Reviews & Photos
September 20 2016
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Empire State Building
350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street,
New York (Manhattan),
New York 10118
We used our CityPASS for this attraction and loved the quickness of getting our ticket without waiting in a long line to buy! The lines can be long, so go early or later. We decided to see the city at night! We got there around 10pm. Beautiful views!
September 13 2016
1 family found this helpful
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
4012 Central Florida Parkway,
"Perfection. The perfect hotel for families. Hands down. "
If you are searching for the perfect hotel for your vacation with the family, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is THE hotel for you. From start to finish, the staff is truly excited about your stay and wants to make every moment a memorable one.
We live in Tampa and decided to take a weekend for our first annual girls trip! Just me and my ladies (my daughters 10, 7, & 4). I wanted this trip to be one they would always remember. And one we would look forward to taking in years to come.
We arrived late and the staff seemed to have been waiting all day for our arrival. They knew all the kids names (and I'm sure if there was an allergy or concern I could have alerted them to, I'm sure they would have gone out if their way to ensure that the staff knew about it.)
With big smiles on their faces, we checked in and welcomed as family for the weekend. Every staff member we encountered as more pleasant than the one before. It truly sets the mood for your stay when your hotel has staff that is actually excited about seeing you.
The girls were over the moon excited about everything! Blue bracelets were given to the girls and the staff told them that could have free Ice cream whenever they wanted! Yes, I know, but come on! It's vacation! So we even had it for breakfast one morning. Why not!
We headed up to our room with ice cream and big smilies. Our room was an executive suite with a double connector. Essentially, it was a standard room with two double beds connected to an adjoining living room and an adjoining master bed room with a king bed. The living room also had In-Room Camping set up and my girls couldn't wait to sleep in the tent! Set up with books, stuffed animals and lanterns, make sure to ask about this and add it on ($100) for your stay! The kids will love it!
We got settled in for the night as we had an early morning for an excursion we booked called Sunrise Safari. Yes, typically we like to sleep in, but this sounded like so much fun, I booked it for us to do!
We arrived at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Pro Shop at 6:45am and met Captain Mark, a master naturalist who took us on a guided tour, via a motorized golf cart, of the 500 acre property that is home to an abundance of wildlife as well as Shingle Creek, the Headwaters of the Florida Everglades. As soon as we ventured out, we saw the sunrise and we headed out for a two hour excursion where we saw many birds, rabbits, deer, alligators, fish and more. My girls were fascinated by the nature and learned so much from Captain Mark Benson. They each were given binoculars to use and truly enjoyed seeing the beauty of the land up close and personal. I was slightly concerned that they wouldn't last the full two hours but we totally lost track of time because the kids were having so much fun! We also had the chance to stop by Whisper Creek Farm, a 7,000 square foot fruit and vegetable garden that produces produce, honey and more for the in-house restaurants such as The Kitchen and Highball & Harvest as well as Primo at JW Marriott. They have chickens and even bees making their own honey too! Truly amazing to see the farm to table movement! The kids loved it! I know this is an early excursion, but I would HIGHLY recommend it! Captain Mark also does fly fishing lessons as well as guided fishing tours too!
We had the rest of the morning to enjoy the resort! And what an amazing resort it is! From the Ritz-Carlton pool, to having access to the famed lazy river pools at the JW Marriott, my girls were always having fun! It was like staying at two hotels! You could use your Ritz-Carlton room number at the JW Marriott to charge food, etc. too. So nice!
We ate pool side that afternoon and decided to rest a little before exploring more! But after a nice afternoon nap, we were ready to go!
Visiting Ritz Kids was next on our list. We had seen pictures but they definitely didn't do them the justice they deserved! True confession: My kids are not really kids club kind-of kids. We always go to check them out, but typically don't stay. This time, my two youngest were BEGGING me to stay! Here's why: The Ritz Kids offered so much more than just your average kids club. They have an entire curriculum designed by Jean-Michael Cousteau through his Ocean Future Society and immersive experiences for the kids based around for pillars: water, land, environmental responsibility and culture. Every Ritz-Carlton is slightly different in their offerings as they each want to take their surroundings and bring the stories and teachable moments into the program.
Ritz Kids here in Orlando has a "Frontier Farmhouse,” as inspired by the traditional Florida frontier house, once the residence of ranchers who flocked to central Florida to explore the state’s vast, barren land for roaming cattle, ample water supply and sunshine. When you walk inside it's this amazing space of animals and educational activities that teaches children more about this natural region of tropical wetlands located right in the hotel’s backyard. And staying true to the environmental responsibility, the carpets are made from recycled fishing nets! The space also includes outdoor space for a garden and even chickens! Seriously, my kids didn't want to leave! We even went back the next day for the “open house” which requires parent supervision required, but the kids can play for free for an hour daily. (*There is a resort fee/ amenity program that does allow you 2 hours per child per day for up to children for the Ritz Kids.)
I did manage to take them out for some fun paddle boating (included in the resort fee) in the pond! We didn't make it to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Course where kids play free every day, all day with a playing adult. (If you are an Orlando resident, as for their specials.)
We swam until the pool closed 10pm, ordered room service (which was delicious), went down to the lobby, got more ice cream and slept in Sunday morning. More swimming and pool hopping before we drove the short hour to get back to Tampa.
If you are staying and planning to go to the parks, a complimentary shuttle will drop you off and pick you up. It's probably about a 15 minute drive, but the shuttle will be free and drop you off right at the entrance. They also have a ticket consigner who can assist you buying tickets for various theme parks too.
If you play golf or tennis, you're in luck as they have . Additional adventure experiences to dive into old Florida’s natural preserves are available right on property. Eco-Tours on Shingle Creek via a kayak or canoe, fishing excursions with a guide or even private fly fishing with a Certified Casting Instructor!
We really enjoyed every moment of our mini-vacation. There were things we really wanted to do but didn’t have the chance to, but that just gives us a reason to go back! Next time we visit, I will have to visit The Ritz-Carlton Spa (ask for the service of the month), we will do the Afternoon Tea in The Lobby Lounge, Brunch (with bottomless mimosas) at Highball & Harvest & s’mores at the fire pits! I think I have my next girls weekend already planned!
*Thank you to the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes, for hosting Trekaroo for the weekend. All opinions are my own.
September 03 2016
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Floridas Historic Capitol Building
400 South Monroe Street,
"A perfect place to learn!"
We took a troop of 13 4th grade Girl Scouts to the Capitol and it was the highlight of their year! We attended session, sat in the gallery, set up meetings to meet with our our representatives and visited the 22nd floor. I highly recommend visiting during session and contacting your senators and reps prior to visiting and setting up a meeting. They are the ones who can also get you announced on the House Floor. A great experience for everyone!
July 18 2016
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Wakulla Springs State Park
North of Highway 98, west of St. Marks; 550 Wakulla Park Drive, Wakulla Springs,
"Such a fun Florida State Park to explore! Stay cool and swim in the spring. Take a river boat ride too! "
Such a fun afternoon experiencing real Florida. Explore the wildlife along the Wakulla River in a river boat or glass bottom boat. Alligators, manatees, spotted gars, blue herons, wood ducks and snowy egrets. Bring your swim suits, towels and a picnic lunch or have lunch at the xxx. Swim in the fresh water of the spring and jump off the dock and feel like a kid again. It's hot in July but the fresh water will cool you off! There is a charge it get into the state park as well as for the boat ride. If you want to stay the night you can at the Lodge. Tip: There is a Junior Ranger program you can complete and turn in for a free visit to another state park. It's also HOT. And humid. Bring sunscreen.
June 18 2016
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Hard Rock Cafe Orlando
6050 Universal Boulevard,
"A great place to dine when at Universal Studios Orlando. Ask about the free VIBE Tour. Breakfast is served too! "
Love visiting the Hard Rock! Their food is always on point and we love the atmosphere. This Hard Rock also has a LIVE venue for concerts and a FREE VIBE tour that is one of the best kept secrets in Orlando. Hope on over for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a concert (intimate venue for up to 3,000). Great food and drinks for everyone!