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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of course made to order omelettes are still standard.

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

SobeSavvy Tip:

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

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

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

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.

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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. [ read my 2019 update >>here ] 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!

#FoodieFriday Spotlight on #CLTFood | Where to Eat & More #Charlotte #CLT #charlottesgotalot 

Note: This post was sponsored in part by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. All opinions and photos are my own.

To celebrate the end of 2016, my family and I went on a road trip down to Charlotte, NC. Besides all the great cultural and sports attractions that North Carolina’s biggest city encompasses, I was there for a more basic reason: to eat !  Charlotte has quite the cuisine scene and this foodie was focused on eating like a Queen in the Queen City! 

American Girl Dining SouthPark Mall

First, I made plans to have lunch with my little princess and her favorite doll at the bistro inside the American Girl Store at SouthPark Mall. It was quite a unique experience, which you can read my full review here. Not only was it a fun time, but the kid friendly menu had tasty options for us adults too. A reservation is definitely necessary as this place is popular. Be sure to end your meal on a sweet note and order dessert. They’ll even bring a cupcake out for your child to decorate for their doll to enjoy!

Dinner at Sea Level NC  

Since it was NYE, an early dinner in Uptown was the perfect choice. I love fresh seafood and Sea Level NC delivered just that! Service was friendly and professional. Never underestimate how important southern hospitality is to a restaurant experience.Their decor is modern and understated stylish. Lots of exposed brick and wood. 

They have a incredible farm to fork raw oyster menu sourced from North Carolina and all over the country. It changes constantly depending on the season and what’s available. All fresh and delectable. 

Ooh baby I like it raw..in my ODB voice..lol, but if you dont’t and prefer something steamed, try the mussels. Plump and tasty. Mussel rule #108 don’t forget to use the bread for sopping up the mussel broth made with white wine and garlic butter !

Wash them down with a beer or glass of wine from their extensive drink menu or a  order craft cocktail called Melting NY Sour. It was what my husband called a “man’s drink”.

Their daily seafood catches and delicious dishes, like their classic Lobster roll make this restaurant a must try for visitors and locals. Huge hunks of lobster on greens and a remoulade sauce on a lightly toasted bread was fantastic. They let the lobster just be lobster. Why mess with perfection?!

Midwood Smokehouse Ballantyne

Midwood Smokehouse has quickly become a BBQ institution in Charlotte. We had the pleasure of dining at their Ballyntyne location in Charlotte on New Years Day for dinner. North Carolina and Charlotte in general have a lot of BBQ restauarants, but when restaurateur Frank Scibelli toured barbeque joints in Texas, he picked up invaluable tips.For starters, they burn hickory logs 24 hours a day to smoke their meats in a one of a kind ,old school manual commercial smoker. The general manager was kind enough to give me a tour of the kitchen where all the magic happens. Someone has to feed the smoker constantly to keep the fire going and maintain a even temperature in the smoker at all times. That takes a lot of work . More art than science and it shows in their food.We started with some smoked wings. Dry on the outside but moist and flavorful inside. 

I had a new years special that is not normally on their menu. Pork shoulder, collard greens, black eyed peas and jalapeno cornbread. This is traditional meal to be eaten for good luck to start 2017. They should start a tradition and keep this entree on the menu! It’s was that good.

One side dish you can always find on the menu is the mac and cheese. I do not know what cheeses were used but there was plenty of it throughout ! I have no doubt this was made with love.

Service was prompt, informative and friendly. The manager demanded we try some brisket before we departed , so we managed to try a few bites. WOW ! tender, tasty and perfect mix of lean and fat.Midwood is now our “GO TO ” spot when we are in Charlotte and craving REAL BBQ . Take it from their mascot, the Notorious P.I.G ..they smoke the good stuff!

After a great dinner, we headed back to our hotel at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Ballantyne. It is conveniently close (within walking distance) to the restaurant and a great choice of lodging when staying in Charlotte. Check out my video to see why : https://youtu.be/YqoCw2QHhuk

Holidays on Ice at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza

Although it rained most of our visit, on our last day, I got to work off some of that good eating by ice skating. Located outside the
Nascar Hall Of Fame, Charlotte’s outdoor ice rink is perfect for families, date nights or fun outings with friends. 

None of us had ever been ice skating before so this was an exciting family first! Skates on.Stand up. Let’s skate. If it was only that easy !! Luckily a few kind teenagers helped us onto the ice. We all held on to the bannister and laughed alot. Holiday on Ice is definitely a holiday tradition that both skaters and non-skaters can enjoy. Afterwards, we celebrated by having our picture taken with the giant polar bear and next to a NASCAR sign of course!

Thank you to our friends at Homewood Suites by Hilton Charlotte Ballantyne, American Girl brand and a very special thanks to the CRVA for the warm welcome to Charlotte! We made great memories, discovered amazing places to dine, learned that the Queen City is a haven for foodies and that Charlotte’s got a lot.

#TravelTuesday Tip: Visit #Atlanta #FamilyFun #Attractions & Save with @CityPass ! #CityPass

If you are planning to travel to Atlanta and want to have an amazing experience at some of the best attractions at a huge savings, get a CityPASS. For more than 15 years, CityPASS has been the premier product for savvy travelers who want to visit a destination’s most popular sights while enjoying significant discounts. You can save 43% on 5 Admission tickets to all the iconic spots Atlanta has to offer. That is such a great deal that we here at SobeSavvy.com couldn’t wait to share with you how easy it was to use and how much fun we had using Atlanta CityPass for the following attractions: Fernbank Museum of Natural History-Here is where our journey with CityPass began.I simply showed an email voucher along with my ID and received the CityPASS booklet with tickets to attractions, insider tips and information as well as a map and coupons. We chose this attraction because I knew our almost 5 year old would enjoy the exhibits here that cover the world’s largest dinosaurs, nature, natural history and more! Our CityPass also included ticket to see an IMAX film (which is not included with a regular admission ticket). That was a pleasant surprise savings bonus! It’s located just minutes from Midtown and offers free parking. Be sure to check out FernbankMuseum.org/Summer to see what upcoming daily activities and Family Fun events they have for you and your family to enjoy! Here are some pictures from our fun-filled morning at the museum!Zoo Atlanta – We headed here in the afternoon for some family fun with the little one who enjoys learning about animals! There are over 1500 animals here but we could not wait to see Bamboo Besties Mei Lun & Mei Huan. Those two young giant pandas are so cute and playful.They are twin sisters and are the only twin pandas in the world! We checked out the petting zoo, the playground and thanks to CityPASS we did not have to pay extra for the train ride and carousel. A memorable moment was getting a chance to see the zookeeper feed the elephants and learning about their conservation. Enjoy these photos from our animal adventures at Zoo Atlanta!Georgia Aquarium – We got expedited entry thanks to CityPASS (Who doesn’t like feeling like VIP?! ) into one of Atlanta’s most famous attractions. This massive aquarium and its 6 unique galleries is a must-see for its spectacular aquatic sights from sea lions at Sun Trust Pier 225, giant whale sharks, manta rays,beluga whales and dolphins! https://www.instagram.com/p/BI0q3agDm-m/
Georgia Aquarium invites all to come and see more aquatic life than any aquarium in North America ! Take a look at a few pics from our “Funbelivable” experience:The CityPASS is valid for 9 days after first use but we were only in Atlanta for a brief 48 hours and only got to 3 out of 5 places on our to do list of attractions. Reduced admission is also available for World of Coca-Cola, Inside CNN Studio Tour, Center for Civil and Human Rights(instead of Zoo Atlanta) and College Football Hall of Fame (instead of Fernbank Museum). There is so much family fun to be had there, just let CityPASS be your guide!

#TravelTuesday~A #Daycation in @WilmingtoNCoast #FamilyTravel #WilmingtonNC #WrightsvilleBeach

Summertime and the living is easy..especially if you have a coastal city/beach destination within road trip reach!  Our family headed up 40 east and in 2 hours we were at our destination:  Wilmington, NC & Beaches

With our little girl in tow, we planned a ‘Sunday Funday’ that included a city tour, a fun children’s museum to explore, good eats galore and playtime by the shore!  This was our first visit to this charming Southern city but definitely will not be our last. They have a variety of activities suitable for everyone ! Discover below just how fun our Daycation in Wilmington/Wrightsville Beach was.

Where to Go/What to Eat: Wilmington
Before you get started in any city, I think it is travel savvy to get visitor information. Located at the foot of Market Street, the RiverFront Visitor Information Booth was our first stop. They are open daily..how convenient!  The welcoming staff gave us great tourist tools for our visit and even snapped a family photo to celebrate the start of our Wilmington adventure! 

Before exploring the historic streets of Downtown Wilmington, voted the #1 “Best Al Fresco Dining Neighborhood” by USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards,  we decided to grab a bite. And since it was Sunday, I said, “Let’s do Brunch” !  The Pilot House, a waterfront restaurant with scenic views of Cape Fear River, is known for its steak/seafood selections and for having the only bar that faces the river. Our daughter enjoyed the kids menu choice of grilled shrimp and fresh fruit , while the seafood lover in me had to have the chargrilled oysters topped with lump crab meat! It was amazing! I also had a half sized ceasar salad with shrimp. My husband enjoyed the French Toast from the a la carte Sunday Brunch menu.If you are foodies like us you must try a dining experience at The Pilot House. 

Next we went sightseeing in Wilmingron’s National Register Historic District via a Horse-Drawn Trolley Tour. Dan, our costumed driver, was a funny yet informative tour guide who took us on an unique adventure. We learned some of the rich history of the city and got to take in its beauty and Southern charm. We saw classic architecture, specialty shops, moss-draped live oaks, Wilmington’s historic houses, mansions and more! It’s also nice to know the horses are rescued horses and if you like, you have the option of taking a picture with the horses at the end of the tour. 


Having fun while learning is something our #outandaboutAva loves to do. So when we discovered that The Children’s Museum of Wilmington was located in downtown, we walked over for a family play date!  There were lots of hands-on exhibits and plenty of opportunities to stimulate our soon to be 5 year old imagination. Her favorite area was the Magnetic Minds Science Center, where she could explore and experiment.I had fun too letting my inner child run wild!

Where to Go/What to Eat: Wrightsville Beach
The beach is always recognized as the ultimate family vacation destination and Wilmington,NC has 31 miles of Island Beaches to choose from making it the #1 reason to visit!  We took the easy 20 minute drive from Wilmington across the scenic Intracoastal Waterway to visit Wrightsville Beach

Spacious and clean, this beach with it’s crystal blue waters was the backdrop for some relaxation and family fun in the sun!  Our little one enjoyed collecting shells and playing with her new Wilmington beach ball.We just happened to find parking near public access to the beach close to the newly renovated Crystal Pier. Here are few pics of memories made on the sandy shores of Wrightsville Beach !

A sunset dinner at Bluewater Waterfront Grill was the perfect way to end our day in this beautiful beach town. It is popular on Sundays as they have Live Music on their large patio, so we made sure to get there early. They have an outdoor bar and seating available or you can enjoy dining inside. This restaurant had quite a vibrant dining scene and good food to go with it! Whether you are going for sips and sites or having lunch/ dinner (I highly recommend the coconut shrimp and the filet mignon entree), make sure to get to Bluewater Waterfront Grill. 

It was National Tequila Day, so I made sure to order a margarita or two… on the rocks, no salt please !

Cheers to a wonderful daycation in Wilmington, NC!  I look forward to future visits and I’m already gathering a list for next time. And with Wrightsville Beach being such a short drive away, you can bet we’ll be back soon !  

* These are the latest postcards our daughter will add to her collection 🙂 Thanks for the memories Wilmington,NC ! 

#TravelTuesday ~See Why #CharlottesGotAlot of #FamilyFun #GoodFood in the #QueenCity @charlottgotalot

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I love to celebrate life, especially with my family. No holiday is too big or too small. So when it came time to celebrate Father’s Day, I thought why not treat Dad Like a King by traveling to the Queen City a.k.a Charlotte, NC !

Myself, my husband and our 4 year old daughter packed up our car for a road trip to Charlotte. I had 2 days of family fun planned for us. When researching for this trip, it became pretty clear that the Queen City has something for everyone!

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In case you are planning a trip with your little ones in tow, I can assure you that Charlotte is family friendly and an awesome place to make memories. Take a look at our family fun travel guide and a snapshot of our itinerary during this past Father’s Day weekend!

STAY 
Hyatt House Charlotte/City Center proved to be the perfect location for our stay as it was right in Uptown. It had everything required in a style forward setting. Full kitchens and comfy beds.Full breakfast in the lobby with  made to order omelettes included. Nice small pool and paraben free bath products sealed the deal. It’s location made walking to city center attractions a breeze.

*Day 1
Late Afternoon/Evening :After a day of traveling , it was nice to arrive to comfortable accomodations. The sun was shining so we headed to the hotel’s outdoor pool, which also had a lounge area. Dinner options are available at the hotel ‘s restaurant known as H BAR which is opened daily 5pm-10pm offering delicious bites from a “menu  of home-cooked comforts”. Needless to say, Day 1 was fun yet relaxing!

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PLAY
Discovery Place 
Trying to find a place that makes kids and adults equally happy is always a challenge when traveling. Lucky for us Discovery Place fits the bill. Calling this a childrens museum does not do it justice. It’s is all in one wonderland that is a delight for all! It has so many interactive and educational exhibits all under one roof. Science experiments in one room and an aquarium in the next. We learned about the power of air pressure and the wonders of the rain forest. My daughter loved the infrared machine outside that accurately measures your height by just standing underneath the beam ! It was just the perfect blend of all things amazing about our world. I highly recommend this for any family visits to Charlotte. It was filled with cool stuff to do and so much fun! No wonder it is one of Charlotte’s most visited attractions.

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NASCAR Hall of Fame

“Start Your Engines”..Those are 3 of the most beloved words to racing fans. The Nascar Hall of Fame is a place to come and celebrate the history and heritage of the sport. Located in a beautiful building filled with memorabilia and exhibits, The Nascar Hall Of Fame did not dissapoint.  They have classic racing cars and the realistic racing simulators where at the end you get a personalized stat sheet of how you performed. You can practice fast changing a tire at the pit crew challenge and even the little ones can be part of the pit crew in the kids zone. The gift shop was amazing. You can buy everything from mini replica cars to all sorts of racing clothing and gear. Check out our visit to the Nascar Hall of Fame where we spent the afternoon walking among legends!

*Day 2
Morning: After a restful evening, we woke up ready to go sight seeing in the Queen City. The complimentary breakfast buffet at Hyatt House was enough to give us energy to walk to the nearby attractions. On the way to Discovery Place, we passed the Time Warner Cable Arena (which is next to hotel) where the Charlotte Hornets Play. While we opted to stroll ( Uptown is pedestrian friendly), we noticed other ways available to get around the Center City, like horse and carriage or bicycle.
Walking allowed us to see the beautiful skyline and amazing public art along the way, such as the four statues at Trade and Tryon streets.
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*Day 2 continued..
Afternoon: Every foodie must have lunch at 7th Street Public Market. ( I will share more in the EAT section below). The Nascar Hall of Fame does have a cafe inside if you choose to eat there. Believe me, you will need fuel as we found out this attraction is a place you could spend your entire afternoon!
Evening: For dining,nightlife,entertainment, EPICENTRE has it all in one place. Just a couple of blocks from the hotel made this a perfect place to catch and early dinner with our little one. We ended our evening by hopping on the CityLynx Gold Line, a streetcar system that connects neighborhoods through 6 stations all for free! The 1st and last stop conveniently was across from the Hyatt House.

EAT
7th Street Public Market is a foodie’s paradise! Variety is the spice of life and this place is so diverse in its dining options. For example: my daughter had pizza from Pure pizza, I wanted sushi,so Bonsai Fushion fit the bill and Local Loaf was my husband’s choice for a sandwich. The quality of the food and the variety of offerings can be enjoyed by all: families, locals, tourists, hipsters, just to name a few! The market also has retail shops great for picking up locally made items or imported goods. We ended our visit to the 7th Street Public Market on a sweet note by getting a cupcake for my cupcake and a very memorable creme brulee from Cloud 9 Confections!

Nan and Byron’s
It was a beautiful Sunday morning and we took a short drive to the South End neighborhood to have brunch at Nan And Byron’s restaurant. Their weekend brunch consists of an all you can eat buffet w/carving station, bloddy marys and mimosas. The buffet was attractively laid out in their bar area with various breakfast favorites and they even had a seafood raw bar of Snow Crab legs and oysters. The little one enjoyed the pancakes. We sat in the open dining room with huge windows that let in the beautiful natural light of the morning. Service was very good. If you ever on the South End or want a brunch with locals and not a huge amount of tourists, then this is your spot. Oh yea..their sweet rolls are decadently yummy !
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*Day 3
Morning We checked out with ease and headed over to Nan and Byron’s for their special Father’s Day Brunch. The restaurant opened in November 2013 and its name originated from Grant Wood’s well-known 1930 American-Gothic painting of a man and woman (Nan and Byron) holding a pitchfork in front of a farm. The restaurant, which focuses on new-American cuisine, is a short drive from Uptown but well worth the trip! We discovered alot about Charlotte and all of its regal offerings. We left with many fond memories of The Queen City and something to tell all our friends and family: “Charlotte’s Got A Lot” !
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