A Cruise Vacation Should Be On Your Bucket List

 

 

English: Liners docked at the Cruise Liner Ter...

 

Reasons Why You Should Include A Cruise Vacation On Your Bucket List

 

I just got off of the phone with my dad who just got back from an “amazing” trip to the Bahamas. He and his wife decided to take a cruise for the first time, and after talking to him, I can see why. From everything that I heard from him, as well as other friends that I know that have gone on them in the past, the trips are so much fun, alive with culture and decked out (literally) with everything you can think of.

 


When I think about this I think about the fact that going on a cruise is something that is totally different than I’m used to. It allows you to get away from the same old family excursion year after year, and instead get to visit some very fascinating places while not having to deal with the stress of travel arrangements and packing up your belongings every few nights.

 

If this sounds like you check out the following tips and information that I have gathered below. In my opinion there really is no better time to add a cruise holiday to your bucket list than today (I know it is now on mine)!
 

 

Swimming pool, "Carnival Fantasy" cr...

 

Get close to history
 
Cruise holidays are perfect for holidaymakers who want to experience fascinating sites and local culture. You get a unique perspective on the lay of the land at important historical sites right from the deck of your cruise liner, or venture off-ship to experience the local landmarks and fascinating people up close.


 
Eat well
 
Wherever your luxury liner takes you, you’re sure to experience fabulous restaurants all around the globe. Not only is the ship’s kitchen often one of the best restaurants anywhere and you should know what to order while there, but with a little research into venues in each location before arriving, you can make a beeline for the most interesting places to dine once docking in port. You’re sure never to eat better than when cruising towards some of the finest restaurants the world has to offer.


 
Enjoy yourself and relax like never before!
 
Ditching the stress of work for a relaxing holiday has never been easier than with the first class weather and and top-notch facilities which come as standard when you book a luxurious cruise holiday. Most of the cruise liners gracing the seas today boast a full-sized swimming pool, a lavishly equipped gym, and a comfortable cinema at the very least. What better place to relax than this?
 
Just some of the many great reasons to add a cruise vacation to your bucket list have been discussed above. If you are one of the staggering number of holidaymakers who have never so much as considered a cruise holiday, make sure to give this fun and relaxing option some serious thought. You’ll no doubt be pleasantly surprised at the huge variety of options available to you aboard your luxurious cruise liner!

 

 

 

Kids, Culture, Fun — Taking the Kids to Vienna Someday

Vienna Rathaus (City Hall)

Kids, Culture, Fun — Taking the Kids to Vienna

I have BIG dreams of taking my kids to see the world. One of the places that I have always wanted to share with my family is Vienna. Austria’s beautiful capital Vienna is famous for its outstanding cultural offerings and as such the historic center was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2001. The city’s romantic ambiance and old world charm are legendary among European travelers, but what many don’t know is that Vienna is one of the continent’s most child-friendly cities, or maybe even in the world. For perfect city breaks to Vienna with the whole family in tow, here are a few of the city’s best family-friendly activities.

 

Visiting the palace

 

Just a short U-Bahn ride from the city center, the Schönbrunn Palace (open April to November) is an interesting place for families. You can easily spend an entire day wandering the grounds which boast everything from a zoo (one of the oldest in the world), to a Children’s Museum where kids get the chance to experience historical traditions first hand. Schönbrunn offers kids the chance to dress up in imperial costumes, try on wigs and play with period-specific toys in an engaging, interactive exploration of the past. The palace grounds are also home to an outdoor maze (you’ll never get a better chance to lose each other!) and even a giant kaleidoscope.

 

Austria, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace ???????: ??...

Austria, Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace

Art for all ages

 

Weekends in Vienna offer children the chance to truly indulge their inner artist, or simply discover it. The Kunsthistorisches Museum offers art workshops for children on Sunday afternoons and the Mumok (Museum of Modern Art) offers a variety of activities for young ones ranging from making short animated films to inventing comics (Disney eat your heart out!). The Upper Belvedere Palace offers a masterpiece trail — a veritable scavenger hunt for children in search of historic and priceless works of art.

 

Making music

For particularly musical children Vienna is sure to delight. The Haus der Musik is a fantastic interactive museum where parents can let their budding Mozarts explore different sounds, music and learn about some of Austria’s great composers. Children can even pick up a conductor’s baton and virtually conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The Vienna State Opera also offers some musical experiences like their Children’s Operas (lasting a kid-friendly 60 minutes) which are performed in a large tent atop the Opera House.

 

Austria, Vienna, Vienna State Opera ???????: ?...

Don’t forget to play

 

For many families, Vienna’s cultural offerings can be stimulating but also quite exhausting. The perfect cure (and conclusion to a Vienna family holiday) is the Prater Amusement Park. With 250 attractions including a famous 200ft high Ferris wheel, chair-o-plane and ghost train, Prater is a pleasant way to spend that all-important final day of the holiday. The park also has excellent cycle paths and from March to October little ones can ride on the mini railway through the park (so you can avoid the fast rides!).

 

Vienna is a world-class city. Few other destinations in the world offer young and old alike the chance to partake in stimulating, scenic activities that promote culture so interactively and successfully as Vienna. It’s just one of those cities that has it all.

For these reasons and more I am hoping that I can bring my family to this amazing city, hopefully sooner than later!

A Good Vacation is a Safe Vacation #dadchat

MR GRISWOLD

A Good Vacation is a Safe Vacation

We’ve all seen the classic vacation movies starring Chevy Chase. We know how fun and exciting a good road trip can be. But that series of movies is not the last word on family and buddy road trips.

My personal favorite is the Sponge Bob movie. Perhaps you bend more towards Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, or Little Miss Sunshine. Whatever Hollywood inspired fantasy comes to mind when you think of a road trip, they all have at least one thing in common: They all present an element of danger and a brush with the unexpected.

What those movies do not realistically depict is the aftermath of the calamities that seem so riotously hilarious at the time. Nobody walks away from a car flipping over three times. The grill that blows up in your face after dowsing it with three cans of lighter fluid is seriously going to blow your face off. The bar fight you got into with the Hell’s Angels after knocking over a row of vintage motorcycles is going to leave you injured, and in the hospital for a very long time. When you get out, everything is not going to be all right.

So before taking that two day road trip to Fun World on the opposite coast, let’s take a brief moment to be sure that the worst annoyance your family experiences is the 100th repetition of, “This is the song that never ends.”

 

Cars and Coffee Lineup

Auto accidents

Fully one in five people suffer some kind of injury on a vacation. Driving is only the second leading cause. Personal Injury Digest reports:

 

  • 6 million – average number of car accidents every year.
  • 3 million people are injured every year in car accidents in America.
  • Around 2 million drivers experience permanent injuries every year from car accidents.
  • 40,000 people lose their lives every year due to major accidents while driving.

Familiarizing yourself with the features of the car you will be driving can mitigate these risks. Swap drivers frequently to insure plenty of rest for each driver. Take plenty of potty breaks to keep unspoken frustrations from building. And keep the number of a good accident attorney handy in case statistics catch up with you. Mike Pines, an expert from San Diego, lists over a dozen types of personal injury claims in the San Diego area.

 

Arty food

Food poisoning

Auto accidents are the second leading cause of calamity on vacation. The number one cause is food poisoning. It is said that we suffer from food poisoning all the time. It is just that the symptoms are often so mild, we ignore them and move on. Vacation eating is quite different from day to day eating. On vacation, we try things that we normally would not try, and eat at questionable places that we would never eat at locally.

Depending on where we vacation, those stomach cramps after that double spicy pepper sandwich may not just be due to the fact that it was double spicy peppers we were eating. Restaurants that cater to tourists might tend to take short cuts in food safety for the sake of feeding more people, faster, and cheaper. If you are not familiar with the lay of the land, seek reputable local recommendations. If the locals don’t eat there, neither should you.

 

English: Rock climbing on Wharncliffe crag

Dangerous activities

Everyday, the ER fills up with people injured in ways they would rather not talk about. They are ashamed to accurately recount the details of how they came to be injured because they were doing something epically stupid. For some reason, people see vacation time as the perfect opportunity to try something that, on another day, they would consider epically stupid.

There is nothing particularly stupid about skiing unless you are afraid of heights and have a terrible sense of balance, and poor depth perception. At that point, you should really be questioning why you are strapping on those skis. Is rock climbing really a good fit for your vertigo? Does a second trip on the levitating, triple loop roller coaster make sense with your blood pressure?

There is nothing wrong with trying something new. But we should never trade in common sense for a momentary good time. That is almost always a bad trade. If the activity is something you wouldn’t do on a Monday when you are stone cold sober, you shouldn’t do on a Saturday when intoxicated with the bad judgment typically displayed while on vacation. Your hand-eye coordination and reflexes are not better when on vacation.

A good vacation is a safe vacation. You will not have less fun because you drove safely, ate wisely, and skipped walking over hot coals with your bare feet.

Pirates and Paradise on Family Holidays to the Caribbean

A view of the Caribbean Sea from the Dominican...

The Caribbean is considered to be one of the most idyllic locations on the planet. Palm fringed, white sand beaches, charming colonial towns and crystal-clear turquoise sea await. This might be enough to win over most kids, but if the younger ones aren’t convinced then there’s always the promise of pirate stories and adventure. Here’s how you could get a taste of paradise and unleash your inner Jack Sparrow on holidays to the Caribbean.

 

Consider a cruise

If you want to see several of the Caribbean islands then a cruise can be a great option. Family ships provide all sorts of activities for kids, from fun clubs to adventure playgrounds and entertainers. Travelling by ship in the style of Captain Sparrow can be a great adventure in itself as you approach new islands over the Caribbean Sea. Family cruises present plenty of opportunity for parents to relax as kids enjoy the clubs and activities laid on for them.

 

Family-friendly resorts

If you’d rather stick to dry land then there are plenty of Caribbean resorts that cater for families. St Lucia, Barbados and the Dominican Republic are renowned for their family friendly offerings with large resorts catering for kids of all ages. You can get good deals by going for an all-inclusive package, and kids can even stay and eat for free at some resorts. Many hotels have their own kids’ clubs in which the pirate theme is brought to life through games, activities and entertainment. You may be able to save money by going for a self-catering villa or cottage, so shop around for the best deals.

Sunset Blackpool Beach

My family and I took a trip to one of these resorts a few years back and were amazed at how much fun we had. I documented the trip in the below posts:

 

Fun for teens

While kids’ clubs might work for younger kids, teens will be looking for something a little more adventurous. The Caribbean has loads to offer in the way of water sports, from snorkelling and diving to banana boating and paragliding. The Dominican Republic’s north coast is a reasonably priced yet adventure packed Caribbean destination with calm, shallow sea and water sports for people of all levels and ages. The Cayman Island reefs provide one of the best SCUBA diving experiences the Caribbean has to offer, with an array of corral, tropical fish and larger sea creatures such as turtles to spot.

On the same trip to Jamaica, I spent a ton of time underwater snorkeling, check it out:

Captain Jack Sparrow

Cutthroats and culture

When it’s time for a break from the beach there are plenty of Caribbean locations that bring the pirate story to life. The interactive pirate museum of the Bahamas is one of the best offerings, where actors dressed up in pirate garb take visitors around a replica of Black Beard’s ship and through the multimedia exhibitions that offer insight into pirate life. You can even get your own cutlass and hat in the gift shop.

From its beaches to its swashbuckling history, the Caribbean really does have something special to offer the whole family. While trips certainly aren’t cheap, you can get better deals by visiting either side of high season and shopping around for the most reasonably priced resorts.

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A Day Out With Thomas the Train – Fun for the Whole Family #dowt

A Day Out With Thomas the Train

For mother’s day this year we had a blast and were able to go out and celebrate the day at Greenfield Village for A Day out with Thomas the Train as well as just having fun at a great place! We have always loved Greenfield Village and J-Mom and I have great memories of growing up at the village and we were excited to share this experience with our girls as well.

On top of this my girls love the music and cartoons of Thomas the Train. We actually decided to keep the fact that Thomas was going to be there until we got there and let me tell you, they were completely ecstatic! Their high pitched screams were ear piercing… I think I am just starting to be able to hear again.

Greenfield-Village

I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you some of the great things about the day and about the event. If you have never heard of the The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, get ready for a step back in time. This HUGE venue is filled with amazing treasures for you and your family to share. I will be focusing my comments on Greenfield Village today, but the Henry Ford Museum also is amazing and you could easily spend two days wandering around this museum, learning and experiencing everything.

At Greenfield Village, Henry Ford brought together a wide array of homes that range in age from ones built in the 1600′s in England to slave quarters to famous locations such as Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory, the home that Henry Ford was born in, the Wright Brothers Store and more. On top of all of this, you have working craftsmen making beautiful items such as hand blown glass, tin smiths, pottery, and more. Even better are the people who work at the village as they are all highly trained, and many are even wearing and working in period outfits and act as if they are from that era as well.

Greenfield-Village

One example of this was the working farm. The Firestone (Yes, like the tires) home is a beautiful home from the 1800′s and at Greenfield Village it is still in working condition and the people working daily at it come straight out of the 1800′s as well. That means from working the land to cooking in the home, men and women are in traditional garb and they work hard to make the farm a working one. I can tell that the people working at this farm and at a number of the other period houses and locations work very hard at their job!

You can also have fun learning, not only seeing how people lived, but also how they played and had fun. At this location there were a number of times where our kids were able to have fun and play games that kids in the 1800′s and early 1900′s played. They loved it, and I had a blast trying to let them know about how people lived when they didn’t have indoor plumbing, electricity or a Nintendo WII!

Greenfield-Village

On top of all of this was the actual event that I was hear to report on, which was a Day out with Thomas! Not only was it fun to be able to see the actual Thomas the Train, but also the park was alive with fun Thomas related games, movies, and even Sir Topham Hat! You are surrounded by the world of Thomas the Train and you can even leave the park with a bag filled with Thomas the Train items as there is a gift shop specifically geared toward the fan.

Greenfield-Village

Riding on Thomas was fun as well. I think that my girls had wished that they could have gone up right to the front and touched Thomas, but we were sitting in the back of the train and because of this when you exited the train you ended up having to go away from where Thomas was (in the front of the train). The train was also on a pretty tight schedule so they were trying to keep people moving along. So my suggestion is that if you really want your child to see Thomas up close, make sure to get there prior to your allotted time and make sure to sit up toward the front. Just know that if you are in a coal fire driven train, there is the possibility that you might get some soot on your clothes (We did and we were sitting toward the back).

Day-Out-With-Thomas

All-in-all, this day was a blast, from the temporary Thomas tattoos to the full scale amazing Lionel Train Display on site, they thought of everything for the Thomas lover. On top of this, at this location, you get even more, with the rich history and beauty that surrounds the village itself! I highly recommend spending a Day Out With Thomas yourself and if you are in the Dearborn Michigan area anytime soon, take a day or two to step back in time at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village – you will not forget the experience!

 

If you are a Thomas the Train fan, there are still a ton of dates out there , you really should check them out today – http://www.ticketweb.com/promo/dowt/index.html

All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclaimer for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

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Walt Disney World Makes Me Happy! @WaltDisneyWorld

Epcot photo disclaimer_zpsaa1cb05b.jpg

Over the past week my family and I stayed on site at Walt Disney World’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. As a part of this we decided to be able to take the kids to the parks over three of our days. While this was not enough time to be able to see everything, we focused out attention on The Magic Kingdom and Epcot in this trip.

 Wilderness-Lodge-Resort

My family has been HUGE Disney fans forever. I grew up on Disney and have continued this love with my own girls as they have grown up. We have been a bit lucky to be able to bring the kids to the parks a few times in their lives thanks to another family member who is a part of Disney’s vacation club.

 Wilderness-Lodge-Resort

Staying on-site definitely has its’ perks. If you are staying at one of the Disney resorts, not only is their transportation from the resort to all of the parks and Downtown Disney, but you also have access to the parks early on days where they have Magic Hours (where they open an hour early). One thing we learned this go around about these hours though for the Magic Kingdom was that the whole park does not open early, it was only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.

 Meeting-The-Princesses

The resort that we stayed at was wonderful. As you will find in all of Disney the culture is that of total customer service and this transcends into the parks, resorts and everywhere you go. The Wilderness Lodge is set up like an old Lodge that you would find out west. As you walk into the lodge you will be taken aback with the huge open air lobby that rises at least 8-10 stories (I did not go all the way up). Beautiful totems are throughout the lobby and as part of your stay you can actually take a tour where they will explain why certain animals are where they are on the totems as well as other aspects of the resort itself. The resort has two pools, an exercise facility and arcade and even child care is available too if you want to have some time alone without the kids (for a fee). You also have the opportunity to dine at one of their two restaurants. We ate at the Whispering Canyon Cafe while we were there and the food was excellent and even better was the atmosphere. In this restaurant the wait staff really interact with you, banter back and forth and make the experience memorable. My kids will never forget having to yell out to the whole restaurant “I need ketchup!” or galloping around the restaurant on wooden ponies. This restaurant is definitely one that you should experience if you have yet to do so.

 

Magic-Kingdom

As I mentioned we took time to go to Magic Kingdom and Epcot on this trip. This was the first time taking the kids to Epcot as we had waited until the kids were old enough to appreciate some of the learning that takes place at Epcot, as this is a park that is not just about the rides. The girls also wanted to go here because this was where Elsa and Anna were. So we got up early and ran from the entrance to Norway to be able to see these new princesses. Even though we ran, it still was a 2.5 hour wait (which we did wait) and the princesses took a bit of extra time making the wait worth it. I will warn you though and say that there were people after we got in line that waited for over 4 hours, so be aware of this. I heard while at Epcot that at the end of this month they were going to be at the Magic Kingdom and you will be able to access them with a fastpass.

 Magic-Kingdom

We did not spend much time in the World Showcase, though we did walk through them all, and being that the International Flower and Garden show was happening while we were there the topiaries were amazing! The kids also thought that the different worlds were cool, though as mentioned, I think they need a few more years to appreciate the films that are in the worlds that explore the culture and customs of each of the worlds. The kids did like the different rides that were available. Some of their favorite were Test Track, Soarin and Spaceship Earth. I will warn those with younger kids that Mission Space can cause a bit of motion sickness if you or your kids are prone to this at all. One of the things that is definitely memorable was the Fireworks show that they have every night, they do this over the water and it is definitely worth staying for.

 Epcot3

At Magic Kingdom, we decided to spread this out over two days and I am so glad that we did. We found that there were a lot of people in the parks and the lines did get long on some of the rides, so it was nice to be able to spread out the park and not feel like we did not have to rush through things and we could actually see every show and ride every ride if we so chose. We were a bit disappointed that the new Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Mine Ride was not yet open, as it looks like a ton of fun. You can actually see a video of them testing the ride here . This park was such a great one for families and for kids specifically. The rides are fun, and some even thrilling. There is a bit of everything for everyone, and you definitely get to see so many of your favorite characters at this park.

One of the things that I definitely encourage you to do if you go to the Magic Kingdom is to make sure you see the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade which happens every afternoon, and you stay for the electric light parade and the Wishes Fireworks show at night. While I know this can make for a long day, it is something that you and your family will never forget.

 Epcot1

Eating while in the parks is easy and convenient. The staff in the parks have food service down to a science and while you may wait in a bit of a line, you will get your food pretty quick and it tastes great. One of the things that I love about the food at Disney in general is the wide array of variety. They rank their restaurants by dollar signs. They have restaurants that rank from one to four dollar signs based on how expensive the restaurants are. Thus, whether you want something quick or a sit down meal you can definitely get it. The one thing you need to keep in mind though is planning things out. If you want to have a character breakfast or a nice meal out as a family or as a couple, you need to plan this or you may not get to go to the restaurant that you want to go to when you want to go there. J-Mom and I decided to use a park hopper ticket which was provided by Walt Disney World, to do and experience a restaurant at Hollywood Studios on the second day that we visited the Magic Kingdom. By sitting things up on MyDisneyExperience.com we were able to select the day, time and look at the possible restaurants that were available. We chose to try Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. The atmosphere in the restaurant was wonderful, and while it was a bit loud (which we did not mind), the food we received was wonderful, and we left happy with the experience. So whether you like Italian, Chinese, Polynesian, American, Irish, Japanese, Norwegian, or almost any other type of food under the sun Disney provides it to you. On top of this they use high quality ingredients and have high quality chefs on hand to create food that you will remember.

 Magic-Kingdom

I mentioned park hopper tickets, and probably should explain for those that have never been to Walt Disney World. Park hopper tickets allow you to visit multiple parks in one day. This allows you to not be bound to only visiting one park, but instead allows you to split your day the way you wish. These tickets are more expensive than single park tickets, but if you want to be able to have the flexibility of moving around the parks during the days, they are well worth it.

 Cinderella_Castle

The final thing I will comment on this go around, is the new way in which Disney is now providing fast passes for their rides. If you have been to the parks in the past you know that you can typically get fast passes for rides to avoid lines, but you could only get one at a time. Now, Disney is allowing you to set up three fast passes a day for the first park that you visit. So again, if you have purchased your tickets in advance you can also set up your week at Disney all in the same MyDisneyExperience.com and when you have selected your parks, you can set up fast passes for some of the most popular rides. The rides at the two parks that I would definitely recommend for fast passes include: Epcot -  Test Track & Soarin (one tip – if you can ride solo on the test track ride, you can save yourself a ton of time in line). Magic Kingdom – Peter Pan’s Ride, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. These are just my picks, but they were also the rides that consistently had the longest wait times at the parks too.

 

Walt Disney World is a magical place and a place where you definitely can feel at home. The Walt Disney Company has done it right and continually makes you feel like the most important guest when you are visiting. I started a fan and remain one. If you have never experienced this, you should!

 

 

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Seaworld ( @seaworld ) Provides Entertainment & Education

We had been spending the past week in the Orlando area for vacation, playing, swimming and just having fun. On our last day in Florida, we were lucky enough, thanks to our friends at Seaworld. To have the chance to explore and see what it had to offer our family.

It had been many years since the last time I had been to Seaworld, and the first time for my girls and for me it had changed a ton since my last visit.Seaworld-Orlando

One of the things that had not changed was the great mix of education and entertainment that the park offers to their guests. My family love seeing animals, and in this park you get to see and experience so many different types of aquatic life. There were also some great opportunities that were tuck out of the main walking path that allowed us to get really up close and personal with a Kookaburra and Caribbean Flamingos too (the Flamingos were so close we could have pet them, though the handlers warned that they would bite – so we kept a bit of distance). There were also a few other exhibits that allowed you to experience the animals up close through interactive experiences. The Antarctica and Wild Artic exhibits were like this and the kids loved seeing some of their favorite animals having fun in their habitats.

Seaworld-Orlando

One of the things that had changed were the thrill rides that had been added. The Kraken and Manta were both very different roller-coasters, but both completely thrilling. Be aware though that on the Manta, there is the chance that you could get wet! The Manta provided a new kind of riding experience where you are suspended underneath the ride in almost a flying (superman) position. The Kraken takes you on more twists and turns that you would first guess, which makes it even more fun. Journey to Atlantis is a mix of a roller coaster and water ride and a lot of fun. We did get wet, but it was not too bad and the Florida sun dried us quickly. One thing that we learned quickly is that if you want to get on the rides quickly, time your visits to them during the Shamu Show, because when you do, you can usually get right onto the rides (at least that was our experience).

The aquatic shows that the park provides combine drama and beauty to truly spotlight the beautiful animals that they have on display. While I know that there is controversy on using animals for these types of shows, you can tell that the trainers and animals have very special bonds and that the trainers take the safety and care of the animals as forefront in what they do. The shows were exciting and at times funny. Whoever designed these shows knew what they were doing and the lighting, sound, as well as action was so well choreographed, and everything worked like clockwork.

Seaworld-Orlando

Also, in regards to rides for kids they have a whole section of the park (Shamu’s Happy Harbor) with a kid based theme, with smaller rides, a HUGE climbing net area, carnival barkers and more. This was a great area for my two kids to play together as my youngest was not tall enough to ride the roller-coasters.

We also decided to have lunch at the park and the park offers many different options for guests. While we did not use this, there was an all-you-can-eat option that provided you all-food access to certain restaurants across the park. We ended up just ordering off the menu and the prices were comparable to  other large amusement parks that we had visited in the past.

Seaworld also provides, for those who wish to pay a bit more, more customized up close experiences for people and some of the animals. So for example, you can feed dolphins, dine with Shamu, or other such experiences. Depending on the length and depth of the experiences, the cost differs.

Seaworld-Orlando

As a guest at the park, there were plenty of places where people would take your picture for you to purchase if you like, and plenty of places where you can get souvenirs too. So whether you want a Manta Ray Hat or a Shamu doll, you can get it all while at the park.

All-in-all, my whole family was impressed with the experience and we learned a lot about the animals that we were able to interact with.  The park had a bit of everything to educate and entertain and we all had a day full of fun!

 

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Sweet, A Great Way To Get Your Wings Fix Thanks to @Pizzahut

WingStreet

WingStreet, Pizza Hut’s chicken wing concept is celebrating March Madness and giving all Basketball fans a great way to satisfy their hunger while watching some great basketball.
WingStreet wings are kitchen-fried for great flavor and best of all, you can get them delivered just like your favorite Pizza Hut pizzas. There are eight great flavors: Buffalo Mild, Buffalo Medium, Buffalo Burnin’ Hot, Spicy Asian, Spicy BBQ, Honey BBQ, Lemon Pepper and Garlic Parmesan and you can also choose from several varieties including Crispy Bone-Out, Traditional Bone-In or Crispy Bone-In.

WingStreet
Sportscaster and radio host Scott Van Pelt stars in a brand’s new ad campaign that features wing experts in many forms, all searching for kitchen-fried, impeccably-sauced wings. In addition to starring in commercials, Van Pelt is helping Pizza Hut and WingStreet rally support of the brand’s “winged” team challenge during the men’s tournament. If a “winged” team takes home the title on April 7 – that’s any team with a nickname or mascot with wings – America can come to participating locations to carry out a free sample four count of WingStreet wings on April 10 between 1-4 p.m. local time (while supplies last; offer details found at www.pizzahut.com/wingedmascotgiveaway.html).

 

With the challenge in place, wing aficionados and basketball fans could be in luck, as the first ever tournament title winner in 1939 boasted a wing mascot, as did last year’s champion. This year there are 12 “winged” teams in the field, including several title contenders.

WingStreet

Throughout the tournament, Pizza Hut is also making daily free deliveries of WingStreet wings to select fans who tweet @PizzaHut using the hashtag #WingsDelivered.  Details about the sweepstakes will be announced soon. 

 

*WingStreet has won several awards, including:  NY National Buffalo Wing Festival: 2nd Place Best Traditional BBQ Wing Sauce (2013), Best Medium Traditional Wing Sauce (2006, 2008, 2009), Best Hot Traditional Wing Sauce (2007); Atlanta Wing Festival: Best Medium Sauce and Best BBQ Sauce (2007); Denver Post: Best Take-Out Wings with Medium Sauce (2007); Nation’s Restaurant News “Hot Concepts! Award” Honoree (2007).

WingStreet

My Take on the Wings

Pizza and wings, what could be better? I have always been a fan of getting wings and pizza at specific restaurants tailored to them but have never really found a restaurant that has made both and made them both well. However, I found that WingStreet and Pizza Hut coming together bring together both of these and they do it in a great way.

I was lucky enough to try out some of the different wings that WingStreet provides. I tried out the Buffalo Medium, Spicy BBQ, Honey BBQ, and Garlic Parmesan. All of them were very good, though of the four my favorites were the Honey BBQ and Buffalo Medium. I think that next time I would choose the Spicy Asian and the Buffalo Hot. The wings that I tried were a mix of Bone-in and boneless and both were great! The taste was bold and the taste was memorable, what more could you ask for.

 

WingStreet

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Quiznos ( @Quiznos ) Now Offers Toasty Pastas!

quiznos-toasty-pasta

Quiznos Now Offers Toasty Pastas!

All parents are familiar with the dinnertime struggle. Deciding what to eat (and what not to) is one of the first acts of independence a child makes because it’s an area where they hold actual control. But, the dinner table doesn’t have to be a battleground! quiznos-toasty-pasta Quiznos, the brand you know for its Toasty subs and delicious soups and salads, is launching a line of new premium Toasty Pastas for people of all ages. Quiznos has brought four brand new pasta dishes for everyone that include:

  1. Mac & Cheese – The new pasta lineup is highlighted by three flavors of Mac & Cheese, including Classic Mac & Cheese, Bacon Mac & Cheese and Lobster Mac & Cheese, featuring Cavatappi pasta with Romano Parmesan, Provolone and Fontina cheeses, all topped with Quiznos hand-made breadcrumbs.
  2. Spicy Sausage Marinara – The Spicy Sausage Marinara features Illinois-based Fontanini Italian Meats spicy all-pork Italian sausage and all-natural mozzarella, topped off with lightened up basil marinara sauce all served over Cavatappi Pasta.
  3. Meatballs Marinara –Featuring Fontanini’s old-fashioned beef and pork-blended meatballs, which are filled with freshly grated Romano and Ricotta cheese and a perfect blend of Italian seasonings. Layered with a double portion of all-natural mozzarella, paired with a new and improved marinara sauce and all served over Cavatappi pasta.
  4. Chicken Pesto – The Chicken Pesto Pasta features sliced all-white chicken breast, paired with diced balsamic tomatoes, an Italian three-cheese blend topped with Quiznos original Basil Pesto sauce all served over Cavatappi pasta.

quiznos-toasty-pasta My Take on the Pasta As an Italian I grew up on pasta dishes so I was excited to try these new toasty pasta dishes. I decided to try the Chicken Pesto as my first try on these dishes. Just like the other subs I have tried in the past, I was impressed with how freshly made all of the items are and how they take their time to toast the items too. For this order I also tried ordering online (as I had never done this before). The online ordering process was easy, though I did find that not all locations would take the orders online. My order was going to be done about 30 minutes after I ordered so I got in my car and headed over to the location to pick up my pasta. I arrived on time, but my dish was still being made, so I had to wait a short period of time. I made sure I was all taken care of financially and by the time this was done my food was ready! quiznos-toasty-pasta I ended up taking my pasta back to my office, and even though that was about 10 minutes away, by the time I got there my food was still a good temperature and I could easily dig in. The pasta itself was delicious, with just the right amount of pesto and chicken. This makes me wonder what the other dishes are like…alas, another day another lunch. quiznos-toasty-pasta All-in-all I was impressed and sold on this new lunch item. If you like pasta I would recommend this to all as it is the right size for lunch and the right price too – only 6.99 for my dish! Check it out today at your own local Quiznos!

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Grand Rapids Michigan is One Cool City @experiencegr

All opinions expressed in this post about Grand Rapids are my own and not influenced in any way by the company.  Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider. Please refer to this site’s Disclaimer for more information. I have been compensated or given a product free of charge, but that does not impact my views or opinions.

Being from Michigan I can say that I love my State and for the most of my life have lived within its’ borders. Growing up on the east side of the State I never really spent much time on the West side of the State, but since I have gotten older I have definitely spent more time exploring all of the State. This past weekend my wife and I celebrated our 15th anniversary by exploring my State’s second largest city, Grand Rapids thanks to the great people at Experience Grand Rapids.   I currently live about an hour and a half from Grand Rapids and the drive is an easy one. In exploring the Experience Grand Rapids site before coming to the city I have to say that I was very impressed with the wide array of things to do in this city. Not only are there more restaurants than you can know what to do with, but the city is strewn with museums, artwork and more.

Amway Grand Plaza Hotel: This picture shows th...

We stayed at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, an extravagant hotel in downtown, and we were placed on the Pantalind side of the hotel. This is the older side of the hotel which used to be the old Pantalind Hotel which opened originally in the early 1900′s. There is also a much more modern glass tower side of the hotel which is on the river too, but we loved our room with its’ old style charm. The hotel has a ton of restaurants within it including Cygnus (at the top of the glass tower – talk about great views), Ruth Chris Steak House, Benthams Restaurant and more! We loved how centrally located this hotel was to all of downtown!

Picture I took of Downtown Grand Rapids, MI fr...

The first night we were in town we decided to go to dinner at an amazing restaurant called San Chez, which is a Tapas Bistro in downtown Grand Rapids. We ended up meeting some friends from the area there for food that was out of this world and Sangria that was to die for. The great thing about this restaurant is that there is so much on the menu that you can choose from and then share with one another. The restaurant not only provides you with flavor that will bring you back for more but also encourages you to share so much more than food and simply talk and have a great time. 

Grand Rapids, San Chez Bistro Grand Rapids, San Chez Bistro Grand Rapids, San Chez Bistro

 

After dinner we went to a building called The B.O.B (Big Old Building) which has a ton of restaurants/Bars within it, but also has a comedy club called Dr. Grins Comedy Club. I have not been to a comedy club for a long time, but this looked like fun and the headliner Lachlan Patterson sounded good as well! I have to say that for the three acts that we saw, two of the three were great and Lachlan was definitely worth the wait! We had a great time and I would definitely come back again for not only the great comedy, but also the great wait staff as well.

Grand Rapids, The B.O.B Grand Rapids, The B.O.B, Dr. Grins Grand Rapids, The B.O.B, Dr. Grins

 

On Saturday morning I ventured out into the town looking for breakfast. I decided to job around the town and see what I could see, as well as find what was open. I was surprised to see how alive the downtown area was and then found that there was a bike race in town that morning. I felt completely safe in the downtown area and ran across a number of restaurants that were open at the time. I also found some great artwork around the city as well, both installed on property and painted on the side of buildings. This made a lot of sense, especially knowing that this city is the home of ArtPrize, a art competition that I would love to come back to see in the future! I ended up just stopping to get something small from Biggby Coffee so that we could get started for the day.

Grand Rapids, Art

Grand Rapids

Our first stop of the day was the Gerald Ford Presidential Museum. This President grew up in Grand Rapids and the Museum was right across the river from where we stayed. This museum was so interesting! This was the President that my wife and I were born into and I have to say that we both learned so much about the short Presidency of this man and what he did to heal a nation after the scandal of the Nixon Presidency. We spent quite a bit of time in this museum and even visited both his and Betty Ford’s grave.

Grand Rapids, Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum

Grand Rapids, Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum SAM_0344

 

From there we went to the Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM). Again, this museum was only a block away from the hotel and I had heard great things about it. What I loved about the museum was that it had a bit of everything all in one place. My favorite floor was probably the third as it held artwork from Picasso to more Michigan-based artists and art that ranged in age from the 1500′s to present. They even had a few pieces that were recognized from previous ArtPrize competitions including the one below that just blew my mind. You may not be able to tell, but this is not a photograph, but instead was a pencil drawing – it was simply stunning!

Grand Rapids Art Museum

Grand Rapids Art Museum

 

Saturday night we went to Hopcat, one of the restaurant/micro breweries in town. I recently learned about the fact that Grand Rapids was recently named one of the top Beer Cities in the United States (who would have known). In the down Grand Rapids area, Hopcat along with a number of other micro breweries have started up and are providing customers with amazing blends of beer. At Hopcat, they had 64 beers on tap – yes I said 64, talk about crazy! The food at Hopcat was great – you have to try the Crack Fries and the atmosphere was loud and fun!

Grand Rapids, Hopcat Grand Rapids, Hopcat

Grand Rapids, Hopcat

 

Sunday was our short day as we had to check out by 11 and had to pick up our girls as well. We had found a pizza place named Georgios Gourmet Pizza on Friday and decided to come back for brunch seeing that it had a remarkable number of different pizzas (including a Mac ‘n Cheese pizze, a Salad Pizza, Taco Pizza and more). The pizza was definitely worth the wait as it was one of the best tasting pizzas that I have tried in the past. On top of this the crust was just right which not every pizza place can claim. What was even better though was that we found out that there are two other franchise restaurants near where we live outside of Lansing, so guess where we will be going in the near future.

Grand Rapids, Georgio's Gourmet Pizza Grand Rapids, Georgio's Gourmet Pizza

 

We just scratched the surface of this city on this trip, but rest assured we will be back. This is an amazing city with so much to offer everyone (not just adults). If you are looking for a great city that has things for all ages, food to make your mouth water, art that will dazzle and natural beauty that is awe-inspiring, Grand Rapids is the place to visit!

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