Since my oldest is heading to college in the fall, it’s time for college visits. Her number one pick is in Baltimore, Maryland so we are headed there in a few weeks. We will only be there for about 30 hours, so I’m looking to anyone out there for advice. Where should we go? What should be avoid? Are there any places that are “must dos”? What are good places to eat?
Our fall break was rudely interrupted by Hurricane Matthew, but we still had a good time. We let our senior in high school decide where to spend her last fall break and HH was her choice. She didn’t make it to the ocean once before we had to leave. She did, however, get lots of relaxation time. We spent one day on a boating and private island excursion with Outside Hilton Head. It was nice to do something none of us had ever done before. I fished for the first time in my whole life. I caught two sticks and a crab. We also kayaked. My dad, at 71 years old, did it for the first time in his life. He loved it and said he wanted to buy a kayak when he got home. We enjoyed the shell island that our captain stopped and let us explore. I could have spent hours there. I have a few DIY shell projects floating around in my brain as a result.
Here’s a little peek at that fun we had on fall break.
There is an art gallery in Hilton Head that is absolutely delightful! It’s called Endangered Arts. The owners are Clay and Julie Rogers. She runs the gallery and is a professional photographer. Her love of the ocean and all the creatures that inhabit it is evident when speaking with her. She is kind, warm, and friendly. Her husband, Clay, is a self taught painter. He paints all the things you might see in Hilton Head. They have many works of art from many different artists from all over the world. I was so impressed by every single piece of art there.
We went in looking for a painting that would remind us of our favorite place. Julie helped us figure out exactly what we wanted. We ended up choosing a Clay Rogers painting. He wrote a special personal note to us on the back and included the practice sketch he’d done of the painting. I walk by it every time I go into our bedroom. It makes my heart happy to have something as a visual reminder of the place we love so much. A visit to Hilton Head wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Endangered Arts.
I am so incredibly sad for all those affected by Hurricane Matthew. I pray that the cleanup will be quick and that those affected will be able to recover from their losses. I’ve heard that there has been loss of life. I pray for healing and comfort for the families of those people.
While our fall break was interrupted, we really can’t complain. We tried to make the best of the change of plans. The drive out of Hilton Head took about twice the time it should have, but the state officials did a GREAT job moving people out!
We had to break the trip into two days due to the fact that we are traveling with a small child, children who get extremely carsick, and two sets of grandparents. When we finally arrived at our hotel, it was mid-afternoon. We ate an early dinner at a restaurant called Farm to Fork in Ringgold, GA. I’ll have a full review of that place soon (hopefully). Later, once the grandparents arrived, we met up at Gateway Antique Mall. They had lots of Civil War items. None of us bought anything because the prices seemed a little inflated. The next day, we headed out early to Chattanooga, TN. The first thing we did was head to the Tennessee Valley Railroad. We took the Missionary Ridge ride. It was extremely short, but I think everyone enjoyed riding a train and seeing the way it worked.
Later, we traveled on to the Chattanooga Aquarium. They were so nice to offer people who’d had to evacuate due to the hurricane, 50% off admission. We enjoyed the aquarium. We were a little disappointed that there weren’t any dolphins, manatees, or any kind of whale. There were several touching stations, which we thoroughly enjoyed. I could have stayed in the jellyfish exhibit forever! I actually think we will be getting an aquarium with some of those amazing creatures come Christmas time. Chattanooga is a cute city and I could probably visit again over a long weekend and really find lots to enjoy!
The storm is on its way in; so we are on our way out. It’s a sad way to end what was supposed to be a week of a relaxing fall break before the madness of school activities and the holidays started. The evacuations started yesterday, but we are heading out today. Here’s what it looked like yesterday…
We had the whole beach to ourselves yesterday. It looks like we have the whole city to ourselves as we drive out.
We are hopeful that all those in the storm’s path stay safe and that Matthew will be downgraded before it does any more harm. We are on to the next place for now and will see if we can find some fun adventures along the way.
When we went on our trip to Hilton Head earlier in the summer, I wanted to get each person a customized cup for the trip. I thought it would be a cute and functional gift for each person. I also liked the idea that it would be something to keep and maybe remember the trip the next time it was used.
I found 4 Lilly Pulitzer cups at TJ Maxx. I stored them away for months with the idea to get monogram decals to put on each one. I then got my girls Sigg-like bottles with the idea to do the same to them.
I didn’t want to leave the boys or men out, so I ordered reusable red Solo cups for each of the men with their names on them. The boys got reusable blue Solo cups with their names on them.
Taking a little detour from our Spider-Man party, I thought I’d share about one of my favorite parks: Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom is a must-do when visiting Disney World in my opinion. From the animals, to the rides, to the food, it is all incredible. We love the “towns” that you pass through as you walk the park. They offer that authenticity that Disney is always able to provide. We especially enjoy the music provided by people who are actually from the regions of the world represented.
We love Expedition Everest. While I’ll admit I do not like huge and scary rides, I even thoroughly enjoy this ride, as it is just right for me on the scary scale.
The show, Flights of Wonder (a bird show), is completely worth the time to see. You learn so much about these amazing creatures and get to see them fly and swoop. My parents are true bird lovers and this is a special stop for them to see these more exotic birds in action.
By far, the best part of all is the Kilimanjaro Safari. I could ride it over and over again. I absolutely look forward to it so much for each visit. The tour guide gives all kinds of facts about the animals that you are seeing. The animals are so close sometimes that you could reach out and touch them (but don’t).
David called these dragons.
I always love to see how excited my children are to see the animals. They never get tired of it either!
Of all the Disney World parks, Hollywood Studios is ranked lowest on my favorites list. I feel like there are not enough rides and that for our family, there isn’t quite enough to keep our attention for very long. On our last visit, I took the littles with me while my husband took the bigs to ride Tower of Terror ( I’ve done it once and I’m good). We decided to meet the Disney Junior characters. The lines were long, but not horribly long. I loved seeing all the little kids just eager with the anticipation of meeting these characters. It was adorable. My parents were with me, helping me wrangle the children. It was incredibly hot that day and they needed water and cold treats and cold napkins the whole time we were in line so I was so thankful they were there! When it was finally our turn it was magical and memorable and they loved it.
David was a little shy with Jake. He really liked Minnie Mouse. But he LOVED Sofia.
There was so much laughter at that kiss. He had obviously been thinking it out since he saw her. It was priceless and I’m SO GLAD we got pictures of it.
Meeting these characters is completely worth the trip to the park. You don’t get the opportunity to meet them (with the exception of Minnie, of course) anywhere else. If your little ones are Disney Junior fans, then they will definitely enjoy this experience!!
A few days before we were leaving for our Disney World trip, I heard that a company had been selling Disney dining reservations illegally and that Disney had stopped them. Because of this, there was now a chance that there were reservations available where there hadn’t been any before. I checked for dining reservations again and lo and behold, there was Cinderella’s Royal Table with several dinner slots open. We chose late reservations. We had arrived in Magic Kingdom later in the afternoon; but it was Extra Magic Hours night and the park was open until 1 a.m. We didn’t tell the children. We told them we were eating somewhere we had never eaten before. They guessed everywhere, but no one guessed inside the Castle! When we walked into the entrance of the Castle and went up to the desk for our reservation, all of the children were shocked and so excited!
In the foyer, they got to meet Cinderella.
No detail is overlooked, as is usual for all things Disney.
When we booked our trip to Disney World, we were first planning on using points and staying at the Hilton. For weeks, I worried about fitting that many people into the room. I looked up ways to keep things organized in small spaces with so many people. My husband wasn’t too worried. That was until he looked at the room again and began to realize that there wouldn’t be any privacy for anyone. He realized that we would be listening to our girls at all hours of the night talking and facetiming friends. He called Disney to see if they had any availability the week before our trip. (I had checked online for weeks and hadn’t found any rooms available for our size party). They had two adjoining rooms available at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We kept it all a secret from the children. We kept telling them to get ready to be cramped for the next week. We told them that they needed to stay organized. When we drove up into the parking lot, they realized we were staying there. They were beyond excited.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is truly remarkable. We loved all the African touches throughout. It was neat to see artifacts from the continent and to learn a little about some of the countries. Disney does the most fabulous job at fully immersing its guests into the theme.
We ate at Boma one day for a late lunch. I loved the food there. The sweet potatoes were amazing.
I have to say that it is truly amazing to wake up to giraffes and zebras outside your window! Seeing the animals night and day was definitely the best part! The rooms were great as well. We had a room with bunk beds and a full bed and then a room with two queens. It was plenty of room for the seven of us.
The only drawback to staying at this location is the transportation. We waited more than 30 minutes sometimes for a bus. The buses were also almost always full. I don’t feel safe riding on a bus while standing and holding my 2 year old or having my children pressed up against a stranger’s body. This is the only complaint I have at all about the experience.
Overall, I really enjoyed staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I’m glad we got to experience this hotel.