2 Day Oahu Itinerary – Honolulu Hawaii

Visiting Hawaii and only have a few days to sightsee in Honolulu? This 2 Day Oahu Itinerary will give you ideas for the best things to do and eat. Honolulu travel tips with alternatives to Waikiki Beach. 2 Day Oahu Itinerary – Honolulu Hawaii Travel Tips If you have a few days in Honolulu and […]

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Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom (REVIEW)

Is the Disney After Hours event worth the money? Read about my experience at the Disney After Hours Event in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park to get the inside scoop. This special event ticket is available to the public and allows you to stay in the park for three extra hours with access to popular attractions with little to no wait times, character greetings and snacks.

Is the Disney After Hours event worth the money? Review for Disney After Hours event in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Inside scoop and Disney travel tips.

Review ~ Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom

While attending my daughter’s cheer competition at Disney’s ESPN Sports Complex, I decided to splurge and purchase Disney After Hours special event tickets for Animal Kingdom. At $125 per ticket, I wasn’t sure it would be worth the money, plus I already had a four day hopper pass to the Disney parks. Adding extra tickets to what I had already spent seemed like a bit much. Since I write about family travel and love anything Disney, I thought I would go ahead and pay the extra money for the tickets to see what it was like to share with you.

Now that we have experienced the after hours event, I can let you know what it’s like and help you decide if it’s right for you. FYI – I was NOT paid by Disney to write this article. I don’t think I’m on Disney’s radar at all, even though I sure wish I was invited to their social media influencer events! After making these adorable Mickey and Minnie Mouse cookies that went viral… they should contact me right??? ha!

 

What does the Disney After Hours Event Include?

First of all, the Disney After Hours events are only available on certain dates and only one park at a time. The events last from 9pm-12am. When you check in, you get a special wrist band, able to ride select rides, watch select shows, get snacks and meet characters. There are a limited amount of tickets and as of now, I don’t think you need any other kind of park ticket to be allowed to purchase an after hours event ticket. Guests with Disney After Hours tickets can enter the park at 7:00 pm every event night. If you didn’t have a park ticket during the day, you can enjoy the park for a few hours before the special event starts.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW

 

What we thought of Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom

It seems like the Disney park people are still working out the details of these After Hours Events. I found out about it by the ad on their website while I was picking out my fast passes. I wish I had known about this before buying my hopper tickets – I could have saved money and bought a 3 day pass instead of a 4 day one. I saw some of my blogger friends at one of these events, but assumed it was a special event for just for influencers and not open to the public. When I saw that there was an after hours event while I was at Disney, I jumped on the chance to get a ticket before they were sold out. Animal Kingdom is our favorite!!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW

 

What We Liked About Animal Kingdom’s After Hours Event

Here are six things we enjoyed about the After Hours event at Animal Kingdom.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW

 

1. Little to no wait times

Obviously this is the main attraction for going to a Disney After Hours event. The most popular ride, Avatar Flight of Passage, which normally has a wait time of 2 hours, only had a wait of about 15 minutes when the event started. Towards the end of the night, we walked directly on the ride with no line. We rode our other favorite ride, Expedition Everest, over and over with no line and hardly any people around us!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - Flight of Passage Wait Time

 

2. The parks at night are cooler and way less bugs

While we were in Orlando, there were “love bugs” EVERYWHERE. These bugs don’t bite or harm you in anyway, but they are annoying and you could have 5-100 bugs on and around you at a time. Apparently there is only an infestation of these bugs in Florida for two weeks, twice a year. And sure enough, while we were visiting! We began avoiding the parks during the day because of this and another reason the late night after hours event looked appealing. No love bugs out at night!

 

3. Endless treats

We loved the grab and go snack and drink stations around the park. I think the smartest thing Disney did was to have had Mickey ice cream, popcorn, juice bar popsicles and bottled water sitting out on a table near the Pandora entrance where you could just grab your snacks and keep walking. If you preferred a soda, you could wait in a line for one. There are other various snack carts open around the parks with snacks included in your ticket and also something for purchase. Cocktails and beer are not included in your ticket, but available for purchase the whole evening.

 

4. No Crowds

At times, we felt like the only people in the park! If you prefer a loud, party atmosphere, you might not like the after hours events, but we thought it was the coolest thing ever!

I think we only saw 3 strollers the whole time we were there, compared to daytime when there are numerous strollers parked at every ride entrance.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW

Comparing the After Hours crowd to a normal night at a park:

A few evenings before, we stayed until closing time (11pm) at Magic Kingdom and saw less strollers and people than during the day. Attractions had much longer wait times on a normal park night though. Some popular rides were still over an hour wait. I have to note the night we stayed late… it had just stormed with hail, plus it rained on and off, so that could have been a big factor for less people, less toddlers in strollers.

 

5. After Hours Shopping

Our favorite shop was open when we arrived and we were able buy the last few of the much sought after lollipop Mickey ears. It’s really fun to shop with little to no people in the stores!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - Amy Locurto Travel Influencer Blogger

 

6. Fun Entertainment

We didn’t know about the entertainment as we were focused on what rides were open and where to find food. Here is what we did:

DJ Dance Party: In DinoLand U.S.A, we accidentally walked into the dance party with bubbles, fun music and a photo booth. We were the only ones dancing, but that is what we liked about it! ha!

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - DJ Dance Party

 

Entertainment We Missed:

Apparently there were character greetings and shows, but we missed them all together on our race to ride the attractions and eat all the food!  I’m sad we missed these things and wish I had known ahead of time to plan better:

Character greeting and photos: Meet Mickey and Minnie in Discovery Island

Rivers of Light : Show starts at 10 pm in Asia

Pandora Drummers: 10:30 pm and 11:30 pm in Pandora

 

What we did at the Animal Kingdom After Hours Event:

  • Shopped for about 15 minutes before the event officially started.
  • Walked to Pandora to be there at 9pm.
  • Rode Avatar Flight of Passage 2 times in a row (about a 10-15 minute wait both times)
  • Rode the Na’vi River Journey (walked right on)
  • Got fruit bars and water in Pandora
  • Walked towards Tree of Life and grabbed ice cream and popcorn to take on the way
  • Watched the Tree of Life for a bit
  • Stopped for lemonade and more popcorn on the walk to Asia
  • Rode Expedition Everest 3 times in a row (walked right on)
  • Stopped for more snacks and drinks in Asia
  • Walked to Dinoland, rode TriceraTop Spin
  • Danced and took photos at the DJ dance party
  • Rode DINOSAUR (walked right on)
  • Walked back to Pandora to ride Flight of Passage (walked right on)

Once we left Pandora the first time, we only saw 2-20 people at a time around the park the rest of the night.

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom REVIEW - DJ Dance Party Amy Locurto Travel Influencer Blog

 

What we did NOT like:

Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast and enjoyed the park after hours, but here are a few things I didn’t like.

Not enough time:  We wish the event was at least 30-60 minutes longer so we could have done more. If they can’t make the event longer, then it would have been great to have gotten the option to skip the Avatar Flight of Passage pre-show to save time.

Not knowing what was going to happen until we got there: I wish we could have been emailed the event plans, what shops were open and the show times for the evening. I feel we missed out on activities, not being able to plan ahead.

Not many characters: I would have liked more characters around the park. Having another photo spot with a character out in the open where we could have seen them would have been great. I also wish they had a character at the dance party, especially since there was a photo booth there.

The park seemed closed: It seemed more like the park was closed and we were just there walking around as they were closing up. I would have enjoyed a more catered feeling to those of us who bought the pricey after hours tickets. I’ve been to special events at parks where we were treated like VIPS – I think Disney needs to add more of a special treatment touch. I would have liked having more cast members welcoming us and answering our questions. We would have enjoyed some fun music throughout the park so it didn’t seem closed.  Special gifts such as glow stick necklaces or glowing drinks would have been nice.

Was it worth the money?

Let me break it down by what we ate and drank. Note I’m on a diet and with a 12 year old girl who doesn’t eat much. If my son was with us, he would have eaten a LOT more.

  • Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar $5.75 x 2
  • Mickey’s Ice Cream Sandwich $5.75 x 1
  • Fruits of Mo’ara Fruit Bar 4.50 x 3
  • Popcorn 4.50 x 2
  • Bottled Soft Drinks  4.50 x 1
  • Water: $3.50 x 5

2 tickets + tax was $266.26. Take out our total food: $61.75 and the price was actually $102.25 per ticket for no crowds and to ride our favorite rides over and over.

After experiencing high crowds, Florida heat, 2 hour wait times and the infestation of bugs, I definitely think it was worth the price of admission and would do it again next time if it was offered.

Overall, I we had a BLAST at the Disney After Hours event. It will be a memory that my daughter and I will talk about for years to come!

Tips for Riding Avatar Flight of Passage After Hours

1. Take account for time spent walking the path and the pre-show:

For those of you wanting to plan to ride Flight of Passage numerous times, take note of your time. From the ride’s gate entrance where you show your wrist band, it will take at least 5 minutes to walk the path  to the ride entrance point. Then another 7 minutes to watch the two pre-show videos, 6 minutes to ride the ride and another 3-5 minutes to walk the path out of the ride and back to the main entrance. Total time for riding Avatar Flight of Passage is around 22 minutes with no wait time.

2. Enjoy a different experience each time:

When possible, we made sure to switch up where we were in line at the pre-show. If you are with a big group, switch spots with someone else you know. We sat somewhere different each time we rode the ride and it was a totally different experience each time! When I sat on the far outside, I felt like I was flipping upside down, a feeling I didn’t get when in the middle. So be sure to try to change it up while you’re at the after hours event if you can!

3. Just for fun, shout SIVAKO!

Watch for the part during the ride where your Na’vi guide yells “SIVAKO” (see-vah-ko) meaning, rise to the challenge. Be sure to chant it back! We had fun doing that each time. LOL!

Official Disney World After Hours Event Information:

At the time of my review, you can purchase After Hours event tickets at Magic Kingdom park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park! Click here to learn more.

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Why You Should Head To Birmingham For Your Next Family Vacation

Looking for the perfect family weekend getaway? Try Birmingham, Alabama. This multifaceted Southern city has a hip yet family-friendly restaurant scene, a children’s museum and zoo, lush parks and lots of green spaces, and an incredible civil rights museum your kids will never forget. We spent a few days in Birmingham recently to see all it had to offer. Here are our top picks for an incredible Birmingham family vacation.

PLAY

The Vulcan Observation Tower and Museum

Lindsay Ferrier

There’s no escaping the sight of Vulcan when you’re in Birmingham. The Roman god of fire and forge has watched over the city from his Red Mountain tower since the 1930s and remains the largest cast iron statue in the world. Admission to the observation tower and museum is $6 for adults, $4 for kids and it’s worth it! Climb the stairs (or take the glass elevator) to the top and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Birmingham. And if you climb all 159 steps, you’ll receive a sticker when you come back down, announcing your achievement — this was a big hit with my 11-year-old!

Birmingham Skyline

Lindsay Ferrier

For a memorable family vacation shot, my favorite skyline view of Birmingham is located directly beneath the Vulcan Observation Tower. Park in the lot for the Vulcan Trail and take the sidewalk that runs alongside the road on the other side of the guardrail. Toward the end of the guardrail, you’ll come across this Instagram-worthy view of the city.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Lindsay Ferrier

I consider Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute to be the cornerstone experience of any family trip to the city. Walking through this interactive museum with your children (I recommend it for ages 10 and up) will help them understand the Civil Rights Movement in a way no classroom lesson ever could. My kids were deeply affected by our visit and talked about it for weeks afterward. I don’t think any of us will ever forget this museum.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church

Lindsay Ferrier

Across the street from the Civil Rights Institute is the church where a bomb killed four young girls in 1963. Today, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is still in operation and visitors are welcome to come inside, see the sanctuary, and talk to members who are on hand to answer questions. Private tours can also be scheduled by calling the church ahead of your visit. They last at least an hour, so you might want to save the official tour for your tweens and teens.

McWane Science Center

Lindsay Ferrier

This interactive children’s museum has four floors chock full of interactive exhibits that both educate and entertain. We all loved taking the ginormous slide from the fourth floor down to the third and the indoor zip line was a blast. The museum’s train ride is super popular with younger kids, and your smallest children will enjoy Itty Bitty Magic City, an indoor village created especially for the 5-and-under crowd. While you’re there, make time for an IMAX movie on the theater’s 5-story tilted, domed screen. The IMAX projection room is viewable from the lobby and it’s pretty incredible as well.

Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve

Lindsay Ferrier

Although it’s just a few minutes from downtown Birmingham, the privately-owned Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve will make you feel like you’re miles away from civilization. Choose from 14 miles of trails ranging from easy to difficult and get a feel for Birmingham’s natural beauty. We took the Quarry Ridge Trail to an abandoned quarry, which made for a scenic 3-mile loop hike.

While you’re at the preserve, stop by the nature center, home to several live animal exhibits as well as an animal care center where anywhere from 25 to 30 wild animals are being rehabilitated at any given time. Admission is free, but a $3 per person admission fee is suggested.

Birmingham Zoo

Lindsay Ferrier

At the Birmingham Zoo, you’ll find more than 950 animals including sea lions, alligators, monkeys, lions, and more, as well as splash pads, a carousel, and a train ride around the park. If you have little ones and the day’s not too hot, this zoo could be the perfect way to spend a morning or afternoon in Birmingham. I do recommend you buy your zoo tickets online before you go. We went during the off-season just two hours before the zoo was scheduled to close and STILL waited in line for more than half an hour to buy tickets.

The Birmingham Museum of Art

Lindsay Ferrier

This spacious museum was a pleasant surprise during our visit. Even better? It’s free! Your older kids will enjoy wandering through the many exhibits representing Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American cultures. Be sure and ask for a scavenger hunt at the front desk to make things even more interesting. The museum’s collection includes more than 27,000 works of art, so trust me when I tell you there’s something here for everyone. Younger kids will want to check out ArtVenture, a state-of-the-art interactive gallery with hands-on activities for kids from 2 to 12 years old. The museum is located in downtown Birmingham and open Tuesday-Sunday.

Red Mountain Park

Red Mountain Park

Locals and visitors alike rave about Red Mountain Park, which includes zip lining adventures and 15 miles of free hiking/mountain biking trails that wind through forest and past historic mining sites. Given the area’s history, the park’s free guided hikes are especially popular here, so check the website before you go and see if one is scheduled during your visit.

EAT

Saw’s BBQ

Lindsay Ferrier

Multiple Birmingham residents made us promise not to visit their city without a stop at Saw’s BBQ. Now that I’ve been, I can understand what all the fuss is about. The brainchild of a former test chef for Cooking Light magazine, Saw’s now has four locations in Birmingham and each one is packed with people on any given day. Saw’s fans love the ribs and pulled pork, but I’ll be back for the sweet tea chicken sandwich. With a breast marinated in sweet tea and pickle brine before being fried, it tastes like I imagine a Chik Fil-A sandwich would taste in heaven. Be sure and spring for a side of onion rings, too — they are sliced thin and expertly seasoned.

Pizzeria GM

Lindsay Ferrier

GianMarcos has long been known as Birmingham’s best upscale Italian restaurant. Now, brothers Giani and Marco Respinto have opened a more casual restaurant that’s perfect for families. Pizzeria GM serves up many of the same high-quality Italian dishes GianMarcos is known for, along with hand-tossed pizzas and savory sandwiches. And while there’s no official kids’ menu, just ask and the chefs will be happy to make a kid-sized burger, chicken fingers, pasta with butter, mac and cheese, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

We tried lots of dishes during dinner here and our entire family was united in loving the meatball appetizer, the polenta fries, the Italian ham pizza, and the house made chips and dip. YUM.

Eli’s Jerusalem Grill

Lindsay Ferrier

We’re always on the hunt for innovative ethnic cuisine when we travel and were excited to try the highly-regarded Eli’s Jerusalem Grill while in Birmingham. Husband and wife team (and parents!) Eli and Laurel Markshtien serve up time-honored recipes passed down from family in Israel, using organic ingredients and and grass-fed beef. The results are phenomenal. We thought the lamb chop, beef kabob, and Israeli couscous were amazing and the pita bread was remarkably thick and fluffy. Come here for lunch or dinner, and don’t be fooled by its strip mall location. Locals know Eli’s is one of the best meals in town. If you really want to sound like a local, here’s a pro tip: Eli is pronounced “Ell-lee.”

Red Cat

Lindsay Ferrier

With two heavily trafficked locations in Birmingham (one across the street from the popular Railroad Park, the other in Pepper Place), the Red Cat Coffeehouse is a convenient place to stop for a quick breakfast, sweet treat, or a midday jolt of caffeine. With flavors like Russian Blue (dark chocolate and mint) and Persian (white chocolate and almond), Red Cat’s signature lattes are unforgettable, as are its caramel apple bars. We stopped here more than once during our visit, and my 14-year-old in particular loved its bohemian vibe.

Pizitz Food Hall

Lindsay Ferrier

Located right across the street from the McWane Science Center, Pizitz Food Hall makes for a perfect lunch break, and I really think it’s a must-have meal experience when you’re in Birmingham. This airy, light-filled food court is filled with all kinds of culinary delights, from french fries and hot dogs at The Standard to delicious Indian street food at Silver Kati. Our kids went crazy over the Alpine sandwich with Swiss cheese and caramelized onions from Busy Corner Cheese & Provisions, while my husband and I went back for seconds on the Himalayan/Nepalese steamed dumplings at Mo:Mo. You’ll also find food stalls here featuring Ethiopian food, Hawaiian poke, Mexican popsicles, and organic southern biscuits, as well as a mini version of Eli’s Jerusalem Grill. If the day’s nice, be sure and sit outside in the beautiful courtyard next to the historic Pizitz building.

Yellowhammer Print Shop

Lindsay Ferrier

The Pizitz is also home to Yellowhammer Print Shop, a great place to stop for hip, hand-printed souvenir mugs, t-shirts, and hats.

STAY

Homewood Suites by Hilton

Homewood Suites

We absolutely loved our peaceful, spacious suite at this downtown Birmingham hotel. With a full kitchen, seating area, and lots of room to roam without bumping into one another, it’s a great option for families. Breakfast was also included in our stay, which is always welcome when we’re traveling.

Redmont Hotel

Redmont Hotel

When the Redmont Hotel opened in downtown Birmingham back in 1925, it was notable for having a private bathroom in every bedroom, chilled water, and ceiling fans. Today, the newly restored hotel offers guests a historic boutique hotel experience at an affordable price — and possibly a few ghosts thrown in at no extra charge. (The third and ninth floors are said to be “most haunted.”) Walk to McWane Science Center, the National Civil Rights Center, and the Pizitz Food Hall or enjoy lovely views from the hotel’s popular rooftop bar. Country music fans will want to know Hank Williams spent his final night here in 1952 while on a road trip from Montgomery to West Virginia.

The Grand Bohemian Hotel

Grand Bohemian Hotel

It’s worth splurging on a room at this artsy luxury hotel in Birmingham’s charming Mountain Brook neighborhood. Guests rave about the whimsical decor, super-comfortable beds, impeccable customer service, and unforgettable rooftop restaurant and bar, which overlooks the Birmingham Botanical Gardens across the street. If you want to go all-out on your Birmingham vacation, this is definitely the place to do it.

 

Although the author received media accommodation for some of her Birmingham activities, she researched and created her itinerary independently and all opinions/ recommendations are her own. Got questions? Contact Lindsay Ferrier at suburban.turmoil@yahoo.com.

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How To Plan A Cincinnati Family Vacation You’ll Never Forget

I was not expecting to fall in love with Cincinnati during our last family vacation, but that’s exactly what happened. The Queen City combines history, culture, and sophistication with a Midwestern lack of pretension that’s completely charming. For families, it is safe, clean, and there is plenty to do, whether you have toddlers or teens.

Here are some of our favorite places in Cincinnati to play, eat, and stay.

PLAY

Newport Aquarium

Lindsay Ferrier

Located in the Newport on the Levee “retail entertainment center” across the river from downtown Cincinnati, this aquarium is home to thousands of animals from around the world and holds more than a million gallons of water. Here, you can pet stingrays, penguins, and sharks, learn about seahorses, and play in the little kid-friendly Frog Bog. But the main attraction is the Shark Bridge — the only suspension bridge in North America built right above an enormous tank holding two dozen sharks. It’s the final attraction in the aquarium, so you might want to make it a surprise for your kids; otherwise, if they’re anything like mine, they’ll rush through the aquarium to get to that bridge as quickly as possible!

Cincinnati Zoo And Botanical Garden

Lindsay Ferrier

Consider this a must-do if you’re visiting Cincinnati with kids. Open since 1875, the Cincinnati Zoo is the second-oldest zoo in the US and it’s magnificent. Here, you’ll find more than 500 animals, 3,000 species of plants, and plenty of beautiful walking paths. Be sure and stop for a visit with Fiona the famous hippo. Born premature in 2017, she now weighs over a thousand pounds and seems to love the attention she gets from visitors!

BB Riverboat Cruise

Lindsay Ferrier

The Ohio River is Cincinnati’s lifeline, so why not see the city (and get some amazing skyline photos) on a riverboat cruise? Sit inside or outside the boat and learn the history of the city while checking out some of Cincinnati’s most striking landmarks, like the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, a prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge, which Roebling built several years later. While we liked the tour, we loved our tour guide, a Mr. Rogers’ doppelganger who sang songs, told corny jokes, and made us feel like family.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Lindsay Ferrier

This downtown Cincinnati museum spotlights the struggle for freedom in our own nation’s history and around the world. Experience the history of slavery and segregation through interactive exhibits and bring America’s troubled past to life for your children in a way no classroom lesson can replicate. Visitors rave about this museum and call it “powerful,” “informative,” and “inspiring.”

King’s Island

King’s Island

Just north of Cincinnati, you’ll find the largest amusement and waterpark in the midwest. With more than 100 attractions (including 15 roller coasters) and 50 waterpark attractions, it’s safe to say everyone in your family can find something to love here. And if you have kids on the smaller side, you’ll be happy to know King’s Island has won the coveted Golden Ticket award 17 years in a row for Best Kids’ Area.

Carew Tower Observation Deck

Lindsay Ferrier

You’ll feel like you’re on top of the world on the roof of this 1930 Art Deco building in downtown Cincinnati, the highest elevated building in the city. We loved the observation deck’s breathtaking views, but half the adventure for us was the journey to the top of the building, which includes a second tiny elevator that seems as old and creaky as the building itself.

Cincinnati Museum Center

ROBERT WEBBER

Cincinnati’s massive Union Terminal, once an Art Deco train station, now houses the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science and an OMNIMAX® Theater. Best of all, one ticket gives you access to all three museums! A 2 ½-year renovation of the building was just completed, so there’s never been a better time to visit.

ArtWorks Public Murals

Lindsay Ferrier

Murals are popping up on barrier walls and buildings across the country, but Cincinnati deserves a blue ribbon for its very visible efforts. ArtWorks is a local non-profit that trains youth apprentices to create these murals, and all of Cincinnati is reaping the benefits. 147 ArtWorks murals have been painted in Cincinnati neighborhoods to date, transforming urban streets into wonderlands of creativity. Enjoy them as you sightsee or download the ArtWorks brochure and take a self-guided tour.

Cincinnati Art Museum

Lindsay Ferrier

We fell in love with this massive museum, where the collection includes 6,700 works of art that cover a 6,000-year time span. Best of all, admission is free! Located in idyllic Eden Park, you’ll love the drive to get there and the Pinocchio statue out front is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the city.

Washington Park

Lindsay Ferrier

Located in the heart of Cincinnati’s fashionable Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, Washington Park is the perfect place to let the kids run free, and on a nice day it’s also a lovely option for family photos. Even my older kids loved its unique playground filled with musical instruments and imaginative structures. In the summer, a 7,000 square foot interactive water park gives littles a great, free way to cool off. And an underground parking deck makes visiting Washington Park a breeze.

With the stunning Cincinnati Music Hall, built in 1878, as a backdrop, you’ll feel like you’ve dropped into a scene from Harry Potter. We thought it looked just like an American Hogwarts!

EAT

FINDLAY MARKET

Lindsay Ferrier

This vibrant public market has been in operation since 1855 and it’s a perfect spot for a family lunch. Here, you’ll find vendors selling delicious pierogis, pizza, fresh-baked sourdough bread, tamales, ice cream, egg rolls, donuts, and more. We loved sampling a variety of foods here, but we went bonkers over Taste of Belgium’s made-on-the-spot waffles. They were by far the best I’ve ever eaten, and this may well be the first place I go the next time I return to Cincinnati. Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves these waffles — Taste of Belgium got its start at Findlay Market and now has six locations throughout the city! Breakfast, anyone?

Moerlein Lager House

Lindsay Ferrier

Cincinnati is famous for its breweries and some are definitely more kid-friendly than others. Moerlein Ale House opened in Cincinnati in 1853 and it’s been going strong ever since. Centrally located in Smale Riverfront Park downtown, it’s a top-notch brewery with inventive beers, delicious food, and a passionate, knowledgeable staff. Even better, it’s also spacious and includes a kids’ menu, making it a first-rate dining option for your whole family. We had lots of memorable meals in Cincinnati, but this was unexpectedly one of my favorites. (We were here, after all, for the beer.) The short rib grilled cheese, mushroom spaetzle, and Squash Wellington were all phenomenal and highly recommended.   

French Fresh

Lindsay Ferrier

Problem: You want to explore Cincinnati’s local food scene, but your kids make fine dining all but impossible. Solution: Frenchie Fresh. Jean-Robert de Cavel is Cincinnati’s hottest chef and runs chic restaurants all over town. He created Frenchie Fresh so that parents, for one, could enjoy his amazing creations in a casual, kid-friendly environment. While everything we tried was delicious here, we especially loved the popular Banh Mi sandwich (crispy tofu might not typically be your thing, but trust me on this), the decadent macaroni and cheese, and the Parmesan and Truffle-seasoned Frenchie Fries. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

Eli’s BBQ

Lindsay Ferrier

You’ve definitely got to be in the know to find this Cincinnati hotspot. Eli’s is a no-frills barbeque joint on Riverside Drive with only a pig on its storefront sign, and it felt to this tourist like it was in the middle of nowhere. Once we went inside, though, the place was packed and the food was amazing. We especially loved the ribs, which had a sinfully sugary dry rub, and Eli’s famous loaded hot dogs. The cracklings and coleslaw on top set them apart from anything I’d eaten before. I will definitely be making a return visit the next time I’m in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Chili

Lindsay Ferrier

Visiting Cincinnati without eating chili is like visiting Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower — it’s simply not done. Lucky for you, the chili experience will probably be the most budget-friendly meal you have on your vacation. Locals here generally have a preference for either Skyline Chili or Gold Star Chili. Blue Ash Chili is another favorite. You’ll find chili “parlors” everywhere you turn throughout the city, so pick one and give it a try! We opted for lunch at Skyline Chili and while the chili by itself was a little soupy for my taste, we all really liked it atop Skyline’s loaded Coney hotdogs.

Graeter’s Ice Cream

Lindsay Ferrier

Graeter’s is another Cincinnati experience you’ve just got to have while you’re here,  preferably over and over and over again! Louis Graeter began selling ice cream in Cincinnati’s street markets way back in 1868 and Graeter’s Ice Cream has been in operation ever since. What sets Graeter’s apart from the others? It’s the only ice cream in the country made in two-gallon batches in French Pot freezers — the same process Louis Graeter used in the 1800s. The results are undeniably delicious. Graeter’s has 18 locations throughout Cincinnati, so choose one and give it a try!

STAY

AC Hotel Cincinnati At The Banks

AC HOTEL CINCINNATI AT THE BANKS

We stayed at this Marriott property while were were in Cincinnati and loved it. It’s clean, modern, spacious, stylish, centrally located, and the price is right. No complaints! Added bonus: Moerlein Lager House is right next door and the Underground Railroad Freedom Center is a two-minute walk away.

Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

HILTON CINCINNATI NETHERLAND PLAZA

Located in the same building as the Carew Tower Observation Deck, this historic hotel has hosted guests like Elvis Presley and Winston Churchill. You’ll love the Art Deco details in the fabulous lobby and enjoy being minutes away from many of Cincinnati’s best restaurants and attractions. An indoor pool makes this hotel just as popular with kids as it is with their parents.

Mariemont Inn

MARIEMONT INN

Looking for something a little different? I’m completely charmed by the Mariemont Inn, located about 15 minutes from downtown Cincinnati in the historic Village of Mariemont. This historic Tudor-style inn was built in 1929 as the centerpiece of the village, which is known for its unique architecture, treelined streets and walkable historic district. Consider it an adventure all on its own within your Cincinnati vacation.

Can you understand now why I have such big love for Cincinnati? Give it a try — I’m absolutely sure your family will have just as much fun as we did.

Although the author received media accommodation for some of her Cincinnati activities, she researched and created her itinerary independently and all opinions/ recommendations are her own.

The post How To Plan A Cincinnati Family Vacation You’ll Never Forget appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops

How to make the cutest Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops! An easy Disney party dessert recipe made with OREO cookies and free printable Valentine’s Day tags. Perfect treats to make for your Valentine or any time of the year!

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops for Valentine’s Day

I think you’ll love these cute and easy Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops. Ever since these Mickey and Minnie Mouse Cookies, I’m a little obsessed with making these fun no-bake treats for every holiday. I’ve done Mickey Mouse Halloween Cookies and adorable Mickey and Minnie Christmas cookies, now I hope you enjoy the Valentine’s Day version!

With printable Happy Valentine’s Day tags, this makes the cutest Valentine’s Day gift for any Disney fan!

More DIY Disney Ideas You’ll Love

 

Our Disneyland Trip

My daughter and I went to California during the holiday break. We love to travel and I especially love our mother/daughter trips, because we like doing the same things and she is the perfect age right now for being my travel buddy. We were lucky to have a few days in Disneyland and California Adventure!

Disney is pure magic at Christmas and of course we had to wait in line for a photo with Minnie Mouse!

 Minnie Mouse at Disneyland during Christmas. Cute Cookie Pops by Disney food blogger Amy Locurto. LivingLocurto.com

My Favorite Disneyland Ride

One of my favorite rides at Disneyland is It’s a Small World! The best time is during Christmas when the lights are so beautiful and everything inside is decorated for Christmas. They sing Jingle Bells in every language and it’s adorable!!!

—> If you want to see it, CLICK HERE to watch my Instagram Story from our Disney trip. I share a lot of this ride on that story and I guarantee it will bring back childhood memories:-)

Disneyland It's a Small World ride at Christmas and a Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops recipe.

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pop Inspiration

I found this super cute Nemo Cake Pop at Pixar Pier in California Adventure which inspired today’s cookie pops. Since we love all things Minnie Mouse, I planned to make Valentine’s Day cookies around her. Then when I saw so many cute pops at Disneyland, the cookies turned into pops!

Nemo Cake Pop from Disneyland Pixar Pier in California Adventure. Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops recipe.

Keep these treats as cookies or turn into pops. Either way, anyone would love getting a Minnie Mouse Cookie this Valentine’s Day! I made the bows this time with jumbo heart sprinkles. Then I found the cutest edible polka dot heart wafers by Wilton at Michaels to place on top of the candy hearts. I think the cookies turned out super cute!

Easy Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops recipe!

 

How to Make Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops

These cute cookie pops are super easy and fun for any Disney fan! Watch my video below for directions. Be sure to watch until the end to see the fun Mickey Ears we just bought on our trip to Disneyland.

Subscribe to my Youtube Channel HERE for more fun recipes and party ideas.

 

Print the Minnie Mouse Valentine’s Day Tags

You can print the Valentine’s Day Tags below along with the directions for these Minnie Mouse Cookies. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops are an easy Disney party dessert made with OREO cookies and free printable Valentine's Day tags.  LivingLocurto.com

Print Disney Minnie Mouse Valentine's Day tags.

Print the Valentine’s Day Tags Here

 

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops

Minnie Mouse Cookie Pops are an easy Disney party dessert made with OREO cookies and free printable Valentine’s Day tags.

  • 12 Double Stuf OREO cookies
  • 6 Mini OREO cookies
  • 1/4 cup White Candy Melts
  • 1/2 cup Red Candy Melts
  • 1/2 cup Red, Pink and White Nonpareils
  • 1/4 cup Jumbo Heart Sprinkles
  • Wilton Edible Accents Hearts (optional)
  • 12 Lollipop Sticks
  • Wax Paper
  • Printable Tags (optional)
  1. Gently open and remove the filling from a handful of Mini OREO cookies with a knife.
  2. Melt white candy melts in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until candy is smooth and creamy.
  3. Make Minnie’s ears by using the melted white candy as the glue to stick the mini cookies inside of the larger cookies. Let candy dry before decorating.
  4. In a small glass bowl, melt pink candy in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until candy is smooth and creamy.
  5. Dip one half of a cookie into the melted candy, gently shake cookie to smooth any rough edges and sprinkle with red, pink and white nonpareils.
  6. Dip the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy, then gently hold it on the bottom of the cookie. You don’t need to press it into the cookie as it might break.
  7. Hold stick to the cookie until a bond is made, then place on a piece of wax paper to cool and harden.
  8. Add Minnie’s bow by placing a small bit of melted candy on two jumbo candy hearts. Gently stick them to the top of the cookie to form a bow.
  9. If you can find the edible polka dot heart wafers by Wilton, add them to the top of the hearts buy using melted candy as glue. This step is optional.
  10. Print the Valentine’s Day tags, trim and punch a hole in the top and bottom. After the candy has completely hardened on the cookies, slide the tag onto the lollipop stick. Wrap as gifts or display on your party table.

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5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando

Planning to visit Orlando during the holiday season? Then don’t miss these 5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new at the park this year and get some fun travel tips to make your Christmas vacation even more special.

5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special. What's new for Harry Potter fans, parades and more. #harrypotter #universalorlando

What We Loved About Christmas at Universal Orlando

Any chance we get to go to Universal Orlando, we’re there! But in all time times we have visited, we’ve never been during the Christmas holiday season until this year. I’m sharing what we loved and what’s new at the park this year with these 5 great reasons to celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando!

Amy Locurto Travel and Food Blogger | 5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

It goes without saying that visiting a theme park with your family during the holidays is going to be a blast. I love the memories we make and not to mention the amazing weather!

When we left Dallas, it was 39 degrees. Brrrr! The next night, we are enjoying a movie in the heated pool at Sapphire Falls Resort. Can’t beat that! Click here for Orlando hotel deals.

Sapphire Falls Pool | 5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Beautiful Christmas Decorations

The Christmas decorations are so beautiful all around the park! I shared a lot of video and photos from our Christmas at Universal Orlando trip on Instagram, but if you missed it you can click here to watch it now on my featured Instagram story. We had so much fun and can’t wait to return!

Hogsmeade holiday lights | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Diagon Alley Harry Potter Christmas Decorations | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

 

5 Reasons to Celebrate Christmas at Universal Orlando

Christmas at Universal Orlando is amazing! If you are headed to Universal Orlando this holiday, be sure to read through these tips. I hope you have an amazing Christmas vacation!

Universal Orlando Christmas Tree | Living Locurto Cheerleader

 

1. Merry Grinchmas!

We love The Grinch and thought Grinchmas in Seuss Landing is so adorable!!! The whole area is decorated super cute for the holiday season. You can get your photo taken with the Grinch himself and encounter hilarious people from Who-ville!

Grinchmas | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

The people of Who-ville walk through the park caroling and interacting with people. They found my son in one of the stores and made it their mission to get him to smile by piling candy in his hands. It was so funny! See what they did to him on my featured Instagram story here.

Who-ville | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Live Show

Don’t miss the live show, The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, which tells the Dr. Seuss story of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

 

2. Hot Butterbeer

I have written several articles about Butterbeer, sharing homemade recipes and where to find the shortest line for it at the park, so I thought I knew it all when it came to Butterbeer. NOT THE CASE… I just discovered you can get Hot Butterbeer during the holiday season! Another great reason to visit the park during Christmas.

Hot Butterbeer | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Where you can find Hot Butterbeer

Hot Butterbeer is only available during the winter months at:

  • The Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade
  • The Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley

 

3. Christmas Magic at Hogwarts Castle

After you get your Hot Butterbeer, head over to the Hogwarts Castle to watch the holiday light show. Be ready for big crowds and don’t worry if you miss a show, they happen every 20 minutes starting at 6pm. It’s an amazing show that ends with fireworks. A must see for Harry Potter fans! 

Harry Potter Castle light show | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

 

Best place to watch the Hogwarts Holiday light show.

If you want the best spot, go to the bridge that connects Jurassic Park to Hogsmeade. Of course being right in front of the castle is great, but beware of huge crowds.

Best spot to watch the show with very little crowds.

We tried to get to the bridge, but areas of the park were blocked off to form lines and we couldn’t get through. Instead, we sat on the patio of the Three Broomsticks to enjoy our drinks and the show without the crowds. 

Ride Tip: There was no wait time to ride the train from Hogsmeade to London because everyone was trying to get to the castle to watch the light show. After the first show, we walked right on the train!

 

4. Universal’s Holiday Parade

Santa Macys Parade | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

We’ve never been to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, so seeing the Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s was a huge treat!  Big balloons featuring your favorite park characters parade through the streets filled with dancers, lights and festive Christmas songs.

Shrek Baby Donkey Macys Parade | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Holiday Parade Tip

Find a spot to stand near the giant Christmas tree across from The Mummy ride. When Santa comes by at the end of the parade, his magic lights up the tree! It’s so beautiful.

Christmas Tree at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Parade Times:

  • Dec 6, and Dec 14: 5:15pm
  • Nov 17 – 27, Nov 29 – Dec 5, Dec 7 – 13, Dec 15 – 23: 5:30pm
  • Dec 24 – 30: 8:00pm
  • Dec 31 – Jan 6: 5:30pm

 

5. Universal Orlando Season Passholder Lounge

New this year! Relax and recharge your phones at the new season passholder lounge by Coca-Cola. There are free snacks such as chips and granola bars, but you’ll have to purchase your drinks. That was okay with us because they had a fun Arctic Coke Cooler which turned our drinks into slushes.

Passholder Lounge | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special.

Passholder Lounge Info:

  • Dates: Now – Jan. 31, 2019
  • Times: 11AM – 4PM Daily
  • Location: Universal Studios Florida on Hollywood Boulevard, near Schwab’s Pharmacy

 

Favorite Part of the Trip

I think our favorite part of this trip were the fun times we had interacting with the characters throughout the park. That’s one thing I love about Universal Orlando! You might be walking through the park and Spiderman drives by on his motorcycle, Betty Boop says hello in her store or you get to meet a live baby dinosaur. They sure make it so much fun!

Jurassic Park Live Baby Dinosaur Meeting | Christmas at Universal Orlando. Learn what’s new this holiday season and get travel tips to make your Christmas vacation special. Living Locurto travel blogger

What’s your favorite thing to do at Universal Orlando? Click here for our favorite rides and more.

Leave a Comment on Living Locurto about Christmas at Universal Orlando

 

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What I Love About Beaches Turks & Caicos (VIDEO)

Trying to decide where to go on your next family vacation? Beaches Turks & Caicos is by far our favorite all-inclusive beach resort. Of course the beautiful Caribbean is amazing, but the service, food and fun at Beaches Resorts makes it 100 times better! Here’s why you must go to Beaches Turks & Caicos on your next family vacation.

Why You Must Go to Beaches Turks & Caicos! Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review. Social Media on the Sand. #travel #caribbean

Why You Must Go to Beaches Turks & Caicos

This post is in partnership with Beaches Resorts

I recently attended the 4th Annual Social Media on the Sands event sponsored by Beaches in Turks & Caicos. When I got my invitation, I had to pinch myself because it’s my happy place! I’m a huge advocate of traveling with kids, so was excited that I could bring my daughter along. We definitely enjoyed the beautiful Caribbean water and wonderful event  activities!

The first year I got to attend this event, I fell in love with Turks & Caicos and Beaches Resorts. A few months later cancer took my mom away from us way too early. After caring for her, I was exhausted, depressed and totally lost until I booked a trip again to this resort. I wanted to go back for a work free trip with my family to hopefully find happiness again. I remember being greeted with a big hug from Cookie Monster (Sesame Street is exclusive at Beaches Resorts), and finally got my smile back! So when I gush and brag about Beaches Turks & Caicos, it’s because they seriously helped me heal during a deeply sad time of my life.

Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review.

I have traveled all over the world, believe me when I say it’s worth EVERY penny to go on a family vacation here!  

What I Love About Beaches Turks & Caicos + Event Recap

This is a quick summary of everything I love about the all-inclusive Beaches Resorts Turks & Caicos along with a recap of the 2018 Social Media on the Sand event. I hope you find it helpful for when you plan your next family vacation!

Have Questions? Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below.

Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger. LivingLocurto.com

 

What is Beaches Resorts Social Media on the Sand?

Social Media on the Sand is an invitation-only event for social media influencers and their families hosted by Beaches Resorts. It was by far one of the best conferences I have ever attended! We did not get a free trip, but did get an incredible discount and tons of great perks for attending. Ready to go? –> You can save up to 65% at Beaches right now, click here to learn more. 

 

Amazing Speakers

We got to hear from several celebrities, amazing entrepreneurs and learn what is new in our industry.

Our keynote speaker was Adam Stewart, the CEO of Sandals and Beaches Resorts. After hearing him speak, I can safely say some of us might have a crush on him! His dad, Gordon “Butch”, is the founder of Sandals and Beaches Resorts. I wish they had a show, because their family seems like a ton of fun! Adam started working for the company when he was sixteen years old and helped make Sandals and Beaches two of the top resort brands in the world. Did you know they are who invented the swim up pool bar? GENIUS!!

Adam shared some great family stories and news about both Sandals and Beaches Resorts. If you didn’t know, Sandals is a collection of 15 of the most romantic all-inclusive luxury beachfront resorts on earth, created exclusively for couples. After Sandals customers started making babies, the family version (Beaches) was created.

I’m DYING to stay in Sandal’s over the water villas!!! There is a very long waiting list, and I might have offered Adam cash to get me on the list, but I don’t think it worked. I’m still waiting for my invite. LOL!


All NEW Sandals Royal Caribbean Over-The-Water Villas now open!

Other amazing speakers included:

Thanks to the Dry Bar girls for taming my crazy curly hair with this fun braid!

Dry Bar beach hairstyle. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger. LivingLocurto.com

 

Out of This World Events

Social Media on the Sand Pool Party. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger. LivingLocurto.com

Beaches Resorts know how to throw a seriously AWESOME party! We got spoiled with a welcome party on an Island Routes catamaran, a crazy amazing Alice in Wonderland themed party and Floatopia Pool party, sponsored by Spin Master, where the boy band In Real Life (IRL) performed for us!

Social Media on the Sand Pool Party. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

IRL are super cute and talented, so of course my daughter and I had a first row pool spot for their concert!

Social Media on the Sand Party. In Real Life (IRL) boy band concert. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Social Media on the Sand Party. In Real Life (IRL) boy band photo. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

 

Lovely People and New Connections

The blogging and social media industry has grown so much, it was wonderful to meet new fabulous people! Beaches gave us precious time to get to know each other in the beautiful Caribbean. I will cherish our friend and family time together here forever!

Social Media on the Sand event for Beaches Moms. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Beaches Pool Volleyball. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Funny Moment

Lands End was one of my favorite sponsors who gave us the most amazing gifts. One of them being a magical dress that fits any body shape. I met my friend Holly for dinner one night and without planning, we both had on the exact same dress, same handbag and wore our hair with it’s natural curls. We definitely turned heads that night! Ha!!

Exclusive Lands End Discount–> Get 40% off full-price styles on Lands End by using code: BEACHES and pin: 2018 at checkout!  Hurry! This offer expires: 10/31/2018

Beaches Moms Social Media on the Sand event. Holly Homer and Amy Locurto Texas bloggers. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review.

Beaches Friends Forever Getaway

 

What’s New at Beaches Resorts

Beaches spent over 70 million dollars to rebuild after last year’s hurricane. Everything is in tip top shape now! I noticed the Caribbean Village lobby got a beautiful makeover since the last time I was there.

Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Here are more new things you’ll want to know about! 

  • Barbados –  The newest Beaches Resort is coming to St. Peter, Barbados in a few years. I can’t wait!
  • No More Plastic Straws  – Starting this fall, there will be no more plastic straws to help save the environment. All 19 Sandals and Beaches Resorts across seven Caribbean islands will eliminate the 21,490,800 single-use plastic straws and stirrers by November 1, 2018. Eco-friendly paper straws will be available upon request. Visit the Sandals Foundation to see more ways they help the community and environment.
  • Over the Water Chapels – This isn’t at the Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. Sandals now has glass bottom chapels over the water! Each chapel seats 40 people. If you are planning a wedding or want to renew your vows, be sure to check them out here.
  • Food Trucks – You’ll not only find 22 incredible restaurants (all included in your price), but don’t miss out on the new food trucks! Our favorite was the Mr. Mac truck. Any flavor of Mac & Cheese you want, they have!

Food Trucks Mac & Cheese. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Take a Tour of Beaches Turks & Caicos

Watch my video tour below to get a better glimpse of the incredible Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos!

 


Beaches Resorts: Huge Savings Now!

Beaches is a Kid’s Heaven!

Beaches is my FAVORITE resort for kids! The kids activities and water parks are to die for!!!

Waterslide pool for kids. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

You can see all they offer at their Kids Camp here. How adorable are these mini lounge chairs and umbrellas?

Kid Camp pool. Learn all about Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

I love that Sesame Street Is Exclusive at Beaches Resorts. It’s so fun seeing the characters walking around. Even I get excited because I basically grew up with them!

Beaches is Highly Trained to Work with Special Needs Kids

Beaches Resorts is the first resort in the world to complete the rigorous International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards training and Autism Certification! If you have kids with special needs, this resort will be a heavenly place where you can rest assured your kids are safe and happy!

What about teens?

Beaches makes it tons of fun for pre-teens and teenagers too! From pizza bars to soda bars, to their own nightclub with karaoke, they give teens their own scene all day and places to hang each evening. There are great water sports, pre-teen events, teen only boat cruises, pool olympics, tennis clinics, karaoke, discos, dance parties, talent shows and much more!

Boogie boarding surf simulator for kids at Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Other Things I love about Beaches Resorts

  • The Restaurants – Their specialized restaurants are like no other all-inclusive resort. It’s so fun to walk into any restaurant and not have to pay or tip! (All food and tips are included in your vacation price) We often ordered two dinners and ALL of the desserts! I love how they require the chefs to have experience working in the country of the restaurant’s theme. All of the food we ate was amazing!
  • Safe Surroundings & Friendly Staff – The people who work at Beaches LOVE their jobs! They not only make your vacation the most fun ever, but also safe. My older kids roam around on their own and I always feel totally at ease with the wonderful service and staff around.
  • Butler Service – If you want luxury and nothing to worry about, the butler service is a must get!
  • Premium liquor brands – There is no generic ANYTHING. If you like Tito’s Vodka or Crown Royal, that’s what you’ll get.

I got a chance to learn how to make some of their delicious specialty drinks in a bartending class. I made a Dirty Banana and can’t wait to share the recipe with you soon!

Making drinks with Social Media on the Sand event at Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos to plan your next family trip! All-Inclusive Caribbean vacation travel review by Amy Locurto Food and Travel Blogger.

Leave a Comment about Beaches Turks & Caicos on Living Locurto

Thank you the Beaches Resorts team for the event of a lifetime!! Also a huge thank you to the other amazing sponsors! We were so spoiled by everyone who came. What an amazing time. I hope you get to visit a Sandals or Beaches Resort soon!

Beaches Resorts Social Media on the Sand event partners. Living Locurto

 

The post What I Love About Beaches Turks & Caicos (VIDEO) appeared first on Living Locurto.

This Is The Real Reason I Travel With My Kids When They’re Young

My daughter and I traveled a lot together when she was a baby. Easy and super flexible, she was my favorite little travel buddy. So when my son was born, I figured we would have the same relationship. I was wrong.

I traveled with my son for the first time when he was 3 months old. Everything about that trip sucked. I was still recovering from my C-section, and that, along with an aisle seat on a crowded plan and milk-filled boobs made our trip a nightmare for me. The flight was a 6-hour nonstop from California to Florida, and I vowed to never travel with my child again.

The next month, however, the opportunity to go to Hawaii came up. Nightmare trip or not, I’m not bonkers enough to pass up a trip to paradise. I was alone with my son on our trip to Orlando, but our entire family traveled to Hawaii. It was great to have help. Because of them, I was able to really engage in the trip with my little guy and remember the benefits of traveling with a little kid again.

A lot of folks believe that it’s best to wait to travel with kids. They don’t want to spend money on experiences that they won’t be remember. But when I look back at pictures from our Hawaiian vacation last year, although my baby boy was just 4 months old, my heart is filled with memories. I think about how we woke up super early in the morning for him to nurse while I watched the sun rise over the ocean. I remember his little scrunched up face when I put a pineapple to his lips and let him taste it. The photos I have of my 8-year-old daughter and him smiling together as they splash water in the pool make me super happy.

He may not remember the trip at all, but I’ll never forget.

I asked some of my mom friends to share why traveling with little kids is worth it. These mamas will make you want to book a ticket to take your little one somewhere right now.

1. New experiences teach babies to be open from an early age.

Both of my children are really flexible whenever we go places. It’s easy for them to adapt to new environments and to be around different people. I know that has to do with going lots of places with them often while they were little. I didn’t even have to be intentional about showing them how to be flexible. It comes naturally from their experiences.

2. It’s almost like traveling alone.

When you travel with a small child, you can strap them on your chest in a carrier, or put them in a car seat or stroller. Virginia D. compares it to traveling alone because you can get the baby set and then do whatever you want.

3. Little kids have no expectations when they’re traveling.

Babies don’t have opinions about packing or itinerary, so if you want to get away with little to no stress, take a little kid with you. No matter what you decide to do or where you decide to go, they’ll be down. Being able to pack what you need, instead of everything they think they will need, and not having to decide on what to eat because of an extra personality are huge perks to going away with little kids according to Natasha N.

4. It sets the stage for easier travel when they get older.

When you start traveling with a child when they’re little, they know what to expect and are better travelers as they get older. Aaronica has been traveling with her kiddos since they were infants, and now that they’re older, their trips are pretty smooth. Cam B. started taking her kids on trips at 3 months old and says they’re now better travelers than she is.

5. Getting away is great for your mental health.

One of the most important reasons traveling with a little kid it worth it is for our own mental health. Emelia C. has been traveling with her child since they were 4 months old. She says that getting out of the house was great for her mental health and helped to ward off depression. A change of scenery can sometimes do wonders for the psyche.

Just this summer, I took my children to the East Coast to visit family. It was a beast of a trip. Just me, two kids, five hour plane rides each way, a twelve hour round-trip road trip, and another six hours in the airport. Baby memories be damned. Seeing my 14-month-old’s face light up when he met family members, and watching how observant and alert he was in all of our adventures was absolutely worth it.

The post This Is The Real Reason I Travel With My Kids When They’re Young appeared first on Scary Mommy.

This Kind of Summer Travel is NOT Kid Friendly (and we’re good with that)

For the last few weeks of school, all anyone can talk about is where your family is headed once that final bell rings. And, inevitably, you’ll answer with your plans to take the kids, uh, wherever the hell it is they’re dragging you this year. (How did they get put in charge of summer vacation anyhow?)

But might I suggest a few types of travel this summer where you ditch the kids at Grandma’s and strike out with only other grownups? No packing more diaper bags than suitcases, no fighting tired toddlers in airports, no obnoxious teenagers taking more pics for Instagram than one could possibly post…

Oh, you’re convinced? Okay, here we go:

The Looooooove Boat

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It’s the all-important cruise to reconnect with your significant other. Like, reconnect reconnect. You know…reconnect. Yeah, you get it. Plus, you can talk about things other than kids and remember that you are in fact a worthwhile and semi-cool human being even when no one is hanging from your legs crying about a fruit rollup.

The Girls Trip

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That’s right, you DO have grown up friends still! And you know where you should take them? Disneyland. Now, personally, I’d rather die than stand in eternal lines with trillions of other people, swassing up a real slick storm—hard pass. But apparently there’s really something to hitting the most magical place on earth with your best GFs instead of your whiney kids. Check out the legit evidence here.

The Couples Getaway

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An oceanfront cottage in Maine? Maybe a little Airbnb outside Prague. You choose the destination—near or far, but grab your best couple friends and live it up like you’re back in college. Stay out late, be a little reckless—the kids will never have to know!

Mama Goes Solo

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Whether you’re a weekend-at-the-spa kind of mama or a backpack-the-Pacific-Crest-Trail kind, the key is—fly solo. Take hours doing your hair and makeup just to read your book on the hotel balcony, sleep in til noon, go dancing til dawn. Whatever it is you WANT—do that thing. You deserve it, mama. And you deserve to do it without worrying about whether or not you deserve it. Because you do. I promise.

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The post This Kind of Summer Travel is NOT Kid Friendly (and we’re good with that) appeared first on TodaysMama.

This Kind of Summer Travel is NOT Kid Friendly (and we’re good with that)

For the last few weeks of school, all anyone can talk about is where your family is headed once that final bell rings. And, inevitably, you’ll answer with your plans to take the kids, uh, wherever the hell it is they’re dragging you this year. (How did they get put in charge of summer vacation anyhow?)

But might I suggest a few types of travel this summer where you ditch the kids at Grandma’s and strike out with only other grownups? No packing more diaper bags than suitcases, no fighting tired toddlers in airports, no obnoxious teenagers taking more pics for Instagram than one could possibly post…

Oh, you’re convinced? Okay, here we go:

The Looooooove Boat

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It’s the all-important cruise to reconnect with your significant other. Like, reconnect reconnect. You know…reconnect. Yeah, you get it. Plus, you can talk about things other than kids and remember that you are in fact a worthwhile and semi-cool human being even when no one is hanging from your legs crying about a fruit rollup.

The Girls Trip

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That’s right, you DO have grown up friends still! And you know where you should take them? Disneyland. Now, personally, I’d rather die than stand in eternal lines with trillions of other people, swassing up a real slick storm—hard pass. But apparently there’s really something to hitting the most magical place on earth with your best GFs instead of your whiney kids. Check out the legit evidence here.

The Couples Getaway

Friends Tv Applause GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

An oceanfront cottage in Maine? Maybe a little Airbnb outside Prague. You choose the destination—near or far, but grab your best couple friends and live it up like you’re back in college. Stay out late, be a little reckless—the kids will never have to know!

Mama Goes Solo

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Happy Dance GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Whether you’re a weekend-at-the-spa kind of mama or a backpack-the-Pacific-Crest-Trail kind, the key is—fly solo. Take hours doing your hair and makeup just to read your book on the hotel balcony, sleep in til noon, go dancing til dawn. Whatever it is you WANT—do that thing. You deserve it, mama. And you deserve to do it without worrying about whether or not you deserve it. Because you do. I promise.

See More on TodaysMama!

Read This Before You Make Your Summer Bucket List

10 Things That Made 90s Summers All That (And a Bag of Chips)

Scientific Proof That a Beyoncé Concert Could Literally Change Your Life

The post This Kind of Summer Travel is NOT Kid Friendly (and we’re good with that) appeared first on TodaysMama.