As voted by Trekaroo families, here are the Reviews of the Day from back in the day to today.
Located less than a five minute drive from Manassas National Battlefield Park, Courtyard Manassas Battlefield Park is a convenient hotel option for families visiting all the Civil War sites in the area. Traveling between Washington DC and the Shenandoah Valley? Consider saving some money on hotels by spending a night in Manassas instead of paying Washington DC prices for your room. If your family needs multiple rooms, this may be an especially good hotel to consider because it is relatively budget-friendly.
What We Liked
- Pool with a lifeguard open 10AM-10PM on weekends
- Conveniently located near many chain restaurants and Manassas National Battlefield Park
What We Didn’t Like
- A noisy room. From inside our room, we could hear what was going on in the hallway and neighboring rooms quite clearly.
- Few kid-friendly breakfast options available at the hotel
- Our balcony had cigarette butts upon our arrival. It appeared that the balconies are often used by guests for smoking.
The rooms are fairly standard. There is a tiny fridge, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, and coffee maker, but no microwave. The layout/availability of electrical outlets in the room is excellent. The room does have a business feel to it.
There was complementary Wi-Fi and a television with all the standard TV channels that you would expect to find at a hotel similar to this one.
The sink is outside the bathroom which leaves a bit more room in the bathroom for a parent assisting a young child with a bath or shower. I found this bathroom more spacious than most; it was easy to help my kids in and out of the bath tub.
There are balconies or patios attached to most rooms. Our balcony on the second floor looked out over the parking lot and there were several cigarette butts on the ground out there. Smoking on the balconies appeared fairly common during our stay.
Due to the easy access to balconies and patios in every room, families should carefully consider if their children are responsible/mature enough for adjoining or separate rooms.
Unfortunately, my son’s asthma was noticeably worse the night that we stayed at this hotel compared to the nights before and since. I’m not certain of the cause, but it is likely that his asthma was triggered by the air quality in our room or by the cigarette smoke coming from neighboring balconies.
There were a few wedding parties here the night of our stay - which is common on weekends here. We saw them waiting for shuttles, piling into minivans and packed into elevators as we were taking our things up to our room. It was not a young, rowdy crowd. But, we still heard the group on our floor returning from the party around midnight. Then the group on the floor above us returned around 1:30 AM. I don't think the wedding guests were being loud or rude. The walls/doors of this hotel are not particularly good at blocking noise; it appears to be an older building.
Despite the friendly staff at check-in giving us directions to our room and around the hotel, we got quite lost on the way to our room. The elevators are located mid-building. There is a nice courtyard in the middle of the hotel.
There is a small bistro café in the lobby across from the front desk. Most menu items appeared to be between 5 and 10 dollars. There is no complementary continental breakfast here, so it is nice to have the option to pick up a snack at the hotel. The menu during our stay was not very kid-friendly. We woke up especially early, and I went to the bistro to pick up some food for the family. The staff didn't understand why I would be taking my meal back to my room to eat and took about five minutes to get me extra utensils and plates.
We enjoyed the pool during our stay. It is located on the opposite end of the courtyard from the lobby. There is a lifeguard here when the pool is open. The pool water was warm enough, and the pool facility is nice. The pool towels are full size. While the pool is open during daytime hours on the weekends. It is only open from 5-10PM on weekdays.
When traveling with my young children, we often arrive at the hotel earlier in the afternoon and leave earlier in the morning, spending a considerable amount of time in our room resting because the kids are so tired out from traveling. Here it was difficult to spend time in the room because our children could easily be heard through the thin door out into the hallway, and they were, unfortunately, drawn to the novelty of playing on our filthy balcony. We also really felt the lack of breakfast options at this hotel when the kids woke up hungry at 6AM – as young kids tend to do. With few breakfast options available at the hotel that satisfied the kids, we ended up leaving by 8AM.
This hotel might be a better fit for families with older children who are likely to spend less time in the evening at the hotel room and are not going to need breakfast immediately upon waking up in the morning. It is also a budget-friendly option for families needing more than one room.
I was hosted by Discover Prince William and Manassas for the purpose of this review. I received no other compensation and the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
"Come to experience our heritage as the Little Town on the Prairie. You’ll witness wide open spaces and enjoy an outdoor paradise. What you’ll find is a vibrant, modern LITTLE town, with friendly people and the same spirit of family, hospitality, integrity, and opportunism always found on the frontier."
De Smet is a small town that has earned its fame by being the setting for several of the "Little house on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingall's Wilder. There is so much to do in and near De Smet so make sure that you allow plenty of time.
1.The Laura Ingall's Wilder Memorial Society is located just off of the main street in De Smet. http://www.discoverlaura.org/ Here you can visit the gift shop, book your homes tour, and find out more information about the driving tour and anything Ingalls. They have adorable covered wagons (basically a little red wagon with a wagon cover) that are available to borrow free of charge.
2. Just across the street is a wonderful park with a playground structure, covered picnic tables, a working water fountain, and a restroom with flush toilets.
3. There is a small building located between the play structure and the restrooms. This is a small room filled with all hands on activities such as brail reading and coloring, cooking, prairie dress up, etc.
4. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Homes Tour: Tickets must be purchased in advance at the historical society. They will tell you what time your tour starts and where to meet your guide. This tour takes you into several buildings that you are not allowed in without the tour and you are not allowed to take pictures in several of them. We got to see a few school houses, the surveyors house, and the house in town that the Ingalls family finally settled in (and that pa built.) We all really enjoyed the tour and it was worth the money for sure.
5.The De Smet driving tour: if you are up for it most of this route can definitely be walked which might make it more enjoyable. This is a self guided tour of the town. We chose to drive as we had a little one that fell asleep. We followed the map that was given to us at the historical society and drove around to all the buildings.
I think my favorite stop by far was the cemetery. The Ingalls family is clearly marked but some of the others are not so we walked around and found the pastor that married Laura and Almanzo as well as Mr. and Mrs. Boast.
6. The Laura Ingall's Wilder Discover Center is a museum that has items that have belonged to residents of De Smet. This was a HANDS OFF museum and we went really quickly. It was neat to see all of the history in that building.
7. Just out side of town is The Ingalls Homestead (separate review). This is a hands on living history museum that is fun for all ages.
We had an excellent time in De Smet and would love to return some day. We spent several days here and it was just right for us.
Caladesi Island State park is a terrific place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Florida and relax in a natural setting. We stumbled upon Caladesi while staying in Tampa and looking for something fun to do as a family. Not far from Tampa and just outside of Clearwater we found Caladesi. To our surprise we noted that this beach has been frequently named on the 10 best beaches lists.
Here is the trick. Caladesi is not a road side beach. You must take a ferry to get to this private island beach. Park your car at the Caladesi Island parking area at Honeymoon Beach State park. There is a small ticket booth to the left. Ferries run every ½ hour beginning at 10am during the high season. The low season brings 1 hour departures. The cost for adults is $14 and kids over 5 $7. Children under 5 are free. Be advised that your return time is noted on your ferry ticket. You are expected to depart at that time. Should you choose a later time you will NOT be given priority status. Current ticket times will be honored first. This is something to keep in mind during busy times and later in the day.
The enjoyable 20 minute ferry ride brings you to beautiful Caladesi Island. Here you can watch the tortoises munch, grab sundries or food at the shop, lounge on the sand or swim in the ocean. We did all of the above.
The beach is pristine. The sand is sugary and the water warm. The only negative the clawed its way into our heads was the lack of clarity in the water. Granted this may have been because we were there during the high time of July 4th and perhaps the water is clearer in the winter, but this did ruin our hopes of snorkeling. We did still enjoy the water and beautiful sand.
Staffers are on hand to rend pre-assembled chairs and umbrellas. These were life savers for tourists like us traveling from afar without our everyday beach accoutrements. They were however a bit expensive to rent at over $30 for the day. We would have been lost without them!
There is a concession stand with the usual stand fare and also t-shirts and sun care items for sale. I had a particularly delicious Pina Colada smoothie that was tasty and refreshing on a terrifically hot Florida day.
The kids had fries and burgers under our rented umbrella. However there is also a picnic area with a playground should your kids tire of the beach.
Try to bring your own food and cooler. There should be room on the ferry.
We saw families with small carts able to bring their own chairs and umbrella
Travel in the off season for clearer water. During July there was some type of small stinging life in the water. Nothing to deter us or our bigger kids, but little kids might be concerned. It was by no means debilitating, just annoying.
There are stingrays in the water in these parts. Master the stingray shuffle. There are signs around directing you how to do this.
We have taken our son who is three to the Dallas Aquarium twice, once as a two year old and now as a three year old. As a two year old, he didn't last too long as he mainly just wanted to run around and couldn't see a lot of the animals hiding even with us pointing.
Now at three he is able to see and look for animals and has more interest in them. There is tons of sea life to see but they also have a bird exhibit and a demonstration of reptiles and even SLOTHS! This is a perfect activity if you're visiting Dallas as it's downtown close to the other museums and also close to restaurants. I would recommend taking your kids three and up!
Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester, NY is your little Lego-lover’s dream. My husband and I drove 2 hours with our 2 daughters (2 yrs and 4 yrs) and they adored the hands-on Lego exhibits and indoor attractions. Although the ticket prices are on the more expensive side and the most of the exhibits are targeted for kids ages 4 and up, for true Lego fans the experience is well worth the money.
Legoland Westchester, NY is located towards the back of the Ridge Hill luxury shopping district. Follow the signs around the shopping area to park in a garage connected directly to the Legoland Discovery Center and store. On a rainy day, the garage provides the most convenience as the entire walk to Legoland is covered. Unfortunately there is no free parking option, but Legoland does validate parking. Validating the ticket brings the $3 all-day rate down to $1.75 for the first 3 hours.
We arrived at Legoland Discovery Center at 10:30am and only had to wait behind 2 families. I checked back later around 11:30am and saw the line was out the door. So remember, plan to arrive early! The Legoland website encourages visitors to buy tickets online ahead of time to ensure entrance. Tickets to the Legoland Discovery Center are $18 for adults and $15 for children. Children 2 and under are free. Don’t forget to keep your tickets on hand once you’ve checked in in case you need to run out to the car, shop the Lego store, or grab a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants during your visit. Quick Tip: If you’ve recently bought a Lego toy or set, check to see if they have a “buy one get one” coupon for Legoland on the box or bag before buying tickets.
Each Legoland ticket included a brief tour showing how Legos are built. We stood in the waiting area gazing at the large Lego men and played with the small interactive computer screens for about 5 minutes before being led to the “Lego Factory Tour” room. Kids under 3 years will likely not pay attention during the tour, but the staff seemed to expect this and had no problem continuing the tour while the little ones moved ahead to play with the other phases of the Lego-building process.
We were pleasantly surprised to see there was an interactive ride at Legoland called “Kingdom Quest Laser Ride.” After waiting a few minutes in line, a small car pulled up which fit about 6 people. The ride lasted about 5 minutes and was almost entirely in the dark. There were a few scary-looking characters that showed up on tv screens, so I would advise those under 4 years old who scare easily to avoid going on the ride. Another ride my 4 year old loved was “Merlin’s Apprentice Ride.” It’s reminiscent of the spinning rides you see at fairs. Riders need to pedal as fast as they can to make the car “fly.” Children must be at least 36” tall to get on and be with an adult if they are between 36” and 48” tall.
ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS UNDER 3
For children under the age of 3, the best places to play were the Duplo Village and Lego Friends areas. The Duplo Village had a soft Lego pit for kids to sit and play, a tunnel slide, and a Duplo block building area. The Lego Friends section had a small cute karaoke stage, pretend café area, and a few tables with bowls full of Legos for kids to build with. Unfortunately, my 4 year old daughter was disappointed with the Lego Friends set-up. She loves the Lego Friends sets and cartoon show, but nothing about the area was truly like the girl characters or toys other than the colors of the Lego pieces and decorations. Also the website seemed to state that you could meet the Lego Friends girls, but they were nowhere to be seen the afternoon we visited.
Other popular sections for the older kids were Miniland, Play Zone, Lego Racers: Build & Test, Lego Ninjago Laser Training Camp, and the Lego Master Builder Academy.
1. Make sure your child is wearing socks or that you bring socks. In order to go in the “Play Zone” indoor playground, children must wear socks and and be at least 36” tall. Socks can be purchased at the Legoland Café for a little over $2.
2. In the summer, day camps frequent Legoland. Your kids might be overwhelmed by all of the children running around (sometimes with very little adult supervision). It’s best to arrive early, before the camps start coming in.
3. The 4D movie theater is most appropriate for kids ages 3 and up who do not scare easily.
4. Snacks, drinks, and sandwiches are available for purchase at the Lego Café. There are tables in the café area, but if there is a day camp visiting there might not be much space. I would suggest eating at one of the nearby restaurants in the Ridge Hill Shopping District like Lefteris Gyro, The Cheesecake Factory, or Elevation Burger.
5. Legoland is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
If you have an avid Lego fan at home over the age of 4, I would highly recommend bringing them to the Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester, NY. On a rainy or cold day, it is the perfect place to bring your Lego-obsessed (especially if you’re a Lego-loving parent too).
*This review is based on a complimentary visit to Legoland Discovery Center in Westchester, NY. I received no other compensation and these opinions are entirely my own.