CHILDREN’S GARDENS OF THE US- THE NORTHEAST

I have been visiting Children’s Garden up the East Coast since 2008, when my co-worker Emily Clack and I presented in Delaware at the Annual American Horticultural Society’s Youth Gardening Symposium. Since then family trips have take us from Winterthur Garden & Museum in Delaware up to Coastal Maine Botanic Garden. Find More Children’s Gardens:Children’s Gardens of the SouthChildren’s Gardens of the WestChildren’s Gardens of … Continue reading CHILDREN’S GARDENS OF THE US- THE NORTHEAST

Children’s Gardens Of the US- THE MIDWEST

Between personal travel and work, I’ve been lucky to visit more than 30 Botanical Gardens around the world. The popularity of Children’s Gardens soared in the 2000s and I was a relative newbie at Norfolk Botanical Garden when the World of Wonders Children’s Garden opened in 2006. After years of trying to remember “in which garden I saw which feature,” I’ve decided it’s time to … Continue reading Children’s Gardens Of the US- THE MIDWEST

CHILDREN’S GARDEN OF THE US- THE SOUTH

Between personal travel and work, I’ve been lucky to visit more than 30 Botanical Gardens around the world. The popularity of Children’s Gardens soared in the 2000s and I was a relative newbie at Norfolk Botanical Garden when the World of Wonders Children’s Garden opened in 2006. After years of trying to remember “where I saw what feature” I’ve decided it’s time to put them … Continue reading CHILDREN’S GARDEN OF THE US- THE SOUTH

CHILDREN’S GARDEN OF THE US- The West

Between personal travel and work, I’ve been lucky to visit more than 30 Botanical Gardens around the world. The popularity of Children’s Gardens soared in the 2000s, and I was a relative newbie at Norfolk Botanical Garden when the World of Wonders Children’s Garden opened in 2006. In a series of four blogs, I’ve collected photos of the Children’s Gardens from the US. I get … Continue reading CHILDREN’S GARDEN OF THE US- The West

Cincinnati & Dayton, OHio- Fall 2021

Across the Ohio River The occasion for my visit to the Cincinnati area was the wedding of a hometown friend and a long overdue reunion with my family and childhood friends. The wedding venue was actually in Covington, Kentucky, conveniently located across from the city and next to a pedestrian bridge that connected us to downtown with less than a 15-minute walk. Where I stayed:Embassy … Continue reading Cincinnati & Dayton, OHio- Fall 2021

Roanoke Island, North Carolina

North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island North Carolina Aquariums have three campuses; Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, and Fort Fisher. The Roanoke Island museum features indoor exhibits and a large outdoor nature trail. The museum hosts the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation Center, with each rescued turtle’s information displayed. In the next space, children learn about sea turtle conservation through a series of interactive exhibits. … Continue reading Roanoke Island, North Carolina

The Holiday Season at Walt Disney World

We spent three Christmas breaks at the Walt Disney World Resorts. Disney changes its event and attraction offerings every year for the holidays. No matter when you go, you can always expect world-class decorations and entertainment, as well as no shortage of themed merchandise. Magic Kingdom Magic Kingdom offers ticketed after-hours parties through the holiday season with themed holiday shows and parades. During our trips … Continue reading The Holiday Season at Walt Disney World

Victoria, Australia, 2002

Melbourne Melbourne (pronounced somewhere between Mel-Ben and Mel-Bun in American) was meant to be a short stop that turned into a ten-day stay. My hosts were another YMCA Camp Kern friend, Steve Hepworth, and his lovely parents. Stephen still remains one of my most beloved friends due to his unfiltered, honest and wildly funny personality. At the time of my visit we had just completed … Continue reading Victoria, Australia, 2002

Working Holiday in Western Australia, 2001

Perth My first two weeks in Perth (pronounced more like Pear-th in American) were spent acclimating to Australian culture. I was lucky to have local guides in my friend Louise and her (then boyfriend, now husband) Louis. From Louise’s house I spent each morning scouring the newspaper for both a job and a room to rent. I became the world’s worst bartender at Steve’s Hotel … Continue reading Working Holiday in Western Australia, 2001

1750 Miles, 14 Days, FROM Virginia to Maine- Summer 2021

, Day 1- Norfolk, VA TO Philadelphia, PA via EAstern Shore Day 2- Philadelphia, PA TO Waterbury, CT via Winterthur Museum & Gardens, Philadelphia Botanical Garden & Cold Springs, NY Day 3- Waterbury, CT TO Harpswell, ME via Freeport, ME Day 4- Harpswell, ME Day 5- Harpswell, ME TO North Conway, NH Day 6- North Conway, NH TO Mount Washington area, via StoryLand Day 7- … Continue reading 1750 Miles, 14 Days, FROM Virginia to Maine- Summer 2021

Washington DC- Smithsonian History & Culture museums

Take some time to visit the Smithsonian Museums to learn about the many stories that come together to create the American experience (spoiler alert: it’s ain’t all apple pie and baseball games). Not all of the Smithsonian Museums have fully reopened in 2021. Please check the Smithsonian website for the most up to date information. American History Museum The National Museum of American History holds … Continue reading Washington DC- Smithsonian History & Culture museums

World Showcase Pavilions In Epcot

Almost any time of year Epcot is hosting a themed festival. For more info, check out My Previous Blog. NOTE: Due to COVID, many of the experiences in Epcot are currently suspended, including character meet and greets and much of the live entertainment. I’ve still included them in the blog; some specific acts will be permanently canceled, but they are reintroducing some throughout 2021 and … Continue reading World Showcase Pavilions In Epcot

Washington DC- Memorials & places For Remembrance and reflection

All off the National Memorials are free to visit (the only place on this blog that requires a fee to tour is the Washington National Cathedral), and most are easy to see in less than a full day. The circulator bus is $1/person/ride and provides easy access to all of the monuments around the Tidal Basin and Reflecting Pool. Use the National Parks Jr. Ranger … Continue reading Washington DC- Memorials & places For Remembrance and reflection

El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto RIco, July 2021

The El Yunque Rainforest is the only tropical rainforest on US lands, and being there was like being in another world.  Coqui frogs were the most vocal animals that we heard (males are the only ones that call and they are even more active at night.) The tree snails’ shells were the size of our palms. We were most struck by how deeply we were able … Continue reading El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto RIco, July 2021

Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico, July 2021

The Hyatt Grand Regency is on the western side of a peninsula on the coast of Rio Grande. Because it’s right at the end, we could see the sunset and sunrise from opposite ends of the beach. The mountains of the El Yunque rainforest make up the southern backdrop. The large property is spread out with smaller two-story buildings, and we had a ground level … Continue reading Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico, July 2021

Vieques, Puerto Rico, July 2021

It can be hard to get to Vieques, but so very worth the trouble. We knew that the journey might be difficult in advance, and expected delays and stress at the ferry terminal at Ceiba. (We could have opted for a flight from San Juan, or a puddle jumper from Ceiba, but we chose the much more affordable $7 each way option.) The transportation authority just … Continue reading Vieques, Puerto Rico, July 2021

Old San Juan, Puerto RIco, July 2021

Old San Juan dates back to the 16th Century and some of the buildings that remain are over 500 years old, and the two original Forts, the Castillo San Felipe del Morro and the fortified walls still surround this section of the city. Old San Juan would be roughly a 15-minute drive from the airport, but we arrived on an extremely busy Saturday night, and … Continue reading Old San Juan, Puerto RIco, July 2021

Washington DC Science Museums

The National Mall is home to three science museums, including The National Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History, two of the most iconic Smithsonian Institutions. At the East end of the Mall, next to the Capitol, is the United States Botanic Garden. From the Smithsonian Metro station, you can easily get to the Zoo with just one switch to the Red … Continue reading Washington DC Science Museums

Washington DC- Art museums

The National Mall is flanked on each end by The Capitol building and The Lincoln Memorial. The Mall is home to four Smithsonian Museums that have primarily art collections: The Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, The National Museum of African Art, and the National Museum of Asian Art. The National Gallery of Art is also on the Mall, with two buildings connected by a tunnel … Continue reading Washington DC- Art museums

Historic Jamestown, Virginia

I have an extremely long history of visiting the Historic Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, dating back to a “field trip” from Ohio in 1992. (I remember I was reading Silence of the Lambs at the time, as every “normal” sixth grader was at the time.) My second trip was as a high school sophomore for my history class. My third was in 2006, … Continue reading Historic Jamestown, Virginia

Volcano Bay- Universal Orlando, May 2021

We were a bit disoriented on our first visit to Volcano Bay, so two long afternoons in the park ended up being perfect for feeling like we had really experienced all the park has to offer. Getting acquainted with the TapuTapu system was our first step, and we quickly caught on to choosing a ride, tapping in with our complimentary wristbands, and then returning when … Continue reading Volcano Bay- Universal Orlando, May 2021

White Mountains, New Hampshire, 2019

Santa’s Village Santa’s Village may have never been on our radar, had it not been a childhood vacation spot for my friend Jen’s family. We met in the middle of our two families’ New England vacations in 2019. (This was not the Jens’ first time in New England together; we took a road trip in a minivan to Vermont from Ohio over two decades ago.) … Continue reading White Mountains, New Hampshire, 2019

Table Service Dining at Magic Kingdom

Make a reservation in advance for any of the Table Service restaurants at Magic Kingdom and take some of the stress out of your busy park day! These themed dining options each give you a chance to relax (in air conditioning) and enjoy some time away from the walking and the crowds. And as a particular bonus if you need additional help de-stressing, these restaurants … Continue reading Table Service Dining at Magic Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Lodge & Kidani Village at Walt Disney World Resort

Animal Kingdom Lodge- Rooms & Activities Animal Kingdom Lodge is the resort that our family could visit for a week, never leave, and never get bored. With two sections, Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Disney Vacation Club’s Kidani Village, guests have access to two pools and multiple onsite family activities.Disney has taken great care to represent the cultures of Africa, with art found throughout the … Continue reading Animal Kingdom Lodge & Kidani Village at Walt Disney World Resort

Universal Orlando- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, May 2021

It’s been two years since our first visit to Universal Orlando. Little has changed in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with the exception of one GIANT addition, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure The queue for Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure starts just behind Hogsmeade village. During our visit we experienced both the standard wait time and the virtual visit … Continue reading Universal Orlando- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, May 2021

The Virginia Living Museum, May 2021

Indoor Animal Exhibits The bulk of The Living Museum’s collection is made of of live animals (hence the name), highlighting the animals that live in Virginia (and its coast and waterways). Galleries are divided into ocean, nocturnal, western piedmont, and underground habitats. The exhibits all connect to atriums that each have a canopy walkaway and aquarium path underneath. The highlight of every visit for our … Continue reading The Virginia Living Museum, May 2021

Yellowstone National Park, September 2013

Geothermic Activity With home base as Grand Teton National Park, we tackled Yellowstone National Park as a Day Trip. Old Faithful was an hour and a half drive from our Lodge. We arrived just after breakfast, caught the required famous geyser eruption (short volcano, unscientifically speaking), then had a cafeteria lunch in the Old Faithful Lodge. From there we started the park loop for your … Continue reading Yellowstone National Park, September 2013

Universal Orlando- Cabana Bay Beach Resort, May 2021

Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a prime-value level resort located directly next to Volcano Bay Waterpark (you even get a dedicated entrance)! The retro mid-century modern themed lobby and central spaces make it fun for both kids and grown-ups alike. Details like VO5 brand “cream rinse” in your room and pay phones transport you to a different time and give you tons of chances to … Continue reading Universal Orlando- Cabana Bay Beach Resort, May 2021

Universal Orlando- Lowe’s Portofino Bay Resort, May 2021

Resort Grounds Lowe’s Portofino Bay Universal Resort is a world away from the busy Universal Theme Parks. (I mean this figuratively; the location is actually conveniently close to City Walk & Park Entrances.) It is modeled after a real Italian waterfront town, with scooters for photo ops and colorful sailboats moored in the harbor. The facades of the building are painted with a trompe d’oeil … Continue reading Universal Orlando- Lowe’s Portofino Bay Resort, May 2021

Animal Kingdom- Africa

Animal Kingdom Park is divided into multiple themed areas. Each is home to attractions, animal exhibits, dining, and performances that educate about the wildlife that live in that part of the world. Additionally, the park celebrates and introduces guests to the culture and art of people that live around the world. The photos posted are from trips prior to 2020, so some experiences are currently … Continue reading Animal Kingdom- Africa

OBX, May 2021

Salt Box Cafe & Dessert Salt Box Cafe, hidden in the Colington section of Kill Devil Hills has been our take-out option for the last year. This trip we dined in person. The restaurant is small, so reservations fill quickly, but the screened in patio takes walk-ins. We followed our serene upscale dining experience with a stop at the tourist trap, Sugar Kingdom. At the … Continue reading OBX, May 2021

Barry Art Museum, May, 2021

The Barry Art Museum is on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Admittedly, despite living within walking distance, this was our first visit as a family. With just an hour we only had time to dive into three of the four galleries. Orchids: Attraction & Deception ODU and Norfolk Botanical Garden partner to share the University’s orchid collection in the Garden’s Tropical Display … Continue reading Barry Art Museum, May, 2021

Epcot for Science Nerds

Living with the Land Obviously, as an EE professional that works at a Botanical Garden, I’m going to think Living with the Land is totally rad. However, unless they are just humoring me, the other members of my family are totally into it also. (I think) it is fascinating to learn where your food comes from, and in The Land they demonstrate that science will … Continue reading Epcot for Science Nerds

The Chrysler Museum of Art, May 2021

The Chrysler Museum of Art offers free admission with timed tickets. I’ve always considered the collection at the museum to be disproportionally large for a city the size of Norfolk. It wouldn’t do it much justice to cover in just one post. The glass collection is the most prominent, so we will start there with our May visit. Disclaimer; I have no expertise in art. … Continue reading The Chrysler Museum of Art, May 2021

Norfolk Botanical Garden- The Azaleas & Roses Edition

To be fair, I’m fairly biased about this venue. I was married at Norfolk Botanical Garden in 2009 and I’ve worked in the Youth Education department there for over fifteen years. This is one of what will be many look-backs at the gardens through all the seasons. Azaleas If you lurk by the front desk in early spring, you’ll frequently hear the NBG staff giving … Continue reading Norfolk Botanical Garden- The Azaleas & Roses Edition

Animal Kingdom’s Pandora: The World of Avatar

When they announced that Disney World’s next expansion would be based on a more than a decade old R-rated movie, I think we were all a little skeptical. It doesn’t hurt to watch the movie in advance and to show the milder scenes to your kids. However, you can also have an immersive experience on another planet without a whole lot of prior knowledge. Mo’ara … Continue reading Animal Kingdom’s Pandora: The World of Avatar

Old Time Adventures at Magic Kingdom

Sure, you could wait in line for two hours for a 2-minute ride on 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Or, you can explore three classic attractions in that time. An easy walk between Frontierland and Liberty Square gets you to the raft to Tom Sawyer Island, the Liberty Bell Steamboat Cruise, and the Country Bear Jamboree. Country Bear Jamboree On your way between the Liberty Belle … Continue reading Old Time Adventures at Magic Kingdom

From Bath to Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Bath To Popham Beach Picking up where we left off in Harpswell, your Portland to Acadia trip takes you back to Brunswick to start your journey north on Route 1. Stop in historic Bath for local shops. As you continue on Route 1, look for a giant lobster on top of a roof and you’ve found Taste of Maine. The restaurant combines some intensely Maine-themed … Continue reading From Bath to Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Walking OBX, April 2021

Hatteras Village- Frisco Our jumping off point for Hatteras has always been Hatteras Landing by Kees Vacations. The small “resort” is a series of small condos, each individually owned and decorated. Our most recent accommodation was completely updated. The resort is a quick walk across the road to a public access beach. If you have a more sandworthy vehicle than our Subaru Forester, you can … Continue reading Walking OBX, April 2021

Portsmouth Island, North Carolina

Portsmouth Village Portsmouth Village has been abandoned since 1971, and the remaining buildings are managed by the National Park Service. There were no volunteers or staff during our visit, but many of the the structures have been turned into museums and were open to tour. The Theodore and Annie Salter House and Visitor Center features exhibits that provide a cultural history of the people of … Continue reading Portsmouth Island, North Carolina

Grand Teton National Park & Jackson, Wyoming, 2013

Spring Creek Ranch In my Salt Lake City blog I outlined the story behind why we went to Grand Teton National Park with only one day’s prior planning. Our drive from SLC took us through Idaho and on our first night in Wyoming we stayed just south of the Park, at the Spring Creek Ranch. Grand Tetons I hate heights. Let me caveat that… I … Continue reading Grand Teton National Park & Jackson, Wyoming, 2013

Appalachian Foothills, Virginia- March, 2021

airbnb Prior to 2020, we stayed almost exclusively in hotels and at resorts. With social distancing we began using AirBNB. This weekend, severe storms thwarted our trip to OBX, so we decided to look elsewhere. Phenix, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge foothills, would never have been on our travel list if it weren’t for AirBNB. Our rental was confirmed at 8:30am and two hours later … Continue reading Appalachian Foothills, Virginia- March, 2021

Portland to Harpswell, Maine

We have come to know and love the Casco Bay area of Maine over the last eight years. Alex’s family lives in Harpswell, an hour’s drive (or ferry ride) from Portland. Over a series of Maine posts, I’ll put together an itinerary that starts in Portland and takes you up the coast to Acadia National Park. Portland & Freeport A first day itinerary is easy! … Continue reading Portland to Harpswell, Maine

Cancun, Mexico, Spring Break 2000

The year was 2000. The internet had just progressed from dial-up to broadband. Cell phones weren’t widespread. My rural Ohio alma mater, Muskingum College, still had a card catalogue in the library. So, it was at the beginning of the digital age that twenty Muskies booked a spring break trip to Cancun with estudenttravel.com. We paid for our trip, and were told we would receive … Continue reading Cancun, Mexico, Spring Break 2000

Galaxy’s Edge, Hollywood Studios, 2019

Our first time visiting Galaxy’s Edge was for Passholder Preview in August of 2019. There were some kinks to still be worked out, and the Cast Members were still working out how they would interact as characters in the immersive story atmosphere. Instead of lining up for character meet and greets, they are acting out the story; Rey and Chewie are working on their ships … Continue reading Galaxy’s Edge, Hollywood Studios, 2019

Utah, 2013

Salt Lake City was never on our short list of travel destinations. Originally we were flying into San Francisco for a Yosemite National Park vacation. Unfortunately the park closed due to wildfires, so on the day of our departure we switched our National Park trip to visit Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Salt Lake City was our airport bookend for the road trip to Wyoming. We … Continue reading Utah, 2013

SYDNEY TO PERTH, Australia 2001

Remember the movie Crocodile Dundee? My 2001 four-month “Working Holiday” in Australia was in some ways the same story, in reverse. The lead as a small-town girl from Ohio who had only experienced large cities on a tour group’s detailed itinerary. I had only flown twice, once to Florida, and once to Cancun, Mexico, back when it only required a birth certificate. So, when I … Continue reading SYDNEY TO PERTH, Australia 2001

Coronado Resort at Walt Disney World

Coronado Resort holds a special place in our hearts as the very first Disney property we ever visited. We’ve stayed at the resort on five of our trips, most recently in the new Gran Destino tower. From Coronado it is a short bus ride to Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Magic Kingdom sometimes feels like a bit of a hike by bus. One downside … Continue reading Coronado Resort at Walt Disney World

Occoquan, Virginia February 2021

We have somehow passed Occoquan countless times on our way to Washington, D.C. without knowing it existed. Alex was scheduled to travel to D.C. for a meeting (the first trip in almost a year of what was a regular occurrence prior to COVID). We used the short trip as an opportunity for Alice and I to tag along. (One of the few virtues of virtual … Continue reading Occoquan, Virginia February 2021

Georgia Coast, USA

Savannah We’ve visited Savannah over a dozen times and it never disappoints; it’s an easy city to see without much of an itinerary outside of parking your car and going for a walk. On our first trip, we started at Savannah History Museum, and it provided a good overview of the city. It also houses Forrest Gump’s bench and the statue from Midnight in the … Continue reading Georgia Coast, USA

THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER, Universal Orlando Resort, 2019

In May of 2019, we met a fellow Muggle Family from Ohio at Universal Orlando Resort for a three-day trip. Alice played hooky, and we visited on weekdays in May when the park was less crowded. We also stayed a a Premier Resort, the Lowe’s Royal Pacific, located within easy walking distance to the parks. Included with our stay was early admission to The Wizarding … Continue reading THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER, Universal Orlando Resort, 2019

Barcelona, Spain, 2011

Muskies in Spain We capped off our Spain trip with Barcelona, which included a reunion with two of my fellow Muskingum University Alumnus/XAN Sorority Sisters, Mandy and Kiersten. Mandy joined us from Ohio and Kiersten from London, where she was living at the time. It was their first time meeting Alex, and he humored our catching up on many years since we had been together … Continue reading Barcelona, Spain, 2011

Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Our family has visited Acadia National Park (almost) every summer since 2014. Acadia National Park is on Mount Desert Island, which consists mostly of the Park and the town of Bar Harbor. It was originally home to the Wabanaki people before the large-scale arrival of Europeans in the 1600s. Sand Beach You haven’t tested your resilience until you’ve dipped your toes into the frigid water of … Continue reading Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

Okracoke Island for the Holidays

November & December, 2020 Ocracoke Island is at the southern tip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and can only accessed by ferry. A Beach (Mostly) to Yourself In 2020, I set the lofty goal of walking 20.20 miles in one day by the end of the year. I accomplished my goal on Ocracoke Island, with a series of walks up the entire coast … Continue reading Okracoke Island for the Holidays

Epcot at Walt Disney World- Festivals

International Festival of the Arts International Festival of the Arts is held in the late winter months. They brought Broadway stars to the stage to perform songs from the stage productions.We spent a large portion of our time searching for Figment, cleverly hidden in famous works of art in each country. (There is a photo of him crossing the Delaware River in the slideshow.)Photopass was … Continue reading Epcot at Walt Disney World- Festivals

New Orleans, Louisiana USA

The French Quarter Don’t let Bourbon Street’s reputation (while well-earned after sunset) deter you from thinking the French Quarter can’t be a destination when you are traveling with kids.Family-friendly options abound. Because many of the tourists are awake until the late hours, getting up early gave us a nearly empty French Quarter. Alice loved shopping for masks, tipping her favorite street performers, and burning off … Continue reading New Orleans, Louisiana USA