December 6, 2017

Holiday Weekend In Minnesota For Families

I planned a long weekend getaway to Minnesota for my family in December, timing the trip to enjoy holiday festivities in the Roseville and Twin Cities while we were there. Lucky for us, the weather was mild, so we spent some time outdoors.

Where to stay

Our home base was in Roseville, Minn., a city perfectly situated between the attractions we wanted to see there and in the Twin Cities. Our stay was hosted by Visit Roseville, so we stayed at the Residence Inn Minneapolis St. Paul/Roseville. There’s free parking, free hot breakfast, large two-bedroom suites for families, and top selling point to my kids, an indoor pool.

We managed multiple trips to the pool at Residence Inn during our busy holiday weekend in Roseville and the Twin Cities.

Our hotel’s location conveniently located to get to everywhere we planned to visit in Roseville, Minneapolis and St. Paul. Read a review of our stay in the coming weeks.

Holiday fun in Minnesota

I love visiting Midwest cities during the holidays, and this trip to Minnesota didn’t disappoint.

Rooms of the American Swedish Institute were decorated in holiday themes from various countries. During the holiday festival, there were kids activities and live performances throughout the mansion (or caste, as my kids called it).

For indoor festivities, visit the American Swedish Institute, which is gorgeously decorated for the holidays. Our visit, the first weekend in December, timed well, so we got to enjoy Julmarknad, a holiday festival featuring live music, kids activities, demonstrations, shopping, and yummy food and drink. I couldn’t resist trying glögg and kringla. The festival is only one weekend a year, but you can visit during the holidays to see the decorations. Be sure to walk the grounds of ASI, too. The mansion is gorgeous.

Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis is decked for Holidazzle, a free festival that runs through Dec. 23, 2017.

Downtown Minnesapolis is home to Holidazzle, which runs through Dec. 23. This FREE outdoor event has different activities like concerts, movies, and on the night we visited, fireworks (here’s the schedule). There are two huge animal sculptures made out of recycled materials that kids can help move. Those scared younger kids. The kids absolutely loved the kids play area, full of hay mountains to climb, a mini climbing station, a pipe rolling thing. We didn’t get to ice skate there, but that’s another activity. Since the weather was warmer than usual, the place was really packed.

Where to play

There are four floors of exhibits, including one of dinosaurs and fossils that include this guy – one of only four real Triceratops on display in the world and the largest complete specimen on display.

Depending on the weather, you may spend a lot of time indoors. One of the biggest hits with the kids was the Science Museum of Minnesota. We could have easily spent 4 to 5 hours here, but managed to keep it around 3 hours, zooming from exhibits about the body, mazes, dinosaurs, sports, engineering.

Netflix heads up: Science Museum of Minnesota is the museum with the “Stranger Things” shirt.

Artist-designed courses make Can Can Wonderland an intriguing place to visit.

One of the more unique attractions we visited was Can Can Wonderland, a whimsical mini golf center featuring 18 holes designed by artists, architects, electrical engineers and others. It was challenging and entertaining. There was about an hour wait to play, plus tack on another hour or so to putt. If your kids are young and struggle with putting, you might want to wait to visit because it can be an expensive.

The Holiday Flower Show is free to visit inside the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.

We made a quick stop at Como Park to tour the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul. This was one of the few FREE things we did during our trip. The Holiday Flower Show full of poinsettias was all of our favorite to see, though the tropical plants and pond were a close second.

The conservatory is next to a FREE zoo, the Como Park Zoo. It’s small, and in the winter, there isn’t a lot to see outdoors. However, kids can’t resist a zoo, so we walked through the primate house, and enjoyed watching the very active animals.

Our original plan was to visit the Oval Skating Park in Roseville for a spin, but the timing didn’t work out due to a speed skating tournament. However, we stopped by to see OVALumination at night, and caught the end of the races.

Lastly, we made a quick stop at the Rosedale Center to do a little Christmas shopping, but ended up letting the kids build a new friend at Build-A-Bear.

Where to eat

Surly Brewing Co. was a surprisingly family-friendly beer hall and brewery to visit for lunch. The kids played outdoors while the adults enjoyed one of more than two-dozen beers on tap. We visited while a bunch of festively-dressed cyclists were there.

We had several great (totally-not-good-for-you meals) during our visit. Our favorite was at Surly Brewery Co., which was incredibly family-friendly. The kids enjoyed playing outdoors while we waited for our food. There were 35 beers on tap, and the food was memorable. If you’re adventurous, try to hog frites.

Our favorite breakfast was at Mickey’s Diner in downtown Minneapolis. The omelet was, hands-down, the best we’ve ever had.

For breakfast, we tried Keys Bakery & Café, a family-owned restaurant with several locations in the area, as well as Mickey’s Diner. Mickey’s is an institution, having been featured on several TV shows, magazines, and miniaturized as a collectible. My husband’s omelet was the best we’ve ever had with the fluffiest eggs ever. Service is quick and food was the best kind of greasy spoon.

Tip: Mickey’s is a small diner and I wouldn’t recommend bringing a large family here, nor any kids who need high chairs.

For lunch & dinner recommendations, try Lucky’s 13 Pub in Roseville. This large restaurant was another great family-friendly spot, and the kids were particularly happy with the popcorn served while you wait.

We also couldn’t resist trying the cheese-stuffed burger this area is known for, the juicy lucy. We went to The Nook in St. Paul at a friend’s suggestion. It’s a hole in the wall bar with some pretty delicious food. The exterior doesn’t look kid-friendly, but it is. There’s a kids menu, and on Sunday evenings, kids eat free.

Driving from Omaha

These delicious truffles are worth the stop in Owatonna, Minn.

We were driving from the south, so we had to stop for lunch before we made it to our first destination. If you’re driving north on I-35, I recommend making a pit stop in Owatonna, Minn., for the delicious chocolate truffles at Costas Candies & Restaurant. It’s a busy week-day lunch spot, we discovered.

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Want to plan your own Great Minnesota Weekend? You can get some inspiration from my Roseville & Twin Cities Bucket List now, or check out these upcoming posts:

Christmas At American Swedish Institute – Dec. 14

Where To Stay For A Great Minnesota Weekend – Dec. 26

5 Not-To-Miss Things At Science Museum of Minnesota – Jan. 8

Surprisingly Kid-Friendly Places To Eat In the Twin Cities – Jan. 17

 

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December 3, 2017

24 Hours In Kansas City With Kids

One of our favorite quick Midwest getaways is Kansas City. It’s been a while since we visited during the holiday season (check out all the incredibly fun things we did when we spent a holiday weekend in KC in 2015). We returned to visit some new (and new-to-us) places, including Worlds of Fun’s WinterFest. We did it all in about 24 hours…with kids.

24 hours Kansas City guide

Here’s how you can have a fun 24-hour trip to Kansas City with kids:

Pick the right hotel: For this trip, we knew there were some definites for the trip: We wanted to try ice skating on the terrace in Crown Center, we wanted to visit the Country Club Plaza to see the beautiful lights and decorations, and we were going to WinterFest. Two places were much closer than the third.

We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Kansas City that was within walking distance to the shops and restaurants (and holiday lights) at the Plaza.

So, we picked Crown Center/Country Club Plaza for our hotel spot: The Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza, which is great for families. Our complimentary stay was provided by our trip hosts, Visit KC, so I can write about it (check the blog last this month!). The only downside to the hotel was that the pool was seasonal since it was outdoors, so that disappointed the kids. If a pool is a must, I recommend the Sheraton in Crown Center in the area. The rooftop heated pool is great, even in the winter.

If your activities are further afield, here are two other hotels worth checking out: DoubleTree in Overland Park, Kan., and The Courtyard in North Kansas City (a good choice to be closer to Worlds of Fun).

Kid-Friendly things to do in 24 hours: We arrived in Kansas City in the morning, and were able to see quite a bit before checking into the hotel.

Science City inside Union Station has several indoor and outdoor exhibits that are interactive and fun for all ages.

Our first stop was Science City, which is a favorite stop of our family’s, and we go nearly every time we’re in Kansas City. Our visit was complimentary.

Tip: If you have a membership to Omaha Children’s Museum, your admission is free to Science City!

Next, we walked the elevated pathways to Crown Center where there are shops, attractions like LEGOLAND(r) Discovery Center, restaurants, and our next destination, Crown Center Ice Terrace.

The Ice Terrace at Crown Center is open throughout the winter in Kansas City.

The Ice Terrace is a seasonal, outdoor ice skating rink open November through February each year. It’s a popular activity, so expect a bit of a wait to get your skates.

We had lunch afterward at Crown Center. If you walk around, you can come across a couple kid-friendly shops like a toy store and a Crayola shop.

My son loves all things art so the Crayola store was a good stop for him.

Depending on how long it takes to eat and walk, you may have time to check out the shops before checking into the hotel.

Our next stop was WinterFest at Worlds of Fun, which is an evening-only event, so we had some time to kill at the hotel. This would be a good time for a cat nap if your kids need one; if your kids don’t nap, you can go to Worlds of Fun before the event actually starts (you can get inside at 4:30 p.m., though the event starts at 5 p.m.).

We wandered into a space that felt at home in CandyLand, complete with a candy cane lane and gingerbread men.

WinterFest started just this year at Worlds of Fun, and it was a hit with every age in our group. It runs until Dec. 30. Food is pricey–it is an amusement park–so I suggest snacks there and eating outside the park before or after.

The next day, we had breakfast at Eggtc, and arrived just in time to beat the local rush. This was one of my favorite breakfast spot discoveries yet. Another breakfast recommendation is Blue Bird Bistro. If you choose to stay at Holiday Inn, kids eat for FREE with an adult entree.

There are a couple Eggtc locations in Kansas City, and one is about a mile from the County Club Plaza and the Holiday Inn. It’s very kid-friendly.

Well fed and caffeinated, we headed for LEGOLAND(r) Discovery Center. If you have a lengthy drive ahead of you, this is a good place for kids to let off a lot of energy before getting buckled in for ride home. You could spend about two hours there, and I recommend not skipping the 10-minute 4-D movie–the kids loved it. There are two rides, but I wouldn’t let that be a selling point. This is not an amusement park, so manage your expectations in that direction; it’s more for building, and admiring creations, and there is a sufficient amount of play spaces for kids to explore.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Kansas City has a lot of hands-on play, two rides and a 4-D movie.

Before leaving, we had lunch at Fiorella’s Jack Stack BBQ, a Kansas City institution with five locations. A good thing to note: There’s one location super near Union Station with a pedestrian bridge connecting the two. It’s another great kid-friendly place to try.

The large dining room at Jack Stack in Kansas City. Serving sizes are large.

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Want more KC family vacation ideas?

Our WinterFest visit was part of a 24-hour trip to Kansas City, packed with a ton of fun, great food, and beautiful sights. Be sure to read all about our adventures:

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun 

Where To Stay Near The Crown Plaza – Dec. 21

 

Looking for more things to do during the holidays? Here’s a post with 15+ fun things to do in Kansas during the holidays and a KC Holidays Bucket List.

If you have a little more time for your visit, check out fun things to do in the winter with kids in Kansas City or see what family-friendly activities are near Worlds of Fun.

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November 28, 2017

Tips For WinterFest At Worlds Of Fun

Worlds of Fun in Kansas City has successfully branched out from being only a summer destination for my family. Thanks to its new WinterFest, there’s a good reason to consider it now. The holidays at Worlds of Fun is enchanting!

Disclosure: My family’s visit was hosted through a partnership with Blog Meets Brand and Cedar Fair.

WinterFest at Worlds of Fun runs through Dec. 30, 2017.

During WinterFest, the amusement park opens in the evening for rides, music, holiday characters, and everything merry. It just opened and lucky for you, there’s plenty of weekends (and weekdays starting mid-December) to plan a visit through Dec. 30.

MAKE A TRIP OF IT: Plan a weekend to see more of Kansas City’s fun holiday attractions. Here are 15+ Fun Things To Do On A KC Christmas Getaway!

There’s a lot to see and do, and frankly, one night is not enough. And if you have little ones with you, late nights aren’t a good option. So, here’s how a family visiting with young children make the most of it.

Arrive early

WinterFest starts at 5 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. Five hours seems like enough, right? Oh, it never is. Arrive early. You can get into to International Plaza and Das Eishaus Ice Skating at 4 p.m. The parking lot opens at 3:30 p.m.

TIP: Worlds of Fun’s entrance has two right-hand turn lanes, but the night we visited almost everyone lined up on the far right one. Wish we had skipped the line and zipped ahead in that second-to-the-right lane.

Your early arrival allows time for family photos with a little daylight, and time to plan out your night.

You won’t see lines like a busy summer day, I’m guessing, but if you arrive at 5, expect a line of cars trying to get into park.

Plan Your Rides

There are 25 rides open during WinterFest, including rollercoasters like Prowler and Spinning Dragon. We didn’t talk about what rides we wanted to do beforehand, so we spent a good portion of the night looking at our map and wandering around.

We’re not crazy, riding the wooden rollercoaster, Prowler, in November.

The good news is, the ride lines were not unbearable, especially for the Prowler. The longest wait was for the ride closest to the entrance.

TIP: If you’ve got kids under the age of 8 in your group, head straight for Planet Snoopy for the most rides in one area (and pretty much zero wait time).

And I guess it goes without saying: Dress warmly. It gets cold on rollercoasters and the spinning rides in the middle of winter.

Where to find holiday characters

There are characters throughout the park, and if you just walk around, you’ll find them. No need to go hunt them down…except for The Big Two (Santa and Mrs. Claus).

Head over to Scandinavia to find Santa. You’ll find Mrs. Claus in her kitchen in Europa (for an extra fee, you can decorate humongous cookies there). If you’re a Peanuts fan, look for characters over in Planet Snoopy.

TIP: If cookie decorating is on your list, expect a line. It went fairly quickly but, just giving you a heads up.

 

We found her! It’s true: Mrs. Claus does bake the best cookies, and they’re about as big as your head.

 

Be on the look out for characters like Jack Frost, the Sugar Plum Fairy, Candy Cane and Jingle Bell throughout WinterFest. Interaction with these festive folks add a fun touch to the night. Jack Frost can even make it snow.

Slow down to enjoy things

I’ve never seen Worlds of Fun — or any space — as beautifully decorated for the holidays. Walking around makes your feel like a child again.

We wandered into a space that felt at home in CandyLand, complete with a candy cane lane and gingerbread men.

It’s tempting to rush from ride to ride, but you’ll be missing out on the spirit of the event.

By the way, if lights are your thing, be sure to ride the train.

TIP: For good, overhead views of the park, look to your left as you go up the first hill of Prowler.

Other things to see & do at WinterFest:

 

Artisan Alley – Designed like Christmas markets around the world, you can shop more than 30 local vendors. This was low on my kids’ interest list.

Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Lot – Walk through a maze of trees and find Peanuts characters at the end for a fun photo opp.

Das Eishaus Skating – For an extra fee, you can ice skate under twinkling lights. This is one of the few ice skating rinks I’ve come across that provides skating assistance for beginners (think: A walker on ice).

Food & Beverages – Wherever you are in the park, you’ll find some seasonal food and drinks, as well as some usual amusement park fare like pizza, turkey legs and funnel cakes. It wouldn’t be Christmas without hot cocoa, and there’s also spiked drink options for the grownups.

TIP: There were lines for hot chocolate throughout the park, except for one place I stumbled upon: Spike’s Cheery Concoctions. It’s not just for the grown-up beverages, you can get cocoa there.

Let It Snow – It snows every 15 minutes at Hometown Square in Americana, thanks to Jack Frost. There are also performers and fantastic photo opps like the 300-foot-tall “tree” (AKA the ride SteelHawk).

We went on an unseasonably warm weekend and the fake snowfall was a nice touch.

Live Shows – There are 10 shows to catch during WinterFest, and I’ll admit, we didn’t seek many of these out. We were on a mission for rides and cookies (and hot cocoa). There’s a Broadway-calibre “Charlie Brown Christmas Spectacular,” “Sounds of the Nativity” with live animals, and everything from jazz to bluegrass and performers on a roving trolley.

Kids can feed the animals in the Living Nativity (for a few dollars) while singers perform on a nearby stage. There are donkeys, goats, calves, and a few surly camels.

We caught the tree lighting ceremony, which is held each night the park is open at 5:30 p.m. Snoopy and about 20 singers and dancers perform a few numbers and then quickly, the tree lights up and then there’s a surprise ending. In my honest opinion, kids didn’t want to wait around for this and if I could do it again, I’d skip it and go on the rides. The tree stays lit the entire night.

North Pole Post Office – Kids can stop by the post office to write letters to Santa. Nearby, you’ll find Reindeer Roundup with Murray the Moose and others. Don’t go out of your way to find Murray.

Sally’s Christmas Crafts – Kids 12 and younger can decorate an ornament to take home or hang on the tree, as well as make cards.

If you go

WinterFest at Worlds of Fun

Santa sets the mood from the start at the entrance to Worlds of Fun.

WinterFest

When: Through Dec. 30, 2017; it’s open from 5 to 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through Dec. 17, and then nightly from Dec. 18-30 (except Dec. 24 and 25) from 5 to 10 p.m.

Where: Worlds of Fun, 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave, Kansas City, Mo.

Cost: Purchase tickets online here to pay $25 (plus fees & taxes), or pay a bit more at the gate. An all-inclusive ticket is $45 (plus fees & taxes) online, and that includes admission, parking, a single meal deal, and a souvenir mug. Ice skating is $15, and the cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus is $14 (includes four cookies).

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Our WinterFest visit was part of a 24-hour trip to Kansas City, packed with a ton of fun, great food, and beautiful sights. In the next weeks, return to this blog to read all about our adventures:

24 Hours In KC With Kids

Where To Stay Near The Crown Plaza – Dec. 21

Kid-Friendly Indoor Activities For KC Winter Getaways – Jan. 4

 

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November 5, 2017

My Roseville & Twin Cities Winter Bucket List

We’re braving Minnesota in the winter. Why? Silly question. The question should be why not – the Twin Cities have been touted as one of the top 10 winter vacation spots

To make the most of it, we’re staying in Roseville, who is hosting my family for the trip. Roseville give us easy access to attractions in Minneapolis and St. Paul while staying in a more affordable area (with free parking, a commodity in these parts).

Things to do in Twin Cities & Roseville

I’ve got more things on my bucket list than time allows, but isn’t that the fun thing about bucket lists? Dream big. If there’s something you think is a must-do or must-see while we’re there, please let me know in the comments section!

Roseville & Twin Cities Winter Bucket List

Play & Learn Indoors – Indoor activities will be a necessity during a winter visit. Some of our favorite places to visit on vacations are children’s museums and science centers, so we’re in luck with this part of Minnesota. There’s Minnesota Children’s Museum, which just opened after a major expansion and renovation, and the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. For pure fun, there’s also Can Can Wonderland (think a fantastical world of indoor mini golf, arcade games, and more). Other options include Minnesota Transportation Museum at Jackson Street Roundhouse, a former steam engine maintenance facility-turned historic gem which provides a unique opportunity for kids of all ages to experience railroading.

Three places I’d love to visit (from top going clockwise): Minnesota Children’s Museum, photo courtesy Minnesota Children’s Museum; Can Can Wonderland, photo courtesy Mike Krivit Photography; Science Museum of Minnesota, photo courtesy of Science Museum of MN.

Shop Pop-Ups & The Mall of America – This one’s more for me than anyone else. There are holiday pop-up shops throughout Minneapolis, not to mention the granddaddy of all shopping experiences, Mall of America. If we’re being truthful, if I go to Mall of America, it’d be more for the experiences than shopping though. I’ll save the shopping for local vendors at the pop-ups and then hit the big mall for things like Nickelodeon Universe and the giant ropes course (and zip line).

Hockey Time – Since we’re there in the winter, why not go to a hockey game? The Wild plays in Minneapolis and there’s a game the weekend we’re there! Check the Minnesota Wild schedule here.

Holidazzle – We want to head to downtown Minneapolis to see Holidazzle, a FREE spectacle held Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 24 to Dec. 24. Holidazzle events include outdoor movies, skating, an illuminated art installation, fireworks, Santa, Kid Zone, and more.

Twin Cities winter activities

Holidazzle is an annual festival in downtown Minneapolis featuring ice skating, Santa, free movies, fireworks and more. Photos courtesy Holidazzle Minneapolis

Take In A Live Show – Minneapolis boasts a fantastic theater scene. Since we’re there during the holiday season, shouldn’t we take in a show like “A Christmas Carol”? It’s playing at the Guthrie Theater. You know what sounds even more awesome? “A Stocking Full of Awesome VII: The Wreath of Khan,” a family-friendly comedy show presented by Brave New Workshop. The description is the kicker: “This show is appropriate for the whole family…as long as you consider guys throwing knives at each other appropriate.”

JulmarknadAmerica Swedish Institute‘s Christmas market, Julmarknad, is the largest holiday weekend at the historic Turnblad Mansion. First off, this mansion looks like a castle, so it already is going to be a hit with my son. Additionally, there is a ton happening at the market, including performances, kids crafts, Swedish foods for purchase, and a lot of vendors.  I’m hoping this times out with our weekend visit.

Ice Castles – Holy buckets, if this is open when we’re visiting this winter, I want to be there! Go look at pictures, the Ice Castles look amazing. website

Eat All The Good Food – If you know me, I usually plan trips around food. On my list, Hen House Eatery (word is they have a great kids’ pre-meal entertainment pack), The News Room (read headlines in newsprint-inspired decor), ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s in Minneapolis or Grand Ole Creamery in St. Paul, Midtown Global Market (on Fridays, they have Family Fridays activities), World Street Cafe, Hazel’s Northeast, Snuffy’s Malt Shop, Smalley’s Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar in Stillwater (this has been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” – plus I have a pirate fan in the family), and Mickey’s Diner (featured on the Food Network series “Unwrapped,” “Roker on the Road,” Rachel Rays’ “Tasty Travels,” and Alton Browns’ “Feasting on Asphalt”).

Inspiration for my Eat All The Good Food list came from bloggers (like Dining With Alice, who shared family-friendly tap rooms!, and others like Food + Wine, Star Tribune’s best restaurants with kid-friendly menus, and Eater kid-friendly lists (this and this).

Roseville and the Twin Cities have an abundance of breweries, including Bent Brewstillery. Photo courtesy Lane Pelovsky

Minnehaha Falls – What? A waterfall in winter? At southern Minneapolis’ Minnehaha Park, hikers stop at overlooks to see the Mississippi River, limestone bluffs and 53-foot-tall Minnehaha Falls. I’ve seen pictures of the falls frozen in the winter, maybe we’ll have luck? website

Wabasha Street Caves – This St. Paul site has me intrigued. website

Como Park Zoo – I happen to know from experience, zoos are great to visit in the winter. Tip from Working Mom’s Travels about Como is that it’s easy to visit in the winter since buildings are close together. Santa is at the Minnesota Zoo on Saturdays in December! The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at part of Como Park Zoo and looks delightfully decorated during the holidays. Como Park Zoo & Conservatory are FREE (voluntary donations are accepted).

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is decked out for the holidays. Photo courtesy Como Park Zoo Conservatory

Saint Paul Winter Carnival – OK, this one doesn’t fit into our travel timeline, but if only. It looks fun! Saint Paul Winter Carnival starts in January, though.

Outdoor Sports –  If we’re feeling ambitious, we could snowshoe or ski. Most likely, we’ll ice skate at Roseville Oval, for sure!

You can ice skate outdoors surrounded by holiday lights at the OVAL in Roseville. Photo courtesy Lane Pelovsky

Photo Opps – We might just swing by the Walker Art Center so the kids can get the iconic picture in front of “Spoonbridge and Cherry” at Walker Art Center. 

 

I want YOUR help. Help me plan our trip! Tell me your favorite things to do, places to eat, and all the other must-see things in Roseville and the Twin Cities! Suggestions don’t have to be for specifically kid-friendly things, but that is greatly appreciated.

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October 12, 2017

Direct Flights From Omaha

This fall, Frontier Airlines announced it will be adding more direct flights from Omaha, with new destinations being Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Fort Myers (Florida). The flights won’t start until spring/early summer 2018.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

An even more recent news came from American Airlines last week, who announced it would add a direct flight next year to Philadelphia. The airline already has nonstop service to Chicago; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Los Angeles; Miami; and Phoenix.

I love this news of more non-stop flights from Omaha. I try to avoid layovers when traveling with the kids. I’ll gladly pay more for a direct flight.

You don’t have to pay more, though. Allegiant Airlines is a budget airline with direct flights from Omaha to sunny destinations, too. I’ve tried that airline a couple times, with a mixed result. Here are my tips on what to expect when flying Allegiant Air.

Cocoa Beach is about an hour drive from Seminole County, Florida, where the Orlando Sanford International Airport is located. There is a direct flight to Sandord/Orlando via Allegiant Airlines.

But it can be done, and flying on one of these low-cost airlines makes for memorable trips! Read about my quick trips to Tampa Bay and Orlando flying with Allegiant. If you’re schedule is flexible, you just can’t beat the price.

Direct Flight Options From Omaha

Thinking back to those Florida trips makes me all wistful for winter vacation to a warmer city. Nothing is planned. Yet. But a travel blogger can dream. It doesn’t have to cost much. CheapOair has roundtrip fares for under $199. You can search flights here.

Here are a few of the warmer destinations with direct flights from Omaha that, I think, would be a great escape this winter:

Fort Myers, Fla.

Las Vegas

Miami

Orlando

Phoenix

Punta Gorda, Fla.

San Diego

San Francisco

Tampa

Here’s the complete list of direct flights from Omaha:

Atlanta

Charlotte

Chicago

Dallas

Denver

Detroit

Fort Myers, Fla.

Houston

Los Angeles

Las Vegas

Miami

Milwaukee

Minneapolis/St. Paul

New York City

Orlando

Phoenix

Portland, Ore.

Punta Gorda, Fla.

Salt Lake City

San Diego

San Francisco

Seattle

St. Louis

Tampa

Washington, D.C.

This list only involves flights out of Eppley Airfield in Omaha. The direct flight map was last updated Oct. 4, 2017. To see any updates later, be sure to check here.

 

Where would you fly directly to if given the chance this winter?


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September 5, 2017

Visiting Grand Ole Opry With Kids

You can’t pass through Nashville and not visit Grand Ole Opry. It’s just not done.

My family was on our #ohmyepicroadtrip this summer and our path led us through this great Tennessee city and I had one stop, and only one stop, that I insisted we make.

Grand Ole Opry. 

The entrance to the Grand Ole Opry is one big photo opp. Bring your camera.

We did it. With tired kids who’d been in the car for several hours. We received complementary tickets so I could tell you all about the experience.

Here’s why you have to visit the Grand Ole Opry…even with kids:

  1. Everyone is in awe – The Grand Ole Opry is the radio show that made country music famous. If you’re a fan of country music, you kinda have to make a pilgrimage there. But if you’re not, you still get goose bumps there. It has that kind of power. Even performers get a little starstruck by the building. When Aaron Lewis was on stage, he admitted to being overwhelmed by the venue, in spite of having performed to far larger crowds.
  2. Variety of music – Country has a big umbrella and I wouldn’t lump most of the performers we saw on the night we attended into that broad category. My favorite performer, the lady I was most excited to see when I read the lineup, was the award-winning bluegrass star, Rhonda Vincent. The lineup thoughtfully balanced the variety, scattering hit-makers of today’s country radio among gospel, Western swing and what my father-in-law calls “Country Western,” the performers your parents grew up listening. Each play about three songs and most chatted a bit between songs. It is a live radio show, after all.

    My favorite performer of the evening was Rhonda Vincent, a Grammy-winning bluegrass singer.

  3. Snacks – When going anywhere with kids, this is important. Popcorn and a little heartier fare like pizza and hot dogs are available, as well as beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). The prices, like it is at any concert venue, are more than you’d expect.
  4. Celebrities – You never know who’s going to be in the audience or a special guest on the show. On our night, a well-known race car driver was there. The likes of Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Stevie Wonder, and John Fogerty are among the list of famous people appearing there.
  5. Tours – I’m disappointed that our road trip was off-schedule and meant that we had to miss the afternoon tour of the Opry. This place has a storied history, and you can choose three tours to learn more about it, as well as visit Ryman. FYI, if you want to be on stage when that famed red curtain rises, book the VIP Tour.

 

About bringing children to the Grand Ole Opry

The Grand Ole Opry is family-friendly.

I brought two young children to the show and you may be wondering if it’s good for kids.

Totally. It is a radio show, so there isn’t much of a chance of hearing anything inappropriate, if that’s a concern. And you can come as you are. Some people dressed up a bit, others wore jeans.

BUT.

It’s an evening show and if you have small children who get tired easily, you may have to weigh the pros and cons of bringing them. Grand Ole Opry shows start at 7 p.m. My youngest was 5 and she started to get antsy and cranky before intermission. 

Expect the show to last about two hours, including the intermission. On the night we were there, there were four performers in the first half, and four in the second half.

FYI: Any child younger than 4 does not need a ticket as long as they can sit on your lap.

 

If you go

Grand Ole Opry House

Where: 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, Tenn.

https://www.opry.com

 

Disclosure: I was provided complimentary tickets to the Grand Ole Opry so I could write about it. I was not paid to write this post. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.

Opry With Kids

 

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