The Mommyhood Life

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8 Tips for Saving on a Family Beach Vacation

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Shell, in which I was compensated. All opinions are my own.

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8 Tips for Saving on a Family Beach Vacation

We recently took a fun trip over to Clearwater Beach, Florida and it was amazing. Growing up in New England, I was more of a lake side traveler or an up in the mountains girl. However, when we moved to Florida my salty side came out and I’ve found myself craving the ocean more and more. Unfortunately, the idea of staying on the beach for a week was giving me and my wallet anxiety attacks. I decided to search some hotels that I had drove by in the past to see how out of reach a beach week was. Well, I think my credit card laughed at me.

We had already taken several road trips over to Orlando, have a trip to Kiawah Island booked for Thanksgiving, and back to school shopping is something I guess needs to be done. So, my gypsy soul was not working in my favor when it kept putting a beach vacay in my mind.

Then one morning, I realized I could still wake up to ocean waves and have my toes in the sand for a week, I just needed to get in to the right state of mind. I needed to do it on a budget and plan it right.

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Here are my 8 Beach Vacation Budget Tips that made my Family Beach Trip Possible

  1. Skip the hotel! Sure there are perks to staying at a luxury hotel, but there are also perks to staying at a vacation rental. Like a kitchen and more space for starters. We found some beautiful 2 bedroom beach cottages for as low as $50 a night.
  2. Eat Meals In! With a beach rental, you most likely get a full kitchen, which means there is no need to eat out 3 times a day all week. This is a huge money saver! We did easy breakfasts in the house each morning. French toast bakes, cereal, and breads I cooked ahead of time, all took about 5-10 minutes to serve. We also made lunches and packed a cooler each day for the beach. We brought sandwiches, chips, veggie, and dips. Plus, all our drinks, a soda on the beach is usually at least $3.
  3. Eat Out Early! When we did go out to eat, it was usually for dinner because after a long beach day everyone was tired and hungry. However, we tried to get off the beach and to dinner early to beat the rush and to take advantage of any early bird specials that restaurants were offering. Plus, this is usually when the sun is starting to get incredibly hot anyways, especially the Florida sun, so it was nice to be able to cool off inside. Our favorite restaurants on Clearwater Beach are Crabby Bills for their amazing king crab legs and full kid’s menu and The Pavilion for their delicious hotdogs. The Silverking Tap House also is a great place to relax and listen to live music while enjoying a beer and some delicious appetizers.
  4. Bring Your Own Beach Gear and Supplies! In the Florida sun during the middle of summer, my family has gone through a bottle of sunblock in one day. So, we brought a case. I’ve seen sunscreen at the beach stores that cost about $20, the same bottle that costs $6 at home. Same goes for beach toys and floats, every beach store has isles of them but they feature a hefty mark up. Plan ahead and buy the stuff you don’t have at home. Also consider bringing your own beach chairs and umbrella, or plan to sit on a blanket from home. Clearwater beach like many Florida beaches offer chairs, umbrellas, and cabana rentals, but for almost $35 a day, you can save a ton by bringing your own.
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  5. Stop at the Visitors Bureau! On Clearwater Beach, there is one right by the playground on the beach. This is the perfect place to see what free and inexpensive activities are happening. Clearwater Aquarium let’s their rehabilitated sea turtles free off of Clearwater Beach so if your visiting at the right time you may get to witness an amazing experience. The Visitors Center is able to give you all of this information plus they have coupons for almost every major attraction. Our favorite free things on Clearwater Beach are walking Pier 60 at night to watch the performers, watching the Sunset Cinema’s outdoor movie under the stars on weekend nights, and of course relaxing on the beach and catching a glimpse of dolphins jumping in the ocean as the sun sets.
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  6. Try to Book Off Season! If your traveling south, the weather will allow you to book off season. Try booking for a long weekend once school vacations are over, or into the fall or spring. In the Clearwater area, the water stays pretty warm through part of December. Plus, if you’re traveling from up north, like New England, even the mid-winter temperatures down here aren’t as bad as some summer days on Old Orchard Beach.
  7. Skip Buying Souvenirs! In every beach town souvenirs are everywhere. You can get just about anything imaginable with the local beach printed on it, from t-shirts to shot glasses. Instead of racking up a hefty tab at one of the beach shops, bring a mason jar (or a plastic bag) and bring home a cup of sand and a few seashells. Once you get home, clean off the shells and write the beach and date on them with a permanent marker and arrange the sand, shells, and picture or two from your vacation. You likely already own a mason jar, and finding seashells makes for a fun afternoon with the kids. Our favorite place to find seashells near Clearwater Beach is to take a short drive up to Honeymoon Island Beach, where the surf is a little stronger. We have found amazing shells there. If your adventurous, rent a kayak and take a short ride out to one of the small islands on the gulf coast.
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  8. Use the *Fuel Rewards® program! As I have said in prior posts, my favorite way to save on travel this year is with Shell and the Fuel Rewards® program. The current offer, “Instant Gold Status“, rewards members with an automatic 5 cents a gallon savings on every fill-up (up to 20 gallons / visit). Plus, when linked to your credit card, you earn rewards on everyday spending at participating merchants. I earn additional rewards when I buy my weekly groceries at Winn-Dixie, which is right next to a Green Market Café that the kids love to stop at for lunch. There I earned a reward of 10 cents for every $50 spent. When my rewards are stacked, I save big time on fuel. While on our beach trip I continued to earn rewards at the Palm Pavilion, Silverking Tap House, and Five Palms Rental. All places I would visit anyways, however this year I’m earning some amazing savings at the pump, which allows me to continue to plan more amazing road trips!
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Have you signed up for the Fuel Rewards® program and earned “Instant Gold Status” yet? What are you waiting for? It’s free to sign up and you can start saving immediately! Head over to the Fuel Rewards® site to register and take a look at the long list of online retailers, stores, restaurants, travel locations that let you earn rewards. These are places you likely already shop and eat at, why not put some savings in your pocket while you’re at it?

Plus, once you’re signed up, you can send your referral link to friends and family so they can join the Fuel Rewards program. The first time a friend uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station, you will instantly earn 25¢/gal. And there’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn.

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Tips to Remember:

There’s a 20-gallon limit on fill-ups. Get the most out of your rewards by filling up when your tank is low.

*Fuel Rewards® savings earned through linked credit card offers could take up to 5–7 business days to post to your Fuel Rewards® account

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*RESTRICTIONS APPLY. TO QUALIFY FOR THE GOLD/SILVER STATUS OFFERS, YOU MUST BE A FUEL REWARDS® MEMBER AND SWIPE YOUR FUEL REWARDS® CARD OR ENTER YOUR ALT ID WHEN YOU FUEL AT A PARTICIPATING SHELL STATION. WITH GOLD STATUS, YOU WILL RECEIVE 5¢/GAL IN FUEL REWARDS® SAVINGS ON EVERY FILL-UP. THE 5¢/GAL REWARD FOR GOLD STATUS WILL BE COMBINED WITH OTHER REWARDS IN YOUR FUEL REWARDS® ACCOUNT. IF YOU ARE AN EXISTING FUEL REWARDS® MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE GOLD STATUS FROM 6/5/2017 THROUGH 12/31/17, THE “EXISTING MEMBER INTRODUCTORY PERIOD”. IF YOU ARE A NEW FUEL REWARDS® MEMBER, YOU WILL RECEIVE GOLD STATUS FOR THE INITIAL MONTH YOU JOIN THROUGH THE LAST DAY OF THE MONTH, 6 FULL CALENDAR MONTHS LATER, THE “NEW MEMBER INTRODUCTORY PERIOD”. THE LAST 3 MONTHS OF THE EXISTING MEMBER INTRODUCTORY PERIOD OR THE NEW MEMBER INTRODUCTORY PERIOD (COLLECTIVELY THE “INTRODUCTORY PERIOD”) IS THE “QUALIFICATION PERIOD”. YOU WILL RETAIN YOUR GOLD STATUS DURING THE QUALIFICATION PERIOD, BUT YOU MUST MAKE 6 QUALIFYING FUEL PURCHASES TO QUALIFY FOR GOLD STATUS FOR THE NEXT 3 MONTHS, THE “BENEFIT PERIOD”. DURING THE BENEFIT PERIOD, YOU MUST CONTINUE TO MAKE 6 QUALIFYING FUEL PURCHASES TO MAINTAIN YOUR GOLD STATUS FOR THE NEXT 3-MONTH BENEFIT PERIOD. A QUALIFYING FUEL PURCHASE IS ANY FUEL PURCHASE AT A PARTICIPATING SHELL STATION IN WHICH YOU SWIPE YOUR FUEL REWARDS® CARD OR ENTER YOUR ALT ID AND FILL UP WITH AT LEAST 5-GALLONS OF ANY GRADE OF FUEL. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU ARE A NEW FUEL REWARDS® MEMBER AND REGISTER ON 6/15/2017, YOU WILL RECEIVE GOLD STATUS THROUGH THE NEW MEMBER INTRODUCTORY PERIOD (I.E., 12/31/2017). YOU WILL NEED TO FILL UP WITH AT LEAST 5 GALLONS OF FUEL AT LEAST 6 TIMES DURING THE QUALIFICATION PERIOD (I.E., 10/1/2017 AND 12/31/2017) TO MAINTAIN GOLD STATUS DURING THE BENEFIT PERIOD (I.E., FROM 1/1/2018 TO 3/31/2018). THEREAFTER, IF YOU CONTINUE TO FILL UP WITH AT LEAST 5 GALLONS OF FUEL AT LEAST 6 TIMES DURING THE SUCCESSIVE 3 CONSECUTIVE MONTH BENEFIT PERIODS, YOU WILL RETAIN YOUR GOLD STATUS. IF YOU DO NOT MAINTAIN YOUR GOLD STATUS, YOU WILL RECEIVE SILVER STATUS. WITH SILVER STATUS, YOU WILL RECEIVE 3¢/GAL IN FUEL REWARDS® SAVINGS. THE 3¢/GAL REWARD FOR SILVER STATUS WILL BE COMBINED WITH OTHER REWARDS IN YOUR FUEL REWARDS® ACCOUNT. REDEEM FUEL REWARDS® SAVINGS WITH YOUR FUEL REWARDS® CARD OR ALT ID AT PARTICIPATING SHELL STATIONS. FUEL REWARDS® SAVINGS ARE LIMITED TO 20 GALLONS OF FUEL PER PURCHASE, PER VEHICLE, OR FRAUD LIMITS PLACED BY SHELL AND/OR LIMITS PLACED ON YOUR FINANCIAL CARD BY YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION, EACH OF WHICH MAY BE LOWER. FUEL REWARDS® SAVINGS MUST BE REDEEMED IN A SINGLE TRANSACTION. ONCE YOU BEGIN TO DISPENSE FUEL USING YOUR FUEL REWARDS® SAVINGS, YOU MUST DISPENSE TO THE 20-GALLON LIMIT OR YOU FORFEIT ANY REMAINING DISCOUNTED GALLONS OF FUEL. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU ONLY PUMP FIFTEEN (15) GALLONS OF FUEL, YOU WOULD ABANDON THE REMAINING FIVE (5) GALLONS OF DISCOUNTED FUEL. IF YOU HAVE A REWARDS BALANCE GREATER THAN THE CURRENT PER-GALLON PRICE OF FUEL, THE PRICE WILL ROLL DOWN TO THE MAXIMUM CAPABILITY OF THE FUEL EQUIPMENT, AND YOUR REMAINING REWARDS WILL BE SAVED FOR A FUTURE FUEL PURCHASE. DISPENSER MAY REQUIRE A PRICE OF UP TO 10.9¢/GAL. IT MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE TO COMBINE MULTIPLE DISCOUNTS AND/OR REWARDS IN A SINGLE TRANSACTION. FOR PURCHASES OF $75 OR MORE, PLEASE GO INSIDE TO PAY. UNBRANDED DIESEL AND ALTERNATIVE FUELS MAY NOT BE ELIGIBLE. THE FUEL REWARDS® PROGRAM IS OWNED AND OPERATED BY EXCENTUS CORPORATION. OFFER MAY BE MODIFIED OR DISCONTINUED AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. NOT VALID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. PLEASE SEE FUELREWARDS.COM FOR COMPLETE FUEL REWARDS® PROGRAM DETAILS AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS. OTHER RESTRICTIONS MAY APPLY. ALL TRADEMARKS ARE THE PROPERTY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS. TO LEARN MORE, VISIT FUELREWARDS.COM/GOLD OR CALL (888) 603-0473.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shell. The opinions and text are all mine.

How I Saved Money on My Orlando Family Road Trip!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Shell. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Summer is in full swing and that means I am taking full advantage of my Instant Gold Status from Shell and the Fuel Rewards® program, and hitting the road to make some amazing family memories!

How I Saved on My Orlando Family Road Trip

This month we did an Orlando Family Road Trip and I saved big time at the pump. Remember Shell is currently giving members of the *Fuel Rewards® Program “Instant Gold Status” which rewards members with an automatic 5 cents a gallon reward on every fill-up, up to 20 gallons, for at least 6 months. However, by using my Mastercard that is linked to our Fuel Rewards® card before and during our trip, I was able to earn additional rewards and then stack them to get the most savings. You can sign up for the Fuel Rewards program and start saving with Instant Gold Status here (it’s free, no credit card required!).

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Tips for Saving with Fuel Rewards® card

Book your hotels ahead of time. By planning out your road trip stops and hotel stays ahead of time, you are able to get the best valued hotel. Book your hotel through the Fuel Rewards® website, powered by Priceline, and you not only save from pre-booking, you also earn 20 cents a gallon (up to 20 gallons) off your next fill-up for every $300 spent. When I was booking our hotel a few weeks ago, there was over 400 hotels to choose from, so finding a hotel that fits your needs is a piece of cake!

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Choose restaurants that allow you to earn rewards. Taking a road trip and vacationing with children can be a lot of work. I try to pack snacks for theroad, and quick options for our hotel room, but when it comes to full meals the last thing I want to do on my vacation is cook for 3 picky kids. Within a 5-minute drive of our hotel we found several pizzerias, a full Italian restaurant, a lobster house, and my husband’s favorite a Brazilian Steak House to eat at. Don’t feel like pizza or steak? No problem, there were 133 restaurants in my search of Orlando alone. At the Sinha Brazilian Steak House we earned 10 cents per gallon rewards on our next fill, up to 20 gallons, not too shabby for food we would have tried anyways!

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Stock up on your vacation must haves before you leave. Shopping at hotel gift shops or grabbing a poncho from a kiosk in a theme park will easily drain your budget. Instead, plan ahead, the best part of road tripping is that you aren’t limited to a small suitcase. Do most of your shopping ahead of time at stores that allow you to earn rewards. Before out last trip I stopped at Winn-Dixie for snacks, drinks, refillable cups, clip on fans, and all sorts of things that I knew I would find myself buying at a theme park. I saved on the cost of everything, plus I earned 3 cents a gallon on our next fill, up to 20 gallons, for every $100 I spent.

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Plus, every woman knows the need to shop for new clothes or accessories before a vacation, right? Head over to the Fuel Rewards® site for a list of online retailers that let you earn points as you shop online. These are stores you already shopping at, and more than likely already doing it online, so why not put some savings in your pocket while you’re at it!

With all these ways of earning rewards on top of the 5 cents a gallon Instant Gold Status reward, it is so easy to earn rewards, stack them and save at the pump. Don’t forget to sign up for the Fuel Rewards program here.

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Tips to Remember:

There’s a 20-gallon limit on fill-ups. Get the most out of your rewards by filling up when your tank is low.

Fuel Rewards savings earned through Mastercard Offers could take up to 5–7 business days to post to your Fuel Rewards® account.

Restrictions apply. To qualify for the Gold/Silver Status offers, you must be a Fuel Rewards® member and swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID when you fuel at a participating Shell station. With Gold Status, you will receive 5¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings on every fill-up. The 5¢/gal reward for Gold Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. If you are an existing Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status from 6/5/2017 through 12/31/17, the “Existing Member Introductory Period”. If you are a new Fuel Rewards® member, you will receive Gold Status for the initial month you join through the last day of the month, 6 full calendar months later, the “New Member Introductory Period”. The last 3 months of the Existing Member Introductory Period or the New Member Introductory Period (collectively the “Introductory Period”) is the “Qualification Period”. You will retain your Gold Status during the Qualification Period, but you must make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to qualify for Gold Status for the next 3 months, the “Benefit Period”. During the Benefit Period, you must continue to make 6 qualifying fuel purchases to maintain your Gold Status for the next 3-month Benefit Period. A qualifying fuel purchase is any fuel purchase at a participating Shell station in which you swipe your Fuel Rewards® card or enter your Alt ID and fill up with at least 5-gallons of any grade of fuel. For example, if you are a new Fuel Rewards® member and register on 6/15/2017, you will receive Gold Status through the New Member Introductory Period (i.e., 12/31/2017). You will need to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the Qualification Period (i.e., 10/1/2017 and 12/31/2017) to maintain Gold Status during the Benefit Period (i.e., from 1/1/2018 to 3/31/2018). Thereafter, if you continue to fill up with at least 5 gallons of fuel at least 6 times during the successive 3 consecutive month Benefit Periods, you will retain your Gold Status. If you do not maintain your Gold Status, you will receive Silver Status. With Silver Status, you will receive 3¢/gal in Fuel Rewards® savings. The 3¢/gal reward for Silver Status will be combined with other rewards in your Fuel Rewards® account. Redeem Fuel Rewards® savings with your Fuel Rewards® card or Alt ID at participating Shell stations. Fuel Rewards® savings are limited to 20 gallons of fuel per purchase, per vehicle, or fraud limits placed by Shell and/or limits placed on your financial card by your financial institution, each of which may be lower. Fuel Rewards® savings must be redeemed in a single transaction. Once you begin to dispense fuel using your Fuel Rewards® savings, you must dispense to the 20-gallon limit or you forfeit any remaining discounted gallons of fuel. For example, if you only pump fifteen (15) gallons of fuel, you would abandon the remaining five (5) gallons of discounted fuel. If you have a rewards balance greater than the current per-gallon price of fuel, the price will roll down to the maximum capability of the fuel equipment, and your remaining rewards will be saved for a future fuel purchase. Dispenser may require a price of up to 10.9¢/gal. It may not be possible to combine multiple discounts and/or rewards in a single transaction. For purchases of $75 or more, please go inside to pay. Unbranded diesel and alternative fuels may not be eligible. The Fuel Rewards® program is owned and operated by Excentus Corporation. Offer may be modified or discontinued at any time without notice. Not valid where prohibited by law. Please see fuelrewards.com for complete Fuel Rewards® program details and Terms and Conditions. Other restrictions may apply. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners. To learn more, visit fuelrewards.com/gold or call (888) 603-0473

8 Reasons to Visit Sea World Orlando Even if You Don’t Like Rollercoasters!

Disclosure: We received free passes to help facilitate this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.

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8 easons to Visit Sea World Orlando Even if You Don’t Like Rollercoasters

My oldest, who is the only one tall enough to ride most of Sea World’s roller coasters, hates high speed attractions.  Plus, my younger two are past the kiddie ride age, but not yet tall enough for the coasters, although they can’t wait!  Because of this, I wasn’t sure how our trip over would go because all I had seen up and down i4 were billboards for the tallest and fastest roller coasters.  However, our visit was AMAZING, Sea World ended up being my younger son Aidan’s “Favorite place in Orlando”.

SeaWorld has a lot of new roller coasters that look amazing, but there is so much fun to be had for families that aren’t into the thrill-seeking rides (or like me, can’t leave your children to jump on one).

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My Top Reasons to Visit Sea World Orlando

One Ocean Show:  This majestic killer whale show is located in the Shamu Stadium.  This is an incredible show and I am so happy we got the chance to experience it before the Orca shows are phased out.  This show had my younger son Aidan, walking away saying “I’m going to clean the beach when we go on the boat mommy” That’s an awesome message to be able to instill in an 8-year-old.  Plus, the killer whale is now his favorite animal.

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Dolphins:  There are several ways to see dolphins at Sea World Orlando.  There is a great Dolphin Cove, where you can see them swimming under the water.  This is one of my favorite places to hide from the rain!

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The Dolphin Days Show is my second favorite show and it’s a must see. 

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Another way to not only see they dolphins but to also get hands on with them is to purchase a Dolphin Encounter ticket for $15 a person.  During the Dolphin Encounter you are able to go into the roped off dolphin area with an instructor and touch the dolphins and learn some tricks. One suggestion I have for this animal encounter is, if you have an extra adult who doesn’t want to do the Dolphin Encounter or can do it at a later time, have them stand across from the dolphin area and take pictures.  You are not aloud to bring cameras up to the dolphin area, thus making you purchase photos from the professional photographers that are standing up there.  The photos were expensive and not the greatest quality.  If my husband was with me, I would have had him stay with the kids and went up to take my own pictures.

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Shark Encounter:  This is Anthony’s favorite exhibit.  You get to walk through one of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels, where you can see several types of large sharks.  Outside of the underwater shark area, is a shark touch tank which was incredible.  The kids and I learned so much about sharks during our visit!

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Stingray Lagoon:  This is another touch tank location that was a hit with my kids.  The stingrays were very friendly and came right up to the kids hands.  Sea World also sells stingray food so that you can feed them in the touch tank.  The food is reasonably priced a $5 for one tray and $20 for 5 trays.

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Antarctica Empire of the Penguin:  First we went on the fun ride which takes you through the icy world of Antarctica through the eyes of a penguin names Puck.  As we exited the ride we were immediately in the penguin habitat which was one of my favorite habitats of the day.  The penguins are close and listening to them talk is fun, but best of all when you walk down stairs you get to see them diving into the water, and they are very social with the kids who play near the glass viewing area.

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Shamu’s Happy Harbor:  This area offers a lot of water spraying activities and kiddie rides, but we didn’t want to get wet yet so my kids stuck to the huge play structure in the center that is so big and fun, kids of all ages were running, climbing, and sliding through it.  All the exhausted parents were sitting down around it, taking a break, I joined them.

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Wild Artic:  This area has a fun flight simulator that takes you on a helicopter ride through the landscapes of the frozen north.  The Habitat area of the Wild Artic features a Baluga Whale which is such a beautiful animal.  We had never seen a Baluga whale before and it was an amazing sight.

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Turtle Trek:  This is another awesome place to get stuck in a rain storm!  The first area is where you can view all the sea turtles underwater, and they are so fun to watch.  We sat down on the stairs and watched them swim for about 30 minutes.  Next we saw TurtleTrek®’s 3D 360° which allows you to see what it’s like to “be a turtle” while learning about the incredible journey these amazing animals face during their lives.

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We had an amazing day at Sea World Orlando!  It is definitely a must visit while in Orlando!

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Location:

SeaWorld
7007 Sea World Drive
Orlando, FL 32821

Admission Cost:

Admission prices start at $79.99 a person plus tax when purchased online.
The cost goes up to $99.99 plus tax at the ticket desk.

Get Social with Sea World and Learn More!
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Complete Guide to the Crayola Experience in Orlando!

Disclosure: We received free passes to help facilitate this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Complete Guide to the Crayola Experience in Orlando!

Complete Guide to the Crayola Experience

We spend a lot of time in Orlando and it is amazing hmany things there are to do beyond the theme parks, that many visitors don’t think about.  The Crayola Experience is one of these unique activities that is worth checking out when you’re in Orlando!

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How Much Time Will It Take:

The Crayola Experience takes about 3-4 hours to complete if you plan to visit all the attractions inside and let the kids truly enjoy this colorful wonderland. 
My kids spent hours learning and creating while visiting all the Unique exhibits, with their favorites being the Be A Star area, Wrap It Up Section, and Rockin’ Paper.

When You Arrive:

After going through the ticket desk each visitor will receive a plastic bag to hold all your creations and 2 tokens.  The tokens can be used at the Wrap It Up section to make a crayon and in the Modeling Madness section to get a packet of Crayola Model Madness out of the vending machine.  After receiving your bags, you will go upstairs where all the exhibits are.

The Exhibits:

Wrap It Up:  you can personalize a Crayola crayon label and wrap it around your new crayon.

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Crayola Factory:  A live theatre show that teaches you how crayons are made featuring crayon friends Scarlet & Turk

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Art Alive:  Create digital works of art and let them come to life.

Toddler Town: a fun play area just for the little ones to let off some energy.

Modeling Madness:  Sculpt colorful creations using Crayola Model Magic.

Be A Star:  A photobooth that makes coloring page with you in them.

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Doodle in the Dark:  Color on large backlit doodle boards with vibrant neon colors in a dark room.

Colossal Caddy:  Sit and color with a caddy that holds thousands of crayons.

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Scribble Square:  Color the square’s streets and walls with chalk.

Color Magic: You get to see your coloring page come alive!  Virtually control what you just colored in a background of your choosing.

Color Playground:  A fun play area where kids can wiggle off their energy in a huge crayon structure.

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Drip Art:  Melt and drip crayon wax onto your paper as it spins to create a swirly-whirly masterpiece.

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Melt & Mold:  Lets you melt a crayon into a ring, shark, car or seahorse souvenir 

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Rainbow Rain:  An interactive experience where you magically catch melting digital wax with your body and hands.

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Meltdown:  Use melted wax to paint!

Paint Palette:  Make a painted masterpiece and then visit the larger-than-life drying oven to ensure your masterpiece is ready to take home.

You Design:  You can color and scan a car or fashion design, then show it off on a large screen.

Rockin’ Paper:  Watch as you’re the paper creation you colored rocks to the music.

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Food and Stuff:

There are a couple places to eat lunch or grab a snack inside the Crayola Experience.  I ordered a pretzel while the kids were playing in the Color Playground and it was reasonably priced.
Crayola Experience is in The Florida Mall, so if you’re looking for more food options, there is an endless variety within this gigantic mall.

The Crayola Experience has Party Rooms, so this would be a great place to have a memorable birthday party!

Save some time for the gift shop!  I’m usually not a huge gift shop shopper, but at the Crayola Experience store you can pick a tin for between $16.99 – $21.99 and fill it with crayons or markers.  For the size of the tins, I think this is a reasonable price, plus it is so much fun picking your favorite colors from the crayon wall!

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Location:

Located within The Florida Mall, makes The Crayola Factory easy to get to and adds to the fun that can be had.

Crayola Experience
8001 South Orange Blossom Trail 
Orlando, Florida 32809 

When to Visit:
Open daily, 10:00am-8:00pm

Cost of Admission:
General Admission: $19.99 plus tax per person
Kids under 2 are Free
Annual Pass: $29.99 plus tax per person

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9 Tips for Visiting LEGOLAND Orlando

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Tips for Visiting LEGOLAND Orlando

If you or someone you knows is a true LEGO lover, then you might want to plan a trip to LEGOLAND Orlando! The pictures don’t do this park justice, it is a magical place for sure!

If you are thinking of visiting, I will share some tips with you, to make your visit a little bit easier! There is so much to do, you could spend days trying to fit in all the awesome activities and rides!

Make Your Day at LEGOLAND A Success

Consider Staying At Their Hotel: By staying on property,  you can get extended LEGOLAND hours at the theme park, early admission and more. You can find discounted tickets and sales online! It is something to think about for sure.  You can find discounted tickets on their website or at Costco.

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Go Before a Major Holiday: If you go right before a major holiday, it can be less crowded. Try to avoid weekends, that can be the busiest time. 

Hit Popular Rides First: If you arrive really early, get to the rides you want the most. It will save you waiting in line and hopefully mean you get to do the ride! 

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Pack Water and Snacks: Make sure to have a few waters and light snacks handy as you are going throughout the park. It will help save a little money and with the warm sun you want to stay hydrated. 

Bring Stroller: If you have younger kids, consider a stroller with an umbrella. They will get tired of walking and having shade will help with the hot summer sun. 

Parking Tickets Online: If you have a car you are taking to LEGOLAND consider purchasing parking online at the LEGOLAND Florida Site! It can save you some money.

Bring Minifigures To Trade: This is pretty awesome, your kids can bring 3 of their least favorites to trade. Each LEGO employee wears a minifigures on their name tag, and if you ask to trade they will! Some employees “Minifigure Ambassadors” have almost 100 minifigures to choose from, they are a bit harder to find.

lego-land-minifigure-tips-orlando-floridaPack Rain Gear: If you go on the Quest for CHI ride you might get a little wet. So make sure to bring rain gear like ponchos, change of clothes, etc. You can purchase a poncho at LEGOLAND by the ride, but it will cost a lot more money.

Package Pick Up: If you decide to shop at the gift shop, you can choose the package pick up. They will take your items you purchased, package them and have them at the front of the park and when you leave pick them up on the way out! That way you don’t have to lug all over the park. 

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Top 3 Popular Attractions 

  • The Battle for Brickbeard’s Bounty at the Ski Stadium
  • Coastersaurus roller coaster
  • This is the Mindstorm Robotics Challenge

The Details:
Where:

LegoLand
One LEGOLAND Way
Winter Haven, FL 33884 

Admission:
Adults – $113.00
Children – $106.00
Save with 2 Day Tickets
Adult – $133.00
Children – $126.00

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Disclosure: We received free passes to help facilitate this post.  All opinions are 100% my own.

The Best Exhibits at Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa

Early in our move to Tampa Bay we had heard about the Tampa River Walk, how beautiful it was and the endless events and activities that take place there.  When I decided to check it out, the Glazer Children's Museum stuck out as an interesting place to explore with the kids.  So, I was excited when the museum invited us to visit.  Growing up in Massachusetts, I had visited the Boston Children’s Museum countless times and always made amazing memories, and I was excited to do the same in our new home state.       As you enter the museum, the highlight of the first floor is the large water play area with various weather simulations, boat navigation, and water flow areas.  The entire family had fun in this area, especially with the weather simulator.   Along with the large water's Journey exhibit, the first floor offered a unique sand box area and tug boat play structure.   Like in museums we have visited in the past, Glazer Children's Museum has a large climbing structure for the kids to conquer.  These climbing structures are always one of the kid’s favorite exhibits.  They climbed for up and down several times, laughing along the way, as mommy and daddy got to relax on the benches next the exhibit and look on.   Once the kids were done climbing, we got to explore the second floor which featured a pretend fire house, hospital, pet clinic, Publix, Outback, theater, news station, and more.   I was impressed with how clean and organized the museum was given the fact that they had so many exhibits on one level.  Also, having the majority of the exhibits on the one floor made it easier for parents with multiple kids to watch them all as they played.   Anthony was too old for many of the exhibits, but he did really like the paper airplane section and learning about new broadcasts in the Kids' Network.     Aidan enjoyed every single exhibit and played for hours.  His favorites were the fire house, the restaurant and the construction area.     Lilly spent most her time in the Get Moving area.  Which showcased a rock wall and a racing area.                       After we finally convinced the kids to head outside, we enjoyed a bit of the beautiful River Walk.  The Glazer Museum is located right on River with an interactive fountain, playground, and large field right outside the door.  It was a wonderful day that I can absolutely recommend to mothers of young children in the Tampa area.   After a fun afternoon, I can say with confidence that the Glazer Children's Museum is a perfect place for young families to make memories and learn new things.     The Details: Where: Glazer Children’s Museum    110 W Gasparilla Plaza Tampa FL 33602   Price: Adults – $15 Children - $9.50 Babies under 1 year are Free Family Annual Memberships start at $125   Hours: Monday-Friday 10am - 5pm Saturday 10am - 6pm Sunday 1pm - 6pm   Get Social with the Glazer Children’s Museum: Facebook Twitter Instagram           Disclosure:  I received press passes to the Glazer Children’s Museum for myself and my family to facilitate this post, all opinions are always 100% my own.

Early in our move to Tampa Bay we had heard about the Tampa River Walk, how beautiful it was and the endless events and activities that take place there.  When I decided to check it out, the Glazer Children’s Museum stuck out as an interesting place to explore with the kids.  So, I was excited when the museum invited us to visit.  Growing up in Massachusetts, I had visited the Boston Children’s Museum countless times and always made amazing memories, and I was excited to do the same in our new home state.   (more…)

Top Tips for Visiting Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

While in Tampa one of the best places to take the kids is the Lowry Park Zoo!
  My kids are big animal lovers,  Anthony loves to learn all the facts about each kind of animal while the twins just fall in love with all of them, so this zoo was a great experience for us.
 
This was the first time I had ever visited the Lowry Park Zoo and I was very impressed.  The zoo was very clean, they had a wide variety of animals that were very visible in their habitats and the zoo also offered other activities to keep the kids entertained. 

The summer months can get excruciatingly hot in Florida especially if your not from here, so we arrived at the zoo right when it opened so we could finish most of the walking before the hottest part of the day.
  Once walking through the main entrance we headed to the left and went through each of the 6 animal habitat areas, Asian Gardens, Florida Wildlife Center, Primate World, Safari Africa, Ituri Forest and Wallaroo Station.  This ended up being a perfect plan because when we finally arrived in the Wallaroo Station area we were starting to get very hot and tired.  However this area cooled us off quick with a water spray park and some mechanical rides.

The zoo has a petting area with farm animals, an area to touch sting rays and numerous feeding activities at different habitats.

The kids loved all the animals but each had a favorite.  Aidan Loved the Chimpanzees, Lilly thought the elephants were the cutest, and Anthony was excited to learn about rhino’s.

One of the coolest rides that really sets the Lowry Park Zoo apart from other zoo’s we’ve been to was the Expedition Africa Guided Safari.
The safari is a guided tour aboard a 2 carted jeep, through the back area of the “Safari Africa” section of the zoo.

Ready to Visit?
Admission is currently $32.95 for adults and $24.95 for children.  Which includes Pay For The Day, Come Back The Rest Of The Year
For those local to Tampa, this is an awesome deal because it means you will not only get to enjoy the zoo for the rest of 2017, but you will also get to take advantage of the amazing holiday events that The Lowry Park Zoo offers.  Such as “Creatures of the Night” and “Christmas in the Wild”

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While the Pay for the Day ticket is a great deal, if you have a large family, like we do, I suggest becoming a zoo member.  There are several membership choices to choose from, for us the Family Plus Guest membership was the best.  This meant for $159 my husband, 3 children, myself, and a guest could visit anytime for a full 12 months.  The memberships also include seasonal events.

Getting there:
1101 West Sligh Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is definitely a must see when in the Tampa Bay area!

Get Social with Lowry Park Zoo

 

The Ultimate Central Florida Bucket List

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The Ultimate Central Florida Bucket List

Gulf Coast
Visit Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Become a Pirate aboard Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise
Run through the sprinkler park at The Florida Aquarium
Feed the animals at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo
Shell on the Islands off the Gulf Coast
See some mermaids at Weeki Wachee State Park
Tour Solomon’s Castle
Check out the art at the Salvador Dali Muesam
Ride the roller coasters at Busch Gardens
Celebrate sunset at Pier 60
Listen to the bells at Bok Tower Gardens
Beat the heat at Adventure Island
Climb the St. Augustine Lighthouse
Tube the Rainbow Springs
Get hands on at MOSI
Kayak out to Caladesi Island
See the birds at Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary
Take a ride on Wild Bill’s Air Boat Tours
Take a spooky ride up Spook Hill
Tour the SS American Victory
Race the kids at Grand Prix Tampa
Take a ride on Tampa’s Streetcar System
Experience the Big Cat Rescue
Check out the art at Dunedin Fine Art Center
Climb up high at Verticle Venture
Hike around Honeymoon Island
Dig for fossils at Dinosaur World
Swim with manatees at Crystal River
Check out the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs
Ride the Sun Coast Trolley
Catch some rays at Indian Rocks Beach
See some majestic animals at Suncoast Primate Sanctuary
Swim with the fish at Rum Fish Grill
Tour the gulf beaches on the Dolphin Racer
Snorkel at Egmont Key
Have an adventure at Empower Adventures
Ride a Fun Coup around the beach
Walk the board walk on Madeira Beach
Take some selfies at the St. Pete Urban Mural Tour
Visit Alligator Attraction on John’s Pass
Pose with the Hulk Hogan statue outside Hogan’s Beach Shop
Visit the flamingos at the Sunken Gardens
Feed Giraffes at the Giraffe Ranch
Relax on Pass-A-Grille Beach
Splash around at Kiwanis Sprayground
Taste the donuts at The Mini Donuts Factory
Horse back ride the Beach
Ice Skating at the Mall in Clearwater
Taste the sugar at Cotton Candy Palace

Orlando Area
Pick out a pair of Havianas at Disney Springs
Become a Prince or Princess at the Bibbidi Boppity Boutique
Visit the mouse at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom
Take a ride aboard Disney’s Monorail
Eat (and Drink) around the world at Disney’s Epcot
Take a Safari at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom
See the amazing views from atop the Eye of Orlando
Get up close to the Alligators at Gator Land
Sip on some Butterbeer at Universal Studios
Kiss a dolphin at Discovery Cove
Eat Dinner with Belle and Beast at Be Our Guest
East everything in The Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream
Have a Dole Whip
See the Welcome Show at Magic Kingdom
Explore the Holy Land
Take a Master Builder Class at Lego Land
Get Slimed at Nickelodeon
Experience The Great Escape
Skydive at iFly Indoor Skydiving
Join the Fans at ESPN Wide World of Sports
Watch Cirque De Soliel’s
Blue Man Group
Tour the town of Celebration
Have fun with color at the Crayola Experience
Visit the big M&M at M&M World
Sip some tea at Infusion Tea
Lunch at the American Girl Bistro
Eat at the Krusty Burger in Universal Studios
Get your dolls hair done at the American Girl Salon
Visit the Orlando Science Center
Explore Wonder Works
Get Wild at Wild Florida
Have Fun at Fun Spot America
Play at Disney Quest
Golf at Pirates Cove Adventure Golf
See the unbelievable at Ripley’s Believe it Or Not
Explore International Drive
Snorkel at Devil’s Den Spring
Take a selfie with celebrities at Madam Tussauds
Relax under a tree at Big Tree Park
Satisfy a sweet tooth at World of Chocolate Museum
Take a trapeze class at Orlando Flying Trapeze
Walk Disney’s Boardwalk
Snorkel with sharks at Typhoon Lagoon
Get Chilly at the ICEBAR
Plunge down some water slides at Wet n’ Wild
Race at the Magical Midway
See a dolphin show at Sea World
Get wet at Aquatica
Learn about the Titanic at Titanic the Experience
Visit the Sea Life Aquarium
Eat at the Biggest McDonald’s
Relax in the lazy river at Blizzard Beach
Explore the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

East Coast Family Road Trip

We just got back from our very first family road trip down the east coast!  We have never driven over 4 hours as a family so this was a fun and scary idea.  However for a family of 5 to fly from Massachusetts to Florida it can easily cost us over $1250, so when we calculated out the cost of gas one way to be less than $250 we knew we needed to try driving.

Our goal was to see different parts of Florida before deciding if we should move south.  We left on a Wednesday at 3am.  Our plan was to drive straight from Massachusetts to Washington D.C. so that Anthony could see The White House, then continue as far as possible.  We planned to stay at a hotel somewhere between D.C. and South Carolina and then continue Thursday down to my brother’s in South Carolina.  However it seems that the 3am hour was an amazingly perfect hour to start our venture because we hit no traffic the entire day!
We passed through Worchester in Massachusetts, New York City, and got into Washington traffic free and where standing in front of The White House by 11am! 
We arrived in D.C. on what seemed to be the hottest day of the summer, so once we saw the White House we jumped back in the van and where out of the city by 1pm.
I would love to take Anthony down again to see all the other landmarks in Washington D.C. because he loves educational sight seeing, but that will be a mommy and son, one on one trip because the twins don’t have the patience for that type of trip yet.
 
As we left Washington we were shocked at how great we were doing on time, but we still anticipated staying somewhere along the next 8 hour leg of out trip.  We assumed asking our kids to handle a 16 hour drive in one day was asking way to much for their sanity as well as ours.  However I guess all those 24 hours of traveling trips to Brazil have trained them in long distance sitting because they stayed entertained with the portable DVD player, iPad, and the toys they packed the entire afternoon.  Before we knew it, it was 8pm and we were driving into Charleston, South Carolina!  We saved money on a hotel room, and got an extra night to visit with my brother AKA “Uncle”!
We enjoyed 2 nights with Uncle and the beautiful city of Charleston, before heading down to Clearwater, Florida.  We knew the Charleston to Clearwater trip would only take about 9 hours so we took our time and stopped in Georgia along the way to stock up on Georgia Peaches of coarse!
We arrived in Clearwater by dinner time where Grammy and Papa had already arrived via air and our vacation was able to start.  Clearwater Florida is a beautiful city, I have never seen a beach so nice in my life!  My parents recently inherited a home in Clearwater so we stayed at their place for about 10 days.  While there we visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Florida Aquarium, The Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Beach, and Best of all took a cruise on Captain Memo’s Pirate Ship.
After our stay in Clearwater, my husband really wanted to see the Boca Raton area so we packed up and headed back on the road for 5 hours.  Once in Boca we stayed at the Marriott Fairfield Inn.  The hotel was beautiful, with great staff, and very clean.  I was shocked at how nice it was for the price, plus they offer free breakfast every morning.
While in Boca we ate at Picanha Brazil.  The food and drinks where delicious, especially the fried bananas!
 
Once done in Boca Raton we headed a bit north to the Orlando area.  We stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton, which was located across the street from Universal Studios Orlando.  The hotel had a huge pool that the kids enjoyed and the rooms where clean. 
However I priced Universal tickets at the activities desk and was disappointed that the tickets cost more than they do on Universals website and the desk staff was not very friendly.  However the staff at both the lobby’s Starbuck and the gift shop were fantastic!
 Before heading to Orlando I had to promise the hubby I wouldn’t turn this into a Disney World vacation because we were just there in January.  I agreed that we couldn’t afford another trip to the happiest place on earth.  However being a Disney addict and all, it was really hard being so close to the magic but not visiting.  In the end we arrived at an agreement to visit Downtown Disney one night!
After Orlando and a 3 week trip we began to head back home.  We stopped in South Carolina for lunch, spent the night in North Carolina and continued our trip home as quickly as possible.
 
We came to the conclusion that I love South Carolina and that is my dream place to live, however the outskirts of Orlando is a close second.  The Hubby loves Boca and Orlando, but likes the cost of living in South Carolina.  So we decided to stay put one more year, let Anthony finish off elementary school and debate the issue until next year.
 
 
 
 

Clearwater Beach Florida with Kids

The main stop on our recent road trip was Clearwater, Florida.  My parents recently got a vacation place down there and we were excited to visit.
We ended up being on the road during the twin’s 5th birthday so we had fun celebrating it in Clearwater.
We also spent some time in Tampa visiting the Lowry Park Zoo and The Florida Aquarium.  We also went to visit Winter at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and had a beach day on Honeymoon Island. 
However the best memories where made on Clearwater Beach.  I was shocked at how beautiful the beach was!  The water was crystal clear and as warm as bathwater.  The white sand was soft and resembled moon sand.  Plus everyone was incredibly nice.
Beyond the sand, we spent an afternoon aboard Captain Memo’s Pirate Ship.  We also ate at Crabby Bill’s twice and had the best king crab legs anywhere, and the kids had 2 crabby patty’s each because they were so good!
We fell in love with Clearwater and cant wait till our next trip down!
 
 
 


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