Christi – Frugal Novice

Archives

Holiday Fun Series: Philadelphia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Quigley Motors. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Have you put up your Christmas tree yet? Strung lights along the rooftop? Hung stockings by the fireplace? Well, whether or not your home is ready for the holidays, you can be ready for lots of holiday fun. I’ve been posting ideas for Christmas activities in various cities, and today I’m sharing must-do events in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – perfect to load up the car with your family and fill your weekend with holiday fun!

• Christmas Village in JFK Plaza (also known as LOVE Park): This is a German-style festival complete with treats and eats, handmade toys and decor, live entertainment and more. The highlight of this event has always been the 27-foot tall lit-up present, and this year there’s also a 65-foot high Christmas ferris wheel, too. 

• Macy’s Christmas light display: The Grand Court has hosted a Christmas Light Show since 1956, so this is a long-time holiday tradition in Philadelphia. Macy’s continues the tradition of sugarplum fairies, dancing snowmen and more with a 100,000-light show narrated by Julie Andrews and accompanied by the famed Wanamaker Organ. Free performances take place every two hours during store hours. Between shows, you can also tour the second floor’s vintage Dickens Village, where intricate animated dolls and sets retell A Christmas Carol — and each free walkthrough ends in a chance to meet and get photos with Santa.

• Holiday Light Show at the Fashion District: If you’re looking for something quick to brighten up a December day, stop by for a 5-minute light show timed to music by the Philly POPS. You won’t want to miss the 45-foot-tall floating tree with giant stainless steel mirror ornaments.

• Christmas Underwater at Adventure Aquarium: There are the most underwater Christmas lights ever at Adventure Aquarium this year, with eight underwater Christmas tree displays, including the world’s smallest and tallest underwater Christmas trees. Visitors get the chance to see Scuba Santa and his “elfish” helpers diving beneath the surface and celebrating the season, as well as thousands of twinkling lights, colorful coral and sea-lightful illuminations that glow daily. This is a unique event fun for families! 

• Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum: Kids and adults alike will love the miniature winter wonderland complete with a quarter-mile of model-train tracks, seven loops and tunnels, 15 rail lines and model trains that travel past tiny replicas of historic monuments and Philadelphia landmarks showcasing thousands of lights.

Holiday Fun Series: Baltimore, Maryland

This is a sponsored post partnered with Miller’s Cross Pointe Motor Cars. All opinions are honest and are my own.

My last two posts focused on fun down south, but now I’m taking us back to the northeast to see what holiday activities are available in the Baltimore, Maryland area. One great thing about the northeast is how close so many cities are to one another; even if you live in another state like Virginia, getting to Baltimore just takes a quick trip in the car.

• Ice Skating at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink: You’ll feel like you’re in a Hallmark movie when you and your family head over to do a quintessential holiday activity – ice skating! This is a great location to make wonderful family memories.

• Sweet Street and Starlight, Gingerbread Night at the Maryland Science Center: Sweet Street is a giant, Maryland-themed gingerbread village! Each unique house or building was handcrafted at the Maryland Science Center. See how many Baltimore landmarks you can spot for yourself! And the planetarium has gingerbread cookies decorating the sky to show seasonal stars and favorite patterns. Take a look at the night sky with the help of these pastry astronomers.

• A Royal Breakfast & Train Ride (with Elsa, Anna & Kristoff) at B&O Railroad Museum: Attendees will have a royal breakfast buffet (complete with pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, and more) with Elsa, Anna, & Kristoff. There will be indoor carousel rides, model train layouts and an exclusive train ride aboard the B&O Magical Holiday Express with Elsa, Anna & Kristoff – and of course there will be photo opportunities throughout the event.

• Parade of Lighted Boats: Baltimore’s annual Lighted Boat Parade consists of more than 50 festive vessels and benefits the Marine’s “Toys for Tots” annual Christmas campaign. Boats lit up for the holidays will parade through the Inner Harbor and Fells Point, and the parade starts at the Anchorage Marina on Boston St. with carols hosted by a local choir prior to the launch.

Holiday Fun Series: Abilene, Texas

This is a sponsored post partnered with Star Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Are you ready for some more Christmas celebration ideas? Since Texas is such a huge state, it only makes sense to have another post dedicated to Texan holiday happenings! This time we’re looking at Abilene & the Big Country area, about three hours west of Dallas. This area is an easy one-day road trip from DFW or Austin, so gas up your vehicle and make plans to head to the Abilene area this next weekend! 

• Winter Lightfest: This is a new event to Abilene, and is located in beautiful Centennial Park. You’ll walk along tree-lined paths lit with thousands of twinkling lights and animated displays. Stop in the Christmas village for refreshments and activities, enjoy live music, and take advantage of lots of photo opportunities along the way. 

• Christmas at the Farm: Denton Valley Farms is just a short drive from Abilene and provides a down-home Christmas experience for the whole family. There’s a hay ride through a light display (which organizers say boasts three times the amount of lights they had last year), Santa visiting, food trucks, homemade ice cream, crafts, an opportunity to roast marshmallows and make s’mores, and even a photo opportunity inside a giant snow globe.

• City Sidewalks and Christmas Parade: This marks the 31st year for this event, and the parade sets off a week of holiday cheer and fun events in the downtown area.

Santa Calls Letter Writing Station: Did you know Abilene is the Storybook Capital of America? The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature is one of many arts organizations in town, and they’re hosting a free place to come write letters to Santa that will be sent directly to the North Pole! Make sure you check out the picture book art on exhibit while you’re there, too.

Holiday Fun Series: San Marcos, Texas

This is a sponsored post partnered with San Marcos Chrysler Dodge. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Howdy, y’all – are you ready for some Texas celebratin’? Today, in my “Holiday Fun” post series, I’m sharing (or should I say sharin’?) Christmas activities deep in the heart of Texas – San Marcos, Texas, to be exact. It may be 80 degrees some December days, but that doesn’t stop Texans from getting into the Christmas spirit! Hop in your car (or should I say truck? It IS Texas, after all) (linkto: https://www.sanmarcoschryslerdodge.net) and mosey on down to these activities:

• Sights & Sounds of Christmas: This popular annual festival has carnival rides for all ages, a variety of delicious festival food, live performances, and even a visit from Santa Claus. It has a petting zoo, Santa’s Gift Shop, Town of Bethlehem and even a scavenger hunt you can win prizes from by participating!

• Santa’s Ranch: Looking at Christmas lights is a tradition for most people, and this ranch is the ultimate drive-through light experience. You’ll travel a 1-mile country road filled with displays and animations, and you can get some delicious holiday treats like homemade hot chocolate and kettle corn.

• The Grand Ol’ Christmas Show is a live, one-of-a-kind musical variety show bringing all-time favorite Christmas classics and original sketch comedy antics to theaters across Texas. An original by The Grand Ol’ Production Company, produced by Will Hearn, featuring globally-acclaimed “Texas Piano Man” Robert Ellis and Americana standout Blue Water Highway as well as a cast of the best artists and entertainers in Texas.

• Christmas wine glass painting: This is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s something I never would have thought of, but it looks like a blast! Attendees will get to paint two wine glasses that are presented upside down as various cute Christmas characters like a gingerbread man, snowman, penguin and more.

Holiday Fun Series: West Virginia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Miller’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Hello! I’m continuing my series of “Holiday Fun” posts today, this time with must-do activities in Martinsburg, West Virginia. It never fails to surprise me just how many awesome things there are to take part in at this time of year, even in smaller cities like Martinsburg – it is so fun, and there’s something for everyone. Load up your car with family and friends, and don’t miss out on these events sure to get you in the holiday spirit:

• Doors to Christmas: Main Street Martinsburg is hosting “Doors to Christmas” with 25 beautifully-decorated wreaths shown adorning antique doors in the public library downtown. At the end of the display, there will be a live auction where you can bid on your favorite wreath so it can adorn your door for the holidays.

• Colonial Christmas at the Adam Stephen House: Visit this historic home and see the past come to life! Docents and volunteers act out scenes of what life would have been like during Christmas in the 1700’s. There’s also a Christmas Shop in the Triple Brick Museum.

• Christmas Parade: You don’t have to be in New York City to herald Santa’s arrival – there’s a great old-fashioned parade winding its way through downtown Martinsburg – this is sure to be a charming, family-friendly evening.

Holiday Fun Series: Richmond, Virginia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Pearson Hyundai. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Y’all, Christmas is basically here. I mean, it’s just a few weeks away, but the season is basically upon us, and that means there are a ton of great holiday activities to participate in. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and I’m sharing a series of posts with tips on all the holiday fun in different areas around the country. First stop? Richmond, Virginia – so all you northeasterners out there, this list is for you! Pull out your calendars, gas up your car, and get ready to plan some holiday cheer:

• Tacky Light Run: This 6K fun run travels along a neighborhood path where the houses are decorated with over-the-top tacky lights – the more, the merrier seems to be the theme! Runners are encouraged to wear their tackiest Christmas gear, and there are opportunities for photos with Santa in the “North Pole” before or after the run. What a great way to get moving, have fun with your family and friends, and, best of all, support a kids’ youth–focused initiative dedicated to motivating thousands of young people across the Richmond region to run, jog, and walk on a regular basis.

• Fan District Association Holiday House Tour: This annual December event takes place in a residential neighborhood developed largely from 1890-1930. The neighborhood prides itself in historic homes built in a variety of architectural styles such as Victorian, Italianate, Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Bungalow, American Arts and Crafts, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial, and Art Deco. There are 9 houses on the tour this year, and there are free trolleys available to transport you to each stop on the map.

• The Nutcracker: Is there anything more quintessentially “Christmas” than going to see the Nutcracker? I think not, and don’t despair because the Nutcracker runs in Richmond for 10 days leading right up near Christmas Eve (the 13-23 this year). Select matinee performances of the Nutcracker also have a (separately ticketed) tea party event afterward.

• Movies at the Byrd: This beautiful, historic theater is hosting a series of holiday movies in December, which means there’s something for pretty much everyone! A Christmas Story, Elf, and even a National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation marathon are just a few of the offerings you’ll find on their calendar. 

• GardenFest of Lights: The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens are lit up and shining brightly with “Magic in the Air” – the theme this year that is inspired by things that fly: dragons, spaceships, fireflies, unicorns, and even flying pigs! This event has been nominated by USA Today as a candidate for one of the 10 Best Botanical Garden Holiday Lights.

Michigan Must-See Places for Fall

This is a sponsored post partnered with Williams Brothers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

This is the last of my “Fall Road Trip” series, and this time we’re taking a trip through Michigan. People often think of the northeast for trips during autumn, but the midwest has lots of fun things to offer as well, and it’s definitely worth loading up your vehicle for a road trip in the coming month. Here are a few places you won’t want to miss!

• Hike on the North County Trail. This trail, which in its entirety goes through several states, passes through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Lower Peninsula through the Manistee National Forest, and various other parts of the state. You’ll be able to view all sorts of beautiful fall colors in the vast array of trees along this trail.

• Visit Pond Hill Farm. This is an idyllic setting for family-friendly fall activities. Every year they have a fall festival where you can do fun things like hayrides, pig races, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin painting, and pumpkin smashing. They have cider and donuts for perfect fall treats, and you can even pick your own pumpkin from their pumpkin patch. They have a café, winery, and brewery, too – something for everyone!

• Check out an Apple Fest. Charlevoix is a small town that’s perfect for visiting this fall. Their annual Apple Fest celebrates harvest season. You’ll want to check out their arts and crafts shows, shop at the farmers market, and let your kids explore the Castle Farms Train Area. They also have a petting zoo, face painting, and live music.

Road Tripping in Maine – Where to Go

This is a sponsored post partnered with Bodwell Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

This post is another in my Fall Road Trips series. I hope you’re enjoying reading about these great activities available in different areas around the country, and that you’re inspired to hop in the car and take a road trip of your own.

When I think of traveling in the fall, Maine is the place that first comes to mind. The fall leaves are one of the things Maine is most known for, but there are many other fun family activities to do that make Maine a perfect road trip destination.

• See the waterfalls. Did you have any idea that Maine has over 100 waterfalls? I had no clue! Since Maine is a smaller state, nothing is too far apart, so you could easily take a road trip and visit many of the falls in one or two days.

• Camp on Hermit Island. Hermit Island is a family-oriented campground with rustic sites for tents and spots for pop-up trailers. The campsites include a fire pit, a picnic table, room for recreational equipment, and a parking space. There are walking trails and many other fun activities for families.

• Take cooking classes at Stonewall Kitchen’s Cooking School.Whether you do this with friends or your spouse, this would be a fun way to learn new recipes and techniques ahead of the holidays.

Hit the Road on a Fall Georgia Road Trip!

This is a sponsored post partnered with Waynesboro Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I absolutely love road trips. First of all, they’re way cheaper than flying someplace, and second, you have all sorts of opportunities for great memories while you’re traveling down the road in a car with your loved ones.

If you’ve been reading my latest blog posts, you’ve seen some great ideas for road trips to take – and I’m continuing that today, this time in Georgia. Georgia is a beautiful state, but we’ve never been during autumn. It’s now on my list of must-do’s, though! Check out these fun things to do in Georgia this fall:

• Tallulah Gorge State Park. This nearly 3,000-acre park surrounds the Tallulah Gorge, which is a spectacular canyon two miles long and nearly 1,000 feet deep. You’ll enjoy waterfalls, hiking trails, and beautiful vistas. There’s also a suspension bridge 80 feet above the bottom of the gorge that gives great views of the river.

• Savannah. This city has been one I’ve wanted to visit for years now. There are all sorts of boutiques and eateries I’d like to visit, but for those of you that embrace the spookiness of Halloween, you’ll love all the haunted tours available. Many believe that Savannah is full of ghosts and haunted history. There are walking tours, and you could stay inside a house or hotel that’s been reported as haunted. You can even do a Savannah Haunted Pub Crawl.

• Apple Picking in Ellijay. There are several orchards, and apple picking is a quintessential fall activity. Visit one with your family, take in the views of the orchards, snap some photos, and take some apples home for some delicious fall baking. Apple pie, anyone?

Fall Fun in Florida!

This is a sponsored post partnered with Victory Layne Chevrolet. All opinions are honest and are my own.

At this time of year, with Halloween right around the corner and Thanksgiving right behind it, fall activities are on the brain. In Texas the weather can waver anywhere from 80 degrees down to the 30s, but there are still many days mixed in that do feel like autumn.

When it comes to Florida, though, it seems like it could be hard to find fall activities. After all, it feels like spring and summer year-round!

Don’t despair, Floridians – there lots of great options for activities to get in the autumn spirit – and I’m sharing a few here. Hop in the car this weekend and hit the road for some fall fun!

• Oktoberfest: Yup, you read that right – Oktoberfest in Florida! The German-American Social Club hosts this event each year in Cape Coral. There are performances, dancing, and of course lots of music. You’ll find delicacies like sausage, potato pancakes, and schnitzel, and of course lots of brews to go along with the goodies.

• Southern Fresh Farms Fall Festival: This farm is located in Fort Meyers, and features a petting zoo, a playground, a market, and even guided tours. They also have food trucks every Friday night and usually have live entertainment on Fridays, too.

• Sandsculpting Championship & Beach Festival: This is also in Fort Meyers, and is a little more in line with what type of fall event you might expect in Florida! World-class sand sculptors compete in several contests; there are also other types of competitions, demonstrations, and lessons. Kids will love the bounce houses and slides, and families can shop at more than 50 vendors that participate in this event.

Perfect Fall Road Trip – Fall Foliage in Connecticut

This is a sponsored post partnered with Robert’s Chrysler Dodge Ram Fiat. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I live down in Texas, and while there are definitely lots of beautiful things to see in nature, I’ve always wanted to travel up to the northeast in the fall to see the foliage.

If you’re lucky enough to live up in the area, Connecticut has awesome options for seeing the beautiful colors of autumn trees, or doing fun activities with your family. I’m sharing here three perfect options in Connecticut for fall road trips. The great thing about this state is that it is just 110 miles long and 70 miles wide, so nothing is too far away! Just hop in the car, hit the road, and have an idyllic autumn getaway.

• Simsbury – home to Talcott Mountain State Park, where you’ll want to be sure and visit the Heublein Tower – a 165-foot tower that offers sweeping views of the Farmington River Valley. 

• The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat. This tour takes you on a 2.5-hour, 12-mile journey through the Connecticut River Valley through beautiful scenic views of the trees in the area.

• Storrs – the Adventure Park will let you see nature from a whole new perspective as you soar through the trees on their zip line course. They also have an adventure playground for younger kids, so there’s something for the whole family here.

Fall Car Care Tips

This is a sponsored post partnered with Grogan’s Town Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. All opinions are honest and are my own.

A lot is written about preparing your vehicle for summer, and for winter, but it’s a great idea to do a fall checkup on your car, too. If you’re a parent, you’re probably about to put a lot more miles on your vehicle with carting kids to school and activities. Check the following items (or have them checked at your local dealership) to see if you need to make an appointment to get anything fixed or replaced, and get your car in tip-top shape for back to school.

  1. Check your battery and have it replaced if necessary. Time flies and it’s easy to forget when you last replaced your battery. We had some issues with our minivan and were shocked that our battery was over 3 years old! Thankfully replacing the battery solved our problems, but it’s good to be proactive and make sure your battery is good before you end up stalled on the side of the road somewhere. Be sure and check that the connection is clean, tight and that there’s no corrosion.
  2. Check all fluids. These include: engine oil, power steering fluid, brake and transmission fluids, antifreeze, and even your windshield wiper fluid.
  3. Check hoses and belts. You want to make sure they are not cracked or showing signs of excessive wear. This is a great time to make sure everything is secured appropriately, too.
  4. Check the brake system. Do this annually (beyond just the quick check at your vehicle inspection) and also have brakes, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change. Why not have your brakes in great condition before things start to get icy in the winter?
  5. Check the wipers. Replace worn wiper blades so you can be sure and see clearly when you’re driving in the rain.
  6. Check the tires. You want to make sure the tire pressure is at the manufacturer’s recommended amount, and that the treads aren’t too low. You also want to watch out for uneven wear (and especially for bald spots where the tread is completely worn down), which indicates that you should have your wheels realigned.