Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Travel. Show all posts

Summer Road Trip Series: Lewiston, New York

road trip travel guide

It's officially summer and that means it's time to kick off the Celebrating This Life Summer Road Trip Series! The first destination is a small town town that I visit at least once each summer, Lewiston, New York. 

Martha Stewart Turkey Hill Garden Tour

Martha

Yes, it finally happened. I met Martha Stewart. It's been a whole two days and it still hasn't fully sunk in yet. Before I attended the Martha Stewart Turkey Hill Garden Tour, wonderfully organized by local Westport charity Positive Directions, everyone asked me what I would say to the woman who has been influencing me since before I hit double digits. It was something I quietly contemplated for a good two weeks. 

The Handmaid's Tale Filming Locations

I am #obsessed with the new Hulu series, The Handmaid's Tale and it's not just because the acting is brilliant (which it is) or that the story is incredible and eerily relevant (it totally is!), but I'm obsessed because the darn thing was filmed a short distance from my home!

Couples Day at Scandinave Spa

Collingwood, Ont.

One of the things that I truly love writing about is couples travel. It's something close to my heart as my husband AMH and I have been traveling together since the minute we met. It's been a while since our last trip and with all the stresses that come from daily life, including restoring a vintage car and navigating teenagers, we were desperately in need of a break from it all. We got exactly what we were looking for with a day trip to Collingwood, Ont., home of Scandinave Spa.

Family Vacation in Las Vegas

Las Vegas

In a few short weeks March Breach will be here and I know there are many families out there looking for a quick getaway to somewhere warm and exciting. A friend of mine just returned from a trip to Las Vegas and it reminded me of the time we took our kids to Vegas. Yes, you heard that right, we took our school aged children to Vegas and had a fabulous time.

Now you might be thinking that Las Vegas wouldn’t have anything for families other than gambling, and since you can do that from the comfort of home on sites such as Paypal casino, why bother visiting. I’m here to tell you there is so much more than casinos in Vegas.

Each hotel in the city has a different theme and offers up a variety of activities. We stayed with our boys at the MGM Grand and could not have asked for a better place for our family. The rooms where beautiful and because of the unique architecture, every room has a great view. But the most exciting thing was the pool complex. We decided to spend the afternoon by the pool and as soon as the kids saw the lazy river, they were off. We saw them every few minutes as they passed by the lounge chairs my husband and I were on. Staff was on hand to deliver drinks and food poolside which was a real treat!

Las Vegas hotels

On our non-pool days we visited other hotel/casinos to see what they had to offer. We got to see a chocolate waterfall in the Bellagio and gondola rides in The Venetian.

Family Vacation in Las Vegas

As soon as the sun went down we ventured to Freemont Street, or Old Vegas. I don't think the boys, or I for that matter, had ever seen so many bright lights in one place in all of our lives! The boys were a bit young for the zip line adventure (you can see the lines and the platform on the right hand side of this photo) but they really enjoyed watching others whiz by while snacking on churros (they found a churro vendor and visited each night after dinner). Now that they boys are teens, I would definitely let them try this out. I might even go with them!

Las Vegas

And it wouldn't be Vegas without meeting some interesting people! Every main street in Vegas has an assortment of street performers like Spongebob, Master Chief, Iron Man and, of course, Vegas show girls which The Youngest was only more than happy to pose with!

Las Vegas had a lot of glitz and flashing lights, it really was a sight to see! My boys have always remembered this as their favourite family vacation and we do too. There is so much to see and do in Vegas, we adults did not feel like we missed anything by not spending the night a la The Hangover.

So tell me- have you visited Las Vegas with children? Have you previously considered it but were not sure what the kids would enjoy seeing? If you have any questions about our trip, leave them in the comments below.

Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Game

Leafs vs Canadiens

I'm so happy to be finally getting started on my #Canada150Project. To help celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, I have decided to visit, eat, and meet iconic Canadian things to share with all of you! And I'm sure it will surprise no one that my very first Canadian thing, was a hockey game.

Mexico Photo Diary Part Two



Earlier this week I shared a look at the resort we stayed at and the towns of Puerto Morelos and Playa Del Carmen. Today, I am sharing a look at our trips through the town and beach area of Tulum, the island of Cozumel, and lastly a look at Playa Del Carmen at night.

Mexico Photo Diary


If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I was in Mexico last week for a little fun in the sun. I posted a full review of our week, some of the highlights and lowlights, and my thoughts on the resort on my IG Stories but today I thought I would share my Mexico photo diary and elaborate on a few of the adventures AMH and I got up to.

#Canada150Project


I have some pretty exciting news to share. Are you ready for it? This year marks Canada's 150th birthday so I am committing to sharing with all of you 150 people, places and things that make Canada, well, Canada! I'm so excited because this is a project I have had in the works for a few months now and it all started with Parks Canada offering free admission to national parks in 2017. 

Country Christmas at the Waterloo Region Museum




Last weekend we had some grand plans to have our whole family join us to experience Country Christmas at the Waterloo Region Museum and Doon Heritage Village but thanks to a round of snow storms and a few colds, the group was scaled back to me, AMH and my fellow adventurer in blogging, White Cabana! While I feel bad that our family was digging out or nursing a cold, I didn't feel bad for long as we had an incredible morning celebrating a variety of Christmas traditions!

Kitchener-Waterloo Coffee Shops

Today I'd like to take you on a tour of my favourite local coffee shops. In the last few years there has been a gourmet coffee movement in Kitchener-Waterloo and coffee shops have been popping up in the downtown core and in the surrounding areas. These coffee shops have quickly become the place to grab your morning coffee, meet up with friends, or as a quiet moment on your own (or with your husband while leaving the kids at home!). If you are in the area, why not sit a spell and visit one of the following Kitchener-Waterloo coffee shops (and if you're not from around here, come visit! It's a beautiful place with a lots to see an do, Oktoberfest anyone?).

Smile Tiger Coffee Roasters


Balm Beach Resort Motel


Yesterday I talked about our visit to Discovery Harbour's Pumpkinferno in Penetanguishene, Ont. It was a three hour drive from my home so we thought it would be a good idea to stay the night and drive home in the morning. Turns out, a lot of other people had a similar idea and I ran into fully booked hotels, B&B's, cottages, and even Airbnbs! I expanded my search to a 30 minute drive radius and found a small town appropriately called Tiny, Ontario. In this little lake community I found the sweetest little beach motel called the Balm Beach Resort Motel and luckily, they had one room available. 

Pumpkinferno at Discovery Harbour


I had a little celebrating to do this weekend and decided that AMH and I needed a little getaway. I started a new job this week and could not be more excited! My family has decided to spend the next year trying to see as much as we can of our beautiful home province of Ontario and since the province is over a million square kilometres, there is a lot to see! After a quick search we settled on visiting Penetanguishene, a two and a half car ride away from Kitchener. Our destination - Pumpkinferno at Discovery Harbour which is multiple displays of pumpkins carvings and a terror zone.

Norfolk County Fair


Last Friday night AMH and I visited the Norfolk County Fair in Simcoe, Ontario. This annual agricultural fair takes place on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and ends on Thanksgiving Monday. This was the first time we had visited the 176 year old event. The big draw for us was the Dallas Smith concert later in the evening and we found lots of entertainment around the fair while we waited for the big act. Interested in a look at the Norfolk County Fair? Let's go! 

The Ivy Chelsea Garden


Last spring AMH and I did a little tour of the UK. We first stopped in Wales, drove to Scotland and then onto London, England where we dropped off our rental car and spent a few days getting acquainted with the incredibly easy to use tube. But my favourite way to travel in London was on foot. One morning we decided to get up early and head to The Ivy Chelsea Garden restaurant in you guessed it, Chelsea. We stayed in nearby Kensington so the walk was rather easy and might I say, beautiful. The architecture and gardens were oh so beautiful, we even passed by the former home of Beatrix Potter! 

Weekend Packing List


Weekender bag: Target | Skirt: L.L. Bean | Sweater: FCUK |

I love weekend adventures, my husband and I are kind of known for them. When we were teenagers, and gas was a lot cheaper, we used to get in his car and drive. It really wasn't about the destination, it was the adventure out on the open road we were seeking. We've ended some of our adventures in Niagara, Montreal and one time we drive to Pittsburg for the night just to say we did. Having the boys didn't stop us. We just had to learn how to pack diapers and sippy cups with enough toys to keep them occupied. Some of my favourite memories with the boys are of the adventures we've had on the road. Now that the boys are old enough to stay home by themselves, it's back to just me and AMH travelling the highways (his fave) and country roads (my fave). I've learned a lot about what you need to bring and what to leave at home and since I am an obsessive list maker, today I am sharing my weekend packing list! 

Weekend Packing List

  • Weekender bag or small suitcase
  • Undergarments, 1 for everyday away
  • Sleepwear (I only pack one set of PJ's for a weekend) & warm socks
  • 2-3 tops
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 pair of shorts or jeans (depending on the weather)
  • 1 neutral cardigan that will match any pieces above
  • Dressier outfit (if planning on a nice evening out)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Toiletry bag - Toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant, face wash, make up remover, make up & brushes (I have small travel sized brushes), shampoo & soap, razor, nail clippers, tweezers and hair dryer
  • Sunblock
  • Bathing suit & beach towel (you never know where you might end up!)
  • Jacket for cool nights
  • Sunglasses

This weekend packing list covers all the basics. You can add or remove items based on the time of year you are travelling or your destination. If you are going camping - leave the makeup at home and make sure to bring a hat. Headed to a tropical beach - Bring more bathing suits and add cover ups. Oh and one last tip for the ladies - I paint my nails in a light neutral just before we leave and I make sure to use a topcoat. It usually lasts through a weekend adventure! 

Tobermory Boat Cruise


Last weekend AMH, the boys, and I packed our car with a picnic lunch and headed out on a three hour journey to Tobermory, Ontario. I've heard many great things about Tobermory boat cruises and thought this would make a great summer activity for our family. After some googling (what did we ever do before Google?) we decided to book through Blue Heron Cruises. For our departure we selected a glass bottom boat tour over shipwrecks with a drop off on Flowerpot Island, and for our journey home we selected a speed boat. 


The Great Blue Heron has a small concession stand on board that serves drinks, snacks and you can purchase branded hats and shirts. There is also a small restroom on board. You can select to sit at the very top of the boat on bench seats, inside on bench seats, or stand outside, which is what we did.  We embarked at noon on an hour and a half cruise through Georgian Bay. We passed Big Tub Lighthouse, seen above, on our way to see the shipwrecks.  


There are two shipwrecks in Big Tub Harbour, Sweepstakes and City of Grand Rapids. With crystal clear water, shallow waters, it is quite easy to spot the shipwrecks.


We spent our journey on the bow of the boat but ran inside to view the shipwreck through the glass bottom. The Sweepstakes ran aground in the fall of 1885. It was towed to her present location and stripped of her equipment and cargo before eventually sinking. 


The City of Grand Rapids caught fire in 1907 while docked, and to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby boats and the town, they towed the ship out of the harbour and where it burned to the waterline and then sank. 


Outfit | Shorts: Old Navy | Shirt: Tommy Hilfiger | Sweater: Gap | Bag: L.L. Bean | Sunnies: From Camden Market (similar under $10!) |

The boat's Captain provided information on each site as we passed and I was really excited to dock on Flowerpot Island to see the actual flowerpot rock formations! The flowerpots are a type of sea stack. Wind, rain, and snow wore away at the once standing cliff. Strong rock remained and was shaped into something that looks like a flowerpot (or as I call it, a great photo op!).


For a bunch of city kids, my boys sure do enjoy the outdoors! The Youngest is quite the climber and there is not a rock formation on Beachy Cove that he did not scale. The Youngest also spent his day chasing seagulls and hunting for snakes #gross. 


While the water in Georgian Bay may look beautiful, it was freezing cold! The weather was cooler last Saturday, hovering around 22 degrees Celsius, which was nice but I think it made the water too cool for swimming in. That didn't seem to stop others on the island as they were swimming and splashing around. We did bring bathing suits and beach towels with us but we only put our feet in. 


We followed the hiking trail from Beachy Cove to the lightkeepers home. There is a museum with information about the island, a store to purchase cold drinks and snacks, and a front porch full of rocking chairs to sit a spell. They also have a checkerboard table between two rocking chairs that my boys spent a good amount of time sitting at.

After a few rounds of checkers we were off to see the cave. We walked through a forest of cedar, spruce and white pine. Flowerpot Island is home to some of the oldest living trees in the world! All over the island you can see cedars growing on top of the cliffs and rocks and some of these are over 1500 years old. The oldest tree found on the island is 1854 years old!

The entrance to the cave. I will warn you that there are a lot of stairs to make it up to the cave, it is not for the faint of heart. You are quite elevated so if you are afraid of heights, I suggest you do not look down!

There is a platform at the top of the stairs that allows you to look at the inside of the cave. The boys had their eyes peeled for bats but we didn't see any. The rock in this area, dolostone, formed as ancient coral reefs built up under a warm shallow tropical sea that covered this area some 425 million years ago. Glaciers reshaped this area over the last 25 million years and while looking at the walls of the cave you can see lines where the receding water levels have left their mark in the rock.


After hiking everywhere on the island and stopping for a picnic lunch, we were ready to head back to Tobermory on our second boat of the day, the Flowerpot Express! 


To say the express boat is fast would be an understatement! The Oldest and I were filming on our Snapchats and it came up as 59km! All the seating is open and we happened to board after they were full. The boat ride is not very long so we stood at the back of the boat which was a blessing in disguise. They make a few sharp turns and it was much better to be standing and handing onto the railing! Of course, that meant we got quite a bit of spray on us but we dried in the sun quickly. I also recommend bringing a hat on this ride to protect long hair.  

A few additional things I'd like to share about the boat rides and visiting the island:

Make sure to pre-book your boat. When we arrived to check in they had sold out the entire day and many people looking for a ride were turned away. 

The boats all depart on time. We were running late and had to run to catch the first boat. Leave yourself some time; 20-30 minutes to check in, park and walk/shuttle to the docks should be good. This will also help in securing a seat for those who do not want to stand.

There is no food, other than a few snacks on the island, so bring a packed lunch and very important, bring a garbage bag. You have the bring your refuse back to Tobermory with you as there are no garbage bags on the island. 

Cell phone reception is spotty on the island, which is to be expected in such a remote area.

Bring bug spray. They have biting flies on the island and they sure did love me.

Bring comfortable shoes or hiking boots. There is a lot to explore on the island and flip flops just don't cut it. 

And above all else, have yourself a great time! 

Many thanks to Blue Heron Cruises for such a lovely, adventure filled day! 

Canada's Wonderland


Last Saturday during a blazing heat wave, the family and I packed up the car and headed to Canada's Wonderland. The weather reports had been warning about the extreme heat, it topped out at 32 Celsius, and they were not wrong. We spent a good portion of the day reapplying sunblock. It worked out in our favour as I believe the extreme heat reports prevented people from visiting Canada's Wonderland - which meant shorter lines for us! 


After a quick security check at the front gates we ran straight for our favourite ride, The Behemoth! The Oldest snapped a quick selfie of us, The Youngest is clearly not a fan. Actually, we had made a bet - if he could keep a straight face on the ride, to be captured on the ride camera, we would buy him the ride photo (more on that later). Missing is AMH. The total trooper was sick, and I mean sick, but still brought us to Canada's Wonderland. The kids were kind enough to share their cold with him. We should have spent the day at home with him in bed but... we bought one day passes a few months ago and they were expiring this weekend. This was our last chance to use them so we packed up all the cold medicine and brought the big guy along. He sat out this ride as it is a bit of a doozey. 

How about a little tour of Canada's Wonderland. Ready? Let's go! 


Wonderland Theatre is in the Medieval Faire area. I remember seeing many shows here as a child. Lots of singing and dancing. This year they have acrobats but they were not performing on the day we visited. 


But on the other side of the laneway there was a tumbling show. Highly entertaining with a series of men and women leaping onto trampolines set over the water and flying around. It drew a large crowd and lasted only a few minutes. 


After standing in the direct sun to see the show, we needed a little shade and A/C. The boys found an arcade (leave it to my guys to find one. They are obsessed with games!) and we hung out there for a while playing typical arcade style games like driving video games, basketball, skee-ball and air hockey (above). You collect tickets on an e-card to redeem for prizes.


Since AMH was not well and the boys were still getting over their cold (I managed to dodged this one!) we decided to pack a lunch instead of buying. And if I'm honest, I am going to start doing this more often. It is incredibly difficult to find healthy options at amusement parks, ball games, etc. Canada's Wonderland does not allow outside food to be brought in, so we headed out to our car to set up a picnic. I do hope Canada's Wonderland revisits this policy in the future - it sure would have been nice to use these empty picnic tables to enjoy our lunch.


A perennial favourite, even though the boys are teens now, is Planet Snoopy. My boys loved the Peanuts gang growing up and have been on every ride in this section. It's a great spot for little ones from toddler ages through to pre-teen. When my husband and I were growing up, this was Hanna-Barbera Land. 


Have to spot and take a photo with Snoopy! They have lots of Peanuts costumed actors walking around in this area, ready for a photo with the kids. Since it was quite the negotiation to get the Youngest to take a photo, we stuck with the statue of a character.


A colourful assortment of shops and quick serve snack huts. 


No visit to Canada's Wonderland is complete without a visit to Ghoster Coaster. For every kid who grew up coming to Canada's Wonderland, this is always their first "grown up" roller coaster. It's a lot of fun and our whole family still enjoys the quick thrill ride. 


After a few more rides we headed to the waterfall to watch the Victoria's Falls High Divers. They dive off a 60 foot diving board into the water below, many of them doing amazing spins twists. 


A few of International Street from the bridge.



This is new for Canada's Wonderland. They now offer an unlimited digital photo pass called Funpix. You can buy a single day for $19.99 plus tax or season pass holders can purchase the whole year for $39.99 plus tax. I was a huge fan of the photo service when we visited Disney (which cost a LOT more). I highly recommend you purchase this when visiting Canada's Wonderland because not only can you get the whole family into your pictures but the staff will take additional photos like...


A nice photo of just your kids...


and funny photos of your kids...


a nice photo of just the parents...


and you get all your ride photos included in the pass! Like the wild Behemoth ride...


and the kiddie thrill rides! Look we got AMH on a ride!

We had a great day, even though poor AMH was not well. I noticed on the website they are running a 1-Day sale for the month of July $29.99 per person. This is what we purchased for June. It's a great deal for those that only plan on visiting the park once this year (we buy season passes every year but this summer we knew we wouldn't be able to visit as much). I also recommend pre buying your parking (we forgot to and I just noticed it's a little cheaper than at the door). 

Canada's Wonderland is located in Vaughan, less than an hour north of Toronto. Your ticket also admits you to Splash Works waterpark which would have made a great way to spend such a hot day! 

Any plans to visit Canada's Wonderland this summer?

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