Nov 012016
 

As you know, I recently had the chance to stay on Anna Maria Island, Florida. If you missed my list of great things to do in the area, be sure to check it out here. While I was on the island, I stayed (with three fellow bloggers) in this beautiful house, named Malibu Beach from Anna Maria Vacations.

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Anna Maria Vacations is a truly a unique rental company.  They specialize in only the finest vacation rentals and their properties are carefully hand selected in order to provide their guests with the upscale vacation experience they desire. All of their properties are diligently maintained on a weekly basis with emphasis put on each unit being kept in peak condition. From luxury Gulf beachfront homes to beach condos to bay waterfront homes to many exquisite inland homes just a few minutes stroll to the beach – Anna Maria Vacations will help you find the property that best serves your needs. Continue reading »

Oct 302016
 

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If you follow me on Instagram you already know that I recently visited the Bradenton, Florida area for the first time. During my time there, I stayed on Anna Maria Island with three fellow bloggers (yes, just like The Real World) in this beautiful house from Anna Maria Vacations.

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Anna Maria Island, Florida is a seven-mile strip of beautiful white-sand beaches that lies between the turquoise Gulf of Mexico and the bay. The island is so quaint and cozy and it truly makes you feel as though you have taken a step back in time because of all of the “old” Florida charm.

On AMI (Anna Maria Island), you won’t find any high rise condos or fast food joints. Instead you’ll find a wonderful selection of local eateries and everything from quaint cottages to deluxe beach houses by the sea. Honestly, you need never leave the island to find fun and relaxation.  From watching the sunset while dining at many of the water front restaurants on the island to shopping in some of the wonderful specialty shops to good old fashioned people watching – there is something for everyone on Anna Maria Island. Continue reading »

Oct 182016
 

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As with most historic cities in the US, Boston has a rich background and with that comes TONS of tourist attractions. Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States, the area played an integral role in our nation’s history and there are landmarks EVERYWHERE that celebrate this rich and amazing history. Unless you are coming to stay or for a very extended visit, you’ll need to prioritize your must see tourist attractions in Boston. There are some things that you just have to experience while you are visiting Boston. In case you are not as familiar with Boston as I am here is a list to help!

Sports Fans Must See Tourist Attractions in Boston

If you are a sports fans these are the places you will NOT want to miss when you are visiting Boston. Along with being home to some of the best teams that call Boston home, these locations are beautiful works of architecture and some even have historical cred of their own!

  • Fenway Park: Home of the Boston Red Sox
  • TD Garden: Home of the Bruins and the Celtics

If you can’t catch a game while you are in town I highly recommend that you swing by anyway just to take in the awesome and massive feel of these locations! Continue reading »

Oct 092016
 

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If you are local to New England, surely you’ve been to – or at least heard of the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo.  It’s an annual tradition for our family to attend as well as thousands of others each year. If you’ve never been, you’re missing out because it’s really something to see.  The Jack O’Lantern Spectacular is a nighttime display of 5,000 illuminated jack-o-lanterns all along the zoo’s beautiful Wetlands Trail, with well over 100 of the pumpkins carved into veritable works of art. There’s something magical about so many illuminated jack o’lanterns on display as you walk along the trail. This year The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular is presented by Citizens Bank and it runs from October 6 – November 6, 2016.

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Last week I had a chance to preview the Jack O’Lantern Spectacular before it opened to the public and not only that, I was able to go behind the scenes and see some of the action.  I saw the area where the pumpkins are carved and learned how they store the completed jack o’lanterns in a temperature controlled box truck until they are ready to be put on display. Continue reading »

Sep 272016
 

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Like most historical cities in the United States, Boston has a rich and expansive history. There are more historic buildings and locations in Boston than you could see in just one day. Instead of killing yourself trying to take in all the usual tourist spots, check out these off the beaten path spots in Boston. There’s something for everyone, they’re all unique, and while you might not learn quite as much I’m sure you’ll have just as much fun (if not more)!

Check out Bodega
6 Clearway St, Boston, MA 02115

It might look like a dingey bodega straight from the streets of NYC but head to the back, watch the Snapple machine slide out of the way and BOOM! Your jaw will drop. It reveals an awesome shoe store. Even if you don’t need shoes it’s a pretty awesome place to browse and the thrill of a 007-esque entrance is worth the visit, in my opinion!

Play with Lasers at Danger!Awesome
Cambridge, Massachusetts

There are different events for different days and you should plan accordingly but you can actually cut stuff…with lasers. It’s pretty amazing and totally fun for the adventurer or even the science enthusiast. Continue reading »

Sep 202016
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MagicalFamilyFirsts #CollectiveBias

What To Pack For a Day at One of the Disney Water Parks

We are major Disney fanatics in our house.  We seriously love all things Disney and every year our family visits Walt Disney World in Orlando. Actually we just got back from our 2016 Walt Disney World vacation about two weeks ago.  I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I definitely know my way around the parks.  Normally when we go to Walt Disney World, we get the Park Hopper ticket which allows us to go in and out of the 4 parks, but doesn’t include the two water parks. This year we got the Water Parks and More option, so we were able to go to the water parks as well. The “more” part of the Water Parks and More option included mini golf.  Our family took advantage of the “more” this year as well, but really enjoyed our time at Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, too.

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Since we stay on Disney property, we don’t rent a car and rely on Disney’s bus transportation to get us where we wanted to go.  Since it takes time to get from our resort to where we’re going, I like to be prepared with everything I need for the day and that especially goes for one of the water parks. Continue reading »

Sep 122016
 

Hear ye, hear ye!  It’s that time of year again.  For two months every fall, you can travel back in time at King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA.  Spread out over 80 acres of woods, King Richard’s Faire is the place to be if you want to fully immerse yourself into a day in the life of someone back in the 1500’s.

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**Disclosure:  My family and I received complimentary admission to King Richard’s Faire in order to tell you about our experience there.  All opinions are strictly my own and we not influenced in any way.

If you’ve never been to a renaissance festival, you’re missing out on a chance to travel back in time to the 16th century.  They make for a seriously good time.

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King Richard’s Faire is very family friendly. There are many rides and performances throughout the day that are offered to entertain any and all age groups. From face painting to carnival rides to the beer garden, King Richard’s Faire does their best to keep everybody happy.  For my family, it’s the overall atmosphere that keeps us going back time and time again.  It’s a fun and light-hearted way to spend some quality time with your family. Continue reading »

Sep 072016
 

10 Family Activities that Won’t Break the Bank in NYC

Let’s face it, traveling to New York City is expensive just to get there, pay for a hotel, and provide basic meals. Just showing up, sleeping, and eating a few meals is not really an exciting trip. Instead of stressing about having a fun trip that completely blows your budget here are 10 ideas for family activities that won’t break the bank for the next time you are in NYC! Like any place, NYC has families that are always looking for activities and travelers can often take advantage of these kinds of activities as well! Sitting in the hotel or roaming around aimlessly are no longer your only options for a frugal family trip to New York City!

1. Let’s Go to the Zoo
This is a big one which is why it is number one! There two different zoo locations in NYC that are actually free or donation only on Wednesdays! You can visit the Bronx Zoo and you simply make a donation! The Staten Island Zoo is also free on Wednesdays from 2-4:45pm! Check out one or both to save some cash and see some exciting animals while you are visiting NYC!

2. Botanical Gardens
The Brooklyn Botanic garden is free during the week from November first through February twenty eighth! The New York botanical Garden is free on Wednesdays from 10-6pm and Saturdays from 9-10am! These are two great locations for the whole family to explore and take a walking tour without having to worry about spending any of your vacation budget!

3. Children’s Museums
Both the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan are free on certain days! For Brooklyn it is Thursdays from 2-6pm and in Manhattan it is the first Friday of every month from 5-8pm. This is a great way to enrich any trip to NYC without having to spend any money. You will all get to enjoy the sights and sounds but they require none of your vacation budget! Continue reading »

Aug 292016
 

Best Family Food Spots in Washington DC

Traveling is always fun but it can be stressful to find places in an unfamiliar city to feed your family. Not only is it stressful to find good food that your family will enjoy it can also be ridiculously overpriced! Fear not, I’ve rounded up some reasonably priced eats in Washington DC that will be sure to please the whole family. These are the Best Family Food Spots in Washington DC so you can plan your trip without worrying about how to feed everyone without breaking the bank!

One of the best ways to find food places nearby is by using your smartphone or specific apps to locate local cuisine with good ratings and low prices. If you are a planner you can always search ahead using online resources as well! These are some of the most highly rated restaurants in Washington DC that are also inexpensive. I love when I can find great food that is also affordable because feeding a big family on a budget while on vacation can be difficult!

1. Crepaway: 2001 L St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Is an awesome place to get some delicious dessert! Who doesn’t love dessert! It’s inexpensive and highly rated and everyone can get flavors that they love. This is an awesome alternative to ice cream stops or other dessert places for a sweet treat while exploring the city!

2. Wiseguy NY Pizza: 300 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
Pizza is always a great option when feeding a family on vacation. Wiseguy NY Pizza is highly rated with 4.5 of 5 stars and it’s an inexpensive option that everyone can enjoy. I love that you can customize, get different things, everyone feels like they’re getting their own choice without blowing our entire food budget! Great for a family meal or pick up to take back to the hotel! Continue reading »

Aug 072016
 

Fun For the Whole Family at the Brand New Water Park at the Cape Codder in Hyannis

Last week my oldest son turned 12. TWELVE!  I’m honestly not sure when that happened, but in any case I can personally attest to the fact that the “tween” thing is real.  He’s not quite a teen yet, but definitely he has all the attitude & sassiness of one.  He’s also apparently too cool to do “kid” stuff anymore, which has created a bit of a challenge for me to keep him entertained (and off those pesky electronics) this summer. Both of my boys have August birthdays and I always plan a day of fun for them on their special days and this year I was really scrambling to come up with something that my oldest would like.

Then it came to me – I would take them to the brand new water park at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis.  If you’ve been around here for a while, you may remember that my family stayed there about 18 months ago and the boys really enjoyed the indoor wave pool (if you need a refresher, here is the post).  I had heard that the Cape Codder was expanding and creating an amazing water park and when I found out that they had just opened on Friday July 30th, I knew that it was where I was going to take my kids for my oldest’s birthday. My oldest loves to swim and I knew a day at the water park would be right up his alley.

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The Wave Pool, which was already there, is approximately 10,000 square feet and the expansion is an additional 20,000 square feet – you  you can only imagine how excited both my boys were when I told them that’s where we were going! It’s the only one of its kind on Cape Cod and has so much fun to offer! Continue reading »

Jul 192016
 

Tips for Traveling to Washington DC with Kids

Like any trip, traveling with children can be difficult if you are not prepared. Washington DC is a busy metropolitan area that has lots of tourist attractions but is also a busy city with hazards and pitfalls galore. Check out these tips for traveling to Washington DC with kids to make your next trip a smooth success!

Be Prepared…No, Be OVERLY Prepared
Nothing is worse than getting to your hotel room and realizing that you don’t have Mr. I Can’t Sleep Without Him Bear or Ms. Holy Cow I’m Going to Throw a Total Fit Blanket. Your child will be a nightmare without the things that they are attached to. Instead of fighting them when packing, make as many concessions as you can feasibly fit into the suitcase. Let them bring their favorite toys or blankets or games. If it will make them happy during their small amounts of down time, it’s a must, make room in that suitcase. Also, make sure you bring along extras of things that typically get dirty really quickly. If you have a messy eater, pack some extra shirts and that type of thing. They will be less stressed and so will you if you can just throw on another shirt and deal with the ketchup stain later!

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Jul 112016
 

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If you follow along with any of my social media channels, you already know that my husband, Christian, and I just got back from a trip to New York City. He originally booked the trip back in April and he had been planning on surprising me with it for my birthday (which fell during the trip), but I cracked him and ended up finding out about the trip shortly after he booked it, I think he was relieved, though, because out of the two of us I am the planner and he just comes along for the ride – so it works out well.

The two of us are not strangers to Manhattan by any means.  We go down several times a year, so we already got the big touristy things out of the way years ago. When we head down for a weekend now a days, I tend to look for more off the beaten path things for us to do. This time around, in addition to a couple of Broadway and Off Broadway shows, we ended up going on the Chinatown and Little Italy Food Tour from Ahoy New York Tours & Tasting.

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If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I have a love affair with food.  I seriously love to eat and love expanding my palate whenever possible which is why I was so excited to take this particular food tour.  I’ve been on food tours in my home city of Boston and really enjoyed them, but the Chinatown and Little Italy Food Tour from Ahoy was different from any of the other food tours I have ever been on. Their tour visits six different tasting locations in two unique ethnic NY neighborhoods and fuses the elements of history, culture, and food all in one. Continue reading »

Jun 302016
 

3 Free Ways to Make the Most of Boston This Summer

I love living in the Boston area, but especially in the summer time. With its rich history, bustling neighborhoods, and beautiful coastal landscapes, it’s a perfect place for the whole family.

I recently discovered a website called, MapAround, which is a search engine for finding local events in the Boston area. This was perfect for us, as it even has a “Kids & Family” category. Once we started searching, we had no idea how many events were happening around us every single night. From concerts to comedy shows, movie nights to boat cruises, farmers’ markets and festivals, I couldn’t believe how many awesome things are happening in Boston every single day.

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Here’s a few events that I liked best:

Free Friday Flicks

Free Friday Flicks is one of Boston’s favorite summertime traditions! Every Friday night around sundown, families and friends gather at DCR’s Hatch Shell along the Charles River to watch a movie. All you need are your own chairs, a cozy blanket and of course, some snacks. There are even fun games and prizes for the kids. This was a perfect way to end a long week. Continue reading »

Jun 202016
 

How to Save Money on Theme Park Souvenirs

If you have ever been to a theme park, you know that there are very few ways to do it super frugally. The food can cost a lot, getting in the gate can be ridiculous and then, of course, there are all the things kids (and adults) will want from all the gift shops. If you don’t want to spend far out of your budget on these items, here are some tips on how to save money on souvenirs at theme parks.

How to Save Money on Souvenirs at Theme Parks

Look for discounts at area grocery stores. Many times, you will find discount tickets for getting in the gate, but you can also find park “bucks” (some parks offer them) to use in the park with tickets as a package that you can use to buy your souvenirs.

Buy souvenirs before you go to the park. If you are heading to a place like Disney World, you can buy all kinds of merchandise that could be souvenirs if you buy them right before you go to the park. Buy fun T­-shirts to wear to the park to help stave off the ‘I wants’ when you come across them in stores and gift shops. Continue reading »

Jun 122016
 

NYC Subway Yay or Nay

There are pros and cons to every form of transportation in a busy city. This is especially amplified in a huge and bustling city like New York City. In New York City the most popular choice is often the NYC Subway system. It is an interesting facet of the way the city functions and above all else it is part of what keeps the city running! As a tourist attraction it can be a complex subject. Use this guide to the NYC Subway to decide for yourself if it is a Yay or a Nay.

I think it’s always best to end on a high note so let’s cover the downsides first…

  • Remember you are in a city…a hugely populated city that never seems to stop moving. The subway is always busy and from a tourist standpoint this can be extremely overwhelming especially with kids.
  • Again, hugely busy and full of all kinds of travelers…the subway is going to be dirty and often it is clouded by the elements. Because it is underground it is semi protected but it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
  • The underground location and the natural (and unnatural) dirt attract a variety of furry critters. Don’t be surprised if you see mice, rats, and other rodents.
  • Because the NYC Subway system is such a large part of how people who live in the city get around you should expect it to be busy and crowded. That being said, not everyone shares you sense of hygiene or manners. Touch things and then sanitize or keep your hands to yourself!
  • The trains run underground for the most part so you shouldn’t plan to be able to work on emails, text messages, etc. Cell service can be intermittent at best.
  • Like all forms of transportation that run on a schedule you can miss trains, or be late because the train is running behind…plan ahead.

Don’t let that list overwhelm you! There are some really cool points about the NYC Subway system and some great pros to taking a ride! Continue reading »

May 302016
 

The Great Escape Room Providence

If you are a regular around here, you already know that I am always on the go & I am always on the hunt for new ways to keep my family – especially the boys, entertained.  Recently the four of us had a chance to check out The Great Escape Room in Providence, RI and not to give too much away right off the bat, we LOVED it.

You’ve probably noticed that escape rooms seem to be popping up more and more & I have been curious for a while now to check one out to see what all the buzz is about. I have never done anything like this before, so I honestly had no idea what to expect. Let me just say that our experience at the Great Escape Room far exceeded my expectations.

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Here’s a little background: “The Great Escape Room is a real-life room escape game based on the popular computer and mobile phone escape games. Escape games are the newest craze sweeping the nation – a fun, team-building, brain-busting experience! After entering a room with your team, the door is locked behind you. 60 minutes are on the clock! You must work together in order to find clues and solve puzzles that will lead you to your escape. It is part scavenger hunt and part puzzle game. Only about 20% of groups are able to meet the challenge and escape in time!” Continue reading »

May 232016
 

Now that summer is in full swing here in New England, it’s a great time to head out and explore all that western Massachusetts has to offer.  Boasting a wide variety of attractions for every member of the family, western Massachusetts is the place to be. Although we’re been to the western part of our state many times over the years, my family recently spent a fantastic weekend in western Mass.  While we were there, we stayed at the Holiday Inn in Enfield, CT.

When you book a stay at The Holiday Inn Springfield/Enfield, you will get a chance to experience the comfort and charm of all that New England has to offer.  The hotel is only a short drive from Bradley International Airport and Enfield is centrally located between Springfield, MA and Hartford, CT, (right off I-91) which makes this hotel a great choice for travelers.  There’s plenty of free parking, too!

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In addition to a fitness center, indoor/outdoor pools, and on-site recreational activities that include tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, The Holiday Inn Springfield/Enfield offers an airport shuttle to nearby Bradley International for their guests. Continue reading »

May 222016
 

6 Reasons to Visit Massachusetts Pioneer Valley

When someone mentions Massachusetts to you, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Boston?  Cape Cod? Those places are both great, but there is a lot of fun located in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, too. There are so many fun-filled attractions in the western part of the state and they are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for some family fun this summer.

1. Six Flags New England

Did you know that Six Flags New England is the Coaster Capital of New England?  Six Flags New England is home to the New England SkyScreamer, Flashback, Pandemonium, Mind Eraser, Batman the Dark Knight, Goliath, Wicked Cyclone and the brand new Fireball, which just opened this year. Six Flag New England also relaunched the BIZARRO coaster this season.  It’s now SUPERMAN™ the Ride.

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If coasters aren’t your thing, you are not alone.  I don’t like them either, but fear not – there is a ton of other stuff to do at the park. For the little ones, there are four areas specifically dedicated to kids including Looney Tunes Movie Town, Kidzopolis, Whistlestop Park and Splash Island (in the water park).  There are tons of rides in those areas including bumper cars, a carousel, the scrambler and many more classics. Continue reading »

May 102016
 

5 Ways to Beat Disney World Exhaustion

Making it through a day at Disney World is almost a feat of human strength, but yet, people manage to do it every day and some folks do it several days in a row. Disney World exhaustion is a real thing, and it plagues so many guests that push their limits and try to get as much in at the parks as possible without giving themselves a break. Knowing how to avoid becoming exhausted while at the parks can mean the difference between really enjoying yourself and not ever wanting to return to Walt Disney World.

Use these 5 tips to beat Disney World exhaustion and really tackle all that the parks have to offer without falling over each night.

Start Taking Naps

We love it when the kids willingly nap, and believe me when I tell you that everyone in the family will learn to love naps at Walt Disney World. No matter how many or little days you have at the parks, you should leave a couple hours midday for relaxing, going back to your hotel room or rental and just relax, nap, snack and recharge. Doing this gives you the energy to get through the rest of the day, and really, midday is the worst time to be in the parks, with crowds thinning out later in the afternoon when you are ready to come back for more fun.

Ride Everything

Besides amusement rides, there are a lot of ride options around the Disney World parks, and you should take advantage of all of them in order to minimize the amount of time that you are on your feet and running around. No matter how well you plan it out, nor the shape you are in, the average guest can walk anywhere from four to eight miles worth of park a day. Even at a slow pace this is a lot when you are doing as much as you are for several days in a row. Take advantage of in park transportation, park to park transportation and even go out of your way to add a slow paced ride option to your itinerary that will give you a new view of the parks. Continue reading »

May 022016
 

A Visit to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in DC

Many of you know that my family recently visited Washington DC for the second year in a row.  Last year we found that a week in DC just wasn’t enough time to be able to see and do everything that we wanted to, so we took the kids back again this year over their April school vacation to we could see the stuff we missed last year. Madame Tussauds Washington, DC was high up on our list and I am so excited that we were able to squeeze in a visit this year.

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**My family and I were provided complimentary admission to Madame Tussauds in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

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Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Washington DC is definitely not your typical museum.  I had been to the Madame Tussauds wax museums in Vegas and NYC sans kids, but I when I found out there was one in DC – I knew my boys would love it and I was dying to take them there. Continue reading »