys got out of school, I have spent so much time planning activities to keep them busy, but apparently my idea of fun is not the same as my kids.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I took them to places like the beach, the town pool and the local splash pad.  All of those places are “boring” according to my children and believe me when I tell you how frustrating it is to hear that word come out of their mouths repeatedly for days on end.

Just imagine my delight when I found something that not only both of my boys loved, but they were actually really sad when we had to leave.

Mom for the win!

**Disclosure: My family received two complimentary day passes to the Adventure Center at Killington in order to experience it four ourselves and to facilitate this post. All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Jul 082015
 

Summer is finally upon us here and when the weather is nice & sunny, the possibilities are endless.  Most of us spend time at the pool, beach, hiking, at the playground – see there are tons of fun things to do outside.  But then the unthinkable happens – it rains.  How dare Mother Nature ruin our already way too short summer by raining on us.  It’s days like that when you scramble to find fun indoor places to take your kids.

Here’s your solution to that problem.

launch trampoline park

Launch Trampoline Park!  It is an indoor sports and family entertainment facility in Norwood, MA.  They have over 15,000 sq. feet of connected trampolines forming one GIANT jumping surface and angled trampoline walls to bounce off of.  Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

**Disclosure:  My family was invited to a complimentary blogger event at Launch Norwood.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

At Launch, there are five courts for your family to jump on. There is the main court, a basketball court, a fun foam pit for the kids to jump in, a dodge ball and kids court (for kids ages 5 and under).  The best part about this indoor park, it’s suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Continue reading »

Jun 142015
 

10 More Free Things To Do In Boston This Summer

There are so many things that you can do for free in Boston this summer!  Last week I told you about 10 Things you can do for free in Boston, but today I wanted to tell you about ten more.

1.  Go Star Gazing

The Coit Observatory at Boston University has Public Open Night at their Observatory most Wednesday evenings throughout the year, weather permitting. Public Open Nights are a chance for people to come observe the night sky through telescopes and binoculars and see things they otherwise might not get to see, and learn some astronomy as well.

Starting times are 7:30pm during the fall and winter, and 8:30pm during the spring and summer. The program lasts about an hour. If the weather looks sketchy and you’re wondering whether the Open Night will be held, call their information number at 617-353-2630, no earlier than two hours before the scheduled starting time to find out.

The observatory is located at 725 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, MA, above the Astronomy Department. The stairwell up to the Observatory is on the fifth floor just to the left of room 520.

2.  Hike up the Blue Hills

Blue Hills Hiking

Ok, so technically this is not in the city, but it’s located only minutes from downtown Boston. The DCR Blue Hills Reservation stretches over 7,000 acres from Quincy to Dedham, Milton to Randolph and it provides a green oasis in an urban environment. The highest of the 22 hills at Blue Hills is the Great Blue Hill, which reaches a height of 635 feet.  You will have an awesome view of the city from the top. At Blue Hills, there are 125 miles of trails and terrain. Continue reading »

Jun 102015
 

The EcoTarium Worcester MA

My family recently visited the EcoTarium in Worcester, MA.  We’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time, so the boys were really excited when I told them that we were going. The EcoTarium, New England’s leading science and nature center, is a unique indoor-outdoor museum that offers visitors a chance to walk through the treetops, take a thrilling multimedia journey through the galaxy at a digital planetarium, meet wildlife, stroll nature trails, and get hands-on with tons of family-friendly exhibits.

**Disclosure:  My family received complimentary admission to the EcoTarium in exchange for our honest review. As always, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Inside, the EcoTarium has three floors of interactive exhibits.

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In addition to seasonal exhibits, the EcoTarium has many permanent exhibits including: Continue reading »

Jun 072015
 

10 Free Things To Do In Boston This Summer #Travel

If you’re heading to Boston this summer, here is a list of 10 things you can do in the city for free.  Yes, I said free.

1.  Cool off at Frog Pond

Spend the day letting the kids splash around in the giant wading pool and cool off under the 30-foot spray flume at Frog Pond.  It’s open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 1st through Labor Day. Lockers are available for $1.

The Frog Pond is located on the Boston Common, off the Park Street stop on the Red or Green line.

2.   Walk the Freedom Trail

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5-mile, red-lined (brick or painted red line) urban walking trail that leads you to 16 historically significant sites that bring the history of the American Revolution, as it began in Boston, to life.  Along the route you will see such places as the site of Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Old South Meeting House and the Bunker Hill Monument.

10 Free Things To Do In Boston This Summer Freedom Trail

You can start your Freedom Trail tour at the beginning, middle, or end and here’s a map of the route in case you want to walk the walk. Continue reading »

Jun 032015
 

10 Things To Do With Kids In Newport

When it comes to visiting Newport, there is something for everyone.  Known as ‘The City by the Sea,’ whether you are visiting Newport for business, a romantic couples getaway or a family vacation, this seaside community will not let you down. From shopping, to sightseeing, to visiting museums to great restaurants – Newport has it all.  I have visited Newport many times with my husband alone (we’re regulars at the Firehouse Theater for the Friday night Bits Players show), but we recently took the kids with us for a weekend in this lovely beach resort town.

Before we left, I went armed with a plan.  I wanted to make sure that I planned lots of fun activities to keep our family busy while we were there.  If you’re planning a trip to Newport with the kiddos, here are some things you may want to check out while you’re there.

1.  Tour the Newport Mansions

The Newport Mansions

As you drive down Bellevue Ave,  you will pass by some of the extravagant mansions from Newport’s gilded age. While many of these houses are still private property, nine of them are open to the public for guided tours. The stunning “summer cottages” were built by families such as the Vanderbilts and Berwinds, who spent quite a bit of their hard earned money on these fabulous homes that they used only in the summer months every year. Continue reading »

May 312015
 

Hotel Viking Newport RI

With summer in full swing here in New England, families may want to consider a trip to Newport, RI.  Amongst fabulous Gilded Age mansions, you will find that Newport is filled with many family-friendly attractions.  My husband and I are not strangers to Newport, but we had never brought the kids along with us – until recently.  Over Memorial Day weekend, the four of us had a lovely weekend in Newport and loved our stay at the Hotel Viking, which is located at One Bellevue Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island.

At Hotel Viking you’ll find that they offer valet parking (for a small fee), a delightful on-site restaurant, a full-service spa, a fitness center, two ballrooms, boardrooms, private meeting spaces, an indoor pool, the historic Newport Kay Chapel and 209 guest rooms. The room we stayed in room had two queen beds and the four of us were comfortable there for our two night stay. The room includes a gourmet honor basket filled with a variety of snacks , a mini fridge (stocked with an honor bar and also including items such as water and soda), a Flat screen LCD TV, Keurig coffee maker with a variety of coffees, an iron & ironing board, an in-room safe, hairdryer, and desk.  There is free wi-fi available at Hotel Viking and you can get the password from the folks at the front desk.

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Our weekend getaway was part of the “We are Family” package.  The “We are Family” package was designed to encourage families to put the mobile devices down and turn up the fun – and that is exactly what we did while we were in Newport. The package, which starts at $189 per night ($409 in the summer), includes the following: Continue reading »

May 272015
 

**My family received tickets to see the New England Revolution at no charge in exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Recently, my family got the chance to head over to Gillette Stadium to watch the New England Revolution take on Toronto FC.  We were all really excited, especially since this was our first Revs game ever.

In case you’re unfamiliar with who the “Revs” are, the New England Revolution are our professional soccer team.  They play at Gillette Stadium, which is the same stadium that the New England Patriots play at.

My family was hosted by Santander Bank and we got to watch the game from the Santander Bank suite – along with a few other Boston area bloggers and their families.  The Revs mascot, Slyde, even stopped by to say hi to us during the first half of the game.

NE Revolution Game in Santander Bank Suite

Before the game started, we got to go down to the field and watch the players warm up before the game. Continue reading »

May 102015
 

Spy Museum DC

**Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to the museum in exchange for a review of our experience at the museum.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

Many of you know that my family recently visited Washington DC.  I am a planner and had our agenda planned out well in advance of our trip.  I spent a lot of time in DC when I was growing up, but my boys had never been, so I wanted them to give them a chance to experience DC.  One place that I had heard of, but had never been was the International Spy Museum, so I made sure that I included that in our trip itinerary.  I had a feeling that my boys would love it.

I was right.

If you have kids, trust me, you will want to include the International Spy Museum in your Washington DC itinerary, too. We absolutely LOVED it.  In Washington, DC, many of the museums are free, but this one is a paid-entry museum. Don’t let that deter you though – it’s absolutely worth the price of admission!

international spy museum DC

The International Spy Museum is one of the most interactive we have ever been to & my family was entertained the entire time we were there. Continue reading »

May 082015
 

**This post is sponsored by Breathe NH, but as always, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

If you know anything about me, you know that my family is always on the go.  I love taking them new places and exposing my boys to as many new experiences as possible.  I love spending time with them learning new things and creating memories that will last them a lifetime.

NH Fun Pass 2015

Since we are out and about so much, I am excited to tell you about The 2015 Fun Pass discount coupon book.  Every year this book is sold by Breathe New Hampshire as a fundraiser and it includes exclusive discount coupons to over 100 New England attractions (many of the discounts are buy one-get one admissions). Here are a few of the attractions that are included in the 2015 book: Continue reading »

May 052015
 

DC Ducks Tour

**Disclosure:  My family received tickets for the DC Ducks Tour at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Have you ever dreamed of going for a ride in an original WW II DUKW amphibious vehicle? You can. The DC Ducks Tour is a really fun way to get a quick tour of DC and ride in a Duck boat at the same time. The Ducks were originally built as amphibious military personnel carriers immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1942 and in case you are still confused, the Ducks can ride on land and water.

DC Duck Tours Boat

The tour, which leaves from Union Station, lasts about 90 minutes, but ours ran a little over because of traffic. The tour guide was great, too.  He was full of knowledge. He told us about everything we were passing as we drove around, along with some fun facts and trivia along the way. Continue reading »

Apr 282015
 

Old Town Trolley Tour DC

**Disclosure:  My family received tickets for the Old Town Trolley Tour at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

Washington DC is a big city.  It may not look like it on tv, but trust me, there is a lot of walking involved when you visit DC.  I spent a lot of time down there growing up because I have family in Bethesda, MD, so I am very familiar with the area, but to give you an example: if you want to walk from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial, plan on at least a 30 minute walk.   It may not sound like a lot, but it all adds up.  Especially if you’re planning on stopping at some of the monuments & memorials (or even museums) along the way.

So when I had a chance to go on the Old Town Trolley Tour, which is a hop-on hop-off trolley with more than 20 stops all over the city – it was kind of a no-brainer.

The Old Town Trolley Tour is a guided tour in which you can sit back and enjoy a fun trolley ride as well as historical information provided by the driver.  All of the drivers we had the day we toured were phenomenal by the way.  They shared so much history, trivia and lots of behind-the-scenes details about presidential inaugurations and how they are celebrated in DC.  My boys, who are 7  & 10, were never bored once.  My oldest was truly interested in listening to the guides and learning about what he was seeing. Continue reading »