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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.

San Marcos Staycation/Vacation Ideas

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

When people think about vacationing in Texas, most will think of the coast, especially during the summer. But now that fall is almost here, it’s the perfect time of year to hop in the car and visit other places around the state. My first recommendation? San Marcos and the surrounding area. There are so many fun things to do beyond just floating the river and visiting Schlitterbahn. Here are some fun things to do on a fall getaway or staycation:

Wonder World Cave and Park. This attraction has something for everyone – a cave tour, a wildlife park, anti-gravity house, observation tower, and more. This is a great spot for families!

Three Dudes Winery. This winery has a tasting room and terrace, and is perfect to sit and relax with friends or your significant other.

Outlet Mall. If you like to shop ’til you drop, you will LOVE these outlets. There are two sections filled with tons and tons of stores, and there are great eating options in the area too. This would be perfect for a trip with your friends, and you could follow up your shopping excursion with a trip to the winery.

Meadows Center Glass-Bottom Boat Tours. Visitors on these tours will learn about the local ecosystem and will get a close look at turtles, prawns, various species of fish, and other aquatic animals. You can also add on to your boat tour and take a stroll through their floating boardwalk. This would be a fun outing for families with younger kiddos, or nature enthusiasts.

Beach Road Trip Options for the Perfect Texas Weekend Getaway

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

If you live in Texas, you know just how huge the state is. It can take forever to get from one part to another, but the benefit of such a large area is that there are lots of options for road trip vacations. And one of the best places to vacation? The beach, of course! 

Just hop in the car and hit the road to one of these great Texas beach towns, and you can kick your feet back in the sand before you know it.

Port Aransas/Mustang Island: With 18 miles of shoreline and wide, sandy beaches, it’s no wonder it’s been ranked one of the best beaches in Texas. There are great things to do year-round, including festivals and events like the annual BeachtoberFest, the Whooping Crane Festival and Texas SandFest. 

North Padre Island/Corpus Christi: North Padre doesn’t get as much attention as South Padre Island, but it’s a great beach destination and has the benefit of being incredibly close to Corpus Christi, which provides a lot of dining and entertainment activities. The island offers abundant nature, seashore breezes, scenic views, and a relaxing, laid back community of coastal homes and vacation spots nestled in the dunes and along the water’s edge.

Matagorda Bay: This area boasts 22 miles of beach accessible by vehicle. Tent camping is also allowed on Matagorda Beach, and for the “treasure hunters” out there, you’ll find a lot more than the customary seashells – people have found driftwood, bottles, sand dollars, and even old Spanish coins.  

Tips for Bargain Road Trips

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

We love to take road trips in our family. Yes, there’s something to be said for the ease of flying, but road trips are where memories are made. The random little stops you find along the way, the silly games you play as a family to pass the time, and the crazy stories that come about after hours together in the car on the road – they’re all a part of the charm, and they’re all things your family will talk about for years to come.

If you’re taking a road trip, you already know one major benefit – it’s typically so much cheaper than flying somewhere. This is especially the case if you have multiple children. The cost of driving two people somewhere (and even staying at a hotel) is pretty much exactly the same as the cost of driving four people.

There are lots of things we’ve discovered as a result of our many road trips that help save even more money, and I thought I’d share some of the tips with you in case they can help you too:

Buy travel-sized bottles at Dollar Tree: You can actually find travel-sized toiletries here, too (and everything is a dollar, so you know you won’t be overcharged), but if you have a pricey shampoo you just adore, package your own travel-sized items instead of shelling out more money to buy small sizes of your favorite products.

While you’re at Dollar Tree… if you’ve got kids, stock up on a few fun little surprises to unveil along the way. You can use these as prizes for road trip games, or as rewards for good behavior, or even just as something to break up the monotony of sitting in the car. Buy some candy (not chocolate! You don’t want it to melt in the heat of summer) to save, too – then, when you stop at gas stations you won’t have to pay higher prices for snacks and trinkets because you’ve already got your own! If you have room for a cooler, bring your own bottled water and other drinks, too.

Check travel sites for hotel deals: Many sites like Hotwire, Priceline, and even Expedia offer mystery hotels for drastically reduced prices. If you’re not super picky about what chain you stay at, you can end up getting a really nice hotel for a truly bargain price. We’ve stayed at hotels before that would typically be way out of our price range, but are totally affordable by taking advantage of these mystery deals.

Research gas prices: There are apps galore out there that let you know what gas prices are down the road so you can plan ahead where to stop and get the best deal in the vicinity. Don’t wait until you’re out in the middle of nowhere and are forced to pay a higher price because it’s your only option.

Plan ahead for activities: Don’t just wing it when you get to your destination city. Look up what activities there are to do, and more importantly, hunt for coupons online. You can typically find discounts for places and end up saving lots of money by buying tickets ahead of time rather than at the door/gate.

Five Great Texas Cities for Summer Road Trips

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

If you live in Texas you know it’s pretty much big enough to be its own country. Did you know if you drive from El Paso to Texarkana it’d take you about 12 hours? It’s huge! Luckily, though, if you’re in the Hill Country, there are tons of great cities all within a few hours’ drive that make great vacation destinations. Here are a few you should add to your must-visit list:

San Marcos/New Braunfels: While these are two separate cities, we usually visit both when we visit one. San Marcos is a favorite for me because it’s got amazing outlet stores perfect for stocking up on back-to-school clothes, and our whole family loves New Braunfels because of Schlitterbahn water park. Gruene is another small town nearby – just hop in the car and take a short drive to get there – that has great live music and a restaurant called the Grist Mill that is a favorite.

Fredericksburg: This is a great town for a weekend visit. It’s small, so you can see it all in a day, but there’s a laid-back vibe that’s great for relaxing and enjoying time with your family or friends. Stay at one of the many B&Bs and you’ll have a place to visit after everything closes down for the day. There are tons of restaurants, stores, and wineries to visit.

Austin: It’s the state capital, so it’s kind of a given for places to visit in Texas, but this city is more than just the heart of downtown. The surrounding cities have a ton to offer, too, and you can avoid the traffic and crowds if you hit the outskirts. Georgetown, Leander, Round Rock (catch a Round Rock Express baseball game – they’re a blast!), and Cedar Park all have great local restaurants and opportunities galore for walking, biking, canoeing, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors.

• San Antonio: This is another city that many think of when planning a Texas vacation, but it’s for good reason – there is SO much to do. Whether you’re visiting the Alamo (it’s smaller than you think it is, so be prepared!), cruising down the river along the River Walk, or enjoying some amazing TexMex, it’s just a lot of fun all around. If you visit, get a hotel along the river and you won’t even need a vehicle – you can walk (or take a boat ride) to get to all sorts of shops and restaurants.

You might live in one of the cities/areas I mentioned above, and if you do, I encourage you to view your city like a tourist and enjoy a staycation!

Family Road Trip Destination: Portland, Oregon

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

I’ve traveled to many states around the country, but have never made it to any along the west coast. Portland, Oregon is one city that I’ve always wanted to go to, and it would make a great long weekend road trip from anywhere in the northwest. Here are a few great ideas for things you can do in Portland for a fun, kid-friendly visit:

Pips & Bounce: You might think it’s odd to suggest a bar as a family destination, but this one is definitely a place the whole family will enjoy – and it’ll get you moving, too. How? Ping pong! This bar boasts 10 ping pong tables and a broad menu (kids meals, too) along with craft cocktails. There’s something for everyone and it would make a unique lunch stop, for sure.

• Playdate PDX: This is a family-owned indoor playground and café meant for adults and kids to both enjoy. They boast a three-level jungle gym, ball cannon room, two interactive dance floors, and a toddler room for ages 3 & under. Their cafe serves pizza, salads, paninis, wraps, kombucha, craft beer, local Oregon wine, and espresso drinks – perfect for adults to relax while the kids burn off some energy. 

Oaks Amusement Park: This park has been running since 1905, and is located in a historic neighborhood in Portland. There are 20 rides, a roller skating rink, miniature golf, arcade games, concessions, and more.

Family Road Trip Destination: Philadelphia

This is a sponsored post partnered with Reedman Toll Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Springfield. All opinions are honest and are my own.

It’s summer, and that means vacation time for many families. Sometimes that means jetting across the country – or across the world – and sometimes it means hopping in the car for a road trip. If you’re in the northeast, Philadelphia is a great road trip destination for families. Here are a few of the best kid-friendly activities in Philadelphia to make your road trip a great one:

Please Touch Museum: This museum is just what it sounds like – a place where kids are encouraged to touch and interact with everything inside. There’s a miniature supermarket, a hedge maze that feels like you’re in a fairy tale, a STEAM-friendly water area with lots of opportunities for experimenting, a car room, a rocket room, a camping room, a garden, and much more.

• Franklin Square: This is one of Philadelphia’s five original squares, so there’s a definite historic element to it that’s very cool, but it’s also a super-fun place filled with kid-friendly options. The center of the square is the fountain, which is being updated this summer to include lights, music, and “dancing” water. There’s also a miniature golf course with 18 holes, and there are all sorts of fun nods to history like the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Liberty Bell. The classic carousel is always a hit, and SquareBurger is a place any kid would love to eat, with burgers, hot dogs and more.

• Treetop Quest Philly: This aerial adventure park lets you maneuver from tree to tree through obstacles and zip-lines. There are over 60 to choose from, and safety is a priority so you and your kids (ages 4 and up) can have a blast without worry.

Las Ramblas Restaurant – Delicious Dining on the RiverWalk

We received meals at Las Ramblas to facilitate our review. This post was not compensated monetarily. All opinions are honest and are our own.

Earlier this month we went on a mini-vacation to San Antonio. We loved it, and will probably go back again next year – the Riverwalk area is a fun, laid-back, very  walkable place to be, with all sorts of attractions nearby. We stayed at the Hotel Contessa & I wrote about our great experience here

When I planned our trip I thought about three things – lodging, entertainment, and meals. When we’re on vacation I love trying new places, but when we’re traveling with kids we have to also think about places that have kid-friendly environments and kid-friendly food offerings!

Our first night in town we kept things incredibly easy and ate in the Hotel Contessa’s restaurant, Las Ramblas. It was really nice to be able to just take the elevator down to river level and be at the restaurant within minutes of leaving our hotel room.

Las Ramblas’ aesthetic feels modern and elegant. My favorite touch in the whole space is their beautiful black & white floors, and the kids thought the spiraling column was amazing. You can see both in the photo below.

LasRamblas-Decor

And of course since Las Ramblas is a part of Hotel Contessa it’s located right on the Riverwalk. We had great views out the windows by our table. You can’t really see the view in the photo below, but you can see there was a whole wall of windows & doors along the river. There’s also a patio area for eating outdoors if you prefer.

Boys-LasRamblas

Las Ramblas feels very upscale so I was a little concerned about kids’ options before we went. I was pleasantly surprised to see they had many choices for our kids to pick from! E & C both had mini corn dogs and J picked (as always) chicken tenders. Our waiter was great (the service at Las Ramblas was consistently helpful, happy, and friendly each time we ate there) and put their food orders in at the same time as our appetizer so they didn’t have to wait as long to get started eating.

Speaking of appetizers… we had their spinach artichoke dip, and OH MY GOODNESS it was seriously, no joke, the best spinach artichoke dip I’ve ever had. It had caramelized onions, goat cheese, and bacon in it, which elevated it to a whole new level from other dips we’ve had before.

LasRamblas-SpinachArtichokeDip-Plate

I had to slide the plate over by Brian or I seriously could’ve eaten the whole thing.

LasRamblas-SpinachArtichokeDip-Single

For my meal I ordered the beef filet. It came with charred tomatoes, cipollini,  onions, potatoes, and Texas mushrooms. The plate also had a red wine jus that perfectly complimented everything in the dish. I was really impressed with my food. I am the rare Texan that likes my steak cooked medium-well, and that can be a challenge when it comes to filets. My steak from Las Ramblas was cooked perfectly. It was tender and juicy (even my medium-rare-steak-loving husband agreed). I’ve been to many steakhouses having lived in Texas my whole life, and this steak made my top three, for sure.

LasRamblas-Steak

Brian had the Texas striped bass with English peas, summer squash, sweet corn, and was topped off with corn butter. His dish was plated beautifully and really felt summery.

LasRamblas-Fish

For dessert the kids had ice cream and Brian and I split the molten chocolate cake.

E-IceCream-LasRamblas

LasRamblas-Dessert

The cake was rich with a fruit sauce, chocolate sauce, and fresh berries accompanying it. It was a great end to a really decadent meal!

We ate at Las Ramblas for breakfast both mornings of our trip. Their breakfast buffet is the perfect choice for families because there’s something for everyone. They had plenty of hot food items like scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and oatmeal along with pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, and cereal.

LasRamblas-BreakfastBuffet

LasRamblas-Fruit

LasRamblas-Breakfast

We loved it because we were all able to get plenty of fuel to energize our day with a big, hearty breakfast!

If you’re visiting the Riverwalk and are looking for a special spot, be sure and check out Las Ramblas. You can view their menu – and make reservations – online here