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...
Easy Everyday Adventures

Easy Everyday Adventures

Everyone knows how much I love everyday adventures, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to enjoy and create one of your own.  Although you could go with the standard fancy dinner out, why not try something new this year – I bet you’ll remember it much longer than just another dinner at a restaurant. Looking for ideas? I’ve got you covered: Visit a winery. Enjoy a wine tasting and then a delicious glass of wine. You might even get lucky and stumble upon some live music. It’s fun to try different varieties and share what you think of each one. This is also a great choice if you are short on time or money. It would be very doable to sneak in a tasting and conversation on a busy school night for $20 or less. Local suggestions: My two current favorite local wineries are Urban Vines and Sugar Creek Winery. Urban Vines has delicious charcuterie platters and they also serve beer, cider, and even sparkling wine, so if your partner doesn’t like wine they have alternatives. Sugar Creek Winery doesn’t carry food, but you are welcome to bring in whatever you want, so why not put together your own cheese plate and enjoy it with a glass of their delicious wine. Urban Vines, 303 E 161st Street, Westfield, IN 317-763-0678; Sugar Creek Winery, 1111 West Main Street; Carmel, IN  Check out a museum.  Although most museums might be closed in the evening, perhaps you can meet for lunch and walk through your local art museum? Or present tickets as a gift with plans to visit on the weekend. It’s fun to look...

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