East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Outer Banks, North Carolina

Okracoke Island, OBX, North Carolina

2020 & 2021 Ocracoke Island is at the southern tip of the Outer Banks of North Carolina and can only accessed by ferry. Ocracoke Island became our home away from home in 2020 & 2021. Our goal was to find a vacation destination that provided opportunities to be mostly outdoors and stay in somewhat private… Continue reading Okracoke Island, OBX, North Carolina

Art Museums, Botanical Gardens & Zoos, East Coast, USA, Forida, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums, Uncategorized

Spring Break 2022- East Coast from Tampa, Florida to NYC

Spring Break 2022- Day 2 Savannah, GA 2022 Savannah, Georgia to Fernandina Beach, Florida Juliette Gordon Low Historic DistrictForsyth Park Spring Break 2022- Day 3 The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, 2022 St. Petersburg to Treasure Island, Florida Imagine MuseumDali MuseumFort Desoto Park https://videopress.com/v/dmM0aGpT?resizeToParent=true&cover=true&preloadContent=metadata&useAverageColor=true Spring Break 2022- Day 4 Sand Key Beach, Clearwater Clearwater,… Continue reading Spring Break 2022- East Coast from Tampa, Florida to NYC

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Uncategorized

Manhattan, NYC, Spring Break 2022

Rockefeller CenterWashington Square ParkBryant ParkGrand Central TerminalSt. Patrick's CathedralLittle Italy Rockefeller Center, NYC 2022 Rockefeller Center Our hotel, the Hilton Club West was beyond perfect for our purpose of exploring the top tourist sites in midtown Manhattan.  On the corner of 57th street and Sixth Ave. we were equal walking distance to Central Park and… Continue reading Manhattan, NYC, Spring Break 2022

Art Museums, Botanical Gardens & Zoos, East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums, Uncategorized

Spring Break 2022: Central Park in NYC

Central Park CarouselBelvedere CastleBethesda TerraceCentral Park ZooThe Metropolitan Museum of Art Central Park, NYC, 2022 Sites Around Central Park We knocked out a few of the major sites on our first visit to Central Park in August of 2021, including the Central Park Lake. In spring of 2022 our hotel, the Hilton Club West, was… Continue reading Spring Break 2022: Central Park in NYC

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Forida, Most Recent Travel

Spring Break 2022- Clearwater, Florida

When working out what we would see in the Tampa Bay area we decided that City Pass would be the most affordable option. For $129 per adult I was able to visit ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Tropics Boat tour, and The Florida Aquarium. From St. Petersburg… Continue reading Spring Break 2022- Clearwater, Florida

Art Museums, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Museums

Spring Break 2022- St. Petersburg & Treasure Island, Florida

Day 3 of our 10-night spring break VA-FL-NYC adventure took us to St. Petersburg, a city we knew very little about. However, I knew it must be “cool” because the area was heavily advertised on our local NPR station. The city center with the art museums is situated on the Tampa Bay side, with Gulf… Continue reading Spring Break 2022- St. Petersburg & Treasure Island, Florida

Botanical Gardens & Zoos, East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Forida, Most Recent Travel, Museums

Spring Break 2022- Tampa, Florida

Tampa Zoo at Lowry Park, Florida, 2022 ZooTampa at Lowry Park Our animal-filled Tampa day started at the 9:30am opening of the Tampa Zoo in Lowry Park. We had watched season one of The Secrets of the Zoo Tampa, so we were familiar with many of the animals. The zoo has a strong breeding program… Continue reading Spring Break 2022- Tampa, Florida

Botanical Gardens & Zoos, Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums

Chicago with Kids: Shedd Aquarium & Lincoln Park Zoo

Shedd Aquarium Shedd Aquarium is directly across from the Field Museum, on the Museum Campus near Chicago South Loop. There’s easy access from the L, and it’s a 20-30 minute walk from the canal. Because we are Members of the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk, we were able to receive ½ off Admission through the AZA… Continue reading Chicago with Kids: Shedd Aquarium & Lincoln Park Zoo

Art Museums, Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums

Chicago with Kids: Art & Architecture

Art Institute of Chicago This was my second visit to the American Art Institute in Chicago; my first was on a 40th birthday trip with my high school friends. We were disappointed that the cafes had yet to reopen after covid (I’m always more introspective about art post-wine), and the museum was very crowded. We… Continue reading Chicago with Kids: Art & Architecture

Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums

Chicago with Kids: Science & Natural History Museums

The Field Museum I was beyond excited to see the Field Museum, considered one of the most historic but also innovative natural history museums in the world. It was massive, and we could have spent the entire day easily, but were limited by our timed afternoon tickets for the Shedd Aquarium. Our American Science Museum… Continue reading Chicago with Kids: Science & Natural History Museums

Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums, National Parks

Winter Vacation 2021- Denver & Reno on The Amtrak Zephyr & The California Coast

Our 2-week winter holiday started in the Colorado Rockies and ended in sunny San Diego. Learn more about each destination by clicking on the links in the timeline. The Amtrak California Zephyr took us from Denver to San Francisco. A series of road trips allowed us to see the California Coast and to Joshua Tree… Continue reading Winter Vacation 2021- Denver & Reno on The Amtrak Zephyr & The California Coast

Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums, National Parks

San Diego, California Christmas 2021

San Diego Museum of Nature & Science Our last full day in California included brunch with friends, followed by a visit to Balboa Park. With more time, we would have spent a day at the San Diego Zoo. But on a busy Saturday on a holiday weekend, we opted for the Natural History Museum instead.… Continue reading San Diego, California Christmas 2021

Botanical Gardens & Zoos, Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel, Museums

Palm Desert to San Diego, California Christmas 2021

The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Garden Before heading to San Diego, we stopped at The Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Garden. The zoo’s central theme is a collection of plants animals from desert and savanna biomes around the world. The backdrop of the California desert made an excellent habitat for the giraffes and other… Continue reading Palm Desert to San Diego, California Christmas 2021

Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel

Pismo Beach to Palm Springs, California Christmas, 2021

Monarch Butterfly GroveEcho ParkThe Living Desert Zoo & Botanical GardensVenturaSanta Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Visitor CenterLos Padres National Forest Headquarters Pismo Beach, CA After staying in downtown San Francisco, the Oxford Suites Pismo Beach was a nice change, with large rooms and a garden courtyard.Our morning started in the Butterfly Sanctuary, where we immediately… Continue reading Pismo Beach to Palm Springs, California Christmas, 2021

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel

San Francisco to Pismo Beach Road Trip, California Christmas 2021

Painted LadiesMethuselah TreeAlice's RestaurantGarrapata BeachBixby BridgeAndrew Molera State ParkPismo Beach San Francisco Our morning started with a plan to check a few last boxes for San Francisco. We started with the Painted Sisters (the iconic Victorian homes situated with a view of the city behind them). Painted Ladies, San Francisco CA, 2021 The next stop… Continue reading San Francisco to Pismo Beach Road Trip, California Christmas 2021

Family Travel, Major US Cities, Most Recent Travel

San Francisco Part 1, California Christmas 2021

Christmas Day in San Francisco We woke up on Christmas morning to our less-than-traditional tree and gifts from Santa. We were in San Francisco during an uncharacteristically rainy Christmas week, so we were especially happy to just enjoy the view of the city and Golden Gate Bridge as Karl (the affectionate name for the fog… Continue reading San Francisco Part 1, California Christmas 2021

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Outer Banks, North Carolina

5 Reasons We Chose OBX for a Beach Spring Break Vacation

There are benefits to visiting OBX in any season, but when choosing between busy touristy beaches and the much quieter towns from Corolla to Manteo, we have often opted for OBX. In 2017 we chose a long weekend for our OBX Spring Break and in 2021 we opted for an entire week during the public… Continue reading 5 Reasons We Chose OBX for a Beach Spring Break Vacation

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Orlando Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, January 2022

The Ervings Return to WDW Day 4- Animal Kingdom Lightning Lane & Park Opening Park opening still had a line for Flight of Passage snaked all the way to the land’s entrance, and we were glad we had secured the paid Lighting Lane for later that day. We used our first Genie+ reservation for a… Continue reading Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, January 2022

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Orlando Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Epcot at Walt Disney World, January 2022

The Ervings Return to WDW- Epcot Epcot was divided over two days using our Park Hopper tickets. The first day was a short visit hop between Hollywood Studios via the Skyliner, with the main destination being Space 220. After dining we took some time to walk through the World Showcase. On this busy Saturday night… Continue reading Epcot at Walt Disney World, January 2022

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Orlando Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, January 2022

The Ervings Return to WDW- Day 3 Lightning Lane & Park Opening Prior to 2020, I loved the challenge of securing as many attractions as possible in one day using the FastPass System (17 was my record), so I was anxious to give the new Genie+ a try. Jungle Cruise was our “must ride” and… Continue reading Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, January 2022

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Orlando Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, January 2022

The Ervings Return to WDW- Day 2 Lightning Lane & Park Opening I was ready to logon at 7am, and after getting the hang of the new Genie+ format, we secured a Lightning Lane ride time of 6:25pm for Rise of the Resistance ($15/person) first, then purchased a 12:30pm LL for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway… Continue reading Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World, January 2022

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel

Amtrak California Zephyr from Colorado to Nevada

Winter Holidays 2021 Days 3-4: Denver-Reno I’ve traveled on Amtrak just along the East Coast, from Norfolk to Washington DC and Baltimore. I’ve traveled by overnight train both on Eurail and on the Indian-Pacific Rail across Australia. I looked forward to seeing how the California Zephyr between Denver and San Francisco would compare. Our first leg… Continue reading Amtrak California Zephyr from Colorado to Nevada

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, National Parks

Joshua Tree National Park, California Christmas 2021

Winter Holidays 2021 Day 11- Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park, California After staying with friends in Los Angeles, we drove 2 ½  hours to Yucca Valley, where we grabbed a to-go lunch from Yucca Tree Eatery.  There are no dining options once you enter Joshua Tree National Park, but there were many other… Continue reading Joshua Tree National Park, California Christmas 2021

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Museums, Uncategorized

One December Day in Denver, 2021

Our 2021 two-week Winter Holiday Break started with one day to explore Denver. With just one day in the city (and a starting point of the Hilton Embassy Suites Convention Center), we decided to focus on the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (we receive free admission through our Membership with Virginia Living Museum and… Continue reading One December Day in Denver, 2021

Art Museums, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel

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… Continue reading Cincinnati & Dayton, Ohio- Fall 2021

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, National Parks, Outer Banks, North Carolina

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… Continue reading Roanoke Island, North Carolina

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Maine, USA, Most Recent Travel, New England, USA, Uncategorized

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 Enchanted Woods, Winterthur Museum, Garden & LibraryEnchanted Woods, Winterthur Museum, Garden & LibraryEnchanted Woods, Winterthur Museum, Garden & LibraryEnchanted Woods, Winterthur Museum, Garden & LibraryEnchanted… Continue reading 1750 Miles, 14 Days, FROM Virginia to Maine- Summer 2021

Caribbean, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Overseas Travel

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.… Continue reading El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto RIco, July 2021

Caribbean, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Overseas Travel

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… Continue reading Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico, July 2021

Caribbean, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Overseas Travel

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… Continue reading Vieques, Puerto Rico, July 2021

Caribbean, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Overseas Travel, Uncategorized

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,… Continue reading Old San Juan, Puerto RIco, July 2021

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Jen Stays Home, Most Recent Travel, Virginia

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… Continue reading Historic Jamestown, Virginia

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Orlando Theme Parks, Universal Orlando

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,… Continue reading Volcano Bay- Universal Orlando, May 2021

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Jen Stays Home, Most Recent Travel, Virginia

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… Continue reading The Virginia Living Museum, May 2021

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, National Parks, Outer Banks, North Carolina

OBX, May 2021

The Salt Box Cafe, Colington in Kill Devil Hills 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… Continue reading OBX, May 2021

Family Travel, Jen Stays Home, Most Recent Travel, Norfolk, Virginia

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… Continue reading The Chrysler Museum of Art, May 2021

Family Travel, Jen Stays Home, Most Recent Travel, Norfolk

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… Continue reading Norfolk Botanical Garden- The Azaleas & Roses Edition

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, National Parks, Outer Banks, North Carolina

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… Continue reading Walking OBX, April 2021

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, National Parks, Outer Banks, North Carolina

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… Continue reading Portsmouth Island, North Carolina

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, National Parks, Virginia

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.… Continue reading Appalachian Foothills, Virginia- March, 2021

East Coast, USA, Family Travel, Most Recent Travel

Okracoke Island for the Holidays

November & December, 2020 & 2021 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… Continue reading Okracoke Island for the Holidays

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel, Orlando Theme Parks

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… Continue reading Epcot at Walt Disney World- Festivals

Family Travel, Most Recent Travel

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… Continue reading New Orleans, Louisiana USA