cavalletta's Passport
 

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Member since:
04 December 2008

Icon_superoo_orangeSuperoo '12, '13, '14 Icon_founder_title

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Icon_star1394 First to Review
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About Me & My Family

We're a globe trekking, fun-loving, bilingual family always planning our next adventure. From art museums to alpine skiing, we're ready for anything. We are USTA rated tennis players, professional artists and musicians, golfers, swimmers, skiiers, sailors, engineers, and more!
Our Family's Travel Personality
adventurous, curious, relaxed, simple, independent, energetic, spontaneous, sophisticated, easy_going, scheduled, artsy, social_butterfly
We Just Got Back From
The Longboat Key Club which is located on the beach overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Paradise!
Our Favorite Vacation Spot
Wherever we go next! Thanks to Trekaroo, I always have a great group of reviews to help me plan a fantastic vacation!
A Place We'd Love To Visit
During the winter, anywhere with snow and easy airport access. Golfing, tennis, spa, ski, and culinary resorts are ideal!
Favorite Vacation Memory
One of my favorite vacation memories was the first time my daughter saw snow at the Park City Mountain Resort in Utah. She's still talking about ski school years later! The Innisbrook Golf Resort and Indaba Spa near Tampa Bay, Florida. What an amazing experience! A home exchange holiday in France.
Worst Travel Moment With My Kids:
Dangerous weather conditions, unexpected airport and security delays.
Websites I Like:
snowmamas.com tbparenting.com visitflorida.com condenast.com

13 Fall Festivals & Halloween events on Florida's west coast

Each year, these 13 West and Central Florida organizations present an amazing array of Halloween themed activities.  Here is our special and not so spooky list of our family favorites.

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CR 675
Bradenton, Florida

Comment:
Old fashioned family fun for all ages. Be sure to check their website for dates and times.

reviewed on: October 21 2010

" Old fashioned farm fun"
Each year in October,  the Hunsader Farms are transformed into an old fashioned pumpkin festival complete with a colossal corn maze, pumpkin pies and plenty of pumkins.  Our preschooler especially enjoys exploring the hay maze.  These maze walls are about two feet high so the little ones can easily see over the tops of the maze and their grown ups can  keep track of their progress through the maze.  There's over 100 craft booths, a petting zoo, live music and entertainment , hay and pony  rides, a pioneer trades village, chainsaw sculpting, a child's train ride and much more.  The older kiddos raved about the pumpkin cannon which shoots pumpkins well beyond the massive corn maze.  They also tried their hands at the smaller corn cannons.  It's a great way to spend a fall day in Florida.

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30771 Betts Road
Myakka City, Florida

Comment:
Each fall, the farm creates a wonderful corn/hay maze. The hay rides are a relaxing treat for even the littlest pumpkins in your family.

reviewed on: December 31 2009

"Tour a working dairy farm"
Our extended family had a great time exploring the Dakin Dairy Farm which is an easy drive about 15 miles east of Sarasota on winding country roads.  Our tour guide offered an informative farm tour throughout the 45 minute adventure.  The teens liked learning about the sustainable farm practices including seeing the huge compost pile, the preschoolers really liked the pig races, leaping baby goats, hay ride (additional cost), and chocolate milk tasting (by special request) and the grown ups appreciated learning about the mechanics of running a dairy farm.  We got to see cows led into the milking area, have a pre and post milking bath, get milked and then led back into the barn area.  This is an ideal homeschool lesson and also a fun way to show your family just how much work goes into bringing milk to your fridge.  

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1101 West Sligh Avenue
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
Zoo Boo, held on most evennings in October, is a great way to spend an evening with your family. The haunted houses are skull rated--one skull is safe for little ones while seven skulls will spook even your teens! Check the website for dates and times. Cost: $17 adults and $14 for kids 3-11

reviewed on: July 27 2009

"Amazing up close animal encounters"
Feeding giraffe, riding a camel, spotting cheetah and so much more are in store for you when visiting this gem of a zoo.  The walking paths are wide, paved and meander through the peaceful natural habitats.  This is a very stroller friendly place!  Plenty of restrooms, water fountains and shady spots for a break.  There are great places to grab tasty snacks (what you would expect but aslo cupcakes, ice cream and even beer!)

If the weather is bad, it's a challenge to find a place to wait out the storm or escape from the heat so it's best to venture to the zoo on a great weather day.  

The zoo added a few new rides (log flume, kiddie coaster and outdoor splash areas) which are very popular with the ten-year old kiddos.  An additional fee is required to ride ponies and camels.

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701 Channelside Drive
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
Oct. 23 from 4-8 p.m. Bring kids in costume to a safe, supervised children's Halloween Party. Event features candy stations and kids' activities. Ages 4-12 Cost: Free for members, $12 for adults and $2 for children younger than 12.

reviewed on: July 27 2009

"So much to see and a touch tank!"
Outdoor explore a shore area offers plenty of splashing and sand pit fun for little ones.  It does tend to be crowded which makes it a challenge to get up close to the tanks to see the animals on display.  The touch tanks have friendly volunteers able to answer questions about the creatures you can touch.  The shark tank is a favorite with many visitors.

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Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
Ashley Drive Tampa, Florida

Comment:
This year, the Childrens Museum will present their premiere Halloween event. Check their website for more details!

reviewed on: January 15 2010

""It'll grow your mind!""
When the Glazer Children's Museum opened on September 25, 2010, it seemed like all families in Tampa Bay were there to explore it's two story kid-sized activities.  It barely resembles the beloved Kid City Museum which it replaces.  The new museum is now located in the heart of downtown Tampa on the banks of the Hillsborough River (downstream from it's former location by the Lowry Park Zoo).  The architecture is spectacular and the hands on exhibits  educate and entertain kids up to about 12.  Visit the website to plan your experience.

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4801 East Fowler Avenue
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
Hall-o-Boo is a hands-on creepy, crawly and fun educational twist on Halloween celebrations. This science center shows the science behind scary special effects as well as offers fun crafts and of course, candy! Check the website for additional details and prices. We love it!

reviewed on: July 23 2011

"New Sky Trail Ropes Course"
One of the best aspects to visiting MOSI is that they offer new and interesting exhibits all the time.  As of July 2011, MOSI added a Sky Trail Ropes Course which is absolutely wonderful for all of those adventurous folks out there!  There is a fee for this new activity.  You can opt to go on the Ropes Course without having to pay for the overall MOSI entrance fees or include the Ropes Course as a part of your visit to MOSI.  

There are height and weight restrictions so children have to be at least 42" tall to go on the ropes course with an adult and at least 48" to go on their own.  There are 36 elements on about three different levels ranging from 12-36 feet off the ground.  

You are buckled into a harness and have a safety line which you can hold onto if you lose your balance along the way.  We had an absolute blast climbing all around the metal structure.  My preschooler keeps asking when we can go back!  If you plan to go on the ropes course, try to do that first or as early in your day as possible...it can get hot and bright.  Earlier in the day, the ropes course is shaded by the IMAX dome which makes it nice.  Have fun!

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10165 N Malcolm McKinley Dr
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
Hall-o-Boo is one scary night on the town for your older teens or even as a parent's night out. If you scare easily, stay home!

reviewed on: March 28 2010

"Sesame Street's Safari of Fun now open!"
My four year old led the way as we explored the all-new Safari of Fun at Busch Gardens.  She's a great tour guide!  Fortunately, the Safari of Fun has one entrance which makes keeping an eye on your active kiddos a bit easier.  Most of the rides and play areas are shaded by trees or a canopy but it's best to remember your sunscreen and sunglasses.  There are two restroom areas (one near the entrance and the other by the water play area / outdoor dining facility).  

Located near the Bird Gardens, your preschooler will want to spend most of your Busch Gardens visit at the Safari of Fun.  There are so many wonderful rides and play areas to discover!  My four year old started out on the Zoe-patra & the Hippos of the Nile flume ride.  She laughed throughout the whole ride and wanted to ride it again right away so she did.  Lots more laughing :-)  Then, she ran over to the Elmo's Safari Go-Round (carousel).  She chose the zebra and away we went!  This carousel slowly turns which makes it an ideal first ride for even the tiniest tot.

Big Bird's Whirly Birdie, a mini ferris wheel ride, was a hit with the four year olds but one two year old was a bit afraid of the view from the top.   The kids in line all wanted to ride in the egg that had the number of their age.  My daughter was no exception so she chose the #4 egg.  Thankfully, there were two, three, five and six year olds in line so they all got their choice.  The little boys all seemed to race over to The Count's Zambezi Rally and hopped in tiny cars to ride along the tribal trails.  Each seat has a steering wheel which makes every little driver happy.  The car seats two to four children, depending on the vehicle.  Of course, there are numbers to count all along the track.  Who knew learning could be this much fun?

One of my favorite play areas is the Elmo's Treehouse Trek and Cookie Monster's Canopy Crawl.  The three-story treehouse has plenty of places to play hide-and-seek and you can overlook the whole Safari of Fun from a Big Bird's eye view...way up high!  The areas are connected by rope bridges which were popular with kids and their grown-ups.  Under the Canopy Crawl, kiddos can play in Slimey's Sahara Sand box complete with all sorts of sand toys.  Also under the Canopy Crawl is a springy, bounce house like play area.  Since the sand and bouncy play areas are nice and shady, they are a cool retreat from the Florida sun.

We changed into our swim clothes for a spashing good time at Bert & Ernie's Watering Hole.  This water area has lots of jets, sprayers, overhead buckets and fountains to splash in and around but is in the full mid-morning sun.  Maybe, the trees will shade this area at other times of the day.  If you prefer more shade, visit Oscar's Swamp Stomp where the stepping stones and ankle deep water seem well suited for tiny toddlers.

There are lots of helpful park employees around to ensure that everyone stays safe and has fun.  Near the entrance, one park employee brought out lots of hula hoops for the kids to play with and later brought them to the Bert & Ernie's Watering Hole.  

The Sunny Day Theater features a 15-minute musical stage show starring Sesame Street favorites Elmo, Abby, Grover, Cookie Monster and Zoe.  Afterwards, the characters meet and pose with your children.   It is so adorable to watch their little faces light up when they hug their favorite friends.

We saw the outdoor, covered dining area where the Dine with Elmo and Friends breakfast and lunch meals will be held.  It is a great space with lots of red tables and chairs.  Be sure to make your reservations.  This looks like a great way to start your day at the park.  There's also a Snack-n-Getti Tribal Treats concession stand offering all sorts of tasty treats.

If your child wants to take home an exclusive safari-themed Sesame Street friend, you can find lots at the Cookie Monster's Trading Post and also at Abby Cadabby's Treasure Hunt.

All of the rides and play areas are colorfully decked out in a playful tribal-theme--great for photos!  So, make sure your batteries are charged and your memory cards are empty.  You'll be snapping photos on this Safari of Fun all day long!

We ended our park experience by watching the 4-D theatrical adventure, Sesame Street presents "Lights, Camera, Imagination!"  This movie is over in Timbuktu's theater which is a short stroller ride from the Safari of Fun.  There are lots of fun special effects that go along with the movie but I'll let you be surprized.  It might be best if you have your little one sit on your lap if they are the least bit afraid of getting splashed.  It's fun!

So, visit the Busch Gardens website and make your plans to go on your own Safari of Fun.  Maybe, we'll see you there!


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Exit 17, 1-4
Plant City, Florida

Comment:
Children in costume are admitted free on Halloween. They have trick or treat stations set up along the winding paved trail. It's a great daytime activity for your little ghouls and goblins.

reviewed on: July 27 2009

"Roaring good time"
If you have a dinosaur fan in your family, you will love exploring Dinosaur World which is a short drive east of Tampa on I-4.  Wander along the dinosaur walk to see lots of dino replicas complete with explanatory signs , get your hands dirty at the fossil dig, explore the  carnivore boardwalk, a skeleton garden, a prehistoric museum a playground and other fun dino related things to discover.  They do not offer food service but feel free to bring your picnic and eat at a few picnic areas including one in a cave.

Currently, they are expanding by adding 12 more acres and also building a 22,000 square ft. building which will house a new preshistoric museum. The new museum will also have real dinosaur egg fossils.  The expansions should be completed in fall 2011.  

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Magic Kingdom Drive
Lake Buena Vista, Florida

Comment:
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, although pricey, is a fun and festive way to spend a fall evening with your tiny tots. Visit http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/special-events/mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party/?CMP=VAN-WDWFY10MNSSHPVanity&CMP=SOC-WDWFY11Q4FBDM0001 for more details.


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1000 Universal Studios Plaza
Orlando, Florida

Comment:
Hall-o-Scream is too scary for me but our teenage cousins and their parents love it! Check their website for specials and hours.


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7007 SeaWorld Drive
Orlando, Florida

Comment:
Halloween Spooktacular is included with park admission and happens weekends throughout October. Kids can come in their costumes and explore their underwater Halloween "fantasea" fun.


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711 North Franklin Street
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
Embark on their History and Haunts tour if you dare! Ideal for teens and their parents. A bargain at $10! Check the website for additional details.

reviewed on: January 15 2010

"Beautiful theater"
This theater was named one of America's 21 Wonders by Life Magazine!  So, we had to go for a visit.  Our extended family went on the Balcony to Backstage theater tour one Saturday afternoon and had a great time!  Located in the heart of downtown Tampa, the theater architecture is beautiful and magical.  Built in 1926, our theater tour guides offered so many colorful stories that  our imaginations were filled by the time we left.  The organist entertained everyone and told some great movie time tales.  The staff was very family friendly and able to keep the attention of our youngest (preschool) family member.  This is not your typical movie theater which is a great experience for your school age children.  The theater features many classic movies, Ghost hunts, amazing live concerts with acts ranging from local bands to Elvis Costello as well as a fantastic Oscar Party fundraising event.  Check out the website for a list of current offerings.  Have fun!

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801 Old Water Street
Tampa, Florida

Comment:
On October 22 from 8pm-midnight, embark on a fun date night with your spouse, be sure to check out His-teria for a fun and festive night on the town. http://www.histeriaevent.org/ Also, on Oct. 30, 2011 from 5-7pm, watch exhibits come to life as historic figures and movie characters roam the halls after hours at the Tampa Bay History Center. Wear your coolest costume, play ghoulish games, make creepy crafts and go on a scavenger hunt. Ages: 6 & Older Cost: Members, $6/child and $8/adult; nonmembers, $9/child and $14/adult. 813-228-0097.

reviewed on: January 03 2010

"Hands on history"
This is not your typical history center!  It's a clean, modern building full of interactive historical exhibits all geared to bring history to life no matter how old you are.  When you approach the brand new LEED certified "green" Tampa Bay History Center, which is right in the heart of downtown Tampa, you might feel as if stepping back in time would be at odds with the marvelous, modern architecture but that's just the beginning of how this is not a typical history museum. Our preschooler had so much fun dressing up in historical clothes, riding horses as part of a cattle drive and especially stacking up the dominoes while waiting for our fabulous Cuban black beans and rice lunch.  There's so much to explore at this living museum and the Columbia Cafe offers amazing, tasty dishes sure to please even the pickiest diners.