Southern Travel

Columbus Georgia

Columbus has to be one of the most beautiful and vibrant cities I’ve ever been to and as a military spouse I’ve traveled to a lot of places.  I fall in love with it a little bit more every time I go. There’s always a new place to visit, a new restaurant to try or improvements that have been made, but there’s also my old stand bys like my favorite coffee shop (in the country! And I’ve lived next to Seattle LOL)  and the coolest antique/upcycled shop I’ve ever seen.

From the charming and walkable downtown with beautiful river views to the amazing local restaurants, shopping, parks and museums it’s hard to experience everything. This list only scratches the surface. You’ll have to go explore for yourself to try to experience everything.

 

The Riverwalk: Take a stroll or bike ride, watch some paddle boarders, rent a kayak, cross the Chattahoochee on a zipline, the possibilities are almost endless.  If you have kiddos, don’t miss the park and spray ground!

splash park columbus

On Saturday mornings, you won’t want to miss the amazing market on Broadway.  Theres amazing produce, baked goods, jams, hand made items, local artists and more.

Iron Bank Coffee, located at 6W 11th Street, this is somewhere I make sure to stop  every time I visit Columbus.  I love their decor, fresh pastries and most of all, their iced coffees!  Farmer’s Tan and Monkey Business are two of my favorites.  I almost always  have to have one of their amazing chocolate chip cookies to go too.

Junque Yard Antiques at 513 14th Street is probably one of the coolest stores I’ve ever been to.  I try to  stop in every time I even get near the place and have an extra minute (or preferably an hour) to see what’s new.  I almost always come away with a few treasures.

The National Infantry Museum: Named by CNN as a museum that “every military enthusiast should visit” This free and interactive museum is a must see while your in Columbus. Reflect on wars of the past along with current conflicts while browsing artifacts, monuments, exhibits and videos including the new Global War on Terrorism Memorial, “honoring all who have served their country since 9/11”. NIM*photo courtesy of the National Infantry Museum Facebook Page

 

The Columbus Museum (of Art), is another amazing and free museum. This was one of my favorite places while living there. Their installations rival almost every museum of any major city I’ve been to. Their interactive children’s area is the best I’ve seen anywhere, ever, seriously I can’t say enough…. I still can’t believe it’s free! This is definitely a must do, especially on a rainy day. Don’t miss the small but fun “Bradley Olmsted Garden” beside the museum.

Museum-Front-768x437*photo Courtesy of The Columbus Museum website

 

In the area is Little Grand Canyon of Georgia aka Providence Canyon State Park. Located a short drive from Columbus, this natural wonder is something to behold.  Most people I’ve spoken to that lived in the area had no idea that this gem is nearby.  This is definitely a must for hikers but is easy enough terrain that my kids (and my out of shape self) fairly easily conquered the walk down into and subsequently back up from the canyon floor. It can also be viewed from above if you aren’t interested in the hike.  Check it out for a small $5 per car parking fee. img_5225

The food: It would take almost a whole book to talk about the amazing food and restaurants Columbus has to offer. Here are a few of my favorites:

Epic: For a romantic dinner or for and upscale meal, you can’t beat the awesomeness that is Epic! It’s a true food experience.

For fried chicken and amazing Southern food done right, visit Minnie’s

If you’re looking to for some awesome Korean BBQ, check out Koreana

In the mood for a sandwich?  Stop in at Momma Goldberg’s (the location on Broadway is my favorite).

Let me know if you think I’ve missed anything.  If you’ve been to Columbus, GA, leave a comment with your favorite spot.

Advertisements
Disney

Disney World Cheat Sheet

 

Disney World Tips

 

 

I watched hours of YouTube videos, researched countless Disney websites, combed through Pinterest and spent months researching my Disney trip.  Here are some of the tips that I found most helpful.

 

  1. Each Disney park has a first aid station. They have band aids, and medicine that they will give you for free.  We had to utilize the station at Epcot and I got headache medicine for both me and my daughter (they had liquid for the littles).  The employees are super friendly.
  2. Get to the parks before opening!  They will be at their least crowded so you’ll be sure to get to walk on a few rides, you’ll also get a fairly close parking space if you’re driving and it’s great for less crowded photos. We always get there early, leave around or right after lunch and return in the evening. We get a chance to rest during the busiest and hottest part of the day and come back when crowds are lower.
  3. Go to a Disney Outlet. If you want Disney souvenirs with a significant savings, check out the Disney Outlets aka Character Warehouses. There are 2 near Disney World, one is located right next to Disney Springs and one is a short ride down the highway next to Universal.                                                                                                                               They are located at: 8200 Vineland Ave. Orlando, FL (near Disney Springs) and 4969 International Dr. Orlando, FL (near Universal). I went to both, the one near Disney Springs, before we went to the parks (I wanted to get autograph books for the kids and they luckily they had some really cool ones for cheap) and I went to the one near Universal right before we left Orlando.  My tip is to go to the one near Universal if you only want to visit one.  It is easier to get in and out of because you can park in front of the store and walk right in (unlike the Vineland Ave one where you have to park in a lot and wander until you find it.)  and the one near Universal was much less crowded when we went.
  4. Bring Ponchos!  If you carry a backpack (which I highly recommend bringing one, you can take it on all the rides and it’s great to store your water bottles, snacks etc.) buy a few ponchos from the dollar store or Walmart before you go (I’ve heard you can even get Disney ponchos at Walmart near Disney World for pretty cheap) It almost always downpours at least once during a trip and you will be prepared and won’t have to spend $10 a piece for the ponchos at the park. It’s also a good idea to pack a plastic grocery bag to stuff all the rainy, wet ponchos in.
  5. Visit Disney Springs.  Especially if you have some non park days planned.  It’s beautiful and has so many great shops and activities.  You can go to the movies, go bowling at Splitsville, take a ride in a hot air balloon, create your own snack at Goofy’s Candy Co., dine at one of the amazing restaurants or just relax at a table and take in the beautiful scenery.  Here are the stores I put on my “Must go to” list: Basin (has bath bombs and soaps, similar to Lush but actually cheaper and they have Disney themed items!)                                                                                              Uniqlo (Similar to H&M, they have quality clothes for a great price include really nice Disney shirts for around $15 for adults and $10 for kids)                                   World of Disney (because who would want to miss out on the biggest Disney store?)                                                                                                                                 Goofy’s Candy Co.(here you can customize your own caramel apple or rice krispy treat, pick out a cute Disney themed cake pop or cupcake and spend your remaining dining plan snack credits on bags of treats to take home.
  6. Research Dining Options. Disney has some amazing food (and surprisingly some of it is very reasonably priced). Research what dining options there are in the park and see what you might be interested in trying.  I had several items on my “must try list” like the Carrot Cake Cookie at Hollywood Studios and “The Grey Stuff” at Be Our Guest in  Magic Kingdom . I also kept a list of potential restaurants for each park and would pick from the list depending on which restaurants we were close to when the kids got hungry.
  7. Hydrate! Disney will give you free ice water at any of their restaurants or snack stations as long as it isn’t one that only has bottled items.  Bring a reusable water bottle to fill in the morning as you go into the park and so you can save anything leftover after a food stop.
  8. Buy your own glowing items from the dollar store or other discount store.  When it gets dark in Disney, the very expensive glow things appear and everyone wants one.  The Dollar Store even has Disney brand glow wands/bracelets etc. that you can sometimes find.  Make sure to pack some to bring out for fireworks and night time fun.  Bonus, it helps you keep up with your kids or others in your party in the dark.
  9. Wear comfy broken in shoes. Bring and extra pair in case they get soggy and aren’t able to dry overnight (we learned this the hard way). It’s also helpful to “train” for Disney.  We averaged almost 10 miles a day so it’s good to be prepared by doing some walking with the family to prepare for your trip.
  10. Check the schedules. The first time we went to Disney World, I had no idea when the parade was, what time fireworks started or that certain night time shows were offered.  There’s all kinds of fun free shows that are put on in every park on a daily basis.  It’s impossible to make it to everything but it’s good to check the schedules for the park on the day you are going so you don’t miss out.
  11. Have fun but remember to relax! Make a plan but don’t be too rigid or no one will have fun. Schedule in time to go to the resort pool and time to just rest. We had park days every day we were there but I wish I had planned one down day to relax at the resort.

I hope these tips were helpful and maybe some are new and helpful to you.  Let me know if you have any tips I left out and have a magical day!

img_3105

Uncategorized

Georgia’s Secret Canyon

"How have I never been here?!" I asked myself when I finally made it to the breath taking Providence Canyon. I lived in Georgia growing up and even lived about 30 minutes from the canyon for a few years while my husband was stationed at Fort Benning and I had never even heard of it. It started popping up on different "top places to visit" lists on the internet and I knew I had to go see it in person! I definitely wasn't disappointed (except by the fact I hadn't visited sooner), even my usually unenthusiastic kids loved exploring the "caves" (crevices in the canyon) and climbing on some of the lower hills.

There's a pretty steep hike down and of course back up for about a quarter mile but it goes by pretty quickly and is completely worth it. We went during a rather hot part of Summer but it was the perfect temperature down in the canyon. The ground is sandy and wet so make sure to wear the right shoes (preferably ones you don't mind getting muddy).
There are canyons numbered 1 to 9 to hike to, we opted to go to 4 and 5 as recommended by the staff at the visitors center. These are said to be the best views with the least amount of hiking and since we had our kids with us, we opted for easy, although I'd love to go back and explore all 9. Make sure to bring along plenty of water maybe even pack a picnic to enjoy at their picnic tables (located at the top). There aren't many restaurants, or really anything, located in the general area with the exception of a pretty cool local brewery. Speaking of which, the Omaha Brewing Company is a good pit stop if you're a beer drinker, it's family and pet friendly and you can try out some of their tasty beverages on tap for a small fee. The beer is great and the employees are super friendly, they even offered gave the kiddos bottled water while they played board games.

They have plans to expand into a distillery, concert venue and more. They host live bands with food trucks on Saturday afternoons, and although we didn't get a chance to attend, I can tell by the atmosphere and people that it would be a lot of fun. Check out their Facebook page before you go to see what kind of events they have coming up.

While you're in the area, I highly recommend taking a good amount of time to spend in Columbus. Park downtown and visit some of the retail shops, restaurants and take a stroll on the beautiful Riverwalk. Stop by the riverfront playground and let the kids run through the free spray park if it's warm then hit up one of the ice cream or froyo spots within walking distance. There's lots to explore in beautiful Columbus but that's another post all together!

Happy travels!

Disney

Disney’s Fort Wilderness (Cabin Review)

We recently had the pleasure of going to Disney World and staying on property at a cabin at the Fort Wilderness resort. I was not compensated or discounted in anyway by Disney in exchange for my review (unfortunately!).  This is my honest opinion of our experience.

 

I absolutely loved the cabin.  There were 4 of us, but it sleeps 6. There is a queen sized bed in the main bedroom, along with 2 bunk beds that the kids really enjoyed (they have their own lights, so cute!). The couch also pulls out to a bed but we didn’t use that feature during our stay.  The beds were really comfortable and I loved the theming of the decorations, although they could have been a little more “Disney.”

 

One of my favorite things were the hardwood floors.  I always feel a little germaphobic when walking on “hotel floors” but I didn’t feel that way there. The  rooms were very tidy and Mousekeeping did a great job of cleaning everyday (although we did have to ask for extra towels a few times).

 

I loved the table,  we could all fit during meals and we loved the comfy couch and chair that were provided in the living room. While not super spacious, it felt like we had much more room than a typical hotel.  It was very cozy but there was also plenty of seating and room for us to maneuver around each other.  I would have like to have maybe an extra half bath, sharing one bathroom was a little difficult when trying to get out the door early in the mornings but the bathroom was really nice and spacious.

As far as the resort goes, I feel like we really lucked out on our cabin assignment.  We were right next to a bus stop and about a block from the smaller swimming pool. On the downside, you can’t really get around the resort easily with a car.  There are no parking spots for cars pretty much anywhere besides your own cabin. To get around the resort you either have to rent a golf cart or ride the bus and we never quite figured out the bus situation. There were 2 different types of busses, ones that stay on property and ones that go off and they don’t really run on a specific schedule.  Most of the employees seemed a little confused by the bus situation too. When I called the front office they said a bus comes by every 20 minutes.  They didn’t seem sure what time the buses stopped where, all they could tell me is that “One will be by in 20 minutes or less.” The best advice I got was, “Just hang out at the bus stop and wait, a bus will be along shortly. Ask the bus driver where they are going.” Which didn’t always help when the bus drivers are new and haven’t heard of the quick service restaurant before.  That was really our only issue with the Fort Wilderness .

I loved the woodsy feel of the resort and we saw plenty of animals roaming the grounds including, deer, turkeys and bunnies.  It was very relaxing and felt like you were far away from the craziness and crowds of the parks. The kids really liked the playgrounds and the swimming pool we visited. We only ever visited the “smaller pool” which was actually pretty big and usually had only a few people (maybe because we were there in February?) but the hot tub was nice too. I was surprised at the lack of towels at the pool.  Make sure to bring your own, just in case they don’t have them (they didn’t when we were there). The walking trails looked nice and we saw a lot of people jogging and biking, but we did mostly park days so didn’t really get a chance to enjoy them.  There is also a lot of activities at the resort like a campfire sing along with Chip and Dale where you can make smores (available for purchase) and a free movie every night along with other things like horse back riding, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, archery and arcades. Overall our stay was very enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it.

Southern Travel

Charming Charleston, 5 Can’t Miss Things to do During Your Trip

Charleston had been on my Southern “bucket list” for quite some time, but after I watched a show where Anthony Bourdain toured some of the restaurants in Charleston, I knew I had to make it happen. Loving everything Southern, beachy and food related, this place was pretty much Heaven for me.  The town feels reminiscent of Savannah and New Orleans but has a South Carolina charm that’s all it’s own. Walking the cobblestone streets, taking in the amazing architecture and creating in the fresh salty air will probably have you wondering “How much do these mansions go for anyway? Could I get a job here? How easy would it be for me to relocate?”.  I’m not an expert on Charleston (not yet anyway) but here are some things that I found to be “must do’s” during our trip.

  1. Poe’s Tavern. While technically not “in Charleston” this restaurant located on Sullivan’s Island was certainly one of my favorite places to go, being a Edgar Allen Poe fan.  I loved the decor, theming, food and their quirky names like the “Tell Tale Heart” or “Annabelle Lee” burger.

2. Walk around downtown Charleston. The architecture of the buildings is amazing, there are beautiful churches, courtyards, and fountains to be found, along with some pretty swanky shopping places. Make sure you make it to “Waterfront Park” and see the pineapple fountain.

3. Husk.  This was my favorite restaurant in Charleston, hands down.  Owned by Chef Sean Brock, you can tell that everything there is made in-house with a lot of care and thought put into every menu item. Everything we tried there was amazing along and the restaurant was absolutely stunning inside and out. Whatever you do, don’t miss this place. Reservations are recommended but we got there when they opened for lunch and we were able to get a table on the porch pretty quickly.

IMG_9005

3. Folly Beach. You shouldn’t visit without stopping by one of the beautiful South Carolina beaches and this one is a short 20 minute drive from downtown Charleston. IMG_9022

4. The Angel Oak Tree.  This magnificent oak tree is hundreds of years old. It’s hard to see it’s beauty and size from pictures alone.  It’s located at “Angel Oak Park” on  John’s Island and is a little bit of a drive from downtown Charleston but is absolutely worth scheduling into your trip. Make sure to double check the hours before going, we arrived early and couldn’t get in the fence. It was still an amazing experience. IMG_9051

5. Hyman’s Seafood. Located in downtown Charleston, this was my husband’s favorite spot. Their shrimp and grits were fantastic along with their crispy whole fried flounder. This place alone is reason enough for my husband to want to go back to Charleston soon. Tip: If you look around at some of the coupon books, you can usually find a coupon for a free appetizer, this was ours:IMG_8907