Things to Do In Virginia

 

Things to do in Virginia

 

Washington, DC is the nation’s capital.  So, it’s full of history, galleries, restraunts and more.  However, the state of Virginia is close by and is also full of history and things to do.  Furthermore, it boasts beautiful skylines, caverns, wineries and more.  It’s a perfect place to vacation or spend a few days of your vacation.  As a result, check out my list of things to do in Virginia: 

  1. Monticello –  First, the home of Thomas Jefferson is a must see.  Jefferson inherited land from his father when he was 26. He began building Monticello, and it became the primary plantation of Thomas Jefferson. Monticello has approximately 5,000 acres, which 2,000 were tended by 150 slaves.  The grounds consists of slave quarters, gardens, a dairy, a washhouse, store houses etc. The house is approximately 11,000 square feet.
  2. Skyline Drive  –  Second, Skyline Drive is approximately 105-mile road long with several entry points.  It has 75 overlooks, places to lodge and dine along the way.  It takes about 3 hours to drive the route at 35 mph.  It’s most popular in the fall with the colorful foliage, but it’s just a beautiful in the warmer months too.  There’s plenty of wildlife, hiking trails and waterfalls.
  3. Luray Caverns  –  Discovered erroneously in search of cave, the caverns were discovered in 1878.  The guided tour of the Luray Caverns are the most popular caverns in Eastern America. You will also find a replica of a frontier home and Car and Carriage Caravan Museum.  Feeling adventurous, enter the garden maze and attempt to find your way out.  In your in need of a few adult beverages, check out the wine tasting.  There’s also a café to satisfy your hunger.
  4. Shenandoah Caverns  – The caverns are around 56 degrees year round.  The guided tour takes about an hour through 17 rooms.  The Breakfast Bacon has been featured in National Geographic magazine.  Long View Hall and Grotto of the Gods as well as formations like Capitol Dome, Diamond Cascade, and Rainbow Lake.  The Yellow Barn,  American Celebration on Parade, and Main Street of Yesteryear provide great family photo opportunities.
  5. Arlington Cemetery – Visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  You will find John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis gravesites as well as the Changing of the Guard.
  6. Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens –  Next, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden was voted as one of the Top 10 Botanical Gardens in the country.  It offers 50 acres of gardens, dining and shopping.  It has more than a dozen themed gardens, which include a Children’s Garden, Rose Garden, Flagler Garden and the Kroger Kitchen Community Garden.
  7. Great Dismal Swamp – The Great Dismal Swamp is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It inhibits 112,000 acres.  The area is occupied by bobcats, bears, white tail deer, an array of fish, turtles, lizards and more.
  8. Victory Rover Cruises – Last, be sure to add Victory Rover Cruises to your list of things to do in Virginia.  It offers a 2 hour narrated cruise by the captain.  The Norfolk Naval Station  is the largest Naval Base in the world.  You will see Destroyers, Aircraft Carriers, Submarines, Cruisers, Yachts and more.  Additionally, lunch boxes may be available.  

Finally, I hope that you liked my list of things to do in Virginia. Pick a few items and enjoy the day with your family and friends.  Additionally, you may also like 9 Budget Friendly Activities in Virginia Beach.

24 Things To Do In Washington, DC

 

things to do in washington, dc

Washington, DC is the nation’s capital.  It’s the perfect place to spend a week or even a few days.  It’s family friendly, and has 100’s of attractions.  You will find historical sites, restaurants and sports events.  Check out my list of things to do in Washington, DC.:

  1. The Smithsonian – First, you can spend days at the Smithsonian.  It’s the world’s largest museum.  Includes 19 museums, galleries, gardens, and the National Zoo.  You can check out the Air and Space Museum, African American Museum, National History and more.
  2. Holocaust Museum – During The Holocaust, 6 million Jews were persecuted and murdered by the Nazi regime. Also, Gypsies, the handicapped, homosexuals, and Jehovah’s Witness were targeted.
  3. Madame Tussauds – Second, be sure to grab a photo opp with wax figures of past Presidents.  Furthermore, there’s First Ladies, sports figures, historical icons and more.  Purchase tickets on-line.
  4. National Harbor – It’s a great place for family fun.  Hop on the Capital Wheel.  You will have a great view of the National Cathedral, Washington Monument, and the Masonic Temple.  You can also shop at the local Farmer’s Market.  Be sure to pack a few chairs for a free movie night.
  5. Arlington Cemetery – Visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  You will find John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis gravesites as well as the Changing of the Guard.
  6. Lincoln Memorial – April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  In March 1867, Congress approved the Lincoln Monument Association.  It’s goal would be to build a memorial to the slain 16th President. The Lincoln Memorial is also the place of Martin Luther King’s iconic I Have a Dream Speech.
  7. The Capitol – The US Capitol sits on approximately 274 acres.  The Statute of Freedom sits on top of the Capitol.  The U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate work in the Capitol.  It also houses The National Statuary Hall, which contains 100 statues. Each state has contributed 2 statutes.   Click here to book a tour.
  8. Washington Monument –  So, the Washington Monument stands at 555 feet tall.  Unfortunately, it is closed and will not reopen until 2019.  However, you can still roam the grounds for photo opportunities.
  9. Mount Vernon – Check out the plantation and 21 room mansion of George Washington.  It’s sits on the banks of the Potomac River.   The grounds include 500 acres and Washington’s family tomb.
  10. MLK Memorial – The memorial is covered with famous quotes by Martin Luther King.
  11. Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – Largest Catholic Church in America.
  12. National Cathedral – The National Cathedral is the length of two football fields.  Therefore, allow plenty of time to during your visit.
  13. International Spy Museum – No visitor can spend time in Washington, DC ad not add the International Spy Museum to the their list of things to do in Washington, DC. Visitors can interact during their visit.  After all, there’s a little spy in all of us.  Furthermore, you can break codes after you take on a cover.  Afterwards, identify disguised spies or become the subject of covert surveillance.
  14. White House – Add the White House to you list of things to do in Washington, DC.  Schedule your tour through your Congressional  representative’s office. Request tours up to 6 months in advance.  Schedule it at least a month before the requested tour date.
  15. Ford’s Theatre –  Site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination by John Wilkes Booth.
  16. St. John’s Episcopal Church – Located in Lafayette Square across from the White House.  Every US President has attended St. John’s at least once.
  17. Bureau of Printing and Engraving –  It’s true money doesn’t grow on tree, but you can watch it being printed.  Did you know the life span of a $1 dollar bill is almost 6 years.  But the life span of a $100 dollar bill is almost 15 years.  Tours are not available on week-ends.
  18. National Mall – Next, check out the 200-year-old American elm trees.  You will also find the National Archives, National Gallery of Art and U.S. Botanic Gardens along the National Mall.
  19. Pierce Mill – Pierce Mill is the only 19th century gristmill operated by the National Park Service.  It originally operated from 1829-1897.
  20. Capitol Riverfront – Additionally, the Capitol Riverfront is located on the Anacostia River.  It is home to MLB’s Washington Nationals and Yards Park.  Yards Park provides water fun for kids.
  21. Chinatown – There are approximately 20 Chinese and Asian restaurants in Chinatown. Most are owned by Asian American families. Also, Madame Tussauds and the International Spy Museum are nearby.
  22. Embassy Roll – Massachusetts Avenue, NW, is home to more than 170 foreign embassies.  So, take a stroll down Embassy Roll.  It’s a great history lesson.
  23. Petersen House – Last, Abraham Lincoln was moved from Ford’s Theatre to the Petersen House.  He died, April 15, 1865.
  24. Frederick Douglas Home – Also, visit the last home that Frederick Douglas lived in before his death.

Finally, I hope that you liked my list of things to do in Washington, DC.  Pick a few items and enjoy the day with your family and friends.  Additionally, you may also like 9 Budget Friendly Activities in Virginia Beach.

 

 

 

 

 

Ideas for Organizing Board Games

 

 

organizing board games

 

You’ve collected a number of games because of your recent interest in old and new titles. However, it’s beginning to look like an episode of Hoarders at your home. Therefore, a bit of structure and organization has become a challenge.  Will you be declared the winner and once again the owner of your space? Here’s how to win with organization.  We also have a few tips on organizing board games:

Rolling Cart

Rolling carts are great for walking a few blocks with groceries or other items.  It’s also used to carry chairs, coolers and toys on the beach.  Also, a rolling cart is convenient for storing your board games. You can clearly see titles while neatly stacking them.

Soap Containers

Losing one card from a deck could mean spoiling the entire game forever. Seems like a major punishment for such a trivial thing as losing a small piece of paper. However, you won’t have to worry when you wrap a rubber band around the deck before placing it in a soap container. It’s an orderly, waterproof, and bend-proof way to maintain your card games.

Large Zip Lock

Likewise, it’s crucial to keep all game pieces in one spot. The game box was designed for this task, but mysterious things happen to pieces. Therefore, be proactive, ensure all pieces are kept together in a zip lock bag. Also, make sure the box maintains its integrity.

Toy Box

Moms and dads have been maintaining kids’ goodies in boxes and chests for years. Shell out some money and invest in a medium to large sized toy chest. With a bit of selection and an eye for interior decorating, you could buy a piece that looks great in your family or living room while it houses your tabletop games.

Closet Organizer

You can grab a closet organizer from your local Walmart or online at Amazon. It’s an easy fix for those who have too many shoes…or games. Rather than hang it in your bedroom closet, utilize your hall closet and store a plethora of board games.

Bookcase

How serious are you about board games? Serious enough to amass an entire library of titles? If so, rather than a place to house books use shelving to house your board game collection.  You can take the economical route, and build DIY shelves or you could hire a carpenter to build  something custom and more suitable for board games.

Milk Crates

They’re durable and great for storage.  Even better, you can stack them and place them beside one another. There’s no limit to how many games you can conveniently store in milk crates.

Wooden Ladder

Old, rustic looking ladders are chic at the moment and you can find them in kitchens, bedrooms, family rooms, etc. Decorators hang blankets over them, place books on top of rungs, or just paint them to match the interior. You can use one to arrange and start organizing board games in your home too.

We hope you like our tips on organizing board games, and will implement one or two in your home.

Baking With Kids – Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

chocolate chip cookie recipe

 

Baking with kids is a great way to spend some quality family time together.  It’s also an opportunity to teach them a science lesson or two! Have your kids ever wondered how mixing flour, eggs, sugar, and baking soda can create a delicious cake? Or how about what makes cookies chewy or crunchy? Within every batter or dough, there are multiple chemical reactions occurring at once to create the perfect baked treat.

Mastering the science of baking can be a challenge.  Shari’s Berries created an infographic that breaks down the most common baking ingredients.  It also illustrates how each ingredient interacts with each other. The infographic is divided into six main sections.  They describe the science behind different flour types, shortening, leavening agents, eggs, sugars, and salt. Check out the infographic below to inspire your kids to get baking!

The Science of Baking

Now that you and your kids are armed with baking knowledge, it’s time to start baking in the kitchen! Feel free to print out this guide and stick it on your refrigerator for your next baking project. Before you know it, your kids will transform from being little bakers to mad scientists!  Start with this Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe shared by my blogging friend, Tammy  Whitten, at www.womenmanagingstress.com:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 T. molasses
  • 3 T. water
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 t baking soda
  • 2 1/2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. toasted chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter, egg, vanilla, molasses, and water in a bowl.  Sift together the sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour.  Combine the moist mixture with the dry ingredients.  Add the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.  Be sure to chop the walnuts before you toast them.  Toasting should take approximately 5-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them.

Shape dough into one inch balls and place one inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 12 minutes or until edges are just brown.  Cookies will be slightly doughy in the middle.  Place on a cooking rack.  Dunk in a glass of cold milk.  Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Places To Travel for the Best Wildlife Experience

 

tips on where to find the best wild life experience

As the English writer Samuel Johnson said, “The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” So if you’ve always imagined how it looks like when a huge whale breaches the ocean’s surface or a lion hunts its prey, there’s no reason not to go and see it in person. Luckily, today there are many wildlife holidays you can opt for. And if a true wildlife experience is what you’re seeking, these five destinations might just be perfect for you.

Gansbaai (South Africa)

There’s hardly anything more extreme than diving into the shark-infested waters of South Africa. Gansbaai is a small fishing village in South Africa, famous for shark cage diving. Since the waters in this part of South Africa are full of sharks, tourists have a chance to get into a cage and see these marvelous creatures in person. The cages in which you go under the water are 100% shark-proof and there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Not to mention that this thrilling experience is something that’ll inspire you for a lifetime. The best time to visit Gansbaai is May to October since that’s when the success rate of shark sighting is highest and surpasses 95%.

Quebec (Canada)

Quebec is a city that sits on the St Lawrence River and it’s just a couple of hours away from the gulf of St Lawrence.  During certain times of the year, you can spot up to 13 different whale species   This includes humpback, blue, fin and killer whales among them. The best time to visit Quebec and go on a whale-watching trip is between mid-May and mid-October. There are many whale-watching operators that can take you to this beautiful place. There’s nothing to be afraid of as there are strict rules and ships aren’t allowed to get too close to the whales.

Corcovado (Costa Rica)

The national park of Corcovado is surely one of the most intense biological places on the planet. Cloud forests, old-growth wet forests, wild beaches and mangrove swamps you can come across in this national park are absolutely magnificent. Not only this, but Corcovado is full of tropical wildlife.  Tapirs, red macaws, quetzals and many different types of monkeys are just some of the animals you can spot in this amazing place. If you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to see a mountain lion or jaguar hunting for turtles on the beach. Since this is one of the wettest places on earth, make sure you visit it during the dry season (January to March).

Serengeti (Tanzania)

The great migration is one of the most dramatic scenes of African wildlife.  During the migration, more than 1.5 million wildebeests and 200,000 zebras set off on their 1,200-mile odyssey. What makes the great migration so special is that all of these animals are hunted by predators during their journey. Wildebeests and zebras follow the rain, which means you’ll have to plan your travels accordingly. The best time to visit Tanzania is  February or March.  This the time when animals congregate in Serengeti. By June and July, animals get to Masai Mara (Kenya) and that’s where you can witness magnificent Grumeti River crossings.

Yellowstone (USA)

The Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park is another area you’ll simply have to see if you’re into wildlife holidays. This place is famous for being a home to “big five” animals in the USA. The famous “big five” consists of the grizzly, bison, elk, wolf and cougar.  If you visit Yellowstone, chances are you’ll get to see all of them. If you get up early in the morning, you might even spot a bear or wolf looking for a pray.  Spotting a cougar may be more difficult but it’s possible if you’re persistent enough. If you want to record these incredible creatures by night, make sure you check out trail cameras before you visit Yellowstone.

All of these five places guarantee you a great time you’ll never be able to forget. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t book your flight today.  Be a witness to some of the best wildlife experiences on earth.

Have you be on a wild life vacation before?  If so, where were you a what did you see.  If not, what spot would you like to visit.   You may also like 4 Top Family Activities in Bali.

Author  – Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls simply in love with interior design and DIY projects. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

 

Finding Dory Printables – Opens in Theatres June 17

upcoming movies

ABOUT THE MOVIE: Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory” welcomes back to the big screen everyone’s favorite forgetful blue tang Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), who’s living happily in the reef with Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) and Nemo (voice of Hayden Rolence). When Dory suddenly remembers that she has a family out there who may be looking for her, the trio takes off on a life-changing adventure across the ocean to California’s prestigious Marine Life Institute, a rehabilitation center and aquarium. In an effort to find her mom (voice of Diane Keaton) and dad (voice of Eugene Levy), Dory enlists the help of three of the MLI’s most intriguing residents: Hank (voice of Ed O’Neill), a cantankerous octopus who frequently gives employees the slip; Bailey (voice of Ty Burrell), a beluga whale who is convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny (voice of Kaitlin Olson), a nearsighted whale shark. Deftly navigating the complex inner workings of the MLI, Dory and her friends discover the magic within their flaws, friendships and family. Directed by Andrew Stanton (“Finding Nemo,” “WALL•E”), co-directed by Angus MacLane (“Toy Story OF TERROR!”), and produced by Lindsey Collins (co-producer “WALL•E”), Disney•Pixar’s  “Finding Dory” swims into theaters June 17, 2016. For more information, like us on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/PixarFindingDory, and follow us on Twitter, https://twitter.com/findingdory and Instagram, https://instagram.com/DisneyPixar.

Mark your calendar and make it a family affair.  In the mean time enjoy our maze, coloring and connect the dot pages:

kids activities, Finding Dory activities Image-Finding-Dory-Maze Image-Finding-Dory-Coloring-Page5 Finding Dory activities, connect the dot printables, coloring printables

 

 

 

Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Xtreme Circus Review

ringling brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus

 

Elephants, Tigers, Acrobats, and Bikers performed at the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey Xtreme Circus at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.  It was an evening spent eating junk food, watching clowns, jugglers and other entertainers perform before the big show.  Than we would sit in awe of the Ring Master and all the other performers for the Greatest Show On Earth.

First, we ate dinner at the Green Turtle prior to the show.  Nothing fancy, the adults had wings and the kids pizza and fries. From there we entered the venue for the preshow activities. They had jugglers, clowns, and an area set up where the children could try on various costumes. After 15 – 20 minutes we moved to our seats. We had great seats about 10 rows from the floor. We were high enough where those standing didn’t really affect our view of the show, but low enough where we had an incredible view of the ring.

 

Barnum & Bailey, circus tigers

 

Take plenty of money because outside snacks and drinks are not allowed.  Security will search you and your bags at all entrances.  I slipped money into my pockets and carried my camera.  I just left my purse in the trunk. However, it’s nothing unusual.  I actually don’t know many places that allow outside food in their venues.

Inside the Big Top, they are sold before the show and during intermission.  Outside the Big Top they are sold until everyone vacates the premises.  The kids wanted cotton candy before the show started. Count it, $14.00 per bag. It does come with an adorable circus hat that can be kept as a souvenir.  I also saw bags being sold without the hat at the concession stands outside the arena. Lemonade is $12.00 per drink. They also offered Italian Ice in adorable elephants cups for $14.00 – $15.00 depending on the size.

 

family activities, circus, Ringling Brothers,

 

Our show started at 7:30 p.m. It lasted approximately 3 hours. It was about 2 1/2 hours for the actual show and about 30 minutes for an intermission. We enjoyed all aspects of the show. Personally, I could have done without the clowns, but what’s a circus without clowns.  I was a little afraid that the 4 year old would become bored, but that didn’t happen.

The performers were able to engage the audience through music and/or their acts. There were plenty of Oohs and Awes. The audience clapped along with the Ringmaster and the band was quite good.  I even participated in the clapping and the Awes. The lions were beautiful, but there were no flaming hoops to jump through.  I did enjoy the Mermaids. I’m fascinated by Mermaids and my granddaughter’s favorite princess is Ariel.

 

 

circus elephants,

 

The elephants have been a part of the show for 145 years.  Sadly, they will no longer be a part of the show after May 2016.  Fortunately, the elephants will retire to a conservation center in Florida.  The company hasn’t said how it will rebrand their shows once the stars, the elephants, retire.

 

Xtreme circus,

 

The tightrope walkers and bikers were amazing.   I loved the camels.  It was an amazing 3 hours.  Most importantly, it was nice to converse with my 8 year old grandson about the acts.  We ended the evening with the kids having their faces painted. Count it, $14.00 each.  Additionally, another $30.00 to park in the Verizon Center garage.  But the evening was so worth it.  Finally, I’m happy that I would create an evening that the children will always remember.

 

face painting

22 Places Kids Eat Free

places kids eat free

Need a break from the stresses of the day?  Here’s a list of places where you and the family can eat, possibly have a  cocktails, and the kids eat for free.

  1. Applebees Kids eat free Monday and Tuesday nights at participating locations. Be sure to signup for 
  2. their Email club for a free entree for your birthday.  Other nights kids eat for $1.00.
  3. Au Bon Pain – Free birthday lunch. Sign up for their eClub.
  4. Backyard Burger – Kids eat free on Tuesday. Sign up for their eClub for additional deals.
  5. Bennigan’s – Kids 12 and under eat free on Tuesdays after 4 pm with paying adult.
  6. Bob Evans – Kids eat free after 4 pm with paying adult.
  7. Buffalo Wild Wings Get a order of snack wings or dessert for your birthday when you join the Buffalo Circle. Captain D’s – Join the Kid’s Club and get a special birthday greeting and a free meal. Ages 12 and under only. Kids 12 and under can eat from the kids menu for just 99 cents on other days.
  8. Chick-fil-A – Kids eat free between 5:30-7:30 pm. One child per adult.
  9. Cici’s – Kids eat free every day with paying adult.
  10. Denny’s – Free Grand Slam on your birthday. Valid ID must be presented.
  11. Firehouse Subs – Free sub on your birthday. Valid ID must be presented. All kiddos eat free when an adult combo meal is purchased on other days.
  12. Friendly’s – Free sundae on your birthday when you join the BFF Club.
  13. Golden Corral – Kids 3 and under eat free.
  14. IHOP – Kids under 12 eat free everyday between 4 pm – 8 pm accompanied by paying adults/parents.
  15. Johnny Rocket’s – Get a free hamburger on your birthday.  Join the eClub for additional deals.
  16. Lonestar Steak House – For each paying adult, 2 kids get to chow down for free all day long and they’ll happily feed 2 kids per adult.
  17. Marie Callender’s – One child eats free with each  adult entree purchased.
  18. Perkins – Get a free meal for children 12 and under with each adult entrée on Wednesdays from 4 – 9 p.m.
  19. Pizza Hut – Kid eat free Tuesday evenings.
  20. Red Robin – Enjoy a free burger for your birthday when you sign up for their eClub. Kids 10 and under eat free with paying adult on other days.
  21. Shoney’s – Kids 4 years and under eat free with adult entrée.
  22. Tony Roma – Kids 11 and under can eat ribs free.
  23. TGIF – Kids eat free on Mondays or Tuesdays.  Call your local TGIF for the day in your area.

So, I recommend that you call ahead to ensure that the establishment will be able to accommodate you and your children.  Be sure to ask what days and times they offer free meals and what ages are included.  Take advantage of the freebies on family night, birthdays and anniversaries.