Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

Guest Post – Island Life in Michigan

It’s been a few years since we visited Mackinac Island, but we did have a wonderful visit! My family especially loved the Fort and the carriage ride around the island. My friend Tanya from Traveling Tanya was there last year, and hearing about her trip takes me back to our day on the island and makes me want to plan another visit soon! Check our her adventures and advice:  Spring has finally arrived! I’m Traveling Tanya, and I enjoy traveling just about any time of the year. But spring is an especially fun time to get out and explore. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind getaway this spring, consider Mackinac Island. Last fall I took my family to this magical island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While fall is a great time to visit the island, I long to return in springtime to see the flowers in bloom and watch this quaint town come back to life after a winter slumber. But for now, I’ll reminisce about our fall getaway to Mackinac Island! Preparing for Mackinac Island I’m a planner by nature, so before heading to Mackinac Island I did my research. Reading several travel brochures and googling places of interest on the island. Even if you aren’t your family’s designated “tour guide” or “travel agent” there are other fun ways to get up to speed and energized about an upcoming trip to an unfamiliar destination. A few months before our trip, I happened to see a secondhand copy of a novel about Mackinac Island.  The book included 4 short stories, all taking place on the island during different...
Beach Vacation Essentials

Beach Vacation Essentials

Are you lucky enough to be heading to the beach this Spring or Summer? We just finished a wonderful stay in Florida on the beach and plan on heading back to another Florida beach this summer. Although there are certain things I always pack wherever we travel, I’ve found that adding a few extra items specifically for beach vacations makes them much more enjoyable. Ready to pack your bags? Beach Basics. These are the no-brainers, yet somehow if I don’t have a list, I tend to forget them (there’s been more than one run to the store for bathing suits before …). Bathing suits, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, flip flops, beach towels. Even if you forget everything else, you can have a fun beach day with these essentials.   Fun Extras. Sand toys, beach chairs, a ball to kick or throw (volleyball, soccer ball and/or football), a beach umbrella, beach games (our friends brought EastPoint Sports Folding Disc Slam Spike Ball Game – Features Durable, Weather Resistant Material – Includes 2 Disc Slam Targets and 1 Flying Disc and washers and both were a big hit), rafts or noodles. If we are driving I’ll throw some or all of these extras in the car. If we fly, I’ve found that a quick trip to the dollar store can take care of this category for very little money. On our last day, we will give them to another family at the same resort or ask the resort if they’d like them for guests. Tasty snacks. Even if you are flying, consider packing a soft-sided cooler in your bag – I usually just...
A playful octopus and a harrowing climb …

A playful octopus and a harrowing climb …

Thanks to the Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for sharing with us these treasures and hosting part of our visit! We enjoyed both locations immensely. All opinions and pictures in this post are 100% mine. Only 203 steps to the top … that’s what kept going through my mind as we climbed the narrow, winding staircase to the top of the Ponce Inlet lighthouse. As someone who hits the treadmill almost every day, this should be a breeze, right? Wrong! By the time we had ascended and walked back down those 203 steps, my legs were shaking. And they continued to do so for about an hour. Was it worth it? The answer is a definite yes. The views from the top were amazing and I was proud of myself for the accomplishment. Even those of us in our party afraid of heights agreed it was worth facing their fear. A short drive from our oceanfront Daytona, FL resort, the Ponce Inlet Light Station & Museum combined with a trip to the nearby Marine Science Center is the perfect respite from the beach. The lighthouse itself is a national historic landmark and was completed in 1887. It was restored in 2004 and what’s especially unique about this museum is that all of the light stations original buildings are also found right where they were when it was a working lighthouse. When you visit the Ponce Inlet lighthouse, you don’t just walk to the top of the lighthouse, you also get to see what life would have been like for the lighthouse keepers and their families. The exhibits are...
Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

Make the Journey as Fun as the Destination

At least a few times a year we embark on long road trips. As neither my husband or I particularly like to drive, we had to come up with a way to make them bearable. Getting in the car and driving all night was not something we could do – the few times we tried it, we wound up exhausted the next day and essentially missed the first day of our trip. Talk about stressful! Luckily, I’ve found a way to make the trip enjoyable. So much so that my kids would prefer to drive than fly! How did we do it? Attitude. This is the most important part – by simply reminding ourselves that the journey can be as fun as the destination, we hit the road with the right mindset. We’ve come to look at a road trip as a chance to relax (versus work), see something new, and have some great conversations. Try new restaurants. It’s a rare trip that we don’t break out Yelp when we start to get hungry and search up local restaurants. Once everyone starts getting hungry, I open the app, switch it to map view and start searching for places twenty minutes ahead or so of our current route. We’ve discovered awesome dive bars, amazing breweries, old-school drive-ins and everything in-between. The rule is it can’t be more than ten minutes off the road we are traveling, and it can’t be a chain. Other than that, anything goes. Yes, it adds time to our trip, but we’ve created a fun memory, enjoyed much better food and had some fun while getting...
Raise a Toast to Hamilton County Wineries

Raise a Toast to Hamilton County Wineries

Whether traveling or at home, I enjoy visiting wineries. I love trying the different wines, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and learning about each one’s history. Lucky for me, there are some fabulous wineries just minutes from my home in Noblesville, Indiana. With warmer weather finally coming to the Midwest, it’s the perfect time to visit one of these favorites. Grab a delicious glass of wine, indulge in some snacks, listen to music, enjoy a beautiful patio – all of this and more awaits: Urban Vines in Westfield is my go-to location when I’m looking for a fun and relaxing evening out. It’s perfect for date night, girls night out or even just enjoying an afternoon of playing cards while listening to music. Urban Vines offers a delicious array of white and red wines, their own beers and even ciders. In the summer, the wine slushies are a dangerous delight. With weekly Bingo or Trivia nights, live music most weekends and tasty “create your own” charcuterie platters you can’t go wrong with visiting this favorite of mine. I share more details on Urban Vine in my 5 Fun Fall Adventures in Hamilton County Post. Sugar Creek Winery is the newest addition to the wineries in Hamilton County. Sugar Creek has an upscale, outdoor vibe and an amazing outdoor firepit. The vineyard is located in nearby Montgomery County and produces many of the grapes that create their delicious varieties of wine. Sweet Water doesn’t serve food, but that means you get the fun of bringing in your personal favorites. Learn more about Sugar Creek in this post on Sugar Creek Winery....

Chicago for Tweens

I recently had the opportunity to visit Chicago with just my son. For school-related reasons my daughter (and therefore husband) couldn’t join us so it became a fun one-on-one trip. Not something we get to do often, so it was very special. We arrived Friday night to our amazing room at the Wyndham Grand – it was the perfect location, easy to get everywhere and with awe-inspiring city views. Once I parked my car, we used Uber or good old-fashioned walking the rest of the weekend – it was lovely to not think about driving, parking, etc. However, I do want to caution everyone to be very careful with valet parking – we ended up with some issues that I’m still dealing with – and this was at a very nice hotel and expensive parking spot. Thanks to our Chicago CityPASS, we knew our Friday night adventure would be the 360 Chicago Observation. After enjoying the views – loved the ice breaking up on the water – we walked across the street to do a little shopping at The Water Tower. I actually remember shopping there as a kid so it was nostalgic to share that experience with MY kid. As we had a full day planned for Saturday, we just grabbed quick salads and “fancy” drinks at The Cheesecake Factory just outside the mall. I rarely do chains when traveling, but that’s what my kid wanted and this was his weekend … The next morning started bright and early with the goal of seeing how many museums we could visit in one day (and still enjoy them!). We also...
The Best Places to Fuel Up after a Day of Skiing at Boyne

The Best Places to Fuel Up after a Day of Skiing at Boyne

Every year we visit Boyne Mountain at least once for a long weekend of skiing. Through the years, we’ve stumbled upon some amazing places to enjoy a boisterous or low-key (depending upon our mood) evening of good food, drinks, and atmosphere. It’s always a struggle to decide which ones to visit when we only have a few days. Luckily, we know we’ll be back next year to hit the ones we miss. Here are three of my current favorites: Cafe Sante is perhaps the most elegant of these choices. However you needn’t feel out of place in warm sweaters and jeans – after all in the winter, Boyne City is a ski town and being bundled up is expected. The atmosphere is cozy, the food has a French influence and the drinks are strong. All excellent reasons to visit. Cafe Sante also has an amazing Happy Hour. From 3- 6 every day there are a number of $3 drinks and appetizers. The choices change slightly from year to year, but we always have a good time putting together a tasty dinner of delicious tidbits. Shrimp cocktail, salmon pate, mussels, eggplant, and even deviled eggs were some of the delicacies we enjoyed on our recent trip. Along with several $3 margaritas, we left full and in good spirits early enough in the evening to be able to peek into a few of the Boyne City stores before heading back to our resort. Interested in more information on Cafe Sante? Check out my review on The Yums. Red Mesa is just down the street from Cafe Sante and actually owned by the...
Chicago CityPASS for the Win!

Chicago CityPASS for the Win!

A big thanks to Choose Chicago and CityPASS for sponsoring our Chicago activities via CityPASS. All opinions expressed are 100% my own. Recently I took my son to Chicago for a fun mother-son weekend. Although the whole family went last summer, this was a trip specifically geared towards things the two of us enjoy doing together. Thanks to CityPASS, we were able to do everything we desired for one low price! I’ve heard of CityPASS before but hadn’t checked it out myself, so when we received two passes for this trip, I was super excited to learn more. Each Chicago CityPASS has savings of 51% off regular admissions. Our CityPASS included Shedd Aquarium, Skydeck Chicago, The Field Museum, Adler Planetarium OR Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Science & Industry OR 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. As an added bonus, we got VIP admission, so were able to skip ahead of the normal ticket lines. As soon as we arrive Friday, we picked up our passes and headed off to the 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck. Neither of us had been to this attraction before so we were super excited to check it out. It was early evening so we had the opportunity to see the skyline at dusk which was beautiful. It was interesting to walk all the way around the observation deck and check out the city from various angles. We didn’t indulge since we were heading to dinner next, but there was a lively bar full of specialty drinks for both adults and kids. For an additional $8 we could have tried the tilt option. There is...
Kilwins Chocolates – A Sweet Tradition

Kilwins Chocolates – A Sweet Tradition

Every year we spend at least one (sometimes two) weekends at Boyne Mountain skiing. We’ve been doing this for over ten years, so it really feels like a second home. One of our annual traditions during this ski trip is to visit the headquarters of Kilwins Chocolates. To anyone who isn’t familiar with Kilwins, they began their journey in Petoskey, Michigan as a bakery in 1947. Don and Katy started developing candy and chocolate recipes that are still used today. In 1985, they added ice cream to the line-up. Some of my favorite things about Kilwins is their attention to detail, the fact that they use local ingredients when possible (and when they can’t they are incredibly particular about getting the best ingredients possible) and that they require all franchises to go through extensive training.  Another example of their concern with creating the best product experience is that the company decided to buy their own trucks to deliver ice cream so that they could ensure it would arrive at the proper temperature. The factory tour is available every half-hour Monday through Friday from 10 – 4:30 and it is FREE! It’s fun to watch the candy being made, taste the delicious chocolate and learn more about the history of Kilwins. Even though I’ve done this tour multiple times, I learn something new each year. Much of the equipment being used to create the chocolates has been around since the beginning – and is still going strong. On this particular tour, we watched truffle filling being mixed, caramel and peanut butter filling being spread out to cool, marshmallows being prepared and...
Guest Post: Several Families, One Fabulous Vacation

Guest Post: Several Families, One Fabulous Vacation

Since I’m off traveling today myself, I thought I’d bring you a special guest post from my good friend Tanya. If you are thinking of taking a trip with other families (and with  Spring Break coming up soon that might be a great idea) then this post will help you create a fun and memorable trip for everyone. We try to go on several vacations a year with either my SIL, parents or a good group of friends. With all that experience, I thought I knew everything there was to know about traveling with other families, but Tanya has some great tips that were new to me. Check it out below and then be sure to go over to her site for more fun and exciting trips and tips! I’m Traveling Tanya, and as you may have guessed…I love to travel! I am a busy mother and wife who works full time and takes on too many volunteer roles! But somehow I still find time to travel. And you can too! At www.travelingtanya.com I share my own travel experiences and tips with the goal of inspiring busy people to make travel a priority. I also love hearing about other people’s travel, and I get tons of inspiration from Pam’s everyday adventures. Today I’m delighted to be a guest on BeHealthyBeHappyWellness to share my tips for planning a fabulous vacation, not just for your own family, but for multiple families. Does the idea of planning a vacation with several other families sound like an amazing adventure…or a complete nightmare?! Planning a trip with numerous adults and children, all with different wants and...

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