Friday, July 31, 2015

Port Discovery Baltimore, Maryland.

The weather was perfect today for a day out with the kids, though I spent a few hours of this lovely day inside the fun Port Discovery in Baltimore. The kids had a great time exploring the mini reality. It’s a great museum with the kiddies’ version of what we adults do around town on a daily basis. 

Here kids get to explore a few floors of different themed rooms. The entrance has this great set up of a play supermarket and gas station with the pump and all. 

There are other fun rooms on this floor that change theme time to time when we visit. At the beginning of the year while exploring Baltimore I decided to get a yearly ticket here for about $25. So in my group of four, we have a family member card of $100 for the whole year. It was a better bet for me because the kids go there often. So instead of paying an entry fee of $14.95 for ages 2 and above, I just walk in like the kids below two who get in for FREE. With this membership pass we get the VIP entrance with no lines each time we go and of course we don’t pay, sounds like some insurance, but seriously it’s a great bargain.

There is a huge urban tree house at the center of the building where kids can climb through and get to each floor if they choose not to use the stairs or the elevator. There is a room for all ages, a little room that looks like a crèche and then a room with a little library in it’s corner and plenty more activities for creativity. Then there is the diner, every single item here looks edible, watch out for the kids here, we all get hungry in this room every time. 

The top floor has this Lego castle theme with the dragon on one extreme end and the little throne on the other end. Kids can dress up for the part if they want to really get in to character, there’s a box of costumes that are set out for all the fun. There are side chairs on each floor in case anyone gets tired and there's a snack room for you to have your lunch in.

 There is parking right around the corner of the building, we spent about 4 hours in that area and paid $20 for parking. There's lots to do downtown in Baltimore but the Port Discovery is definitely one of the most enjoyable choices for your kids to get creative.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

South Beach Miami, Florida.

If you haven’t been to South Beach Miami, you just have to go there once in a lifetime at least. It is everything that you can imagine when you think lively and buzzing. I went down there with my sister and daughter on one of our drives down from Miramar, Florida. There's total craziness on the Miami highways so you just have to be extra vigilant, part of this I think was because of the fast cars and flashiness you get to see when your over there, everyone wants to show off. 

There was heavy traffic coming in to Miami at about 4pm but it was manageable. We were able to park two blocks away from the beach, it cost about $15 for the whole time we were there. You can't pay with your card so definitely have some change with you, most of the restaurants lined by the beach have ATM's inside just incase. If you love designer shopping there is plenty of that right by the beach and if you just want to relax definitely hit the beach all geared up for the day. The rental chairs were pricy so we opted for our towels instead, we got the same view as those chairs :). 

Didn’t really see any snacks to get while we were on the beach so we just got some ice cream at this little stand, that was pricy as well so I suggest you take your own snacks with you when packing. There were tons of restaurants lined up by the beach so you could opt for that instead if you want to try something different. There were a lot of skyline advertisements for the evening activities definitely keeping you informed of where to be. Overall it was just so relaxing looking over at the beautifully extra blue sea and watching the colorful cruise ships passing by. You'll get to relax and the kids will get to play until they drop :).

I would go again in a heartbeat.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dreams Come True at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, Florida.

I remember always wanting to go to Walt DisneyWorld, Florida. I would sometimes get information here and there, always wondering what it would be like to take my daughter on a trip. So I finally did, as they say at Disney, "Dreams Do Come True". My daughter was on cloud nine the entire day. I don’t think there was any better moment than this. I was in town in Miramar, Florida to see my sister and then I booked a rental car for the weekend and drove down to Orlando, it was about 4 hours drive to Orlando. A family friend of mine who had worked at the Westgate Vacation Villas Resort & Spa at Kissimmee Florida helped me get a great discount for two nights. When we got there we discovered it was an apartment lodge and there was a water park there, it was just another added bonus to this trip. We had dinner at a restaurant in the shopping area of the Westgate apartments; the excitement was building up for the next days adventure.

A few days before, I had booked the Hollywood Studios theme park for us to go see but then I did my research and decided that the Magic Kingdom would be preferable for my daughter’s age range since she’s very much a Princess. The drive down from the hotel to the park the next day just took about 15 minutes and then it all began. There was parking for villains and heroes, we parked over at heroes of course and then hopped on the trains heading towards the ticket area.

Tip: Get on the villains train to and from the park because it’s always less busy since everyone wants to be a hero. Everything seemed to move faster there. We tried that on our second trip, it was like a magic trick.

Tip: You can change your mind at the gate for your choice of theme parks. I switched my Hollywood studios ticket at the ticket desk of Magic Kingdom and off we went to the next stop.

We got on a ferry to cross the river towards the Magic Kingdom, I can’t begin to explain what the view was like, took my breath away. Every bit of what I was excited for was fulfilled that moment, I could basically go back now :). The ferry took about 15 minutes to get us across and then we made it, let the fun begin. 

I had our itinerary planned out on the Disney app I downloaded online. My daughter’s a huge fan of Minnie so we waited in line to see her at the entrance, it was time for Minnie to head to her stage performance so we walked over to get a good space for the show. Once Minnie and Mickey were on stage, they lit up my daughter’s day. They performed and had the other royal princesses on stage with them. 

Part of our itinerary for the day was to see Anna and Elsa from Frozen, which was another highlight. The wait to see these princesses took an hour. I couldn’t believe how they literally knocked the other princesses out of the water totally dominating that castle. My little princess was over the moon for this, it was just such a great experience seeing how excited she was.

Tip: To get faster access for lines, definitely use the Disney fast pass on the Disney app, will save you good time

We later had lunch at the Beauty and the Beast restaurant called “Be our Guest”. It took me the whole week to get a space at this place since it was all booked but I kept calling in and someone luckily cancelled and saved a space for my crew. 

We enjoyed lunch there and toured the rooms from the Cartoon then afterwards we head to Main Street for the afternoon parade. After that we went back to the hotel to get some rest for the evening’s parade and fireworks. Words cannot express, only videos can give a glimpse to the fun or better yet, dream a little dream, save a little for this vacation and I promise you your kids will do what you say for the next month as pay back for this trip.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Two Mamas and two kids on a road trip to Michigan (Part 2)

Finally made it to Michigan. Lot's of driving coming down from Maryland but it was worth it. Stayed over at a friend's apartment on the Harbour Club Golf Course. I woke up to some golf being played outside my window, the view was amazing. 

After getting the kids ready, we drove down to Ann Arbor to see the sights. There were little hidden treasures like Nichols Arboretum, a beautiful garden with gorgeous native and exotic plants. There were families relaxing on the grass, a group of people attending a wedding, fun all around the park and then I bumped in to a little surprise, kayaking on the Huron river right by the garden.

After all that, we drove down to Main street where the Blue and yellow theme was spotted all around town. We passed by an old historic train station that has now become the regular amtrak. There was definitely something for everyone in this buzzing town. With just one day to explore, we most definitely have to come back to finish our tour.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Two Mamas and two kids on a road trip to Michigan (Part I)

On our way to Michigan, my Mama in crime and I hit our first stop in Pennsylvania where the kids had to use the bathroom. We popped in at a Sunoco gas station, quickly grabbed some food afterwards and then hit the road again. If you love nature there is lots to gaze at while driving down. You get to enjoy the beautiful view of mountains, lakes, farms, animals, just nature at it’s best. It really gives you family bonding time because the phone network gets interrupted a lot so you don’t have to ask anyone to put away the phones :).

Part of our trip was a stop in Cleveland Ohio where we spent the night at Homewood suites opposite a bar called the Winking Lizard Tavern. With very warm reception, the kids were given bedtime story books to help tuck them in for the night. 

The next morning we were up and about to see the sights of Ohio. We made a stop at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens over at University Circle just before heading out to Michigan. When we got there it cost about $6 each for the kids and for adults it was $11. Was a bit pricy coming from DC where the museums are free so we chose to walk around and admire the sights. 

Architecture seemed to be a big part of Cleveland with it's unique buildings. It seemed really busy with huge crowds lining up by food trucks and kids right outside the children's museum which isn't too far from the Natural History Museum. Walking around the city those few hours before getting back on the road seemed like a lot to come back and see.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, DC.

For a long time I passed by the Basilica and just admired the building, I can't tell you how many times I took a picture of it and put it up on my Instagram but every time I planned to go in, I would always get distracted. When my aunt came to visit she insisted on going to the gift shop inside the building, so I jumped on board to take her there. As I walked in I left her at the store and decided to tour around, I went without a guide, though there are options of getting one if you choose. I was rather down that day but I tell you as I walked in I just felt lifted. I strolled in to several rooms, they were little prayer rooms here and there and it was just so peaceful that I could hear my thoughts finally. 

You totally forget what's outside when you walk in and especially on a weekday when people are few. I thought i'd seen the best part and then I walked in to a huge chapel upstairs where the reverend sisters were singing along to music in the background. 

I could honestly say that I thought I was in heaven. It was such a beautiful experience and instantly my mood changed and was lifted, I had a lot on my mind that day but I felt lighter when I left there. If you are having a bad day, I totally recommend this beautiful experience for anyone just looking to lift his or her spirit. You really don’t have to be religious to enjoy this, I basically didn’t interact with anyone but I felt like something did with me in a great way. If you appreciate art you will marvel at the elaborate work done in the building.

If you want to drive, there's a huge parking lot across the lot from the shrine or you can take the Metro to Brookland CUA on the red line and walk down to Michigan Avenue. Famous landmarks by it include the Catholic University and also the best of the best Trinity Washington University. You could go with a group or if you prefer, have perfect alone time you will never forget.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, DC

I was a bit surprised at how my daughter got excited over the planes being in doors, I thought she wouldn’t notice, but she did. This Museum is exciting especially if you’ve never been on a plane. There is a display of airplanes and what they look like on the inside. Other than the planes for travel, there is also the fighter jet planes to get the little soldiers excited. 

You get to see the inside of what a cockpit looks like with all the gadgets and timers here and there. You could take a picture in there and literally pretend you were on a real plane.

There are also displays of old planes for you to brush up on your history. I found an interesting section of the old rules required for choosing a flight attendant, luckily a lot has changed since then. 

Then of course something for the little astronauts, you can check out the cool outfits worn while in space. There is also a section where the kids get to see how an airplanes engine works, with simple explanations, this is a good learning experience for everyone.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Indonesian Embassy Residence Open House

I always heard that Embassies in Washington have open days where pretty much anyone can walk in and get acquainted with the culture of that Embassy. A few weeks ago, I met a nice Indonesian lady while getting my nails done at the mall. We started talking and I told her that I was actually born in Indonesia and had never been back there after then. She invited me for the open house over at the Embassy's residence so I of course decided to see what it was like to enjoy a mini bit of the country and its culture.

When I got there I was in awe of the beautiful residence and the gorgeous attire guests wore. Everyone was so inviting, I got a chance to mingle with guests from other embassies as well and had a taste of the lovely local dishes. 

I think the icing on the cake was getting to meet the Ambassador and his wife who were very warm and respectfully took pictures with every guest including myself. 

It was a lovely afternoon that I’m sure would be a great visit for the next group of people attending next year. So once again DC never seizes to stay entertaining, I would recommend this outing for folks looking to explore a new culture within the area of Washington.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Library of Congress, DC


If you want your kids to enjoy reading, just stop over at the Library of Congress located about 12 minutes walking from Union Station. There's something for everyone luckily. Every Friday at 10.30am the Young readers Center has a reading for little kids in a very cozy corner. It gets crowded really quickly so make sure you get there by 10am at least to save yourself a seat in the room. Only 50 people are admitted so it's first come first serve basis.

The reading is one of the few things the kids get to enjoy, there is also a bit of singing and dancing to get them excited. It goes on for about an hour so make sure the kids get their breakfast before they head in for fun because like in all libraries, there's no food allowed.

Once the readings over, you could either leave or stay back for a bit to let your kids play with the toys or take a look at the books over on the stand.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Smithsonian National Zoological Park, DC

Smithsonian National Zoological Park

One thing I love about DC is that even when things are pricy, free never goes out of style at the Zoo. So its totally free if you’re going in there straight from the Metro and if you’ve got your lunch packed for the day. Parking is a flat rate of 22 bucks if you choose to drive but other than that, did I say free. Every single animal I can think of at the top of my head has its own little space at the zoo. The orangutan was up on the top of a pole at about 11am performing today but I got a glance just at the end of it. 

The atmosphere just lets you appreciate nature with the quiet grassy corners where families lay out their picnics. If you would prefer some grill though there’s a great little restaurant called Mane grill, ideal name for the zoo right. Then you’ve got lots of snack stands for the kids to get a sugar rush.
Theres plenty activities for the kids like the carousel and a little kids farm right at one entrance, here some kids like to pat the cows back and literally get a feel of nature. 

Overall the scenery is just great for families in DC, take your kids for this and when you are done, cool them off over at the water spray for a great end to the day.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

National Building Museum, DC (Beach Exhibition).

There’s a little piece of heaven on earth at the National Building Museum in DC. It was a rainy day today but who needs the sun when an indoor Beach can literally light up the room with bright smiles. 

The Beach is an exhibition room filled with white bubble balls where parents and their kids have enjoyed fun and play this summer. I had a chance to take out my daughter to explore this. I think the fun of it all was watching families enjoy an activity that just had no age barrier. 

The kids were jumping in the bubble sea and their parents were tumbling in after them.  This is one activity I would recommend for every family to enjoy a good day out in DC. The tickets were reasonably priced and of course a great discount for those with student ID like myself :)

The line was a little long to get in though but it was totally worth it and after all that jumping and diving there was a little food stand inside the exhibition serving ice cream and snacks but not for free of course. Much fun in DC as always, don’t get left out, this closes in September so definitely plan a day out to see it. 

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