Water Park Fun For Little Ones At Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort

Thanks to Grizzly Jack’s for hosting my family for a weekend stay and for making my Mother’s Day special. All thoughts are my own.

grizzly jack's

A couple weekends ago my mom and I took my three kids to Utica, Illinois for a memorable Mother’s Day weekend celebration at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort. Grizzly Jack’s is full of fun for families with young children and the perfect place to stay after a day of exploring Starved Rock, a nearby popular outdoor tourist destination. The resort has an indoor water park, miniature golf, an arcade, an ice cream shop, and a playground on the property.

Grizzly Jack's Grand Resort Family Suite

We stayed in a family suite with a balcony and I loved the lodge feel that the room, and really the whole resort, has. The room sleeps six with two queen sized beds and a sleeper sofa. I felt the room was very clean and also spacious which was great since it was my first time traveling with a baby and I brought way more than I needed for a two-day stay. I loved that the room had a refrigerator we could put soda in and a microwave for making popcorn.

Grizzly Jacks Villa

Need a room that fits more than six people? Grizzly Jack’s has a variety of options for larger families and groups including Vacation Villas that sleep up to 9 and Luxury Cabins that sleep up to 18. I think it would be fun to stay in one of the cabins with a group of other families!

kids at water park

Now let’s get to the most important part of any resort (at least in my tweens’ eyes)….the water park! Grand Bear Falls is the resort’s 24,000 square foot indoor waterpark with play zones, slides, wave pool, lazy river, kiddie pool, and hot tub. The water park itself was just remodeled this year.

nana with kids at water park

While the water park is smaller than many we’ve visited in the past, I actually think it’s the perfect size for families with little ones. I liked that it wasn’t too spread out since I like to give my older kids independence but still like to be able to keep my eye on them in the water, especially while they are in the wave pool. Since it wasn’t very crowded I could easily play with my 4 month old in the shallow end of the pool while watching my older boys in the “deep” end jumping around in the waves. I also appreciated that the boys could stand in the deeper end of the pool which they typically can’t do.

lazy river

My family also enjoyed the water park’s lazy river. My boys loved chasing each other around it while my mom and Emma floated around. The lazy river also had a “cyclone” like area that was pretty unique and kids seemed to enjoy swirling around in. There were also water slides the kids went on a few times. One thing they didn’t do for the first time ever? Play in the “kiddie” area called the Ranger Station. Guess they have finally outgrown that part of water parks which kind of makes me sad but I’ll have another one who will love that portion of water parks in just another year or two!

mommy and baby in pool

emma at the water park

One thing that should be noted about the water park is that parents really need to be diligent about watching their children since I felt like the number of lifeguards was pretty low. We went off season while it was slower so maybe that is why, or maybe I’m just used to larger water parks with more lifeguards working, but just wanted you all to be aware. Other than that I thought the water park was nicely remodeled and we loved playing there.

baby on water slide

emma in the water

Another thing I appreciated about the resort was that Jack’s Place, the on-site restaurant, delivered to the water park area so we had barbecue chicken bacon pizza delivered to us to eat while we were taking a swim break. There is also a snack shop adjacent to the water park where people can grab snacks and drinks. I felt like they had a decent amount of tables and chairs as well which was nice because I feel like some other water parks we’ve been to do not have enough seating for everyone so we are usually stuck sharing chairs and balancing food on our laps. Upstairs there is also an ice cream shop for those that have a sweet tooth!

me and my three kids

The resort also had a nice brunch for Mother’s Day with complimentary mimosas, made-to-order omelettes, a carving station, kid-friendly food, and a dessert table (the part Lucas was most excited about). The staff also gave all the moms flowers which I thought was a sweet gesture. I asked how frequently the resort has brunches and they said they often do for holidays. The next one will be on Father’s Day which would be a nice way to celebrate dad! I know my husband is all about food :)

mini golf at Grizzly Jack's

Other than the water park, my kids enjoyed the arcade which has over 60 fun games. Our family also played miniature golf before we left for home. The 18-hole course was really nice though hard to navigate with a stroller. Next to the mini-golf course there is a great playground which the boys wanted to check out but it was cold and rainy so we skipped it. The resort also has family movie night on Friday and Saturday nights which is a nice way to end the day and get kids ready for bedtime after a busy day of fun.

brotherly love

brother and sister

Overall we had a great weekend at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort! If you are in the Chicagoland area and looking for a short staycation to take with your young children you’ll want to check it out! Book your stay here.

Grizzly Jack's Grand Bear Resort by Starved Rock

Fall Fun In McHenry County

Thanks to McHenry County, Illinois for hosting my family for a few days of fall fun!

My family was invited to visit McHenry County and we discovered so much fall fun just a short drive away from the city of Chicago. Between back to school and the busy fall sports season we hadn’t done many of our typical fall activities so it was great to cross almost everything off my fall bucket list when we were there a little over a week ago! From apple orchards to pumpkin patches to fall festivals, McHenry County has it all so you’ll want to make visiting during the Autumn season a must-do. I wanted to share about all the farms we went to and a few other things you’ll want to do while you are there!

All Seasons Orchard (Woodstock, IL)

If you are looking to pick apples, All Seasons Orchard is the place to go! A hayride takes you out to pick your own apples throughout September and October. They have over 15,000 apple trees and two orchards, along with being one of the largest Honeycrisp apple orchards in the area. Honeycrisp apples are delicious, juicy, and crisp so they are great for snacking on and I used them to make some amazing cinnamon applesauce a few days ago as well!

All Seasons Orchard has more fun things to do as well including pumpkin picking, a petting zoo, corn maze, and more. My boys like their apple cannon that shoots apples at targets and riding on their mini ziplines. Before you leave make sure to visit their market store to get all the apple goodies you need! Their apple cider is a favorite of mine and I love their apple salsa as well.

Stade’s Farm & Market (McHenry, IL)

I had to pick up a baby pumpkin for the baby growing in my belly while we were pumpkin picking at Stade’s Farm & Market! Isn’t it so cute!? Their pumpkin patch was huge so we also picked up two large orange pumpkins and a pretty pink pumpkin. I had never seen pink pumpkins before so this was a really exciting find for me and Lucas picked out the perfect one for his mommy. During the summer and earlier fall months there are even more vegetables and fruits available for picking so I can’t wait to go back and pick some strawberries and raspberries!

I wish we would have had longer to spend at the farm after our hayride and time spent pumpkin picking because there was much more to do there than I had originally thought. WIth over 30 attractions in their “Farmtractions Theme Park” kids will enjoy hours of fun. I liked that each activity was thoughtfully created to bring agricultural awareness so the kids were learning while they played. Stade’s also has a pumpkin cannon which I think is a really unique feature (I’d only seen apple cannons before) and the boys favorite thing to do was to go through the cattle truck maze.

Richardson Adventure Farm (Spring Grove, IL)

If “go through a corn maze” is on your fall bucket list you will find the ultimate one at Richardson Adventure Farm because they have the world’s largest corn maze! Each year they have a theme so this year it was celebrating the Bicentennial and I thought the design was pretty cool and it’s really all so intricate! Whether you go during the day or opt for a flashlight trip through the maze, you will enjoy finding your way out of this maze. The maze has nine to ten miles of trail winding through 28 acres of live corn with four smaller paths so you can choose how long you stay in the maze.

Richardson Adventure Farm might be known for it’s corn maze but they have so much more to offer. The boys spent hours on the jumpy pillows (they have two) which seems to be their favorite activity to do anywhere they can find one. Jacob dropped a pumpkin from the observation tower that allowed “pumpkin chucking” into a safe space below which he thought was so cool. There are over 30 activities to keep the whole family busy from a kiddie play area and train ride for the littlest ones to paintball that tweens and teens would love. Weekend pig races are also a hit I’ve heard!

A unique feature they also offered was their private campsite and picnic area. I thought this was great for groups who want to have a home base for everyone (and who can say no to s’mores over the campfire?!) And one other sweet treat to try while you are at Richardson Adventure Farm is their doughnuts. Sinisa, Mr. Sweet Tooth himself, taste tested a number of doughnuts on our trip and said these were his favorite!

Von Bergen’s Country Market (Hebron, IL)

I loved seeing all the colorful produce that is grown at this farm- like purple peppers! It was interesting learning all about what they grow (sweet corn is their specialty) while we were on a hayride.

And of course we ended our trip at VonBergen’s Country Market in their kid activity area. Though it was smaller than the rest activity-wise, the boys still had fun. They loved playing in the hay maze the most! There was also a giant sandbox, basketball hoops, farm animals, and more!

Royal Oak Farm Orchard (Harvard, IL)

Royal Oak Farm Orchard has 17,000 apple trees with over 30 varieties of apples to pick. They are also home to the world’s first apple tree maze, Amaze ‘N Apples, where you can wander through 1.5 miles of trails with nine varieties of apples. The boys loved going through the apple tree maze with their dad while I enjoyed sitting in front of this cozy fireplace located in their barn.

The entertainment area has a fun play area for children including a petting zoo, train, playground, and carousel. Make sure you come hungry to Royal Oak Farm Orchard, too, because their restaurant serves delicious food. I had their pot pie with a side of homemade applesauce for lunch and ended the meal with their award-winning apple caramel pie.

Tom’s Farm & Market (Huntley, IL)

Tom’s Farm Market features a wide selection of farm-grown produce and they also have a cafe with a number of bakery items available. Seasonally they have a fall festival with lots of cheap fun for kids. Other than the jumpy pillow, my boys enjoyed going through their small corn maze, bouncing in the pumpkin bouncy house, going through the train inflatable, and riding the pedal tractors. They also have a larger corn maze to go through and it’s the perfect place to grab a pumpkin to carve if you are in a hurry and don’t have time to pick your own at a patch.

Other fun things to do in McHenry County during the fall season

Eat pizza (and salad) at Lou Malnati’s!

Enjoy chocolate at Morkes Chocolates (you can even make your own at a party or camp!)

Go on a walking tour and see all the sights from the Groundhog Day movie.

Check out all the stops on the Autumn Drive for all your fall produce, crafts, antiques, and more!

There is so much fall fun that can be found in McHenry County, Illinois! Where would you go first?

Guide To Visiting Put-In-Bay With Kids

Last summer we went to Cedar Point and decided to spend an extra day exploring Put-In-Bay, Ohio, before we headed home to the Chicago suburbs. I am so glad we decided to extend our stay because that has been one of my favorite vacations to date. Put-In-Bay provides an atmosphere much like one you’d find in the Caribbean and it was just a nice family getaway spent relaxing and enjoying “island time”. If you need a break from busy sports schedules and the hectic daily grind, this is the place for you!

To get to Put-In-Bay you need to take a ferry. We took a Miller Ferry from Sandusky, Ohio where we were staying. You can take a car along on the ferry but I’d suggest leaving it behind and just renting a golf cart to get around. It was pretty affordable and not only is it convenient, it’s fun to drive around in.

Here are the things you’ll want to do with your family when you visit:

Aquatic Visitor’s Center (Historic Fish Hatchery and Education Center)

We loved this FREE activity! Families can learn more about Lake Erie by exploring its rich history and experiencing science up close at the Aquatic Visitors Center. Afterwards, borrow some fishing poles and bait and go fishing off the pier! Learn more here.

DeRivera Park

Any place with a playground is a “must visit” in my kids’ minds! DeRivera Park is a large shaded park right in the heart of the little downtown area. Children will love the large playground while parents will love the water views. There are also some historic landmarks in the area that are interesting to learn about.

 Eat at The Keys Restaurants

It’s no secret that sitting near the water, eating on an outdoor patio, is one of my favorite things to do so when I saw this adorable, colorful patio area I just knew we had to stop for lunch. Waterfront views, delicious food, and music that makes you feel like you are vacationing in the Florida Keys makes this place top of my list for mealtime.

Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center has enough activities to keep a family busy for almost a whole day. From exploring a cave to gemstone mining to playing mini-golf to visiting a butterfly house to checking out antique cars, the whole family will find something they love! My boys favorite activity there was Fort aMAZE’n, a giant maze they enjoyed racing the clock to find their way out of. Learn more about all Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center has to offer here.

Walking around town

Walking along the lakefront was a relaxing way to spend the morning and I enjoyed going into shops that were around the middle of the town as well. If it’s hot out make sure to stop by Dairy Isle for a cool treat to enjoy while you walk around town!

Chocolate Museum & Cafe

Those with a sweet tooth will want to visit the Chocolate Museum and enjoy a treat from their cafe which they can enjoy outside in the picnic area. I thought it was interesting to walk around the museum area but the boys just wanted to hurry through to check out the array of chocolatey goodness that they offered in their cafe.

I loved every minute we spent in Put-In-Bay, Ohio and am so glad we made the trip over to the island. Have you ever visited? I’d love to hear what other things your family enjoyed doing if so!

Chicago Staycation With The Family At Radisson Blu Aqua

Thanks to Radisson Blu Aqua for hosting my family for a complimentary stay at their hotel.

I’m always on the lookout for getaways close to where we live in the Chicago suburbs and our recent stay at the Radisson Blu Aqua did not dissapoint. I was happy to find so much to do inside the hotel which makes it perfect for winter staycations. Best of all, it’s located right in the heart of Chicago, close to Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park and other popular tourist attractions.

When we first arrived at the Radisson Blu Aqua I was thrilled to be able to see bits of the lake from my room. A water view is always top of my list anytime I travel! I also had a nice view of the hotel’s rooftop courtyard along with Millennium Park’s concert shelter.

While a water view is at the top of my list, so is a nice room. When we travel we often have to take breaks in our room in between activities to give Lucas downtime, so we spend a lot more time in our room than the typical family might. The rooms at the hotel were nicely furnished with comfortable beds and a fabulous rain shower in the bathroom.

Once we relax a bit in the room the boys typically want to go to the pool. We discovered the Radisson Blu Aqua has two pools, a large outdoor pool and a smaller indoor lap pool. Since it was too cold for an outoor swim, the boys played in the indoor one. There is also a hot tub which is nice for relaxing after a long day.

After swimming we went to explore the other ammeneties the hotel offered. My sports playing boy immediately fell in love with the indoor basketball court and probably could have spent all evening practicing for the upcoming basketball season. The hotel also had a large workout room and a game room. We didn’t use the workout room but the boys did enjoy playing a game of pool in the game room.

After a busy weekend of enjoying the hotel amenities and exploring all that Chicago has to offer we ended the weekend with brunch at Filini, the hotel’s restaurant. There was such a great variety and all of our favorite foods, from made-to-order omelets to delicious pastries, all beautifully displayed.

If you are looking for a winter getaway, look no further than the “wavy hotel” as my kids like to call it. The Radisson Blu Aqua is a wonderful place to stay no matter the season! You can learn more and make reservations online here.

Does your family enjoy staycations?

10 Things To Do With Kids In Fort Wayne

Thanks to Visit Fort Wayne for hosting my family on this press trip.

Last month we took a short trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Despite being just a few hours away from the Chicago area (where I have lived most of my life), I had never visited Fort Wayne before. I discovered that there is so much for families to do in Fort Wayne and wanted to share some of my family’s favorite activities from our trip!

Go on a safari at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

Out of the dozen or so zoos that I have visited around the US, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is by far my favorite. I loved how this zoo was more of an immersive experience than just looking at animals on display like we typically do at zoos. The zoo is split into regions like the African Journey Safari Trail, the Australian Adventure and the Indonesian Rain Forest. They also have rides you can go on like the Sky Safari (where you can get a bird’s eye view of the animals in the African Journey exhibit), the Crocodile Creek adventure ride canoe boats, and the Z.O.&O. RAILROAD train that takes you around the zoo. Learn more about the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo here.

 

Run around at the Bob Arnold Northside Park playground

We love discovering new playgrounds in the towns we visit and my boys were very impressed with the children’s playground at the Bob Arnold Northside Park. The playground has an area for little ones as well as a larger structure for 5-12 year olds.

Learn through hands-on play at Science Central

Science was never my favorite subject in school but Science Central has over 130 hands-on exhibits that teach science concepts in an engaging way. From learning about the world in the 3-D Science on a Sphere exhibit to exploring water flow at the large water table, children will have a lot of fun playing at Science Central.

Enjoy a treat at The Yummi Bunni 

The Yummi Bunni is THE place to get ice cream in Fort Wayne. They offer ice cream in cups or their signature Yummi Bun (which is basically a donut). They have new flavors weekly and also offer gluten free and vegan options. (I had soy ice cream for the first time and it was delicious!) Make sure to snap a pic of your kids in front of the selfie wall for a cute vacation memento.

Discover nature at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

I wasn’t sure if my boys were going to enjoy a botanical conservatory or if this was more geared towards adults but my kids ended up having tons of fun here. I felt like the entire conservatory was developed with families in mind and that bringing young children was not only welcome but encouraged there. They have a discovery corner located right outside the lobby that has stories and activities related to a monthly theme. The area is geared towards grades pre-k through K but my 3rd and 4th graders enjoyed it as well! While walking between the three indoor gardens the boys discovered activities along the way including an “underground” slide, a little pretend market and some building activities. We also enjoyed looking at the hundreds of plants as we walked around the indoor and outdoor gardens. Learn more about the Botanical Conservatory here.

Swim in a pool 

Fort Wayne has a number of pools and splash pads around town that are open during the warmer months but we enjoyed swimming at our hotel’s pool. We stayed at the Hilton Fort Wayne located at the Grand Wayne convention center and it had an indoor pool (which is a must-have when traveling with kids in my opinion). The pool area had lots of windows with views of the city and the hotel was close to everything which was convenient.

Enjoy a TinCaps Minor League Baseball Game

If you are traveling to Fort Wayne with a little baseball fan you’ll want to see if the TinCaps are playing a home game while you are in town. (They play during the spring and summer months.) Besides baseball, visitors will enjoy Parkview Field- where the TinCaps play- because it is a beautiful stadium with a great variety of foods at reasonable prices. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay for a whole game because it started raining an hour in but it was fun while we were there.

Go on a hike or family walk

Fort Wayne is home to over 90 miles of trails. We climbed the set of steps near the Old Fort which gave us a great view of the river from above and was the perfect spot to snap a photo. Here’s a trail map so you can find the trail for your family to explore.

Take a ride down one of the rivers

Did you know that Fort Wayne has three rivers? I was surprised to learn this! The best way to experience the riverfront area is via boat. There are a number of tours but we went on Sweet Breeze, Fort Wayne’s authentic 1840s canal boat replica, where we learned about Fort Wayne’s history and future plans for the riverbank area. Learn about all the riverboat rides here.

Walk around downtown Fort Wayne

There’s lots more to explore in Fort Wayne and we enjoyed walking around the downtown area. You can visit the Fort Wayne Museum of Art or catch a show at The Embassy Theatre.

Overall, we had a great trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana! If you live there, or have visited in the past, I’d love to hear what other things you think we should add to our list to do next time. If you’ve never visited what things do you think your family would enjoy doing in Fort Wayne?

7 Unique Ways To See Chicago

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

Whether you are visiting Chicago for the first time, rediscovering “the windy city” you fell in love with years ago, or call Chicago home, you’ll discover new and exciting things every time you explore it. Since I live in the suburbs I’ve been to Chicago dozens of times and each time I visit I have a different experience. There are some ways to get unique views of the city that will help you see it in a new way that both Chicago tourists and locals would enjoy.

Take a trolley ride.

While you could drive around the city on your own, taking a trolley is such a better way to explore the city because the tour guide shares interesting facts along the way. Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Co. offers four distinct tours this summer that highlight the best sites Chicago has to offer: Chicago Trolley’s iconic Downtown Tour, the Wrigley Field/Lincoln Park Zoo Route, the Museum of Science & Industry/Chinatown Route and the Night Tour. For those wanting to experience Chicago by water, Chicago Trolley also offers the Land, Lake and River Package combining the best of the Downtown Tour together with Mercury Skyline Cruises boat tour. 

The Downtown Tour stops at 13 distinct locations around the city. Beginning at the Sheraton Hotel, tours will venture south over the Michigan Avenue Bridge to Skydeck at the Willis Tower, then over to Millennium Park, stopping by the Art Institute, Hilton Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Maggie Daley Park. Looping north, the tour continues to Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile, Water Tower Place, the Hancock Tower featuring 360 Chicago and ending at the Hard Rock Café. The full Downtown Tour departs from downtown Chicago Trolley kiosks with all day access to hop-on and hop-off. Tours operate daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and are approximately two hours in duration.

The Wrigley Field/Lincoln Park Zoo Route (approx. 90 minutes) departs from the Sheraton Hotel and heads to the Chicago History Museum, Chicago’s oldest cultural institution. Passengers then visit Lincoln Park Zoo before the tour ends with a trip to Wrigley Field.

The Museum of Science & Industry/Chinatown Route (approx. 90 minutes) departs from Sheraton Hotel and travels south directly to the Museum of Science & Industry. The tour then explores one of the richest cultural communities in the Midwest, Chicago’s Chinatown.

The Night Tour showcases Chicago’s dazzling skyline and illuminated landmarks after the sun goes down. Beginning at Sheraton Hotel the Night Tour makes stops at the Skydeck, Hilton Chicago, Navy Pier and the Hancock Tower featuring 360 Chicago, allowing passengers to hop-on or hop-off throughout the evening. The Night Tour operates daily from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and is approximately 90 minutes in duration.

Take a tour by boat. 

There are a number of companies that offer architecture river cruises because Chicago’s rich history can be told through the beautiful buildings in our city. The breeze as you travel down the river feels nice on a hot, sticky day, too!

Get a birds eye view of the city from Skydeck Chicago’s Ledge. 

The Ledge is located at the top of the Sears Tower (yes, I called it the Sears tower because Chicagoans don’t call it by it’s new name of “Willis Tower”….) Skydeck Chicago’s Ledge offers spectacular views of up to 50 miles and four states from the 103rd floor. Their glass boxes with glass floors extend out the side of the building and let you stand 1,353 feet up in the air looking down.

Go on a carriage ride.

There’s no more relaxing way to explore the city than from the comforts of a horse-drawn carriage. The carriage ride is a memorable way to explore the city at a slower pace.

Get a beautiful view of the skyline from the lake.

Whether you go out on a friend’s boat or a chartered ride, there’s nothing like seeing Chicago’s skyline from the lake. I’d recommend going later in the day on a Wednesday or Saturday so you can watch the sunset and then stay for the firework show over Navy Pier.

Go out in a kayak on the river.

Want to explore Chicago at your own pace on the water? Rent a kayak and travel down the river for a unique view of the city while you get some exercise.

Take a ride on the new ferris wheel at Navy Pier. 

Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel is an iconic part of the Chicago skyline. At nearly 200 feet tall, the wheel offers visitors unparalleled, 360-degree views of Chicago and Lake Michigan. The Centennial Wheel’s enclosed gondolas provide a comfortable experience year-round.

Have you ever been to Chicago? If so, I’d love to hear about your visit, and if not, what are you waiting for!?

unique ways to see Chicago

Enjoy A Family Staycation At Pheasant Run Resort

Thanks to Pheasant Run Resort for hosting our family for a staycation.

Summer is in full swing and, if you have been longing to take a vacation but can’t afford to or haven’t been able to get away for a week long trip, I have the perfect option for you. Take a staycation! If you are in the Chicago area you’ll find family fun in the burbs at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles.

Pheasant Run Resort has an awesome Summer Splash package available Sundays through Thursdays, through September 4th. The package includes one night’s accommodations in a deluxe room, one 16” pizza and a two-liter soda, plus $10 worth of tokens for the Swamp Arcade all for just $149 per night for a family of four. The newly refreshed tower rooms have great views of the golf course and some, like our room, even have views of the local airport for those kids who love watching airplanes take off and land.

No need to leave the resort to find things to do on your staycation because Pheasant Run Resort has a variety of things that the whole family will enjoy doing. From swimming in their indoor/outdoor pool to playing air hockey in the arcade to getting ice cream from their ice cream shop, families will truly feel like they are on vacation. In addition, there is always something going on during the days and evenings, like arts & crafts, a scavenger hunt around the resort, and s’mores around the firepit. Families that enjoy golf can even play on Pheasant Run’s popular 18-hole course for just $10 after 5:30!

Looking for a bit of entertainment? You can find live music in some of their restaurants and bars in the evenings along with entertainment on their indoor “Bourbon Street”. Pheasant Run Resort also offers Zanie’s Comedy shows and a brand new iPanic Escape Room.

Hoping for more of a relaxing stay? For moms that can get away for a bit, there’s even a spa! With over 200 treatments, the resort’s spa was recently voted #1 by the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

Overall, Pheasant Run Resort is just a fabulous place to get away from the daily responsibilities for a few days. Learn more about their Summer Splash Package and make reservations here.

Summer Fun At Cedar Point

Thanks to Cedar Fair for sponsoring this post and providing this great mini-vacation to Cedar Point for our family.

Happy 4th of July! Summer is in full swing which means our days are spent trying to get in as much outdoor fun as possible. We love going to theme parks and recently visited Cedar Point for the first time. We had such a great day at the park and I wanted to share about it before I headed out to enjoy some music and fireworks with my family.

Located in Sandusky, Ohio, Cedar Point is a 364-acre park with over 150 attractions, including 70 amazing rides. The park is home to 17 world-class roller coasters which is why many call it the “rollercoaster capital of the world”.

My boys loved riding the rollercoasters, especially Lucas my little dare devil! He is the kid on the rides with his hands in the air and a smile upon his face who was so thrilled he was finally tall enough to ride the bigger rollercoasters and was able to ride his very first “upside down” rollercoaster (the Corkscrew). I just loved hearing the excitement in his voice as he shared about the rollercoaster we went on.

My favorite coaster was the Magnum XL-200, a coaster that gave us beautiful views of the park and the lake as we went up to the top of this 205 foot tall coaster. With speeds up to 72 MPH this coaster is one of the extreme thrill rides in the park!

There were a lot of other fun rides the boys enjoyed like “Joe Cool’s Dodgem Driving School” bumper cars, “Ocean Motion” the rocking ship, and the “Tiki Twirl” spinning ride.

As a family we enjoyed going on the “Giant Wheel” Ferris wheel, “Sky Ride” cable cars and the Cedar Point train, all of which gave us fabulous views of the whole park.

Cedar Point has much more than rides though! Check out the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit, meet Snoopy and his friends, or catch a show. We really enjoyed the All Wheels Extreme show featuring stunts performed by talented bikers, skaters and gymnasts from all over the country.

We also liked checking out all the animals in the Cedar Point Barnyard. This year they are even offering pony rides which Lucas was so excited to do because he loves horses. 

On hot summer days you won’t want to miss a visit to Cedar Point Shores Water Park! New for 2017, guests of the park can enjoy 18 acres of splish-splashin’ fun, featuring four new water attractions- Point Plummet, Portside Plunge, Lemmy’s Lagoon, and Lakeslide Landing.

Beach lover? Yeah, Cedar Point has that, too! Take a dip in the lake or just relax on Cedar Point Beach and watch as the kids build some sand castles. It was the perfect way to spend some time before we went to dinner.

The fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down! When it gets dark the park lights up. End your day at the park with Luminosity, a show featuring high-energy dancers, live music, aerial artists, pyrotechnics and so much more. Then, stay a little longer as the DJ spins your favorite songs. This all-ages celebration is the only way to end your day!

Overall we had a great time. There’s plenty to do at the main park and the water park that you could easily spend a few days exploring the park. If you aren’t local make sure to stay in a Cedar Point hotel to get access to the park an hour before everyone else! (We stayed off property at the Cedar Point Express which I’ll be sharing about soon!) As far as lines go, I was surprised to find that the lines for rides and food weren’t long which was nice because we were able to do more than I thought we would.

(Disability Information: For those families who are coming to the park with someone who has a disability, the park does offer accommodations. With Lucas on the Autism Spectrum, he often has a hard time and becomes overwhelmed at theme parks because of the crowds and waiting. Cedar Point has an Alternate Access pass which lets guests with disabilities or special needs get a boarding pass that allows them to rest in a comfortable spot, away from the crowds, until the boarding time and then enter the ride via the Alternate Access Entrance. Depending on how Lucas is doing there are days when passes like this are the only way we can spend a day at a theme park. Thankfully though, since Lucas was having a good day and the park wasn’t too crowded, we only had to use this pass a couple times throughout our day.)

Have you ever been to Cedar Point? What is your favorite thing to do there?

Family Fun In Lake Geneva

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and there was a lot more to do with kids than I thought there was going to be. It’s definitely a town I’d recommend if you are looking for a quick vacation this summer! I wanted to share some of our favorite activities that we did while we were there along with suggesting a great place to stay and a couple places you may want to eat at.

Paradise Miniature Golf

This 18-hole miniature golf course is fairly inexpensive fun in a touristy town. The course was nice and well-maintained though the waterfall seemed to be under construction or not turned on yet for the season (which didn’t impact play in any way).  The course only had a few other families using it while we were there so it was quiet. We enjoyed playing and had a lot of laughs when a couple of our balls ended up in the water and we had to try to fish them out.

Moose Mountain Falls Indoor Waterpark (Located Inside Timber Ridge Lodge)

Guests staying at Timber Ridge Lodge can enjoy full access to Moose Mountain Falls indoor waterpark and the outdoor pool areas. The indoor waterpark is perfect for rainy day fun and easily won the “favorite thing to do” title from the boys. I like that the indoor waterpark was split in to two pools- one that was great for babies and toddlers and one for everyone else. The deeper one had basketball hoops on one end and Jacob ended up spending most his time there. There are two large water slides- a tube slide and a raft slide- that the boys loved going down along with two smaller slides. There was also an “adults only” hot tub (though I didn’t have a chance to try it out) and a lazy river. The outdoor pool areas are a little small in my opinion but if it’s nice out you probably don’t want to be sitting around the hotel anyway! Parents of young children will appreciate that the little kids have a separate pool area to play in.

Geneva Lake Museum of History

I’m going to be honest- visiting the history museum wasn’t on my list of things to-do when I headed to Lake Geneva. We had arrived at our lunch restaurant an hour before it opened so we had some free time and the museum happened to be across the street so we decided to go. I’m so glad we did! The boys, especially Lucas, really liked exploring it and I enjoyed checking it out as well. The first part was a “Main Street” that had replica homes you could go in to see how people lived during certain time periods. There are also a number of exhibits including a shoe exhibit, military exhibit, and train exhibit. Kids get in free to this museum and to make it even more fun for them, make sure to ask for a BINGO game they can play while walking through the museum!

Downtown Lake Geneva

One of my favorite things to do is walk around towns that have cute little downtown areas and Lake Geneva’s did not disappoint. Downtown Lake Geneva is fairly large with lots of great stores to check out and plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating areas. The boys enjoyed playing Pokemon Go as we explored the area. They also discovered a comic book store and a children’s book store which they thought were awesome. I enjoyed shopping at all of the stores with “lake life” decor as I imagined furnishing my dream lake home. Another great thing about the downtown area was that parking was so cheap! It was only $1 an hour to park downtown which will shock those from nearby cities like Chicago or Milwaukee.

Riviera Beach

Located right in the heart of downtown Lake Geneva, Riviera Beach provides the perfect way to cool off when it’s hot outside. Though the city was packed last weekend, the beach itself wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be. The beach area was clean and had lifeguards watching the water. There was a charge to get in the beach area but, if you are looking to save money and don’t care about getting in the water, there is a large grassy area right behind the beach that’s great for picnics and doesn’t cost anything to enjoy. Make sure to stop in the adjacent Riviera Pavilion for some ice cream, too!

OTHER RECOMMENDATIONS:

If you are traveling via car make sure to stop by the nearby Jelly Belly Factory for a free tour and candy. The Mars Cheese Castle is a great place to stop for lunch and some snacks on your way to Lake Geneva as well!

Families will love staying in a suite at Timber Ridge Lodge for waterpark access. (They also have giant jet tubs for a little end of the day relaxing….)

We ate at a handful of restaurants but a couple I’d suggest are Carvetti’s Bar & Grill and Popeye’s. Carvetti’s has a nice patio area and, best of all, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal! Popeye’s is right across from the beach and has nice lake views. I loved sitting in their outdoor table area and their food was really good.

Have you visited Lake Geneva before? If so, I’d love to hear about your favorite family-friendly activities!

 

10 Things For Families To Do In Dubuque, Iowa

Thanks to Dubuque CVB for hosting me in their town.

I have shared about where to stay and where to eat in Dubuque, Iowa and now I’m sharing about what there is for families to do in Dubuque.

1. Splash around in the indoor water park at Grand Harbor Resort & Waterpark. Whether your little ones like the splash pad area, the water slides, or the big bucket that dumps water on them, they’ll have a great time at this waterpark.

2. Steer a boat at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. Kids will enjoy pretending to be a boat captain as they steer their boat around a little pool.

3. Take a ride on the Fenelon Place Elevator. Get a bird’s eye view of downtown Dubuque and the Mississippi River from the top of the hill and enjoy the ride as you go up and down on the world’s shortest, steepest elevator ride.

4. Visit the Dinosaur exhibit, Dinosaurs Unearthed, at National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium (now through 10/10/16). Dinosaur loving kids will get a kick out of seeing life-sized animatronic dinosaurs, along with fossil and skeleton specimens.

5. Have lunch by the water and watch boats go by. There are a number of restaurants that are near the water but my favorite was The Yardarm.

6. Families with children 10 years and older can go ziplining at Sky Tours Zip Line. Experience all 9 ziplines on a 2-hour guided tour of historic Union Park. Learn all about it in this video from Angie’s Lens.

7. Take a tour of the William M. Black, an old Mississippi River dredging boat. Explore where the crew worked, slept, ate and lived and imagine with your children what life must have been like for that crew. This boat is part of The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and is located outside nearby. The tour admission is included in your ticket price.

8. Walk around downtown Dubuque, where there are a number of stores, and the Port area which features a riverwalk. It’s the perfect way to spend a sunny, warm day.

9. Visit The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium. Look at the animals, get up close to animals in the “touch tank”, learn about the river and more!

10. Not in the city, but nearby, baseball fans and movie buffs will love visiting the baseball field where the movie Field of Dreams was filmed. Families can even play baseball on the field!

Have anything to add? If so, I’d love to hear about what you enjoy doing in Dubuque so I can add it to my list of things to do next time I’m in town.

10 Things For Families To Do In Springfield, Missouri

If you are looking for a family friendly town that also has some history, you’ll want to visit Springfield, Missouri. I recently went there with my mom and kids on a sponsored press trip and found it was the perfect mix of learning and fun.

Here are some of the things our family enjoyed doing while we were there.

Andy B’s Restaurant & Entertainment

Andy B’s Restaurant & Entertainment center is a huge building filled with lots for families to do. With 21 lanes of traditional bowling, 10 VIB (Very Important Bowler) bowling lanes, an underground laser tag arena designed to look, feel and sound like an abandoned mine, a large arcade game room with every game you could want, and a full-service Restaurant and Bar, you’ll never run out of fun things to do at Andy B’s.

We enjoyed bowling together at Andy B’s. They have a really updated system with an interactive scoring system that allows you to customize the game for your group and adds a lot more fun to the bowling game. While we bowled we ordered food and they had a great deal going on where you received a free game card with every item ordered from their special menu. After bowling the kids played laser tag and some video games and arcade games for tickets. We all had a great time there!

Learn more here.

Discovery Center

Discovery Center of Springfield (DCS) is an interactive, hands-on museum committed to inspiring people of all ages with a life-long love of learning and an appreciation of the world and our place in it. Kids will have such a fun time playing with the exhibits that they will forget they are learning!

Our favorite part of the museum was the area that explored careers. The kids loved pretending to do a newscast on television where they sat behind a desk just like a real news anchor would and talked to a camera that was recording them. They could pretend to be weathermen and give the weather report using a green screen as well. Another area they enjoyed was the grocery store where they took turns shopping and being the cashier. Other areas they could pretend in included a doctor’s office, a newspaper office, a construction zone and a theater among about a dozen other areas.

Learn more here.

Askinosie Chocolate Tour & Tasting

Askinosie Chocolate is a small batch bean to bar chocolate manufacturer sourcing 100% of their beans directly from the farmers. At Askinosie Chocolate they hold the craft and quality of their chocolate in almost equal balance with doing as much good as they can in the world. They have a great business model and improve the communities of both where they are located and the farmer’s where they get the beans from. They offer tours of their factory where people can learn about how and why they make chocolate, their cocoa origins, their farmer partners, and their engagement in their community and their origin communities.

The boys were open to doing anything that involved chocolate- Luke’s favorite food group- though they were very surprised to find that cocoa nibs do not taste like the chocolate they are used to. We enjoyed the tour though and learned about how chocolate was made and where the cocoa beans come from. We tasted some pieces of chocolate that they sell and the boys loved the white chocolate the most. After the tour we bought some chocolate because, hello- chocolate. (Please note: The tours are for older children. If you have a child under five they require they be held or in a stroller for safety reasons.)

Learn more about Askinosie Chocolate Tours here.

Wilson’s Creek National Battelfield

Wilson’s Creek was the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River, and the site of the death of Nathaniel Lyon, the first Union general killed in action. The costly Southern victory on August 10, 1861, focused national attention on the war in Missouri. Visitors can visit this National Park to check out their Wilson’s Creek museum and then take a self-guided tour of the battlefield by vehicle. Along the tour you can stop at eight places that are considered significant battle-related locations including The Ray House, dating from the 1850s, which served as a temporary field hospital for Southern soldiers following the battle. There are five walking trails off the tour road, varying in length from 1/4 to 3/4 of a mile and a seven mile trail system for horseback riding and hiking.

I honestly wasn’t sure how much the boys would enjoy the tour, because they haven’t learned about the war in school yet, but they seemed to really like it. We were lucky to meet some costumed characters at one of the stops that showed us what the dress looked like during the Civil War, what types of things they would have carried and what their guns looked like. We even had a private demonstration of how they would have loaded and shot their guns which I think Jacob really enjoyed.

Learn more here.

Arcade At Incredible Pizza Company

America’s Incredible Pizza Company has been voted as the #1 Family Entertainment Center in the world, twice, and it’s easy to see why! Along with a delicious buffet they have plenty for the family to do. They have a large trampoline area, arcade games, go karts, rides, laser tag, an XD theater, bowling, rides, and an area just for little ones.

The boys loved playing the arcade games of course. We also raced go karts. Jacob was tall enough to drive his own go kart so it was him against Lucas and I and I loved seeing his smile as he was racing. We all enjoyed the buffet which had a great salad bar, pizza selection, and variety of desserts.

Learn more here.

Fantastic Caverns

Fantastic Caverns is America’s only ride-through cave. It was discovered in 1862 by an Ozarks farmer -or more precisely, by his dog, who crawled through an entrance. It wasn’t until five years later that the first exploration took place: 12 women from Springfield, answering a newspaper ad seeking explorers, ventured into the cave. Because the beauty of Fantastic Caverns is vulnerable, the Cave is toured in jeep-drawn trams. Since you ride all of the way through, you experience the magnitude, the stillness, and the splendor of Fantastic Caverns while preserving its natural features.

I loved being able to sit down and enjoy a ride through the cave. It was a much better way to explore it than having to walk through because you could really focus on looking at it the whole time instead of having to watch where you were walking. The boys loved when they turned the lights off and we were in complete silence and darkness for a bit.

Learn more here.

Fun Acre Mini Golf

Fun Acre has an 18 hole mini golf course and batting cages. Though it is not the most well kept mini golf course we’ve ever played on, it is the cheapest which is why I’m adding it to my list. Adults play for $2.50, kids ages 5-11 play for $1.75 and children 4 and under are free. We had a lot of fun playing mini-golf here!

Learn more here.

Swim At The Historic Best Western Rail Haven

We loved staying at this hotel. They have a great outdoor pool that the kids loved playing in. Read my whole review of our stay here.

Two other places that looked fun but we didn’t explore much were Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Bass Pro Shops. The tea room was next door to a restaurant we ate at and I walked through it briefly. It was so adorable and the perfect place to have afternoon tea with your child! Bass Pro Shops is also a place I’d recommend. We have one near us and there is always a lot to do there. This one in Springfield is the original Bass Pro Shops store and probably three times the size of other Bass Pro Shops. They are even getting an aquarium soon which I thought was awesome!

Overall we enjoyed all the things we did while in Springfield, Missouri. Stay tuned for my post on the best places to eat while you are there!

Family Guide To Visiting Bowling Green, Kentucky

I recently had the chance to visit Bowling Green, Kentucky as a guest of the CVB and it was very different from what I was expecting. Instead of a small farming community I found a town very similar to my own Chicago suburb that had plenty of things to do for the whole family.

Bowling Green is an easy drive from Chicago and worth the short hour drive if you will be nearby in Nashville. You’ll want to be geared for fun when you visit!

National Corvette Museum

The first thing that comes to mind when many hear “Bowling Green” is the National Corvette Museum and it’s definitely a popular tourist stop. The 115,000 sq. ft. building houses more than 80 Corvette models and one-of-a-kind concept cars spanning the history of Corvette. Made even more famous by the Corvette sink-hole, they now have a special exhibit about that national phenomenon that caused millions of dollars in damage to a number of rare corvettes. I found it interesting to look at.

Kid’s Activity at the National Corvette Museum

Those with young kids will want to visit the car themed playroom at the museum. They also have a Corvette Cafe so you can have lunch in the retro diner while you are at the museum, too.

Drag racer at the Annual NMCA Bluegrass Nationals

Speaking of cars, Bowling Green is home to the Beech Bend Raceway Park. Check the schedule online to see if anything is going on while you are there. I was lucky enough to visit during the Annual NMCA Bluegrass Nationals and got to see all the drag racing cars up close and personal, along with having the chance to talk to some of the drag racers themselves. I never watched drag racing before but I found it fascinating to watch and enjoyed listening to how passionate the drivers are.

Kentucky Rumbler, Wooden Coaster at Beech Bend Amusement Park

Next to the race track are two must visits during the summer months- Beech Bend Amusement Park and Splash Lagoon Water Park. Though these parks look to be on the smaller side, there is plenty for families to do here for the whole day and I loved that it was cheaper than all of the other amusement parks I’ve been to and there were no long lines to stand in. There are over 30 rides, mini-golf, a petting farm, a pool, water slides and other water attractions. If you love coasters you’ll want to make sure to ride the Kentucky Rumbler (currently ranked in the Top 33 wooden roller coasters worldwide!)

Mammoth Cave National Park

Want to spend even more time outside? Mammoth Cave National Park is a free U.S. national park. You can walk or bike around the park but the most popular thing to do is take a cave tour. The park encompasses portions of Mammoth Cave, the longest cave system known in the world at over 400 miles of cave that has been discovered. There are a variety of cave tours but I went on one called the “Frozen Niagara” that was one of the easier tours, prefect for families.

Trail at Lost River Cave

Another cave in Bowling Green is the Lost River Cave which offers a boat tour of their cave. It was fun to explore the cave by boat on their tour which lasted about 45 minutes. There are lots of other activities to do with kids here including walking along trails, playing bird bingo, cooling off at the natural spring, treasure mining, visiting the butterfly habitat and playing at their Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom.

Brisket Pizza at Lost River Pizza Co

Once you work up an appetite at Lost River Cave you’ll want to stop by the nearby restaurant, Lost River Pizza Cofor lunch. Though most well-known for their pizza, make sure to get an appetizer to go with it, like their spicy fried pickles, Brown Ale Shrooms, or wings. For kids there are plenty of affordable options.

Ice cream from Chaney’s Dairy Barn

Don’t forget dessert! Head on over to Chaney’s Dairy Barn for some homemade ice cream. Named #1 ice cream in Kentucky by USA Today, you will see why after just one taste! There are a variety of flavors from Bourbon Crunch to Mocha Moo. I tried their peanut butter fudge swirl in a waffle cone and it was delicious. During the summer they also host events like farm tours and outdoor “MOOvie” nights so be sure to check their calendar to see what’s going on during your visit. Have baseball fans in your home? Head out to a Hot Rods baseball game while you are in town. They also have a great kid’s play area, with a playground and carousel, for kids to play. They have theme nights and other fun events so again, check the calendar to see what’s happening. I went to a game on Star Wars night and it was fun to see so many in costumes. Within walking distance of the baseball stadium is the Railpark & Train Museum. The train museum is in a former station and has historical exhibits, a model railroad & vintage car tours. It was interesting to walk through the train cars and imagine what it would have been like to travel in them years ago. I also enjoyed checking out their downtown area. Fountain Square Park in the middle of their downtown is a beautiful place to sit and relax. They also had a number of storefronts, including Mary Jane’s Chocolates, for those of you who love chocolates. If you like to stop at Farmer’s Markets, it should be noted that Bowling Green has a large Farmer’s Market that’s open a couple times a week year-round.

Amazing firebread at Montana Grille

One other place I enjoyed eating while in Bowling Green was Montana Grille (not to be confused with the chain restaurant that has a similar name). They had lots to choose from on the menu and I loved the cabin-like atmosphere. Favorites include their Bourbon filet, Spike’s Mean Beans and Jalapeno Cornbread.

As you can see, there are tons of great places to play and eat in Bowling Green. You’ll need a place to sleep as well and I’d recommend staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. It’s a well-taken care of hotel with spacious guest rooms, nice outdoor patio areas and a delicious breakfast selection. The hotel also has an indoor pool as well which I know is always on my boys’ wish list when it comes to accommodations.

Bowling Green, Kentucky has plenty of fun for the whole family! What are you most looking forward to doing on your visit?

The Historic Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven Motel

A few weeks ago I visited Springfield, Missouri with my mom and children. Visiting as a guest of the CVB, we received a complimentary stay at the historic Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven Motel. According to their website, the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven motel features eight original sandstone cottages that were built in 1938, just 12 years after Route 66 was established in Springfield as one of the main routes that leads to the west coast.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect because of the motel’s age and the fact that it was a chain motel but I was pleasantly surprised when we got there. The staff was extremely kind and helpful, there were fresh cookies available when we checked in and our room was nice and clean. They also provided many great amenities like free wi-fi, parking, complimentary breakfast and a “to go” snack bag upon checkout.

The first thing we noticed upon pulling into the parking lot was the vintage charm of the hotel. I loved the ambiance. There is an old Ford Crown Victoria out in front along with a phone booth and some old gas pumps.

The lobby of the motel also had a vintage feel with the cafe area bringing me back to the sock hop era. The breakfast buffet area was modernized though. In the mornings you could make your own Belgium waffle and they had a variety of toppings to choose from. Other options included a number of hot breakfast foods (like eggs, sausage and biscuits with gravy), cereal and bakery items. There was also a fridge with waters, yogurts and fruit. For drinks they had a hot drink machine (which my boys loved getting hot chocolate from) and a juice machine. Overall, I thought the selection for a complimentary breakfast was great.

Once we checked in and grabbed our freshly baked cookies we headed to our room which was just a short drive away. The room itself was typically furnished with two beds, a table and chairs and a dresser with a large flat screen TV on it. The dresser had both a minifridge and microwave which I love because it helps to save on food when you can bring your own simple lunches and dinners to heat up or store your leftovers when you order too much from the restaurant.

The bathroom was a bit small but had a bathtub which the boys enjoyed splashing in. There was also a counter with a large mirror outside the bathroom which provided extra space and helped keep things moving in the mornings with everyone sharing one bathroom trying to get ready.

Speaking of splashing, the boys were the first ones in the motel’s pool this season. Though it was a warm day the water was still chilly since it had just been filled but that didn’t stop the boys from playing in it. I sat under a pergola while I watched the boys swim as my mom took a nap in the deck chair beside me.

I liked that the motel had a lot of outdoor space. Besides the pool area there was a large covered area with tables and chairs, outdoor seating outside the lobby and chairs outside each room. It is the perfect place to relax when you aren’t exploring Springfield, Missouri!

My Gourmet Inclusive Nickelodeon Getaway In Mexico {AKA That Time I Got Slimed}

I am thankful to have had the chance to be invited on a press trip to Azul Beach Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico. If your family is looking for your next vacation spot, read on below for all the slime-tastic fun that you can experience in a beautiful all-inclusive resort.

ABOUT THE RESORT

Azul Beach Hotel by Karisma is a beachfront oasis that caters to families and couples who desire a more intimate experience. The resort has 148 deluxe rooms and suites (including some swim-up rooms), six restaurants, five pools, four bars, a Nickelodeon themed kids club and a spa. They feature a Gourmet Inclusive® Experience which means gourmet meals, premium drinks and excellent service from beach butlers to room service.

THE LOCATION

Azul Beach Hotel is situated on the beautiful Mexican Caribbean in the heart of Riviera Maya. The hotel is located 20 minutes south of Cancun International Airport and 35 minutes south of downtown Cancun.

THE ACCOMODATIONS

The suite was large and spacious as you can see in the video above. I loved the large bathtub, the comfy beds, the sitting area and the view from my balcony.

THE FOOD AND DRINKS

Karisma Hotels pride themselves on offering The Gourmet Inclusive® experience throughout their resorts. Azul Beach has five restaurants. Blue serves a variety of world cuisines along with a delicious assortment of food at their breakfast buffet. Chil offers an array of burgers, salads, wraps and tacos for lunch and has a patio that overlooks the water.

Latino offers a variety of a la carte dinner options, all with a latin flair. Tainan is the place to go if you are in the mood for Asian food, including my favorite, Sushi. Roma is the resort’s Italian restaurant, serving large portions at dinner-time.

The resort also has four bars. Agavero, their Tequila bar, serves 30 different tequilas served straight, frozen or mixed. Aquanox bar and Chil bar serve my favorite fruity drinks. Try a Miami Vice while you are there (it’s a layered strawberry daquiri and pina colada drink). They also have a swim-up bar called Bubbles which lets you enjoy your drink without even getting out of the pool!

Along with the restaurants and bars they offer room service and service at the beach. One of my favorite times on the trip was sitting on the beach in a cabana with some of the other bloggers and getting drinks and lunch delivered while we enjoyed time by the ocean.

THE FUN FOR KIDS

I loved vacationing alongside SpongeBob, Dora, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We had breakfast with the characters, found them walking around the resort during the day and danced with them at night. We even got special Nickelodeon goodies delivered to our room.

Azul Beach features a couple places just for the kids. The Azulitos Playhouse by Nickelodeon has themed activities planned for every day so that parents are free to enjoy some kid-free time.

For children 4 to 12 years old, the My Gym Center at Azulitos Playhouse offers daily classes and programs designed to help children develop physically, cognitively and emotionally.

And, in true Nickelodeon fashion, I got slimed. Green goo was dumped all over me and I was brought back to my childhood.

Another thing that sets Karisma hotels apart is that they really think about the needs of families with little ones and do everything they can to make the trip as smooth as possible. From having baby food readily available to providing baby monitors for parents who want to relax on their deck while baby is napping, they provide so many amenities so you don’t have to pack them.

THE FUN FOR ADULTS

Azul Beach features a number of activities for adults such as yoga, Tequila tastings, live music and beach volleyball. They also have excursions people can sign up for, like swimming with the dolphins or scuba diving.

The spa at Azul Beach is the perfect place to relax while getting treated to a massage, manicure, or one of their other services. Adults would even enjoy just relaxing while they soaked in the tub right in their room.

EXPLORING NEARBY, AZUL SENSATORI HOTEL

While in Mexico I had a chance to visit Azul Sensatori hotel which was nearby. Here are some pictures from my visit there!

Looking for your next family escape? You will find it at Azul Beach!