Posts filed under Travel

Floating the Platte River in Northern Michigan

One of the more popular attractions and the biggest hit with our family was floating down the Platte River. Since we stayed at the Platte River Campgrounds, we were right down the road but it took us a couple days to figure out the right spot, for our family with younger children, to put in. 

Devil's Lake Wisconsin Camping Trip!

Last fall, our family took a major step and decided to invest in a travel trailer. I stalked the internet for months trying to find the best deal on a used "starter" camper for our family. Our knowledge of campers, or towing anything in general, was sparse but I'm a firm believer that if you want to do something you just have to pull the trigger and learn through doing.

After dabbling a little over a month on RV repairs, updates and fixing the rotted floor, we were able to take our first trip to Devil's Lake, Wisconsin. It was our first visit to this park and I wish we would have spent more than 2 nights there.

We stayed at the Northern Lights campground in a non-electric site that was wide open. We tried for electrical but you have to book early!! You can make reservations up to 11 months in advance. My daughter loved that we could see other people and there were definitely fewer bugs than the forest sites. We picked a site (167) at the entrance to the Northern Lights campground that was near to the trail that led down to the beach and North Shore. It was also pretty close to the Ice Age campground where we purchased firewood.

We brought along our fur baby. This was her camping first trip and I'm pretty sure she loves camping now. There were a ton of dogs at the campgrounds and throughout the hiking trails, they just were not allowed in the picnic areas.

The first night we focused on setting up the trailer and cooking dinner. It was misting when we arrived but that didn't stop us from starting a campfire. The misting was actually nice because it kept the mosquitos away. The rain stoped for a short while when we decided to take a trip to the campground store for some firewood. One of the campground stores is located in the Ice Age campgrounds. That night it rained with thunderstorms and we were happy to find that the camper didn't leak...lol The next morning we ate breakfast and hit the only trail we thought the youngest child could handle. 

Tumble Rock Trail

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What a beautiful trail and gorgeous scenery. It was an easy trail that followed the shore of the lake from the north shore to the south shore. From start to the south shore was 2 miles, 4 miles round trip. We didn't really think about the 4 miles or if our kids could handle it when we set out. Looking back I don't think I would have done the full 4 miles and would have stopped halfway. We ate lunch at the south shore at the concessions building. We let the dog dip her paws in the dog-friendly beach while Penny napped on her daddy's shoulders. She was sooo tired and rightfully so. If it weren't for that short 30-minute nap, Penny would have NEVER made it back. It was just enough rest for her to get a boost and be excited to step back on the trail. 

The following day it was time to pack everything up. There were clear skies, unlike the previous overcast day, and it was warm. After packing up we decided to take a walk do to the beach and let the kids play in the water. Bella fully enjoyed the beach while Ryleigh had to be content with dipping her toes due to the cast on her broken arm. 

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In the future, I would love to bring the Girl Scout troop here! So much to do (hiking, swimming, kayaking, fishing, biking)! The campgrounds are great. Some have electrical hookups and I saw a ton of tent camping. There are bathhouses located throughout the campsite that offer showers. Some bathhouses are nice than others. The campgrounds were very family friendly and quiet without the partying. 

We regret only booking the campsite for 2 nights. There was so much more to enjoy and I would have loved to have a full day at the beach or to at least use the kayak we brought with. There are many trails to try out, varying in difficulty but with amazing views from what I hear!! This will definitely be a destination to add to the yearly trips list!!  

 

 

We Visited the Children's Museum of Indianapolis

I was finally able to finish this video from our trip a couple weeks back. I was up till 3 AM with the final edits because my computer was acting up and I was super paranoid that if I didn't finish it would have all been scrapped! There was a couple of close calls and potty language to say the least.

We went to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis on one of the last weekends of the Doc McStuffins exhibit. We left Penny with the grandparents. We love her so much but she is such an active and independent toddler that I was afraid the entire day would be chasing her around and we really wanted the older kiddos to enjoy the day. 

It is the largest children's museum in the world and it was very interactive and worth the 3 hour road trip from Chicago! Check out our fun below and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Our Top 5 attractions for the under 5 at Walt Disney World

Recently, I've been getting asked for suggestions on the can't miss attractions at Walt Disney World. There are so many things you can do at each of the 4 parks that it can seem overwhelming. This got me thinking and so I asked my daughter, who has been to Disney World several times only at the age of 5. Here is my daughter's top five list!

It's a Small World

-Fantasyland

She has loved this ride since before she was 1 and it's a classic. There is something magical and happy about this ride that opens up their little eyes. It's located in the Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland.

Disney's Electrical Parade

-Fantasyland

This is a can't miss! Seriously, your kids will love this just as mine did. We always plan this one ahead as it's only offered on certain days and at certain times. The sparkly lights at night with the famous Disney characters drive the kids insane! In a good way, that is.

Dumbo 

- Fantasyland

It's a classic and it's fun! They recently revamped this attraction. This is more of an adventurous ride as the height can be intimidating to little little kids. Bella is not a fan of "thrill rides" but still enjoys this one very much.

Kilimanjaro Safari ride 

- Animal Kingdom

This one is such an adventure for young kids. It's so much more than a Zoo and you feel like you are really on a safari in this open atmosphere. We have always had the most luck of seeing the amazing animals if you go right when the park opens. This ride is located at the Animal Kingdom Park.

The Little Mermaid and Nemo Ride

-Fantasyland and Epcot

These are a combo as they are kind of the same but with different movie themes and both are great for young kids. The Little Mermaid ride is at the Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland and the Nemo ride is at Epcot.

Dressing up at the parks

- Anywhere!

Okay, this is actually number 6 and it's not really an attraction but my kids love doing this so I just had to mention. The kids love wearing their costumes at the parks. You can find some pretty affordable princess outfits that wont break the bank ahead of time at Target or Walmart. You can even get a coordinating outfit that resembles a character and the kids will be excited. I would recommend bringing some loose clothes for them to change into just in case they get hot in the dresses.

Have you heard of

Disney Bound

? People, by people I mean adults too, actually dress up like characters in their own interpretations with regular clothes while matching the color palettes of the characters. For a more detailed explanation I found an article

here

 that describes it best. It's pretty cool and I'm sure we will try this on our next visit. You can find some ideas on pinterest by searching 

here

!

Honorable mention: Winnie the Pooh ride at Fantasyland

The ride itself can be a tad outdated but the kids still love the black florescent scenes. The main attraction with this ride is actually waiting in line. They have fun games and activities throughout the line to keep the kids occupied and entertained.

Have you traveled to Disney World with your little one's? What are their favorite attractions? Leave your comments below!

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Wilderness Explorers at Animal Kingdom

One of the things I love most about Disney is that they take every opportunity to plug in the educational factor in almost all that they do. Animal Kingdom is a park that has educational resources everywhere. Since we have been through this park a couple of times, this visit we wanted to try something different.

We came across the Wilderness Explorers upon entrance into the park, just passed the Tree of Life. Wilderness Explorers are dressed up like the scout from the movie UP. You get these cute little handbooks to earn badges/stickers as your travel throughout the park. I was so excited about this idea because it's an introduction for my daughter earning badges for her Daisy Scout year.

After going through the book, I realized that many of the big attractions at the park have an education reference behind them. For example, the Expedition Everest attraction details the aspects of camping in the mountains. As you walk through the line, unless you are fortunate to zip through to the front, you trek on a journey through the Himalayan mountains. One of the badges was specifically related to this as we had to find and check off items one would need to venture out into the wilderness. When we spotted all the items on the list we earned our badge.

Kali River Rapids is another attraction that provides more than just a thrill ride and some scenery. As you walk through this line, you get a little education on the horrors of logging. As you are waiting to board your raft, you are disturbed by the sound of a chainsaw. You think to yourself "why would Disney have such a distraction in their parks?" Once you are on the ride and nearing the end you get a little understanding of where this sound is coming from as your raft through a mock area that is destroyed by logging. It's a can't miss part of the attraction that begs for kids to ask what it's all about.. and they do.

One of my favorite things about this concept is that it opened our family up to areas of the park that we would have normally not have seen otherwise and I'm glad I didn't miss them! This was a great guided way to really dive into the learning experience that the Animal Kingdom has to offer and Bella and Ry loved it! They were also really excited to wear their new safari outfits!

Next time we go we'll be sure to bring along our Wilderness Explorers Handbooks and finish up the badges!!! Have you earned your badges yet with the Wilderness Explorers? 

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Green Kid Crafts Awards

Character Breakfast at the Hollywood and Vine

It seems like every time we visit Disney World we have to do a character breakfast of some sort. This past trip we did 2! We usually do the Cape May character breakfast and buffet at the Beach Club Resort. This year we decided to add a second character breakfast and try out the

Hollywood and Vine Restaurant.

Hollywood and Vine Character 

Breakfast Buffet

It's located in the Hollywood Studios theme park right across from Echo Lake.

The character buffet is also offered for lunch as well, although, breakfast is cheaper at 30 per adult.

We were so excited to dine with the Characters from Disney Jr at the Hollywood Vine Restaurant located in the Hollywood Studios theme park!

I have to say, if you have kids that watch Disney Jr. they will love this character breakfast more than the others!

We decided to do an early breakfast so we could play in the park the rest of the day.

The characters included:

Sofia the First

Doc McStuffins

Jake and the Neverland Pirates

Handy Manny

The Buffet:

It was very good and offered plenty of options for all tastes such as waffles, eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt bar, frittatas.... I could go on but you get the idea. There is also a ice cream sundae bar that the kids will love!

The Scene:

Its set up like a 50's diner with the plastic and sparkly couches. The dining experience also provides some musical entertainment and dancing on the part of the characters in costume. Kids can get up and dance along with their favorite characters.

Overall, I would say we enjoyed this character breakfast the most! The characters are much more familiar to the kids and the food was great!!

Have you tried the Hollywood and Vine before? Have you tried a different character breakfast at Disney World? I'm curious as to what everyone else has tried!

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Your coffee can change her life!

Date night Bucket List: France at the World Showcase in Epcot

I had the opportunity to check off one of my dating bucket list items on our recent family vacation to Disney World! I wasn't sure if we would get the opportunity to spend some time alone and it magical happened!!

I've have been dying to try the

Les Chefs de France

restaurant in the World Showcase at Epcot. You need to make the reservations ahead of time and it needs to be done via

online

, not over the phone. We learned this the hard way as we scrambled on the internet via our phones. We were lucky to be able to make the reservation that morning.

Everyone at the restaurant is from the country of France so you genuinely feel like you are there. There is a low light ambiance that makes this restaurant intimate. That is one of my favorite things about Disney World. You always feel like you have escaped reality and you are somewhere else in different place or time.

The Food

The food was amazing! I mean AMAZING! I haven't had a meal like that in a long time and it was well worth the price. They even brought out these cute little loaves of french bread for the table.

We both enjoyed the Filet de boeuf grille (beef tenderloin) with a green peppercorn sauce and the potato gratin and green beans. Here is a link to their 

menu

.

The meat was very tender and juicy almost like butter melting in your mouth. The potato gratin was very creamy and delicious as well. The green beans were cooked so perfectly and lightly buttered. All together the meal was heaven! I enjoyed dipping some of the potato in the peppercorn sauce. It was so subtle an not overwhelming at all.  Of course I paired my steak with a glass of Pinot Noir.

We were lucky to have a table at the very front of the restaurant near the windows and caught the evening show of illuminations.We would have grabbed some dessert but our plan was to hit up the 

Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie

 for some chocolate croissants and coffee. Unfortunately, it was closed by the time we finished our meal. Poor planning on our part but the evening was still amazing.

Overall Experience

I would definitely suggest this restaurant as I'm sitting here dreaming about the delightful cuisine. The atmosphere was very real and I would even recommend taking the kids as they have a wonderful kids menu.

What I enjoy as well was that this restaurant wasn't too stuffy. Since it's inside the park you get a variety of fellow dinners from the sun soaked park hoppers to the date nighters like the hubby and myself. You can dress this evening up or just enjoy a fabulous meal. It's up to you!

Have you every dined at Les Chefs de France? What did you think of the digs? What other restaurants have you enjoyed at the parks? Let's have a discussion in the comments!

Magical Monday: Our Magic Bands are here!!

*This post contains my affiliate link that helps support my family.

This seems to be the start of the 3 week build up to our Disney Vacation!

Our Magic Bands arrived this week...

All 18 of them...ooops

Looks like Disney didn't realize that we're resort hopping this trip.

Resort hopping is one of my favorite things to do. You get a feel for the many resorts and they're all so very different and unique.

Resorts this trip

  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort - Specifically the Nemo room
  • Disney's Old Key West - an oldie but a goodie - 1 bedroom villa
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas

We have already stayed in two out of the three. We are new to the Art of Animation Resort and we really wanted to try out the pool!

Giant jellyfish and Crush from Disney•Pixar's Finding Nemo amid The Big Blue Pool

photo found here: 

Art of Animation Resort

I can't wait to write a review for ya'll!

Road Tripping

I'm getting a little anxious as this is the first time we will be road tripping it with our kids. We decided to drive this time due to plane ticket prices soaring in the past year and our littlest no longer flies for free. They can barely stand being in the car for 45 minutes so I'm a kind of terrified for this drive.

We've made some driving entertainment arrangements for them. We bought a

RCA DRC79982 9-Inch Mobile DVD Player with Additional 9-inch Screen

 for the back seats. They each get their own and we have a large collection of Disney DVDs to last through both there and back.

I've also started to put together their own goodie buckets with games and activities for them to do on the way there. I bought these

Romanoff Lap Tray, Hot Pink

 activity trays that just so happened to work nicely over there car and booster seats.

Welcome to Magical Monday Link up!!!

Magical Monday is a link up dedicated to any and all things Disney. Every Monday we will be here to share our favorite moments and posts. It can be a post about a review from the parks, a craft, recipe or just a heartfelt memory. Whatever it is (past or new) link up those Disney inspired posts!!

Rules

 This will be pretty simple.

 1. Just link up your post below.

2. Add the Magical Mondays button to your post or a simple link will do.

3. Visit other participants and start sharing!

3 Wittle Birds

<div align="center"> <a href="http://3wittlebirds.blogspot.com/" title="3 Wittle Birds"><img src="http://i768.photobucket.com/albums/xx326/kdelarosa05/95f5467c-715c-4960-88de-ed02e7a9bc61.jpg" alt="3 Wittle Birds" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Magical Mondays: My Disney Bucket List

Even though I have been here over a dozen times, there are still a few things I have not been able to experience personally or with my family.

For this week's Magical Mondays, I am highlighting my bucket list for our Disney Vacation in September.

Disney Vacation Bucket List

(Some of these I've already done but are worth the repeat!)

1. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique with the girls

2. French Restaurant in Paris - Epcot, World Showcase

3. The New Snow White Ride.. Just opened up!

4. Belle's Castle and Be Our Guest restaurant

5. Dole Whip in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom.

6. Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom

7. Hollywood and Vine Character Breakfast - Hollywood Studios

8. Embroidered Mickey Ears w/ the names for the whole family

9. The Christmas shop in Downtown Disney

10. Downtown Disney shopping... I need a new coffee mug!

11. Character photo ops and signatures (the last trip Bella really got into this!)

12. Going on the Dumbo Ride with my youngest

13. The new Fantasyland Parade

14. Visit Tom Sawyers Island

15. Afternoon tea at the Grand Floridian... they have a tea party for the little ones!

16. Enjoy a Gourmet cupcake from the Magic Kingdom (Chesire Cafe and pretty much every other park)

17. Enjoy a brownie sundae at the Ghiradelli Soda Shop

18. Eat and enjoy the music at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney

19. Eat and Drink my way around the World Showcase

20. Climb through the Swiss Family Tree House

21. Sport matching family vacation tees- I know this one is corny

22. Disney Junior Live on Stage

at Hollywood Studios

23. Let the the wiggles at Honey I Shrunk The Kids play yard

24. Camp out at Fort Wilderness

25. The Hubby pulling the Sword out of the Stone in Magic Kingdom

There are endless things to do at Walt Disney World resort, so it's important to plan in advance and know what you want to see and do. Otherwise, you will miss out on some of the timed parades and shows. I'm all for just winging it but this really is not a place you go to without a plan... unless you go multiple times:).

Magical Mondays: Disney Resort Review

Magical Mondays

Being an avid Disney vacationer, a former Disney College Program Cast Member and graduate, and daughter to vacation club members.... We travel to Disney World.... A LOT!

I've been blessed to have experienced such amazing resorts in our travels to the vacation spot that is practically a city in itself.

For countdown to our next Disney Vacation this September 2014, I thought I start my very first series to celebrate one of my favorite places in the world.

Resorts that I have experienced in the Walt Disney World Resort

  • Coronado Springs
  • Old Key West
  • Saratoga Springs
  • Port Orleans
  • All Stars Resorts
  • The Beach Club
  • Board Walk
  • Animal Kingdom

I feel like I'm missing some, seeing as how the number of Resorts Disney offers seems endless! Keep in mind, the Villas at each resort is only available to DVC (Disney Vacation Club) Members.

My

favorite

stays would have to be..

..

  • Saratoga Springs Tree House Villas
  • Animal Kingdom Kadani Villas
  • The Beach Club Villas.

Today I would like share the experience of the...

Disney's Beach Club Resort

Location

Epcot's backyard!

The Beach Club Resort is located in a prime area around the Crescent Lake. Within this resort area there is a short walk around the lake to the Board Walk Resort, The Yacht Club, and The Swan and Dolphin. It's also a short walk to the back entrance to Epcot where you will enter right in the heart of the World Showcase. This would be ideal if you just wanted to bop on by one of the amazing restaurants for an evening meal. There is also a short boat trip that will take you to Hollywood Studios! This location is my absolute favorite and offers many entertaining options outside of the Resort.

  • Walk to Boardwalk & Jellyrolls
  • Walk to Epcot's backdoor
  • Boat ride to Hollywood Studios
  • Crescent Lake-water activities

The Pools

Sandy Beach Pool!

One of the best things about this resort is the pool!! Stormalong Bay is a playground of water activities for both child and adult. It is the only pool that offers a sandy beach where young children can hang out and build sandcastles. My girls enjoyed this pool so much and still talk about it to this day.

Picture found here

  • Sandy Beach
  • Life-size ship wreck water slide
  • Lazy River
  • 3 hot tub spas

Sandy beach @ Stormalong Bay pool

The Digs

Character Breakfast Buffet to die for!

Character breakfast anyone? Instead of having to travel to find one of these Disney vacation musts, you can have the option of walking to one in your own Resort!! Cape May Cafe is a fantastic restaurant that offers the Famous Character Breakfast buffet with options for any picky eater, including the Mickey Waffles! You will want to make advanced reservations for this one.

  • Cape May Cafe
  • Hurricane Hanna's Bar and Grill
  • Beaches and Cream Soda Shop
  • Martha's Vineyard
  • Endless supply of dining options through Epcot and the other resorts and restaurants located on Crescent Lake.

Cape May Character Breakfast Buffet!

The Room

We had the luxury of experiencing the one bedroom villa suite with a garden view. The Villa's are offered to the Vacation Club members and they are fantastic. The whirlpool tub and bathroom were huge and the villa resembled that of a beach home. The general area included a couch with a sitting area and TV, a dining area with a full kitchen. A full kitchen is great if you are staying a couple days and don't want to spend all of your money vacation money on food. You can have a service deliver groceries and stock up on late night snacks and easy meals.

What to do!

The Beach Club is packed with activities and areas for all ages. It really is a resort for anyone.

  • Sandcastle Club (ages 3-12)
  • Movies under the stars on the beach ( this was a family favorite!)
  • Campfire on the Beach - Sing along and yummy snacks
  • Boat and Bike rentals
  • Volleyball court
  • Spa and Health Club

Highlights...

  • Location
  • Stormalong Bay Pool
  • Cape May Cafe - Character Breakfast
  • The Villa's
  • The activities 

I hope you enjoyed this weeks Magical Monday's! This review expresses my personal experience at The Disney Beach Club Resort and Villa. I was not compensated for this post, I was just so impressed with the resort that I had to share.

Have a Magical Monday everyone!

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