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Category Archives: Travel
We received an overnight stay and waterpark passes to Castaway Bay in exchange for sharing the post below with our readers. All opinions are 100% our own. Read all the way to the bottom to hear how you can enter to win your own #CastawayBayGetaway!
Pittsburgh, we’ve had enough of the snow and cold this year, haven’t we? I know spring is really right around the corner, but I am anxious for everything it brings with it. To help combat the season, we loaded the family up in the van and hit the road for a quick (three-hour) road trip to Sandusky, Ohio for an overnight stay at Castaway Bay.
It is always fun to find something new in a place that is familiar. Greg and I got to take in a date and do just that at the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center while we were vacationing in his hometown of Myrtle Beach. Since Myrtle is a popular travel destination for Burghers, we teamed up with the museum and US Family Guide to tell you more about the experience. (We were provided tickets to this venue in exchange for our honest thoughts. All opinions are 100% our own.)
When you walk into the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center, there is no doubt in your mind that you are about to have an amazing time. If the gigantic King Kong doesn’t scream that, I don’t know what fun is! You can get your photo taken inside King Kong’s arms, we didn’t end up buying our photo and now I have remorse!
First Up: Hollywood Wax Museum
There are three experiences to choose from (but your best deal is to enjoy all three). We started with the Wax Museum because it was right there on the entry level. (Note, all floors are handicapped accessible, but the downstairs experiences are not exactly accessible, more on that later.)
Between two floors you will find many popular stars from movies, music, and pop culture. I encourage you to take photos with the figures and enjoy the prop stations that make selfies and photo shoots super fun. Greg and I had a blast and had the luck to go in the middle of a weekday so had much of the experience to ourselves. (It took us so long to get through that one of the employees joked that they thought they’d lost us!) Take your time, read the stories about the icons, and most of all, have fun!
Once you have gone through all of the figures, take your add on tickets and have some fun downstairs!
Outbreak – Dread the Undead
I have no pictures of this experience (they ask you to turn off your phone) but some funny memories. You see, I am a jumpy person and walking through this zombie outbreak experience definitely was a good level of thrills that made me jump. I mostly laughed, nothing was scary but it was fairly realistic and fun. Would I have done this as an experience by itself, no, but it was definitely worth the laughs.
Parent Tip: Do this one on your own or with your teens. My kids would have been frightened!
Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors
Mirror mazes are super tough! Greg and I were on a mission to save a princess trapped in the mirror maze and if it had been our own kid I think we might have failed. Eek. This was a good level of fun and trickery – we got lost more than once. I wish it was timed so we could have seen how we stacked up against others (because I’m competitive).
Parent Tip: The teens might not enjoy this but your toddlers might be too little and bump into the mirrors. Do this with your elementary/middle school kiddos!
Experience the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center
Located at 21st Avenue North and Highway 17 Bypass, Myrtle Beach’s Hollywood Wax Museum is a can’t miss building – there’s a giant ape climbing on it. My Readers receive $2 OFF ALL ACCESS PASS at the Myrtle Beach Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center when purchased here.
Disclaimer: I was provided with information about Myrtle Beach’s Hollywood Wax Museum through US Family Guide in order to write this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center – Myrtle Beach
If you love to travel with family, I’m willing to bet that Myrtle Beach is on your list. My husband grew up there, we met there, Arianna was born there…so while it holds a special place in our hearts, we truly love vacationing there too.
One of the things that have changed since we left (and last visited) is the introduction of the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center. US Family Guide sent me some information on this complex and I’m thinking a visit is in order while we’re there:
The Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center is the best value in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When was the last time you walked the red carpet with an A-List star or stepped into the spotlight with Hollywood royalty? At the Hollywood Wax Museum, you’ll get the chance to pose with your favorites while learning about their pets, pet peeves and accomplishments. Bring your adoring fans (friends & family) for fun photo ops! Are You the Chosen One? Find your way through the hidden corridors and save Princess Hannah in Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors. You’ll need to make your way through 288 potential turns among hundreds of mirrored walls and archways while enjoying other surprises along the way. It’s a modern-day fairy tale, where you’ll get lost and come out smiling! And finally, in Outbreak, you must stop a worldwide viral attack. Chemacorp might mean well with Alpha Strain, but the gene-altering substance turns humans into zombies. Shriek your way through the ransacked lab and rotting basement where zombie infection is rampant and aerosol attacks are unpredictable. Contain your fear? No way!
My family and I were invited to visit Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest for a weekend in exchange for our honest opinions. All opinions are 100% our own.
Ah, sweet summertime in Pittsburgh! For me, summers used to include camping in a tent at local campgrounds. Camping holds a special place in my heart (bugs and all) and I am so happy that my family is enjoying continuing the tradition. Truth be told, our stay at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ at Kozy Rest was more “glamping”, but it still got the ‘ol camping bug moving in us.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest: Our Stay
Tucked about an hour north of Pittsburgh (straight up Route 8 through Butler) is an adorable and peaceful campground, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest. This campground is award-winning and family-centered and from the moment we drove on the property (in the middle of a storm), we could see why. Check-in started with a greeter, then a speedy key pick-up and an escort down to our cabin. Our guide showed us everything we’d need to know about the amenities of the cabin (like air conditioning) then left us to discover what we might like to do next from the list of activities.
With all those activities, I’ll tell you what we didn’t do – we didn’t check out the WiFi until I was cleaning up the last bits on Sunday morning. The WiFi works, but you’re not going to need it with all of those things to keep you busy – I promise.
We didn’t arrive in time to check out the Friday night movie, so we decided to settle in and get a “early” bedtime so we could be up and ready to check out the Jump Zone and bikes. Initially, we thought that we’d put the kids in the bedroom (with a single bunk over a double bed and space on the floor for an air mattress), but when we realized how short the loft space was, opted for that to be Ari and Evan’s space.
That might have been our first mistake – they woke up in the 6 AM hour and had us all (and probably everyone else around) awake too. The sun was up, they were too! As you can see, a nap did happen on Saturday afternoon between activities, phew!
Throughout the weekend, we took full advantage of all the free activities listed on that brochure and we basically in “divide and conquer” mode – Greg with the Bigs at things like Gaga Ball (which was new to us, but not the Bigs), the Frog Pond, and bike riding. I took the Twins to dance with “the bears”, check out cartoons, ride the train and fire truck. It was quite the busy time, but we still fit in a swim and lots of time on the bikes.
This video is just the start of all the fun we had! Check out more photos here!
Bottom line, we loved it and would really like to get back again this summer. While the cabins are fun and affordable considering all you get, we’d probably tent camp for “the real deal” experience (plus, the shower rooms have A/C!). Greg and I were “good exhausted” by the end of the trip. If there would be any downsides, six people in a “tiny house” is not always the most fun thing (Mama might have lost her mind a few times) and Ava didn’t drink enough water on Saturday and ended up dehydrated. Good reminders to fill those tanks!
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest: The Details
Campers can camp from April to October and enjoy themed weekends (our’s was Kids’ Carnival – check out this video to see some of the fun the whole camp had!) or bump into Yogi Bear™ and Boo Boo™. Camp options include tents, RV’s, yurts, and full-service luxury cabins (like we enjoyed). Sites include electric service, fire rings, and picnic tables. Pets are welcomed on some sites, too!
Amenities at Kozy Rest include laundry, swimming pool, pavilions, church services, and free WiFi. Activities vary based on the themed weekends, but there is a gem mining sluice, bikes to rent (included), Gaga Ball, shuffleboard, a playground, a jump zone, and more. There really is something for everyone to enjoy!
While I loved the paper activities sheet, I also downloaded their app which would alert me 15-minutes before an event was to start. This was super convenient!
One thing we didn’t do was to have Yogi Bear and Boo Boo come for bedtime stories. Personally, I think that would have capped off the second night nicely, but 1) our kids go to bed a little earlier than this (extra) service is offered and 2) until this weekend, Isla had never really wanted anything to do with characters. Next time!
LOVE IT? If you’re ready to get a reservation on your calendar, head over to the Kozy Rest website (pittsburghjellystone.com) and see what option works best for your family.
Hopefully, you can see that camping is a great way to have family fun and make timeless memories. When you make a reservation at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest, all you have to do is make a quick road-trip knowing the rest is waiting for you.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Kozy Rest: A GIVEAWAY!
I worked with Darien Lake through a blogger partnership with US Family Guide. They sent us tickets for a visit in exchange for this post.
Summer is all about family fun and memories, right? Well, our fall has started and I’m really confused by the weather – it’s still been a bit steamy in Pittsburgh! We took advantage of this nice weather one weekend in September and took the kids and my bestie for a getaway to New York. One part of our visit was to Darien Lake amusement park, a highly suggested quick road trip from the Pittsburgh area!
(Note – if you’d like to visit Darien Lake, you’ll need to wait until 2018. Their Harvest Festival ran September 16 – October 1, extending the summer fun just a ‘lil bit!)
With plenty to do for kids and adults, I really felt this was the best park for our kids’ age range (2 to almost 9). Just like any good park, you enter through a midway of games, shops, and food, but once you get past that the entire park is walkable and not too spread out. The smaller kiddo area (Beaver Brothers Bay) is sort of in the middle of all the excitement, so if parents need to split up the older kids, it is nice and easy.
There really wasn’t anything ride-wise that we didn’t get to do in about 5 hours on a relatively quiet Sunday “fall” afternoon at the amusement park. Like I noted, we visited during the Harvest Festival; however, we never did get a chance to head over to the area with the food trucks and beer. (The kids were having too good of a time!)
Greg and Tom got to experience The Viper which celebrated its 35th “birthday” this summer. Greg says, “It was fun, it was pretty intense and I didn’t stop yelling until we came to a stop!” With several loops and a tunnel, it definitely belongs in Darien Lake’s “Thrill Ride” category!
Missy and I kept things pretty low key, enjoying watching the kids but also laughing lots on Grizzly Run, a wet ride on “rapids”. (I’d really been wanting to ride a rapid ride with Greg, this was our first chance to do this because our local park closes our rapids down for the fall!)
We ended the day with a classic fish pond game, too! Our trip to Darien Lake was definitely full of fun and memories that will last a lifetime.
If you’d like to visit Darien Lake, check out their website for details on the 2018 season!
This post is brought to you by La Dimora degli Angeli. All opinions are 100% my own. Do you have a travel bucket list? Up until I found out about how easy it is to get gluten free foods in Italy, I thought I didn’t really have a telling reason to add it to mine. Pair that fact with finding out about this adorably peaceful B&B, La Dimora degli Angeli, and Italy is now on my list!
Whether you are traveling for a romantic getaway or a girls’ weekend, I think that a stay in Italy should be on everyone’s bucket list. There is so much to take in, and not just the religion, history, food, and wine. Why not take it in while staying in style by being spoiled at a bed and breakfast? Here’s one I found that intrigued me:
La Dimora degli Angeli
Located in the heart of Florence, Italy with direct views of the Florence Cathedral and Brunelleschi’s dome, La Dimora degli Angeli offers guests comfort and class. As I was browsing their website, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the charm.
There are twelve rooms in this bed and breakfast, each with unique charm and features. Each is intricately yet modernly decorated, paired with comforts of home like private bathrooms, air conditioning, free WiFi, and flat screen television. There are single, double, and triple rooms, all looking like they would best suit 1-2 adults. (One of the single rooms is only 108 square feet – I’ve stayed in a room that size and told my husband I was so glad he wasn’t there with me because I am claustrophobic!) When you stay at La Dimora degli Angeli, you get your room, 24-hour access to a tea room, and an enchanting experience!
Travel Bucket List
If you don’t have a dream to work toward, what are you working for? I’m one who is motivated by working toward goals. Once we pay off our debt and get money put away for the kids’ college, we’ll be living like no one else – checking things off our bucket list! Small rewards for living life with intensity, I say. What is on YOUR travel bucket list?
#DimoraDegliAngeli To find out more, check out their website: http://www.dimoredeicherubini.it/la-dimora-degli-angeli-florence/
This post is brought to you by THE RIDE.
It’s been a week since I got home from New York City, but I’m stuck in a New York State of Mind. It was refreshing to get some time away by myself – albeit blog work time – and to take in the city for the first time on my own without Greg. We talked about safety and security before I left, and one thing I promised was not to be out roaming around at night. That’s why I was really excited when I found the best way to experience NYC at night – taking a tour with THE RIDE!
You might remember that last year the whole ‘lil Burghers family took THE TOUR – the tamer, more family-friendly daytime option with The Ride. This trip was similar in that it was on the same type of bus (a $1.5 million double-decker bus turned into an entertainment stage) and took us through some of the same sights, but I laughed probably 10x more on THE RIDE (probably due to the more adult-geared humor).
The Ride: The Best Way to Experience NYC at Night
Not saying I was nervous to walk the streets of New York, but I did want to listen to Greg. I was traveling with my friend Rachel (a fellow blogger) and as we’re both moms, we agreed that roaming the streets alone probably wasn’t a grand idea. Instead, we roamed the streets in a comfy seat with air-conditioning blowing on us!
We started our 75-minute journey just outside of Times Square on 42nd street as the sun was setting over the city. After we got introduced to our guides Jackie and Scott, we got to know “The Ride” a little better. (The bus is named THE RIDE.)
From our second-story street view, we got to experience the city above the hustle and bustle that started to take over. As the lights came up, the people came out! (We rode through Times Square twice and the first time it had just started to get crowded – but by the end of the ride it was jam packed!)
One of the skits we got to stop and watch was the ballerina – you’ve probably seen an ad for this experience with a dancer in daylight. But at night? Her skirt is lit up and she twirls around Columbus Circle. It was moving – and I’m not sure if it was the fact I finally was “relaxing”, but I cried!
Seeing Bryant Park, the Chyrsler Building, and the (in the distance) Freedom Tower lit up was pretty incredible, too!
Why Be Like a Tourist?
With over 61.8 million visitors a year (20.6 million of them coming to NYC between Thanksgiving and New Years), there’s definitely more than one reason to visit. Taking on tourist attractions like the highly entertaining THE RIDE can also be educational. (For instance, I found out that M&M’s world is the most visited Times Square shop.)
Because of attractions like The Ride, you get a chance to “see it all” without worrying if you’re walking the right direction or putting our trust in an Uber. Who wants to celebrate New Years in Times Square? (Ok, I do, secretly.) If you’d rather not be all crowded, you can experience that right here on The Ride!
And you never know when you will become part of the show – Rachel and I got a rap shout-out during one of the stops!
Know Before You Go
Here are some logistics to keep in mind:
When the kids found out I would be at Disney without them, Evan had two requests. Get a picture with Mickey and ride Spaceship Earth.
So far, I’ve accomplished both. Today I am grateful for the memory of spending time with him and Arianna riding this one over and over and over.
And I’ll be leaving tomorrow with a goal…sell enough Thirty-one in the next twelve months to keep my commitment to our budget and buy us tickets for five days here in 2018. I got this, right?
This post is brought to you by THE TOUR.
When we were in New York City last week, one of our musts was to take THE TOUR, a bus ride through town. As you’ll soon see, THE TOUR is not just any ol’ bus ride, but an adventure on a $1.5 million bus throughout New York City. We took all four kids (yes, including the twins!) and came up with 10 reasons you should take THE TOUR with your kids.
Reason 1: NYC in the summer is hot and winter is cold. These extremes don’t really make for great sightseeing (just ask Evan who cried on our walk over because his neck got hot). Instead, schedule yourself 90-minutes on THE TOUR and get a break from the weather. This experience happens rain or shine (but not blizzards), so no need to plan around the forecast. Trust me, you’ll be glad you’re not on one of those double-decker buses (been there done that in DC, oh my!).
Reason 2: Your kids will be amazed that they are sitting sideways on a bus that is lit up like a Christmas tree AND talks to them. THE TOUR is powered by the buses used for THE RIDE. These beauties are $1.5 million and it shows. From stadium-style seating (don’t worry, these are nice, comfy seats + carpeted floors!) to multiple LED screens and lights that move along to sounds and music, this is one seriously fun bus. Of note, there are not seat belts on the bus, so Ava and Isla mostly stayed in our laps for the duration of the trip. This was no issue at all because they were thrilled to check out all the fun around them.
Reason 3: The Navigator, driver, and bus are extremely awesome. There’s really no other way to put it – but once you step on THE TOUR, you’ll immediately feel welcomed by the crew that is handling your trip. Our Navigator, Stina, was super personable and remembered things about the passengers on the trip (like that two parties were from Kansas City and another was from Ohio). She didn’t get thrown off by Isla’s occasional tears, either. Bernard, our driver, took some tight corners of the city like it was a walk in the park. And the bus (aka “THE RIDE”) has a fun personality, too! Note – do think ahead and have some cash for a tip. If you don’t have it, you’ll probably find yourself wishing you had. We were so glad we were prepared because they really impressed us!
Reason 4: 90 minutes is positively perfect for enjoying the city from a bus-level view. THE TOUR is part of THE RIDE, but we picked it over THE RIDE because it was 15 minutes longer and a little more educational / family-friendly. (THE RIDE is recommended for 6+ while THE TOUR allows all ages.) And while our ‘lil ones do get a bit antsy after 10 minutes, we parents needed the break THE TOUR gave us. It gave us time to learn about NYC and not have to worry about who was going in what direction.
Reason 5: You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew…For instance, Arianna learned that you could get lost in Central Park because the sidewalks aren’t straight – they curve so that you can get lost and explore. And Evan learned that King Kong climbed the Empire State Building (and then he kept looking for him the rest of the day on all the towering buildings). I’d tell you more of the history lessons, but that’d ruin the surprise!
Reason 6: You might get to see the Naked Cowboy and not really have to explain because 10 seconds later you see game and TV characters and they don’t take the time to ask questions. Or maybe you’ll get a funny view like we did and then have to answer them all…
Reason 7: You’ll get free advice on where to take the kids to lunch. Along the way (through 10 neighborhoods), we saw many different restaurant options. Stina (our Navigator) mentioned good things about some of them, but she also happened to point out a McDonald’s on Broadway that looked much more family-friendly than the one a few blocks over at Times Square did. (That’s where we had our lunch.)
Reason 8: There’s plenty of adult humor that will have you laughing your way through the day. As if seeing the Naked Cowboy wasn’t enough, we got laughs at Trump Tower (of course Fox News was there), looking at ads on Fifth Avenue, and the interactions with pedestrians (okay, other tourists – hint, they wave back).
Reason 9: This isn’t your mama’s tour. It’s next generational, and really on point for the kids. You see, hear, and even feel the experience on THE TOUR. The kids were captivated, yet there were moments Greg and I looked at each other and knew that we had to get his dad on it ASAP because he grew up in Harlem and would connect with the way THE TOUR brings the past (and even future!) to the present.
Reason 10: Family memories will last a lifetime. Over a week later, the kids are still raving about their time on THE TOUR. We’ve got our own inside jokes and lines from Stina’s commentary on the city. These aren’t things we’ll soon forget.
If you are visiting New York City, we highly recommend you take a trip on THE TOUR or THE RIDE. You can find out more information on their website, experiencetheride.com. Tickets for THE TOUR are $45 per person and experiences are most days at 10, 12, and 2.
This post, Airmall Fit2Fly Week, is part of my partnership as a Fit2Fly Correspondent.
If you are like me, you’re lounged on the couch, a sugary drink in hand (eep) and regretting stuffing yourself with the pasta salad and skimping out on a second hot dog (since that’s something you only eat on cookout holidays, three times a year), right? Maybe. Or maybe you are feeling like tomorrow could be a brand new start. Let’s go with option two, shall we? Especially since it’s the unofficial start of summer AND Airmall Fit2Fly Week is kicking off!
Airmall Fit2Fly Week
Tomorrow (May 31) kicks off the 2nd annual Airmall Fit2Fly Week at Pittsburgh International Airport (there will also be events in Cleveland and at BWI). The week is focused on getting healthy living tips into the hands of travelers at the airport, encouraging them to stay healthy and fit while on the go.
When I travel, I know how easy it is to fall out of routine, or reach for the salt and sugar instead of veggies and protein.
“Fit2Fly is our way of showing travelers how fun and easy it is to incorporate health and wellness into traveling,” said Bob Kerlik, vice president of media relations for Pittsburgh International Airport. “Whether it’s grabbing a healthy snack or walking a few extra steps on the way to your flight, there are many simple yet satisfying things a traveler can do to stay fit while flying.” (quote via the Fit2Fly Press Release)
Come to think of it, keeping up on routine and keeping healthy is pretty fun and easy while traveling. I think back to my last work trip to New Orleans. There was a lot of eating, but also a lot of walking (we stayed a mile from the conference center and a mile the other direction from Bourbon Street) in addition to lots of walking at the airports. It’s a lot about balance, or like this tip card (one that will be passed out to travelers) suggests:
This initiative makes me really excited. I wish we were headed somewhere via the airport this week, don’t you? If you’re flying out of PIT, make sure you check out the list of activities, below. If not, you can still participate by sharing your favorite healthy travel tips this week on social media using #Fit2Fly. (Facebook: AirMall PIT; Twitter: @airmallPIT)
What is your go to tip for staying healthy while traveling?
Flying out of PIT and looking for something healthy to eat? Check out this Healthy Dining Guide from the Airmall Fit2Fly Week team: Airmall Fit2Fly Healthy Dining Guide
Activities scheduled at the AirMall at Pittsburgh International Airport during Fit2Fly week include:
Tuesday, May 31: Complimentary tea tastings at Starbucks (airside) from 9 a.m. to 11
a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Wednesday, June 1: Equipment demos at FlyBy Sports in the Center Core from 8 a.m.
to 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Thursday, June 2: Designated Fit2Fly Day
o Free yoga sessions with Lizzzrrd Lounge Studios from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the
Center Core near the video wall
o A Fit2Fly team will hand out nutritional Jimmy Bars and free fitness gear
Friday, June 3: Pinkberry smoothie samplings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.