Enchanted Evenings At Waldorf Astoria Orlando

The Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, near Disney, has an unimaginable amount family fun going on this summer during Enchanted Evenings. Enchanted Evenings schedule of events happen every weekend through Labor Day. We had the chance to stay at the Waldorf Astoria, in a two bedroom suite perfect for families, during Read more

Family Getaway Postcard Inn St. Pete Beach

A few weeks ago, our family, along with two other Orlando families,ventured to St. Pete beach on the Gulf Coast to celebrate a little friend's 8th birthday at the Postcard Inn. I was attracted to the aesthetics of this trendy spot since it was transformed from a Travelodge in Read more

Best Play Spots in Paris

It's almost three weeks since we returned from Europe, and I've finally sifted through my photos. I felt like my first post should talk about the fun playgrounds/parks in Paris. What an awesome experience to see the girls jumping right into the mix at playgrounds many miles from their Read more

Fun Travel Prep for Kids - Paris & London

It's not everyday you travel over the pond to such amazing places like Paris and London. I decided to start the journey for me and Mia long before we packed our bags for the airport. Here are a few fun things we did to get ready and excited! My brother sent Read more

Hidden Gem: Sand Key Florida

My other half planned a short getaway for our nine year anniversary. I wasn't exactly sure where we were headed, but knew it was somewhere around Clearwater Beach. As we drove over the bridge to Clearwater, I kept expecting a turn off at one of the many beach hotels. To my surprise Read more

Westin Cape Coral Weekend Getaway

Most of you who follow my Instagram or Twitter know that we had a fabulously fun weekend at the Westin in Cape Coral, FL a few weeks ago. The property became a Westin in December of 2013 and underwent a plethora of renovations, which I believe puts it in the best Read more

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

We finally had the chance to visit Disney's Art of Animation Resort this week for a little staycation. It is located where construction on the unfinished half of Disney's Pop Century Resort was started, but later abandoned after 9/11. The resort is the first to be built in the complex Read more

Meeting Winter - Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Most of the world has seen (or at least heard of) the movie Dolphin Tale. The story highlights the rescue of a wounded dolphin who ends up losing one very important important thing... a tale! The Clearwater Marine Aquarium works hard in the movie to create a prosthetic tail just Read more

Giveaways

DK Travel Guide Giveaway – London, Paris, New York & Italy

Win 4-Pack of Travel Guide Books!

Win 4-Pack of Travel Guide Books!

The DK travel guide covers are recognizable to just about everyone. Hard to believe that DK’s Eyewitness Travel guides have been around for 20 years. This summer, guides to iconic destinations like Italy, Ireland, London, Paris, and New York City received a makeover.

As many of you know we embarked on a journey to Paris and London a few months back. We pulled from multiple resources for our trip, but this new revamped London guide is definitely a perfect one stop shop for your London travel. Mia had a great time perusing the book reminiscing about our London trip.

I love to give away books on Mamma Mia, but especially travel related books! I’m excited to give away a 4-pack from DK including the new London,Paris, Italy and New York City guide books. Perfect for planning a trip or just dreaming about one! The pack is valued at $100.

Travel Guide Book Giveaway

4 Travel Guides Worth $100

How to Win:

  • Leave a comment letting me know which location you’d most like to visit out of the four books.
  • Follow DK Travel (@dk_travel) on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did.
  • Like DK Travel on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did.

I’ll select a winner on Monday, August 4 at 3 pm.

Happy Travels!

This contest is open to residents of US/Canada only. I was provide with a copy of the DK London guide for review. All opinions on The Mamma Mia Blog are my own. Photographs and text reproduced by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House ©2014 by DK.

 

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Enchanted Evenings At Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Waldorf Astoria Enchanted Evenings

Waldorf Astoria Pool Entrance

The Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, near Disney, has an unimaginable amount family fun going on this summer during Enchanted Evenings. Enchanted Evenings schedule of events happen every weekend through Labor Day.

We had the chance to stay at the Waldorf Astoria, in a two bedroom suite perfect for families, during the kick-off of Enchanted Evenings. The girls finished school on Wednesday so it was the perfect way to celebrate summer.

Enchanted Evenings at Waldorf had fun poolside activities for the kids including Water Walkers. (Take a look at this video of Mia taking advantage.) She never stopped laughing. Other family friendly activities taking place around the hotel were a Weird Science Ice Cream Social, Regatta Sailboat Decorating, Kids Club Astoria After Dark and Family S’mores Night. The full schedule of events is here.

We spent a lot of time at the zero entry pool, perfect for the girls. I heard several guests raving about the Lime In he Coconut poolside cocktail and had to try it out. This drink was heavenly! Just a five minute walk from the Waldorf pool is the Hilton Bonnet Creek (where there’s another schedule of family activities for Summer Blast) pool and lazy river. I’ll have a post coming ASAP on Hilton Bonnet Creek’s festivities, which you are welcome to enjoy as a guest at Waldorf.

Ice Cream Social Waldorf Astoria

Ice Cream Social Waldorf Astoria

Oscar’s for breakfast was the highlight of our mornings. The breakfast buffet left us full through lunch. I couldn’t get enough of the fresh squeezed juices like – carrot and watermelon. The girls had to be carried away from the pastry display.

Service, in true Waldorf style, was impeccable and even Mia commented on the friendliness of the staff. As a testament to the family fun we had, our 3-yr-old cried in the lobby saying she never wanted to leave.

Summer rates during Enchanted Evenings start at $249. This location is perfect for your Orlando staycation (like us) or families visiting Orlando on summer break.

Follow our family travel & food adventures live on Instagram and Twitter! 

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Waldorf Astoria

The girls in the Waldorf lobby looking out to pool

Enchanted Evenings Waldorf Astoria

Relaxing after a fun filled day! 

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Family Getaway Postcard Inn St. Pete Beach

Postcard Inn

A few weeks ago, our family, along with two other Orlando families,ventured to St. Pete beach on the Gulf Coast to celebrate a little friend’s 8th birthday at the Postcard Inn. I was attracted to the aesthetics of this trendy spot since it was transformed from a Travelodge in 2009 and was super excited to finally check it out in person.

Postcard is extremely unique with a 70s style hipster Florida ambiance… think faded photographs of surfers and other beach scenes on the walls of the rooms and  couches and chairs that look like they’ve been handpicked from a thrift store. This is not your run of the mill beach property.

The kids loved the outdoor movie on Friday evening in the garden. The birthday girls’ mom had the necessities to make S’mores so our the crew was able to enjoy sweet snacks while watching a kiddie flick. A local surf instructor, recommended by the front desk, gave the girls an hour long surf lesson Saturday morning. This was the highlight of their weekend for sure.

The hotel pool is huge. Nothing fancy, but reminisce of your 70s beach side pool with the perfect view. Wait staff circle the lounge chairs to take Postcard Inn St. Pete Beachfood and drink orders, but during busy times, I recommend popping over to the snack window or stopping off at the bar to order.

The clientele was a mix of locals hanging out at the beach side bar, families and couples. The beach on the spring Saturday we were there was definitely more calm and family friendly during the morning hours from 9 am – 12 pm. After that, it was bustling with locals and early 20 somethings who wanted to be stationed near the beach bar on a Saturday afternoon.

Rates are reasonable and Florida resident rates are almost always available. The garden rooms were we stayed went through a complete overhaul last year and the poolside cabana rooms will be updated next fall.

If you are looking for the swank surroundings and service you’d receive at the Ritz, this isn’t the spot for you. However if you are looking for an eclectic laid back beach weekend, I say this is the place to be.

Postcard Inn

Follow our family travel & food adventures live on Instagram and Twitter!

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PS – The giant swan float traveled with our group from Orlando. Not property of Postcard Inn.

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Best Play Spots in Paris

It’s almost three weeks since we returned from Europe, and I’ve finally sifted through my photos. I felt like my first post should talk about the fun playgrounds/parks in Paris. What an awesome experience to see the girls jumping right into the mix at playgrounds many miles from their home. We only had three days in the City of Love, but found some awesome kids spots to share and recommend.

Jardin Du Luxembourg - Or as Mia calls it “the largest playground in the world.” Check out this kiddie zipline in our video. It was 1 Euro to enter, but totally worth the minimal cost. The park is in the garden of the French Senate located within the Luxembourg Palace.

Luxembourg Palace

Luxembourg Palace

 


Jardin des Tuileries – Perfect stop after visiting the Louvre. This garden was created in 1554 and located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde! Grassy areas to picnic, a cool playground, food vendors (including cotton candy) and a trampoline park in the midst of it all.

Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre

Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre

Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre

Jardin des Tuileries near the Louvre

Gardens surrounding the play area

Gardens surrounding the play area

 

Parc de Bercy Right near our hotel in Bercy Village was the huge Bercy Parc area connecting 12 beautiful gardens. The girls loved the winding paths and of course the fun play area. The parc is situated on the bank of the Sienne so you can take a peek at the famous river and the city.

 

Just minutes from our Hotel Kyriad Bercy was this quaint park

Just minutes from our Hotel Kyriad Bercy

These trees were just days away from blooming

These trees were just days away from blooming

Taking a glimpse of the Sienne

Getting a glimpse of the Sienne

 

Check back for more posts from our Europe adventure! I promise I’m getting through these photos and memories and will have lots to share to help you plan or dream about your next family trip.

Follow our family travel adventures live on Instagram and Twitter!

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Fun Travel Prep for Kids – Paris & London

It’s not everyday you travel over the pond to such amazing places like Paris and London. I decided to start the journey for me and Mia long before we packed our bags for the airport. Here are a few fun things we did to get ready and excited!

Kiddie Travel Journal

Kiddie Travel Journal

My brother sent an awesome kids travel journal so Mia could document her first international trip. She created her packing list, wrote down what she thinks will be her favorite things and even drew in pictures of what she imagines will happen on her trip. There are pages for pre, during and post trip. The journal is simplistic and is an easy and great way to document the adventure through your child’s eyes.

We visited our local library and found multiple gems like Kidding Around London and Count Your Way Through France. Books that talk about landmarks and quirky facts are the best. For instance did you know a baguette can be up to three feet?

The library also had a London and Paris DVD from the series Travel With Kids that we were able to check out.

Mia received the book Charlotte in Paris, from my sister. While in Paris, Charlotte dines at a cafe on the Champs-Elysees, watches a marionette show in the Tuileries gardens and celebrates her birthday at the Eiffel Tower. Mia will celebrate her 8th birthday at the Eiffel Tower as well! Perfect.

Charlotte in Paris

Charlotte in Paris

Last but not least, Mia has been working on the fun kids language app Duolingo for weeks. She is not speaking fluent French just yet, but she definitely knows more than me and is going to have fun recognizing and hearing words she knows.

I can’t wait to share the fun details of our upcoming travels.

Follow our journey on Instagram and Twitter!

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Hidden Gem: Sand Key Florida

My other half planned a short getaway for our nine year anniversary. I wasn’t exactly sure where we were headed, but knew it was somewhere around Clearwater Beach.

Marriott Sand Key

Marriott Sand Key

As we drove over the bridge to Clearwater, I kept expecting a turn off at one of the many beach hotels.

To my surprise we headed over a bridge away from Clearwater Beach and turned into the Marriott Sand Key.

We only had Saturday and Sunday to spend in the area, but I can tell you this was pure paradise. Close enough to Clearwater tourist area to enjoy the pier and shops if you wanted, but far enough that you are amongst residential condos and free to enjoy a beach undergoing a nourishment project that welcomes a plethora of amazing shells.

Sand Key Beach

Sand Key Beach

The Marriott Sand Key has an amazing pool area, kids club (We’ll be back withthe kids), restaurants (on location and nearby), fun water sports, tiki bar, great room views and friendly staff.

We will definitely be back!

Be sure to follow more of our family travel & adventures on Instagram!

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Orlando Parents Vote On Their Local Hotel Favorites

Living in one of the most visited locations in the world means that families living in Orlando have a plethora of options when it comes to a staycation. Readers of PLAYGROUND magazine voted on their top staycation choices in town and I had the pleasure of writing about the results. I was also able to throw a few faves of my own in there. I think it’s a must read for Orlando parents and really any family traveling to Otown. Click below for the full article (pages 32-34)

Staycations in our backyard!

Staycations in our backyard!

Be sure to follow our family travel adventures on Instagram!

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Florida Turtle Adventure

During a recent trip to visit friends in Jupiter, FL, we stumbled upon the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. This place is amazing. We knew it was amazing when we saw the designated “after hours turtle hatchling drop off” area at the entrance. The girls wandered through a small aquarium area before heading out near the beach to the state of the art turtle rehabilitation area.

Intrigued with this turtle's story...

Intrigued with this turtle’s story…

Each tank had a different turtle with a unique rescue story. An educator stood at each tank to talk to guests about the turtle’s situation and plan for rehabilitation. From the rehab tank area, you can peek into the indoor medical care area to observe turtles being looked after or undergoing medical testing.

Most all of these turtles will be returned to their natural habitat within days or weeks. Others that are not fit to be released back into the wild will remain or be sent to larger aquarium environments were they will thrive.

New turtle friends.

New turtle friends

The Loggerhead Center is a hidden gem and a wonderful place to take the family. Be sure to stop off on your next trip to South Florida.

 

If you can’t make it to Florida, go to the Center’s website where you can track the progress of their turtles, adopt a turtle of your own or even view a live turtle cam.

Guests are recommended to make a donation upon entering, but there’s no set admission cost.

Follow our family travel adventures on Instagram!

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Westin Cape Coral Weekend Getaway

Most of you who follow my Instagram or Twitter know that we had a fabulously fun weekend at the Westin in Cape Coral, FL a few weeks ago. The property became a Westin in December of 2013 and underwent a plethora of renovations, which I believe puts it in the best hotel category on the West Coast of Florida.

Ready to set sail.

Ready to set sail.

The hotel is tucked away off of I-75, south of Sarasota and in the small canal filled town of Cape Coral. The drive was three hours from Orlando and from what other guests at the resort said, it was around two and a half hours from West Palm airport. The property is not beach front, but it is on the water with access to Fort Myers beach via water taxi direct from the resort. We took advantage of the water taxi and even spotted a few dolphins on our journey.

Our room was a two-bedroom suite with two bathrooms, a full kitchen plus a washer and dryer. Perfect set-up for a family. All the Westin’s rooms have private screened-in balconies with views of the Gulf of Mexico or the river. Your stay includes a ton of amenities including guest access to three pools, bike rentals, tennis courts and daily resort activities.

Westin Kids Club

Westin Kids Club

The Westin Kids Club, for ages 4 to 12, was definitely a high point of Mia’s trip. Parents can opt for a half-day ($40) or a full day ($70). She did the half day session, which included lunch (bonus!) and crafts.

Not a shabby coffee view.

Not a shabby coffee view.

She made a cute little beach themed tote bag and a colorful flower pot. The Kids Club takes the older kids on outdoor excursions when the weather permits.

The Westin staff was extremely friendly and helpful. From Taylor at the front desk to the wait staff at Marker 92, the onsite restaurant. Taylor was actually one of the main attractions for my kids as they requested continuously to go by and say hi.

 

I spoke with several guests who had scored a variety of room rates. A couple was staying in a room with two double beds for $85 per night. It looks like our two-bedroom suite was going for $195 in October. The fall is the slow season for Florida hotels, but the weather is amazing.

Beautiful views are everywhere!

Beautiful views are everywhere!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a mom of two, well let’s say highly energetic girls, the Westin Cape Coral was perfect and fun for all of us.

Follow our family travel adventures on Instagram!

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary stay at the Westin Cape Coral to review their new Westin Kids Club. All thoughts and opinions about the Westin Cape Coral are my own. 

 

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Family Fun At Idlewild Park

I’ve been meaning to post about a summer day trip we took while at my parent’s house in the Pittsburgh area. We had the chance to visit Idlewild Park, just about an hour outside of Pittsburgh.

Family fun at Idlewild

Family fun at Idlewild

I grew up going to Idlewild, and remarkably, not a whole lot has changed. However, this park somehow manages to keep the new generation of kids just as entertained as the one before. Not to mention the park was just awarded the Golden Ticket for Best Children’s Park by Amusement Today Magazine

Storybook Forest, Jumping Jungle, Olde Idlewild and Soak Zone are the main areas at Idlewild. The park is just big enough to not be exhausting. As a parent, this is VERY important. We all loved strolling through Storybook Forest and interacting with the nursery rhyme characters. Charli tried desperately to remove the sword from the stone. Jumping Jungle had all of us, grown ups included, jumping into the ball pit and rope climbing like champions. We were ready for our picnic lunch after all the jumping. We brought a cooler (yes, you can do that at Idlewild) and left it at a picnic table near our car.

Idlewild Park and Soak Zone

Idlewild Park and Soak Zone

After lunch, we broke apart – little kids went to ride Olde Idlewild’s kiddie rides and the kids at heart went on some of the more thrilling rides in Olde Idlewild. We didn’t make it to the Soak Zone during this trip, but you can get all the details here. From what I’ve heard, the Soak Zone aligns with the rest of the park and has areas that are fun for every age.

Often, there are deals at Giant Eagle or other local businesses in the Pittsburgh area so keep an eye out. The park is a summer family favorite, but they are also open for weekends in September and October and have family Halloween activities. Campgrounds are close by and if you are visiting the Pittsburgh area, it’s just a short drive.

I wanted to post this info because so many friends had asked about my Instagram and Facebook photos from our trip. It really lives up to its accolade as Best Children’s Park. Next summer seems far off, but keep Idlewild top of mind when you start to plan!

Keep up with our family adventures through my Instagram.
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