#FamilyTravel | Where to Play, Eat, Stay for the Holidays in Charlotte, NC #CLT

Thanksgiving Weekend 2018 has ended but not without making memories in Charlotte,NC. Me and my #HeighPartyof3 drove 2.5 hours to kick off our holiday season in the Queen City and had such a great time! I wanted to share some of the highlights from our visit to inspire other families who may be traveling there soon. Check out my Family Travel Guide|Where to Play,Eat,Stay for the Holidays in Charlotte,NC.

PLAY

Discovery Place & IMAX| website

Discovery Place, located in Charlotte’s Uptown area, is a wonderful hands on learning complex about technology, nature and science. Spread out over 3 floors, families can spend the day here exploring and having fun. Watch an IMAX feature, Touch a Starfish, Create Art with a hot glue gun, and Dance while learning how the muscles move in your body! There is plenty to see and do like looking at our skin cells under a microscope, crossing a rope bridge in the rainforest, playing the secret scents game and so much more! Discovery Place lets kids of all ages experience learning thru play. It is a great way to spend a fun day! To see more, watch youtube video>>here.

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Visiting #Charlotte #NC for the holidays? Take the whole family to @discoveryplace and discover something new! Swipe 🔙 and get inspired to learn more of the wonders of science, technology and nature. Plus, check out my #instastories as we explore three floors of fun for everyone from interactive displays, a rainforest, an @imax 3D theater and more! We ❤ science and had a blast! Have you ever been to Discovery Place? What did you discover? . . . #SobeSavvy #lifestyleblogger #NCblogger #familyblogger #fun #familyfun #family #clt #discoveryplacescience #Heighpartyof3 #museum #outandaboutAva #science #stem #stemlearning #travelblogger #play #thingstodoinCharlotte #learningisfun #Ilovescience #girlmom #dadanddaughter #nature #technology

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Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway | website

Charlotte Speedway is the annual home to “Speedway Christmas”. Every year thousands and thousands of lights takeover the infield and stands at this iconic racing venue. We got a chance to actually drive on the racetrack which my husband loved! Tune in to their own radio station and listen to Christmas tunes as you take a slow drive for a few miles. We enjoyed partaking in the tradition of seeing the unique sights and creativity used for the dozens of displays. Guests can stop at their Christmas Village for snacks, rides and shopping. Speedway Christmas is a seasonal, holiday event held at Charlotte Speedway. So pack the family up in the car and have your chance to drive on the speedway to see holiday lights! Pay one price per vehicle and sit back, sing Christmas Carols and Enjoy! Take a look at my youtube video and enjoy some of light displays at Speedway Christmas!

SobeSavvy Tip: It is recommended that visitors come in early in the season as the lines tend to get longer the closer they get to Christmas. Also going on a Thursday or Sunday night is best as the Village is open and movies are shown on the Speedway TV. On Dec.9 bring 5 Food Lion brand non-perishable food items and get $10 off admission!

EAT

Piedmont Social House | website

Looking for a place that has great food, a tap room, games and a 12 lane bowling alley? Then head to Piedmont Social House, located in the popular Ayrsley neighborhood of Charlotte. It is a one stop destination for an afternoon or evening of food,drinks and fun! The atmosphere here is energetic and lively. It is a great spot for groups or a fun date night. There is something for everyone in the family. The service was good and so were their Chicken and Waffles! Just feast your eyes on it here:

SobeSavvy Tip: Now through December 31 they have a special Gift Card Promotion. Buy a $50 Gift Card and receive a $10 Bonus Card! Just ake a look at my photos featuring good food and good vibes from our dining experience at Piedmont Social House >>here and you’ll want to give or get a gift card to this restaurant!

THE COWFISH Sushi•Burger•Bar | website

With so many restaurant choices around Southpark Mall in Charlotte, it can be hard to find something that is actually different. One in particular that stands out from the rest is The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. Creative cocktails, innovative sushi rolls and awesome burgers is what ypu can find here. My daughter loves their kids menu choices, which comes with a Cowfish tattoo! Service is excellent and if you can, save room for dessert. See more drool worthy photos from our visit >>here and be sure to dine at The Cowfish when visiting Charlotte.

American Girl Bistro | website

SPECIAL..MAGICAL..MEMORABLE, Those are three words I would use to describe our visit to the American Girl Store/ Bistro. On Sunday, my #Heighpartyof3 enjoyed ‘Holiday Tea’ and each other during this event. Our #outandaboutAva and Luciana got all dolled up in their matching red velvet dresses for the special occasion! It was so darling! Girls got to visit the hot chocolate bar, play with a paper doll craft and we all had a chance to eat savory bites/sweet treats. Check out more photos from the Holiday Tea event>>here to see some of the holiday memories we made at this special in-store experience. With all the attention to the little details for girls and their dolls, it was a visit our daughter will never forget!

SobeSavvy Tip: Save 25% on matching dresses for girls and dolls thru 12/24/18! Find something special to make their season memorable and magical at americangirl.com

STAY


Hampton Inn & Suites Charlotte/SouthPark at Phillips Place| website

The Hampton Inn & Suites was a wonderful place to stay during our Charlotte visit. It is located at The Phillips Place Shops area and is within walking distance to many restaurants and even has a Whole Foods next door. The immense Southpark mall is right down the street. It has a stately lobby and public areas. Large modern and stylish suites awaits visitors. I loved the built in TV vanity mirror feature of our suite. There is complimentary Valet Parking and of course the Hampton Inn breakfast gets you ready for another day tackling the Queen City. Make this your property of choice on your next visit to Charlotte!

Here is an inside look at the Hampton Inn & Suites Charlotte/ SouthPark at Phillips Place:

As you can see, Charlotte is one of those cities in North Carolina that no matter the length or purpose of your visit, there are so many options for families. You can play, eat, stay and have fun along the way!

Planning to visit Charlotte this season? Which one of these places would be on your list?

4 #Books To Make Holiday #FamilyTravel Easier + #ChildrensBook Giveaway

*Disclosure: This content uses some affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy for more info: here

Do you pack books for yourself or family when you travel? I do. No matter if it’s by plane, train or automobile each member of my #HeighPartyof3 will have some type of reading material or activity book. We are heading up to Charlotte, NC for Thanksgiving weekend and I have already started packing up what books my daughter will read on the roadtrip and keep her entertained during our hotel stay. Sure she has a tablet and my husband has his kindle, but there is still something special about having and holding a book. Here are 4 Books To Make Holiday Family Travel Easier:
Football Freddie and Fumble Dog by Marnie Schneider, Goldie Grace, Illustrated by D.Moore

Description: Football Freddie and Gameday in the Carolinas is a book that follows Football Freddie, a football loving girl who also loves to learn, as she travels around the Carolinas taking in the sights, ending her trip at a Carolina Panthers game in Charlotte.

This book is beautifully illustratrated and includes dome fun facts about the Carolinas and even some Charlotte stops, which is right on time since we will be visiting there in a few days! Our daughter is including this book in her #outandaboutAvareads series to enjoy along the way.

*Available at Amazon.com >here
Color My Washington DC by Elina Diaz

Description: Color Washington, D.C., the way you want to see it… Color your journey through the capital of the United States. Color elaborately hand drawn pen and ink illustrations of some of the most iconic destinations in the District—from to the White House, down through the National Mall and across to the Washington Monument, enjoy all the treasures this city has to offer. Each page contains facts about the District of Columbia, so regardless if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or a first time visitor to Capitol Hill, you’ll have your own relaxing coloring experience for years to come.

I am from the DMV area and enjoy traveling back to DC to see family, friends and share our #soDMVsavvy highlights. With this book, I get to learn more about the city while coloring. When my daughter pulls out her coloring books in the hotel, this is the one I will use!

*Purchase at Amazon.com >here

48 hours in North American Cities

Description: 48 Hours In…North American Cities | How to Enjoy the Perfect Short Break in 20 Great Destinations By Simon Calder

Every Saturday in The Independent’s award-winning Traveller section, our “48 hours” stories explore new and exciting city-break itineraries. Now, 25 years after the series was first launched, we’ve produced this special, designed to help you get the most from a visit to a selection of 20 key North American cities. Among them, you can choose from New York’s dizzying nightlife, the rollercoaster thrills of Orlando, the Hollywood glitter of Los Angeles or Vancouver’s great outdoors. We’ve also included a range of accommodation options to suit your budget.

We love weekend getaways! While my husband and I both have a background in working in a Travel agency (it’s how we met actually), we still like referring to books on what to do in certain cities. Our family just came back from a 3 Day Vacation in Orlando and this book gave us some ideas outside of the Disney box!

*Get your copy on Amazon.com>here

BigFoot Fun Book!: Puzzles,Coloring Pages, Fun Facts! by D.L.Miller

Description: The idea of the book brainchild of Pennsylvania artist D.L. Miller, was to marry fun activities along with learning. “Children have the opportunity to have fun while learning about the world around them with BigFoot,” says Miller.

The activity book is a treasure trove of engaging activities such as mazes, word search games, dot-to-dot pictures, coloring, and of course his classic seek-and-find activities. As with his other BigFoot books, the activity book is intended to help children learn about the world in an engaging and exciting way. As an added bonus, the book also includes animal stickers.

This book, which is recommended for children ages 5-12 years old, grade level:4-6 , is 136 pages of fun for my 7 yr old 2nd grader. The variety of educational, fun and interactive activities is why we parents love this book for our daughter. It keeps her engaged and gives a good balance between playing with apps on the tablet doing an activity in a book. She enjoys the Bigfoot seek and find series, which you can find out more information at IFoundBigFoot.com

*Available at Amazon.com >here

SobeSavvy Tip: Enter my #SobeSavvyGiveaway to recieve a copy of the BigFoot Fun Book!: Puzzles, Coloring Pages, Fun Facts for a child in your life! Comment below in blog comments with ” I Found BigFoot” to enter. One winner will be selected randomnly. Contest ends Monday, Nov 26, 2018 at noon. Additional entry if you comment in this IG post also ⤵

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Orlando 3 Day Vacation-Day 3|Best Lunch in Disney Springs with a View @PaddlefishORL #Seafood

To celebrate our last and final day 3 in Orlando [in case you missed it, read Day 1 >here and Day 2 > here + here], we made plans to have a special lunch in Disney Springs at Paddlefish. We consider ourselves ‘seafoodies’ because it is our favorite cuisine and since Paddlefish was voted ‘Best Seafood Restaurant’ we had to check it out!

VIEWS ask for a window seat

Located directly on Lake Buena Vista, Paddlefish, takes the shape of a classic steam paddleboat and simply can’t be missed! It has huge windows which leads to wonderful natural light in every room.

This restaurant also has an expansive rooftop lounge/bar with great panoramic views of Disney Springs, which is the outdoor shopping, dining, entertainment area formerly known as Downtown Disney. After a few rain showers, I was able to go up on the rooftop and video the gorgeous views. Check it out!⤵️

DRINKStry a mocktail

Paddlefish has a wonderful cocktail and wine menu, however I wanted something with no alcohol. I was glad to see they have mocktails which allows me to have a craft cocktail minus the liquor and extra calories. I got the Cucumber Sipper and it was love at first sip! It was refreshing and very good. I loved the use of fresh ingredients like cucumber and rosemary in a drink!

KIDS MENUlooked as good as ours

I must admit after seeing what was on the kids menu, I could not wait to try my daughter’s food. Her menu had some great seafood choices! My girl chose the cup of soup/clam chowder, shrimp pasta and warm cookies +milk for dessert. I did manage to taste it all before she ate it all, which means she liked it!

LUNCH MENU..give me all the seafood

For starters, we split an order of crab fries. I have never had loaded fries with a seafood topping before. It was so yummy! The skin on fries come with lump crab on top and with Louie Dressing. I still added ketchup and enjoyed this dish nonetheless.

We also tried an order of their Fish Tacos. They used salmon and a whitefish in their tacos. It came with a papaya mango salsa which I loved and I enjoyed the flavors. Although my personal preference is for a fried fish taco, this was pretty good.

SobeSavvy Tip: Be sure to order one of Buzz Pop Cocktails and see what all the buzz is about! These popular adult beverage frozen treats are now available at Paddlefish.

After dining at Paddlefish, we enjoyed the rest of our day exploring Disney Springs. If you are there between now and Jan. 6, 2019, it’s the most wonderful time of the year to see the Christmas Tree Trail, which is what we did to walk off all that delicious food! Watch video: here.

Our dining experience at Paddlefish was the perfect way to end our awesome Orlando vacay. Being able to enjoy delicious seafood with great service made for a memorable lunch. Looking for the Best Place In Disney Springs To Enjoy Lunch (and brunch/dinner too) With A View? Make plans to dine at Paddlefish!

PADDLEFISH

1670 Buena Vista Drive

Orlando, FL 32830

paddlefishrestaurant.com

Orlando 3 Day Vacation- Day 2, part 2 | Food,Wine,Good Times at @CHWinery Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants

Family and Good Times go together like Food & Wine. All of these things come together at a restaurant in Orlando named COOPER’S HAWK Winery and Restaurants. After a great start to our Day 2 at SEALIFE Orlando and Madame Tussauds, my #HeighPartyof3 met up with 2 friends to enjoy dinner at Cooper’s Hawk after hearing so many good things about this place, plus it was a convenient 5 min drive from our hotel on I-Drive. It was such a wonderful dining experience that we were there for 3 hours! I mean when was the last time you had a three hour dinner? Between the stories shared, chef-crafted food, and award winning wines, we simply lost track of time.

We had a 5:30p reservation on a Sunday night. I highly recommend that you make a reservation before you go because this place is popular! Described as a modern, casual dining experience with warm hospitality in an inviting upscale setting, Cooper’s Hawk felt welcoming. With a wine tasting room, gift shop, wine bar and even a place to purchase wine to go, theres was so much to take in and I was quite impressed at first sight!

KIDS MENU

As you know our family enjoys dining out and being introduced to new flavors as well as tasting foods we are familiar with. My young foodie was very happy to see lots of her favorites on their kids menu like flatbread cheese pizza, mac & cheese but for the first time on a kid’s menu we saw chicken potstickers amd that is what she ordered. While we waited some warm pretzel bread and butter came to the table. It was so good, my daughter really wanted it all to herself!

The Kid’s Menu, which is for kids 12 and under, shows what options are vegetarian or gluten free. Since the kitchen is a scratch kitchen, any menu items can be customized if any allergy or dietary restrictions. All entrees include a drink (they offer organic chocolate milk) and served with a side of fresh fruit plus one additional side from a list. My daughter ate everything on her plate and was entertained [and occupied] by the fun games/graphics to color on the menu. The cherry, or shall I say the strawberry on top of her whole dining experience came at the end of her meal. All kid’s menu entrees include a chocolate covered strawberry! Now that’s fancy!

WINE

There is a reason Cooper Hawk’s puts the word “winery” before restaurant in their name. Wine is such an integral part of their experience. You enter the restaurant through the wine store/sampling room, which features high ceilings, beautiful decor and wine gifts. Here you can stand at the bar and sample wines prior to purchase. You can buy by the bottle or the case right on the premises.

Not sure what wine will pair well with your meal? No worries. They have a no risk policy that allows you to ask for a taste before ordering a glass to challenge yourself to try something new! All items on the menu are paired with a wine that is labeled on the menu by bin number as suggested by the winemaker. This takes alot of the guess work out of the “what wine goes with this” scenario we all have faced!

The servers here also operate as your own personal sommelier. They are knowledgeable in recommending all sorts of wines depending on your likes and dislikes. What makes dining here even more special is the ability to have a wine tasting of up to 3 wines complimentary right at the table for you to try before you order. In addition to wine, they also serve beer, a variety of cocktails and other beverages.

DINNER MENU

The menu is described as contemporary American-fusion and contains dishes that incorporates peak of season ingredients and flavors from around the world. With 110 items on the menu, there is truly something for everyone on the menu.

Appetizers***

Just looking at these photos of Mexican Drunken Shrimp and Asian Ahi Tuna Sashimi is making my mouthwater. At the suggestion of our server, I got the Mexican Drunken Shrimp, which is bacon-wrapped shrimp with a tequila lime butter sauce and fresh guacomole. Need I say more? It was as good as described and I would get it again! Soups, salads, flatbreads and other amazing appetizer choices are on the menu as an option to share and enjoy before your meal.

Entrées***

No matter if you want Beef, Pork, Seafood, Pasta, Chicken, Vegetarian, or Vegan, Cooper’s Hawk has something on the menu for you! I appreciate when a restaurant cares about accomodating guests regardless of what type of food is desired. We all loved the taste and presentation of our food, plus the quality,fresh ingredients used. My husband was in the mood for seafood and got the Pan-Roasted Barramundi and my dish, Red Wine Braised Short Ribs was identified on the menu as a Cooper’s Hawk Favorites. As seen below, it comes with oven-roasted vegetables, mustard sauce, Mary’s Potatoes (which are mashed potatoes whipped to perfection)and topped with Crispy Onion Strings. My short ribs were tender and absolutely delicious!

Desserts***

We saved room for something sweet to end our amazing meal! After seeing on the menu that all desserts were vegetarian and made in-house daily, we just had to try something. My family ordered the Key Lime Pie and our friends got the S‘more Budino as seen below. It’s the perfect combination of caramel custard,chocolate mousse and brown butter toasted graham cracker.

SobeSavvy Tip: This is the perfect restaurant for celebrating special occasions, like birthdays or just life in general! When you sign up for the exclusive Wine Club , for one low price you get the wine of the month delivered and also 10% off case discounts, birthday specials and invites to special member only events.

If you follow my SobeSavvy.com Food and Wine experiences, you know that I enjoy dining out and having lots of foodie fun. This was my first experience at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurants and I can’t stop thinking about how good everything was. The attention to detail, handcrafted wine selections, amazing dishes and their belief that food and wine hold the power to forge lasting connections is why this restaurant is one of the most memorable dining experiences we have had in awhile. Thanks Cooper’s Hawk for taking us on an unforgettable wine and food journey! For more info, go to chwinery.com

COOPER’S HAWK Winery & Restaurants
8005 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819

Orlando 3 Day Vacation- Day 2|Enjoy #FamilyFun at @SEALIFEOrlando @TussaudsOrlando

After a fun filled DAY 1 in Orlando at LEGOLAND and a good dinner/rest at Embassy Suites, it was time to get my #HeighPartyof3 crew ready for DAY 2. When we travel as a family, we love attractions that are located all under one roof. Saves time and just makes traveling with a young child more manageable. Within walking distance from our hotel was the ICON Orlando 360, which has 3 awesome attractions in one complex! Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the huge observation wheel, ICON Orlando are all located at this outdoor entertainment complex. We could actually see the 400 ft tall wheel from our hotel balcony!

Just seeing the ICON Orlando from our hotel room had us ready to explore!

Located on International Drive, ICON Orlando 360 is also home to numerous restaurants and shops in the immediate vicinity. Although we walked there, parking is free inside the garage. It was a great idea to spend our #SundayFunday there and check out the following attractions during our visit:

SEALIFE Orlando Aquarium

SEA LIFE is a unique aquatic attraction in Orlando, Fl. Their mission statement includes their goal to “Rescue, Breed and Protect“. They take in injured sea animals and nurse them back to health to be released if possible. If not, they care for them or find a suitable home at other facilities.

This aquarium is what I like to call “friendly size”. Not too large or two small. Most viewing areas are made into “immersive” experiences. For example, plexiglass is built INWARDS into the tanks where guests can literally almost feel like they are in the water with them. SEA LIFE also has periscope type viewing areas where you crawl under and pop your head up into the middle of the tanks. That was so much fun to do!

Seahorses, Sea Turtles, Sharks..oh my! There was so much to see, discover and learn. Did you know that turtles can live for 50 years or more and take an average of 30 years to reach maturity? Being able to see one up close was amazing! My daughter’s favorite thing was being able to touch a starfish.

I really appreciated reading the educational notes that were found throughout the aquarium. All the major oceans and the Florida Everglades had their own dedicated areas highlighting the sea life in those specific places. We learned about simple ways in which we all can get involved in protecting out oceans. SEA LIFE raises awareness and supports their partner charities in their efforts to protect marine wildlife and habitats across the world. For more info, visit sealifetrust.org.

Watch video of our visit to SEALIFE here:

WHERE TO EAT | We took a meal break between attractions. Lucky for us, both SEA LIFE and Madame Tussauds are just steps away from many restaurant choices. We decided to stroll across the lawn and dine outside on the patio at Uncle Julio’s Mexican.

My family loves mexican food and had our fingers crossed that this was a good decision. BOY WAS IT! Great service, great food and great atmosphere. They make their tortillas on the premise. You can order fresh guacamole tableside. The chips and salsa are homemade. We ordered fajitas and everything was so flavorful,fresh and tasty!

SobeSavvy Tip: Save room for their signature dessert..a chocolate lovers pinata! It is unique and so good. Check it out⤵️

MADAME TUSSAUDS Orlando

Madame Tussauds wax figures are known around the world. My family and I have been to quite a few of their museums. There is always something/someone new to see so we loved getting a chance to go to their location at ICON Orlando 360. Since we are in Florida, welcoming us was Mr. 305 himself, Pitbull!

The figures are so life like that you will want to take a #MTSelfie with these famous entertainers, politicians and heros in the flesh! My daughter got a kick out of posing with her favorite stars like Serena Williams, Taylor Swift, and Michael Jackson.

My husband enjoyed challenging sporting legends like Tiger Woods, Shaq and Ali.

Madame Tussauds Orlando has a new “Heroes Unite” section featuring some of the most popular Justice League characters. We loved Wonder Woman and Batman. All 3 of us had a chance to join Superman and actually “lift” a helicopter from crashing!

We accepted the fun challenge of taking the #BestSelfieEver with President Obama, MLK, Beyonce and even danced with Justin Beiber before exiting this wonderful museum. Adults love it, kids love it, EVERYONE loves Madame Tussauds! Here’s an inside look from our visit to this must see attraction⤵️

After a full day at ICON Orlando 360, we walked back to the hotel where our daughter enjoyed both the indoor/outdoor pool before going to our 5:30p dinner reservation. More about our Orlando Day 2, part 2 coming soon!

Thanks to SEA LIFE Orlando and Madame Tussauds Orlando for providing complimentary tickets to review both attractions and share my honest opinion with you.

Orlando 3 Day Vacation-Day 1 |Recap @LEGOLANDFlorida + @KidzBop #KBweekend #KBLegoland

Disclaimer: Thanks to LEGOLAND Florida for providing complimentary park passes to facilitate my recap and provide insight to my readers of a day at LEGOLAND Florida!

Long weekends are a great opportunity for families to travel. We decided to get out of town for Veteran’s Day weekend and explore Orlando “minus the Mouse”. That is what my husband called our non-Disney amusement park vacation, but seriously can you visit Orlando with a child and have fun without going to Disney? The answer is YES.

I knew just the theme park to visit to kick off our three day vacation. LEGOLAND Florida! Lucky for us our visit coincided with their “Kidz Bop Weekend”. The very popular tween music band sing and dance to popular hits and our daughter is a big fan!

#outandaboutAva at the Kidz Bop Meet & Greet at LEGOLAND Florida #KBWeekend #KBLegoland

During the Kidz Bop Weekend there were lots of awesome events like a scavenger hunt for music notes, a chance to meet/greet the band and attend their live concert all with the price of admission to Legoland! But before we got started on jamming out with the Kidz Bop Kids at their 5pm show, we got started on our LEGOLAND Florida adventure!

Upon arriving to LEGOLAND Florida, be sure to get a family photo at the entrance!

LEGOLAND ….What is it?

Believe it or not some people have never heard of LEGOLAND. It is a popular vacation destination with 145 acres dedicated to everything LEGO, which is derived from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means “play well“. This amusement park is #BuiltForKids under age 12 and has over 50 rides, shows and attractions. With locations throughout Europe, the Middle East, Japan and in California, the theme park that is located west of Orlando in Lakeland, Florida is closest to us. Although we have visited the Legoland Discovery Center attraction in Atlanta, this was our first trip to the amusement park. We grabbed a map and was on our way to a fun -filled day!

SobeSavvy Tip: In addition to having a map, we downloaded the LEGOLAND FLORIDA official app which proved to be a helpful tool because it saved us time in trying to figure out where something was and when shows started!

LEGOLAND Eats

We came straight from the Orlando’s airport [about 45 mins to an hour drive] to the theme park, so needless to say we were hungry. We decided to fuel up for a fun day at LEGOLAND at Pepper and Roni’s Pizza Stop. You can’t miss it because the pizzamaker made of Lego’s invites you in for some pizza in a semi-authentic Italian accent. My daughter is always in the mood for pizza,but even if you weren’t this guy is so convincing!

#outandaboutAva ‘Say Cheese’ at Pepper and Roni’s Pizza Stop

As for me, I got a turkey and cheese panini kids meal from Panini Grill. The panini sandwiches are made fresh to order and was so yummy. For a sweet cool treat, I recommend Kingdom Cones. Both Panini Grill and Kingdom Cones are near play areas so that we parents can eat while the kids play!

Walking into the Imagination Zone ,where kids can enjoy creative play and families can eat at Panini Grill

LEGOLAND Explore

With so many fun things to do and places to explore like Duplo Valley,

The DUPLO Valley is where kids ages 2-5 yrs old can enjoy the DUPLO Farm,Tractor,Train and Tot Spot. My daughter said she enjoyed reliving her childhood 😂

LEGO Ninjago World,

Great place to hone your Ninja skills!

Miniland USA,

New York,New York, San Francisco,California, Washington DC, Miami Beach,Florida..visit your favorite cities all at once at MINILAND USA

STAR WARS Miniland,

If you are a STAR WARS fan, this is a must see! My hubby loved it!

Heartlake City,

#outandaboutAva loved posing with her favorite characters from Lego friends

Needless to say our 7 yr old daughter was elated to be at this unique amusement park and so were we!

LEGOLAND Events

For the second year in a row, The KIDZ BOP Kids brought their national concert tour to the place #BuiltForKids during KIDZ BOP Weekend, a music-filled event set for Nov. 10-12 at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort.“KIDZ BOP Live 2018” is the ultimate family concert experience, “sung by kids for kids.” The KIDZ BOP Kids – Billboard Magazine’s No. 1 Kids’ Artist for eight consecutive years (2010-2017) – will headline the new show, performing some of today’s biggest hit songs. After seeing the all-new North American Tour, KIDZ BOP Live 2018, in Raleigh,NC it was such a special treat to be here during the three-day KIDZ BOP Weekend! The KIDZ BOP Kids performed two live concerts each day at LEGOLAND Florida’s KIDZ BOP Stadium, an outdoor venue on the picturesque shore of Lake Eloise.

All activities during KIDZ BOP Weekend, including the concerts and exclusive meet-and-greets with the performers, were included with all forms of theme park admission. No extra ticket required!

Awesome Awaits at LEGOLAND! The Kidz Bop weekend is one she will never forget!

Watch more of our LEGOLAND Florida /Kidz Bop Weekend experience here⤵️

Sometimes we as parents rush along with our daily kids lives and don’t take enough time to just celebrate them being a kid. LEGOLAND is THE place to celebrate your kids and embrace your inner child too! Make plans to visit LEGOLAND Florida because the memories are priceless!

My #HeighPartyof3 at Legoland Florida

WHERE TO STAY |While LEGOLAND does have a resort/hotel accomodations as part of its amusement park, it was sold out for our travel dates. At the end of our long day of travel and play, it was great to check into Embassy Suites by Hilton International Drive-Convention Center. Reasons to stay at Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive Convention Center /Convention Center when traveling to Orlando: ✔Two-Room Newly Renovated Suites ✔Complimentary Drinks/Snacks at Evening Reception ✔Free Made To Order Breakfast ✔Walking Distance to Dining, Shopping and Entertainment ✔Onsite Full Service Dining at Bar Meets Grill.

My family and I enjoyed the convenience of having a delicious dinner at Bar Meets Grill At Embassy Suites after a full day at the amusement park. This restaurant offers an extensive list of craft beers, cocktails, shareable plates and more! It was all very good and definitely a place I would recommend even if you were not staying at hotel! Just feast your eyes on these pics from our stay.

Thanks again to Legoland and Bar Meets Grill restaurant for hosting us!

#FoodieFriday | Family Dining at FIREBIRDS Wood Fired Grill #NorthHills @FirebirdsGrill #Raleigh

Happy Friday! Time for another drool-worthy Foodie Friday Feature. This time I am highlighting Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. Have you ever been? We have three locations here in the Triangle [Durham/Southpoint Mall, Morrisville and Raleigh/North Hills]. I had gone before to enjoy their Happy Hour but I did not know about their amazing Kids Menu! I learned more about the restaurant at the North Hills Block Party event and was interested in dining there with my family. We went there for lunch on Sunday prior to seeing The Nutcracker and The Four Realms and had an enjoyable experience. From the great service to the tastiness of the food and the welcoming atmosphere, I would definitely recommend dining at Firebirds!

Drinks/Appetizer

With a full bar featuring an extensive wine list and creative cocktails, there are so many beverage choices to choose from. Our waiter kindly suggested we try a few of their non-alcoholic craft beverages. I am so glad he did because the Strawberry Basil Cooler and Wild Berry Ginger Craft Soda were both refreshing.

Firebirds partners with an organization called “Alex’s Lemondade Stand“. They contribute a portion of every lemonade sale to this pediatric cancer foundation. So naturally we ordered a lemonade for our daughter!

We had the Lobster Spinach Queso as a shareable appetizer. Chunks of lobster and fresh spinach in delicious high quality queso cheese with bell peppers. Tri-colored tortilla chips came with it. Simply one of the best quesos I have ever had! Three words of advice: ORDER.THIS.APPETIZER.

Recommended: Lobster Spinach Queso

Kids Menu

I was very happy to see that the food offered to little ones are from a KidsLiveWell approved menu. Not many restaurants have this healthy recognition for most of the items on their kids menu, so I am pleased to see this and spread the word to other parents!

The Kids Live Well program verifies that certain kids dishes meets or exceed child nutritional standards. They have 5 entrees and 3 sides that meet this standard. Their kids menu has everything from shrimp tacos and wood grilled mahi to ribs. My daughter wanted the ribs. They came fall- off -the -bone tender with a honey barbeque sauce. She chose fresh fruit and brocolli for healthy sides. Fries came out in error so it was a bonus side for her.

Speaking of bonus, the Kids Menu itself is a mini activity book unlike anothet focusing on important values and interviews from Kid Heros. For more Kids Fun Visit FIREBIRDSKIDS.COM

Entreés

If I had to describe their entrees with one word it would be delicious. Firebirds offers so many yummy options on their menu and what we each ordered was tasty, flavorful, and satisfying!

My husband went with their Filet Mignon which was cooked to a perfect medium at his request. It came tender with a side of mashed potatoes and port mushrooms. Every steak they serve is aged a minimum of 21 days.Top quality and great taste.

Recommended: Filet Mignon is a staple on the menu. Their kitchen is a scratch kitchen and all of their steaks and seafood are hand-cut in house.

I went with the wood grilled salmon. It was basted with key lime butter and veggies. At my waiter’s suggestion, I got it chile rubbed style. In fact he advised that you can request anything on the menu to be chile rubbed. I added a skewer of shrimp and a side of Southwest Au Gratin Potatoes. We all enjoyed the gooey baked goodness of that side dish!

Dessert

Four Words.: SAVE.ROOM.FOR.DESSERT ! Firebirds offers an array of terrific desserts like Warm Chocolate Brownies, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate Cake and a White Chocolate Mousse. But me and my sweet tooth are here to testify that their Creme Brulee Cheesecake will knock your socks off ! Such a fantasic sweet ending to a fantastic meal!

Recommended: Crème Brulee Cheesecake

SobeSavvy Tip: Firebirds offers dishes featuring ingredients for that season. The next seasonal feature is not until their Winter Features which will launch on November 28th. Be sure to mark your calenders and make reservations [on OpenTable] today! Plus, join the Firebirds Inner Circle for updates. Check out more from Firebirds on their website.

Also Firebirds is honoring our Veterans on Monday with this awesome deal⤵️

Firebirds is an excellent choice for a date night, meeting with friends, celebrating a special occassion or simply dining with family in a nice casual setting. Adults and kids can find alot to love about Firebirds. I know we enjoyed everything about our meal and look forward to dining here again!

Thank you to Firebirds for hosting SobeSavvy.com at your Raleigh North Hills location for Lunch. My opinions of the dining experience are 100% my own!

FIREBIRDS Wood Fired Grill

North Hills

4350 Lassiter At NORTH HILLS Ave. Ste 118, Raleigh,NC 27609

919.788.8778

Raleigh.FirebirdsRestaurants.com

5 Lessons For My Daughter thanks to THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS +Recipes #DisneysNutcracker @DisneyStudios

When was the last time you cried at the movies? Well thanks to Disney’s new film, THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS, I shed a few tears while watching the mystery and magic unfold. It made me think about my role as a Mother and what important lessons I would want my daughter to know, especially when it comes time for me to go.

In the film, which opened in theatres everywhere on Nov. 2, 2018, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is dealing with the death of her Mother who has left her a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.

Watch the Trailer here⤵️

Check out ‘Family Traditions’ Featurette here⤵️

Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy and featuring a special performance by Misty Copeland, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” directed by Lasse Hallström and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale is a must see! But I’m telling you..HAVE. YOUR. TISSUES. READY!

We have seen the Nutcracker ballet [see past posts here] and even the Hip Hop Nutcracker and I have never had this reaction before. Maybe I cried because I am 45 years old, my daughter is 7 and I know one day she will have to deal with the loss of me. How can I prepare her for my death? More importantly am I doing enough to prepare her for life? Will she be angry, feel abandoned or perhaps lost like Clara?

There are 5 Lessons For My Daughter thanks to THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS that I want her to know:

  1. Who you are is not determined by others. You decide who you are for youself. You hold the key to unlocking the magic, your unique gifts, inside you.
  2. What do you do when you miss someone? REMEMBER them.
  3. When choosing friends, may they be loyal ,reliable, trustworthy, respectful, caring and fair. A great example of loyalty is shown by Captain Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight)
  4. Where ever you go walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.
  5. How you love your life and the people in it will be your legacy. So live with passion, conviction, character, confidence and don’t forget to DANCE!

And here are 2 delicious Nutcracker themed recipes created in honor of the film:

Nutcracker Cookies: https://family.disney.com/recipe/nutcracker-cookies/

Nutcracker Gingerbread House:https://family.disney.com/recipe/nutcracker-gingerbread-house/

Take a look at our Sunday Funday at the movies here ⤵️

Like THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneysNutcracker

Follow Disney Studios on Twitter:https://twitter.com/DisneyStudios

Follow THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS on Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/disneysnutcracker/

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS is now playing in theatres everywhere!

Do you plan to see The Nutcracker And The Four Realms?

#DateNight Ideas|Plan a Havana Nights Theme Night Out in #Durham @amendolacigars @CubanRevolution

It’s Friday night and my 7 year old has plans to go on her first sleepover, so I let my creative juices flow and planned a Date Night Out for my husband and I. The Theme: Havana Nights. The Place: Durham,NC …but first I had to get date night ready and shop for the perfect outfit. I hit up a thrift store for these Cuban inspired fashions.

DATE NIGHT OUTFIT

Red Dress + Heels by Jessica Simpson + Bracelet + Hair Flower Accessory and Printed Shirt for Him from Carolina Thrift

This Mama is date night ready!

Residents living in The Triangle are blessed to have a plethora of choices when it comes to date night. Durham was our area of choice this Friday night because its a vibrant city that has been in the midst of an urban renaissance over the past 10 years and it continues. There are a multitude of bars, lounges and hot spots all over Bull City. So we got in the car and headed to Downtown Durham. My husband made a customized Latin Jams playlist on Spotify for us to jam to along the way! My new fave is by Will Smith/Marc Antony/Bad Bunny! Have you heard it? Take a look and listen here ⤵️

Lounging at Amendola Family Cigar Co.

Living in Miami for almost 20 years, my husband and I grew an appreciation for cigars. However it is a pastime that we just don’t get a chance to indulge in as parents. I knew surprising him with a visit to Amendola Family Cigar Co. would be a great place to kick off our date night!

This local down-to-earth cigar lounge is a converted house with a full size walk in humidor and also a fire pit on the front patio that welcomes cigar aficionados to sit fireside and relax with their favorite cigar. It is the brainchild of founder Jeff Amendola. Originally from Bronx, NY. he states…”My interest in cigars created a bigger monster, collecting cigar boxes! In 2010, I decided to put my fascination and love for cigars into action and started my own cigar manufacturing business! I want the cigar smokers in my community and beyond to experience a fresh hand rolled cigar without having to go to Cuba, The Dominican Republic, or cities like Miami to enjoy a fresh hand rolled cigar.” Jeff invited us to try out two of their cigars. A full bodied Maduro for my husband and the Sweet Carolina, a mild cigar with a sugar tip, for me.

We sat and chatted over a glass of bourbon and rum (the lounge is BYOB} for about an hour while Jeff walked us through their business and supply line from Honduras. Only premium Honduran leaf and some in his line have Cuban seed. They sell cigars from Chocolate to Bold and everything in between! The lounge also offers various memberships that allow patrons to have their own custom name plated locker where they can keep their stash of cigars and libation secure on the premises. The comfy atmosphere and choices make Amendola the go to spot on a date night or just when you want to sit solo and reflect in a relaxing space. It’s the perfect place to pregame, end the night or just unwind anytime. Be sure to check them out and follow on Instagram @amendolafamilycigars.

Dinner at Cuban Revolution Durham

Let’s face it, when you mention NC, the words “latin” is not the first thing to come to one’s mind. Lucky for us we were invited to try out a restaurant called Cuban Revolution located in Durham’s Warehouse District on Blackwell Street. A stone’s throw from the DPAC and Durham Bulls Stadium, this restaurant/bar had quite a vibe on a Friday night!

Their menu covers the very best of Cuban cuisine. You can choose to get a few tapas and cocktails or a full blown dinner. The iconic Cuban Sandwich is front and center. All their sandwiches are made on pressed authentic Cuban bread. They also had different pork entrees in the Cuban tradition.

We started off our Havana Nights culinary adventure with two cocktails and two tapas : Mango Mojito • Caipirihna • Fried Green Beans • Gambas Ajo. The tapas were a recommendation of our server named Demi. She was quite helpful and knowledgeable of the menu. We decided to share a Havana Pork Platter. The pork is slow roasted in Mojo and Adobo served with rice, beans and plantains. It was just enough for the both of us to have room for some of their Key Lime Cheescake and a Cafe Cubano.

SobeSavvy Tip: Every Friday and Saturday night a band starts at 9:30pm, so make plans to enjoy a live performance with your meal. For more info, follow on Instagran @cubanrevolution

👀Watch YouTube Video of Highlights from our Date Night In Durham -“Havana Nights”❤

➡️As parents, date nights are rare, so I wanna know, on your last date night, where did you go? Let me know in the comments below!⤵️


CONNECT WITH ME – Leslie at SobeSavvy.com Facebook |YouTube| Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

#FoodieFriday | Celebrating Harvest Season at @SimplyCrepes in Raleigh,NC

One of my favorite foodie times of the year is Harvest Season and I recently got to celebrate it at Simply Crepes in Raleigh,NC. Located in the picturesque Lafayette Village, Simply Crepes invited me in to try their Autumn Menu.

Their seasonal menu features fresh ingredients and flavors you would associate with harvest time like apple and pumpkin. For a limited time, their new offerings are on their Autumn Menu for you to try.

Cooler temps call for hot drinks to warm you up! Their Hot Apple Cider or Pumpkin Chai Latte will do just that.

Next we tried a beautiful Harvest Salad as a starter. Candied walnuts, blue cheese crumbles and a wonderful vinegrette dressing made this the perfect first course!

Freshly made crepes were served next. We tried three of their savory crepes: OktoberFest, Pommes Brie and Monte Crepe-O.

Oktoberfest was a wonderful take on German inspired cuisine. German sausage and maple sugared sauerkraut topped with a apfel marinier sauce served with potato salad. I am not a sauerkraut fan but their use of maple sugar was quite enjoyable!

Pommes Brie, as the name suggests is a crepe with ham, brie cheese, caramelized onions and bacon jam topped with perfect thin fresh slices apples. All the ingredients paired so well together! The bacon jam, as well as all the sauces and salad dressings, is made in house.

Monte Crepe-O is their take on the iconic namesake sandwich Monte Cristo. Turkey, ham and gruyere cheese stuffed inside a pan fried egg battered crepe. If that is not enough how about it also has a side of raspberry sauce for dippin or just pour it over the whole thing!

Simply Crepes also has two harvest inspired sweet crepes: The Pumpkin Crepe and Cinnamon Apple Crepe. Both were very very good. I suggest to try one of each in petite size and switch plates halfway through with your date! Both served warm with vanilla bean ice cream are simply amazing!

SobeSavvy Tip: Planning on hosting a holiday party? Catering is available at the restaurant or order online and have them come to you! Connect with Simply Crepes on Twitter, IG, Facebook and be sure to check out their weekly specials ⤵️

Huge thanks to Simply Crepes for hosting SobeSavvy.com and Food Diary of A City Girl, who recently featured Simply Crepes on her list of places to enjoy pumpkin dishes.

The next time you are in Raleigh,NC make plans to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Simply Crepes for a unique and delicious dining experience! Which savory or sweet crepe would you try first?

Simply Crepes

8470 Honeycutt Road, Suite 110

Lafayette Village

Raleigh, NC 27615

Store & Catering: 919-322-2327

www.simplycrepes.com