We desperately need spring to come to our area. Everyone is so sick of the snow so on the first semi-warm spring weekend we headed down to the Critter Barn to see the baby animals.
We arrived around 10:30 and the parking lot was getting fuller. The girls started with the pony.
There are so many animals everyone can see their favorite, from chickens, to goats and cows.
This is Mr. Chops the oldest living pot belly pig.
There are lots of rabbits to pet, they sit on tables to be at an accessible height for kids.
There is a cat room and they all seemed to be very comfy on this table.
You can hold a little duckling.
Or watch a milking demonstration. The kids were encouraged to come up and try to milk the goat.
This big guy liked to have his ears scratched.
And an entertaining episode of “Goat of Thrones” had the girls narrating for a while.
We had a fun Saturday morning petting animals, talking about how cute they are and even learning a thing or two. I appreciate the many hand washing stations and all the volunteers that are in each room to help out.
The Critter Barn is open for spring hours Mon – Wed from 10-1, Thur – Fri from 10-7 and Saturday from 10-3. Admission is free but a donation is requested.
I used to love Kayak to search for airfare, it still works for me but I prefer the functionality I get with the ITA Matrix program. The ITA program allows me to enter all the airports I am wiling to use, not limited to four like on Kayak. There are often five or six airports I am willing to drive to if the price is right, I can search them all at the same time on the matrix.
On the first screen enter your airports, trip length and other options. If you take some time you can search by airline code also.
Screen two shows you the dates with the cheapest flights based on your calendar dates and trip length.
Click on the starting date you wish to book or learn more about and screen three opens to the flight information.
Unlike Kayak tickets cannot be purchased by a direct link, print out the flight times you desire and book them directly on the airline you are flying with.
After our cruise we spent a few days in the Tampa area. Daughter wanted to swim in the Gulf so we drove from Tampa to Clearwater Beach. It was about 40 minutes over the causeway to the beach area. We were able to park the car and get into our room at the Clearwater Beach Travelodge right away. We changed into our swim suits and headed across the street to the Gulf.
We walked up the beach to the pier and watched someone land a huge cow ray. I think we watched almost an hour as he struggled with the fishing pole and finally brought up the huge ray.
Our hotel was across the street from the beach, a quick 30 second walk was all it took to hit the sand. I can walk a little to save over $100 a night on the hotel. And with nothing built in front of the hotel we had great beach views from the rooms. The hotel is old but clean. And it has a pool in the center courtyard so Daughter was happy. I know that sounds odd being right next to the Gulf but she wanted to swim in the pool for a while at night.
The hotel is behind these trees…
After dinner that night we walked the block back to the pier 60 area. They had buskers performing and selling their items on the pier. What a riot!!!! We saw people juggle fire, escaped from a straight jacket, sing and dance.
Also right at the front of the pier they were playing the movie Ghost Busters on a huge inflatable movie screen on the grass. There were a lot of people watching the movie and performers, it was a great time. And best of all it was all free! We looked at peoples crafts they were selling and nibbled on some popcorn we bought.
After crashing in the waves all day it was nice to relax and just hang out around the pier area. We walked the beach back to the hotel in the dark.
I love the look of the prayer flags in Asia in the Animal Kingdom.
On road trips we often stay at a Wyndham Rewards group hotel. A Travelodge or Baymont offers a clean room, pool and a hot breakfast. That is all you need in a hotel that you are spending less than 12 hours in on the way to your destination.
This promotion seems to be focused on the Wyndham brand hotels. For example the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, Wyndham Boca Raton, Wyndham Garden Phoenix Midtown, Wyndham San Antonio Riverwalk, and the Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront are included.
The promotion requires registration by May 14, 2014and stay at a participating hotel by May 21, 2014. You will receive 5,000 bonus points for each qualified stay.
Register here and see the qualified hotels: http://www.wyndham.com/deals-discounts/featured-offers/5000-bonus-points?EID=WYN_BonusPoints_021214_HP1&wid=em:WY:WE:04072014®1=em-_-WD-_-PWY002-_-NULL-_-NULL-_-0414-_-NULL
Prior to our cruise we always drive to the area the night before. Less stress, no worries about missing the ship and usually we can find a cheap room. We make this a leisurely day, often we go to the ocean and have a nice dinner.
The last cruise from Port Canaveral we stayed at the Radisson at the port. To be fair most of the hotels in the area cost the same amount for the night that we needed. What pushed me to book here instead of our normal hotel was the Club Carlson Radisson book one get one promo. If we stayed at any Radisson we got a night at any Radisson, I had to do that deal! Why not get a free upcoming night if you are paying the same amount no matter what hotel you pick?
The Radisson Resort at the Port is a little bit older hotel, but it was in great shape! My Daughter loved the pool area and we liked to listen to the band that was playing out by the pool. We had a room facing the parking lot which was great, we figured it would be quieter than the pool facing rooms. The room was spacious with two queen beds. We spent most of the night out by the pool after dinner. When it was time to check out I was again reminded how nice it is to have the rental car. There was a mob of people in the lobby waiting to shuttle to the cruise ships. We do not use the free shuttle with the mob of people, just not something I choose to do for my own sanity!
The pool area is very large.
There is a nice landscaped courtyard in the center of the hotel to the left of the pool area.
We would stay here again prior to a cruise. You are a very short 10 minute drive from the port from the hotel. If you want to use Club Carlson hotel points this one is 38,000. Or if you want to pay its usually around $100 a night.
We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites in Port Canaveral prior to our cruise.
The hotel is the closest one to the port which is relative as most hotels are within a mile of each other. The nice thing is if you ask for a port facing room you get this view.
The hotel has a very large outdoor pool, a very cool looking hot tub with a waterfall and a little kids splash pool with a sprinkler water feature.
The rooms are standard Country Inn and Suites, costs around $100-110 a night. Or 38,000 Club Carlson points. We had a great stay and are very open to staying here again before our cruise.
The best part is telling your child to look out the window the next morning to see this:
Best Western is offering a promotion from April 7 – May 18,2014. Stay twice (not two nights, but 2 separate stays) and receive a $50 Best Western Travel Card. The travel card expires 9/1/14 so its basically good for the summer only.
If you are wondering how long it takes to receive your gift card and how you will receive it:
Best Western Rewards members who have qualified for the promotion and have a valid email address in their account profile will receive a virtual (by email) $50 Travel Card usually within 2-3 weeks after they have completed the second qualified stay. If there is no valid email address on file, a plastic $50 Travel Card will be sent by mail to the member address listed in their account profile within 4-6 weeks after the second qualified stay is completed.
Register at this site: http://www.bestwestern.com/rewards/offers/seasonal.asp?season=jump&ptype=base&cm_mmc=Email-_-Dest-_-2014.04.08-_-Links&promoCode=emailrate
These promos are great for “road trips”. When you move towns a couple of times over your vacation it makes it very easy to complete promotions.
We purchased a groupon for the Seadog boat cruise in Chicago. The boat leaves from Navy Pier and offers a lakefront speed boat ride or an extreme thrill ride. We did the lakefront speedboat ride.
The speedboat ride was plenty fast and fun for us. You ride up and down the Chicago coastline, stopping at points for photos and more information on the city.
We rode on Father’s day weekend, so the lake was still pretty cold. I would suggest taking a sweatshirt or sweater if you ride in the early summer.
We enjoyed the ride and would do it again if we had the time.
Normal cost is for an adult is $27.95 and children 3-12 are $18.95. More information can be found here: http://www.seadogcruises.com/chicago/cruises/speedboat-lake-tour