Dickens on Main

Dickens on Main in Boerne is an event that I have been wanting to go to for a couple of years since I first heard about it but we hadn’t been able to make it yet. So, we made a point to make plans to go there this year as stop 3 on Texas Christmas tour.

We got there a little early. I think it was about 2pm which worked out really well because we managed to find a good parking at the County Courthouse. Dickens on Main is divided into several areas. We headed over to the closest and biggest area, North Pole Village. There were food trucks and food booths lining the entire area. Connor decided on a schnitzel sandwich from Ye Ole Schnitzel Hütte so we shared that. We also shared an eggroll and some mini tacos.

After that we walked over to Santa’s Village for a picture with Santa. There was no line at all when we went but later on we saw a very long line for Santa. Once we were done there, we went to check out the kids crafts at Tiny Tim Village but we only grabbed one of the reindeer pot crafts to take home because Connor couldn’t stand the strong paint smell from the crafts.

Next up on the schedule was Tobias the Adequate followed by Bah Humbug: A one man Christmas Carol. We liked both of the shows. Tobias the Adequate is a magician and he’s very entertaining and funny. We even ended up catching one of the knots from his rope trick. Bah Humbug was also fun to watch. It was fun to see how the actor played all of the different characters.

Once the show was over we tried to go to the petting zoo and see the reindeer but there were too many people. We also wanted to see the ice sculpture battle but that was also crowded. We did find a hole in the crowd though so watched for a minute or two. The last thing we wanted to do was check out the snow slide but there was a very long line for that too.

We had a nice time at Dickens on Main. I think we arrived at the perfect time because were able to do most things before it got really crowded and we also got a close parking. I’m happy that we were able to add this event to our Christmas tour this year.

I know I’ve seen several Dickens events around this time of year. Which one is your favorite?

A German Christmas in Fredericksburg

Stop number 2 on our Texas Christmas tour was Fredericksburg to check out their German Christmas Pyramid. The pyramid is in the Marktplatz and is 26 feet tall.

Next to the pyramid there is also a 30 foot tall Christmas Tree.

There were also a gingerbread setup with a train, sleigh and reindeer, and a gingerbread house.

We didn’t do much here but it’s a cute town. The boys always enjoy Fredericksburg and it was nice to see the German Christmas Pyramid and other decorations.

Where do you enjoy day tripping to?

Sea World’s Christmas Celebration

This year we’re heading out on a Texas Christmas/holiday tour. We started off at Sea World San Antonio for Sea World’s Christmas Celebration.

We had reservations at 5 for dinner with Santa. We arrived a few hours earlier so we would have time to walk around. As soon as we walked into what the boys call the lobby of the park, we were greeted by the sound of Mariachis playing. I loved the Christmas outfits they were wearing. Once we moved past the entrance we stopped at Coca-Cola Lane to decide where we were going to go.

JT said that he knew exactly where to go so we followed him. I figured that he was probably going to the penguins and I was correct. He loves penguins. We walked though Peace on Earth and past a few snowmen and into the penguin building.

After the penguins, we headed into Christmas Cove and the boys played a few games. They weren’t the only ones playing though. There were also elves and a mime.

Once we were done in Christmas Cove, we moved onto Sea World’s Christmas Market. First, we met some reindeer and then we went on Rio Loco. The boys were very excited about that and I was happy that the waterfall was turned off so we didn’t get too wet. They had also been wanting to try the air dryer because we were curious about how well it works. It did work but I felt it was harder to get your pants dry. I think if you’re hair was wet, it would probably dry your hair pretty well.

After we finished drying off a bit, we walked a bit further to where Rudolph and friends were and the boys got new shirts to wear and then we headed back over to our dinner.

The dinner was buffet style and included turkey and carved roast beef along with sides and salad. During dinner, the elves and mime introduced Mrs. Claus. Santa joined a little later. He read a story to the kids and then took pictures with them. After pictures with Santa it was time for dessert.

Once dinner was over we walked around a little more to look at the lights before heading out.

We always love going to Sea World during the holidays; the lights are pretty and the theming is fun. It was a great kickoff to our holiday tour.

What is one of your favorite places to go for the holidays?

Chip ‘n Dale Critter Breakfast at Storytellers Cafe

We started off our first full day at Disneyland at the Chip ‘n Dale Critter Breakfast at Storytellers Café in the Grand Californian. When we arrived for our reservation we only had to wait a few minutes before being seated.

Once we were seated we grabbed some food really quickly from the buffet. The boys are always afraid to miss the characters, even though they know that if we do miss one they’ll come back around.

Some of the food you’ll find on the buffet are made to order omelettes, Mickey waffles, pastries, and fruit.

Chip was first to come to our table. He asked the boys their names so that he could write them in their autograph books but it took us a minute to figure out what he was asking. The boys thought that was pretty cool because they’ve never gotten a personalized autograph before.

Next we were visited by Pluto. Connor had a little Pluto stuffed animal and Pluto loved it.

Right after Pluto left, Kenai came over. This was one of the reasons that this breakfast was a must do for us. We were hoping to see some critters that we don’t normally see.

Dale was the last character to come over to our table and he was very fun. We were seated right next to an exit door. Someone, I think from the outside, opened it a little and realized they weren’t supposed to use that door. Well, Dale thought that was funny and he went over to the door and pushed it open just a little and then came back to our table laughing. He then proceeded to do it again and again. It was cute.

Once Dale left, we were pretty much done eating and ready to leave. We loved this character breakfast. We had a great time with the characters and the buffet was good. We would definitely come back. I would say that this is probably one of my favorite character meals, including those from Disney World.

What are your favorite restaurants for character dining?

Prehistoric Fun at Dinosaur Ridge

If you or your kids are a fan of dinosaurs, we know of a place that you’re going to want to visit.

We spent a few days in Colorado and one of our days was started off with a visit Dinosaur Ridge. Dinosaur Ridge is located in Morrison which is right by Denver. I already knew that we wanted to take the guided bus tour so as soon as we arrived we went in to purchase tickets. There was a bus that was just about to arrive as we were getting our tickets so we hopped right in the line as soon as we got our tickets and just barely made it on the bus.

At our first stop, our tour guide explained the geology of the site and how to spot dinosaur bones. The bones are a different color from the rock. The color of the bones is more of a reddish brown color so they’re easy to spot.

When our tour guide was done speaking, we were able to take a few minutes to look around at the dinosaur bones and then if we wanted we could walk to the next location or we could get back on the bus. We decided to walk because there was an allasaur footprint displayed on the way and we wanted to look at it.

Our next stop was the Brontosaur Bulges. These were brontosaurus tracks but we look at them from underneath. So, instead of looking at it from above and seeing the imprint, we see the bulge that formed from the bottom.

Once we were done at the Brontosaur Bulges, we hopped back on the bus and headed to our last stop. Our tour guide pointed out some other interesting fossils and markings on the way. The first of which were the ripple marks made by wave currents. The other was the trace fossils such as burrows and feeding trails made by other plants and animals that lived on the coastline.

Our last stop was the dinosaur tracksite. There are about 330 individual footprints. There are tracks here from 3 different types of dinosaurs as well as crocodile swim marks.

Once we got back from our bus tour, we went into the visitor center to check out the exhibits. The exhibit hall is not big but there is a lot of interactive elements and a lot of information.

Dinosaur Ridge was so much fun. You don’t have to take the guided bus tour but we loved it and our tour guide was awesome. This is a must do for dinosaur fans.

What are your favorite Dinosaur places to visit?

Interactive Fun at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

After a fun and exciting tide pool walk on Cabrillo Beach, we explored the aquarium that led the walk- the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (CMA). CMA isn’t particularly big but there is plenty to explore and many of the exhibits are hands-on.

We started off outside at the Whale Graveyard.

After taking a look at the various whale bones (and touching them), we moved on to the main exhibit hall. The exhibits are divided into Kelp Forests, Rocky Shores, Mudflats, Sandy Beaches, and Open Ocean.

After we went through the exhibit hall we went out to the exploration center and then to the aquatic nursery.

Even though we had already been out to the tide pools, the boys were excited to go to the touch pool so we went over as soon as it opened.

The boys weren’t the only ones excited about the touch pool. It seemed that everyone else had been waiting for it to open too. Once we left the touch pool the boys really wanted to go back to the exploration center but it was time for us to move on so we headed to the gift shop before leaving.

Visiting the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium was a nice addition to our trip. Although small, the boys really enjoyed all of the interactive elements that CMA had to offer. They could have spent more time exploring if we had been able to stay longer.

Are you planning an aquarium trip soon?

Lunch at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen

During our trip to Pigeon Forge, we made our way over to The Island to have lunch at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

The restaurant is close to the entrance so we had no problem finding it. We had walked over from MagiQuest so the boys were excited to see a row of rocking chairs lining the front and they ran over to sit down for a minute.

The restaurant is on the 2nd floor so when we entered we walked into the store and then rode the escalator to the top. We were seated right away and although we weren’t seated next to a window we still had a nice view due to the large windows.

The food here is served family style. For lunch you start off with bread, choose 2 entrees and 4 sides for the table, and then each person chooses their own dessert. For our entrees we chose the fried chicken and catfish and for the sides we chose green beans, mac and cheese, creamed potatoes, and tossed salad. Dessert options are ooey gooey butter cake, banana pudding, and cobbler. JT got the cake, Connor picked the banana pudding, and I got the cobbler.

Nothing really stood out but the food was good and we enjoyed our meal.

Have you been to Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen?

Our Indoor Skydiving Experience at iFly

*Disclosure: We received complimentary iFly packages in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest opinions.*

Have you ever wanted to try skydiving? Did you know that you experience skydiving without having to leave the ground? Last week Connor and I visited iFly San Antonio for some indoor skydiving.

I had actually been indoor skydiving about 20ish years ago in Las Vegas but iFly was a bit of different experience for me. Connor had been wanting to try out iFly for quite awhile now so he was both excited and nervous. When we got there he wasn’t sure whether or not he actually wanted to try it.

Walking into iFly, we were quickly greeted and checked-in and then instructed to wait in the next room until it was our turn to get ready to fly. The room we walked into held the vertical wind tunnel in the center of the room. The room was spacious and there was plenty of seating.

While we were waiting for our flight time we got to watch some of the instructors fly. The instructors are able to do lots of really cool tricks with their flying and it’s really fun to watch them.

After waiting for our flight time to come up, it was finally time to get ready to fly. First we were taken into the preflight room. We watched a short video about the flight position and the hand signals that would be used in the wind tunnel.

Once the video was over, it was time to put on our flight gear. We each received a flight suit, helmet, goggles, and ear plugs to put on.

Here’s Connor in his flight suit. I wanted to get a picture with the rest of his flight gear on but we had put our stuff back in the lockers and we got locked out. I asked our instructor about it and he said he had a key that he could use to open it but I didn’t want to make him open it up just so we could take a picture.

As soon as the other group finished up their flight session in the wind tunnel, it was our turn. We lined up and sat down inside and then it was time to fly. Each person flies for a minute at a time. I went second in the group and it did not go so smoothly. I remembered the flight position; it was the exact same as from when I did it a long time ago but as soon as the wind hit my face I couldn’t do it. I tried to keep my chin up to block the wind from hitting me directly in my face as best as I could but I just could not do it and I ended flipping over. Connor went in after me and he did better than I did but I could tell the wind got to him too. It wasn’t until we looked at his video that we realized it looked like he was swimming because he was kicking his legs. He said that he didn’t know that he was doing that and he felt like his legs were straight. Everyone gets to turns to fly so I went ahead and gave it another try and just tried to relax and breathe and I felt like I did better but I couldn’t do the whole minute. Connor decided not to take his second turn.

Although we may not have done as well, there were some others that were really great at it and I loved watching them. I thought it was so much fun to see them do the high fly. If I could manage to get the breathing thing down then I’d be good. Connor said that he’d like to try it again but he needs to practice having the wind blow in his face. I agree, I definitely need to practice with the wind blowing in my face. I can’t even breathe correctly if the wind is blowing hard and I’m walking or just standing; I have to turn away. Regardless, it was a fun experience and I’m so glad that Connor got to try it out because it is something he had been wanting to do.

If you’re thinking about giving iFly a try, you can check out some more info on their website here. iFly also offers birthday party packages and field trip packages. The field trips are STEM based and include experiments along with a flight in the wind tunnel. We have homeschool friends that have done the iFly field trips and we’ve heard nothing but good things about it. Everyone always ends up having so much fun.

Are you ready to fly? Check out this great summer special going on!

“Summer Special: As the summer season is officially here, iFLY is boasting a fantastic Summer 25 Special, offering 25 percent off on first time flyer packages. Hurry though, the special only is available until July 6.”

Summer25 Special
Now through July 6th
When you Book & Fly Mondays through Thursdays
Save 25% on First Time Flyer Packages*

Special and Promo Code: SUMMER25
25% off First Time Flyer Flight Packages (excludes family and party packages and vouchers)
Valid 6/21-7/6 (must be booked and flown by 7/6)
Blackout date- 7/4/17
Guests can book online, over the phone or via walk-ins.

*PROMO CODE: SUMMER25 valid on First Time Flyer Packages (excludes family and party packages and vouchers). Packages must be flown Monday through Thursday between 6/21/17 – 7/6/17 (not valid on 7/4/17). Valid at participating iFLY locations. Not valid on previous purchases, exchanges, special orders or gift cards. Discounts cannot be combined with other iFLY offers. Offer valid through 7/6/17. For locations and to book, visit iFLYworld.com.

A Full Day of Fun in Pigeon Forge

We spent two nights in Pigeon Forge. We arrived in the evening with just enough time to check into our hotel and get to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. This left us with one full day to explore. We did so much in that one day though that I feel like we were there longer. We started off our day with breakfast at our hotel, The Inn at Christmas Place.

After breakfast, we walked to MagiQuest which happened to be next door. It was a little too early though and it wasn’t opened yet so we decided to go check out the Christmas Place store. Christmas Place was directly across from our hotel. The outside was the same Bavarian style as our hotel and they had several rooms of full of Christmas decorations and ornaments.

You can see our hotel from the window on the picture to the right.

Once we were done looking around the store, it was time to head back over to MagiQuest.

The boys played MagiQuest for about an hour and then we went downstairs to go through the Odyssey Mirror Maze. After that we walked over to The Island and ate lunch at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

After lunch we checked out the fountain for a little bit. The boys were tired of walking by this point so we even though everything is within walking distance we went back to the hotel and got in the car to head to our next destination, The Tomb escape game.

Once we escaped The Tomb, we went back over to MagiQuest so the boys could play for another hour and then we played Pirate Golf.

After Pirate Golf, it was already time for dinner so we went back over to The Island. We ate at Timberwood Grill. Then we took a look at some shops while we waited around for it to get dark so we could see the fountain show when it’s lit up at night. While we waited we went to the 7D Dark Ride for Los Banditos.

After that we went back to the hotel one last time and that was the end of our day. We had so much fun in Pigeon Forge. The boys absolutely loved it and were ready go back before we even left. There are so many fun things to do. We passed by so many other attractions that the boys wanted to do that we didn’t have time for. Everything is really easy to get too. If you don’t want to walk, or have kids that get tired like the boys did, there is a trolley that you can ride.

I’ve been telling everyone that mentions visiting Tennessee all about Pigeon Forge. It’s such a great place for a family vacation. Pigeon Forge is also right by the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, which is where we headed to the next day.

Have you been to Pigeon Forge? What are your Pigeon Forge recommendations?

Waves of Fun at California Tide Pools

Connor mentioned to me one day that he wanted to go to the tide pools in California. Since we were going to be heading out to Disneyland, I decided to look up the tide pools to see if there were any close by Anaheim. I ended up finding some on Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium also offers guided tide pool walks so I figured that was our best bet. We drove in from Blythe, California and had just enough time for a quick lunch before the tide pool walk.

Before the walk, we gathered in an auditorium at the aquarium and learned the rules for the tide pool walk along with what causes the tide pools and what animals we might find. The boys were already familiar with the animals and knew all about them so they were excited. Once they had told us everything we needed to know, it was time to head out to the tide pools.

Following the guide out to the tide pools.

Once we got out to the tide pools we were free to explore and the guide was there to answer any questions.

The first animals the boys came across were hermit crabs. We found these little guys everywhere; there were tons of them.

The guide even found one that didn’t have a home.

The boys were most excited about finding sea hares. The first sea hare they found was a black one which they were really excited about because the black sea hares are rarer to find. They also found several brown sea hares. We really loved the sea hares. They’re super cute and the boys loved petting them. The brown ones do squirt ink so they have to be handled very gently so that they don’t get startled.

Can you find the brown sea hare in the bottom right picture? The brown ones are camouflaged pretty well. The black sea hares stand out more.

We also found a couple of sea anemones and a sea urchin. The boys really liked these as well. They liked the sticky feeling of the sea anemones. The sea urchin they found was a red one and the guide told us that the reds were rare. She said they usually only sea purple ones.

Besides those animals above, we also found a chiton and what I think are limpets.

The chiton is in the picture to the left.

There was one more animal we found and it was a really difficult one to find. It’s a tiny fish called a sculpin. JT and I kept missing them because they swim away really quickly but Connor was really good at finding them. I finally managed to get a picture of one that stopped on a rock for a few seconds.

We stayed at the tide pool for about an hour and had so much fun. The boys wanted to stay longer but it was almost time for the high tide to come in.

I’m so happy that Connor mentioned the tide pools because it was absolutely amazing and we loved it. If you have a chance to visit the tide pools you should definitely go. It is well worth it. We had the best time and the guides from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium are also great. Connor especially loved talking with the guide and showing her the animals he found.

Have you ever visited tide pools?