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?

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?

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?

3 Terrific Reasons to Stay at The Trinity Hotel

Are you looking for a unique hotel? There’s one in Carlsbad, New Mexico called The Trinity Hotel. I came across it while checking out the Visit Carlsbad website and it sounded so cool that I knew we would have to stay there.

Here are 3 terrific reasons (in no particular order) why you should stay there too!

It’s a really cool, historic hotel.

The Trinity started out as First National Bank in 1892.

You can still see remnants of the hotel’s days as a bank. There is a wine room downstairs where you can see one of the safe doors and one of the suites has been named the Safe Room because it contains the second story safe which has been turned into a media room.

The are only 9 rooms!

The Trinity Hotel only has 9 rooms and they are very spacious. With only 9 rooms, you get to choose the room you want when making a reservation. There are two rooms downstairs and the rest are upstairs.

We stayed in one of the upstairs rooms, room 207. Both the room itself and the bathroom were spacious and comfortable. Our room had a queen bed along with a sofa bed.

The Trinity provides terrific amenities and extras.

A comfortable and spacious hotel room is not all that you’ll get when staying at The Trinity. They also provide several cool amenities.

In each room you’ll find a wine chiller with complimentary bottled waters. There are also complimentary Littlers fudge bites, which the boys loved. In the bathrooms, you’ll find Trinity bathrobes and nice bath products. Like most hotels, they also provide an ice bucket but along with the ice bucket there are wine glasses and a wine opener. I also happened to like the small plant on the night stand and the chandeliers in the hallway. They also provide ear plugs in the night stand in case you need them.

The Trinity also has a restaurant downstairs. We didn’t get to try it since we arrived late on a Saturday night but they do provide free pastries, coffee, and juice in the morning to hotel guests. Coffee is also not just limited to regular coffee; espresso drinks like cappuccinos and lattes are included. I was able to get a white chocolate mocha and a blueberry scone and the boys got orange juices. The Trinity also provides a free wine tasting daily from 4-7pm.

There was also an arcade game in the lobby that the boys enjoyed playing.

We loved our stay at The Trinity Hotel. We only stayed one night but the boys wanted to stay longer. The hotel staff and owner are also all very friendly and welcoming. We ended up coming late because of traffic in California that threw us off the day before but the owner waited for us to get there and then showed us to our room and gave us a little history about the hotel as well.

I highly recommend checking out The Trinity if you are ever in Carlsbad.

What other unique hotels do you recommend?

Dinner Show Fun at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede

We were really excited when we found out that Pigeon Forge has several dinner shows. The boys love them so we knew we had to go to one on our road trip. The dinner show we decided to go with was Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. We made a great choice because it was so much fun!

screenshot-415

My intention was to arrive early to see the horses in the stable as well as the pre-show in the Dixie Belle Saloon. Unfortunately, we ran into traffic on the way to Pigeon Forge due to construction; so we missed the pre-show completely. When we walked through the Dixie Belle Saloon, everyone was heading off to their seats.

screenshot-403

I had pre-purchased souvenir boot mugs for the boys so we picked those up in the saloon before finding our seats.

I purchased preferred seating which is in the first three rows. We ended up being in the second row and had really great seats.

As is typical with these types of dinner shows, the tables were set before we sat down. Everyone had a plate, bowl, coffee cup, and a mason jar for soda.

The meal is served throughout the show. We were served creamy vegetable soup, bread, chicken, pork loin, a potato, and dessert. We all enjoyed our food. My favorite part was the soup. I really liked the creamy texture and it had a great flavor.

Of course, the main part of Dixie Stampede is the show. We really loved the show. It was so much fun. There were horses, bison, pigs, dancing, and songs. If you’ve ever been to a Medieval Times, this is similar in that you cheer for your side. I also really loved the changing background. You should be able to see it in a few of my pictures.

After the show, the cast lines up around the arena for pictures and autographs. The boys got an autograph with our section’s cowboy and Skeeter.

This is Skeeter. He was the boys’ favorite.

Once we left the arena we went to the gift shop. After that we went outside to see the horses in the stables. We were able to see them but they were all facing the opposite way.

We had so much fun at the Dixie Stampede that Connor was asking to go to one of the other dinner shows the next night.

Have you ever been to the Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede? What was your favorite part?

5 Reasons We Loved The Inn at Christmas Place

I discovered The Inn at Christmas Place while planning our May road trip and we decided that this was somewhere we had to stay. The Inn at Christmas Place is a themed hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee near the Great Smoky Mountains. As you may have guessed, the theme is Christmas. I’m so glad we decided to stay here because it ended up being one of our favorite hotels on our trip.

screenshot-386

The hotel does a fantastic job at carrying out the theme. From decorations to movies, here are 5 things we loved about the Inn at Christmas Place.

Decorations

The decorations are everywhere and they start from the minute you pull up to the front of the hotel.

screenshot-385

screenshot-379

Once you step into the lobby you’ll find plenty more.

Here's a view of the lobby from the 2nd floor. Sorry about the lights. I had trouble with a lot of my pictures.

Here’s a view of the lobby from the 2nd floor. Sorry about the lights. I had trouble with a lot of my pictures.

screenshot-388

screenshot-389

screenshot-390

screenshot-378
screenshot-377

The Glockenspiel plays Christmas carols on the hour during the day.

The Glockenspiel plays Christmas carols on the hour during the day.

Each of the floors above the lobby are decorated in a different theme.

Each of the floors above the lobby are decorated in a different theme.

Of course the decorations also continue in each room. Here’s a look at the room we were in.

screenshot-383

screenshot-381

I loved that even the bathrooms were nicely decorated.

I loved that even the bathrooms were nicely decorated.

I also loved that housekeeping left a Kiss for each of the boy's stuffed animals, including the seagull on the pillow.

I also loved that housekeeping left a Kiss for each of the boy’s stuffed animals, including the seagull on the pillow.

Breakfast

The Inn at Christmas Place provides a complimentary breakfast and I thought they had a really nice setup. Breakfast included an omelet station, a hot station with your typical breakfast items (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, etc), cereal, pastries, and my favorite part, fruit and cheese.

screenshot-395

screenshot-396

screenshot-397

Cookies

Besides breakfast, the hotel also provides complimentary cookies and beverages in the evening. There was several different coffees to choose from and I think they also had lemonade.

screenshot-398

This was my favorite coffee- Santa's White Christmas.

This was my favorite coffee- Santa’s White Christmas.

Santa

Christmas would not be complete without Santa and you’ll be sure to find him at The Inn. We were able to see Santa at breakfast one day but if you visit from summer through December you can also join him for a Christmas concert several evenings a week. Even if you miss Santa during your visit, kids can still write him a letter and drop it in the mailbox. Santa will write them back at Christmas time.

screenshot-400

screenshot-401

Here are the letters the boys got back from Santa.

Here are the letters the boys got back from Santa.

Movies

Another thing that I thought was fun was that you could go to the front desk and rent Christmas movies. There is a DVD in each room and they have a pretty good size list of movies available. It was fun to be able to rent a movie and watch it while we ate our cookies.

The Inn at Christmas Place was such a fun hotel and we really enjoyed celebrating Christmas in May. I highly recommend checking out the pictures on their website. I loved the Bavarian architecture but don’t have a picture that really does it justice.

Have you ever stayed at The Inn at Christmas Place? What was your favorite thing about it? If you haven’t, what other unique hotels have you stayed at?

signature

Driving Through Tennessee

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been recapping a road trip we took in May. Our very first stop was lunch in Sulphur Springs, then we continued on for a one night stay in Texarkana, followed by a stop at the Crater of Diamonds, and then All Aboard Restaurant in Little Rock. Once we left Arkansas we spent a few days in Tennessee. Our very first stop was in Memphis. We weren’t staying there but we wished we were. We stopped at the Tennessee Welcome Center and took a few pictures. The area around there just looked really cool and the boys said that we have to come back.

There was Elvis, of course,

There was Elvis, of course,

a Bass Pro pyramid,

a Bass Pro pyramid,

and this hanging monorail type thing.

and this hanging monorail type thing.

After leaving Memphis we went on to Jackson which is where we spent the night. We stayed at the DoubleTree Hotel and ordered room service for dinner. We decided to try fried pickles which we hadn’t had before. They were so good that since then I have ordered fried pickles every time I see them on a menu.

img_7389

In the morning we got donuts at a place nearby before continuing our drive.

003

We continued through Nashville and stopped at Shipwreck Cove for lunch.

013

012

007

008

005

img_7390

After lunch we got back on the road. We ended up stuck in traffic somewhere because of construction so that took forever but we finally made it to our destination- Pigeon Forge. Up next I’ll have a couple different posts on Pigeon Forge. It was such a fun place!

Thanks for reading!
signature