Reviews & Photos
June 29 2015
1 family found this helpful
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
19 West Cork,
"Your kids will beg you to come back"
On any given day you can bet your kids will want to walk into the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester, VA to play. Their LEGO set up while we were there was enough to get the boys in the door. The marble maze on the wall was where my 3-year-old son wanted to stay for the rest of the afternoon. There were multiple floors to this museum that we needed to explore, but in the end he came back to hang out right there in the front with the marble maze.
The museum also has a full-size ambulance, a triceratops to look at, a place where kids can use pulleys to move apples up and down a conveyor belt, and even a build-your-own roller coaster area.
This museum works for babies on up to at least 10 years old. Older kids may get a bit bored, and parents could certainly use a few extra seats scattered throughout the museum so they can get comfy while their child pulls buckets filled with plastic apples up and down for over an hour.
Overall this museum is a great place for young minds to try new things and learn a bit about science (I loved the evaporation set up in the roof play area. Basically it is a bucket with some paint brushes, but I never would have thought to let my boys paint with water outside to see how it disappears). The staff has different hands-on activities running at different points during the day. Make sure you ask when you enter for the schedule.
NOTE: Don't let the kids run in the museum. You will hear the staff telling the kids to stop running a lot. Give your kids a heads up that this is a walking space and running is for outside.
Disclosure: My family was a guest of Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum as part of the Go Blue Ridge Travel campaign. As always, my opinions are my own. when they aren't; you will be the first to know.
June 29 2015
3 families found this helpful
9048 John S Mosby Highway,
"Unexpected brunch spot in Shenandoah Valley"
I love brunch. I'm not sure that is a strong enough word for my undying devotion to this mid-morning meal. What's not to like about getting together with friends and enjoying eggs, bacon, French toast and whatever else strikes my fancy on the menu?
While visiting Middleburg, VA my family and I popped over to the Hunter's Head for brunch on our last morning. I knew it was a great spot for lunch and dinner. More than one friend had raved about the burgers. My husband and I love a good British pub and were keen to try it out with the boys.
There was indoor and outdoor seating in the garden. With our two wiggly boys we opted for garden seating so they could wander while my husband and I woke up to cups of hot coffee.
What did we order?
Granola parfait with honey (great for the my boys who love yogurt, but need some carbs to fill them up)
Creme Brulee French toast (more like a dessert. Delicious and decadent)
Banana Pancakes (Light and fluffy- just the way we like them)
Sweet potato biscuits with honey butter (oh the butter! So good!)
The menu does change, so don't expect to order the same thing every time you visit. For a family like mine who tend to get stuck on the same foods at our favorite restaurants, a revolving menu helps us expand our tastebuds to try new things on the menu each visit.
Why should you go here? Well besides the food being really good, you can also feel good about eating it. They use organic, local and non-gmo meats and produce wherever possible in preparing the dishes on menu. Hunter's Head is part of the Ayrshire Farm, which means they are literally farm to table whenever possible.
Should you stop here? Yes, yes you should. The food is good, you can feel good about supporting the cuisine thanks to their local practices and it's a great setting to kick back with you family and enjoy a good meal no matter the time of day that you visit.
June 29 2015
2 families found this helpful
Salamander Resort and Spa
One Salamander Lane,
"Lux family getaway close to DC"
Walk into the entry of the Salamander Resort and Spa and you will feel like you are visiting your favorite aunt, who happens to have very good taste in decor. Instead of a reception you are greeted by an enormous living room, complete with multiple sitting areas for guests to congregate, and at this resort, they actually do. On the right side of the living room you will find the Gold Cup Wine Bar, a local happy hour spot and the place to be for families looking for a kid-friendly meal of burgers, sushi and steak. Just beyond the Golden Cup you will find Harriman's, the fine dining restaurant and home to the most perfect brunch you and your children could ever hope for. Load up on eggs, bacon, pancakes, omelets, pastries (the lemon meringues are amazing!) and even sushi if your tastebuds are so inclined.
To the left of the Living Room you will find the library where you can cozy up by the fire in colder months and kids can play chess at one of the tables around the room. Reception is directly across from the library where you are greeted by a friendly staff looking to make your stay as restful as possible. Keep walking down the hall towards the elevators that take you to your room and you will find the spa (or as I like to call it- mom heaven). Book a massage before you arrive. If Kerry is available, grab him. I promise it will be the best massage of your life. Enjoy the spa steam room, whirlpool and outdoor pool and hot tub. Bring a book, take a nap or chat with friends as you unwind in this kid-free zone.
Take the elevator to your room to enjoy wine on your balcony while the children sleep in the comfy beds (our room had two queens) or soak in the tub after a long day of exploring the Shenandoah Valley, whether you have been wine tasting, horseback riding or just eating your way through the day.
Kids will love the family pool, which even has a splash pad. Your family can also take a trail ride through the 350+ acre resort (ages 13 and up) or a pony ride for the little ones. My oldest (age 5) loved chatting away to his pony's (named Flea) handler. My youngest (age 3) was a little too nervous to climb onto Flea's back.
The trail ride for families with older kids is fun, but slow paced and through mainly wooded area. I prefer my trail rides on the beach or to a lookout with majestic vistas, but my trail guide was very friendly and knew a ton about the area and the many horse-related activities in the area, including Twilight Polo in the Plains that my oldest and I enjoyed on night during our trip.
The Great Lawn at the resort is the perfect place for families to unwind together with a game of corn hole or giant chess. You can also roast marshmallows at the fire pits or enjoy dining on the patio at Gold Cup Wine Bar so the kids can run around while you enjoy your meal.
Overall the Salamander Resort and Spa was the perfect getaway for our family of four. The resort is only about an hour drive from the Maryland side of DC. There was plenty to do at the resort, but also in the small town of Middleburg, VA. Would we come back? You bet! And not just for that incredible massage I got!
Disclosure: I was the guest of Salamander Resort and Spa for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own; when they aren't you will be the first to know.
September 27 2013
0 families found this helpful
148 Silver Lode Lane,
Silver Star, British Columbia
"Big enough for the whole family"
First thing to note: Check in is across the way at the Vance Creek Hotel. This can be a little confusing because there is no sign.
Other than that, our 2 bedroom unit was perfectly configured to suit our needs.
In the main condo we had a queen bed plus a set of bunk beds for the kids. There is even an en suite full bath. A living room/dining room and full kitchen are off of the bedroom. It was a great place for us parents to hang out when the kids went to sleep and to have dinner as a family every night. A door off the living room goes into the 2nd bedroom, which can be locked and treated as a separate hotel room, making this unit expandable, or smaller to fit your needs. The 2nd bedroom had a full bath plus a small kitchenette. We had our sitter along to help us out. The second bedroom gave her the privacy she needed, but could have easily been another space to put the kids so they can have some space from mom and dad (and vice versa!)
The lodge had 2 outdoor hot tubs that we happily soaked in every night to warm up and unwind from a day on the slopes. Laundry was available if we needed it. This was a slightly older feeling building, but it was clean and very comfortable four our family.
We were close enough to all of the action, but just a block off the main drag making this a much quieter lodging option than I imagine the units right on the main street would be at night. I would happily come back again and again.
September 24 2013
0 families found this helpful
Silver Star Mountain Resort
123 Shortt Street,
British Columbia V1B 3M1
"Small town with big snow action"
Driving up to Silver Star through the Okanagan Valley you’d think you were headed to the North Pole or some sort of winter wonderland. With my 1-and 3-year-old sons in tow we were ready to take on this mountain that boasted fabulous snow and an excellent ski school not just for kids, but for parents too. This resort lived up to its reputation and then some.
Champagne powder and Spectacular views
Ride the gondola to the top of Silver Star and you will be in for a treat. White champagne powder, snow so fine and delicate you will slice right through it, and land as if you are on a cloud, cradles you the whole way down. Snow lovers travel hours for the view of the surrounding area from the top of the mountain and to get their skis and snowboards wet on the mountain. With trails from beginner all the way up to double black diamond, skiers of any level will find a place to call home.
Impeccable instructors and ski school
From the moment your child steps foot into the Star Kids Centre they will never want to go home. The staff there is engaging and keeps the kids entertained for hours. They help your child get ready for their ski lesson, and welcomes them back when they are finished. Ski instructors know how to get a nervous kid excited about trying a new sport, and keep that enthusiasm going throughout the lesson and even into the next day when they strap on those skis again. While the kids are playing, mom and dad can enjoy a private or group ski or snowboard lesson. The resort has an award-winning Nordic Ski program that you must take advantage of while there. With neighboring Sovereign Lake Nordic Center you will have access to over 105km of trails; not a bad way to stay in shape and have fun!
What to do with baby?
Unfortunately the Star Kids program cannot accept children under 18 months old. There are several babysitters that the program can recommend. Many are Star Kid employees or ski instructors working on their days off. Call Star Kids ahead of time for a few recommendations and book before you arrive. These babysitters get scooped up quickly and their daytime hours can be limited.
Free tour of the mountain
After you drop the kids off, find a Mountain Host outside of the adult ski school and go on a free-guided tour of the mountain. This is only for intermediate and experiences skiers and snowboarders though; newbie riders should take advantage of the ski school instructors. A private lesson could get you over that beginner hurtle and into the intermediate zone.
Great lifts and gear
Let an expert help you pick out the best rental gear for you and your child’s time on the mountain. They know just the right size for your toddler skier or more adventurous snowboarder. The rental staff is patient and understands that strapping on a pair of ski boots can be a bit strange for little ones, but it can also be an exciting adventure.
Small town with a lot going on
This mountain resort is only about two blocks long, but it does pack a punch. There are several dining options and some great shops that can get you outfitted for the season. End of the season sales are spectacular, so be sure to pop back up in early spring. A few family-friendly eateries include Bugaboos Bakery Café (a must every morning!), HB Pizza (gluten-free crust available), Long John’s Pub (yes, your kids can go inside) and The Bulldog Grand Café for one delicious burger.
Good bang for your buck
Snow sports aren’t exactly cheap, but the Silver Star “My 1 Pass” makes it easy to take full advantage of all of the activities on the mountain. This all-inclusive season pass and day ticket program includes your lift tickets as well as access to 55km of Nordic trails, tubing in Tube Town, ice skating, and snowshoeing. Rentals are not included in the pass, but instead of multiple tickets to keep the whole family entertained, you just need one per person. Anything that saves families money and gives them more chances to have fun is definitely worth checking out.
“This review is based on a complimentary visit to Silver Star Mountain Resort. I received no other compensation and these opinions are entirely my own.