Spring Break in Chattanooga, TN

Fall break, winter break, summer break …oh my!  As a mother of a kindergartner, I must admit that making the transition from a year round daycare schedule, to a traditional public school schedule with so many breaks, has been a struggle for my family.  We planned to stay home during fall and winter break, focusing our energy and finances on spring and summer breaks… both of which can be costly with peak season pricing for transportation and accommodations.

Spring break came around faster than expected and as I planned for a much needed trip to the beach… life happened.  My husband and I had to make a costly home repair which cut our travel budget in half.  So, with half the budget remaining, I had to coordinate a trip that would be economical yet super fun for the kiddos.  I began to think of ways to cut the transportation cost.  I missed the chance to secure discounted plane tickets to Florida playing the “I can get it cheaper next week game”, so I knew we would be driving to our destination.  I also remembered we have Hilton Honors Points which we could use to cover our hotel accommodations.  After thinking about this trip over and over, I realized that there is plenty to do less than two hours away, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I have fond childhood memories of Chattanooga, so I started planning.  Well, it turns out, that while I was growing up, so was Chattanooga!  The city only slightly resembles what I remember from 25 years ago.  The area’s development, along its stretch of the Tennessee River has been explosive!  The Tennessee Aquarium, which once stood alone, is now nestled between cool restaurants and other attractions like the  High Point Climbing and Fitness Club.  Just down from the iconic aquarium sits the Creative Discovery Museum.  This amazing hands-on museum is a paradise for kids.  My six and three year olds spent hours exploring the multi-story building filled with sensory activities from a extensive waterworks exhibit to animation and fine arts.  The museum has so much to offer, my kids left no stone upturned.  In one day, my children became ship captains, railroad engineers, doctors, musicians, stop motion animators, chefs, scientists, architects, and beekeepers.  They were transported around the world to an Ethiopian spice market and went fishing in the crystal clear waters of Zanzibar.  The Creative Discovery Museum is not to be missed if you have kids 12 and under.  The average cost for a family of four with two kiddos over the age of three is about one hundred bucks but it was money well spent.  You can truly spend your entire day there.  I loved that the staff was super helpful, the bathrooms were clean and the other patrons were courteous and friendly.  We will definitely be visiting again.  Family memberships starts at just over $100 and is a nice quick getaway from Atlanta.

Since opening on May 1, 1992, the  Tennessee Aquarium has been a staple in the southeast.  Located in two contemporary structures just off the bank of the mighty Tennessee River, the aquarium boats some of the most extensive coverage of freshwater wildlife in the country.   As we meandered through the halls, we were all filled with wonder and excitement to see creatures like turtles, snakes, and alligators up close.  The segment on River Monsters, large creatures living deep below the surface, was a huge hit with my family.  We discovered creatures we had never seen before and developed a greater understanding of those that may be in our own backyards.  Plan to spend several hours at the aquarium and take in a feature film at the Imax theater.  Tickets for a family of four is over one hundred dollars but it offers a full day of fun and education for the entire family.

One of the many things I appreciate about Chattanooga is the fact that parking is reasonably priced and most of the major attractions are within walking distance from each other.  So you park the car once and you are good to go for the rest of the day.

After leaving the aquarium we strolled over to Moe’s BBQ restaurant for lunch. The food was amazing, especially the smoked turkey, collard greens and corn bread.  The prices are good and the staff was wonderful.

Bluewater Grill is another great restaurant near the museum and aquarium.  The food is delicious and reasonably priced.  The restaurant has bistro tables outside and makes for a great place to grab lunch or dinner.

After having a wonderful lunch, we took a relaxing stroll over to the Walnut Street Pedestrian BridgeThe bridge spans a half mile over the Tennessee River and ends at Coolidge ParkCoolidge Park is a picturesque setting for family fun, complete with plenty of great spots for a picnic and is home to an amazing carousel.

We had an great time in Chattanooga.  We will be returning to visit Rock City, Lookout Mountain and the Incline Railway.  During this trip, the weather was cold and windy and we did not have the appropriate attire to stand in line outside for over an hour with small children.   I have been to each of these attractions and they are totally worth a return trip.  The three aforementioned attractions offer combo deals on admission, so grab a deal online or when you arrive in Chattanooga.

There are great family friendly hotels in the heart of everything.  And since the City is walkable, once the car is parked at the hotel you are good to go.  We opted to stay about 20 minutes out at the Embassy Suites Hamilton Place for the indoor pool and complementary hot breakfast.  If it were warmer, we would have definitely stayed closer to the action.

We had a wonderful spring break and we are looking forward to enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation in the Dominican Republic over the summer.  I can’t wait to tell you all about our trip.

Until next time.

 

The Disney Cruise Is Everything You Dreamed It Would Be !!!

So I started blogging because I love to write, almost as much as I love to eat, and travel the world.  But the day that I found out that I was pregnant with my second child, I lost all interest in writing, eating out, and traveling.  For some reason, I just changed.  I stopped coordinating events for my dinner club, stopped making travel plans, and gave up on my blog.   Even after the shock of being a mother of two went away, I still could not get motivated to write.  My husband and I would dine at an amazing restaurant and I would say ” wow this place really deserves to be discussed on the blog” but I would never take any action.   Although I hoped that I would get back into it, I feared that Eat Breathe Travel was a thing of the past.  That was until …our recent Disney Cruise!  

 

A close friend was planning to go on the Disney cruise and I decided to join her.  I thought that it would be the prefect gift for my oldest daughter’s fifth birthday.  Well I was right!! It was the prefect gift.  Going on the cruise was a great experience for my family.

There are so many websites dedicated to the Disney Cruise that I originally thought I had nothing to add, but let me just share a few things that I learned from my experience and touch on some highlights :

  • Book early to a get a lower price:  Disney can get pricey, so try to book as far out in advance as possible.  Once you select a date, go ahead and book.  The price increases about every two weeks so make a decision and put down the deposit like yesterday!  I called one day and was quoted approx. $1,750 for my family of four ( 2 adults 2 kids under 5 years old) I called back less that two weeks later and the price had increased to approx.  $2,000.  I booked that day and kicked myself for a few weeks for losing $300.00 due to procrastination.
  • Pay for you trip by the deadline or else: Disney is great about payment plans but... You can pay online and you can pay as much or as little as you like, you just have to have the trip paid off 60 days before your travel date.  Oh but if you miss that deadline it is a done deal!  Disney will not entertain extending the deadline for you or anyone else.  If you miss the deadline, Disney will refund your money and cancel your reservation faster than you can say Mickey Mouse.  Take as long as you want to pay… but pay before the deadline please!
  • The three day trip is a beast:  We had a ball but we had no time to rest.  Everything is do or die.  Because the trip is so short, plan accordingly.  If you do the trip that goes to Nassau, Bahamas and you have been to Nassau before, stay on the boat and chill.  If your trip goes to Castaway Cay the following day, save your energy for that.  At Castaway Cay your food and transportation are included in the cruise price.  The beach is great and there are enough lounge chairs and umbrellas to accommodate everyone …so spend your time there.  Ok…back to Nassau…if you have been and can miss it, then take that time to do fun stuff with the kids on the boat like hang out at the pool and get great photos, and eat and drink all day.  Doing so, helped us save our sanity and reboot from all of the craziness  of travel and just being on a Disney Cruise ..lol
  • The nightly performances are not to be missed:  They are offered twice a night to accommodate both dinner seating times.  The shows are Broadway quality and we enjoyed everyone of them.  They are great and should not be missed for any reason!!! Don’t miss the shows ok?
  • Kids Club.…super fun for the kids, super necessary for the parents, super safe ( get registered before you sail and include everyone in your party that is allowed to pick your child up…if you are with a big group you may want to allow a few people to collect your child)  Just a note:  there is kids club at Castaway Cay as well…that was a game changer for us.

Disney rocks!! Here are a few other examples:

  • Hand washing stations at the buffet:  I am so funny about buffet style eating largely due to the cleanness or lack thereof of the patrons.  Well Disney addresses that issue head on.  There are hand washing stations and hand sanitizer at each restaurant entrance..use them.
  •  Complimentary strollers: Can I also say that Disney provides complimentary strollers at Castaway Cay so you don’t have to take yours off the boat !!!!
  • Healthy Food: Disney offers healthy food options.  In addition to the all you can eat soft serve ice cream and endless soft drinks,  you can also get fresh cut fruit, smoothies, salads, and wraps.

Everything else you need to know all the way down to which travel route is quicker can be found at: https://www.mousesavers.com

Worth mentioning:

  • Rental car companies run shuttles to Port Canaveral.  If you are traveling by rental car you can drop it off at Orlando Intentional Airport and ride the shuttle to Port Canaveral instead of paying  for a rental car to sit parked at the port and paying for parking.  Parking at the port for the 3 night cruise is ($64.00).
  • If you are traveling with a large party ensure that your rooms are linked so that you will be seated together for dinner.  We had a party of 20 and although we made arrangements in advance, they did not get us seated together until the final night.  It was a real bummer ..but that was the worst of it.
  • Carry your own collapsible water bottles .  We got these and they were a great purchase.   The non-alcoholic beverages are unlimited on the ship, but going back and forth to get them can be a hassle.  Make things easy by taking your own bottles.
  • The gym is good too! Imagine getting your taking your daily run overlooking beautiful ocean views.

Above all else, have a really good time!  Planning a Disney Cruise can seem intimidating.   Print off a good check-list and do your research ….but by all means enjoy your family and have a ball !

Happy trails

Travel Necessities: The Braun ThermoScan 5 Ear Thermometer: It’s Quick, Easy, and Accurate!

When I travel, I try to pack light and carry only the necessities.  Despite my best efforts, I still end up with too much stuff anyway.  Lately, I have been compiling a list of must have items for every family trip so that I can be a bit more organized and cut down on some of the clutter.  I recently added a new item to my travel medical supply list: the Braun ThermoScan 5Ear ThermometerBraun ThermoScan 5 ear thermometer I was recently asked to review this product and I was pleasantly surprised.  I have always been curious about which thermometer renders the most accurate reading.  Braun addresses this question in the first few pages of the owner’s manual.  According to Braun, the ear temperature is the most accurate measurement because the eardrum shares blood supply with the temperature control center of the brain.  Therefore, changes in body temperature are reflected sooner in the ear than other sites on the body  (p. 5 Braun ThermoScan 5 manual 6500 2014).

Likes :  There were several things that I liked about this product.  The very best thing about this thermometer is the speed!  The device only takes about three seconds to render an accurate reading. That’s amazing for me because my daughter hates getting her temperature taken!   Another thing that I liked is that it comes with batteries ( seems like a small thing but when you are traveling or even at home with a sick kid you need all the help you can get).  Another great convenience, it comes with a lens filter already installed so the product can be used immediately after it is taken out of the packaging.  Having the lens filter installed also gives new users a guide when installing filters in the future.  The product also comes with a  neat carrying case for the thermometer and the lenses so that everything is right there when you need it.  Braun ThermoScan 5 ear thermometer Without the case I could definitely see myself misplacing the lens filters.

Potential Improvements: I wish the device and carrying case were a bit smaller because I need all the space I can get in my luggage and around the house.  I must admit the case is only about the width of my Motorola cell phone but the smaller the better in this instance.

Overall it is a great product: fast, convenient, and accurate which are all things that help me keep my sanity when dealing with a child or husband who may be feeling under the weather at home or abroad.

 

Disclousre:  This product was provided on a complimentary basis for testing purposes from Influenster

 

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Traveling With A Two Year Old Caused Me To Have An Emotional Breakdown : I Never Saw It Coming!

I was recently delayed at Tampa International airport for several hours waiting to return home after a lovely trip to Disney World in neighboring Orlando, FL. Flying standby is nothing new to me. I have flown in standby status most of my life, thanks to my mother, a proud airline employee. Eventually, I make it home and the discount is usually worth the trouble. This time was no different. The flights were oversold for the entire day but I was confident that I would make it home eventually! My daughter was so fascinated watching planes take off and disappear into the sky that she seemed unfazed by the long wait.

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The gate agent was making her final call for late passengers and I was ready to get a snack at the nearby deli before the wait started over at the next gate. To my surprise, the next words I heard uttered by the agent were my name. It was like music to my ears! After spending hours in the airport, it was finally our chance to get home. Just as I got up to gather our belongings, I called my daughter away from the window, which upset her. She decided to express her discontentment by flinging off both of her shoes and having a full-blown tantrum complete with kicking and screaming! As I struggled to grab both her and her shoes, I nearly fell over her stroller. I clumsily grabbed my carry-on bags and finally made my way to the counter. My bags were in disarray and my daughter was hanging from my arms barefoot. The agent, appeared annoyed by the entire ordeal and when she realized that my ticket neglected to state that I was carrying an “infant in arms” she was visibly bothered by the mistake. She went to her computer, tapped the keys violently and produced a new boarding pass for me. She handed me the slip of paper and asked me to move along quickly. Before I could catch my breath, I was rushing down the gateway onto a full plane. My daughter was clutching to me still barefoot and her backpack and my laptop bag both flopped along my hips. As I attempted to move down the aisle, my bags and my daughter’s legs made contact with every person that we passed. I finally realized that I needed assistance to make it to the back of the plane, and asked a flight attendant standing close-by for her assistance. She obliged. However, just as she grabbed the backpack, my daughter’s Sippy cup that was tucked into the backpack’s side pocket, tipped over and milk began to drip all over a nearby passenger. As I dove to catch the cup and stop the leak, I bumped the flight attendant from behind.
Without realizing what I was trying to accomplish, she yelled out “Don’t push me!” In addition to her outburst, the soaked passenger looked at me with disgust. All I could do in the moment was attempt to apologize. I was confused and embarrassed.
As I looked for seat 40D I came to the sad realization that it was indeed a middle seat. I could just feel the stares from people hoping that I wasn’t coming toward them. I just knew my seatmates would be uncaring and annoyed.
Well, quite the contrary. I was greeted warmly by both passengers and each asked if they could assist with my bags and the baby. As I finally settled into my seat… it happened…overwhelmed by sheer frustration and embarrassment, I began to weep. Initially, only a few tears escaped from my eyes. Then all of a sudden, I began crying uncontrollably and trying to hide my face behind both, my favorite leopard print scarf and my unsuspecting child. The more I tried to stop crying, the faster the tears ran down my face. After a minute or two, the young lady sitting to my left softly asked “is there anything that we can do to help you?” I was so embarrassed that despite my best efforts, the people around me had witnessed my breakdown. My response to her was that I was ok and I just needed to catch my breath. After a few moments I began to tell the story of what occurred. They listened intently as I retraced my steps to figure out where exactly I lost my control; in essence, what really happened that lead me to a packed plane crying uncontrollably among strangers. Both expressed empathy toward my situation and reassured me that I was safe with them. For the rest of the flight the three of us engaged in a lively discussion about how much each of us enjoy traveling. It was as if nothing had ever happened. To the young lady finishing her graduate degree in psychology at the University of Florida and the gentleman living just outside of San Francisco, who has a daughter graduating from Boston University this spring; thank you for extending God’s love to me that day. In a moment when I was feeling the most alone, you two stood in the gap for me. I shall always remember your kindness and compassion.

Has the kindness of a stranger ever made a profound impact on you while traveling? Share your experience here.

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Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Here We Come: How I Got Prepared For Disney!

There are few things that are more magical than taking a trip to Disney World!

So, when we decided that we would be taking our daughter to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom for her birthday, I grabbed a stack of books and got busy planning.  But the more I read, the more nervous I became.  Neither I nor my husband have ever been to Disney, so by book number two, I was completely overwhelmed.

There are lots of books on the market explaining strategies on how to make the best of your Disney experience and here are a few that really helped me.

Fodors’s Walt Disney World with Kids 2014 by Kim Wright Wiley   

This book was so comprehensive and was by far the best tool that I consulted.  Although the book is quite large the information is easy to digest.  Wiley gives you a break down of each park along with a strategy for navigating each.  The book also provides a chart which explains each attraction’s location, line speed, ride duration, and age and height requirements.  This chart was essential because we are traveling with a small child whom may not be able to ride everything. So knowing exactly what she can and cannot ride in advance is a time saver!  In addition, Wiley gives a brief description of what to expect on each ride so parents can decide whether it is appropriate for their children.
The book explores so many important pieces of information from what time to arrive at the park, when to use a fastpass, how to get around the park, where to stand during the parades and the best place to view the fireworks in the evening.  Not to mention the best strategy for snagging a character breakfast and which hotel will best suit you.

Birnbaum Guides 2014 Walt Disney World 

Let me tell you why I enjoyed this book so much:

The book is colorful and easy to read with plenty of pictures which made it fun for me and my daughter to read together!  The book only took about an hour and a half to read cover to cover.

In addition to being a quick read, it is very comprehensive and well structured.   The authors leave nothing to chance.   After reading this book, you will know when the parks are the least crowded, where to go to meet the characters in each park, how much money you will spend on average, what to pack, where to stay and how to prepare the kids for the trip!

Similar to the Fodor book, the Birnbaum Guide outlines the rides in each park that are appropriate for each age group.

The book also provides itineraries for each park to get the most out of each day without passing out or going broke!

Some of the best tips that I learned from the book are:

Tip 1: Prepare small kids for the trip by watching Disney movies and listening to Disney songs leading up to the trip.  The more familiar the more enjoyable the experience for small kids.

Tip 2: Small children usually interact better with characters with human faces i.e. Cinderella verses masked characters such as Mickey Mouse or Pluto.  The book recommends that parents allow small children to warm up to characters by allowing them to interact with the “human” characters first before introducing masked characters.

Some of the other things the book does well include: providing a full color map of Disney World, complete hotel information with a complete break down of each Disney resort with an explanation of the activities and amenities offered at the resort.  In addition, the book includes the type of traveler that will most appreciate each resort.  The book also breaks down fun activities for single travelers, mature travelers, travelers with disabilities and couples traveling without children.

After consulting these guides, we feel prepared to have an amazing trip to the Magic Kingdom!

Have you been to the Magic Kingdom?  How did you prepare?  Do you have a resource that I should check out or great information that you would like to share?

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Spending Christmas In St. Lucea, Jamaica: A Fabulous Way To Celebrtate The Season !

Gran Palladium Resort and Spa St. Lucea, JamaicaGran Palladium Resort and Spa St. Lucea, JamaicaMargartaville, Negril JamaicaMargaritavile, Negril JamaicaA year ago today the Suggs Family was basking in the warm sun enjoying Christmas in Jamaica.  We ventured off the traditional “home for the holidays” route and found ourselves 20 minutes outside of Montego Bay, Jamaica in the fishing village of St. Lucea, at the Grand Pallidum Resort and Spa.  When we arrived, we were greeted with umbrella adorned drinks and shuttled off to our room.  As our golf cart raced across the resort, we admired the perfectly manicured grounds, impressive swimming pools, and a variety of interesting restaurants.  Lush tropical plants cradled the campus at every turn and the beautiful white washed buildings were perfectly complimented by the illustrious blue sea, just steps from our door.

The Gran Palladuim is located along a rocky coastline. The majestic cliffs are breathtaking.  On our first full day, we laid under the protection of a comfortable cabana draped with white linen and were hypnotized as we watched the waves crash into the cliffs that trailed off into the horizon.

Although the resort had everything we needed, nothing says Jamaica, like the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters of Negril. So on day two, we spent a full day in Negril eating jerk chicken and racing around on jet skis. And what’s a trip to Negril without a visit to Rick’s Cafe for cliff diving?  While Xeric took the plunge, the rest of us admired the beautiful sunset.

The next day we were off to Ocho Rios to conquer Dunn’s River Falls, which is always an exhilarating experience.

For the rest of our vacation, we lounged on the beach and ate our way around the resort.  It was an amazing way to spend the holidays.

This year, we will in Atlanta, GA enjoying a quite Christmas at home making cookies and slowly sipping from mugs filled with piping hot chocolate around the tree as we sing our favorite holiday songs.

Regardless of where you spend the holiday season, enjoy every precious moment!

Have you taken a fabulous trip to celebrate the holidays?  Share your experiences here.

Exploring North Georgia: Apple Picking At B.J. Reese Orchard

Wow! We had an amazing time at the B. J. Reese Apple Orchard!  It really feels like fall is upon us now.  The orchard sits on acres of rolling hills tucked into the North Georgia Mountains.  The fresh mountain air and the hovering trees filled with red and yellow Ellijay, GAleaves created a picturesque setting.  We enjoyed hot apple cider, made fresh daily on the farm and if that wasn’t enough, the farm’s market offers an assortment of other goodies from apple butter, peach and apple bread, and many other delectable treats.

On apple picking days, guests are offered classic “country fair” treats like corn dogs, fried Oreo cookies, fresh apple turnovers, and funnel cakes.  Along with good eats, there were great activities for the kids to enjoy.  Chickens, pigs, goats, and ducks ran wild as the kids attempted to feed the animals while posing for the occasional picture …lol and what trip to the farm would be complete without a hayride? Ellijay, GA Oh and did I mention they have adorable ponies too?  Ellijay, GA

Hanging out at the Reese Orchard was a great way to spend a lovely Sunday afternoon. Ellijay, GA is located about 90 minutes outside of the perimeter.  It was nice to get back to nature and support a local farm.Ellijay, GA

I had one of the apples as a snack today and it was amazing! I look forward to making homemade apple sauce and maybe even a pie with the apples that we picked ourselves.  As a new mom I am always looking for new traditions for my family.  Visiting B.J. Reese Orchard to kick off the fall season will be an annual event for us.

Do you have fall traditions?  We would love to hear about them.

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Corn Mazes, Funnel Cakes, and Smiles

This weekend I ventured out to Cagel’s Family Farm (www.caglesfamilyfarm.com/)with a cast of energetic little ones ready to eat endless amounts of cotton candy and let loose!  A girlfriend of mine and her daughter were brave enough to join me.  We had a fantastic time at the farm!  Just 40 minutes north of Atlanta, my babies (daughter, god kids and nephew) got a taste of country living rarely seen outside of the Cracker Barrel Country Store.    

 Cagel Farm is a working farm, dedicated to exposing people to the world of agriculture.  We had a full day complete with an extensive overview of farm life from milking cows  and viewing  a sheep herding demonstration to feeding the farm’s distinguished residents (pigs, wild turkeys, goats , ducks etc .)  Before taking the tour we perused through the farms extensive pumpkin patch which is great for finding the right pumpkin or photo opp…lol

 

 

 

After the tour, we grabbed some provisions (cheeseburgers, nachos, funnel cakes and cotton candy) then headed out to conquer the corn maze.  The great thing about the maze is that the directions are clear and it is just challenging enough to be fun without being confusing and scary.  You navigate the maze by correctly answering questions along the path.  We did ok.  Word to the wise, brush up on your Biblical knowledge, remember what you are told on the farm tour, and know some general trivia.  You will be fine.  There are two different mazes. Phase I and Phase II.  Start with Phase I to get the hang of it. 

If  you are taking small kids, go early.  It takes a few hours to take the tour, have lunch, and complete the corn mazes.  When the sun sets the farm becomes more of an adult hang out (Hunted Barn, Haunted Mazes and a Bonfire).

With the general admission the kids get access to two play areas.  They offer one for big kids and one for toddlers, so nobody feels left out. 

Take some cash (I never carry the stuff).  The ticket counter and main concessions area accept cards but the lemonade stand does not and you may want to tip the tour guide. 

For parents:  Feel free to take your strollers.  We got around just fine.  The hay ride/ farm tour has a place to park your stroller temporarily.  It worked out fine.  Also the bathrooms were pretty clean, much better then stinky Port a Potties… it makes a difference!

Spending the day at Cagel Farm is a great way to usher in the fall season.

 

 

 

Rediscovering Atlanta

Atlanta is a great city!  We knew that already… but somehow over the years the two of us began to take it for granted.  So when Xeric approached me about taking a tour of the city that I have called home for my entire life, I was less than excited.  But, I decided to go with the flow and I am so glad that I did.

The tour was conducted by Atlanta Sightseeing Bus Tours.

For about 50 bucks you can take a general five hour tour covering the City’s main attractions including: the Margaret Mitchell House (where “Gone With the Wind” was written), Georgia Aquarium (the largest in the nation), World of Coke and Centennial Olympic Park.

The tour began with a visit to the Martin Luther King  Jr. Memorial Center http://www.nps.gov/malu/planyourvisit/index.htm .   The Center is filled with Dr. King’s personal items.

His Bible, pastoral robe, and Grammy Award are all on display.

Also on display is the carriage that was used for  Dr. King’s funeral processional following his assassination in 1968.

Leaving the Memorial, we crossed Auburn Avenue and entered the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.  Although the original church no longer holds church services, it is still a beacon of light in the community.  During our visit we witnessed food and supplies being distributed by the church.

Dr. King pastured Ebenezer from 1960-1968.

The Memorial houses the crypts of Dr. King and Mrs Coretta Scott King along with an eternal flame that burns in Dr. King’s honor.

During our time there we also learned things about Mrs. King.  Not only a supportive wife, Mrs. King was a gifted singer, scholar, and humanitarian in her own right.  The Memorial also highlights Dr. King’s ideological mentor, Mohandas Gandhi.

Just steps away you can view Dr. King’s birthplace and childhood home.  Tours are given by rangers with the National Parks Service.

After leaving the memorial, we grabbed lunch at CNN Center (CNN is Headquartered in Atlanta).  Tours are offered daily www.cnn.com/tour

We also visited Atlanta’s bustling neighborhoods: Old Forth Ward, Inman Park, the Virginia Highlands and Midtown.

The tour concluded with a short visit to Stone Mountain Park.

The park http://www.stonemountainpark.com is located about 25 minutes outside of Atlanta in Stone Mountain, Georgia.  Park goers can enjoy several attractions including a water park, lake, hiking trails, golf and the famous laser show.  The mountain itself is pretty impressive.  It stands 825 feet and covers 583 acres.  Three men who played important roles during the Civil War: President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and Lt. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson are carved into the face of the mountain.  The entire carved surface of the Memorial Carving measures three acres (larger than a football field).

After leaving Stone Mountain we headed back to our starting point with a renewed interest in our remarkable city!

If you are considering a visit to Atlanta, GA you will not be disappointed.  There are great restaurants, hotels, and  exciting attractions to explore.  If you are a local, take another look, you may just fall in love all over again.

Road Trip to the Emerald Coast (Destin & Fort Walton Beach)

 

Emerald Coast
Brooklyn’s sun hat flew off…it was kinda windy

Recently Xeric and I celebrated our second year of marital bliss with a trip to the Emerald Coast.  It was a five hour car ride from Atlanta to our destination.  Thankfully, he drove the entire way while I attended to our daughter Brooklyn.

We prefer to fly to most destinations but with a newborn, driving was the best option for a number of reasons.  First, we had privacy; if she was fussy the only people who had to endure it were the people who created her …lol.  Second, as a breastfeeding mom, I was able to pump in the privacy of our car.  Having the Medela dual electric pump with the hands free bustier and car adapter is awesome. Because most babies love car rides..and Brooklyn as exceptional as she is was  not the exception in this case,  slept for at least 85% percent of the journey.  Third, although she has had her first set of vaccinations we wanted to play it safe and limit her exposure to large crowds ruling out the airport and airplane.  Last, as you can imagine we were able to travel with our baby gear and other “essentials” without having to lug things through the airport, which can be a huge hassle.

Over the course of three days, we divided our time between Fort Walton Beach and neighboring Destin.  The great thing about vacationing along the Emerald Coast is that it is very laid back and lacks pretense…two things that are perfect for fatigued parents who just want to relax.  Sure both cities offer plenty of activities from deep sea fishing to para sailing to historic attractions (Indian Tribal Mounds, Fort Walton Beach ).  However, unlike some places, one doesn’t feel overwhelmed or pressured to devise a packed literary ultimately changing the vacation into a busy hustle to see every attraction before time runs out.  This trip we opted to make spending time on the beach reading and relaxing the primary focus. Emerald Coast

We are seafood lovers so beach vacations are always a culinary delight.  We were pressed to find local fresh seafood at a reasonable price.  We made the mistake when we arrived by venturing to one of the local but commercial eateries on the beach.  Despite its proximity to the beach the seafood wasn’t exceptional.  The food was just ok and had me longing for blackened shrimp tacos from Six Feet Under.  Anyway, we did end up finding a local restaurant that has been touted as the best in the area: Dewey Destin.  With a 45 minute wait we were expecting a fantastic meal and for the most part we were not disappointed.

Emerald Coast
Fresh is best!

The food was fresh and local just like we like it.  The atmosphere although busy, was very relaxed and they were able to accommodate our newborn.  Our only issue was that we had to leave our stroller outside by the hostess stand located outside.  In the event that it rained while we were dining we would have been pretty upset.  Overall, Dewey Destin satisfied our seafood craving.

To sum it all up we returned home on Sunday relaxed and rested from a weekend well spent.  If you plan to visit Destin we recommend going right after spring break and right before summer vacationers start arriving ( late April -mid-May).  We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton.  The view from our room was amazing and the hotel provided all of the amenities that were needed.  We booked our car through RentalCars.com and secured a fantastic rate.  We spent less than $100.00 for the car for the entire weekend.

 

Happy trails,

Jennifer