Labor Day, the unofficial end to summer (my favorite season), has come and gone, and what a summer it’s been in our household! Remember that Summer Fun Bucket List we did a couple of months ago? Well, we definitely used it this summer. As I imagined, the list was quite ambitious and thus we were definitely not able to do all of the items on the list. We did knock out a few of them, though, and others that weren’t on the list at all. So, while summer prepares to wrap up, I thought I’d utilize this opportunity to share with you some of the great moments my family and I were able to enjoy this season. Well here it is… our summer wrap up and 2013 bucket list update.
We visited the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore for a birthday party for one of our friends’ son. Honestly, as many times as we have traveled to Baltimore, we had no idea that this museum existed. When we got there, we weren’t sure what to expect, but what a pleasant surprise. This museum is every little train lover’s dream! There were vintage train cars everywhere, many of which you are able to go inside. Additionally, there is an indoor play area for children, an exhibit showing the evolution of the train car using model trains, an exhibit on the railroad system’s impact on standardizing time, an outdoor play area to include a carousel, kiddie train ride, train slides and more, as well as an actual opportunity for a mile long train ride. The facility included a private party room and, of course, a snack shop for visitors. It was a really cool place to visit! I look forward to the opportunity to plan a party for my son there when he gets a little older.
Pros: Great facility with lots of history and lots of things for families to enjoy. Cons: No real cons for us, but, the outside area does get hot… so you’ll want to keep that in mind if you make plans to travel there. Admission: Adults – $16, Seniors (60+) – $14, Children (2-12) – $10
We decided to go to the Bahamas for our family vacation this year and stayed in the Atlantis, Paradise Island Resort. Now, my husband and I have been to the Bahamas before via cruise, but this was our first time staying for a while. I have to say that staying there is a completely different experience than cruising there. Both are enjoyable, but I felt like we got to experience more of the culture this time around. So, we spent the majority of our time on the resort, which was amazing by the way. Everything about Atlantis was phenomenal! Everything was an experience! There is aquatic life throughout the resort and aquariums everywhere for you to enjoy! There are about 8 different pool areas, a huge splash park and tons of water fun for you to enjoy. Then of course, there is the gorgeous beach! This entire place is an aesthetic masterpiece. The restaurants boast great food and the service is superb. And darlings… if you go and have a chance to make it to the spa… do so!!! It is FABULOUS!
Pros: Gorgeous, fun, picture perfect, unforgettable and caters to guests of all ages. Cons: It was really expensive, much more than we like to pay for our island vacations. The resort is not all-inclusive, so, you have to pay for your own food and drinks. Also, they don’t offer free wi-fi, you have to pay a daily charge for it or take advantage of the free 20 minutes that they offer in the library.
This place was my husband’s cool find. Calvert’s Cliff is a park that has hiking, a beach, fossil hunting, fishing, picnic areas and more! Apparently there’s also hunting there which was really confusing to me because hunting and hiking in one place sounds like an accident waiting to happen. But I digress. Once you enter the hiking area, there are several colored trails that you can follow. A map outlining these is out near the parking area so that you can choose your trail in advance. After that, you simply follow your color marked trails surrounded by the beauty of nature. There are animals, trees, streams and more for your viewing and listening pleasure. If you manage to make it all the way to the end, you get to enjoy the beach as sort of a prize at the end. The beach area is where you get to enjoy the fossil hunting and typical beach activities. Unfortunately, when we went, we didn’t get a chance to hike the full trail. Our trail was about 1.8 miles and we may have been about half a mile in when it began to thunderstorm. Didn’t seem like a good idea to be in the middle of the woods with thunder and lightning happening around us so we had to turn back and go home. It did make for a nice partial hike and we’re happy to say that we made it out before the storm got too close.
Pros: Great outdoor experience for the whole family to enjoy. Good exercise and close proximity to the DC area. Cons: The ride was rough for the stroller, of course, and in the event of inclement weather, just be prepared. It probably would have sucked to be all the way at the beach when the storm came. Admission: Free! The best price ever!
This is one of the last things that we did with the kids over the Labor Day weekend. It’s a really nice place to visit for young children and even a nice place for adults. We visited the Playseum in DC. This location has about 16-17 separate rooms for your child to enjoy. Each room has its own theme thereby creating a different experience. My son really enjoyed the cowboy room while my daughter really liked the princess room. All rooms are complete with books to read and/or buy, dress up clothes, toys, etc. They also have the opportunity to make lip gloss, decorate cupcakes, get their nails painted, create art or enjoy story time for an additional small fee (storytime is free, the rest cost). When you go during a less populated time, it is that much more wonderful because parents can sit back and relax as you watch your kids play and enjoy themselves knowing that you don’t have to clean up the mess behind them.
Pros: Great indoor activity for the kids and relaxing atmosphere for parents. Cons: It can really suck if there are kids there that are not being properly supervised by their parents. I mean really… who does that? Also, there is an admission fee of $7 per person (parents included), but, it’s worth it. Admission: $7 per person.
This was also another great pick from the hubster. I think we may have done this one on a holiday weekend. Anyway, we have a lot of these historic sites in our general area, and we thought it be nice to start checking them out. This one was really cool and had a really interesting back story (of course we didn’t know that until we got there) complete with a super smart wife who when faced with a difficulty, knew how to make all the right moves. It’s a story worth looking up, seriously. I mean, there’s even a little gossip involving George Washington, how weird is that? The young lady who led our tour was really really really knowledgeable, we were so impressed with her. The tour only included about 6 or 7 rooms in the home, but each room had such an incredible back story that it felt much bigger. We learned tons while we were there and look forward to checking out more of these historic sites.
Pros: Very interesting. Cons: It’s a guided tour, so, if you come in the middle of another tour that’s already in session, you’ll have to wait. Also, for those of us with children, it can be really uncomfortable if/when your little one becomes fussy. Mine did and I excused myself from the room for the majority of the tour so that I wouldn’t bother the other visitors. It was OK though, hubby and Miss Honeybun saw the whole thing. Admission: Free.
Can you say gorgeous? Well, that just about sums up this place. It is so cool! This fort, originally built-in 1809 to defend against the river approach to DC, stands marvelously surrounded by lush green hills and sunlit waters. It is one of the most beautiful historic sites I’ve ever seen. If you decide to visit, be sure to bring your camera because it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo here. Also, be sure to bring your walking shoes to walk up and down those hills. In addition to touring the forts, the park has areas for fishing (with a permit, of course) as well as cooking out. It is truly a gem and a wonderful place to visit for a little peace and relaxation.
Pros: Beautiful. Cons: Not really a con, but, it requires a lot of walking. Admission: Free
We’ve been waiting to go here for years and simply never got around to it. This summer, however, we finally made our way in. Of course, this museum is as cool as it sounds. With tons of information, secrets and paraphernalia on display, this museum informs and engages those of us that are curious about the secret lives of the spies living among us. Honestly, there was so much to see that we need to go back again. When you have a 1-year-old in tow, your time is a bit limited. With interactive exhibits, videos, secret crawl spaces to try, and tons of cool things to see, this is sure to be a hit for everyone!
Pros: Really fun. Cons: So much to see, you may not get to finish it all in one day. Expensive. Admission: Adults (ages 12-64) $20.95, Senior (ages 65+), Military, Law Enforcement $15.95, Youth (ages 7-11) $14.95, Children age 6 & under FREE.
We had a ball enjoying this cave magic. For a more detailed account of our trip, see the previous post here. Luray Caverns is interesting, beautiful, unique and rich with history. It’s a natural wonder creating an experience that everyone is sure to enjoy. There are several other systems of caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, but Luray seems to be the most impressive. I say all of them are worth checking out, why not. At any rate, the tour guides are very knowledgeable, obviously and the little tidbits of information that they share are really what help to make the tour. Do put this on your list of places to visit.
Pros: Really cool. Cons: It’s costly (but worth it to me) and the lines are insane on holidays. Plan accordingly, you’ll have to wait at least an hour in the line to enter. They say it’s not as bad on random days. Admission: Adults: $24.00, Children (Ages 6 – 12): $12.00, Children (Ages 5 and under): No charge when accompanied by a parent or guardian, Senior Citizens (Ages 62+): $21.00.
Another great spot for kids. It’s interactive and fun with lots to learn. There are various play areas including one specifically for smaller kids. When we visited, kids could learn about different countries and their ways of living through each individual play area. There were dress up clothes to try on to learn about countries’ ways of dress, a kitchen area to learn about native foods, an airport area to learn about customary belongings, and other areas dedicated to learning about homes, customs, etc. There were other exhibits dedicated to mail, politics, firefighters and beds among other things. At scheduled times during the day, there is a parade with live characters and various presentations in the theater. It’s a playful and interactive experience that your little person is sure to love!
Pros: A great time for the kids. Cons: Again, if people aren’t watching their kids, it can be frustrating. Admission: $10 per person, 12 months and under – Free.
I’ve told you before about this cute little town. If you don’t remember, check out the post here. My husband’s colleague recommended this little getaway and it was a pleasant surprise. It’s artsy, quaint and scenic and while the locals all wondered why we’d be interested in coming there, we thought it was a great getaway! We ate at this cute little Mexican spot where the food was fantastic and insanely inexpensive. Then, we stayed at a boutique hotel called the Stonewall Jackson that was actually a converted mental institution. No worries though, there were no patients present! We’ll definitely go again and maybe check out one of their bed and breakfasts… who knows, we’re just always down for a good getaway.
Pros: Nice town, cute hotel, friendly people. Cons: A lot of shops close early. Recommendations: Very neat getaway.
Between visiting these places and enjoying ourselves at home, we are pleased to say that we had a blast! My son got lots of miles on his regular stroller as well as his travel stroller and well, the rest of us got quite a bit of exercise walking here, there and everywhere!
We have pictures of some and merely memories of the others, but all in all, we can be certain of one thing… we had an amazing summer vacation! Now that school is back in, we’re not planning on becoming strangers to the fun, but, our focus has definitely shifted to our children’s education as this is extremely important to our family. Here’s hoping that you and yours had an amazing summer vacation as well!
UPDATE: National Harbor
My husband reminded me that I missed something when chronicling our summer adventures, so I am adding it here. We enjoy regularly visiting the National Harbor, it is chock full of restaurants, shopping, activities and interesting things to do on a regular basis. With the full schedule that we had this summer, we didn’t have time to visit very often, but when we did, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This summer, the Harbor ran a series called POPS on the Potomac where they presented free outdoor concerts every Saturday evening. After grabbing a bite to eat, we had the pleasure of enjoying the sounds of the Chesapeake Orchestra and they were magnificent! It was quite hot the day that we went out there, but with the help of some ice cream and a couple of smoothies, we enjoyed ourselves just the same. Checking out the activities at the Harbor is a must do if ever you are in the DC area. There is a new schedule with each season and it is always very cool!
Pros: Fun and free!!! Cons: It’s hot and you need to time yourself well to get good seats.