#FamilyTravel – Plan to Visit DC? Here’s Where To Stay @EmbassySuites Old Town, Alexandria VA

For Labor Day Weekend my #HeighPartyof3 decided to make a last minute trip to the DMV [which I just shared with a Texas native that it stands for DC, MD, VA in case you did not know]. We have family and friends in this area but needed to decide where to stay for this long holiday weekend. Hmmm…Baltimore, DC proper or Northern VA? For this trip Northern VA would win out. Specifically Alexandria, Virgina at the Embassy Suites in Old Town Alexandria.

Alexandria, VA is a charming town known for its history, tree lined streets, restaurants and a bit of a small town feel in the middle of a booming cosmopolitan metro area. It is also just six miles from DC making it the perfect place to stay when you want to have a fun, family getaway near our nation’s capital.

Embassy Suites in Old Town Alexandria hosted us for one night of our trip this weekend which gave us an opportunity to explore a city we never been to before. Located near the old town section of Alexandria, this hotel is large but never feels overwhelming. Across the street from the King Street Metro station makes this property even more attractive to visitors who have easy access the to District and beyond. Embassy Suites brand is famous for it’s spacious 2 full room suites, it’s cooked to order breakfast and complimentary happy hour.

This hotel property does not disappoint in any of these areas. Newly renovated suites have plenty of room for couples and families alike. Our little one loves having a comfy sofa bed {and flat screen tv} all to herself as we wind down after a day of hitting those Alexandria and DC streets! Hubby and I love getting a handmade cocktail and snacks at the bar everyday during our stay between 5:30-7:30pm.

Each morning the first decision we had to make was cooked to order omelette or hand poured pancakes? Nothing better during a hotel stay than knowing breakfast is just waiting for you downstairs.

After breakfast, visitors can choose to spend their day enjoying the local area nearby or taking a short drive or metro ride into DC. So many places are within walking distance from the hotel. Whole Foods and Starbucks are nearby, dozens of restaurants and shopping choices await. You can even catch the free trolley across the street to drop you off at many of the wonderful destinations in Alexandria. Here is a look at our favorite features of this hotel that I shared in Instagram:

So the next time you are making plans to visit Washington, DC consider staying at Embassy Suites Old Town in Alexandria, VA and enjoy a 2-4-1 destination during your next trip!

EMBASSY SUITES

1900 DIAGONAL ROAD

ALEXANDRIA,VA 22314

A Family Guide to Happy Thrills at #Carowinds | #AmazingLooksLike @Carowinds #FamilyFun

Thanks to Carowinds for hosting SobeSavvy.com to a day of summer fun and “happy thrills”! Complimentary media passes were received in exchange for marketing purposes. Opinions and photos used in this review of my experience are 100% my own.

Recently my #HeighPartyof3 which consists of my husband, daughter and me, traveled from Raleigh,NC for a short 2.5 hour drive to Carowinds. This 400 acre amusement park, with 13 roller coasters, seven water rides and the new Camp Snoopy, was the perfect place to enjoy some end of summer fun and to celebrate #outandaboutAva turning 7 years old!

#outandaboutAva gets a birthday hug from Sally and Schroeder from Peanuts at Camp Snoopy in Carowinds

I asked my daughter to give me two words to describe our family fun day at Carowinds to which she replied: “Happy and Thrilling”. So from the mouth of babes, I present to you “A FAMILY GUIDE TO HAPPY THRILLS AT CAROWINDS”. While this was not our first visit as a family to the amusement park, this was our first time experiencing the Carolina Harbor Water Park, checking out the new County Fair rides and seeing what’s new at Camp Snoopy. I have some mom friends who have children 7 and under who have not visited Carowinds yet, so my hope is that they will read this and be inspired to go and learn from our family experience.

Arriving at CAROWINDS

Upon arrival the first decision to be made is where to park. One thing folks like to complain about is parking. Yes Carowinds is a huge park that has thousands of daily visitors. These visitors also need thousands of parking spots. Parking is plentiful and visitors have two parking choices , General and VIP. VIP sections tend to be closer to the entrance than general.

Entrance in the water park is also entrance into the main park. You can purchase all the same tickets and passes there that can be bought at the main entrance. It is also smart to start here if you want to purchase a cabana for the day because they usually sell out in the first hour or two also.
We started our day at the Water park first and then enjoyed the main park.
The order you choose needs to only make sense to you !

SobeSavvy Tip:

For this trip, we found that if you drive around to the Carolina Harbor Waterpark entrance in the first hour or two of opening parking spots can be found that do not require a long walk.

Waterpark Fun in the Sun at CAROLINA HARBOR

Nestled right between the two states of North and South Carolina is Carolina Harbor Waterpark at Carowinds. There are so many splash adventures to be had at this 27 acre waterpark, including Blackbeard’s Revenge, a six story water slide, two wave pools and a two-acre family area. We are water lovers and really enjoyed staying cool by the pool, soaking up sun and relaxing on the lazy river ride. It’s no wonder Carolina Harbor Waterpark was one of the top winners of USA TODAY “Best Outdoor Waterpark” because of it’s themed water rides and one of a kind attractions for all ages.

SobeSavvy Tip: Now that you know that Carolina Harbor is the coolest place to slide,splash,chill and dine (BTW…the pulled pork Carolina BBQ sandwich is so good!), you should definitely consider renting a cabana. Cabana Life is the way to go to have your own private shaded haven. It comes with a flat screen tv, a mini fridge with half of dozen cold waters waiting for you, a table with 4 chairs, 2 lounge chairs, and menu service. It fits up to six people. So if you come with another small family, you can split the costs!

Love, Peace and Water Tubes at Tidal Wave Bay | Carolina Harbor

Happy Days Are Here Again at the COUNTY FAIR

The all-new County Fair themed area features 3 acres of timeless fun for all ages. There are 4 retro rides like the Zephyr swing ride, go round in a circular motion while enjoying music and spectacular lighting on the Rock ‘N’ Roller, flip upside down 63 ft above the ground on the Electro-Spin and don’t miss the twists and turns of Do-Si-Do, which glides guests up, down and around on three giant arms!

SobeSavvy Tip: Save room for some traditional fair food to eat! Here is wherr you can find hot dogs, cotton candy and my favorite..funnel cake!

Go back in time to 1959 County Fair and ride the Do-Si-Do Ride

Enjoy Kid Sized Thrills at the New CAMP SNOOPY

The former kids’ area known as Planet Snoopy has been completely transformed to the newly expanded Camp Snoopy, which includes six new attractions, a new wilderness theme and parent-friendly enhancements. There were lots of fun photo ops especially for fans of The PEANUTS and you may even get a chance to see your favorite characters. There is so much for young children to see and do here and great memories to be made at Camp Snoopy!

SobeSavvy Tip: Ride the Woodstock Express rollercoaster and choose a FunPix souvenir photo to take home. FunPix is a way to capture and share your memories of Carowinds with unlimited digital photo downloads! Its just one of the many great amenities at Carowinds.

This photo magnet of my daughter with her Dad on her first roller coaster ride at Carowinds is priceless!

Be sure to download the Carowinds mobile app from the App Store or Google Play and Follow Carowinds on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or head to Carowinds.com for more information.

Check out more ‘happy and thrilling’ moments at #Carowinds, plus WATCH my video recap of our family fun experience here ⤵️

What “Happy Thrills” did you experience this summer? Have you ever been to Carowinds? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!

#HeighPartyof3 at Carowinds Aug. ’18

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Shop, Eat, Play, Explore|Celebrate with a ‘Day in DC’ Family Date @American_Girl Store #charactercounts

Shop, Eat, Play, Explore | Celebrate with a ‘Day in DC’ Family Date at American Girl Store #charactercounts

Disclaimer: Thanks to American Girl for hosting my #HeighPartyof3, which consists of my husband, our daughter and me! All opinions expressed here are my own.

It’s been quite the school year for our daughter, #outandaboutAva. Besides doing so well in first grade and receiving an award for perfect attendance, she has had a busy year with after-school activities such as bowling league and gymnastics.

#outandaboutAva celebrates #GIRLPOWER with American Girl of the Year 2018, Luciana Vega

Now that the end of school year is here, there’s more time to enjoy quality time as a family. So I planned a ‘Day in DC’ family date at the American Girl store. It’s a great place to celebrate time together and I knew it would be a memorable experience for us all!

SHOP

More than just a girls’ day…Dad and Daughter get ready to shop, have fun and explore the American Girl Store

This was our first visit to the American Girl Store located in Tysons Corner Center. The first thing we noticed is that it has two floors! Compared to the Charlotte and Atlanta location, it was HUGE to us.

The American Girl Store Washington,DC has two levels!

The moment you step inside an American Girl store, you realize that everything inside has been designed with girls in mind. From dolls, accessories, outfits, and books, it’s worth it to stop by an American Girl store even if it’s just to have a look! You can plan to buy later and shop online at americangirl.com.

#outandaboutAva is an only child so she uses her imagination of having a sister American Girl Bitty Baby doll!

EAT

If you worked up an appetite after shopping in the store, I highly suggest making reservations at the American Girl Bistro. The food here is really good and I learned that while the bistros offer similar menus, they are not exactly alike.

American Girl Bistro- Washington,DC Lunch Menu

I am a fan of their ‘Design How You Dine’ format which allows you to choose a starter & a main course all for one price. This location offers cocktails and wine on their drink menu for the adults to enjoy as well as speciality drinks for the girls. Even Luciana Vega, American Girl of the Year 2018, gets a cup in case she wants a beverage!

Sip, Sip, Hooray..Parents, Girls and Dolls, too can enjoy hot or cool beverages at American Girl Bistro

More favorite moments from our dining experience at this American Girl Bistro….

Every table has a box of conversation starters on it. It’s a great way to learn more about each other!

Great customer service and dining suggestions from the staff at American Girl Bistro

Salmon for Him, Pasta for Her and for me, Asian Chicken Salad. It was all pretty tasty and filling especially after having scrumptuous starters. Can you believe we had no room for dessert!?

PLAY

Dad watches his daughter swaddle a Bitty Baby and is reminded of her own swaddling days! Time flies!

Children are so used to being told to not touch things in stores, don’t play with that, or put that toy down. But at American Girl store it’s different. They want to inspire your childs’ creativity thru play and let little girls be girls. Our daughter enjoyed learning how to swaddle a Bitty Baby doll, made silly faces like the Wellie Wishers and shared a fun secret with her Dad! Even at the Bistro there were activities to play while we waited for our meal. Check out americangirl.com/play to take play online too!

So many ways to encourage endless imagination and creativity thru play at the American Girl Store

EXPLORE

Luciana Vega, Girl Of The Year 2018, inspires girls to explore and shoot beyond the stars!

Our ‘Day in DC’ Family Date was inspired by American Girl 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega, whose dream is to be an astronaut and land on Mars. We encourage STEM learning and feed our daughter’s interest in science, specifically space travel. So I thought a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum would be cool, especially since its only about 20 mins from the American Girl store and entry is FREE!

After a visit to the American Girl store, check out the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum!

It was fun to see the real space suits worn by the astronauts and compare just how much attention to detail American Girl has added in Luciana’s Space Suit. In fact, have you noticed how all of Luciana’s accessories are quite realistic? Stay tuned, #outandaboutAva will share more about Luciana Vega and her fun accessories in an upcoming post!

SobeSavvy Tip: Explore more of the American Girl world with augmented reality, exclusive videos, and activities at American Girl Stores. Be sure to download the American Girl app before you go!

If you are planning a visit to DC, I recommend going to the American Girl store, dining at the Bistro and enjoy your time together. Life is busy and kids grow up so fast, so it is so important to spend quality time and make memories that last! Remember, “Time together is a gift. Make it count.” ~American Girl

Plan your visit at americangirl.com/stores

American Girl Washington, D.C.
8090 Tysons Corner Center
McLean, VA 22102

My #HeighPartyof3 enjoyed our time together at DC/Tysons Corner American Girl Store/Bistro

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#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!

#Travel | My Top 5 Must See Features On @CarnivalCruise Line’s Newest Ship, #CarnivalHorizon #ChooseFun

Have you heard the news about the new ship from Carnival Cruise? Yes, the Carnival Horizon is making it’s debut as Carnival Cruise Line’s 26th ship! This 3,960-passenger ship is so far the biggest of them all and has so much fun for everyone to enjoy! I am so excited to announce that I will be attending the ship’s official naming ceremony and pierside overnight event in New York City this month!

I am looking forward to seeing Carnival Horizon’s Godmother, Grammy award winning artist and actress Queen Latifah perform in a celebrity Lip Sync Battle, as well as the variety of innovations aboard this ship! There are so many new and amazing features on this ship that I have read about thus far, but here’s my list of the ones that I can not wait to see and experience once aboard the ship!

My Top 5 Must See Features On Carnival Cruise Line’s Newest Ship, Carnival Horizon

1. THE ELEVATORS

I know you are wondering what in the world is so great about the elevators? I’ll tell you right now. They’re special Schindler port elevators with no buttons. All guests waiting to get on use a touch pad to choose what floor they are going to. Afterwards each guest is electronically assigned an elevator car that whisks you to your floor ONLY with guests stopping in proximity. So for instance if you and another guest are going to decks 4 and 5 and 2 other folks are going to decks 8/9 the computer will place you all in the quickest elevators only with those going to the same stops. You will have the shortest trip times and stops! Saves times and less of that awkward elevator silence.

2. DR. SEUSS WATERWORKS

Taking my daughter on a cruise is something I look forward to very soon and with the expanded Dr. Seuss WaterWorks play area, I am assured of lots of smiles. This is the first expanded shipboard Dr. Seuss-themed Water Works water park. Besides occasional roaming characters they have colorful statues of Cat in the Hat the Thing 1 and Thing 2 who also get their names on twisting water slides. A giant red and white striped water dumping bucket is also shaped like the Cat’s hat.

3. Guy Fieri’s PIG & ANCHOR Bar-B Que Smokehouse and Brewhouse

Beer and Barbeque go together in a great way. Carnival has introduced celebrity chef Guy Fieri’s restaurant and brewery named Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B Que Smokehouse and Brewhouse. 4 craft beers are made in the worlds only onboard full brewery. Four types of beer are brewed and the meats are smoked over hickory and apple wood to give it that amazing flavor.

4. HAVANA SUITES

While I don’t mind a crowd, sometimes you just want a smaller crowd! Enter the new category of suites called “Havana Suites”. These are oversized suites that are in their own section of the Horizon. Guests who stay here get access to their own Havana pool and bar area that is off limits until 7pm for any other guests who are staying in these suites. This alone makes a little splurge worth it.

5. SKYRIDE Anyone ?

First introduced on Horizon’s sister ship,The Vista, SkyRide is a bit like riding a bike — you’ll never forget it. But SkyRide is also completely unlike riding a bike, because when was the last time you biked around a ship, high above the deck and even higher above the sparkling blue sea? Zip safely around our two-lane suspended course in a pedal-powered go-mobile, in search of your biggest racing victory, a lower-body workout… or simply the greatest view!

These Top 5 just scratch the surface on this amazing ship! I look forward to getting more information and sharing with you once aboard the ship. Stay tuned for more of Carnival Horizon + my event recap!

Have you taken a Carnival Cruise before? What was your favorite feature?

#TravelTuesday | Top 4 Reasons to Visit @WilmingtonNCoast for #FamilyTravel #WilmingtonNC

Disclosure: Thank you to Wilmington and Beaches CVB for your assistance with itinerary and attractions to facilitate this review. 

Leslie Heigh, Raleigh-based freelance lifetyle/travel writer/blogger at Wilmington and Beaches CVB Visitor Center’s main office~505 Nutt Street

I planned to visit Wilmington, NC for my 44th birthday this year and met up with family & friends to enjoy my birthday themed weekend: #44bytheshore. Why Wilmington? It is an easy 2 hour drive from where I live in Raleigh, NC plus I love the city and all it has to offer. From the beautiful beaches and shores, variety of attractions, restaurants and tours, Wilmington, NC has alot to explore!

Welcome Bag courtesy of Wilmington and Beaches CVB

My family did a daycation here last year (see travel guide here) and we had so much fun! Now that our daughter is older, we looked forward to an extended stay and having her revisit some places we went to before while also discovering new family friendly activities to do. 

STAY |The Hilton Wilmington Riverside, located on the Cape Fear River in historic downtown Wilmington, was our hotel for our two night stay. We loved how convenient it was to restaurants (such as The Basics, located in The Cotton Exchange across from the hotel) as well as attractions (like the Wilmington Railroad Museum). Stay there for enjoyable river views from their renovated rooms, the pool /tiki bar and access to the 1.75 mile Riverwalk! For more of a look inside the Hilton Wilmington Riverside, click here.

Inside the Hilton Wilmington Riverside

If you are planning a visit to Wilmington and not sure if it is a good fit for your family, I’d like to share with you my         Top 4 Reasons to Visit Wilmington,NC for Family Travel 

  1. BEACHES

    #outandaboutAva & her Mom at Kure Beach   

    Did you know that Wilmington, North Carolina has 31 miles of pristine shoreline with luminous sandy beaches? During our visit, we enjoyed 2 out of 3 island beaches: Carolina Beach Kure Beach. The sun played hide and seek during our 2 nt stay but we still found time to play in the area known as, Pleasure Island . 

    Carolina Beach Boardwalk                            

    Since we arrived on Thursday, we got to check out the Carolina Beach Boardwalk Blast concert with fireworks and also the seasonal amusement park. There’s plenty of sweet treats on the boardwalk but if you love donuts save room for Britt’s Donut Shop!

    Britts Donut Shop

    Kure Beach Pier                                                  

    Kure Beach, North Carolina is known for its Kure Beach Pier , oceanfront park and four miles of uninhabited beach. The award winning aquarium is there also so this beach is kid-friendly. To get here was an easy 20 minute drive from our downtown Wilmington hotel. Check out more photos from our visit to both of the beautiful beaches >>>> here.

    Enjoying a Mommy and Me moment

  2. FOOD 

    Visit Wilmington, NC aka ‘Foodie Paradise’

    See more food pics from this trip>>here. Wilmington, NC has alot of great restaurants and notable chefs making this city a foodie paradise. During our visit to Carolina Beach, we enjoyed Kate’s Pancake House for breakfast. This restaurant is popular because it serves some of the most original pancakes and waffles. It’s only open until 1pm but this is a great place to fuel up for the day on the way to the beach or Aquarium.

    Breakfast Time at Kate’s Pancake House

    Looking for a quick lunch in Downtown Wilmington ? Chop’s Deli: a Boar’s Head Delicatessen would be that destination. They offer made to order salads and classic deli sandwiches, as well as soups and spectacular paninis. Their walk up window serves the hungry masses from 11pm to 3am on summer weekends. We decided to sit outside for some sunshine and people watching as we enjoyed a salad, some soup and a sandwich. Don’t forget to wash it down with their homemade lemonade. Everything was fresh and delicious! 

    Chop’s Deli, Downtown Wilmington                    

    No trip to the coast would be complete without a visit to a quintessential seaside seafood restaurant. Michael’s Seafood, founded by it’s namesake, the late chef Michael Mcgowan and his wife Shelly in 1998, is that place. We had a bowl {2 bowls actually} of it’s international award winning seafood chowder. My 6 yr old basically inhaled the first bowl! This restaurant is not only family-friendly but a perfect dinner option if you are looking for amazing seafood and great service. 

    Michael’s Seafood Restaurant ~Seafood Chowder

    Since we were in Wilmington to celebrate my #44bytheShore birthday, we were delighted to dine at The Basics. They serve simple dishes made with basic ingredients, however, they still manage to elevate our tastesbuds with amazing flavors. Our server took good care of the table and we never felt rushed as we lingered over great food, wine and conversation. If you are staying at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside, this restaurant is conveniently located across the street in The Cotton Exchange. Take a look at this drool-worthy pic I shared on IG of the Filet Mignon w/goat cheese at The Basics : 

    The Basics, Filet Mignon Entree, IG@SobeSavvy

  3. Historic River District

    The majestic Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

    Travel to Wilmington, the biggest city on North Carolina’s coast, to learn about its unique history, which predates the civil war. There is no better way to learn about it than to take one of their myriad of tours. This visit we took a Wilmington Trolley Tour, which for over 19 years has been providing visitors with a colorful tour of the city. This 8 mile tour highlights architecture, civil war history and also speaks honestly about the racial strife that was a part of Wilmington’s history. Our driver was excellent. He was informative and entertaining at the same time. I highly recommend this family-friendly tour! 

    All smiles after the Wilmington Trolley Tour

    We also went on self-guided tours and walked along Riverwalk Downtown Wilmington and Cape Fear River. We made many discoveries on foot, like the City Market, a great Saturday morning Riverfront Farmers’ Market and many more shops and stores Downtown. See more photos of where our feet led us>>>here

    Taking a walk along the historic Riverwalk, Downtown Wilmington

  4. Family Fun Attractions

#outandaboutAva gets ready for some family fun at the Fort Fisher/NC Aquarium

When it comes to family fun, we let our daughter, #outandaboutAva lead the way to places where she can imagine, learn, explore and play! Wilmington, NC has some great options that everyone would love to visit such as the Fort Fisher NC Aquarium

SobeSavvy.com at Fort Fisher NC Aquarium

The Wilmington Railroad Museum , a great place to explore family-friendly activities in Wilmington’s River District. 

SobeSavvy.com at the Wilmington Railroad Museum

…and the Children’s Museum of Wilmington, which served as a perfect place to play indoors on a rainy day. 

#outandaboutAva #CMoW #PlayToLearn at The Children’s Museum of Wilmington

Visit & Follow my Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/soBEsavvy as I will continue to give you an inside look and share more details plus photos from these 3 family fun attractions. 
Those are just some of the great reasons to visit Wilmington, NC’s Historic River District & Island Beaches. Check out www.gowilmingtonandbeaches.com before you go and see the many ways to explore and to get information for your next family getaway. My family & friends enjoyed our short but sweet 48 hours here and are already making plans to return next year. Hope you are inspired to make memories there soon!

#44bytheShore Family & Friends Getaway to Wilmington, NC Historic River Distict & Island Beaches


     


    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

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

    Disclaimer: We received a media rate during our stay,however the opinions are 100% my own.

    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. Take a look at 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: www.mandarinoriental.com/atlanta

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    Family Travel Guide #ArlingtonVA | @StayArlington Where to Stay, Eat, Play

    Arlington, Va has long been known mainly just for it’s proximity to the nation’s capital. Well I am here to share that Arlington is a awesome destination all on it’s own. With a population of 1/4 million people, Arlington is a gem well worth exploring because it packs a lot of excitement,charm accessibility and affordability into one small area. My family and I, aka #HeighPartyof3, went on a roadtrip to Arlington,VA and here is our weekend family travel guide! 

    Where to Stay

    Hyatt Place Arlington/Courthouse Plaza  

    Savvy Tip: Arlington is home to more than 40 hotels offering rates up to 20 percent less than those in downtown Washington,D.C.

    Arlington has many options when it comes to accomodations. At the suggestion of Stay Arlington, we stayed at the brand new Hyatt Place in the Courthouse district. In my opinion this eight-story hotel property is located in an awesome area for walking and exploring Arlington on foot or the metro 2 blocks away. Hyatt Place Arlington is perfect for families as well as business and leisure travelers as it has everything one needs for a comfortable stay. The guestrooms are spacious and allowed us to rest easy after driving up for 4 hrs from Raleigh.

    With inviting spaces to connect, meet, socialize, eat and drink, this innovative hotel is truly designed around the modern traveler.Speaking of eats and drinks, this hotel offers a Grand and Go case in the lobby where you can get sandwiches and salads 24/7 as well as order from a gallery menu.So whether getting in late or early you will never go hungry here. Be sure to check out the drink menu if you are in the mood for ‘satisfying sips’ for a night cap.Since it was St.Patricks Day (well evening) when we arrived, I decided to drink green and ordered me an apple martini. CHEERS~It was great!

    During our stay, we enjoyed their complimentary A.M.Skillet breakfast which has a build your own yogurt station and hot egg and waffle options presented in what else but a skillet ! My little girl enjoyed putting almonds and granola in her oatmeal. For some of our visit, #outandaboutAva got a lil stomach bug. Thanks to the kind and helpful staff at Hyatt Place Arlington for making some customized chamomile/mint tea to help her feel better! We all loved the Hyatt Place as our home away from home.

    What to Do

    Explore~  We stayed in the vibrant Courthouse district which is within walking distance to a variety of shopping, entertainment and restaurant options. Just across the river from nation’s Capital, Arlington boasts the neighborly, small-town community vibe with all the amenities and conveniences of major urban centers.In addition to its many historical attractions, Arlington is just minutes to the National Mall and other regional attractions. Here are some of the places we explored:

    Arlington Farmers Market

    Since 1979, residents and visitors alike have enjoyed the weekend Arlington Farmers Market. All things produce and much more can be found in this local gem of a market.

    Rocky Run Park

    We actually happened upon Rocky Run Park. Set in a quiet residential street, this park has something for everyone. Extensive kids jungle gym activities and basketball courts and multi use turf fields. Great spot for letting the little {and big} kids burn off some steam and have fun.

    Arlington National Cemetery

    We decided to visit the hollowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery, our nation’s shrine to honor those who have served our country. Both beautiful and peaceful, the cemetery is a place to pay homage anf remember those who sacrificed. We enjoyed exploring the impressive landscape and saw many moving experiences like: the Eternal Flame, President Kennedy and Family and Medgar W.Evers grave. If you are looking for a particular place of interest, use the ANC Explorer app available on the cemetery’s website, on-site kiosks or through online app stores. To see more of my photos from our visit to Arlington National Cemetery, see here.

    National Mall

    One of the perks of staying in Arlington is that you can visit The National Mall, the Smithsonian museums and other places in our Nation’s Capital because they are all just minutes away on Metro. Since we drive up, we just crossed the Potomac River in less than 10 mins to see the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Albert Einstein Memorial and the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. A must see!

    #PhotoswithAlbert 

    National Harbor Capital Wheel

    If you happen to visit Arlington by car like we did, you will learn that its location ‘inside the Beltway’ (I-495 and I-95) makes it easily accessible from many routes. There is plenty of on-street and private parking options. About 20 mins away is the National Harbor , where we were invited to visit their family fun regional attraction, the Capital Wheel. If you have a sense of adventure, take this ride up to the sky to see the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) landscape for miles around!

    Where to Eat

    Bayou Bakery 

    In the mood for Louisiana-style favorites, coffees and desserts? Stop by Bayou Bakery. Owned by New Orleans-born chef David Guas who hosts The Travel Channel’s “American Grilled”, Bayou has brought authentic cajun cuisine to Northern Virginia. 

    We had some delicious beignets and coffee as a mid morning snack. The place was bustling with families and couples alike. Their living room atmosphere, full of casual charm and vintage Southern character, makes this place a welcoming eatery for breakfast or lunch.

    Earl’s Sandwiches

    I first learned about Earl’s when looking up what restaurants were close to the hotel. With great reviews on their Facebook page, I knew the location at 2605 Wilson Blvd would be a wonderful place to feature as a must go to lunch spot. There are 2 locations (Clarendon,Ballston) in Arlington where you can get you one of Earl’s delicious sandwiches.

    Owner Stephen Dugan(as seen in photo above) was there making sandwiches and taking orders himself! He shared that after being in business for 11 years, his customers love their homemade sandwiches, salads and soups made without the hassle. Looking for a Gluten Free meal? No worries. Any sandwich can be made into a salad for no additional cost. Breakfast sandwiches are served all day and they offer a catering menu too. We ordered 2 items from their monthly Fab Four menu: lump crab cake sandwich (deliciously grilled and served on a sesame seed bun), fish and fries (all served together on one sandwich-yum!) and we all drooled over my daughter’s grilled chicken breast sandwich, shown here. My daughter said it was not good..it was FANTASTIC! Everything was delicious, fresh and tasty. 

    Kona Grill

    Located in Rosslyn, one of Arlington’s urban villages, Kona Grill is one of the 500 restaurant options available in Arlington that offers diverse cuisine and a delightful epicurean experience. Known for their variety of amazing appetizers, mouthwatering entrees, fresh sushi and creative cocktail creations, I knew Kona Grill would be the perfect dinner option for us as a family. They also offer a kids menu and there’s a beautiful aquarium in the center of the restaurant that my daughter loved. This place is popular so make reservations and go early if have a little one. I will be sharing my full review as my #FoodieFriday feature. Stay tuned!

    With plenty of “National History.Local Flavor”, our stay in Arlington was indeed memorable. We look forward to returning when it’s warmer as there is some shopping I did not get to do at their infamous Fashion Centre at Pentagon City and more fun to be had!  

    We did do some online shopping prior to our trip with SunglassWarehouse.com and partnered with them to show you how we travel in style.I’ll be sharing more about this brand that offers classic sunglass styles at affordable prices in a future Fashion Friday post. Since our roadtrip took us to Arlington, VA & Washington DC, I thought it would be fun to style their (from left to right) Canoe driving sunglasses for me, Arlington for Him (very apropo don’t ya think) and Lincoln (for my lil one and Mr. President himself..lol)

    Until next time..Happy Travels!