Travel, Uncategorized

Day Trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina

To celebrate Mother’s Day with my husband and boys this past month, I decided I would like to take our first trip of the season to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s an easy 1 1/2 hour drive to the beautiful Outer Banks Islands from our home in Virginia. Along the way we pass fabulous Farmer’s Markets that are so much fun to stop and take a look around. One of them, Morris’, which I previously blogged about, is one of those places. You know spring has sprung when they open the doors for the season to the huge red building full of natures delicious bounty. There is plenty of great things to sample, cute sea inspired home decor items and a truly unique bathroom, (yes, I said bathroom) which makes it the perfect stop for a break along the way to the OBX. The bathrooms have a wonderful rustic, seaside charm. Each one is its own private sanctuary for the guest filled with antique pictures of the farm and surrounding area, but most importantly, is thoroughly cleaned after every patron and smell quite nice.

apple business fruit local
Photo by Erik Scheel on Pexels.com

The charming bathrooms run on donations and typically do have a little bit of a wait, however there are portable bathrooms available if you decide you can’t wait and don’t have a dollar or so to spare on gratuities. If you are lucky enough to visit Morris’ Farmer’s Market, PLEASE use their wonderful restroom facilities, it’s certainly not your typical bathroom break while traveling.

The excitement is palpable in the car as we cross over the Wright Memorial Bridge connecting the mainland of North Carolina to the OBX. The air seems more fresh and the vacation vibe is everywhere once on the island. It is time to relax and simply enjoy an afternoon escape with my family.

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Our first stop is Trash to Treasure, a quaint antique shop on Croatan Hwy in Kill Devil Hills. The shop is open seven days a week and filled with eclectic treasures from days gone by. There are vintage pieces still in their original condition as well as fresh re purposed furniture ready to find a new home. There is a heavy nautical theme in the shop which makes it a perfect place to find that, “one of a kind” item for your beach cottage. I hope to visit some of the other antique stores that seem to be popping up along Croatan Hwy very soon!

We never go to the OBX without stopping at the Outer Banks Boarding Company. This is no “run of the mill” surf shop. It’s owned and operated by Lynn Shell, an internationally known surf board shaper and all around amazing guy. If you need a surf board or anything related to surfing or water sports, this is the place. Lynn’s vast knowledge of the sport and top of the line surf equipment make his shop the best of the best. It’s one of those home town places that we just want to always support, we wait until we can stop by the OBBC to make a purchase that we could easily buy back home. The place is jam packed with not only surfing equipment but apparel, shoes and all things “beachy”! Spending time talking with Lynn and browsing through his shop is definitely a must do!

After eating dinner and stopping for dessert at a frozen yogurt bar, we end the day with a relaxing walk along the beach in Nag’s Head. It’s really the perfect day in my opinion!!

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Travel, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World

Three Disney Experiences I would Love to Do!

To say our family loves Disney World is an understatement.  But for as many times as we’ve been to Walt Disney World, there are several experiences I haven’t done but would love to do one day.  Part of the reason I haven’t done these experiences are lack of time and often the cost.  It’s no secret that visiting WDW is quite expensive.  It’s also a very large resort with so much to do and usually time is extremely limited as we are usually only there for a week.  From the parks, Disney Springs and the many beautiful Disney resorts, the activities are endless.  Even with the time and money restraints, hopefully one day I will be able to experience some key Disney dining adventures and wonderful tours that look absolutely fabulous.  The first three on my list to do are the following:

  1.  Behind the Seeds Tour: at the “The Land” Pavilion in Epcot.

    agriculture basil bunch cultivation
    Photo by Jatuphon Buraphon on Pexels.com

    This is a walking tour of the greenhouses, hydroponics and fish farm you see while riding “Living with the Land” boat tour.  This tour is fairly reasonably priced at $25.00 per person in addition to your park ticket, it seems they run about every 45 minutes between 10:30 and 4:30.  This is one of the tours that I just haven’t taken the time to do yet.  I’m so intrigued by the unique plantings and vertical growth designs that you see while on the boat tour.  These greenhouses also provide food for some of the Disney restaurants.  I would really enjoy this tour!  

  2. Highway in the Sky Dine Around: This is a Disney style progressive dinner.  The evening starts with appetizers at the Contemperary Resort.   You then board the monorail and travel to the Polynesian Resort for more unique appetizers.  Once finished at the Polynesian, the guests travel to the Grand Floridian for artisinal cheeses or charcuterie offerings as well as the main entree at Citricos.  The evening finishes up back at the Contemporary for coffee and desserts as well as a private area to view the “Happily Ever After” fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.
    photography of disneyland
    Photo by Makenzie Kublin on Pexels.com

    Doesn’t this sound fun?  Drinks are included in the evening but the pricetag is quite steep at $170 per person.  One day I do hope to do this with my husband…one day…

 

3.  Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy: I REALLY want to do this one… Christmas and Disney AND going backstage?  Yes, please.  This is a 3 1/2 hour tour of the behind the scenes Holiday decor and what it takes to get the park ready for a magical Christmas at Walt Disney World. The tour starts in Epcot where guests board a bus and travel to different warehouse locations where the massive array of Disney holiday decor is stored. thumbnail-2The last stop is usually a place to get a tasty treat and the tour concludes with each guest receiving a special Yuletide Fantasy souvenier.  This tour is $139.00 per person and each participant must be at least 12 years old.

If you’ve ever done any of these three events, please let me know how your experience was!

 

 

 

 

 

Travel, Uncategorized

3 Things I will NOT take into Disney parks

We have traveled to WDW several times over the years, we started traveling when my boys were very little.  Now they are not so little anymore, they are in high school and college.  Our love for the Disney parks hasn’t changed at all, but what we take in the park has.  Now, I understand if you have babies or young children you will have to take in everything you need for your little one.  The tips on this blog post are for families with older children and adults.  The parks will get hot, you will walk many miles each day and it rains often in Florida.  So having said that, here are the top three things I would NEVER take or wear into the park ever again….

  1. Bottled Water – You can stop at any quick service restaurant and some food kiosks at any of the Disney parks and get free cups of water.  Unless you are adverse to drinking tap water or the water that Disney serves, don’t bother bringing water bottles.  Nothing will weigh you down more than heavy water bottles.  We have never been turned away when asking for water at Disney, the cast members are always more than happy to supply us with complimentary water even if we are not buying food at that moment.  Water bottles are too heavy, leave them at home or in your resort/hotel room. IMG_4238.jpg
  2.  Large Bag or Back Pack – Bless his heart, my poor husband has toted a heavy back pack throughout the Disney parks many times over the years.  He actually doesn’t mind so much carrying a backpack, but I’m not a fan.  It’s much too hot and heavy to haul all day long.   If you must take a backpack, be very careful what you pack in the bag. (NO water bottles!) I have small drawstring bags that my boys can carry on their backs for their phone, passes or wallet. IMG_7806 I like to use a small crossbody style purse or small bag.  The key is to keep it small and only bring essentials for the day.  I will bring a credit card, photo i.d., small travel size sunscreen, travel size antibacterial soap, chapstick and my phone. That’s it.  Nice and light.
  3. New Shoes – Never wear your cute new shoes into the parks.  You will be walking ALOT!!!  So. much. walking…. You will get hot and you may get wet if it rains or you ride a water ride.  I’m sure you don’t want to get your new kicks wet and smelly, PLUS you should wear shoes that are tried and true in terms of comfort.  Be kind to your feet and wear your most comfortable shoes that are already broken in.  If you must wear your cute new shoes, save them for a fun night out at one of Disney’s great restaurants.  But please don’t wear uncomfortable shoes, that’s the best way to wear yourself out and ruin your feet for the rest of  your vacation.

There you have it…my top three tips for now!  Let me know what you like to take in the park!!!

 

 

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Three of my favorite Quick Service restaurants at Epcot’s World Showcase

IMG_4233Yorkshire County Fish shop – $11.49
There is only one entree option at this quick service restaurant but it’s a great one. The fish and chips are crispy on the outside, flakey on the inside and fabulously greasy straight out of the fryer… Certainly nothing healthy about it, but well worth the risk.  Just make sure to walk off all those extra calories – that should’t be a problem at Epcot! The fried fish is served with extra large steak fries and an assortment of condiments. Probably my favorite thing about this place is the outdoor patio seating. The tables are located to the right of the restaurant on the water. It provides a beautifully manicured view of the water and England Pavilion, just beware of the insanely hungry ducks and egrets lurking under every table. This is a nice stop for a quick snack to share with someone or enjoy for lunch or dinner. Our trip is not complete unless eating our beloved fish n chips at the England pavilion in Epcot!IMG_3276

Pro: Good food and ambiance
Con: Hungry birds galore!

IMG_4413Les Halles boulangerie patisserie: located in the back of the France pavilion in Epcot. It opens in the morning to provide a wonderful breakfast option. Add a piping hot cup of coffee or espresso and your in business. We usually eat here for a late afternoon “pick me up” snack. My favorite snack here is the mousse which costs $4.50. The mousse is chocolate, decadent and absolutely divine, it has a perfectly rich consistency and is absolutely delicious. The seating is not ideal at this quick service location in my opinion. It is an extremely popular restaurant and is usually very crowded. The inside seating area lacks some of the Disney ambiance that we have become accustomed to. You’re essentially dining in the France Pavilion gift shop. It’s quite difficult to even score a table at the eatery, it’s not unusual to have people pacing and waiting to lunge as soon as those with a table swallow their last bite. There are some quaint outdoor tables which provide a better Disney dining experience and has the beautiful Disney “esque” theming that we all know and love. This restaurant also offers a wide variety of sandwiches, quiche and an assortment of breads and cheeses as well.

Pro: Opens early with park opening – Most of World Showcase is closed until later in the morning but Les Halles opens early to provide a wonderful breakfast option.
Con: Seating is limited and difficult to obtain

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La Cantina de San Angel, located in the Mexico Pavilion: My favorite go to menu item here is the Tacos de Pescado – Seasoned Fried Fish, Homemade Corn Tortillas, Mexican Rice, Refried Black Beans, Slaw, and Habanero Aïoli – $12.50.  The portion sizes are not super huge, but definitely big enough for a decent lunch. The tacos taste fresh and the entree comes with all my favorite sides. I love the location, the tables are outside and several are right on the water with spectaculars views of the World Showcase Lagoon.  It’s a great location to watch the fireworks show, “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth”, if you can time it just right and land the perfect table. The lines can get very long at this quick service restaurant and tables are sometimes hard to come by but If you love Mexican food, you can’t go wrong here.

Pro: Great location on the lake and for watching fireworks
Con: Long lines to order

Travel, Uncategorized

Best of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party for 2018!

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thumbnail-2One of the best memories of our families Disney World trips over the years has to be taking our boys to “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” at the Magic Kingdom park. We have done it a couple of times and it is phenomenal. This is a special ticketed event and runs on select evenings throughout the holiday season. There are several special event entertainment options, character meet and greets and food and merchandise that can only be purchased at MVMCP. The tickets start at $99 per person, see Disney’s website for event dates and complete ticket information. As I mentioned in earlier blogs about the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween event, you are able to enter the park starting at 4:00 p.m. even though the official party does not start until 7:00. I recommend doing this so you can get some of your favorite rides out of the way (most rides are running during the event as well) and enjoy the park while you still have some daylight.

Top 4 MVMCP Exclusive Shows and Entertainment:

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration is a castle stage show that runs four times throughout the evening which includes Mickey and many of his friends, check your event brochure for showtimes.

A Frozen Holiday Wish: the spectacular lighting of the castle is performed at 8:15.

Once Upon a Christmas Time Parade: catch the early parade at 8:30 or wait for the crowds to thin out and see the later parade at 11:00, but don’t miss this.

Holiday Wishes Fireworks Show: this is a 360 degree show around the castle which uses the former “Wishes” theme hosted by Jiminy Cricket and is set to all the favorite holiday classics. This is one you definitely won’t want to miss, there is only one show at 10:00.

thumbnailBest in Food during the MVMCP!

Complimentary Food Items can be found throughout the park during MVMCP. Just look for the large inflatable peppermint sticks at each participating location or check your park map to find the “all you can eat” treat stations. Here is a list of all the delicious complimentary holiday drinks and foods:

Hot Chocolate
Apple Cider
Red Santa Mickey Sugar Cookie on Main Street
Assorted Cookies throughout park: Chocolate Chip, Molasses, Sugar and Peppermint Chip
Snowcones
Pretzels
Chocolates
Food allergy options as well

If you are still hungry, there are plenty of party exclusive foods and sugary treats on the menu to help you get into the holiday spirit at several of Magic Kingdom’s popular restaurants:

Main Street Bakery:
Chocolate Yule Log with MVMCP candy on top
Mickey’s Ornament Gingerbread Cookie

Cosmic Rays:
Holiday burger with cheese, stuffing, turkey and cranberry sauce on a burger with Texas toast and fries. I have not had this, but I’ve heard it’s actually quite good.

Pecos Bill:
Three Caballeros Spiced Chocolate Yule Log
Feliz Navidad Nachos

Gastons Tavern:
Vanilla Fruity Pebbles Eclaire

Sleepy Hollow:
Santa Clause Dessert: fondant toy bag with cinnamon spiced cake inside
Red Velvet Waffles Sundae

Storybook treats:
Scrooge Mc Duck Eggnog Custard Dessert
Peppermint Sundae

See Disney’s website for dining plans, dessert and fireworks party reservations or Tony’s Most Merriest Town Square Party Buffet from 9:30 – 12:30 with reserved viewing area for parade.

thumbnail-1MVMCP Disney Character Experiences:

All the delightful Disney characters will be available during the celebration dressed up in their holiday attire. Don’t miss an exclusive meet and greet with Jack Skelington dressed up like Sandy Claws accompanied by Sally for the first time. This is a very popular meet and greet so get in line early for this one if you want to meet these beloved characters! Don’t forget Scrooge Mc Duck and all of The Seven Dwarfs will be on hand for the perfect holiday picture.

Some of the Specialty MVMCP Merchandise:
MVMCP Pins
Alex and Ani Bracelets
Holiday event T-shirts
Holiday event Magic bands
MVMCP Mugs

Last but not least: Enjoy some Florida snow on Main Street and meet Santa clause in the Candy Cane Garden close to guest services, you will also see him in the parade.

There is so much more to see and do…If you are thinking about going to this magical event…get your tickets now before it’s sold out! You will not regret it, there is no better way to get into the Christmas Spirit than at Magic Kingdom with Mickey Mouse and all his friends for a heartwarming experience with your family and friends! Check out disneyworld.disney.go.com for all the details you will need to plan your fabulous time at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!thumbnail-4