Mar 252015
 

10 Totally Awesome Things You Can Do at Universal Studios Theme Parks in Orlando If You're a Chicken (Like Me)

**Disclosure:  I was invited to take part in an amazing press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  Honestly**

Did you know that you can experience not one, but two world class theme parks when you visit the Universal Orlando Resort? Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure are both full of thrill rides and fun for every member of the family!  I got to spend an amazing day at both parks just a few weeks ago and I wanted to share some highlights of both parks with you.

The thing with me is that I am a complete scaredy cat when it comes to rides, so I spent many years of my life avoiding theme parks like these.

Seriously, just looking at this gives me anxiety:

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There is literally nothing on earth (or anywhere else) that would get me on it. I’m not joking. Thor could be sitting there smeared in Nutella (two of my favorite things of all time) and I still wouldn’t get on the ride.  See…..when I said nothing, I wasn’t kidding you.

But I digress. Continue reading »

Mar 212015
 

**Disclosure:  I was invited to take part in an amazing press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  I swear**

While I was on a recent trip to Universal Orlando Resort, I had a chance to spend some time at CityWalk.  Actually, I ended up spending quite a bit of time there because there is so much to see & do. CityWalk is a massive entertainment/dining complex and it’s located adjacent to both of the theme parks. Everyone heading to one of the parks will pass through it and yes, there is a Starbucks there, so you can grab a coffee on the way in.

Not only does CityWalk play host to  a variety of restaurants, shops, night clubs and a huge cinema complex, they hold many different concerts and special events all year long. CityWalk is 30 Acres of fun and you will certainly find something for everyone there.

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Universal Citywalk

I spent three nights in Orlando and was at CityWalk all three of those nights.  My first night there, I had the pleasure of eating at the The Cowfish Burger Sushi Bar.  The Cowfish is the first and only “Sushi Burger Bar”! You’re probably scratching your head right about now thinking burgers and sushi?  Well, trust me, they make it work and if you are looking for a place to totally pig out, this is it! Continue reading »

Mar 202015
 

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Collage

**Disclosure:  I was stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort as part of an awesome press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  Really.**

Have you ever dreamt about visiting the South Seas, but were put off by the amount of travel involved?  What if I told you that I know how you can get a taste of the South Seas, without having to travel halfway around the world.  I recently had a chance to spend a few nights at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort and I honestly felt like I was on a tropical vacation.

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As soon as I arrived, I was greeted with a cheerful “Aloha” by the friendly hotel staff member that checked me in.  I arrived at the hotel a little bit before the 4 pm check-in time, so my room wasn’t quite ready when I got there.  The folks over at Luggage Services gladly held my bag for me until my room was ready, which freed me up to explore the hotel.

While I waited, I sat outside in the Orchid Court Lounge.  It’s a lovely area where I was able to enjoy the reflection pool that was surrounded by gorgeous carved statues. Continue reading »

Mar 182015
 

Mardi Gras Universal Studios Florida

**Disclosure:  I was invited to take part in the most amazing press trip at Universal Orlando Resort, but all of the opinions you will read here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.  I swear**

Although Fat Tuesday came and went last month, the Mardi Gras festivities are still going strong down at Universal Studios in Orlando! Every spring, you can enjoy the fun & excitement of “The Big Easy” right at Universal Orlando!  On Saturdays and select nights through April 18, Universal Studio’s Mardi Gras event treats their guests to an authentic celebration that transforms the a section of the park into a family-friendly version of the famous New Orleans festivities.

The annual event features big-name concerts, traditional Cajun cuisine, street performers, live music and one heck of a parade – oh, and that’s all in addition to complete access to all of the awesome Universal Orlando theme park attractions!!

Once you’re inside the park, you can visit the French Quarter Courtyard where you can eat authentic Cajun foods and listen to live music.  Every night during the event, you can listen to some of Louisiana’s most popular bands performing authentic blues, jazz, zydeco and more. I had a chance to listen to a from songs from a band called the Mississippi Rail Company & they were absolutely phenomenal. Continue reading »

Feb 242015
 

5 Things to do in Mystic CT During the Winter

When you think of Mystic, CT, what comes to mind?  Boating?  Fishing?  Summer?

Sure, Mystic is a fantastic place for your summer vacation, but did you know that a visit to Mystic during the winter can be just as much fun? I know, you’re probably thinking – “Don’t a lot of things shut down for the winter?”  Well, the answer is yes and no.  There are a few shops and restaurants that only open for the summer in Mystic, but for the most part, everything stays open year round. Not only is it a great place for a romantic getaway, Mystic has some really fun, family friendly attractions as well.  My husband, Chris, and I spent this past weekend in Mystic and today I am going to share five things that you can do in Mystic during the winter.

1.  The Mystic Seaport

The Mystic Seaport is known as the Museum of America and the Sea. It includes three major components for people who visit: a re-created 19th -century coastal village with historic ships, a working preservation shipyard, and formal exhibit galleries.  The Mystic Seaport is located across 19 acres of land along Connecticut’s Mystic River.  There is definitely something for everyone at the Mystic Seaport.

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The preservation shipyard is something to see.  My husband and I got to spend a few minutes watching a really skilled craftsman use 19th century tools and techniques to preserve this historic wooden ship.  It was fascinating to watch. Continue reading »

Feb 072015
 

In case you live in the area and hadn’t heard, The Great Wolf Lodge opened here in New England last spring.  Ever since it opened, my kids have been asking and asking to go.  You see, they play an unusually high amount of television ads for the Great Wolf Lodge, so if you watch tv at all, like us, you’ve seen hundreds of commercials for it. I’m not exaggerating.

Anyhow, last weekend we finally got a chance to check it out.  The boys were beside themselves when they heard we were going.

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There are over 400 rooms at the Great Wolf Lodge and there are several room options, but we stayed in a family suite.  Our room had two queen beds, a a twin-size sofa-sleeper, a microwave, a coffee maker and a 32″ TV. Continue reading »

Dec 222014
 

**Disclosure:  My family and I received a complimentary stay at The Cape Codder Resort & Spa in exchange for our honest opinions about our experiences.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

If you’re looking for a getaway on Cape Cod, Hyannis is the place to go.  Located mid-cape, Hyannis is one of the seven villages that make up the town of Barnstable.  I have been vacationing on Cape Cod all my life, and to me, Hyannis is the hub of the cape.  There are so many shops, restaurants and tourist attractions – all located relatively close together, which is why it’s the perfect destination for your Cape Cod vacation.

It sounds great, right?

So now that you’ve decided on Hyannis for your next trip, where do you stay?  That’s easy. The Cape Codder Resort & Spa!

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The Cape Codder is conveniently located right in the heart of all the action, so you’ll be able to get to everything in the area quickly and easily.

My family stayed at the The Cape Codder Resort & Spa this past weekend and I am going to tell you all about it so that you will know why it’s the place to stay when you plan your next Cape Cod get away!

Check-in at the The Cape Codder Resort & Spa is 3 pm and we were there promptly at 3!  We looked online and knew there were so many things to do at the resort and we couldn’t wait to get going. The room that my family stayed in had two queen sized beds (which were very comfortable) many other conveniences such as wireless internet access and dataport for my  laptop, an in-room coffee maker, an iron & ironing board, and an interactive television system that provides access to digitally formatted movies, on-demand movies, an on-screen channel line-up and in-room check-out service! Continue reading »

Nov 022014
 

When I was recently invited to go on a winery tour on Long Island, NY, I don’t think I could have said yes fast enough. First off, I had never been to Long Island, so I was thrilled to be able to experience a whole new place.  Secondly, I had never toured a winery before, so it sounded like it would be an unforgettable experience and I was excited to be a part of it.   I met up with several other bloggers in New London, CT, which is where our day started.

Because Long Island is well, an island, we boarded the Cross Sound Ferry in New London to take us on the 16 mile journey across Long Island Sound to Orient Point, NY.  For this trip, we took the JessicaW, which is a passenger only, high-speed ferry. Cross Sound Ferry operates both passenger only and auto ferries all year round.

The ferry ride took about 40-45 minutes from departure to arrival on Long Island. Once we arrived, we met up with the lovely Jo-Ann of Vintage Tours with Jo-Ann Perry.  Jo-Ann provides guided winery tours of the North Fork of Long Island’s finest wineries.

Our first stop of the day was The Candyman, which is located at  22350 Main Road in Orient, NY. The Candyman is a small candy shop that specializes in homemade chocolates and candy.

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As soon as I walked in the door, the smell of chocolate filled the air.  It smelled like heaven on earth.

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The Candyman shop was filled with seasonal candy, fudge, jelly beans, small gifts and so much more. Continue reading »

Jul 292014
 

**Masshole Mommy received four complimentary tickets to visit the Adventure Center at Loon Mountain in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

While we were staying at Loon Mountain in Lincoln, New Hampshire a few weekends ago, one of the things we did was take a gondola ride up to the summit.  We’ve stayed at Loon numerous times over the years, but it wasn’t until we got a Super Adventure Pass for their Adventure Center that we actually went to the top of the mountain.

Gondola Skyride

There are a few things to do up on the summit of the mountain, including the Glacial Caves.  There you can crawl, squeeze and climb your way through the really old caves & boulders that date back to the ice age.  Seriously.

More than 12,000 years ago, the massive Laurentide Ice Sheet covered Loon Mountain in more than a mile of ice. When the ice melted, it left behind a whole bunch of ginormous boulders just below the summit.  Now-a-days you can explore the small caverns and passageways tucked into the that area because they’ve built a  wooden walkway throughout it. Continue reading »

Jul 282014
 

**Masshole Mommy received four complimentary tickets to visit the Adventure Center at Loon Mountain in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way** \

Do you think the White Mountains of New Hampshire are just for winter fun? Think again.  There are tons of things to do in the summertime and the Loon Mountain Adventure Center has a whole slew of great activities for you to do on  your summer getaway!  The best part is that you can customize your experience.

Want to do it all?  The Super Adventure Pass is the way to go, which includes everything Loon has to offer.  Check it out –

Super Adventure Pass

Only want to do certatin attractions?  Check out the Loon Adventure Pass:

Loon adventure pass

If you only have a few hours to spend, the Base Camp Pass or Bunyan’s Bouncin’ Backyard Pass might be perfect for you: Continue reading »

Jul 012014
 

While we were in San Diego in April, you may remember that we took a morning and spent it at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.  As we pulled into the parking lot that morning, the kids couldn’t help but notice a really nice playground off in the distance.  Chris and I promised we’d head over there after the museum because we both know how much they love playing at the playground.

The Pepper Grove Playground is suitable for kids of all ages. It is separated into two main areas. The side designed for children younger than five has a giant sandbox, cushioned floors, slides and swings. The other side, designed for kids five and older, offers a large jungle gym, faux zip line and fun things to spin on.

balboa park playground
Continue reading »

Jun 272014
 

While we were in San Diego in April, we had a chance to make a stop at the The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, which features more than 100 interactive science exhibits.  My boys love that sort of thing and I wanted to take them if we ended up having a little extra time, which we did.

fleet science center outside

When I initially told my sister in law, who lives in San Diego, that I wanted to take my boys there, the first thing she said was that the Museum of Science in Boston was much better.  So, I actually read a few reviews about this place before we went because her statement had a me a little worried.

Many of the reviews that I read were by adults that went to the museum and didn’t enjoy it because it was geared towards children. Well, duh.  That sort of museum is intended for children, so those had me a little baffled.  And there were quite a few of them, which also made me scratch my head. But anyways, all the reviews that I read by adults that were also parents said that the Fleet Science Center was awesome, so we went. Continue reading »

Jun 242014
 

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Remember when I told you about our visit to the La Jolla tidepools when we were in California in April?  Well, while we were still in San Diego, my brother in law told us about another tide pool in the area that might be worth a visit and he was definitely right.  They were called the  Cabrillo tidepools and they are located on Point Loma in San Diego, which was even a little closer to our hotel than the tidepools in La Jolla.  Score.

In case you are unfamiliar, during periods of low tide, pools form along this shore in rocky depressions and you can see a  myriad of sea creatures in them.

The Cabrillo tidepools were definitley different than the ones in La Jolla simply because of the fact that there were lots and lots of cliffs there, so we really needed to keep an eye on the kiddos until we were able to make our way down to the bottom of the cliffs.  They weren’t like Roadrunner cliffs, but they were steep enough that if you fell off, you would most definitley be injured.

Not to mention that  there are no hand rails at all and the rocks/cliff can get slippery, especially when wet – so we were very careful.

cabrillo1 Continue reading »

Jun 192014
 

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On our recent trip to California, we squeezed in a visit to the tidepools located in La Jolla Cove. The tidepools are part of shell beach, which is actually just south of the cove (under the cliffs of Coast Boulevard Park).

The tidepool is made up of all sorts of really cool rock formations and it’s definitley something we don’t see much over here on the upper east coast.  We spent several hours there because we got there right before low tide and I feel like I snapped a million pictures because none of us had ever seen anything like it and it was just so cool to see.

Although the rocks were a little slippery – especially that green stuff you can see in some of my pictures, my kids had a blast searching for sea creatures. They found a ton of hermit crabs, an anemone or two and a bunch of crabs.

Here are a few of the million pictures I took while we were there:

la jolla tidepool collage 2 Continue reading »

Jun 162014
 

Over Memorial Day weekend, we woke the boys up early and told them we were going on a mystery trip.  I had been jonesing to to get back to New York City and since the weather was supposed to be perfect, it seemed like a good time to take a bit of a day trip.

NYC Mystery trip

It took us about 3 1/2 hours to get there, which wasn’t too bad.  There was no traffic, so the entire ride was smooth sailing.  Once we were in the city, we found a place to park and walked to our first stop -The Empire State Building!

I had two NYC CityPASS ticket books, which included one-time admission tickets, detailed attraction information, coupons and a map for 6 of the best attractions in New York City (including the Empire State Building).   When we arrived at the Empire State Building, it was about 11 am and there was already a 2-3 hour wait to buy tickets to get into to the observation level (the 86th floor) of the building.  With our CityPASS tickets, we were able to skip to the head of the line which was really nice and definitely something I would recommend doing because honestly, who wants to stand in line for hours for tickets to something like this when you can easily purchase something like a CityPASS booklet and blow past the line? Continue reading »

Jun 152014
 

One of the best features about the hotel we stayed at in San Diego was the pool They had the most gorgeous pool and we spent many of our afternoons poolside. The thing that I liked the most was that the boys were always having fun and spending quality time together while they were out in the pool.

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Here is the gruesome twosome doing cannonballs: Continue reading »

Jun 122014
 

One of the things we did while were at the the San Diego Zoo Safari Park back in April was to take a ride on the Africa Tram. The Africa Tram tour brings visitors out into the “Savanna” to see wildlife from different parts of Africa.

africa tram

We saw so many animals while we were out on the 40 minute tour, but we are regulars on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride at The Animal Kingdom in Disney World because we go there so often – and because of that we weren’t as impressed as we probably should have been on this tour.

It did cost extra to go on the tram, but there are different ticket options at the park, so you can get a pass that includes the tram when you first buy your tickets for the park when you arrive. If you have never experienced African animals out in their natural habitat, this is definitley something you would want to check out if you are planning on spending time at the safari park. Continue reading »

Jun 112014
 

During our trip to California in April, we went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  Last year when we went to California, we visited the San Diego Zoo, but this year we decided that we’d do something we hadn’t done before and headed to the Safari Park – which is a separate park from the zoo.

safari park

My awesome sister in law, who lives in the outskirts of San Diego managed to score the four of us free passes to the park, which was so cool.  My SIL/BIL and nephew have a membership to the San Diego Zoo, which includes the safari park & they planned to meet us there that day.  As it turned out, my sister in law got the flu, so just my brother in law and nephew ended up joining us.

Before my in laws arrived, my boys just had to make pennies.  If you read my post about making pennies last year when we went to Disney World, you probably already know that I travel with a bag of quarters and shiny pennies in case we run into those machines.  And we always do. Continue reading »

Jun 102014
 

While we were at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in April, one of the things that the kidlets really enjoyed was the Condor Trail.  They have several California Condors on display on Condor Ridge at the Safari Park.

The California Condor is the largest North American land bird. This condor became extinct in the wild in 1987 (all 22 remaining wild individuals were captured) and through captive breeding, the numbers are back up and some California Condors have been reintroduced into the wild.

condor trail one

The ones on display at the Safari Park live in this enclosure: Continue reading »

Jun 092014
 

While we were at the the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in April, we got the chance to check out a cool exhibit that they had going on:  The Butterfly Jungle.

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More than 10,000 exotic butterflies of all colors and sizes fluttered around us as we walked through an aviary filled with the flying creatures!  There were 30 different species from Africa, Asia and Central and South America.

I was able to snap a few photos while we were inside the aviary, but since most of the butterflies were flying, I had a hard time getting many clear pictures. Continue reading »