Top 6 #FamilyFun Activities to do this Summer in #Baltimore | #FamilyTravel #VisitBaltimore #MyBmore

Today on the blog, I am sharing #MYBmore TOP 6 Family Fun activities everyone should add to their child’s Summer Break list of things to do in Baltimore! This past weekend my #HeighPartyof3 drove the easy 5 hr ride to Downtown Harbor East and stayed at one of our favorite hotels, Hyatt Place. One of the reasons I was there was to cover the 4th Annual Chesapeake Crab and Beer Festival (be sure to check out my photo recap>>>here) but to also take #outandaboutAva to some museums and attractions in Baltimore. Here is my list of TOP 6 Family Fun Activites :

  1. See an Orioles Basesball Game -Orioles Park at CAMDEN YARDSA summertime visit to Baltimore would not be complete without a visit to the undisputed best ballpark in the nation! Oriole Park at Camden Yards is celebrating their 25th anniversary. We joined others to take in a game on an absolute beautiful evening. It was my little one’s very first MLB game and she loved it. Camden Yards is designed where there is not a bad seat in the house. She was also able to get up and close to the field pre game to watch the players stretch and interact with their fans. A night to remember for all.
  2. Learn and Play at Port Discovery Childrens MuseumBaltimore’s Port Discovery Children’s Museum is an expansive building dedicated to kids. They play and learn. Sometimes at the same time. This place has so many things to do, it can fill up an entire afternoon. From a faux diner called Tiny’s where the little ones can serve you lunch items {albeit plastic of course} to jungle gyms and a whole area dedicated to solving the mystery of what happened to a missing family, this place is amazing. My daughter enjoyed the Oasis room where she could sit quietly and read.There is plenty of hands on exhibits and interactive areas that the kids will simply love. A must stop for any families visiting with children. When you arrive grab your map at the front desk, arms in and let fun begin!
  3. Eat,Drink and Be Royal at MEDIEVAL TIMES Dinner & TournamentGo back in time to King Arthur’s day and visit the Medieval Times castle for a Dinner and Show you will never forget!  This attraction is not in Downtown Baltimore, but in Arundel Mills Mall (aprox 30 mins away by car).  Along with a medieval dinner (that you eat with your hands only),…we enjoyed entertainment like jousting,horse dancing and a real Falcon soaring above our heads to do a stunt!  This is all entertwined with a storyline the narrator explains.Medieval Times is great place to take someone who proclaims that they have seen it all. A mix between a Broadway show and Polo…Nothing compares to this experience. My daughter and her Grandma truly enjoyed their ‘Knight’ out! 
  4. Take a Joy Ride thru History at B&O RAILROAD MUSEUMDid you know that Baltimore is the home for modern commercial Railroading? The B&O railroad, which operated from 1828 to 1987, had many people skeptical {and scared} of this “new” technology. That didn’t last long as the B&O proved sucesseful in (per it’s motto)”Linking 13 Great States with the Nation”. We learned all about the rich history at the B&0 Railroad Museum while enjoying the impressive collection of vintage trains. We even took an actual 1.5 mile ride on an original section of the line! The museum does an excellent job telling the story of the railroad, which mirrors the story of America itself. Children can enjoy a hunt to collect stamps at stations throughout the museum in a little passport booklet which they turn in at the end for a free present at the gift shop! They also have a kid play area and rides outside which makes this a fun informative museum the entire family will love. I made a YouTube video full of highlights from our visit. Watch it here and Enjoy! SobeSavvy Tip: Check out this special circus themed event ‘Under The Big Top’ happening Now thru June 30 For more info visit www.borail.org.             

5. Take a cruise aboard the ‘Fearless’ and become a pirate for the day with URBAN PIRATES 

A day at the world famous Inner Harbor demands that one gets out on the water. We chose to take a trip back in time with a company called “Urban Pirates”. Based out of the Ann Street Pier in the Fells Point area, Urban Pirates takes visitors on a 90 min trip around the Harbor on a vintage looking ..well pirate ship. We didn’t know what to expect when we boarded along with other families. We were given official pirate names with tags and some pirate attire to wear for our voyage. https://www.instagram.com/p/BVu67NbBU55/ 

Once out on the open water, the crew did a great job of entertaining all of us (and especially the kids) with songs, dances and all sorts of seafaring games. We even had an attempted sea hijack that we all thwarted with their water cannons! I don’t want to give away too much but let’s just say be prepared for a great experience unlike any other.

6. Discover close to 20,000 animals at NATIONAL AQUARIUM The National Aquarium with its unique spiral floor plan, it’s huge rain forest in the rooftop, the diverse species of fish plus sharks and dolphins make it THE aquarium to visit. We chose to go early on Sunday morning and it paid off for being less crowded since this is Baltimore’s most popular attraction. 

The close encounters of being able to touch horseshoe crabs and a real moon jellyfish in the Living Seashore exhibit made the experience that much more real. This aquarium is a crown jewel for both kids and adults alike and we always look forward to learning something new with each visit.

Now that you know “Where to Play” your next visit to Charm City, be sure to check back here on Friday when I’ll be sharing “Where to Eat” and “Where to Stay” in Baltimore. Also check out www.baltimore.org for any information you need to plan your trip.

Check out my fun photo video recap of these listed attractions : https://youtu.be/8lWvmmN9LRs

#Raleigh Summer Staycation Ideas | Where to STAY,EAT,PLAY #NorthHills @achotelsraleigh @level7roofbar

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary stay at the AC Hotels Marriott Raleigh and hosted by Level 7 to provide my perspective and share my thoughts. All opinions expressed in my review are honest and my own.

A recent study came out from wallet.hub that listed 2017’s Best & Worst Cities for Staycation and I was surprised that Raleigh did not make the Top 10 list! I’d like to change that by providing a Where to stay -eat-play Staycation guide for some of my fave areas in the Triangle. First area I’d like to share is Raleigh’s Midtown area-North Hills and it’s newest hotel, AC Hotel by Marriott.

STAY 

We checked into the brand new AC Hotel by Marriott, located in the trendy North Hills area of Raleigh. This select brand of hotel
in the Marriott family is unlike any of their others. Stylish and functional is how I would describe this place. The design is open showcasing simplicity at its best. Their website describes it as ” It’s an experience that has been designed to give you the essentials”.

Some hotel highlights:

  • Nice minimalist rooms with a sofa bed (suitable for our 5yr old) and great rain showerheads. We requested an accessible room as those have a bathtub. 
  • Beautifully functional gym area with an actual professional grade spinning/cycling bike
  • Artsy public spaces. European sleek feel abounds everywhere.

Great place for business travelers and couples alike. Although we were there with our little one, this brand is not specifically marketed to families like some of their other properties. However, our daughter and her cabbage patch kid enjoyed their stay! 

AC Hotels Raleigh North Hills 

101 Park at North Hills St             Raleigh, NC 27609

EAT….and Drink!


Inside the AC Hotels Raleigh North Hills, lies Level7, the new hotspot rooftop bar accessible to hotel guests, visitors and locals. Guests take an elevator ride to the 7th Floor which leads to both an indoor space (AC Lounge) and outdoor rooftop bar (Level 7).  

The beautiful AC Lounge indoor space resembles a gorgeous living room/bar , while Level 7 allows you to step out onto the open air patio, with oversized bone white lamps, comfy loungers and sofas.  

We got to sample the Level 7 experience
at dusk this past Saturday and despite the rains earlier that day, there was quite the scene. Some guests were sitting at the inside bar or enjoying the game on the big flat screen tvs outside. We decided to sit outside on the high top stools overlooking views of North Hills. 

They also have some community tables if you decide to come with a small group of friends to enjoy inventive craft cocktails and tapas. The outside also has their own exclusive bar so guests never need to go back inside to keep “hydrated”.

Their carefully curated cocktail menu caught our attention as it has so many interesting choices. Choosing one was a challenge so we decided to have a pair a piece. The management gave us a sneak peek at their brand new updated cocktail list. If you love margaritas, be sure to order the following:Midtown Margarita – Casaamigos Anejo, St Germain, Lemon juice and Blood Orange. It was an amazing twist on a all time classic!

I also tried the Raspberry Lemonade– Vodka, LemonJuice, Fresh raspberries and Peychaud’s and my husband enjoyed his cocktail called…

Lassiter– Basil Hayden, Black Walnut Bitters, Simple Syrup and Lemon Peel
All drinks were awesome and went even better with some of their tapas plates. We had a variety of samples from their eclectic choices. Here are some you must try:

  • Charcuterie platter

  • Roasted wings made with their in house made spice rub
  • Pork belly served with yellow rice                                                                 We took advantage of having a few hours to ourselves while our little one was at a Parent’s Night Out event. This is a perfect date night spot to enjoy cocktails and conversation while relaxing and enjoying small bites with a view.

Level 7 Roof Bar/AC Lounge

102 Park at North Hills St 

Raleigh,NC 27609

More Dining Options Nearby

Zoe’s Kitchen : Casual, Family-Friendly Mediteranean Fare. Open for lunch and dinner. Serves Beer and Wine. Has outside seating. (We dined here for an early dinner with our daughter after check-in. Because of their healthy kid’s menu options, this place is a family favorite. Read my review here)

Bonefish Grill : This restaurant is known for its amazing seafood lunch and dinner  options but do you know they serve Sunday Brunch? That’s where we dined after checking out of the hotel at noon. (See here for past review of Sunday Brunch) Reservations are recommended.

PLAY


If you have ever been to North Hills , then you know there are plenty of spaces to play, shopping….

…restaurants, movies and more! Right next to the hotel is Kings Bowl America, which has bowling, billiards, shuffleboard, darts and more. Food and drinks are available too at this entertainment complex.  Its fun for the whole family! 

One of our fave places to let our little one run around while we sit on a bench nearby is a little grassy area right near Ben and Jerry’s and Starbucks. It’s a popular play spot for families.

This Summer or anytime you need a Staycation, and prefer a place with one stop shopping, dining, lodging and play options, consider planning a stay in North Hills, Raleigh’s Midtown and leave with memories and a smile!

Thank you to the management and staff at AC Hotel Raleigh and Level 7 for your wonderful service. Until next time…

WHERE DO YOU PLAN TO VACATION/STAYCATION THIS SUMMER? Share below and Safe Travels!

SobeSavvy.com presents ~A Parent’s Survival Guide to #SouthBeach, #Miami #FL|#FamilyTravel

Disclaimer: This is a Non-Sponsored post. We moved from South Beach in 2015 after living there for 18 years and thought we’d create this fun guide as ex-locals for families who may be considering travelling to South Beach, Fl but not sure if it is kid-friendly. 

It’s always fun to get away, especially for Mother’s Day weekend where I can relax , relate and release with my loves. Last year, we hit LA, where we did alot of site-seeing, dining at The Grove and I even attended a Blogger Babes Event for Brit Week. This year, I wanted a slower vacay, someplace where I didn’t have to plan anything and we could just play in the sand. We decided the perfect place to go was our daughter’s birthplace! So we packed our bags and the #HeighPartyof3 were off on another adventure. This time it was RDU ➡MIA!✈

Miami, particularly South Beach is well known for it’s party scene and that is well warranted. My husband and I called it home for almost 18 years so we know the quiet side fo South Beach also {Yes, there is an actual quiet residential side but only tell your best friends} There is much more to South Beach than bottle service. Families are plentiful and so are family friendly hotels, restaurants and more!

STAY

Hubby planned a long Mothers day weekend getaway for us and chose to stay at the Loews Hotel Miami Beach. This large upscale hotel has been newly renovated. The grounds, pool area and guest rooms have undergone a major makeover. We had a great view from our partial ocean view double room.

An already good hotel/resort is even better. They cater to kids like no other. Check out  this dedicated kids area on the beach!

The new expanded pool area is very attractive and I even made a new friend as she was floating by !

My daughter was offered the use of a “house” IPAD during breakfast. Every restaurant including pool or beachside has a kids menu. They even have a kids club where youngsters can day camp with all sorts of organized activities! We spent the days in the pool or beach. Both were stellar. Loews is a excellent choice for families.

Also at the Loews is the renowned Exhale Spa. Hubby surprised me with an hour long “Fusion Massage”. Peaceful and zen, the spa was a great refuge for me/mommy time on Mother’s Day weekend.

EAT

*Breakfast:

Whether a guest of the hotel or not, The breakfast buffet inside Preston’s at the Loews is an amazing way to start your day.

You get a myriad of fresh farm to table choices for one price. They also have great kids and a la carte menu choices to be enjoyed indoors or out on their beautiful terrace overlooking the lush pool area. In case you missed it, check out my review of Preston’s >>>here. 🍴

South Beach also has a Starbucks on every corner {almost} so you will never be far from their standard breakfast choices. For a real authentic Cuban Coffee breakfast experience check out David’s Cafe on Alton and 10th street. Cafe Con Leche and a pastelito is a great way to start the day the Miami way !

*Lunch:

 Lolo’s Surf Cantina


After sand, sun and fun on Saturday afternoon we went to Lolo’s Surf Cantina for lunch. REAL Authentic Mexican food {No cans of Velveeta here!}.Tacos and Sangria ruled the day. Located just steps from the sand on Ocean and 1st street it’s is the perfect spot for lunch on a beach day. Check out my full review >>here🍴

Being a recent former resident of the “residential area” of South beach has it’s advantages. To avoid alot of tourist traps, we revisited a few other of our local favorites which are overlooked {thankfully} by the throngs of visitors.

Lincoln Road is one of those rare areas where the local and tourist mix is about 50/50. It operates as a sort of main street.Restaurants, art galleries, movie and performing arts theatres are all present on this beautiful almost mile long pedestrian thoroughfare. My daughter has always been head over heels about frolicking on Lincoln Road.

Stopping by The Frieze” ice cream shop was one of our favorites {and still is !}

Epicure Market Hot Bar
This is an iconic gourmet market on Alton and Lincoln Road that specializes in upscale quality choices. It’s full of local snowbirds and a few tourists in the know. They have an awesome hot bar and a cute little cafe where you can sit and enjoy your lunch. For more info, check out Epicure>>here.

* Happy Hour

Semilla


This unassuming yet stylish bistro has an awesome happy hour Mon thru Sat 5-8pm. Oysters on the Half Shell, Kobe beef sliders and Shrimp Tempura just to name a few. Prosecco and specialty craft cocktail at discount prices. You can sit inside or out on the sidewalk. Low key and local. We love Semilla..and so does #outandaboutAva, who knows how to eat Florida Stone Crabs like a pro. 


Doraku
(everyday)

With outposts in Hawaii and Atlanta, Doraku has been in South Beach for 10 yrs now. They offer a superb sushi happy hour every day. Located on the Western end of Lincoln Road by the movies, Doraku has been a mainstay in a fickle town where restaurants come and go pretty quickly. Solid choice for sushi and cocktails while shopping on Lincoln Road. Their Lychee Martini is awesome. Order one.Or two.

Monty’s 
One of my favorites after work spots used to Monty’s. Kinda hard to describe this place. It is a very casual {think shorts, tank tops and flip flops}Key West-ish kinda vibe. They are mainly a seafood/raw bar spot but they also have a more structured menu that you can order from a menu with one of the waitstaff. There is usually a carribbean type band performing and there is also a small pool for those who want to cool off. Located on the Miami Beach Marina ,you can pull up in your boat and just walk up the steps to some fun.

*Dinner

Grillfish

One of the oldest restaurants in South Beach has to be Grillfish. My husband/boyfriend at the time and I used to go here almost weekly since we moved to Miami in 1996. It is the rare place that caters to tourist and locals alike with competent service and an inviting atmosphere of no pretense. At it’s core it is a fish house. The way that they grill fish is simple. They let fish, be fish. Open flame, a few oils and spices and serve. Some whole fish, some fillets. All incredibly fresh and presented the way fish should. Great cocktails and great mgmt {shout out to our fav manager Darcy}make the perfect reason why this place has stood the test of time. You can sit at the bar to eat or a table. Just go here.
Bar Collins at Loews

Another great choice to stop in whether a guest or not. Huge wall screen showing sports and comfy sofas where you can order elevated bar food like their amazing soft shell crab in Korean Soft Buns. Excellent choice. So late night or early evening this is a good place to “pre game” an evening on the town.

*Sunday Brunch

Terazza at Shore Club


Mothers day in Miami. That means every place with electricity and a stove is advertising for a “Mothers Day Brunch”. Thankfully hubby already knew one of my fav brunch spots (that SobeSavvy.com had a chance to review before..ICYMI see here) and made a reservation at Terraza. Located at The Shore Club Hotel, Terraza offers a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy a gourmet all inclusive brunch. For roughly 2 hours, guest enjoy unlimited mimosas, sangria and flutes of prosecco and one incredible brunch food choices. Oysters, shrimp and Crab cakes in a beautiful setting on their expansive terrace.

Great place to spend the afternoon with my family and some great friends.

Tip: If you fly into MIA and you plan to stay on South Beach, no car or parking woes necessary. Taxis are flat rate and you also can opt for Uber or Lyft your way to the beach. Once there you can use Swoop or our fave Freebee,

..as well as the South Beach Local bus or Trolley your way around. But if you do opt for a car, all the major car rental companies have a outpost in Miami Beach.

Only rent a car if you plan on traveling to other parts of Miami, otherwise save yourself alot of parking meter grief. South Beach is truly for walking, biking or running!

Our weekend back “home” came to an end much too quick. My daughter was born here and resided for almost the first 4 yrs of her life. Miami is a special place. We’ll always be back. Until next time..kisses or as we used to say in Miami..Besitos!

Where to Play: #Atlanta Must Do Family Fun Attractions #puppetryATL @CTRPuppetryArts & @LDCatlanta  

Disclaimer: We received complimentary passes to visit these 2 attractions in order to facilitate review, however the opinions are 100% my own.

This past Friday may have been ‘Good Friday’ but we turned it into a Great Friday by visiting two of Atlanta’s family fun attractions: Center for Puppetry Arts and LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta! Both of these attractions are kid friendly, educational, full of family fun and a must do when visiting Atlanta, GA.

Center for Puppetry Arts

The Center for Puppetry Arts has alot to explore and a whole lot to admire. I learned so much about the craftmanship and the passion behind making a puppet. Everyone’s childhood history involves being entertained by a puppet. Whether its Sesame Street….

…the Muppets,with our favorite couple Miss Piggy & Kermit…

..or any of the projects Jim Henson was involved in, we all learned at an early age that puppetry like love is universal. 

Edit
Now thru May 28, Pete the Cat will be playing at the Center. Be sure to request all-inclusive tickets which will provide admission to the show, access to the Worlds of Puppetry Museum and ability to attend the Create-A-Puppet Workshop to craft your own Pete the Cat hand puppet! It was nice to be able to see the interactive show based on the books my daughter loves as well as create a keepsake afterwards to take home. 

Our favorite thing that we did was create our own puppet show. My family and I pretended to go live on tv with the hand puppet of our choice and let our imagination wonder! Hmm, I wonder if PBS is hiring?

Located in Midtown, the Center for Puppetry Arts should be a part of your family vacation memories your next visit to Atlanta.

Center for Puppetry Arts

  • 1404 Spring St. NW at 18th
  • Atlanta, GA 30309-2820 USA


LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta

A family visit to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center was recommended as a family fun attraction during our stay at the Mandarin Oriental because it is conveniently located nearby in the fashionable Phipps Plaza shopping mall.

Legos are those little plastic, colorful, play things that are beloved all over the world. We knew a visit to this attraction would definitely appeal to our 5 year old!

While legos and building opportunities are everywhere here, they have different areas dedicated to specific themes. Their “miniland” area had lego mock ups of construction projects and the space program. They also have 2 rides; Merlin’s Apprentice and Kingdom Quest laser ride. We also took turns getting on a specially calibrated scale that converts your weight to how many lego bricks it would take to weigh that much! However Daddy and daughter mostly enjoyed connecting and discovering what they could build together.

When it was time for a break we took in a show at their incredible Lego 4D Cinema where you are immersed {literally} into the story of the screen. You may get snowed or rained on in the theatre! 

My daughter also had great fun using the karaoke machine. If you get hungry they have a neat little Cafe where you can get snacks and Icee’s. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta is truly fun for the whole family! It brought out the little Big Kid in us all. 

LEGOLAND Discovery Center 

Phipps Plaza, 3500 Peachtree Rd.

Atlanta, GA 30326

Where to Enjoy a Luxury Family Getaway ~Mandarin Oriental Atlanta @MO_Atlanta #FanofMO 

I have been fortunate enough to have had quite a few experiences traveling the globe and staying in some of the world’s premier hotels. Whether for business or pleasure, most were renowned for their “luxury” and grandeur. However, my most recent stay at the Mandarin Oriental Atlanta was the first luxury family travel experience shared with our daughter. As a kindergartner celebrating her first Spring Break, I thought we’d stay at this 5 star hotel known for its beautiful rooms, superb restaurant and elegant spa. We were quite pleased with how this property combined luxury with great service while keeping the littlest guests in mind.

CHECK IN

The moment we arrived at this 580 ft tall skyscraper in Buckhead, we immediately felt part of the #MOfamily. When we pulled up to their valet service, no one asked us did we need help with our luggage, they simply just took over the task. I found that predicting needs is what sets them apart from the rest. The intimate check in area was friendly and efficient. Upon arriving, a special welcome awaited our daughter along with a ‘Passport’ that had a fun scavenger hunt inside. This allowed us to tour the hotel to find clues as well as admire the ppst modern architecture and beautiful decor, such as the white and black marble floors throughout the lobby area!

A warm welcome always makes a great first impression. Our little one received a MiniMO stuffed Panda and slippers along with some bath products to make her stay more comfortable. Also awaiting for us was a beautiful array of delicious sweets to enjoy. These special children’s amenities and treats were a pleasant surprise! 

OUR ROOM

Our first room located on the 6th Floor had an issue with the Air Conditioning unit. Maintenance arrived in a few minutes. After a quick assessment they determined it may take a bit of time to repair. The room phone rang. It was the front desk. They apologized profusely for the situation and advised we would be immediately moved and upgraded to one of their Mandarin Terrace Rooms on the 15th floor. This room had a private balcony which overlooked the Buckhead skyline. The staff took control of what could have been a negative experience and not only solved it but enhanced the positive.  Click here to see our video tour of this elegant and spacious room. My favorite feature in the room was the smooth white marble bathroom with deep soaking tub, walk in shower and vanity area with flat screen tv. Our daughter really enjoyed bath time watching her favorite cartoons and I enjoyed winding down each day by turning bath time into my own city sanctuary! 

DINING

After a great night’s sleep, which included turn down service-another sign of the high caliber property that the Mandarin Oriental is, we woke up just in time for room service to deliver our breakfast. It was delightful. The American Breakfast offered a variety of delicious breakfast favorites. The Brioche French Toast with chocolate chips is definitely a 5 yr old’s dream! We enjoyed the meal and it was a great way to start off the day.

We also dined in their sophisticated restaurant and enjoyed breakfast there on our final day. I laughed when I was about to ask my waiter for more cream but he magically appeared before I could ask…he was holding more cream..There is that predicting needs thing again! The Cafe & Bar and its inviting surroundings not only offers a tasty breakfast menu but dinner, lunch and Sunday brunch. French Press Coffee, Freshly Squeezed Juice, Belgium Waffles, and Shrimp & Grits are just some of the modern American cuisine menu items you can find on their menu. High quality, locally and flavorful ingredients were used to prepare our meal and without a doubt turned us into #MOfoodies!

THE SPA at Mandarin Oriental Atlanta

Winner of the Best of Atlanta Awards by Atlanta Magazine, Dec 2016 for Best Spa Package (Splurge) , The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Atlanta is a wellness oasis and a great treat for anyone needing some relaxation. I had a spa appointment for an Oriental Essence massage on our final day but prior to my indulgent treatment, we enjoyed their 60 foot lap indoor pool. 

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental offers a range of treatments, sauna, steam room, vitality pool access, a spa boutique, fitness center and more. The minimum age requirement for Spa and Fitness center access is 18 yrs old, however the pool is available to all guests. With Mother’s Day and Father’s Day around the corner, I highly recommend treating someone to the gift of luxury & wellness by gifting them a Mandarin Oriental gift card! They won’t be disappointed. 

AMENITIES & OFFERS

While I received my massage, hubby and daughter wanted to check out Lenox Mall & Phipps Plaza nearby. While he was going to retrieve the car, the doorman advised them for such a close drive they should take the Mandarin Oriental’s house car. Ahmad the driver pulled up in their Tesla sedan and off they went. They simply called him when they were ready to return and he promptly picked them back up and delivered them back to the property. Very nice indeed.

The Mandarin Oriental Atlanta has a variety of offers for those planning a luxury retreat. From May 1-October 31, 2017 check out their Family Field Trip package which encourages family travelers to explore Atlanta’s great outdoors.  We checked out some indoor family fun attractions: Center for Puppetry Arts & Legoland Discover Center (which is conveniently close to the hotel and a must do). Stay tuned as I share my review of these Atlanta kid friendly places this week.

I hope you enjoyed reading about some of our favorite moments staying at The Mandarin Oriental Atlanta and are inspired to ‘Experience MO’ yourself with family.  At check out, #outandaboutAva received a concierge gift for completing her scanvenger hunt and answering correctly. Luxury they do very well. Service they do even better. We are definitely #MoFans aka Fans of Mo and hope you will consider becoming one too!

The Mandarin Oriental Atlanta 

3376 Peachtree Road NE

Atlanta GA 30326

Website: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/atlanta

Where to Dine in #Atlanta 3 #FamilyFriendly Restaurants: #TheCowfish #BoneFishGrill #Brio

We are in Atlanta for #outandaboutAva’s first spring break. Epic eats are essential when on vacation, so we sought out some of our favorite family friendly restaurants while here in Atlanta, Georgia. When we eat out as a family, we require any restaurant we choose to have at least the following criteria:

  • Booths. Only parents know the true value of being able to keep a child sequestered on the inside seat of a booth !
  • Kids Menus. A restaurant must make a special effort to cater to kids. Some adult menu items do not translate easily to the palettes of a 5 yr old
  • Activity Booklets. Although we live in the tech world, old fashioned coloring books and puzzles with crayons still do the trick of occupying them until the food comes.
  • Variety. We need choices suitable for all of our tastes AND a bar menu featuring a cocktail and wine list for Mom/Dad because we deserve it!

Our Top 3 restaurants that made our ‘Where to Dine in Atlanta’ list has all the above and more. Check out out thoughts below.

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar Atlanta 

From the moment we walked up to the The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar Atlanta, you could tell we were going to have a fun dining experience! Located at Atlanta’s Perimeter Mall, This is the first and only Georgia outpost of this North Carolina based restaurant. Their unique take on food has made The Cowfish stand out from the crowd.

They have a huge cowfish statue named Nugget and fun games out front. Between the bean bag toss and the plinko game, my daughter was having so much fun outside she didn’t want to come in! But once inside she was fascinated by the REAL cowfish they have in the aquarium and the wonderful kids activities menu with crayons at the table.

The Cowfish aims to offer something for the entire family. Scrumptious appetizers for sharing, entree-sized salads, homemade desserts and a fun kid’s menu are joined by their signature creations such “Burgushi”! A cutting edge fusion of burger and sushi, burgushi items include sushi rolls created using burger components, and pick-up style sandwiches created using sushi components. Since we loves sushi +burgers+bar(for the parents), The CowFish ended up being the perfect choice for our lunch date. They have such a pretty extensive menu, but thankfully it is broken down and explained by the helpful wait staff.

For  an appetizer it was recommended we try the Lobster & Crab Spring Rolls. It was 4 towers of goodness filled with lobster meat. It came with a trifecta of sauces: cilantro pesto, thai chili sauce, spicy honey marmalade The sauces were so good, I ordered extra! Uber fresh, uber delicious! Simply amazing! 

For our entrees, we all got the bento box lunches as a way to try a little of everything they had to offer. The Cowfish Bento Box and Fusion Specialty Bento Box are a great way to go to sample a mini-burger along with your choice of sushi roll and tasty side items! My little girl enjoyed her lunch too. Their kids menu is unlike any other I have ever seen. Sophisticated choices, yet very kid simple palette friendly. She had their California Roll Bento box. It came with edamame, which she loves and even a rice crispy treat with a candy cowfish gummy bear on top..plus a fun tattoo!

We split a very BIG slice of their Chef Dave’s Not Factory Made Cheesecake delicious, creamy almond coconut cheescake! We put a dent in it but can you say “a to go box please” !

The Cowfish satisfies both kids and adults alike. If you enjoy a creative handcrafted cocktail, don’t miss a chance to try any from their list. The Moscow Muleshine for Him and the Itsy Bitsy Tini-Weenie Fresh and Berry Great Martini for me has now made it our favorite libations list! 

SobeSavvy Tip:  Great news for you Birmingham foodies! The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is coming to The Summit near Saks Fifth Avenue and slated to open summer 2017!  Now you can see what Charlotte, Raleigh, Orlando and Atlanta fans love about this restaurant

For more information visit http://www.thecowfish.com Twitter@The_Cowfish                     Instagram: thecowfishsbb              Facebook: @thecowfishatl

Bonefish Grill -Akers Mill Square/ATL

My family loves fresh seafood which makes dining at Bonefish Grill a great idea always! They have a newly opened restaurant in Akers Mill Square in Atlanta, where we enjoyed their new items on their spring menu.  Bonefish Grill, known as the fresh fish experts, are off to a healthy spring start by adding Sea Scallops to the menu. We shared the delicious Applewood Bacon Wrapped Scallops starter, featuring four tender scallops wrapped in Applewood bacon and topped with a tasty mango salsa.Lucky for us parents, Bonefish Grill just launched their Hand-Crafted Happy Hour served 4-6:30 p.m. every day, including weekends, starting April 3*.  We dined while their redefined happy hour was in full swing. Unlike some restaurants, Bonefish Grill allows any diner to order from their special hand crafted happy hour menu no matter if seated at the bar or dining at a table in the main room. We had two of their handcrafted cocktails off of their happy hour menu ($5). The Tropical Tiki Martini and a Fresh Margarita were both superb!Although this is a casual yet sophisticated restaurant, it is also really kid friendly. Kids get their own menu and activity book and crayons to go with it. Her beverage of choice..a shirley temple customized with extra cherries~thanks Bonefish Grill! Her fave from the kids menu is their popcorn shrimp, so that was what she ordered.

Our #HeighPartyof3 believes 3 is the magic number and so does Bonefish Grill with their new Hooked on Tuesday menu special. Starting at $14.90, you get a 3-course meal that includes a fresh salad, entree and decadent dessert.

If you love Salmon, it served many ways at Bonefish Grill.  I choose to have it grilled with pesto and mango salsa (it’s so addictive)  on the side. From the seasonal menu try Cedar Plank Norwegian Salmon – Roasted on a cedar plank, topped with a seasonal glaze of sweet honey and savory Dijon, served with jasmine rice and a vegetable medley of fresh asparagus, button mushrooms, pearl onions, and peas.

For a sweet ending to your meal, I highly recommend the Jen’s jamaican coconut pie. Warning.. this is the one dessert that is not kid friendly because they use a Meyer’s Rum sauce that compliments the dessert well.

And, for dessert from the seasonal menu, try the perennial favorite Strawberry Shortcake! Our daughter loved the made in house whipped cream and fresh strawberries. 

For more information, visit http://www.bonefishgrill.com.   

*Hand-Crafted Happy Hour is available at participating Bonefish Grill restaurants.


Bonefish Grill
(Akers Mill Sq.)
2997 Cobb Pkwy SE
Atlanta, GA 30339

BRIO Buckhead-Atlanta


BRIO Tuscan Grille is a favorite of my family because of the variety of tasty dishes on their menu. When I learned that BRIO Tuscan Grille has two locations in Atlanta at Buckhead and Perimeter Mall, I knew they should be added to our “Where to Dine” list during our visit. They say variety is the spice of life and BRIO is  embracing this philosophy with an array of new dishes on the “A Variety of Flavors” lunch and dinner menus. Available Tuesday, Feb. 28–Saturday, April 15, the menus present two exciting new appetizers, three entrées (including two mouthwatering seafood dishes), a divine dessert, and delightful wine options. Here is what we tried from the menu:

 Appetizers

·         Calamari Fritto Misto: Peperoncini, aioli, Pomodoro; $10.75 at lunch, $11.75 at dinner

*This was enough for my family of 3 to share and it we had fun dipping the calamari into the two sauces. 

Entrées

·         Peroni Beer-Battered Fish & Chips: North Atlantic cod, fries, Brussels sprout slaw; $17.95

·         Braised Beef Pappardelle: Rosemary pappardelle, crimini mushrooms, roasted carrots, red onions,  tomato porcini sauce; $21.95

* Fish for him, Beef for me. We both loved our dishes so much, we didn’t share..lol I’m looking at the picture wondering what the brussels sprout slaw tasted like? He said it was all very good and he hopes they keep it on the menu. The braised beef was very tender and full of flavor. The portion was very much family style anf meant for sharing..but I didn’t. It was that good!


Dessert

·         Butterscotch Budino: Italian for “pudding,” Marcona almonds, caramel, vanilla whipped cream; $3.95   

*The perfect sweet ending to a great meal. 

Serving as perfect complements to these special dishes are BRIO’s exquisite wine selections, which this Mom and Dad appreciates! Suggested wines are the light, fruity and elegant Sketchbook Pinot Noir (Mendocino, California); and the lush and silky Benziger Family Winery Chardonnay (Sonoma, California).

We enjoyed their unique flavors with a Tuscan twist, and #outandaboutAva liked their special Children’s Menu.

For a Family Date Night out consider dining at BRIO. Guests can now make reservations online for all BRIO restaurants by visiting http://www.BrioItalian.com or call (404) 601-5555. For a list of locations, please visit http://www.BrioItalian.com and follow the restaurant on Twitter (@brioitalian) and Facebook (facebook.com/brioitalian)

BRIO Buckhead – Atlanta

2964 Peachtree Road N.W.

Atlanta, GA 30305,

*south of Pharr Rd.
Open Sunday 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Monday–Thursday 11 a.m.–10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.–11 p.m.

#TravelTuesday Spotlight on New Hotel @EmbassySuites by Hilton Atlanta NE Gwinnett Sugarloaf #EmbassySuites

My sister in Law lives in Gwinett County, one of Atlanta’s main northern suburbs. Since this is my daughter’s spring break week, we decided to roadtrip 6 hrs down from Raleigh,NC. Every time my family and I come to visit we have a dilemma on where to stay and set up base camp. Thankfully that dilemma has been solved by the new Embassy Suites Atlanta NE Gwinett Sugarloaf

Centrally located near Duluth/Lawrenceville, this lodging choice is convienient to the many attractions here in this part of Metro Atlanta. Sugarloaf Mills and Medieval Times (a family fun attraction we checked out on Sunday)  is a short 5 minute drive as well as dozens of dining and entertainment choices. Most of this brands properties were set up in a classical atrium style. This is a different design. Set up in a more traditional hotel layout, this new property boasts a fresh upscale modern design with technology and service at their forefront. Rooms have a plethora of USB and charging outlets. Bedrooms even have their own dedicated power stations. This is essentially a tablet, smartphone, laptop obsessed world so to pleasure and business travelers alike, connectivity is important.

The public spaces are just as beautiful. Cabana style nooks with flat screens.

The expansive outdoor stylish patio seating just adds to the already special flair one feels when staying here.

The gym has everything needed for a workout and the indoor pool is available for a swim.

They have also redesigned their room suites. High end furnishings and quality bedding is par for course. The interior resembles many a high end boutique hotels for sure. Avant Garde light fixtures just add to the overall high brow feel to the entire suite.

I am also here to report that there iconic breakfast offerings are even better now with dedicated stations for custom yogurt parfaits and a oatmeal station with every imaginable fixin for the taking.

Of course made to order omelettes are still standard.

This hotel also still has their famous 2 hour complementary happy hour 7 days a week. Light snacks , beer, wine and cocktails can be enjoyed in their indoor or outdoor spaces. This is always been a generous perk of staying at this brand of Hilton Hotels.

SobeSavvy Tip:

Embassy
Suites by Hilton Atlanta NE Gwinnett Sugarloaf participates in the Hilton
HHonors® loyalty program, which is open to all guests and free to join –
visit 
here for enrollment information. Hilton
HHonors members always receive the lowest price with Hilton’s Best Price
Guarantee, along with Hilton HHonors Points, free standard Wi-Fi access, digital
check-in, Digital Key and no hidden fees, only when they book directly through
Hilton. To celebrate the recent opening, guests will earn 1,000 HHonors Points
per night from January 18 – May 31, 2017.

Next time in this part of the Atlanta metro make this Embassy Suites your lodging of choice. You’ll be glad you did. 

Cheers! https://www.instagram.com/p/BSuQZ8ihIhZ/