The Newest Vacation Rental in Orlando

I'm so excited to share my most recent article in PLAYGROUND magazine. Friends from my hometown in Pennsylvania have created the most amazing vacation rental space here in Orlando. Click through to read about the inspiration behind this awesome home and how you can book your stay.   Follow our family Read more

Park City, Utah Skiing With The Family

It's been awhile since the entire family went west, but it was time! I had a few snickers when I announced our plans to embark on a ski adventure with the entire family to Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. But, then again places that people don't Read more

Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

Today, as we are planning our first adventure of 2015 to Park City, Utah, I took some time to reflect on our 2014 year in travel. What a year of discovery it has been! This year our adventures took us across the pond. We explored all of the play spots 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

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

Orlando

The Newest Vacation Rental in Orlando

I’m so excited to share my most recent article in PLAYGROUND magazine. Friends from my hometown in Pennsylvania have created the most amazing vacation rental space here in Orlando. Click through to read about the inspiration behind this awesome home and how you can book your stay.

Orlando's Newest Vacation Home

Orlando’s Newest Vacation Home

 

Follow our family travel & food adventures in 2015 live on Instagram and Twitter! Happy travels!

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Park City, Utah Skiing With The Family

It’s been awhile since the entire family went west, but it was time! I had a few snickers when I announced our plans to embark on a ski adventure with the entire family to Park City, Utah during the Sundance Film Festival. But, then again places that people don’t think of as typical family travel locations, festivals or events are what draw me in.

The Mamma Mia Blog Park City Utah

Charli’s first glance out of the gondola

Our trip was quick – four days, but packed with fun. The Canyons was an awesome place to rest our heads and enjoy lots and lots of onsite activities. We opted for a two bedroom, three bathroom full kitchen condo at the Silverado Lodge. It was perfect for the five of us and reasonably priced too. We found a package deal through AMEX Travel.

Snow play in the village at The Canyons

Snow play and face painting  in the village at The Canyons

The girls were able to partake in ski school and I took a refresher course myself. I caution the ski school prices seemed high, but in comparison to other ski resorts, they are pretty much standard. I have to add that ski school was totally worth the investment.

The layout of this place is absolutely incredible, with eclectic food and drink options around every corner, but relaxed enough to pop in with the entire family. Plus, crazy, amazing views everywhere you look! Shuttles run regularly, which was important because the Silverado Lodge was a short walk to the main lodge.

The Mamma Mia Blog Park City Utah

Soaking in the beautiful scenery

We were in town during the Sundance Film Festival and were able to explore the town of Park City and soak in the hustle and bustle of the festival. We didn’t catch a flick (I wanted to get on a wait list), but our time was limited and the ski weather was just too good to miss. Truly our favorite area for relaxing at The Canyons, was the Ski Beach. This was the prime location for food and drink as well as snow play and catching all of the action.

The Mamma Mia Blog Park City

The Ski Beach at The Canyons

We’ll be back to The Canyons next year for sure! On our return, we plan to exploring more of downtown Park City… if we ever leave the Ski Beach that is.

The Mamma Mia Blog Park City

Until next year!

Follow our family travel & food adventures in 2015 live on Instagram and Twitter! Happy travels!

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Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

Today, as we are planning our first adventure of 2015 to Park City, Utah, I took some time to reflect on our 2014 year in travel. What a year of discovery it has been!

This year our adventures took us across the pond. We explored all of the play spots Paris has to offer and mastered navigating the metro. We even found our way to Roland Garros for my little tennis fan and explored the Louvre, Eiffel and Notre Dame. We definitely took in Paris.

Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

Paris 2014

This non-Harry Potter fan was transformed after tagging along on a Harry Potter black cab tour through London. I escaped through an emergency exit in the London Dungeon, giving everyone a good laugh, and was mesmerized and forever changed by a morning at Westminster Abby.

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

Back in the states and on the lovely west coast of Florida, we experienced the eclectic Post Card Inn in St. Petersburg and Mia was able to master the long board at surf school. An anniversary weekend away in Sand Key near Clearwater Beach led to a new appreciation of shell searching.

Mamma Mia Surf School St. Pete Beach

Surfing in St. Pete Beach

The Waldorf Astoria Orlando was the perfect locale to kick off our summer and our first ever Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas was one to remember (and learn from – stay tuned for future post on that experience).

Myrtle Beach in South Carolina gave us a week of family fun with our family from Pennsylvania. We found fall (and maybe a future vacation home location) in picturesque Dahlonega, GA and introduced the girls to Piedmont Park and the Flying Biscuit in Atlanta.

Finding Fall in Dahlonega - The Mamma Mia Blog

Finding Fall in Dahlonega

I witnessed the best that LA food trucks have to offer and was able to catch a glimpse of Disney Land during a quick solo trip to California.

We closed out 2014 with a trip to Seven Springs near my hometown in Pennsylvania to partake in snow tubing and roll around in the fluffy white stuff that we don’t get back in Florida.

Snow Tubing Seven Springs

Snow Tubing Seven Springs

As we forge ahead into the new year, I once again hope to become more minimalistic when it comes to material things and spend what we have on experiences that we will remember for a lifetime.

Best wishes for a very Happy (and adventure filled) New Year!

Follow our family travel & food adventures in 2015 live on Instagram and Twitter! Happy travels!

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Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

Mamma Mia 2014 Year in Travel

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Orlando Staycation Family Favorite Winners

Local parents voted on their fave Orlando staycation spots and the results have been released!  I wrote about the winners in this issue of PLAYGROUND magazine.

Take a look at the top spots from local families who know. From best resort pool to best resort on a budget and best family suite, this list is for locals for sure, but also great info for visitors to Orlando.

Orlando Staycation Picks

Staycation Picks 2014 PLAYGROUND Family Favorite Awards

 

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Finding Fall in Dahlonega

Living in Florida, the girls don’t get a real taste of fall weather. We travel to snow every winter, but have never traveled to experience fall. This year, when Mia asked where we could go to see fall, I knew we needed a road trip. Their dad had been camping several times in North Georgia and suggested we pack our bags and get on the road for Dahlonega, GA – about 7 hours from Orlando.

As we drove, we began to see and feel changes in the air and trees. It was quite amazing to watch the world transform. (Especially for me, who tries to steer clear of driving trips over 4 hours!) What we discovered and experienced once we arrived in the Dahlonega, puts this adventure on my top 5 list of my favorite weekend trips. I’m not sure if it was being immersed in the beauty of a season I barely recognized after 12 years living in Florida or if it was the happiness on the girls faces as they basked in all the glory fall has to offer.

Monteluce Winery - The Mamma Mia Blog

First stop Monteluce Winery for lunch and fun in the vineyard

 

Dahlonega, GA - Travel with Kids

Dahlonega has a quaint downtown area with great restaurants, cafes and shops.

 

Amicolola Hike - Travel With Kids The Mamma Mia Blog

We stayed at the Amicolola Lodge, which was perfect for hiking and family adventure.

This trip will remain etched in my memory in a way I never could have imagined. I’m already making plans to go back next year. This is what family travel is all about.

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

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Spooktacular Fun!

We love to visit SeaWorld during Halloween for their annual Spooktacular event. The girls are obsessed with the many creatures of the sea and SeaWorld does a great job tying in trick or treating fun with learning about our world’s oceans.

Spooktacular takes place weekends in October! Get all the details here. 

SeaWorld Spooktacular

Bubbles are a must at Spooktacular.

 

SeaWorld Spooktacular

Meeting new friends who wanted to dance

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And another friend who wanted to dance

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

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Florida Ocean Adventure

Mia is doing really well in school, and some parents may disagree, but I believe hands on experiences are a great way to reward a child that meets their goals. Plus, I needed a day to reconnect with the girls and a Florida ocean adventure was calling our name. We had plans to head south from Orlando to visit friends in Jupiter, FL Friday afternoon. I felt like there had to be a fun stop off on the way.

A quick Google search “Marine Centers on Treasure Coast” provided me with a link to the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center in Hutchinson Island, FL… About 2 hours south of Orlando. Perfect!

The website said stingray feeding was at 1 pm, followed by a turtle talk at 2 pm and so we were on our way.

Touch Tank Florida Oceanographic

First stop, the Touch Tank!

 

Florida Oceanographic Center

Next stop, the lagoon to say hi to friends.

The volunteer staff on hand were great with the kids and extremely informative. We went on a Friday afternoon so we were three of about 12 folks there around 1 pm for stingray feeding. The volunteers even urged me to get more involved holding a sea urchin or two instead of just taking pics.

Florida Oceanographic Center

Then lots more learning disguised as fun.

Hutchinson Island

Perfect end to a perfect day!

Lucky for us the Oceanographic Coastal Center is right on the beach at Hutchinson Island! The beach was deserted (but had lifeguards). We opened our picnic lunch and played tag with the waves.

So, the details – this is a 57-acre marine life nature center located on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, FL situated between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. As a leading state and nationally recognized environmental organization, Florida Oceanographic offers Educational Programs to people of all ages and conducts Research and Restoration programs that lead to healthy coastal ecosystems.

The cost to enter is minimal and I encourage anyone traveling or living close by to visit this amazing place and make a donation to preserve our Florida oceans.

Just about 40 minutes south is the Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Beach. You can read about it here.

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

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Little Passports – A Ticket To A Global Adventure

Little Passports Review

Exciting package from Little Passports

I love to read about far off places. When I have the chance, I love to travel to far off places. My kids seem to have acquired this same passion for exploring the globe, which is why I am pretty obsessed with Little Passports.

Last year, we traveled to Paris and London. While it’s not in the budget to travel internationally often, that doesn’t mean we have to stop exploring.

Sign up for a Little Passports subscription and your kiddo can follow Sam and Sofia on their exciting adventures around the US and the world. This is a super fun way to inspire love and understanding of the world while learning about geography, history, culture, and language in a fun and memorable way.

Here’s how it works – Each month kids follow characters Sam and Sofia as they embark on a new country adventure. The first month’s Explorer Kit arrives in a suitcase and contains everything your child needs to get started: a letter from Sam and Sofia, a map, a passport, stickers, access to online games and more. Country specific packages filled with fun souvenirs, letters, stickers, photos, activity sheets and more arrive every month thereafter.

Our first destination was Brazil. Mia spent hours looking through the contents of her Brazil package. There was even an amethyst from mine in Maraba. Now she is asking where Sam and Sofia will go next.

Most of us don’t have the budget, or time, to go trotting across the globe, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop exploring! This is my new “go to” gift for kid’s birthdays and holidays for sure.

Happy Exploring!

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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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