Put-In-Bay, Ohio is an island in Lake Erie
It’s hard to believe that I’ve lived in Ohio all my life and have never been to Put-in-Bay. I’ve heard about it forever, but I never really had the opportunity to go or big desire. I had this offer to do a review of the island, and was told I could bring my family. I’ve always heard that Put-in-Bay was a “party” island, so I immediately said that I didn’t want the kids to come. But I was curious myself. Dave and I set off for the island on a Saturday morning.
It took us just under three hours to get there from the Columbus area. We met up with Ryan, who owns Green Door Mediaworks at the Miller Boat Line to catch the ferry over to Put-in-Bay. The day seemed a little questionable weather -wise.. but we lucked out. A few threats of rain, but everything bypassed us.
Ryan was an awesome tour guide on our way to the island. He was pointing out all the little islands and explaining where things were, etc. He really knows the island and history.
With Miller’s Ferry you are able to take your car over to the island if you’d like to, but it isn’t nearly as much fun. We went up to the top to sit, where there were plenty of seats to enjoy the ride over.
To me… part of the charm and the “feel” of the island was using the golf carts. It was so fun to just tool around in them. Of course, we could have gotten bikes (but thank goodness Ryan planned for us to get the carts and not bikes! I would have been dying with bikes!) instead of golf carts, but you can cover a lot more of the island in an afternoon with a cart.
We all went to lunch at a cute place called Goat Soup & Whisky Tavern. There was a darling outdoor patio, and a few tables with umbrellas that were outside of that. Although I didn’t try and soup or whisky, I really enjoyed it. I did try two new things, walleye fries and a perch taco. The Walleye Fries were just pieces of Walleye that were cut in long narrow strips and deep fried, with some dipping sauce. Yum! I have heard my friends talk about fish taco’s for years, but have never tried one. I decided to go for it. These were fried perch taco’s. Oh… so good! I had one, but wish I had ordered two. I will for sure get these again when I come back to visit the island the next time.
After lunch, Dave and I took off on our own and explored the island. It would have been fun to have been able to have eaten a few more meals on the island. There were several places I would have loved to have tried.
I think The Keys, sitting out on the water looks so fun! I love the way it looks, with the bright beachy colors. One thing I love to do when I go to a beach, or lake, or somewhere with water; is to sit and drink a nice glass of wine. Yes.. next visit for sure.
The Board Walk also has that water view and feel. It looks like a little finer dining. Maybe The Keys for lunch and then the Board Walk for dinner?
I love the outdoor seating at Hooligans Irish Pub, it just looked very comfortable. It’s not over looking the water, but it is right in the center of town where you can see all the activity.
It was pirates weekend when we were there. There were cannon’s going off, a pirates market/craft show in the middle of the square and men,woman,kids and animals all dressed up as pirates.
The square and feel of the island town was charming. I loved it. Everything was clean and well taken care of. I had always envisioned this row of old bars, when I thought of Put-in-Bay. Not that I’d ever been here to see… but my entire thought of the island is different now. There were plenty of places for people to drink, and there were plenty of people eating and drinking in them – but the atmosphere was fresh, clean and very island feeling. You tend to forget you are in Ohio.
There are some sights to see on the island and things to do. We went to visit the Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center and did a few activities there.
We went to visit the Butterfly House. There was a really nice gift shop inside and the actual butterflies are in a greenhouse style structure in the back.
Going into the butterfly house, someone came up to us and gave us some information about the butterfly house. That was really nice. They were there to answer any questions, and to let you know how to be careful with the butterflies, so as not to harm them.
We then went on the Perrys Cave tour. I have to explain that I’ve been in several caves and really enjoy going on cave tours, before I give my honest opinion on this cave tour. This was a 20 minute tour. We walked down a flight of steps to go down into the cave. You have to bend down part of the way, going down the step and small steps to a depth of only about 50 feet below ground. This was a wet cave. Puddles of water to walk around, and water dripping off the ceiling. I know some caves can be wet, and others aren’t. Our guide did a great job of explaining things in the cave. I can not however recommend this cave tour. Maybe if you’ve never been in a cave, you’d find it worth the cost. A good explanation for me would be, too much talk and not enough cave. I felt like they tried to drag out the tour to make it at least 20 minutes. You walk, only about 150 feet into the cave and stop every few feet for a 5 minute talk. I heard a couple people saying, “Is this it?” and one little boy said, “Where is the rest of the cave, where does that go?”. I felt very disappointed. Had Dave and I had to pay the $8 each to go into the cave (rather than it being part of my review), I would have really been disappointed.
There was a really nice putt-putt course. We always love a good game of putt-putt!
Driving around the island and seeing the sites, stopping for some ice cream and just wandering around was so relaxing. I really wish we could have stayed a few days.
I can certainly recommend Put-in-Bay to anyone! If you love a beautiful, active and fun island, then you’ll love it here. I feel like we made a mistake in not bringing the kids with us. I would have no problem bringing them here. I might not plan to have them in town on a weekend night, as I’m sure things liven up quite a bit – hence the party atmosphere. But it’s not something you wouldn’t see in Florida or any other vacation zone that has bars and water. I think they would have loved it here.
I’ll be sure to come back, but I want to plan on spending a little more time here… and of course – I’ll be sure to get a golf cart to get around!
You can follow these handles to find out a bit more about the island.
Our ferry rides, golf cart, lunch, Perry’s Cave, Butterfly House, Putt-Putt and our night stay (review to come soon) were all paid for. My photos, thoughts and opinions are all my own.
A Family Vacation Is Good For All!
The kids wanted to return to TN for a family vacation this year. We went in 2009 and had a great time. We used our first vacation in a vacation package we had purchased a few years ago and found a nice 3 story cabin in Pigeon Forge that was great.
I’ve been so busy with my full time job that the thought of taking a vacation was actually stressing me out. I already had a position that hadn’t been filled under me that I was covering, and I knew that work would have to go onto someone else who already had a full plate. The awesome part about where I work is that everyone helps each other out. My team was awesome, telling me to go and relax and stay off line! (Which I didn’t totally do, but I only dealt with the big issues while I was on vacation – which was better than I thought it might be.)
Dave’s main objective was to take a few hikes in the Smoky Mountains and take the kids fishing for trout. He got to accomplish both of his goals. He took the kids on one hike that thankfully I backed out of. It took them 3 hours to hike up to Rainbow Falls. Evidently it was pretty much an incline hike with a very rocky path the whole way up and then took them only an hour to get back down.
I agreed to go to Clingman’s Dome. It was a mountain drive up (keep in mind, I hate twisty, curvy mountain roads… so I drove) and then a 1/2 mile steep hike up a path to see it. It was mid morning of a 90 degree day in TN when we left. The temp was mid 80′s before we started up the mountain. The kids were having fun watching the thermostat go down as we went up the mountain. We reached the top and it was 64 degrees and windy… but very, very foggy! We knew we weren’t going to see much of anything. The picture above was taken as we came back from Clingman’s Dome and there was a clearing in the fog. We could actually see the mountains! Everyone was running to get pictures.
This was what Clingman’s Dome looked like when we were finally getting to it. Even though 1/2 mile isn’t far to walk, because of the incline and because I’m still so out of shape… it was rough! I didn’t feel as bad since there were a lot of other people stopping frequently also to get their breath.
We had fun looking out at the white foggy mass, saying… “We made it to Clingman’s Dome and we CAN’T SEE A THING!” The area at the bottom of the 1/2 mile hike up (where you park your cars), the kids had fun climbing up on some big ol’ rocks.
Dave was thrilled to see part of the Appalachian Trail, as we were coming down from Clingman’s Dome. He made us walk in a little ways and then was educating the kids (and me) as to the marks on some of the trees, the signs to the next shelter areas, etc. We spent probably 15 minutes down on the trail while he taught his kids some of the history and stories about the trail. He would have made an awesome teacher!
One of the other things Dave really wanted the kids to experience was trout fishing in the Smoky Mountains. He had a few obstacles in the way. The first biggie was that the kids had never gone fly fishing. The next was that he didn’t want to take a mass of fishing gear if they were going to hike, in order to fish.
Ended up that we found a great public park that had fishing for kids 12 and younger. Perfect! The triplets are 12, even if Zach does look like he’s about 14. We joked that if a Game Warden did stop to ask the kids ages, they wouldn’t believe us… saying they were triplets and they were all 12.
Dave had prepared ahead of time. He got something called bubbles that he was able to rig up on regular fishing lines, rather than fly lines. With this bubble, they were still able to fish with the flies. They went two different times. Each of the kids did catch some trout. Alex caught several, Zach, I think caught two and Elise caught one… and a pregnant minnow, as she kept saying.
Another day we went horseback riding. It was a hour
ride walk up into the hills and back down. It was fun, the kids had a great time. They wouldn’t let you take any kind of cameras or phones on the horses though. ugh.. I wanted pictures!! The same location also had “gold mining” as part of the package we purchased. The kids get a bag with gems in it, and get to “pan” for them.
We went to see one of the dinner shows, the Lumber Jack Feud. The kids loved it. I had been to the Dixie Stampede when I was in Branson and really enjoyed the show. I thought the lumber jack one would be more enjoyable for the kids, and Dave. They had a great time.
We also spent time at the NASCAR Speed Park. Of course the kids loved that. Dave and I enjoyed the racing also.
It was a great vacation! Time to unplug and spend some quality time with the family. It was really good for me. I wasn’t sure if I was even going to do a post or not. Since none of our trip was sponsored in anyway, I certainly didn’t have to. I did want to share with you our trip!
Need something new to do with the kids this summer? Check out the Columbus Commons!
by Amy Trauntvein
Summer is here and the kids are out of school. The pool is fun and so is the park, but can’t think of anything NEW to do with the kids this summer that won’t cost a fortune? Check out the Columbus Commons! I have to admit, I didn’t even know this place existed before last weekend, but I’m totally happy that I know all about it now, for some fun in the sun with my kiddos! Our family received an invitation to come check out the Columbus Commons and discover everything they have to offer this summer and beyond. As you can see, my youngest loved the Carousel.
And the Reading Room…
And the Art Box…
My older kids and hubby liked the Ping Pong table and Corn Hole games…
And they ALL had a great time with the huge building blocks at the Imagination Playground!
And the best thing about all these activities? Most of them are FREE! (Carousel Rides are $1) The Columbus Commons is open every day (hours vary) with all these family friendly, fun things for you and your kids of any age. Check out the details of their Free Open Play Activities.
If you’re interested in even more fun stuff at the Columbus Commons, here is their full (printable) 2013 Family Friendly Programming Schedule which includes activities such as Commons for Kids every Friday from 10-2, Movies at the Commons in June and July, Mayor Coleman’s Neighborhood Pride Block Party in August, and Family Fun Day also in August to name just a few. And don’t forget, many of these are FREE! Free fun for the whole family? You can beat that!
The Columbus Commons is located in downtown Columbus right across the street from the convenient and affordable (only $2!) Columbus Commons Parking Garage located at 55 E Rich Street or 191 S Third Street.
I hope you’ll check out what the Columbus Commons has to offer for your family and maybe I’ll see you there! I know I will be heading to the Commons with my kids many times this summer and beyond!
Love To All! ~Amy
I have been married for 23 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep me young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening, yoga, walking and saving money! I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.
Utica’s Sertoma Ice Cream Festival
Each Memorial Day Weekend for the last 39 years the Ye Old Mill in Utica Ohio has been the home of Old Fashion Velvet Ice Cream Festival
It is a yearly tradition for our family, along with many zillions of other people! I mean really, who can resist Velvet ice cream? We always enjoy the old time cars (muscle cars), playing games, getting good food and of course eating ice cream.
These pics are from one of our visits in 2010. I had posted on my Explore Ohio with Sandy blog, but wanted to share with all of you too! I can’t wait until we go this May.
My video gives you the feel of it all.
The water mill works and is just pretty cool.
Alex opted for the shake this year.
But not Zach. Notice the ice cream on the nose. lol…. oh so good!
Elise’s favorite is the mint chocolate chip.
Mine happens to be the Moose Tracks… oh yum!
Dave and I enjoying the day with the kids.
I just thought this was a cool pic of Zach.
May 25-27, 2013
Velvet Ice Cream The Ye Old Mill
11324 Mount Vernon Road, Utica, OH, 43080
This was first posted May 2012.
We Loved The North Pole Express Train Ride!
We ventured down to Nelsonville, Ohio on Saturday evening Dec, 4th, 2010 to ride on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, on the North Pole Express train ride. The setting was perfect, a nice peaceful snowy night.
It was about an hour and half ride for us from the Columbus area, so Dave, the triplets and I left plenty early since it was snowing. We figured we would have time to go into Rocky’s and shop around and eat dinner before the train left at 7pm. We arrived around 5pm and found out we didn’t have as much spare time as we thought.
I wanted to get pictures while it was still light out, and then was also given a tour by Bob of the train before everyone got on.
There were so many cars… I am thinking 10. Several of them were so similar that you wouldn’t have been able to tell them apart other than decorations were different colors. There was one up front that had a pot belly stove going, another one (that we sat in) that had higher back seats. The one the kids thought looked the coolest was the double decker train car. Bob was explaining a lot of the history to me. How most of these cars were used in Chicago.
We went over to Rocky’s, but evidently there were a lot of other people who had the same idea as us… so we went to eat at McDonald’s. We were told it would be a good idea to get back close to 6pm if we wanted to get a good seat on the train. The ride was sold out! There were 537 people on board. We did get back at 6pm and the kids had gotten their PJ’s and robes on.
Before the train started at 7pm, I went through a few of the other cars to get pictures. I asked parents before I took and pictures of their children. Here are a few of my favorites:
This little girl was so darling, I just couldn’t get enough of her. I think I could have snapped pictures all night of her. She just seemed to me to be the poster child for The Polar Express, or as our ride was called… The North Pole Express.
They started serving the hot chocolate and cookies soon after we left. I felt bad for the hot chocolate man…. he needed a much bigger pitcher for it, or someone to bring him refills. He would only get a few rows filled and then would have to run a few train cars back to refill the pitcher.
We called the cookie man…the cookie elf. He had a cute hat on and followed behind the hot chocolate man. He also had some extras….so came back through a few times (oh darn…. we had to have more than 1 cookie!)
They passed out bells for all the kids….but us adults couldn’t hear them ring. I don’t get it? LOL
We had the Hobo come through and tell everyone not to tell the conductor where he was. He came back through double checking with the kids to make sure they hadn’t told. Mine thought that was hysterical, they were telling him that they did tell on him.
After we got back from our ride, we could go across the street. At the Nelsonville Commons Park they had an ice skating rink set up. They told us skate rental was free with our train ticket so the kids decided to go skating. (hint…grab their gloves out of the car before you head across the street). Here they are skating in their pajamas having a great time… was on the other hand loved standing by the fire can….warming up! lol
One thing I would suggest if you have little ones. Send someone on the train to get your seats and hold them for you. Keep the little ones off the train until closer to the departure time. After they have already been on the train for an hour, then the hour and half train ride gets to be a little too much for some of them. On the way back the natives were a bit restless. (But keep in mind this was at night and they couldn’t see the sites outside. During the day you might not have as much of that).
Disclosure: I was given the tickets for my family and myself to ride the North Pole Express. But the pictures, video and opinions are completely my own.
This post was originally posted on my Explore Ohio with Sandy site.
Love The Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun?
You’ll be jealous then, because I got to tour the plant and build one myself! I love being able to see how things are made. I think it’s so interesting! Daisy Outdoor is a client of Collective Bias and when I was at our corporate office this last week in Bentonville, AR, Kim Janocko and I had the chance to go on a tour. We both were thrilled.
This was in the lobby of their offices. I thought it looked cool. I also found out how Daisy got it’s name. You can find this info on the Daisy Outdoor site, under “History”
“On March 6, 1888, Hamilton approached the windmill company with an all-metal airgun of his own design. He chose to take it to the windmill company because they had blast furnaces and they were equipped to mold and stamp the metal parts necessary to build his gun. The gun was passed around to members of the board. General Manager L.C. Hough test fired the gun and exclaimed, “Boy, that’s a Daisy.” ‘”It’s a Daisy” was a colloquialism of the time.) So the little gun was named Daisy.”
We went back in their warehouse where they assemble all the guns. This space is 80,000 sq feet (I think he said) If that isn’t correct, I just know the place is huge! lol
The parts to the guns aren’t made here, they are shipped in pieces and the guns are assembled in this space.
There are many stations that are used to assemble the guns. They can put one of the guns together in less than one minute. They said they move their employees around to different assignments to prevent work related injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome.
We loved the barrels full of BB’s! They were just plain fun.
Jon was in his happy place in these barrel of bb’s. lol They do feel really cool when you put your hands in them.
We learned that there are 2.4 million BB’s in a 55 gallon barrel. I know I sure wouldn’t try to lift a barrel either! Wow… 2,200 lbs!
Daisy Outdoor makes practice BB guns for the military. Who knew? They are the exact weight, feel and action of the real guns.
They also make BB guns for competition shooting.
This was something I was totally shocked over. I had no idea they made BB guns that look and feel just like the real thing. This pist0l is made for Winchester. It’s just like the Colt 1911 handgun. It is heavy, and looks just like the real thing. I texted a picture of this to my husband and he knew which gun it was designed from immediately.
We learned that Daisy Outdoor utilizes the help of some Special Needs adults to help pack BB’s. I love when I hear of a company that helps out this group of adults. They do a great job and love being able to have a job to earn money and give their lives a sense of purpose. Kudos to you Daisy!
Cool huh? I’m not sure what model of pistal this is.
Here is the Powerline 880 kit. They said this is their best seller. I can see why. It’s larger than their Red Ryder gun, but still a reasonable size for a young adult. I’m thinking it might make a great gift for the triplets for Christmas.
I learned that they do a lot of quality testing of their guns. They shoot a gun from each batch 10,000 times to check their products.
One of the things that is a necessity is to always wear eye protection when shooting. After all, you wouldn’t want to “shoot your eye out” or anything!
Kim and I went back the next day so that we could make our own Red Ryder BB gun. Paula was kind enough to guide us through making one. I’m amazed that she is able to make one of these in less than 1 minute. I think it took me about 8 or 9 minutes to do mine.
Each piece is put into place.
The screw guns are cool. You just put them into the screw and put a little pressure down on them and they work fast… really fast!
Here is my finished product. They made an engraved forearm for us. Mine said “The Jenney Family”. How cool is that? The triplets will be so excited! Since we were flying home, we had to ship the guns. We couldn’t put them in our luggage, even though we were checking the luggage.
I decided I wanted to guy Dave one of the Winchester 1911 pistols. I was told that I could find them at a local sporting goods store called Academy Sports, so Kim and I went that evening to check it out. We found a big assortment of Daisy Outdoor products.
I found the BB gun I wanted to buy Dave. It was $89.00. If you think about it, it is a great way to save money in ammunition. Right now ammunition is really expensive and actually hard to find. So this will be a wonderful way for him to get some target practice in.
What I also like about it is that he will be able to set up a target in our back yard. He is very safety conscious (thank goodness) and has taught gun safety before. He knows that he’ll have to find a place that he won’t have to worry about what is behind the target.
The gun was heavy enough that I decided not to buy it at the store and ship it home. I asked someone at the store about being able to buy it online and if he knew what shipping prices were like. He said it would be a much better deal for me to buy it online. That their shipping was either free or just $5.00. Cool!
As soon as we got back that evening, I got online and purchased this gun and a large container full of BB’s for Dave for Christmas! (shhhh!) I am going to talk to him to have him help me decide which gun we’ll get the triplets for Christmas!
Thanks Daisy Outdoor for the tour! I had a blast. I also thank you so much for the Red Ryder gun that you had engraved and let me build for my family.
I am an employee of Collective Bias and Daisy Outdoor is a client of Collective Bias. I was not asked or expected to do a post, I just wanted to share my experience and excitement for the Daisy Outdoor products.
Pigeon Roost Farm Is The Bomb!
We discovered Pigeon Roost Pumpkin Farm in Hebron, Ohio last year and loved it. I shared the post from last year, just a couple weeks ago. I wanted to give you all another blast from this year.
One of the things I love about Pigeon Roost is that the prices are really reasonable. There is not cost to part, no cost to get into and shop the upper area, get great pictures and enjoy the atmosphere. If you want to go into the lower part of the farm and do all the activities, it’s only $5 per person. Considering another local pumpkin farm charges $8 per person for just the corn maze, I think this is quite a deal.
I’m going to share the pictures with you…. they pretty much tell the story!
This is the kids favorite activity. They call it the hamster wheels.
Dave decided he would try it out too…. Elise won. LOL
This was the rubber ducky race.
Pigeon Roost Farm is in Hebron, Ohio. This is not a sponsored post, I just want my readers to know about this awesome place here in Ohio.
Pumpkins and Halloween Fun at Pigeon Roost Farm
We discovered Pigeon Roost Farm in Hebron, Ohio to go for our pumpkins and fun for halloween. For years we have gone to Lynd’s Fruit Farm, and it is a great place to go if you want to pick apples or pick pumpkins right from the field. But it is very on/off with the other activities they have for the kids. Some years it is good, others there is not much there and a big disappointment.
Instead of trying it this year we decided to look for some place new.
I did an internet search and found Pigeon Roost Farm. We decided to give it a go. Mapquest sent us the wrong way, so be careful there. It is between Kirkersville and Hebron Ohio (about 2 miles east of Kirkersville on route 40). Much close to Kirkersville.
It was impressive just driving past, you could tell from the road there was a lot happening, and most of it you can’t even see from the road.
If you live within an hour of it, I would highly suggest you check it out. It is only $5 per person to go do all the activities including the corn maze, a mini corn maze, the Enchanted Forest, the Gerbil wheels and much more!
Pigeon Roost Farm
4413 National Road SW
Hebron, OH 43025
Originally posted October 16th, 2011 on my Explore Ohio blog
We were not invited, given free passes, nor given any form of compensation for this post. We found it on our own, loved it and I wanted to share it with my readers.
No use of my video or pictures without my permission. Thanks
When you think of Autumn what do you think of?
Living in Ohio the air gets cooler and crisp and all the colors of Autumn start emerging. We haven’t really started getting leaves changing colors yet, but there are other sites and colors that we are seeing now.
With the cooler weather just starting to set in, it made me look back to this post that I first posted last year on September 22.
On the way to our farm today we stopped by a local orchard and it really put me in the mood for fall.
We didn’t go apple picking (not time today) but there sure are orchards near by us to do so if we wanted to.
Mums, pumpkins, and apples…
Pumpkins.. and more pumpkins
Pears – we bought some of these, they are so sweet and juice!
Their peaches are awesome, but we didn’t get any on this trip.
Don’t you think of corn for the fall? You know, indian corn to decorate with and corn stalks?
I never used to appreciate fall, but I have come to love it. My husband really loves it. He isn’t a fan of the heat…. so as soon as the cooler weather comes in, he is one happy camper.
My First Broadway Play was Wicked
I have been to plays before, but never a Broadway play in NYC, let alone it being Wicked! How cool is that?
I was in NYC for the Blogher 12 conference and had no intention of going to see a Broadway play. We got to NYC around 2:30, after an eight hour Megabus ride and dragging our suitcases through the subway to get to our hotel around 3:30, I was exhausted, hot and tired! But I was with a couple die-hard NYC lovers! Kim and Mel were dying to go right out and see all the sights. I was ready for a nap. This was only my 2nd time in NYC and although I was really excited to see everyone and go to Blogher, I wasn’t overly excited it was in NYC. I’m not a big city kind of girl.
We took a little time and rested up in our room. I agreed to go with Kim and Mel to do a ticket lottery to try and get tickets for Wicked. I agreed that if I won them, I’d give them to Kim and Mel (you would get 2 tickets) because they both wanted to see this play so bad… and it wasn’t important to me. If two of us won, then I’d be happy to go. We didn’t win any. Kim and Mel were both pretty bummed.
Skip forward to the next day ( I think… or maybe 2 days). We are all sitting in our rooms (adjoining) and Courtney and Kim walk in and Courtney announces that she has a surprise for us. She pulls out 4 tickets to go see Wicked! OMG… now I am rested and it sounds like so much fun!
Courtney and Kim had seats right in front of Mel and I. I think Kim and Mel were SO excited.. they were ready to burst! Kim had seen it three times prior, but Mel, Courtney and I had never seen it.
It was really cool as we waited for it to start. Of course I couldn’t take any pictures during it… but I did get this one of the set up before it started and you can see some on the Wicked site. I was amazed at how the entire theater was designed for this one play. When I’ve seen plays before in Columbus, Ohio… they are only there for a few shows, so of course you don’t have anything permanent in the theater like they did for Wicked.
The play was amazing!! I LOVED it and can now understand why Kim was excited to see it again. I’d love to see it again. It put this whole new perspective on The Wizard of Oz. Of course that was a favorite of mine growing up in the 60′s. It used to be on TV once a year and was a big deal when it came on. This left you with such a feel good feeling…. the kind I love to walk out of a theater or show with.
Thank you SO much Courtney for the wonderful surprise and chance to see my first (but not last!) Broadway play! I am really glad that I this experience and really thankful that Courtney was kind enough to treat me to something so cool. The four of us had an awesome adventure together.
If you get a chance to go see it… then be sure you do!
Shop Downtown Disney!
Downtown Disney is nice because you don’t have to pay to go in. Parking is free, entrance is free, it’s just a nice place to be able to shop and take pictures and eat!
The Lego store there is the coolest one I’ve ever been to. The Lego sculptures are amazing, like the dragon in the water. Elise had never seen anything like them.
We went to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. It was around 3:30pm, so you could consider it either a late lunch or early dinner. We got a seat (which I was thrilled but surprised at, even at 3:30pm). What a cool experience for a child (and adult!)
We did some pin trading with the Disney employees. Did you know that the employees who have pins on a vest or lanyard will trade you any authentic Disney pin for free? You decided which one of theirs you want and you can pick any of your pins to trade back. It is so cool, you ask one and a couple others in the area will come up and show you their pins. Elise and I both had fun doing that. One of the things I did on another trip was to buy some of the “surprise” dollar bag of pins at the counter and use those to trade with. This time I had ordered some trading pins off the internet for Elise to have fun with.
We had some Ghirardelli ice Cream after dinner. Yum!
We did some shopping in one of the Disney stores and bought the boys a couple pins for their lanyards since they weren’t with us.
There is a new T-Rex restaurant that looked cool. We didn’t go in, but by the looks of the line, it looked popular.
We had a lovely evening at Downtown Disney. This is an easy must do on any day of your trip. I’m glad we did go in the afternoon rather than in the evening, because a storm let loose right as we were leaving.
Who doesn’t love Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida?
Our last day of vacation and we had our day planned for Universal Studios. The weather was great, a little cooler with a nice breeze. We went to the ET ride first. The ET ride was so fun. Riding our “bikes” on a chase and then we took off flying. lol… so fun.
We had to stop by the Barney display.
We talked about going into Men in Black, but the line was too long, so we walked on by. We did go into the Twister show. It was strange seeing all the special effects they used to make you feel like you were in a real twister.
Onward to Island of Adventure. I think we had a little more fun over there than we did at Universal Studios.
We made our way around most of the park because we wanted to see the Harry Potter castle.
We bought Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3 T-shirts for the triplets…. how fun. Everything in the Cat in the Hat area was so cute and fun.
We went on to The Lost Continent area…. a really neat looking area.
We got to the Harry Potter Hogwarts. I thought we could tour through it. There was some kind of simulator ride inside. I often don’t do so well with those because I get motion sickness… so what do I let Elise talk me into instead?….
A roller coaster! LOL Now does that make any sense? It was out near Hogwarts. I think Elise had a fun time on it…. I survived it. lol
There were several things about Universal Studios that I really liked. Parking was in a parking garage. It was nice to come back to my car and not have it be SO hot inside. They also seemed to be better at trying to help you stay cool while you waited in lines. There were more fans and covered waiting areas, that we experienced. It wasn’t nearly so crowded either…. all of what made the day seem much nicer.
We had a one day 2 park pass that was complimentary thanks to Universal Studios. The opinions and pictures were all my own.
Want a Land of Gators? Go to Gatorland in Orland, FL!
I loved Gatorland when I visited back in 1998 with my boys. It was lower key than all the big Disney parks, but was so fun. The first thing I noticed as we drove up was that it looked much nicer than it did when I was here before. They have done a lot of improvements and updated things. I had a vision of a place that was a bit run down, but it wasn’t run down at all. Everything looked fresh and in great shape. I was really glad about that.
The first thing we did was go to the Gator Jumparoo show. It was a very entertaining show. They had a contest between the two “new people they were going to hire”, Bubba & Cooter, to see who could get the gators to jump the highest for the raw chickens. They divided the crowd into two sides to cheer their potential employee on.
You wonder how they don’t loose a hand, don’t you?
Elise got to hold a small gator and snake for a picture. We did buy the keychain and magnet. There several options of things you could purchase and a couple other photo opps while you were in the park.
We headed over to the Gator Wrestlin show. It was nice seating in the small four side seating arena.
If you purchased the “Grunt package” you had a chance to be a rookie gator wrestler before or after the show. I think you could also pay to do it (I’m thinking $10/person, but don’t hold me to that) on the spot.
On the grunt pass we also had a chance to ride the train, so off we went. It lasted about 10 minutes and the train took you around an part of an area that I don’t think is accessible by foot (not positive on that) to see a few other gators. The train conductor was a hoot.
We climbed up the observation deck. I remember there being a huge number of gators that we saw from there.
The view was great, on the opposite side of this view you also have a good view of the zip liners that zip by.
Elise spotted these birds in one of the trees as we were walking by.
Elise wanted to see the white alligators, so we made sure we saw them before we left. I was amazed that they were real – they looked so fake. Until I saw them move, I wasn’t so sure. lol
I like when I see signs for social media up in the park! Way to go @Gatorland!
There was a very nice gift shop to stop in when you left. I was very impressed with Gatorland and would tell (and have) anyone to be sure to visit if you are going to be in the Kissimmee/Orlando area.
I was provided with two Grunt package tickets for our visit today. The opinions and pictures are my own.
Gotta love Shamu! We did in Orlando, FL Seaworld.
Elise and I headed to SeaWorld later in the day today. We walked in the gates around 4pm and thought… wow, this is the way to do it – go a little later and you don’t have the crowds. There was a Shamu show starting in about 2o minutes, so we went right to the stands to get seats.
I know I was a bit boring, but I told Elise we weren’t going to sit in the “splash zone”. I did tell her she could walk down and get wet when they were going to splash, but she didn’t want to. I knew that walking around totally soaked (down to your panties) was not real fun, even as hot as it was.
It was a really good show. I think there for a total of five whales in the show. They did lots of splashing the crowd and jumps and flips.
After the show it looked like it was going to storm, so we decided to go into the Wild Arctic to get out of the rain. There were two options, to go on the helicopter simulator or walk through. I asked the attendant if the simulator tended to make people sick to their stomach ( I get motion sickness). He said, without a pause, yes! So we went for the walking option. I again told Elise she could go on the other if she’d like (heck, she went on Tower of Terror by herself), but she wanted to walk also. We saw some arctic animals, polar bear, walrus and a couple others. It reminded me of our zoo at home. They said the helicopter simulator people saw the same things we did, I’d be interested to know how it worked.
When we came out into the gift shop, it was absolutely pouring, really windy and storming. We made ourselves at home on the floor of the gift shop, along with many other people. We hung out for about 45 minutes, and as we sat there deciding on what we’d go see when it stopped raining, we made the discovery that SeaWorld closes at 7pm! I was shocked. I guess that wouldn’t surprise me during the off season, but in June?
We bought some ponchos and started out in the rain since we only had about 45 minutes now before Seaworld closed. We went to the dolphin encounter. It was neat, there were a bunch of dolphins and you were allowed to lean over and touch them from the blow hole back. They didn’t want you to touch their faces at all.
She never did get to touch one, but it was fun watching them and trying. They have the option to feed the dolphins, but that was closed by the time we got there.
The other thing Elise really wanted to do before we left was to see the dolphin nursery. The dolphins were a little bigger than we expected them to be, but they were still small… and cute.
Be sure to check Seaworld hours before you go.
I was given two tickets to visit Seaworld with Elise. They did not influence my post. The pictures and my opinion are my own.
So excited To Visit Hollywood Studios at Disney World
I promised Elise we would make it over to Hollywood Studios at Disney World. I actually think if we could have only gone to one park, she would have picked Hollywood Studios over Magic Kingdom. I’m glad we were able to get to both. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to or not.. but we did.
The atmosphere was calmer and less chaotic than Magic Kingdom. That was a nice break right off the bat. We loved Magic Kingdom, so don’t get me wrong, but it was very crowded and hectic.
There was one thing Elise really wanted to do -The Tower of Terror … and one thing I really wanted to do… the Toy Story ride. So we did them both!
The Toy Story ride said there was an 80 minute wait, but it ended up being about a 40 minute wait instead. There was talking Mr. Potato Head to entertain us as we waited…. lol I love Mr. Potato Head! I tried getting a couple picks of the ride, but wasn’t able to get any that turned out. But trust me…. very fun ride!!
We wore 3-D glasses during the ride where we hot these little shooter things. There were four people in the car, two on one side and on the back side (we couldn’t see them) there were two more. The ride would zip you around so that you would stop at these virtual targets where you’d shoot your shooter. It kept score (I won by the way out of the 4 in our car).
She was so excited that we were able to get one of the Toy Soldiers to take her picture with.
I was amazed that Elise didn’t mind going on the Tower of Terror by herself!
I just can’t do scary things like that. But she was all about it! So off she went on her own to ride this ride. She came out just so excited and exhilarated. There was a couple there who took her under their arm on the ride, which was so nice of them. But she wasn’t scared…. just excited. It did win out for the best ride for Disney World, for her.
We headed to the Sci-fi diner for dinner. It would have been better if we made reservations, but I didn’t think about that. We had about 30 minute to wait, and I think we had a shorter wait because there were only two of us.
It was fun watching the old sci-fi movies on the drive in movie screen while we ate. What a fun place to eat. It is all set up like a drive-in movie theater from the 1950′s. We sat in the middle of a car.
There was much more to do at this park, but we wanted to try and get back to Magic Kingdom for the electric light parade. (We didn’t make it, but we did get to ride the ferry, run through Epcot in the dark… trying to beat the crowd after the fireworks as we made it to the tram)
My tickets from Disney World for the day was a one day – 4 park hopper pass that included Hollywood Studios. My opinion and pictures are all my own.
Magic Kingdom in Disney World
I love Disney World! I’ve been there a few times and love the feeling of being able to be a kid again, and it’s totally accepted! Everyone else is with you, enjoying princesses and fantasy. I loved that I was going to get to introduce Elise to the magical world of Disney.
Who doesn’t love Disney World’s Magic Kingdom? We decided to make this our first park adventure this week. We had a list of several rides and attractions we wanted to see.
I knew it was going to be hot, but I didn’t realize that every ounce of sweat I owned was going to drip off my body as we waited in lines of about 50 minutes to get the tickets to get into the park (which by the way were complimentary and VERY much appreciated) and then we had another 45-50 minute wait to get onto the tram…. all before we ever walked into the actual gates of Magic Kingdom.
I’ve never come in the summer before. I’ve been in January, March and November before…. and I can appreciate those crowds and that heat much better. lol It’s a mind set that you have to get yourself into so you can enjoy the experience… there will be LONG lines and it will be Hot with a capital “H”. We just kept buying bottled water.
Elise decided the two main parks she wanted to see were Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We started off with Magic Kingdom.
We had to walk through Cinderella’s castle and ended up in Fantasy Land. We decided to use the ever popular “Fast Pass” method where we could. We looked on the guide and saw that Peter Pan’s Flight had the “Fast Pass” option, so we got the FP for that ride and had a few hours before we had to be back.
We then went over to It’s a Small World (such a classic!) and Elise loved it.
We’ve already downed several waters by now and I think I’ve probably lost 5 pounds in sweat at this point. It was hot! But when we saw there was only a 20 minute wait for Tomorrowland Speedway… there was not a choice in the matter…. That is one memory that I have of going myself when I went to Disney the first time, when I was 18 years old and also of taking my older boys to Disney back in 1998. I was so excited we’d get a chance to go on the raceway.
After lunch we went back to wait for Peter Pan Flight and saw that the Winnie-the-Pooh ride was down to a 20 minute wait instead of the 80 minutes it had been. We still had 15 minutes before we had to go to Peter Pan, so we though we’d go on it .
We ended up in Mickey’s PhilharMagic 3-D movie by accident. We got mixed up and we were thinking we were going into The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. But we really enjoyed the movie. There were things “shooting” into the audience you know! lol Well, it sure appeared that way with the 3-D glasses we had on. Elise loved it!
Onward to Peter Pan’s Flight… and Elise loved that too… and so did I! It is one of my favorites. Well, I have SO many favorites.
The only other thing that she really wanted to do while we were in Magic Kingdom was to go on Splash Mountain. I used the Disney Mobile Magic app and looked at the wait time for Splash Mountain. It was going to be 120 minutes. What? No way. That ride was out for us. Too bad too because it was SO hot… it would have felt great to get soaked! We wanted to get over to Hollywood Studios.
If you have several things you “have to see” in any one park, I would highly recommend getting more than a one day pass if you want to get them all in.
I know the heat and lines will be forgotten, and only the awesomeness of Disney will remain in our memories… and that’s part of the magic of Disney!
You can find all the info you need on the Disney World websitehere
Our tickets for the day were complimentary from Disney World. Thank you so much for the awesome day & memories, they did not alter my opinions, as you can see I was very frank with those. The pictures are my own.
Beach Time at Cocoa Beach in Florida!
We decided to go to a beach on Sunday, since we know the parks will be much more crowded on the weekends. We looked at both coasts in Florida and decided to go to Cocoa Beach. It was only 1 hour and 15 minutes away, and an easy drive.
My friend, Karla from the west coast of Florida came over yesterday to see us and spent the night. I hadn’t seen her in several years, so it was great for her to visit. She was well equipped with beach chairs for us.
The beach was really nice. There were chairs, umbrellas, surf boards that you could rent. We went into a gift shop before we got to the beach to ask where to find a public beach (and to get some more sunscreen). She told us that right behind them, there was a nice one. It was $10 to park, but there were showers, gift shops and places to eat on the pier.
I wish I had some pictures of Elise out in the ocean. I didn’t take my camera down to the beach because just the smallest amount of sand in them can really mess them up.
We had an awesome time in the ocean. Elise didn’t want to get out, and she didn’t for much of the day. The water felt cool, but once you got in, it was very comfortable. The waves were huge! I don’t know if this is how they always are, or if all the rain and storms had them larger than normal… but they just didn’t stop. I’m used to going to Myrtle Beach and the waves aren’t nearly as big. You can go out past the breakers and just float and relax. Not today! It would be too deep to go way out past the breakers… they were all breakers! lol The wind was up and it kept you very comfortable sitting on the beach. There wasn’t yucky seaweed, just nice sandy bottom when you were in the water.
If you are a shell hunter, than this probably isn’t the place for you. There were very few shells, but my feet were very thankful for that.
While we were eating up on the pier we watched the two wind surfers. That looks fun, but difficult. The white wind surfer (way out in this pic) got in close and he did a jump and fell. He then spent the next 10 minutes trying to get back to his surfboard that he lost in the fall. He would have to turn the sail (kite, I dont’ know what they call them) to take him one way, then turn it again to take him another. He kept missing the board. He finally got it and came right into shore. I think he was exhausted. he just sat on the shore for a few minutes on his knees. Not sure if he was kissing the ground or not.
We were at the beach from about noon until 4pm (yes I had on massive sunscreen) and decided to go get a bite to eat. We went to the Cocoa Beach Pier.
There were a couple bars, and then we saw some tables to sit out and eat while watching the beach. Perfect. We all got fish sandwiches that were huge! They were also really tasty… with fries that were great. Lots of water later and I know I felt much better.
Karla will say, “Oh why did you post that, my hair looks terrible”. But I think she looks great, and it was super windy, so that is why her hair is blowing. Plus the fact that was just spent 4 hours in the ocean and sandy beach.
Had to get another shot of Elise out on the pier…
Elise had to try her hand at surfing. They had this fun photo opp set up right in front of the pier. lol…. she has on her cute beach dress that I just found for her at a gift shop.
We then had to go to the famous Ron Jon surf shop, right? lol We didn’t buy anything, but it was fun looking around. It is just a really big gift shop and most of the products have the Ron Jon brand on them. Kids love it though. When our high school band went to Disney this last spring, they made the Cocoa Beach run and took all the kids into the surf shop… and they did shop. lol
I can highly recommend Cocoa Beach and the public beach at the pier for a beach adventure when you are visiting. It is about the closest beach (I think) and it was a really nice one.
It might be something Elise and I decide to do again while we are here. We’ll have one extra day to just “play” at this point. So not sure what we’ll do.
I was not compensated in any way for our time at Cocoa Beach or Ron Jon.
Shopping District of Downtown Kissimmee, Florida
We got into the Orlando airport at 8:30am in the morning and had until after 2pm before our condo was ready, so Elise and I went exploring. I know I wanted to see Downtown Kissimmee, but we first went to iHop for bunch after doing a pre-registration at our condo. We didn’t want to go too far in case our condo was ready early, so we drove into Kissimmee, Florida and discovered a really cute downtown shopping district there.
We got out and walked up and down store fronts to check them out. I love small towns like this that feel comfortable and “draw you in”. For a Saturday morning it also seemed like things were hopping, so I’m sure that on a nice evening, there is a lot of activity.
Of course you have to have a nice coffee shop in town.
There were a couple antique stores.
For some reasons I love old barber shops, the look of them with the barber pole outside. This was a busy place, once we walked by it, we saw at least 3 people waiting their turn for a haircut.
We walked over into what we thought was a park. It wasn’t really a park (with grass and trees etc), but a memorial with benches to sit down.
We didn’t stop to read the history of Bette Sprinkle anywhere (I’m sure there was something there) but we did see Bette sitting on a bench. Elise went over and chatted with her a bit.
I don’t think any town is complete without an ice cream shop either.
We then went a little further down the road to check out Lake Tohopekaliga. They call it Lake Toho for short. I saw that there were several airboat ride companies that ran out of Lake Toho.
We didn’t find where the airboat companies were, but we did see one out on the water. But you can’t even see it in this picture. lol
We heard new bird noises that we didn’t know existed from this, I think maybe, blue heron.
I know there was so much more to explore in this lake than we did. We went out on a dock for a only a few minutes. Then we got the call that our condo was ready, so we were off. Getting up at 3am this morning for our 6am flight, we were really tired.
But we had to get this shot of these birds as we were walking back to our car.
You can also follow along with our Florida trip if you go to the i.seeKissimmee blog where I’m a featured guest blogger this week.
Ready for the Fun & Sun in Kissimmee Florida!
I am going to be heading to Kissimmee, Florida with my daughter Elise soon! We are so psyched! We decided to take a “girls” vacation, since later this summer my hubby and the boys are taking a boys fishing trip to Canada. We weren’t excited about a “fly-in” fishing trip, so we had our pick of vacations.
We could have gone basically anywhere, but we decided to head to Florida. I wanted to take Elise on an airplane (she has never been on a plane before) and I wanted to take her to Disney. I started checking out the i.seeKissimmee Blog and saw that a blogger I knew @DebThompson posting on the blog and I contacted to her to see how she got to have such a fun assignment. She explained and I applied to also be a blogger for the i.seeKissimmee Blog and was chosen (Happy Dance).
After that I started looking for things for Elise and I do to while we were in Kissimmee.
First off…. where are we going to stay? I wanted to find a place that had a cool swimming pool! Since it will just be Elise and I, I wanted a pool where she could have a good time and hopefully meet some other kids to play with on our down time.
We are going to split our time between these two awesome resorts! We will have 2 bedroom condos in both.
I also have four great adventures that have been so kind as to give us tickets to visit.
Disney World – We have one day to explore as much of which ever of four parks we’d like! Oh… can’t wait! Thinking Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for sure.
Sea World - We have to be sure to see Shamu!
GatorLand - I loved Gatorland several years ago when I took my (now older) boys. They loved it.
And the whole time I’ll be driving a…
Chevy Cruze! - So happy that GM was kind enough to loan us a car to use for the week. I’m excited to see what this car is all about and of course excited that I should be getting great gas milage!
We will have a couple free days that we can go to places we find interesting. I want to get Elise to a beach while we are there. Not only has she not been on a plane, but she’s never been in Florida. I don’t it’s right to visit Florida and not go to a beach, right?
Be sure to also follow our adventures on the i.seeKissimmee Blog, Facebook and Twitter. I’m @OrganizerSandy and I’ll be using #VisitKiss and #SandysFLTrip, so you can follow easily along with our adventures.
Elise is ready!!
Roar and Explore in Columbus, Ohio
I first posted this Roar and Explore on my Explore Ohio with Sandy blog last July. But my family really enjoyed one of our own Columbus, Ohio adventures – Roar and Explore! I did look and it appears that you can purchase the Roar and Explore package again this year.
My family had an awesome vacation in Ohio and just outside of Ohio this year. We started off with the canopy tour, headed down to KY to tour Mammoth Caves and then came back for a three day Columbus Adventure Package called Roar and Explore that you can find here
Here is a Video Recap of Our Three Day Adventure
Day One The Zoo
We planned our three days according to the weather forecast. The first day was the nicest one. Clear skies and cool. It was in the low 70′s, so perfect for the zoo, but a little cold for the water park. The animals were out…. perfect. We walked in and realized it had been awhile since we had visited the zoo. The entire entrance had been redone. It was really nice!
We went to an animal show that was just about to begin and it was really cute. Started off without any people, just different strange animals running across the stage and performing different tricks (like knowing which doors to go in that would open and let another animal out.
It was really fun day for all of us.. we were all exhausted by the end of it and ready to head back to the nice comfy hotel to rest (or go to the pool as the triplets did)
Day two – COSI
It was a bit stormy and rainy so we went to COSI (Center of Science and Industry). They had a special dinosaur exhibit that we were able to go into. This was an extra cost to get into this exhibit. It was nice and the kids had fun. To be honest I don’t know if I would have been excited if I would have paid much more to be able to see it. It wasn’t the kids favorite part of COSI.
They loved the 3-D movie (extra cost) but I think their favorite part and I know my favorite part was the outside exhibit of the construction equipment. They actually got to work some of them (with assistance of course). That was cool.
Day three – Zoombezi Bay
Ended up being a wash for Zoombezi Bay. It was storming and we weren’t able to go. The good thing is that the tickets are good until Sept when it closes for the year.
Drury Inn & Suites
We had a blast at the Drury Inn & Suites hotel. We had two nights there and I can’t count how many times the kids went to the pool. The room was really nice, there was a work out facility that had glass walls right next to the indoor/outdoor pool. Dave used it and was very pleased. We had a very nice warm continental breakfast (no charge for any guest) and the staff was lovely. I’d have no problems recommending it to anyone. The only thought I had was that I wish it were closer to the Zoo and Zoombezi Bay. The one we stayed at was in Grove City.
Our package was provided by ExperienceColumbus.com for our family of five. All the pictures and videos (except the Zoombezi Bay picture) were mine and my opinion was not swayed by the complimentary package. Thank you Experience Columbus, we had a wonderful time. No pictures or videos are to be used without my permission.
This post was first posted July 23, 2011 on Explore Ohio with Sandy.com