#TRAVEL | Visit #WilmingtonNC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom🌹

TRAVEL | Visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to Enjoy Nature and Discover What’s In Bloom! Photo Credit: SobeSavvy.com

You all know the saying ..”April Showers Bring May Flowers“,well my #HeighPartyof3 decided to put the theory to the test and headed to Wilmington NC & Island Beaches to discover What’s In Bloom! In the past, we have visited during the summer as a fun, “Family Travel” destination and also spent a “Daycation” in Wilmington NC & Island Beaches because for us it’s just a 2 hour roadtrip from Raleigh, NC.

This was our first time traveling to Wilmington NC in the Spring and I thought instead of flowers as a gift for Mother’s Day, why not experience botanical gardens and more in this beautiful city! With just 24 hours to explore, there is so much to get outside and do here. Take a look at our weekend itinerary filled with nature-theme activities the whole family can enjoy!

DAY 1 Arrive Saturday

Wilmington + Wrightsville Beach

Before you explore, make your first stop at the main Visitor Information Center, located at 505 Nutt Street in Downtown Wilmington. It opens on Saturday at 9am and is open daily except for Thanksgiving/Christmas. You can get any questions answered by staff, pick up maps, guides and vacation coupons!

Pick up an Official Visitors Guide and more at the main Visitor Information Center | SobeSavvy.com

Take a self-guided walking tour at Airlie Gardens , a 67 acre historical garden in Wilmington. We took advantage of the complimentary tram ride and learned so much about the lush gardens and its rich history. Go and see a 468 yr old Airlie Oak, Azaleas, and the Butterfly House. Learn about Minnie Evans, an African American woman who was a domestic who sold her artwork at Airlie. She once said ” God has some 600 shades of green, and He dressed the world with them.” She died in 1987 and local artists created the Bottle Chapel, a memorial sculpture garden, in 2004 in her honor. It was such an amazing sight to see!

Walk thru Airlie Gardens and learn about history while enjoying nature | SobeSavvy.com

All that walking will surely work up an appetite! Sweet & Savory Café is close by and offers a Saturday Brunch. This farm to fork restaurant in Wilmington is known for its variety of menu choices and fresh baked goods at their bakery.

Dine at Sweet and Savory for Saturday Brunch for a variety of Farm to Fork dishes | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Short on time or rather have a quick bite to go? Grab something at Port City Java. I enjoyed an iced coffee for a caffeine boost before our next activity!

Port City Java uses the Japanese Iced Coffee method for a more flavorful,bright,complex brew and its oh so good| SobeSavvy.com

We checked in at the Hampton Inn Wilmington/Downtown and got changed into our bathing suits for some fun in the sun at Wrightsville Beach, located just 15 mins away from Downtown Wilmington. It’s a spacious, clean beach with clear blue waters and is one of the most environmentally friendly beaches in the state. We collected shells to take home as a souvenir and our daughter played by the shore until it was time for dinner at Oceanic Restaurant attached to Crystal Pier. *Be sure to check back here for my #FoodieFriday review of our dining experience at this restaurant. Wrightsville Beach is a walkable beach town with the beauty of nature all around!

Play, Relax and Start a Seashell Collection at Wrightsville Beach | SobeSavvy.com

The Arboretum at New Hanover County closes at 8pm which made it a great last stop of our day. It happened to be prom night and many people were there to capture the perfect photo. Visit the 7 acres of nature trails and gardens, which include a Japanese tea house, gazebo, children’s cottage, ability garden and water garden for FREE!

See the beauty of blooms for free at The Arboretum at New Hanover County | SobeSavvy.com

DAY 2 Depart Sunday

Kure Beach+ Carolina Beach

Sunday,Mother’s Day..all I want to do is sleep in but when you have a six year old daughter who’s motto is ‘Carpe Diem’, you get up early and seize the day! We enjoyed brunch with a view in Wrightsville Beach at Bluewater Waterfront Grill (which you can see a few of my photos here + stay tuned for my #FoodieFriday feature) before our visit to the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach. It’s worth the short drive from Wilmington to see more than 2500 animals and the 2 special exhibits: Dinosaurs! and Butterfly Bungalow. The cherry on top of our Sunday Funday at the Aquarium was when one of the butterflies landed right on my husband’s hand! My whole family had a fin-tastic time at this attraction learning just how much animals and nature are connected to each other.

Visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher to be inspired by nature and all its wonder | SobeSavvy.com

We did not plan to have another beach day but our daughter’s pleas and the call of the ocean breeze encouraged us to stop at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. It is right down the road from the Aquarium so it really was a convenient stop. This public beach is great for bird watchers because alot of nature is unspoiled here.

Kure Beach is a pure and natural playground for beach goers, bird watchers and nature lovers | SobeSavvy.com

Did you know that one of the only places in the world where you can see the Venus flytrap growing in its native environment is at Carolina Beach State Park? See the rare Venus Flytraps for FREE and learn about one of the world’s most unique carnivorous plants!

Head to the Carolina Beach State Park for a tour along the Flytrap Trail | SobeSavvy.com

SobeSavvy Tip: Ranger-Guided tours of the park’s Venus flytrap trail are available Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10am. I recommend the guided tour, as the flytraps can be hard to find on your own. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes with socks for this guided tour. Insect repellent is highly recommended as are long pants. You can always change back into shorts and sandals in the park’s visitor center bathrooms. The hikes meet at the flytrap trail head and depart promptly at 10am so be sure to arrive in time to park and meet. If you gey hungry after hiking the nature trails, go a half a mile to dine at Michael’s Seafood and enjoy fresh seafood dishes like loaded oysters and snow crab legs!

Dine at Michael’s Seafood, conveniently close to Carolina Beach State Park | SobeSavvy.com

Thank you to Wilmington and Beaches CVB and the attractions who welcomed my family and I to experience nature-theme activities and feature them in my 24 hour itinerary. I hope you and your family will review this travel guide and take the opportunity to visit Wilmington NC & Island Beaches soon to see What’s In Bloom!

#TravelTuesday Review @BigBusDC #DC #BigBusTours #FamilyTravel 

Have you ever been on an open top, double decker tour bus? They are so much fun when visiting a city and you want to see as many sites as you can in a short time! This Labor Day weekend, my family and I took one for the first time in Washington DC aboard the hop-on hop-off sightseeing BIG BUS.

When we visited Arlington, VA earlier in the year, we didn’t get a chance to use our vouchers due to Mother Nature not being on our side. However, this weekend the weather was picture perfect for our visit to the nation’s capital. 

BIG BUS Tours Washington DC

No matter if you are a DC native or this is your first time (or you’re return visitor like me), BIG BUS Washington DC is a great way to take advantage of exploring attractions, museums and more at your own pace! Here are some of the reasons a ride on the BIG BUS should be on your ‘Things to do in DC‘ list: 

  • Unlimited Rides for 1 or 2 days.
  • Fantastic Photo Ops & Amazing Views
  • Hop Off and On at Any Stop
  • Live-guided or recorded Commentary (free headphones are provided)
  • Family-Friendly (kids under 5 yrs old travel free, age 5-15 yrs pay reduced fare)

    There are 3 Day Tour loops: Red, Blue, Yellow that will take you all around the District. You can even transfer between the routes, just be sure to know the last departure times. SobeSavvy Tip: Download the Free BIG BUS App for an interactive city guide map route planner and more >>>>here

    My #HeighPartyof3 chose the “Red Loop”, which has 22 stops and is the official tour of the National Mall including the National Memorials and Monuments. Take a look of some of what my husband, our daughter #outandaboutAva and I experienced during our tour : 

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 1- Union Station

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 2- US Capitol

    Inside Air & Space Museum | BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 4

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 5- Smithsonian Castle

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 6- Washington Monument West

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 7- Bureau of Engraving

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 8- Jefferson Memorial

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 10- Lincoln Memorial South

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 13- African American History & Culture Museum

    BIG BUS Washington DC ‘Red Loop’ Stop 19- Madame Tussauds

    There are options to complete your sightseeing experience by creating a combo and adding on extras such as top attractions like Madame Tussauds to further your Washington, DC experience. We enjoyed seeing not only seeing historical figures and celebrities in wax but also joining all 45 commanders in-cheifs in the U.S. Presidents Gallery. Check out my >>>Youtube video <<< recaping some of the fun at STOP 19 of the ‘Red Loop’, Madame Tussauds + see more photos via fun slideshow>> here.

    Where to Buy BIG BUS Tickets

    • From any uniformed BIG BUS staff
    • www.bigbustours.com
    • The BIG BUS mobile app
    • On the bus at any BIG BUS stop
    • Your hotel
    • By phone : 1-877-333-8689

    I hope to check out the other routes as well as try their night tour which offers an illuminated look at the Capital’s world-famous memorials and monuments. BIG BUS Tours are also in other US Cities like Miami, New York, Las Vegas and more. My family and I really enjoyed the BIG BUS Tour and hope you are inspired to take one soon!

    #HeighPartyof3 loves to explore & have fun ~ Thanks for the memories BIG BUS Tours !

    What To Do in #Atlanta for #FamilyDate Night Fun ? @MedievalTimes for Everyone !

    My family and I are visiting Atlanta during our daughters very first official spring break and decided to step back in time for a family fun filled Sunday dinner.

    All the way back to Medieval Times! This spectacular dinner theatre in Gwinett County features Jousting, horsemanship & falconry plus a 4-course utensil-free meal served in a castle-like ancient arena.

    Upon entry their expansive lobby area is bustling with all sorts of activities. You can take pictures with characters who are straight out of King Arthur ! There is a crackling fire and a huge bar where you can grab a drink prior to the show. We ended up with a cocktail called the “Dragon Slayer”. It came served in a specialty cup that we can keep for years as a conversation piece.

    Once we entered the competition arena things really got interesting. It was a surreal atmosphere. The “stage” is a custom made sunken equestrian course with sand. The knights performed all sorts of competitions and games like pluck the ring and horse relay racing !

    While enjoying the show we were served a set menu of roasted chicken ,corn, potatoes and corn on the cobb. No forks or knives allowed. Eat like the knights of old.WITH YOUR HANDS !!

    The show culminated with a hollywood worthy showdown of what can only be called a “knight fight”. Swords and swinging hammers were everywhere while the actors played stuntmen with flips and falls. The audience went wild and cheered. The King and his daughter ruled the show from their royal perch. 
    In addition to general admission, they also offer knighting ceremonies, upgrade packages such as king’s royalty (additional $22 per person), royalty (additional $18 per person) and celebration (additional $12 per person).
    SobeSavvy Tip : Go anytime during the months of March and April and take advantage of their special spring break rates by following this link and use discount code ” SB17″.

    If you ever want to do something unique to do on your next visit to Atlanta make sure you take the whole family to have dinner and a show at medieval Times.

    #FamilyFun in @BaltimoreMD with #OutandAboutAva! @PortDiscovery @BmoreWaterTaxi @prattlibrary #USSCONSTELLATION @GeppisMuseum #FamilyTravel #VisitBaltimore

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    Baltimore is a city rich in history and heritage. My heritage started in Baltimore City where I was born and where I lived until 1996. So much has changed but so much remains the same. Charm City never loses its charm to me, so it is with great pleasure to explore with my 4 yr old daughter some of the things that make Baltimore special! Recently we paid a short but sweet 24 hr visit to “My Bmore” and here are the places we checked out:

    1. Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Location
    We took a walk through the monumental Enoch Pratt Free library located in the city’s cultural heart, Mount Vernon area just north of downtown. This library has a charming Children’s department that includes learning toys to play with, computers, a day/night room and live fish to feed!
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    2. Historic Ships in Baltimore
    Historic Ships in Baltimore includes five national historic landmarks. We toured the 1854 Sloop-of-War USS Constellation and while on board we could see the Lightship Chesapeake glistening red on the Inner Harbor. My daughter loved pressing the numbers in the handheld tour guide and listening to the facts given about the ship, it’s sailors and Captain!
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    3. Geppi’s Museum
    Geppi’s Entertainment Museum is a memorable trip thru American pop culture. We got to experience a time line of nostalgic toys, comics, and other collectibles highlighting familiar characters for both her and I. I was very impressed by the museum’s collection and decided to make my own entertainment by way of photo slideshow as seen here:

    4. Baltimore Water Taxi
    Ride all day on an on-off ticket when you board any of the blue and white water taxi boats. Get a free map and guide to over 35 attractions and neighborhoods. We boarded at the Inner Harbor and got off at Fell’s Point. From there we headed to the Broadway Market for a slice of cheese pizza, every child’s favorite!
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    5. Port Discovery Children’s Museum
    About a year ago, my daughter Ava had a chance to visit Port Discovery Children’s Museum ( http://sobesavvy.com/2014/08/14/outandaboutava-visits-portdiscovery-childrens-museum-baltimore-maryland-recap-by-sobesavvy/) with her Nana. A year is a long time in a child’s growth and development and this museum offers ever-changing programs for kids ages birth through 10. Voted one of the top 5 children’s museum in the USA by Child Magazine, this was the perfect attraction to visit during our short stay. We even got to see the new “Here We Grow! ” Exhibit which introduces children to farm processes, products and people. It was some much fun trying to beat the machine in milking the cow the fastest! I also enjoyed having the opportunity to read her one of the many books about farm animals, etc. while there. This museum is a great way for a child to learn and play during a Baltimore stay!
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