Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer Vacation 2017

For years now I noticed everyone going to the beach for summer vacations. I wasn't sure what all the hype was about but decided to take the kids and see how it went. I wasn't sure if I would want to spend an entire week at the beach and I like to try to go to a major league baseball game each summer so I decided to spend a few days in Atlanta first.

Our first day we drove to Oxford, Alabama, which is about an hour outside of Atlanta. On the way we stopped at the Bass Pro Pyramid in Memphis and took the kids to the top to look out. It was so cute how excited the kids were to be so high up - they were convinced that they could see our house and Disney World from up there :) We had dinner at Cajun Steamers in Alabama and sat outside in perfect weather with an amazing live performer singing. The kids danced and it was just perfect. I made a vow to try something new everywhere we went to eat and it started here. I had my first jerk chicken and it was a little spicy, but so good! We got to the hotel about 10:00 that night and all went right to sleep.

Looking down from the top

I didn't realize there was an hour time difference in Atlanta from Oxford so I had to get up really early so we could make our time to enter the Georgia Aquarium. This aquarium was amazing! I loved all the exhibits and the kids were so excited. My favorite was the dolphin show and the feeding of the tiger shark. We also watched a cute 4D Spongebob movie here - which the kids loved!

After the aquarium we walked straight across the sidewalk to The World of Coke. I wasn't sure if the kids would really be into this - but I was wrong! They loved looking at all the exhibits and really wanted me to explain things to them. The loved the Coke Bear and getting to see the actual vault that the secret Coke recipe is in. We also got to go to the Coke tasting room and taste Coke products from around the world. I was not a fan of any of them but Ryan loved the Strawberry Coke in South America.

In front of the vault with the secret Coke recipe :)

Next we checked into our hotel - we stayed at the Omni in the CNN Center. This was a really cool experience. We were able to see the CNN employees working on stuff and even shared the elevator with a former NFL player (Brock Huard) - which also happened to be the time the kids got on the elevator and the doors closed before I could get on - luckily they came back to our floor and were all smiles when the doors opened back up (several employees were laughing and watching through the glass elevator as the kids went on their joy ride). This was also my first experience with valet parking (yes, I don't get out much) and I am sure I looked like a total idiot but I finally got it figured out. It was hard to make sure we had everything we needed before the car was parked in an area I cannot just go back and get something out of.

View from our room!

View from our room at night

The next morning we got up and went to breakfast in the CNN food court. Then it was off to Legoland! This Legoland was a little disappointing to me, but the kids still loved it. It had a lot of the same things as the one we went to in Kansas City, but it was a lot smaller, more run down and old and dirty. We rode rides, raced lego cars, and watched a 4D lego movie.

After Legoland we decided to try The Varsity Drive-in - it is one of the oldest drive-in still in business. The food was really good and the experience was cool too. Then we went for a ride on Skyview Atlanta - it overlooked Olympic park and our hotel - it was so cool!

Then it was time for our first Uber to the Braves game! This new stadium was amazing! I wish we would have gotten to the field earlier because there was a neat little area around it I would have liked to explore - plus a Wahlburgers!! I cannot believe I was so close to one and didn't get to go to one. The Braves lost but the ice cream helmets and popcorn were good and I just love watching a game live in a stadium - there is just nothing like it.

The next morning it was time to head to the beach! This drive was about 5 hours and then we were at our room! First thing we did was unpack and change clothes and head out to dinner! We decided to attempt the Back Porch - even though it was close to the regular dinner time which can have a long wait. We lucked out and got the last table before the waiting list started! The view was amazing, the breeze off the ocean was amazing and the smell of the ocean while we ate was amazing - it was just amazing. This was my first time to try Mahi Mahi and it was really good! I am afraid trying fresh fish as my first seafood to try may be a mistake, the fish back home will not compare.

View from our condo

Dinner view

After dinner we went back to the condo to go out on the beach real quick. We watched the sun set and hunted for crabs. The kids first time to walk in that sand (Ryan described it as sugar and mashed potatoes) and see the beach is a moment I will never forget. They looked amazed and excited and overwhelmed - it was super special for me and I almost cried.

The kids first time on the beach :)

Our first crab!

The next morning we ran out to the beach for some beach pictures really quick before the rain started. They were just taken on my phone and they are not perfect but I am happy with how they turned out.

We spent the rest of the day looking for something to do while it rained. We had brunch at Asiagos Skillet - it was really good! Then since we love to shop so we decided to do a little retail therapy. It was tax free weekend so we got some really good deals and I got the kids some good school clothes.

That evening we were looking for a restaurant in Santa Rosa to keep from fighting the traffic in Destin and some friends of ours invited us to dinner with them at Red Bar. It was a really cool place - they had 4 food options so that helped decide what to eat quickly! I got a chicken dish here (can't remember the exact name) and it was great! The kids just got noodles and marinara and ate every bit of it! We hurried back to the condo since it quit raining and played on the beach in the dark - we were desperate for some beach time even if it was in the dark!

The next morning it was sprinkling when we got up so I hurried and got the kids up and we ran out to play before the storms hit. We had the beach to ourselves and promised the beach guard we would head in when we saw lightning. We were able to build a few sand castles and play for about an hour before we had to come in. Then it was another day of looking for something to do in the rain. There were a few more malls and stores we went to. We had lunch at Cantina Laredo to get our Mexican food fix in. After shopping for a little bit and visiting The Village at Baytowne Warf  we saw the storm would be ending soon so we decided to have an early dinner while there was no wait at Dewey Destin Harborside. Since the rain stopped while we were eating they raised the rain shield and we were able to eat with an amazing view and breeze off the ocean. I had grouper here and it was my best meal of the trip!

We then hurried back to the condo for some beach time! Still no sun, but no rain so we were able to play in the ocean and built a sand castle village. After beach time we got dressed for a late dinner - we went back to The Village at Baytowne Warf and ate at Hartell's Diner - it was really good! Chicken strips, the best fries, and homemade donuts!

The next morning was time to say goodbye to the beach, so of course the sun was out! After a quick trip to Build-A-Bear we grabbed a pizza lunch at Red Brick Pizza and hit the road. I wanted to stop at the USS Alabama on the way back. I had never even heard of it before planning this trip (once again, I don't get out much) but once I looked it up I knew we had to stop! It was huge and getting to explore all over it was amazing! Noah said it was one of his favorite parts of the trip.  After exploring the ship we drove all the way to Vicksburg, MS, where we stayed for the night.

We drove on home Sunday morning, stopping at Whole Hog Cafe in Little Rock for lunch (one of our favorites).

The kids did amazing on the drive. I was really expecting more fights and to at least have to threaten to leave them on the side of the road a few times, but they did great! To make the drive more fun I went to Dollar Tree and bought enough games and toys to give the kids one each hour to play with. To make it even more fun I wrapped them all up and let them pick one each hour to open. I also bought a bunch of new movies and didn't let them watch any of them until it was time to go. I brought some electronics and I was so proud that they didn't even ask to play with them until we were a few hours from home on the last day. I foresee lots more road trips with these two after how well they did!

I totally understand the beach vacation hype now. We didn't even get to do the sunny beach fun stuff or any excursions due to the weather, so I cannot even imagine how much more we will love it once we can do that! I will be going back next summer if not before! ;) (Snow Bird Special Maybe?) I drove the entire time - 6 states and over 1500 miles behind the wheel. I saw so many pretty things, strange things, and things I never knew existed. I cannot wait to explore more of what all the world has out there.

1 comment:

  1. Love seeing your adventures! Great mom, great sister!