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

Travel

Summer Kick Off At Enchanted Evenings Waldorf Orlando

Enchanted Evenings Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Enchanted Evenings Waldorf Astoria Orlando

If you are looking for a fun Orlando family staycation or are visiting the area this summer, you must check out Enchanted Evenings at Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

We kicked off our summer again this year at the Waldorf. The entire crew was over the top excited to not only count down to end of school, but count down to Waldorf weekend 2015. (It’s now a tradition)

Our absolute favorite thing about the Waldorf is the pool area that features lawn games and cozy places to lounge. All summer during Enchanted Evenings, there are special activities at the pool like scavenger hunts, lawn games, derby car building and racing, fun fireside stories next to the humungous fire pit, smore’s night and Kids Club Astoria After Dark. The zero entry pool is awesome and Aquamarine has a great selection of food (for everyone in the family) and cocktails.

The new texting concierge service is now my favorite perk at the Waldorf. Sitting poolside with a question about dinner and all I had to do was text the concierge!

Enchanted Evenings Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Mamma Mia Blog Kicks off Summer!

Parents who are looking to get away at the spa or the amazing onsite restaurant Bull & Bear can make a reservation through the concierge and automatically get a $50 credit per child for Kids Club Astoria After Dark (which is $75 per child). Now, that’s a hard offer to turn down.

The kids love, love, love Oscar’s for breakfast. This buffet is huge and everything is fresh and pretty much just awesomely delish. There are fresh squeezed juices like carrot orange and melon juices, cheeses, fruits, pastries and an entire hot bar with cooks preparing crepes and omelettes to order.

Our room had a pool view this year and we were able to kick back, relax and enjoy the Disney fireworks display both evenings! I’ve seen those fireworks from many a location and this might be my favorite – on the balcony with a glass of wine surrounded by my family.

Enchanted Evenings runs through September 6 and rates start at $199. A full line up of activities is listed here.

As always, happy travels!

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

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We were provided with a complimentary stay at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, but all opinions and views shared are my own.

 

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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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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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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

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

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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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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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