Monthly Archives: April 2014

Look at joining your local museum!

We have for a couple of years joined our local museum.  To be fair its about an hour away and we have only visited twice, so why did we join?  We purchased a family membership at a discount and use it everywhere we travel.  If your local museum or any museum you will visit is an ASTC member join them to save.  Your membership card will say ASTC on the back and show that at any ASTC museum for free general entry.  Here is a current reciprocal list:


If I can catch a Groupon I pay less than $30 for a year of visiting museum and science centers. Otherwise full price at our local museum is $50 for a family membership.  But your family can be your child and their best friend, or if your husband will not go take your friend along.  (Its generally for 2 adults and up to 4 kids per visit.) We often visit the Museum of Science and Industry with our friends.  The girls check out all the exhibits while we chat, its 2 adults and 2 kids visiting so its free with the ASTC pass.  They check out the hatching chicks, play in the tornado or climb a rock wall.  So keep an eye on the Groupon museum listing!

We have used our ASTC pass so many different locations, for example:

  • Pacific Science Center in Seattle
  • Impression 5 in Lansing
  • Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago
  • Alder Planetarium in Chicago
  • Field Museum in Chicago
  • Discovery World in Milwaukee
  • Milwaukee Public Museum


The ASTC reciprocal is good for any listed museum that is more than 90 miles as the crow flies from where you live. Often your local museum has a separate deal worked out with nearby museums if you buy from them for reduced admissions.

If you visit the following museums with a family of 2 adults and 2 children I have listed what general admission would cost. With the ASTC reciprocal membership you avoid these costs with your one membership.

  • Museum of Science and Industry – $58.00
  • Field Museum – $62
  • Alder Planetarium – $80
  • Impression 5 – $28
  • Pacific Science Center – $62
  • Milwaukee Public Museum – $52
  • Discovery World Milwaukee – $60


Categories: Discounts, How I Save on Travel, Saving Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Club Carlson Visa has an Outstanding Perk!!!!

We are looking at visiting Savannah, Georgia this summer.  I found out there is a Country Inn and Suites in the historic district, it redeems at 38,000 points a night.  That amount didn’t bother me as the hotel runs around $175 a night on the weekend, I would rather use points than pay that amount! After taxes the total is $192.14 a night. Ouch!!!!  (This is why I collect hotel points!)  I would love to stay for two nights but $385 is much more than I am willing to pay.

But with the Club Carlson Visa the 2nd nights redemption with points is waived. Its a free 2nd night on a points stay. So two nights over a weekend in the County Inn and Suites Savannah Historic District would only be 38,000 points total. I am very interested at what amounts to then 19,000 points a night!  Your points go twice as far if you stay in the same hotel for two nights.

Also if you sign up for the Club Carlson Visa the current offer is 85,000 points to start and automatic gold status.  Automatic gold on its own is not to shabby but the redemption perk is the largest value of the card in my eyes.  I think this would be a very good deal for our family.


Hotel in Downtown Savannah

Categories: Discounts, How I Save on Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Ron Jon Surf Shop Cocoa Beach, Florida



We visited the Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  We parked in their lot and did the required tourist T-shirt purchase.  Purchasing something gave us free parking at the store.  Ron Jon is right by the beach, so we crossed the little side road and let Daughter hit the ocean for the first time.  (Which she admitted looked just like Lake Michigan.)  We had spent the morning at the zoo  and were not sure if we would have time to swim.  So Daughter got a toe dip only that day and walking from the lot worked great for the few minutes we were there.



Tourist shopping, free parking and a first toe dip in the ocean.

Ron Jon Surf Shop is open 24 hours.

The store is just up A1A/ North Atlantic  from the Port Canaveral Cruise Port. Maybe a 10 minute drive.

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Save by stockpiling

We save what we can by stockpiling.  Basically if something is on sale at a very good price if you have the cash you buy a few extra to “stockpile” until you need it.

Sometimes my stockpiling can cause my family some embarrassment.  For example at Dollar General after Christmas they had everything 75% off so I purchase all the hand soap they had on discount.  Not a big deal to me but seeing Santa or a snowman next to the sink in July is not cool with Daughter.  There is a way around everything, just cut the cute little wrapper off.


The soap is red but in her mind far better than a snowman sitting by the sink. And I am happy since I paid around $.50 per soap. We have enough soap to last us until July.

Categories: Saving Money | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Apostle Island Ice Cave Trip Recap

A recap  of our Apostle Island Ice Cave trip, where we stayed, ate and what it cost for two adults and one child.


Day 1 leaving after work:

Dinner was Wendy’s $14 for the three of us.

Fairfield Inn and Suites Oshkosh – $0 free with Marriott certificate good for category 4 and under.  Promo certificate was good through April 2014.


Day two:

Breakfast included with hotel and lunch was snacks in the car.

Apostle Islands – free but made donation at park.

Dinner was Little Ceaser’s hot & ready pizza with bread sticks $8

Country Inn and Suites Wausau – $ 85 with AAA discount.  Needed stay to complete club carlson promotion.


Day Three:

Breakfast was at the hotel.

Green Bay National Railroad Museum – $15.50 total, 1 adult entry free with AAA card.

Lunch at Kim’s Place in Appleton $20 with certificate

Hearthstone home tour – $13 total – AAA members saved $1

Country Inn and Suites Zion, Ill – $0  free with Club Carlson points

Dinner was hot sandwiches through a local pizza delivery $22.


Day four:

Breakfast at the hotel.

Drove home before lunch.





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Disney’s Wine and Dine Half Marathon Finish Line Party

Daughter and I went to Walt Disney World in November for the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k.  (Our trip review of the race can be found here: As I planned on only ever running one race in my life and it was a huge feat to get there I purchase Daughter and I finish line party tickets to celebrate.  (I was not a runner, I was barely a walker prior to last fall.) Sounds kind of odd, going to a half marathon party as a reward for hours spent thinking I might drop dead at any moment preparing for my 5k. And with the race, packet pickup and everything else this was only way I was going to Epcot that weekend.

The Finish Line party is held at Epcot after the park closes to general guests for the evening. The hours are listed as 10pm Saturday night to 4am Sunday morning, they allow early entry at 7pm.  This is also the end of the food and wine festival so we were able to sample the festival at the party, we were given a $10 per person gift card for the festival.

We ran our race in the early morning, up before the sun! And then tried to sleep in the afternoon/evening to prepare for our party. We arrived right at 7pm and headed off to hit a few rides.  In some ways arriving at 7pm was a disappointment, some of the future world rides were closed.  And not everything was open for the party all night, we missed riding Figment for example.  But I did get to see Illuminations which was amazing as always!!!


As people were clearing out of the world showcase we started to walk from Canada toward France.  The downside was all the stores were closed but we had the area to ourselves.  The half marathon did not begin until 10pm so very few families were walking around like we were. There were no lines for the the festival booths, we had to show our wristband to be served.  No wait was fantastic, tables were open, it was nice to have a place to eat our festival food!


And my favorite part was the Dj playing in front of the fountain with the music piped through the whole park.  it was a riot to see the cast members relaxing and dancing to current music. We had more fun dancing and laughing with them that evening than we did on the rides!


We rode Maelstrom and Gran Fiesta a few times between snacks.


We made a few cars on test track and on a couple of trips didn’t even have to leave our ride vehicle to go again.


We checked out the Seas with Nemo and hung out with Brucey.  And took some time to cheer on the runners as they came near the end of the course! What a riot and we loved being able to see everyone finish in their costumes.



We even rode Soar’n a few times since the wait was 0!!!!


We rode ourselves out, I was almost falling asleep in the last ride. It was a little after 2am and I was calling it quits.



As we exited the park we ran into all the runners with their new shiny half marathon medals.


All Star Sports was very quiet at 2:30 in the morning.


It was a crazy day, we had been up at 4:45 that morning to get ready for our run.  I was dead tired, we were flying home around noon Sunday but I wouldn’t change a thing.  We had the best time and it was a different way for us to do Disney than our usual family vacations.

Categories: Disney, Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hilton Honors Double Points or Double Miles May 1 – July 31, 2014

Hilton Honors is offering double Hilton Honors points or double airline miles for all your stays from May 1 through July 31, 2014.

You can register here for the promo, once you select either points or miles you cannot change your selection during the promotion.

Hilton Honors points usually earn at 10 points per dollar, this would make it 20 points per dollar spent on your stay.

And some participating airlines are American, Alaska, Delta, Frontier,, US Airways, and United. With these airlines you would earn 2 miles per dollar spent on your Hilton Honors stay.  Here is the airlines list:

Hilton Honors hotels are:

  • Waldorf Astoria
  • Conrad Hotels
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Double Tree
  • Embassy Suites
  • Hilton Garden
  • Hampton Inn
  • Homewood Suites
  • Home2 Suites

Hilton HHonors logo


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Tusker House Character Breakfast

Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite amusement parks, it might even be my #1 favorite. I love the attention to detail, the themes, the food, the animals and the fact it is Disney.

Having an early breakfast time means some photos without many people in them. I love the look of the Africa area.


Tusker House Donald’s Safari Breakfast in Africa is my favorite character meal.  The food is amazing and there is jungle juice to wash it down. You start with a character meet and greet with the duck himself. Then you are ushered to your table inside so the feasting can begin!


I appreciate the mix your own yogurt toppings.  Something healthy in with the Mickey waffles, eggs, fruit, and potatoes.



My favorite chocolate croissants to the left in the basket.



I also love that during character dining they come to your table. No waiting in lines or wasting ride time.


Here are a few more empty park photos I took on the way…



Tusker House Donald’s Safari Character Breakfast is $28.75 for adults and $15.97 for children ages 3-9 or is one table service credit each.




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T-Rex Restaurant at Downtown Disney Florida

T-rex  is a very unique place to dine in Downtown Disney. Its owned by Landry the same people who bring you the Rainforest Cafe.


There can be a long wait from time to time as this is a very popular place to eat with only two locations, Orlando and Kansas City. One way to circumvent the long wait is with the Landry’s Select Club.


There are several huge displays and aquariums.



Kids meals are $7-9 and kids drinks are $1.99. Adult entrees are $20-32, sandwiches are $15-18.


We all shared a chocolate extinction for dessert.  It was perfect for 5 people to share, we all had a taste but were not uncomfortably full.



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Tampa Lowry Park Zoo

We visited the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo in the fall just before Halloween.  We used our AZA pass to save 50% on the entry price.  (American Zoo and Aquarium Association pass from our local zoo)  Normal entry is $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids 3-11, parking was free.


That price is a little hefty for a zoo but this zoo includes the rides free in its admission.  They have a Gator flume ride, the tiger roller coaster, flying bananas, train ride and carousel included in the ticket. We visited during the week and I think Daughter rode the flume ride five times with little wait.



The zoo is rather large with a newer safari area and wallaroo station.  We visited on an animal enrichment day. The animals were given Halloween treats to enjoy. Pretty much this consisted of pumpkins but it was fun to watch the animals especially the elephants and tigers.












The tigers were so fun to watch with their pumpkins. They drug them up from the water onto the land for a while and they would roll back into the water. They would try to sink them and the pumpkins would pop back up.


We really enjoyed our zoo visit!



Categories: Saving Money, Trip Reviews | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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