Family Travel | Fun Tips For Your Mountain Weekend Winter Vacay in Asheville, NC


In our home, we try to apply this rule Long Weekends = Family Vacay
..and since we all had MLK Day off Monday + our daughter had no school on Tuesday due to a teacher workday, 
it was the perfect reason to take a roadtrip and enjoy a change of scenery! This time we made plans to drive to Asheville, NC.

From Raleigh, NC it took us about 4 hours to arrive. Our 9 year old was so excited to have a mountain vacay and so were we! Although this is not our first time visiting AVL, it has been quite a few years and she doesn’t remember much. Our experience will be different, new memories will be made and a balance of fun and relaxtion is always on the agenda.
If you are planning a family trip to Asheville, NC this winter, take a look at our family vacay experience featuring some kid-friendly and family fun tips for you to enjoy!



Arrive | Saturday


SEE & SIP: We made a pit stop in Black Mountain, NC to see the Roberta Flack Mural located on the side of the Black Mountain Brewing building. I am a big fan of her music and was excited to see how they paid homage to this African American female artist! While there, make sure to have one of their unique beers that are brewed daily and see why this area is known for it’s craft beer culture and breweries. For the kids, they have chips and a food truck on the outside patio to grab snacks from. 

SobeSavvy Tip: If you are bringing the family pet along, no worries… friendly dogs in leashes are allowed!


EAT: We were ready to eat lunch when we arrived to Asheville and Itto Ramen Bar & Tapas fit the bill because the menu offers something for the whole family. We started with some tasty tapas (my kid loved the Itto gyoza dumplings and Itto Buns were perfect for my family of 3 because you get 3 to an order). If you enjoy sushi, the Yellowtail Jalapeno is a must try! Want something deliciously fried: order the Crab Rangoon or Takoyaki Balls!


Also on the menu are salads, cocktails/drink menu, wine, beer, sake, desserts as well as signature ramen. It was nice to warm up with a bowl of ramen that features broth that has been cooked for 7 to 9 hours!
They make 3 vats of broth daily that make 300 broth bowls. If your kid loves slurping up noodles like ours, then you must try their house-made ramen. I tried the Itto House Special Ramen, which is brothless but still full of amazing flavors! I am still dreaming about how good that dish is.
There are many gluten free and vegan options on the menu and they are proudly serving local fresh veggies, pork from Hickory Gap Farms and local beer also. My husband and I ordered from the Itto cocktails menu and made a toast to celebrate our safe arrival to Asheville and this amazing dining experience at Itto Ramen Bar & Tapas.





STAY: After hearing about our friends and their 2 kids stay at the Asheville Cottages, I knew it would have the right mix of rustic & luxury that my family would be satisfied with. Wifi for the hubby, a fire pit to make s’mores for the kid and a private hot tub for me! Our vacation rental cabin exceeded our expectations and we felt right at home. We stayed in The Chestnut, which is one of their 1 bedroom cottages. Overall, it was clean, cozy, and comfortable. We loved the location and surrounding views of the woods. Having a full kitchen along with a gas grill on the back deck allowed us to enjoy making meals together just like we would at home. A few things I don’t have at home that I wish I did now that I’ve experienced it here are the King -sized Select Comfort Sleep Number Bed and heated bathroom floors/toilet seat/towel rack. With so many extras, I most definitely would recommend Asheville Cottages for your next stay!


SobeSavvy Tip: Before you go, we shopped for a few hot tub accessories on Amazon to bring with us like this hot tub light that changes colors and some inflatable drink holders !

https://www.instagram.com/p/CKPeOOBgDQX/?igshid=9iynztbgzvna


Sunday Funday


SEE:  Located in Downtown Asheville, the Asheville Art Museum showcases 20th/21st century American Art along with a concentration on work with significance to the Southeast. After learning of it’s 24+ million expansion in 2019, this museum was on my must see list!  From the glass facade to The Oculus, which features a 15 foot viewing window and all the amazing art, photography, crafts and glass being housed here amongst the galleries, there is so much to see!  We spent our time looking at the various artworks in 10 different Exhibitions and learning about it’s Collection. Did you know that the Asheville Art Museum is a collecting institution and serves all 24 counties in Western NC? You can explore this museum both in person and virtually via their website!

SobeSavvy Tip: Families, make sure to take advantage of the programs and some of the fun activities available for kids while there. We printed their downloadable coloring sheets and note cards for the whole family to enjoy!



SobeSavvy Tip: Café access is free for Members or included with Museum admission. Members get a 10 percent discount with code AAMMember.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CKUGJi9nmnl/?igshid=q9ztcov8f038

DO: Add Hummingbird Candle Co. to your must do list when you visit Asheville for a unique candle-making experience. Shop and/or book an Interactive Candle Making Experience, with over 32 Scents to choose from using products that are earth-friendly. It’s the perfect Family (for kids age 7+) or Couples Date Night, Girls Night or Me Time fun anytime!
SobeSavvy Tip: Join the Insider Group for an Exclusive First Look at ALL of their NEW Items and Sales! You’ll receive 10% off your First Purchase TOO!

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CKKYNNvnXg6/?igshid=1cpfw4wawj4ms

Depart | Monday

READ: During our stay, I got to relax, relate and read! Here is a book recommendation to pick up before your next trip to Asheville: 📗EVEN AS WE BREATHE, the 1st novel published by a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is partially set in Asheville,NC during WWII and tackles difficult social/cultural/ethnic divides.
Author Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle has definitely written a fictional page- turner and is a wonderful writer! I started reading this book before plus  during our trip and it was the perfect vacation read.


SHOP: Ladies, (and all those who like to save & shop) I was happy to discover the Asheville Outlets were just minutes away from where we were staying. After we checked out of our cottage at 11am, we headed there to see what bargains we could find.   I got a belted puffer coat with faux fur hood on clearance at Banana Republic orig $189.99 for just $25‼️ Old Navy had something for the whole fam and our kid loved her new combat boots from Famous Footwear. There were so many quality brands to shop from but so little time (since we were departing from Asheville). However, it will be at the top of my list our next trip here!


SobeSavvy Tip: Make sure to check out these coupons from the Asheville Outlets for extra shopping savings!


Honor MLK: Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said ” We know that to bring justice, love and friendship, we must build strong communities that foster these things.”
We learned via Facebook that the Burton Street Peace Gardens, where they have an area of art dedicated to
Dr. King, would be a good place to visit to see how they honor his words and legacy, while supporting the community.

Before you go, check out ExploreAsheville.com for some insight ahead of your trip. You can find the latest roundups and newsy tidbits with updated information for the current world we live in here.


This winter family vacay was enjoyed by all! From the joy our daughter had just being in the mountains, to my husband spending so much time in the hot tub that I nicknamed him Jacuzzi Joe to me having fun remaking this ” Let It Snow ” video, we truly enjoyed our time in Asheville, NC.

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Want a change of scenery? Here’s where to STAY, EAT, EXPLORE in @WilmingtonNCoast! #travel #familytravel #WilmingtonNC #CarolinaBeachNC #SobeSavvy

2020 has been a unique year to say the least. Challenges that none of us could have guessed a year ago have filled all of our lives since March. Like many of you, home school and working from home has become a mainstay. My #HeighPartyof3 family were in need of a change of scenery, so we opted for a roadtrip to Wilmington, NC over this past Thanksgiving Day weekend. If you are not familiar with Wilmington, it’s an iconic coastal city that is both urban and beachy at the same time with a down home friendliness and great food and hospitality scene. We have visited this destination a few times (read about past visits: here) and our familiarity made the choice that much easier. If you are in need of a change of scenery, here’s where to STAY, EAT, EXPLORE in Wilmington, NC!

STAY

Social distancing is a invented term due to COVID-19 and picking a place that takes that seriously led us to Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront. They have instituted a industry leading room cleaning sanitation program called Clean Stay. They have partnered with Lysol to ensure the highest level of cleanliness at the property.

This hotel’s proximity to the riverwalk and historic downtown makes this a awesome choice for those wanting to explore this part of Wilmington on foot. Hubby took a jogging map the hotel has and went for a birthday morning 3 mile run! We had a spacious modern suite with a enviable Cape Fear River view. Great stay at a nice property!

STEAM Restaurant & Bar, located inside the Embassy Suites Wilmington Riverfront had a special Thanksgiving Brunch. The STEAM staff served the buffet with socially distanced tables and sanitized protocols in place. We had a table with no one in our immediate area so we got a chance to relax and enjoy a turkey dinner along with some locally sourced oysters and shrimp! Great service and wine/cocktail list made this a great choice.

EAT

In addition to STEAM , there are amazing family dining options in the area that offer takeout as well as dining in with Covid safety measures in place. Here are some places we enjoyed:

Hops Supply Co.: We had eaten a heavy “thanksgiving” at lunch time and didn’t quite think about the fact that almost NOTHING is open after 3 or 4 on Thanksgiving and needed a place to get something light. Enter Hops Supply Co. A restaurant that happens to be THE place in Wilmington for craft beer, wine on tap and food of course !We opted for curbside pickup of their Bistro Salad and a side order of asparagus. The.salad.was.everything !! Enough for two and incredibly good. The candied walnuts and blue cheese crumble combined with their incredible balsamic vinaigrette equaled perfection. When times get more back to normal I look forward to returning to try their beer and other food selections.

Slice of Life Pizzeria & Pub: Everyone likes pizza but my husband and daughter LOVE pizza. Lucky for them {and me} that one of the best pizza places ever at Slice Of Life. Voted Best Pizza and Best Late Nite Eatery in Wilmington for several years in a row, Slice Of Life got the unofficial stamp of approval from a 9 year old. You can customize a pizza with their myriad of toppings. We opted for half cheese and half Pineapple ham and mushroom. Simple perfection. We will definitely return!

The Basics: Located in the heart of everything downtown on Front street is The Basics. This mainstay has been a dining favorite for years. Everything from a casual breakfast to a dress up for dinner party can be had in this one restaurant. We had celebrated my birthday here a few years ago abd returned for breakfast this time. Shrimp and Grits, Chicken Biscuit and pancakes for the not so little one were ordered up this time. A few daytime cocktails included a Tequila Sunrise that was simply perfect.Yum Yum Yum. Just look at these pics and they say it all. There is nothing Basic about The Basics!

EXPLORE

Wilmington Riverwalk: Wilmington’s iconic riverwalk has been under construction for a few years now. It’s popularity had taken a toll and they are now renovating and expanding this wonderful walkway that doubles as a jogging route. We enjoyed taking walks during our stay here and made a fun IG reels video (that you can watch: here) to take you along the Riverwalk with us! Hugging the Cape Fear River this walkway gives visitors a great way to experience what I call the “backside” of downtown. Restaurants, shops and hotels line the riverwalk as well and you can see some of the most beautiful sunsets from here. You could also book a cruise tour aboard The Henrietta riverboat to learn more about Wilmington.

Carolina Beach: One of the best features of Wilmington is it’s proximity to many beach areas within a 30 min drive from downtown. Carolina Beach is one of them. We took a stroll along the boardwalk, enjoyed gelato while sitting in one of the swings and simply enjoyed being outside with nature. A walk on the beach is all that we needed to get some relaxing time together and a change of scenery.

Wilmington Tours: History is everywhere in Wilmington and sometimes it can be hard to figure out where to start when it comes to exploring historic Wilmington. Enter the Wilmington Tours App. Located in the Google Play store, this app features 5 full length city tours that include: African-American History, Pub Crawl Wilmington, Civil War Wilmington, 2nd Street to the River, and 3rd Street & East. We downloaded the African American Tour and since it was raining we drove to some of the historic sites that included the home of one of Wilmington’s most prominent black families, a rare intact urban slave quarters and different street corners of significance. This interactive tour is highly informative and literally made history come to life. I highly recommend this app for any visitor to learn about the history of Wilmington. Next time we will choose another tour from this amazing app!

Airlie Gardens: These public gardens are 67 acres of natural historic beauty. Airlie Gardens are a treasure not just of Wilmington or Hanover County but a treasure of all of North Carolina. While these gardens are beautiful any day of the year, we went for their annual “Enchanted Airlie” Holiday light spectacular. This is the hot ticket since 2005 and this year, while a little different still was as popular as ever. Timed tickets ensured it was not too crowded. Over a million lights adorned natural and man made things throughout. Different themes could be found everywhere. We all loved “Swan Lake” and the butterfly house exhbit. So many colors and with Holiday tunes playing, everyone was into kicking off the Christmas season! It even “snowed”. My daughter simply loved the whimsical atmosphere of it all and it will be a treasured memory.

👀Watch my full recap of opening night at Enchanted Airlie>> here.

We are thankful and grateful to be able to spend some quality time together and get a change of scenery in a neighboring city that we love to explore. This was our first time going to Wilmington,NC as a kick off to the holiday season and we may just make this a new family tradition! Before you go, be sure to check in with Wilmington and Beaches to plan your vacation. We hope that you are inspired to visit soon!

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4 Places to Enjoy #NationalTakeAHikeDay in #RaleighNC @RaleighParks @WakeGovParks

This year, National Take A Hike Day falls on November 17, 2020 and I am taking this opportunity to share with you some of our favorite places to take a hike! Why do we like to hike? The answer is simple, it’s a free, family-friendly activity that allows us to connect with nature in a fun way.We have always loved nature but 2020 has been a year that we have enjoyed this ideal social distancing activity so much more! Per Black People Who Hike, there is also health benefits to hiking. If you live in the Raleigh, NC area, here are 4 Places To Enjoy #NationalTakeAHikeDay !

Durant Nature Preserve

At 237 acres, Durant Nature Preserve is one of our favorite parks to enjoy the great outdoors. This massive, mostly undeveloped park has it all! A Butterfly garden, plentiful picnic areas and two lakes. We love taking a hike down to the fresh water stream to see all types of aquatic life in it’s original habitat. We have also spotted white tail deers! They have a multitude of mountain biking and hiking trails that are easy to moderate. If you like raw nature, then this park is for you.

Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd
Raleigh, NC 27614

Green Hills County Park

A park at a former landfill may sound weird but Wake County has made it work! Green Hills County Park is located off of Durant Rd near the recycle center. Wake County grassed over the mound and managed to have zero smelly emissions, so no worries for your senses. They built a 2 lane paved road that is 1 mile in diameter. One lane for walkers or bikers and the other lane (separated by a curb) for cars. The most unique aspect (besides building a park from a closed landfill) is visitors can hike up a steep gravel trail to THE top of the landfill, which also boasts the highest point in Wake County for a 360 degree view of ALL of Wake County. They have a few picnic tables and grassy area up there to spend some time. My husband likes to do some power jogs up and down the trail and so do others. This is indeed an awesome park to visit!

Green Hills County Park
9300 Deponie Drive

Raleigh, NC 27614

Falls Lake

Conviently located off of Falls Of Neuse Road, lies Falls Lake. This park is part of a 22 mile lake system that runs through northern Wake County. It is actually maintained by the state and US Army Corp Of Engineers, this man made lake is full of boaters, fisherman, paddle boarders and anything else you can do on the water. The Falls of Neuse entrance leads to the massive dam. You can hike various trails, paved and unpaved throughout this wonderful area. They have a great information center with maps that provide not only hiking but camping and boating information as well. We have hiked a portion of the famous NC “mountain to sea” trail which descends to the lake. Falls Lake is one of the most beautiful outdoor places to hike!

Falls Lake Visitor Assistance Center

11405 Falls of Neuse Rd

Raleigh, NC 27614

Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park

We love hiking and learning and there is no better place to do both than at Annie Louise Wilkerson,MD Nature Preserve. It’s namesak, Annie Louise Wilkerson was a pioneering doctor in the Raleigh area for 52 years who bequeathed the 157 acres to the city with the stipulation that the land remained undeveloped and be a place of learning. There is an education center, a whimsical “troll/fairy trail for kids (grown kids also) and a great perimeter pond trail that we love to hike around. Butterflies, grasshoppers, birds and ladybugs abound everywhere! The Pond Trail is mostly low cut grass so running while hiking is encouraged! This is just a special happy place for the whole family to enjoy.

Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preseve Park

5229 Awls Haven Dr.

Raleigh, NC 27614

For more informaton on the above listed parks or to discover somewhere new to explore nature, check out Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources | City of Raleigh and Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space. Thanks for reading and I hope you are inspired to enjoy the many ways to connect with nature on #NationalTakeAHikeDay (and everyday) in Raleigh,NC!

👀 Watch my YOUTUBE video which recaps some of our favorite moments/views at Durant Nature Preserve, Green County Hills Park, Falls Lake and Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park.

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TRAVEL | Stay, Eat and Play in #ColorfulFay! My 2 Day Travel Guide to Fayetteville, NC @VisitFayNC

Recently, SobeSavvy.com along with 8 other travel writers & photographers from around NC were hosted for a weekend in Fayetteville, NC. We got to  see some of the most beautiful and diverse places in Cumberland County for a 2 day #ColorfulFay tour. Here is a look at the itinerary ( which was slightly adjusted for us due to rain), as well as my recap of where to Stay, Eat and Play! I hope it inspires you to pay a visit to Fayetteville, NC soon.

STAY

The MacPherson House,  701 Hay St. Fayetteville, NC 28301

We checked in to The MacPherson House, a 5 room Bed & Breakfast, in Fayetteville, NC. It is a brand-new, large B&B, which has opened up in an historic house on the outskirts of downtown. We were hosted as part of a tour organized by Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and we stayed in a lovely room with a king-size bed,and a private bathroom.  Every room is uniquely styled and named but each one has a fireplace. One of the unique features is the on-site wellness center, where you can start your day with yoga from Hayat, who is not only the MacPherson House B&B’s manager but also happens to be one of the top yogis in Fayetteville. Another great reason to nama-stay in #ColorfulFay! Check in to peaceful views, renovated rooms, featuring unique details & private bathrooms for a #ColorfulFay vacay at The MacPherson House
**SobeSavvy Tip: Use discount code “COLORFULFAY” for 15% percent off your stay when you book between now and December 31, 2020!
👀Watch my YouTube video for an inside look⤵️

https://youtu.be/LnH41gZUQno

EAT

● GARDEN VIEW CAFE
Located at Cape Fear Botanical Garden, enjoy lunch with a view of nature on the lovely patio! They use fresh ingredients from the garden as well as quality meats to make delicious deli sandwiches. Chef Lou and his family take a creative approach to make food taste as good as it look by using colorful bread for our tour group! DIRTBAG ALES BREWERY & TAPROOM + NAPKINS RESTAURANT Looking for Beer, Food and Fun in a family & pet-friendly atmosphere? DirtBag Ales & Napkins Restaurant is where to find it! We were treated to a craft-beer tasting + snacks on the grounds and it fueled us for a fun day ahead!PHARAOH’S LEGACY: MEDITERRANEAN CUISINE & BAR
In the mood for authentic Mediterranean food? Pharaoh’s Legacy: Mediterranean Cuisine & Bar is the place to feast on the most delicious eats combining flavors of Egypt, Greece, Lebanese & Turkey!BLUE MOON CAFÉ
Having Sunday Brunch inside or on the patio at Blue Moon Café is truly delightful! Kick of brunch with Bottle Service Mimosas and start off with the crab dip. It is addictive and amazing!  I also recommend their Monte Cristo which was the perfect mix of sweet & savory! For a visual taste of our brunch experience, feast your eyes on this fun Tik Tok video I made and posted on IG ⤵️




● UPTOWN’S CHICKEN & WAFFLES
Our last stop to eat on the @VisitFayNC #ColorfulFay tour was dinner at Uptown’s Chicken & Waffles! Chef Judy puts her heart and soul into Southern/Soul Food classics like mac & cheese, collard greens, fried chicken and waffles. Get a taste of everything and order the Uptown Sampler, which includes her infamous shrimp & grits! They also feature signature cocktails that almost look to good to drink.

PLAY

CAPE FEAR BOTANICAL GARDEN
I love nature and being surrounded by all its beauty. So when I saw that a guided nature tour of Cape Fear Botanical Garden was on the itinerary,  I was excited to learn more about this attraction that features “80 acres of NC beauty”! There is plenty of open space for kids to play and explore plus a dedicated kids area. And if you are looking for a wedding venue, consider Cape Fear Botanical Garden! Make sure to stop in the gift shop for unique finds and grab a bite from the Garden View Café. HOPE MILLS LAKE
Hope Mills Lake is where locals & visitors can have fun lakeside, with snow cones on the patio from Big T’s Snoballs while enjoying some R&R. Some of us got a fishing lesson with Cedar Creek Fish Farm, while others took a sunset kayak tour on the lake with Yakalacky Outfitters. We opted for the kayak tour and had fun being one with the lake.  It’s a great way to exercise and take in the scenery while social distancing. No matter if you are a novice or expert, Yakalacky Outfitters will have you feeling comfortable on the water in no time!● HUMMINGBIRD CANDLE CO.
Get lit 🔥 with Hummingbird Candle Co., where you can shop and learn how to make your own candles from over 40 + scents. We got to experience candle-making while sipping beverages fromThe Wine Café, which is also on Hay St. Candles are just one of my love languages. These eco-friendly candles make awesome gifts as well as provide the perfect ambiance to any situation. This is a great date night, girls night or group activity idea.  Congrats to the owner Tianna for opening up her second shop in Asheville. Be sure to stop in either location to shop local and support a ‘For Women by Women’ owned business!● DOWNTOWN FAYETTEVILLE/COOL SPRING DOWNTOWN DISTRICT Cool art, murals, history, plenty of outdoor photo-ops and people who all describe the community as family.. that’s what you’ll find in Downtown Fayetteville’s Cool Spring Downtown District. A guided arts tour (thank you Sam for being our wonderful guide) is a great way to explore and when it is time to refuel, stop in for tea, coffee & sweets at The Coffee Cup. TURNER LANE’S SUCCULENT PUMPKIN CENTERPIECE WORKSHOP
We attended a succulent pumpkin centerpiece workshop, a curated experience by Turner Lane, which is a “tiny but mighty gift store” in Downtown Fayetteville. We met Elaine, who showed us how to make and care for a beautiful living Succulent Pumpkin! This makes for a wonderful holiday centerpiece and was a fun project to do with a group. Follow them on Facebook to see when the next “Made By Me” classes are happening!Our final day on this tour had me full of smiles and a few happy tears as I got to learn more about the people and their love of the Fayetteville, NC community. They have a great deal of pride and I enjoyed hearing the stories of the minority-owned, black-owned, gay-owned, female-owned businesses there. I encourage you to support & visit to experience it for yourself! Get some inspo from my ‘VisitFayNC’ Instastories highlight. No matter where you go, you will see the diversity of ‘America At Every Turn’ in Fayetteville. Check out www.visitfayettevillenc.com before you visit for many more ideas on where to Stay, Eat, and Play in #ColorfulFay!**Merci Beaucoup and Special Thanks to Jenny Bell for creating wonderful, informative memories for us. This tour has given insight to the many ways to spend a day (or 2). We enjoyed it so much, we are planning to return and take our daughter with us for the weekend!
Have you visited Fayetteville, NC before? If yes, where should I go next? If no, which one of the places would you like to visit from this blog post? Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!
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Family Travel Tips for Visiting the @NCZoo in @TheHeartofNC during COVID-19

Disclaimer: Thanks to all at NC Zoo who work so hard to keep the visitors and animals safe. Media tickets & lunch were provided in exchange for review of our visit.

Family Travel Tips for Visiting the NC Zoo during COVID-19 | SobeSavvy.com

During these uncertain times, finding fun safe things to do with a child has been challenging to say the least. Lucky for us the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC comes in very high on the fun and safe things to do list. Most folks know this is not only one of the nations greatest zoos but it is THE largest natural habitat zoo in the world. Being only 90 minutes from the Triangle makes this day trip easy for well over a million residents here. Since a couple of years have passed since our prior family visit to the zoo, (which you can revisit that blog post >> here), me and my #HeighPartyof3 were very excited to return!

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My #HeighPartyof3 took a day trip to @theheartofnc to visit @nczoo and had a fun time enjoying the outdoors in a safe environment. We found out so many interesting things like: • How has the NC Zoo taken safety measures for Covid-19 😷 • Why do flamingos have pink feathers 🦩 • What local and sustainable ingredients are used to make the food for visitors to enjoy 😋 Take a 👀 at my instastories where our daughter, @outandaboutava did an IG story takeover to capture some Family Fun highlights from our day. I also have a recap video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/evEHEcHVI3k Plus, you can read more Family #soTravelsavvy Tips for Visiting the NC Zoo during COVID-19 on the blog, SobeSavvy.com! Have you been to the Zoo since Covid-19? What was your experience like?

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What To Know Before You Go

Due to COVID 19 the zoo has made some major changes in how they do business to ensure everyone has a safe time. Guest must now buy their tickets in advance on a timed basis. This helps to spread out any crowds during their operating hours so there is no overcrowding at any point of the day. Although they can accomadate up to 15,000 people daily they now limit only 2,000 guests per day. All guests have the room to social distance.

Guests are also strongly encouraged to wear mask coverings during their visit. Walkway paths are now designated one way only and they have added dozens of sanatizing stations and signage throughout the zoo. The majority of indoor exhibits are closed and all guests must enter through the “North American” section only.

NC Zoo is committed to the #NCZooCares & #StayStrongNC initiative and is reminding everyone to don’t forget your Ws! Wear. Wait. Wash.

WEAR a face covering.

WAIT 6 feet apart from other people.

WASH your hands often.

Learn more at nc.gov/covid19

KIDZONE

The Kidzone play area just reopened and my daughter was excited to check out that space. After being indoors nowadays for virtual homeschool, she enjoys any chance to play outside. They have many ways the kids can creatively explore the world of play by using their senses. Upon arrival, we were greeted at the entrance of the Kidzone with items such as hand sanitizer, disposable masks if needed and encouraged to grab chalk to write a message on the wall. They only allow a certain number of kids in at a time as a safety precaution.

Playing in the KIDZONE at NC Zoo | SobeSavvy.com

Lunch at NC Zoo

Located in the North America Plaza, The Iron Hen (while currently closed to the public) is an on-site restaurant where we met PR Officer, Moriah Angott (who filled us in on upcoming events, plans for Asia, and Covid -related initiatives they are taking.) We also met a representative from their food partner, SSA, to learn more about their nutritious and delicious options for providing visitors with food from local and sustainable ingredients.

We were treated to lunch which consisted of chicken quesadillas with a side salad with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing made in-house, and grilled chicken drizzled with Chipotle mayo, rice and grilled seasonal veggies. Our daughter had the chicken tenders (which are hand breaded and made with chicken breast from local farm, Joyce Farms) plus fries! She said it was really good and that you can tell the chicken tenders were better than processed chicken nuggets. For dessert we had their pumpkin parfait and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, which we devoured! Everything was flavorful, sustainable and made with care. I would definitely return just to eat there! For more info on dining options and catering for events, read >>here

Tune in for more NC Zoo

On October 31, 2020 get ready for the premiere of “Secrets of the Zoo: North Carolina”, which will be shown on the Nat Geo Wild Channel. The eight-part series features stories of every kind — from emergency and routine animal procedures and animal husbandry to rescue, rehabilitation and release.

Viewers will get an inside look at North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, home to the largest zoo in the world. Spread out over an enormous 2,600 acres, this AZA accredited zoo has thousands of individual animals, more than 212 species and a diverse range of landscapes, including swamps, prairies, rivers, forests and even a desert. It’s more of a wildlife reserve than a traditional zoo, and many species share habitats as they would in the wild. At a time when the traditional concept of a zoo seems out of sync with animal welfare, the North Carolina Zoo leads the way and has achieved global recognition for setting zoo standards.

SobeSavvy Tip- Shoutout to the always helpful and resourceful Susan Dosier (@SDosier) at DK Communications Group for providing me with the following tips that I’ll kindly pass on to you:

Make sure everyone is in comfortable shoes and clothes. (the zoo is huge, and you guys will walk a lot.)

• If it’s chilly or raining, the animals are actually more active. Be sure to put rain gear in your backpack in case of an unexpected shower!

Don’t miss the videos from the North Carolina Zoo. See their suite of options on Facebook like this video of the second baby rhino of 2020 learning to stand.

The North Carolina Zoo is also offering a Facebook Live EDVentures Online Series. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, children and adults will learn more about a species living at the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro.

👀Watch this recap video from our fun day at NC Zoo !

Overall, we were impressed with how well they are doing to ensure guests are safe, surprised by the crowds(and their willingness to follow rules and wear masks) and appreciated the technology of being able to scan out map via QR code which provided support for a better guest experience!We had an amazing time at the zoo and it was such a great way to spend a beautiful fall day! I would definitely recommend visiting for a safe family fun activity. Stay connected and follow @NCZoo and @TheHeartofNC on social! For driving directions and more information about the NC Zoo, visit www.nczoo.org

📍North Carolina Zoo

4401 Zoo Parkway Asheboro, NC 27205
1.800.488.0444

http://www.nczoo.org

Spring 2020 Family Fun Things To Do in Durham, NC @DurhamNC

I am so happy Spring is just around the corner here in the Triangle! With warmer temps on the horizon in our weekly forecast and daylight savings time happening this past Sunday, I was motivated to get out and have some family fun in Durham, NC. It just takes 30 mins/28 miles to get to Downtown Durham from my home in Raleigh, so I love going there often. But this time, I wanted to play tourist and make a list to share with you some Spring 2020 Family Fun Things To Do in Durham, NC! Planning things to do was easy when I got an email from Discover Durham announcing their new Spring Guide.

The guide included an original lo-fi album, a variety of spring festivals to check out, a listing of lady bosses in the community (just in time for Women’s History Month), and more! Here are the places we checked out in Durham, NC:

Nolia Family + Coffee

We headed to Durham for a full day of fun but before we got started, we went to get the fuel most parents need to get thru the morning: coffee! Nolia is a must when visiting Durham because as per their name, they are all about Family + Coffee. This business is a unique child centric coffee shop where owner/Justin said “kids here are not just tolerated, they are celebrated!” This was evident from the moment we walked in this cute minimalist space. They had a storyteller on one side with kids sitting on the floor and having a great time. Beautiful vibes were everywhere with a feeling of community and inclusion. They have small selections of coffee and tea and some good pastries to boot. You can also shop local and get a candle from Bright Black, a Black, family owned company that uses scent as a medium and candles as a platform to share positive narratives about Blackness. We ordered a delicious apple pastry, a pour over coffee and a kids hot cocoa to go. Everything was good and we will be back!

Name: Nolia: Family + Coffee
Website: www.noliacoffee.com
About Us: Nolia Coffee is Durham’s family-centric, specialty coffee shop.
Social Media: Facebook & Instagram – @noliacoffe

The Carolina Theatre of Durham

Earlier in February, I attended a media mission hosted by Discover Durham, where invited media were introduced to local businesses in Durham and informed about what is new in 2020. While I was there, I spoke with The Carolina Theatre of Durham and learned about their Family Saturday Series. Tickets are just $5 and includes free popcorn and a drink. to catch a show at the historic Carolina Theatre. This show featured Beverly Botsford, Dancing Drums, which showcased an array of percussion instruments and celebrated universal rhythm. Children and families enjoyed this very interactive show. The audience was encouraged to sing, clap along, make their own beat and join her on stage to play the instruments. My daughter got a kick out of seeing her father play the bongos! A good time was had by all.

SobeSavvy Tip: The theatre has a free exhibit on the top level called “Confronting Change” that speaks to it’s racial segregationist past and how it eventually allowed all people of all colors to finally be treated as equal. Make sure you check it out no matter what show you are there to see!

Name: Carolina Theatre of Durham, Inc.

Website: www.CarolinaTheatre.org

About Us: Since 1926, the Carolina Theatre has been dedicated to presenting vibrant, thought-provoking film and live performances that contribute to the cultural and economic vitality of downtown Durham and the greater Triangle Region. Our nonprofit has operated the venue for more than 25 years, using both commercial and mission-driven programming to establish the venue as so much more than just a building to its community. From concerts to comedy to cinema and more, the Carolina Theatre remains an important cultural beacon of a growing region.

Social Media: Facebook & Instagram – @carolinatheatredurham; Twitter – @carolinadurham

EAT| Pizzeria Toro

We were ready for lunch after seeing the show at The Carolina Theatre. Since we were parked conveniently across the street in the free parking deck, we decided to walk around and find somewhere to eat. Downtown Durham has so many great places to dine but we decided to try a spot called Pizzeria Toro because it had wood fired pizz on the menu along with a great wine/beer list for us parents! They had a kids cheese pizza and hubby and I went with customizing our pizza by adding proscuitto. If you love thin crust, great quality cheese with a balance of fresh tomato sauce in a family friendly place with a trendy vibe, then go to Pizzeria Toro!

Name: Pizzeria Toro

Website: http://www.pizzeriatoro.com

Social Media: IG/Facebook/Twitter

@pizzeriatoro

Durham Arts Council/Durham Arts Walk

After lunch, we walked off all that delicious pizza by attending Durham Arts Walk/Spring Market, an annual spring festival that celebrates community and its artists. It’s a great event – everything is family friendly but they also had a special kids activity area on the second floor of the Durham Arts Council building. One of the favorite features is the Durham Art Walk Drawing, which features some wonderful prizes, including a family four pack for the Durham Bulls. Here is more about the event details on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/519407152025095/

Name: Durham Arts Council
Website: http://www.durhamarts.org
About Us: As Durham’s local nonprofit arts agency, the Durham Arts Council (DAC) serves artists, arts organizations and the general public. DAC serves the public through continuing education classes, artist programs, large events, and access to the DAC building 7 days a week, including rotating exhibits and special event venues. The arts community is served through grants of cash and space, teaching, performing and public art contracts, exhibit opportunities and technical assistance. As a private nonprofit service agency, the Durham Arts Council is uniquely positioned to partner extensively with other community agencies, including Durham Public Schools, Student U, Granville Education Foundation, Durham Parks and Recreation, Durham Area Designers, Duke University and North Carolina Central University. DAC recently launched a new veterans art program and is about to launch a new artist/arts organization public database. Additionally, DAC continues to lead the Durham SmART public art program in partnership with downtown stakeholders, the City of Durham and Downtown Durham Inc.
Social Media: Facebook & Twitter – @durhamarts; Instagram – @durham_arts

Discover Durham Visitors Center

While downtown, we stopped by the Discover Durham Visitor Center. This bright space has all Durham related info under one roof. They also have an interactive computer wall map, free cell phone charging station and clean bathrooms for visitors! While letting our cell phones recharge, my daughter used a sticky pad to participate in a wall where visitors are encouraged to leave their own personal messages celebrating Women’s History Month. This place is the ultimate resource for any visit to Durham. Sightseeing guides and maps are free for all. Knowledgeable staff are there with suggestions and ideas of how to curate a great day in the bull city. We picked up a free “mural guide” booklet that allowed us to explore many of the murals and enjoy plenty of photo ops.

SobeSavvy Tip: Find 5 murals and return with your cell phone photo proof to get a prize (a beer glass celebrating Durham being 150 years old)! How awesome is that?!

Name: Discover Durham

Address: 212 W Main St #101, Durham NC 27701

Website: https://www.discoverdurham.com/

Social Media: Facebook/Twitter/IG @DurhamNC

Jeddah’s Tea

When you leave the Discover Durham Visitor’s Center you must make your way to Jeddah’s Tea, a cozy black female-owned tea house that has quickly earned a special place in Durham. Cool, laid back vibes were present and they have a massive selections of local teas as well as teas from around the world. I ordered a Matcha Latte while hubby went for some hot chocolate. My daughter opted to have ice cream from The Parlour, which is just a couple of doors up from Jeddah’s Tea, so it was a win win for all. We were all just so happy to support local and I love their motto: Tea to the people, for the people

Name: Jeddah’s Tea

Website: https://jeddahstea.com

Social: Facebook/IG @jeddahstea

Durham Bulls Athletic Park

The Durham Bulls are one of the sport jewels of the triangle. Arguably the most iconic AAA baseball clubs in the nation located right here in the bull city. Saturday they held their annual Fan Fest at the stadium. We strolled the grounds, met the mascots, and sampled some ballpark gourmet food. Some attendees even were allowed on the field to take actual batting practice. The field looked great and will be ready for opening day on April 9th this year. I look forward to returning for a game or two this summer!

Name: Durham Bulls Baseball Club
Website: http://www.durhambulls.com
About Us: The Durham Bulls, Triple-A Affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, are excited to
showcase giveaways, merchandise, specialty jersey designs and more as we approach
the 2020 season. The Durham Bulls open the 2020 season at home on Thursday, April 9 against the Charlotte Knights.
Social Media: Facebook, Instagram & Twitter – @durhambulls

EAT|BORICUA SOUL

Located adjacent to the Durham Bulls stadium, Boricua Soul has their first brick and mortar incarnation of their popular food truck that folks here in the triangle have loved for years. This family owned casual eatery combines the essence of the South with the flavor of Puerto Rico. We ordered some empanadas, a side of mac n cheese and their sopa de pollo. Served in a little metal pot, the soup presentation alone won me over! My daughter and husband really commented on how great the empanada crust tasted as well as the fillings. This was the perfect place to go nearby to our final stop that day in Durham.

Name: Boricua Soul
Website: http://www.boricuasoulnc.com
About Us: Boricua Soul merges favorites from both Puerto Rico and the South to create new and exciting dishes. Our Durham-grown food truck is excited to expand to the American Tobacco Campus.
Social Media: Instagram & Twitter – @boricuasoulnc; Facebook – @boricuasoul

Museum of Life + Science

This past Sunday, we headed to the Museum of Life + Science for a special event to commemorate International Women’s Day. It was called “Girl Powered Science: Inspiring The Next Generation of Scientists“. This event had multiple science tables where girls {and boys too} could participate in actual science experiments {cloud making anyone ?} and equally important speak with actual working female scientists, lab assistants and researchers. My daughter learned about DNA, weather formations and even more than she already knew about the pioneering women of the NASA space program. Almost every table was it’s own interactive project. I loved that I was exposing her to all the career opportunities and choices that formerly were not open to women.

We also explored more of the museum, including the cafe and even took a train ride around the grounds which was loads of fun for everyone. My daughter is an animal lover so she especially loved The Farmyard and seeing the butterflies in the Magic Wing Conservatory. There is always something new to see and do here, so a repeat visit is in our future!

Name: Museum of Life and Science
Website: http://www.lifeandscience.org
About Us: Located just north of downtown Durham, the Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top family destinations. Situated on 84-acres, our interactive science park includes a two-story science center, one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast and beautifully landscaped outdoor exhibits which are safe havens for rescued black bears, lemurs, and endangered red wolves. Other popular attractions include over 60 species of live animals, Hideaway Woods, Dinosaur Trail, Ellerbe Creek
Railway, and Into the Mist.
Social Media: Facebook & Twitter – @lifeandscience; Instagram – @museumoflifeandscience

Durham,NC aka Bull City is rich in culture, and has plenty of things to do for everyone. If you are planning a visit here soon, I hope these Spring 2020 recommendations are helpful. Have you been to Durham,NC before? Do you have any family fun recommendations for our next visit? Please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

Getting a selfie with the Durham Bull statue aka Major the Bull..is a must when visiting Durham aka Bull City!

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My Top Recommendations For A Family Fun Getaway in ATLANTA GA with @CityPASS @Ctr4CHR @FernbankMuseum @GeorgiaAquarium @WorldofCocaCola @CNNstudiotours @TheKingCenter and more

A 3 day weekend + a teacher’s workday was the perfect reason to plan a family fun getaway in Atlanta, GA. From Raleigh, NC it’s a straight shot on 85 South, which takes us approximately 6 hours by car. Although it was not our first time going to Atlanta, we were ready to make new memories spending time with family & friends, seeing some
historical sights and having some #HeighPartyof3 family fun!

On our way to have family fun in the A!

👀WATCH Vlog Trip Recap here:

SAVE $$, SEE MORE

CityPASS Atlanta helps you save $$ and see more top attractions!

My top recommendation for anyone who is planning to travel to Atlanta and want to go visit some attractions is to make buy a CityPASS! Here’s why:

  • 1 simple purchase
  • Valid 9 days
  • Skip most ticket lines
  • Save 40% on admission to 5 must-see attractions

There are two easy ways to make a purchase. You can buy at citypass.com, where you’ll get instant delivery with convenient mobile ticketing , opt to have the booklet mailed to you before the trip OR ask for CityPASS at any attraction.

CityPASS Atlanta Admission includes:

• Georgia Aquarium

Experience the underwater wonders at Georgia Aquarium

• World of Coca-Cola

Learn the story behind Coca-Cola and get to taste more than 100 beverages from around the globe at World of Coca-Cola

• CNN STUDIO TOURS

Wall thru the halls of CNN Center to experience a behind the scenes CNN STUDIO TOURS

• National Center For Civil And Human Rights

(or Zoo Atlanta)

Uplifting, Powerful, Inspiring, Educational, Amazing-all words to describe the National Center For Civil and Human Rights, a must-see experience

• Fernbank Museum of Natural History ( or Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame)

Spend an adventure filled day with immersive exhibits at the Museum, see a movie at the 3D Theater, explore the Forest at Fernbank Museum

For more information on the attractions we visited, check out these websites at:

GEORGIA AQUARIUM | georgiaaquarium.com

WORLD OF COCA-COLA | worldofcocacola.com

CNN STUDIO TOURS | tours.cnn.com

FERNBANK MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY | FernbankMuseum.org

NATIONAL CENTER FOR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS | civilandhumanrights.org

CityPASS | citypass.com

EXPLORE BLACK HISTORY FOR FREE

Visit the places where Dr. King was born, lived, worked, worshipped, and is buried at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

While Atlanta has all sorts of world class attractions, visitors usually must pay an admission fee to enjoy. However, there is one square block here in the Sweet Auburn Historic District that requires no entrance fees and allows you to walk in the footsteps of the great Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Here are the places we visited:

Ebenezer Baptist Church

We started at 407 Auburn Ave where the historic and iconic Ebenezer Baptist Church sits. Dr. King was co-pastor with his father Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. at this location off and on from 1947 until 1968. Original pews, stained glass windows and organs are all inside. Sit and listen as the guides gives details about the church. To literally see the podium and actual microphone that Dr. King preached from was a wonderful experience to have with my family.

• National Park Service Visitor Center

Across the street is the MLK Jr. National Park Service Visitor Center. This facility houses some wonderful exhibits relating to not only Dr King, but to the struggle to equality in America. Some of our favorite areas was the “Freedom Road” marchers that my little one and myself joined.

• The King Center

Adjacent to Ebenezer Baptist Church is the resting place of both Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Dr. King was never shy in telling folks that he would not have been able to achieve anything without Coretta by his side. Visitors can see an eternal flame and the two marble tombs in the center/bottom of a cascading waterfall with a uniting message of peace and purpose in their words. Although there were people present, it was still peaceful, serene and reflective. His body was there but his spirit and legacy lives forever.

WHERE TO STAY

📍Embassy Suites by Hilton Atlanta at Centennial Olympic Park

Top Reasons To Stay at this location:

✔ Comfortable Beds & Bedding

✔ Accessibility to walk to many of the CityPASS Atlanta attractions

✔ Free Happy Hour (& breakfast)

✔Amazing Views

View this post on Instagram

S T A Y in the middle of it all … @embassysuitesatcentennialpark 📍ATLANTA,GA ———- My favorite thing about staying here was it's location! It's very convenient to walk to most @citypass attractions like: 🐟 GA Aquarium 📺 CNN Studio Tours ☮ National Center for Civil and Human Rights | @ctr4chr 🥤World of Coca-Cola Plus, we had an amazing view of 🎡Skyview Atlanta from our room ——– If you are planning a family getaway to Atlanta soon, I will be sharing my recommendations from our visit on the blog, SobeSavvy.com soon! Stay tuned . . . #embassysuites #centennialpark #atlanta #atlantahotel #hotelstay #hotelstagram #SobeSavvy #soTravelsavvy #TravelTuesday #travelblogger #lifestyleblogger #familytravel #familyblogger #familytravelblog #ncblogger #mommyblogger #raleighblogger #hotelview #girlmom #momlife #mommyandme #travelling #motheranddaughter #igersatl #discoverunder5k

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Atlanta is a fun, fascinating place full of rich history and cool things to do. If you are planning a trip here soon, I hope these recommendations are helpful. Have you been to Atlanta before? Do you have any recommendations for our next family visit? Please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!

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Winter Family Travel |Plan a 3 Night Stay in Alexandria VA

Did you and your family stay home or travel for the holidays? With our daughter being out of school for 2 weeks for her winter break, it was the perfect time to plan for a quick getaway. On Christmas morning, after opening presents, we took a road trip from Raleigh, NC to Alexandria, VA. It took us less than 4 hours and was an easy drive especially since not many were on the road! After visiting family in MD, we checked into our hotel Wednesday night and our mini family vacay began.

STAY | Embassy Suites Old Town Alexandria

Looking to visit Alexandria,VA soon? My #HeighPartyof3 enjoyed a three nights stay at Embassy Suites by Hilton Old Town Alexandria. It was comfortable, convenient, clean and you can choose to start the day off right with an omelet made just the way you like! That’s what makes a hotel stay at Embassy Suites Alexandria Old Town unique! Since we enjoyed our previous stay, it was nice to come back to this familiar property and all of it’s wonderful offerings like:
• SPACIOUS two-room suites
• FREE drinks & snacks at Evening Reception every night from 5:30p-7:30pm
• Complimentary made to order breakfast

👀 WATCH this YouTube video for a tour of the hotel room and more!

SobeSavvy Dining Tip: We love having a Whole Foods within walking distance from the hotel. If you love ramen noodle soup, I recommend ordering from Genji Ramen. My daughter and I shared the featured ramen noodle soup: Truffle Butter Miso and it was delicious! She gave it the #outandaboutAva 👍🏾 thumbs up!

Day 1 -Thursday | Visit Alexandria

During our last visit to Alexandria, VA , we kept seeing The King Street Trolley and vowed we would ride it next time. Well this time we had a chance to get aboard and enjoy this free system of trolleys that run every 15 minutes with stops throughout Old Town. Stop 1 for anyone planning a trip to Alexandria, VA should be a stop by Visit Alexandria, located at the Ramsey House at 221 King St. for info, maps, deals and more! The employees are very helpful with tips and suggestions. That’s where I learned about the Key To The City Museum Pass.

Did you know you can save money on admission to museums and purchase a “Key To The City Museum Pass“. Purchasing this booklet gives you access to 9 historic Alexandria museum sites and also you get a 40% admission discount if you chose to travel to Mt Vernon. This $44 value will only cost you $15. We had time to enjoy two museums: Gadsby’s Tavern and Stabler Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. Both of these showed different parts of colonial Virginia life and learned quite a bit of history after going to some of the museums and historical sites. We attempted to go to George Washington Masonic Masonic National Memorial Observation Deck but it was closed for the holidays. However, it was still quite a wonderful view of Alexandria from the steps of this attraction.

👀 WATCH this YouTube video for some highlights of our day exploring Old Town Alexandria!

SobeSavvy Dining Tip: Our niece, whose husband used to live in Alexandria, gave us the recommendation to eat at Mai Thai. So when I saw the menu also on the wall in the dining section at the visitor’s center, I was like, that’s a sign! We were sold and everything from the cocktails to the appetizers to the flavorful entrees. If you live Thai food, check out this restaurant.

Day 2 – Friday | Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac at National Harbor

A day of fun was on the agenda when me and my HeighPartyof3 spent the day at Gaylord National’s Christmas on The Potamac– OPEN November 15 – December 30, 2019. Alexandria,VA is just across the bridge and National Harbor is just 6 miles from the hotel! It only took ten minutes by car to get there.

What is Christmas on the Potomac?

A holiday tradition where every year National Harbor and the Gaylord National Resort transform into a Christmas Village complete with holiday decorations and activities like:

▪︎ Feast with the Grinch

▪︎ Reindeer Rush

▪︎ Gingerbread Decorating

▪︎ Cirque Dreams Unwrapped

▪︎ Christmas Village

▪︎ Winter Square

▪︎ ICE! – Featuring Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas
..and more !

SobeSavvy Tip: Everyone who goes to the ticketed ICE! exhibit must be ready for fun in 9 degree temperatures! Bring hats & gloves and be ready to see the amazing skill and artistry put into this ice exhibit. Everyone from infants to adults received a heavy #BlueParka to wear before going in the exhibit.

👀 WATCH this YouTube video for some highlights of our fun day at Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac!

We had hoped to unlock more of Alexandria’s history and visit more museums but we checked out on Saturday because the one thing that sometimes comes with winter travel is catching a cold! We all got some bug and picked up some meds from a nearby CVS (which is also walking distance from the hotel) before getting back on the road. Although our visit was short and sweet, we know we will be back to stay in this area and explore more of Alexandria, VA!

Have you ever visited Alexandria, VA before? Please share with me a place I should check out during my next visit.


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101 Ways To Have A Family Fun Day in @VisitTampaBay

101 Ways To Have A Family Fun Day in Tampa Bay | SobeSavvy.com

Disclaimer: To facilitate this post, complimentary CityPASS were provided, however the opinions are 100% my own.

Are you planning to travel to Tampa Bay with your family soon? Recently me and my #HeighPartyof3 visited South Florida during the Thanksgiving weekend and took the easy 4 hr drive from Miami to Tampa to spend the day. We did our research by looking on the website VisitTampaBay.com and learned about the Tampa Bay CityPASS. It is a great way for families to see some of the most popular attractions at a 50%+ discount! I definitely found it helpful to not have to stand in line to purchase a ticket. Just walk up, show your Tampa Bay CityPASS and get ready to explore! With so much to see and do I thought I’d share with you 101 WAYS TO HAVE A FAMILY FUN DAY IN TAMPA BAY with the Tampa Bay CityPASS:

1-25 ZooTampa at Lowry Park

ZooTampa fun with #outandaboutAva | SobeSavvy.com

  • 1. Feel the rush of a macaw soaring overhead
  • 2. Meet animals and ask questions at the many animal mingles
  • 3. Watch an educational show
  • 4. Get a closer look and connect with wildife
  • 5. Witness a live animal feeding
  • 6. Stay cool & have fun in the water play area
  • 7. Love Penguins? See them swim and play
  • 8. Visit Lorikeet Landing in Asia to get up close and personal with the birds
  • 9. See the Primates swing and play
  • 10. Enjoy strolling thru beautiful tropical wildlife settings
  • 11. Go behind the scenes on an Expedition Africa safari ride
  • 12. Feel the rush of a three-story splashdown on the family water adventure ride: Roaring Springs
  • 13. Not feeling adventurous? Hangout at Lookout Landing to just watch and enjoy the splash
  • 14. Take an #elfie and other fun photo ops throughout ZooTampa
  • 15. Have a stare off contest with an Emu
  • 16. Touch & Feel the skin of a snake..if you dare!
  • 17. Experience unforgettable moments at their seasonal events like Christmas in the Wild
  • 18. Ooh and Ahh over the cute Koala Bears
  • 19. Ride the Tasmanian Tiger coaster
  • 20. Go round and round on the Jungle Carousel
  • 21. When was the last time you saw a Zebra, Giraffe and Elephant all at the same time? So cool!
  • 22. Learn how you can join in taking action to protect and preserve wildlife
  • 23. Upgrade your experience and add on an up-close signature encounter
  • 24. Go shopping at the gift shop
  • 25. Don’t forget to have your photo taken to have as a souvenir

👀WATCH recap video of our fun day at ZooTampa here ⤵️ Learn more at ZooTampa.org

26-50 The Florida Aquarium

Did you watch #outandaboutAva @SobeSavvy IG Takeover at The Florida Aquarium? She had a fin-tastic time! | SobeSavvy.com

  • 26. See thousands of sea creatures, including sharks, alligators, otters, sea turtles and more!
  • 27. Enjoy the Florida Wetlands Trail and see 30 different species of free-flying birds
  • 28. Have amazing close encounters with a colony of penguins when you get a Penguins Backstage Pass
  • 29. Experience visual drama with special sensations in the 4-D Theater
  • 30. Play at The Splash Pad, a rainforest-themed outdoor wet and dry play area
  • 31. Take in terrific views of scenic Tampa Bay
  • 32. Make a reservation to go on an unforgettable Wild Dolphin Cruise and receive 10% off with special savings CityPASS perk
  • 33. Get special VIP access to view exciting creatures
  • 34. Go on a Behind the Scenes Adventure and meet experts to further explore the Aquarium
  • 35. Discover what sea turtles eat
  • 36. Touch a real live jellyfish at the new Moon Bay exhibit
  • 37. Watch a daily dive show
  • 38. Learn about the Aquarium’s vital conservation efforts
  • 39. Dive into another world and make reservations for the Heart of the Sea Swim program, Shark Swim or Dive with the Sharks
  • 40. Enjoy delicious dining at Café Ray or Fins Cantina
  • 41. Journey to Madagascar and view incredible creatures like endangered long-tailed lemurs
  • 42. Kids can crawl inside viewing bubbles for a fun immersive experience
  • 43. Buy an amazing souvenir at the gift shop
  • 44. Stop by Bays and Beaches gallery where touching experiences are offered
  • 45. Do fish sleep? Find out the answer and learn more when you explore The Florida Aquarium
  • 46. Love Seahorses like me? Make sure to visit the Dragons Down Under exhibit
  • 47. Touch and learn about sea creatures who have no backbone in the No Bones Zone
  • 48. Find Nemo aka a clownfish in the Waves of Wonder exhibit
  • 49. Snap a pic with their mascot turtle before you go
  • 50. Go for yourself and experience why The Florida was voted Top 3 Aquarium in North America By USA Today readers

👀WATCH recap video of our fin-tastic time at The Florida Aquarium here ⤵️ Learn more at flaquarium.org

51-75 MOSI

A visit to a museum always makes our must do list when we travel. Here is a look at our visit to MOSI= Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, FL.| SobeSavvy.com

  • 51. Get hands-on with over 100 fun indoor activities
  • 52. Explore space science in the NASA-funded Mission: Moonbase lunar colony
  • 53. Love Dinosaurs? Then be sure to explore the Dinovations Lab, a Jurasic-themed exhibit
  • 54. See how cool Engineering is
  • 55. Spark your curiosity with Physics
  • 56. Peak into the Human Body and discover a look inside of you
  • 57. Expand your mind by doing lots of STEAM activities
  • 58. Learn about planets and our solar system in the Saunder’s Planetarium
  • 59. Experience how science and technology is used in everyday life
  • 60. Get creative and draw some art
  • 61. See the art exhibit made by CDS Art & Design students
  • 62. Get inspired to become an inventor, astronomer, chemist or engineer
  • 63. Solve brain puzzles
  • 64. Build amazing structures
  • 65. Check out new Space Walk exhibit and learn about the history of Space Travel
  • 66. Use your imagination and innovation in The IdeaZone and have fun making a project
  • 67. Go on an outdoor adventure and climb the Ropes Course
  • 68. Play at the outdoor playground
  • 69. Feel the power of wind in the Hurricane simulator
  • 70. Enjoy free play in an autism-friendly environment
  • 71. See what your hand looks like under a microscope
  • 72. Build a robot
  • 73. Explore optical illusions
  • 74. Touch the future in Connectus
  • 75. Lie on a bed of nails..if you dare!

👀WATCH this video for a recap of our experience at MOSI ⤵️ For more info, visit mosi.org

76-100 Busch Gardens Tampa Bay| Christmas Town

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Christmas Town was such a great way to kick off the holiday season with my #HeighPartyof3 family | SobeSavvy.com

  • 76. Start a new family tradition and see why USA Today voted it as 10Best Theme Park Holiday Event
  • 77. See millions of twinkling lights
  • 78. Hop aboard the Sing-Along Train and jam to your favorite Christmas Carols
  • 79. Watch a spectacular holiday show like Christmas on Ice
  • 80. Visit with Santa and take photos with him and his elves
  • 81. Meet & Greet with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends
  • 82. Drink a festive beverage or eat a culinary treat at the Christmas Town Village (our kid loved the churros)
  • 83. Experience the thrill of rides and roller coasters at night
  • 84. Shop for the perfect holiday gifts
  • 85. Explore the new Merry Mint Lane and get up close to animals
  • 86. Take a photo with a Peppermint Pal
  • 87. Make plans to enjoy special holiday dining and savor a selection of seasonal offerings
  • 88. Take advantage of the many photo ops in front of Christmas trees, light displays and festive decor
  • 89. Meet the Sugar Plum and Ice Princesses
  • 90. Journey through Luminosity Lane, a beautiful tunnel filled with Christmas lights
  • 91. Got a girl who loves pink? Then make sure you visit Flamingo Way to see the festive flamingos and palm trees decorated in twinkling pink lights
  • 92. Choose holiday upgrades like priority access, holiday samplers and special dining offers to upgrade your experience
  • 93. Enjoy a live band and vocal performances at The Most Wonderful Time show
  • 94. Visit Sesame Street Safari to join Elmo and friends as they learn the meaning of Christmas in Elmo’s Christmas wish
  • 95. See Christmas lights choreographed to seasonal music at Carol Of The Bells light show
  • 96. Watch an elephant dance or an alligator relax
  • 97. Twirl yoursrlf in faux snow
  • 98. Meet the Poinsettia Princess
  • 99. Enjoy extended hours in the park for more festive fun
  • 100. Before you go, make the most of your visit by adding the Busch Gardens app to your smart phone

👀WATCH this video for a recap of our experience at Busch Gardens Christmas Town (open every night from Nov 16 2019 – Jan 6. 2020 ⤵️ For more info, visit BuschGardensTampa.com

101 Get a Tampa Bay CityPASS

“Spend Less and Experience More” by purchasing a Tampa Bay CityPASS! You get access to a total of FIVE attractions and can save 50% or more on admission. Visit the 4 on my list plus the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and you can choose either MOSI or the Chihuly Collection Presented By The Morean Arts Center. You make one simple purchase to get the CityPASS which is valid for 9 days. My favorite perk is that you can skip most lines and just show your CityPASS. There are also more special savings,coupons and discounts inside the CityPASS also. Here are two easy ways to purchase:

  • Ask for CityPASS at any attraction
  • Buy mobile tickets now at citypass.com | (888) 330-5008

I hope you enjoyed this list of 101 WAYS TO HAVE A FAMILY FUN DAY IN TAMPA BAY. We are already making plans to Visit Tampa Bay again and experience more sun, fun and culture found in this city. Thanks for reading!

***Have you been to Tampa Bay before? Share your travel memory of Tampa in the comments below.


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My #HeighPartyof3 Family Visit to @NMAAHC


As the newest jewel on the National Mall, The National Museum of African American History and Culture stands as a beacon of hope and pride to not just African Americans but to our nation as a whole. Opened on September 24, 2016 by President Obama, this Smithsonian Institution owns a collection of over 40,000 pieces. With almost 2 million visitors a year it has enthralled domestic and international visitors from all over the planet. Years later since its doors opened to the public, my family and I came here to celebrate its 3rd year!

Let us Rejoice! NMAAHC and its 3rd year | Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com with #outandaboutAva

My family and I visited here in March 2017 during our stay in Arlington, VA and we were just as amazed as others upon visiting this special place for the first time. My little one was just 5 1/2 yrs old then, so this weekends visit opened up the history of Africans in America a little more to her than the last time we came. To quote Beyonce’s latest song “Bigger“..I wanted my daughter to leave the museum knowing that…

If you feel insignificant, you better think again
Better wake up ’cause you’re part of something way bigger
You’re part of something way bigger
I’ll be the roots, you be the tree
Pass on the fruit that was given to me
Legacy, ah, we’re part of something way bigger

Mother and Daughter visit NMAAHC ~ Legacy! | Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com

This beautiful museum takes visitors on a journey started in West Africa in the lower 3 levels to Barack Obama and beyond on the upper 3 levels. In between we are fed the wonders of our people. We started at 10 am and stayed until about 2pm with a lunch break in between. Even though we explored all 6 levels, here are just some of the hightlights from our #HeighPartyof3 Family Visit to NMAAHC!

#HeighPartyof3 Visits NMAAHC | Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com

C1-C3 | History Galleries

During our previous visit with our daughter, we chose to move swiftly through the 3 levels in the history galleries as it includes more graphic and violent past history {almost 400 years of that right?}. However, this time, I wanted her to have deep questions and comments and appreciate her 8 year old mind attempting to process what human beings are capable of doing to other humans, It was sobering and yet ultimately hopeful.

The opportunities for modern virtual interaction throughout this facility are endless. You can sit at a mock Greensboro, NC diner counter and use the touchscreen and pick from a ” join a movement” menu, which gives you all sorts on facts regarding sit in demonstrations and videos.

This museum also has docents {museum guide experts} stationed in some of the more emotionally difficult areas to give out facts and perspective. I truly appreciated one taking my daughter under her wing and explaining to her 8 yr old level what being sold “on the block” meant to families being torn apart and never seeing each other again. At 8 years old some of these facts still seem like science fiction to her and in a way that is progress. The inhumanity of slavery is quickly coming into focus for her and that is a good thing. History is not to be sugarcoated, it is simply fact.

Lunch | Sweet Home Cafe

When you come up the final 3rd ramp of the History Galleries, you will arrive to the Concourse level where you will find a wonderful cafeteria dining area called “Sweet Home Cafe“. Get ready to feast on all major foods credited to African Americans. Ribs, catfish, greens, red velvet cake just to name a few. Great place to take a break and fuel up to continuing your visit to this world class facility.

SobeSavvy Tip: Be sure to stop by the NMAAHC Museum store on L1-Heritage Hall. You will find free fact cards about the museum, books, jewelry and more! Plus, your purchase helps support the educational mission of the Smithsonian Instituition. Shop Online at smithsonianstore.com and join maiing list for special discount offers!

L4 | Culture Galleries

We rode the escalator to the very top level where the culture galleries are. On this level you will find the many contributions African Americans have made as artists. From music, theater, tv, dance, film, we have created and shared our cultural expressions to the world! Much of American culture is owed to the African Americans. Whether clothing, music or food, African Americans have always been the trend setters and the golden standard in the experiment of a nation we call America.

The music section is it’s own black rock and roll hall of fame. Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, Parliament’s Mothership and clothing/artifacts from almost every major artist in every genre is represented. You can also be a sound engineer or DeeJay if you like! We particularily enjoyed the “Neighborhood Record Store“, where we explained to our daugter about a time when music was not digital and you went to the store and found your favorite artists’ album.

This museum ultimately stands for triumph against all odds that African Americans have not only survived but we have been examples of excellence in every manner shape of form for the world to see just how unbreakable our spirits and indeed souls truly are.

L3 is where you can find the Community Galleries featuring The African American Military Experience and our contributions to Sports. Here is where we took a nice break to sit down and watch a film about Baseball Intergration.

L2 , the second floor is where you can Explore More! Get interactive in the gallery and have fun by taking a “stepping” lesson in HBCU fashion in a virtual reality dance game.

You could easily spend an entire day here and not see it all. I have found multiple visits of a few hours each time is a wonderful way to digest all that it has to offer. I look forward to coming back again in a few years and doing it all over again!
👀WATCH highlights from my #HeighPartyof3 Family Visit to @NMAAHC here⤵️

Have you been to the National Museum of African American History & Culture yet? Share a memory from your visit below!

Smithsonian Institution

National Museum of African Americn History & Culture

1400 Constitution Ave NW

Washington, DC 20560