Friday, July 19, 2013

Quick Weekend Visit to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

My brother moved to Wisconsin over a year ago, so it was about time I flew over to visit him.  It was quite a last minute decision, so I didn't have much time to plan.  We did a lot of driving and got to see a lot of beautiful countryside.  Here are the highlights of the trip:

Day 1:

Kopp's Frozen Custard.  I was quite impressed as we pulled into the parking lot at the size of the building.  Kopp's has a different flavor of frozen custard each day and I've heard every flavor is delicious!  Not only do they have frozen treats, but they have a delicious lunch menu as well.  My brother and I both ordered a cheeseburger and fries with a locally made root beer to drink.  Wow, it was so good!  The atmosphere is beautiful with only outdoor bench seating.  My brother said that it gets really crowded at night as it's the place to go for dessert.  We were too stuffed to get a custard to eat there, so we got a quart of birthday cake frozen custard to eat later.

Our next stop was to The Elegant Farmer, which is known for their apple pies.  It's a super cute barn style farm store that has everything you could possibly want.  I picked up a small bag of cheese curds, a caramel apple pie, an apple crisp and a cinnamon bun.  Sorry, we ate them all before I could get pictures.  The caramel apple pie was to die for.  I almost lost a tooth chewing on the thick warm caramel!  They serve lunch as well with dishes like pulled pork sandwiches and turkey pot pies.

Our plans were to visit the outlet mall, but we saw a sign for a Jelly Belly tour, so we made a quick detour.  I've visited the Jelly Belly factory in California when I was a child, so I thought this might be fun.  This Jelly Belly warehouse offers free train tours that take you around the warehouse with video station stops to tell you about how the Jelly Belly beans are made.  It was pretty cheesy, but we were given a free pack of Jelly Belly beans at the end.  Score!  The end of the tour lets you out at the Jelly Belly store, which is a dream to any Jelly Belly fan.  Inside the store you can find any flavor of Jelly Belly you can imagine.  There is also a sample bar where you can ask to taste any of the flavors they offer, including Vomit and Baby Wipe.  My favorite is Toasted Marshmallow. What's yours?

Who wants to win a sweet prize?

I have a variety box of Jelly Belly beans and a Jelly Belly notepad with pen to send to one lucky reader with a sweet tooth.

Day 2 is next to come!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Zoo Miami- A Review

I had so much fun at Zoo Miami, I don't even know where to begin!

I picked up a brochure for Zoo Miami at a Visitor's Center in Key West.  I love zoo's, but my husband does not.  I knew it would take a little convincing to get him on board with my plan.  I have to give their marketing department props, the brochure is awesome.  It hit every key point that is relevant to my family.  Splash areas, animal rides, animal feedings, and my favorite of all, surrey bikes!!

First order of business was to purchase tickets.  My Florida Aquarium membership entitles me to 50% off admission to Zoo Miami, so my entire cost to get in was under $25.  Hooray!  (If you are a member of any parks, zoos, aquariums, etc. at home, make sure you check their reciprocity list to see if you get discounts at other awesome places)

I knew I wanted to rent a surrey bike as transportation, so that's where I headed.  The price was $21 for 2 hours and $11 per hour for each additional hour.  Boy am I so happy we did this!  This zoo is rather large, so walking would have taken a long time.  We were able to cut our meandering time in half by biking everywhere PLUS the kids loved it!  And as an extra bonus, Mommy and Daddy got lots of exercise.

We ended up purchasing a $10 summer savings pass for each of our kids that included unlimited rides on the monorail, giraffe feeding, parrot feeding, a carousel ride and a camel ride.  Our first stop was to feed the parrots.  This was a little strange considering there were no parrots, only parakeets and cockatiels.  It was a great time, none the less!  Both kids had a little cup of bird seeds which they held up to get the birds to land on them.  They seemed to have liked my husbands feet the best until they discovered that my shoes were tasty.  We spent quite a bit of time in there.

Back on the bike we explored Australia and Asia until we were dying of thirst (and the heat).  We stopped at Oasis Cafe for lunch to fuel up on Gatorade and chicken tenders.  Lunch was delicious and very reasonably priced.  The cafe was next to the sprayground and it was high noon.  Splash time!  The kids had a great time getting wet and cooling off.  The area was large and had tons of sprayers.  Enough to not feel crowded. 

And we're back on the bike and headed for the giraffe's.  My son was so excited to feed these beauties!  My daughter got one good feed in and then realized she was over it.

My next hunt was for the camel rides.  I wasn't sure how my kids would feel about this, but I was so happy that they both got on with me and we did our little figure 8 and posed for pictures.  Sweet!

We ended up spending about 6 hours at the zoo, about twice as much time as I intended, and we didn't even see it all.  I was extremely impressed with everything we experienced.  There were plenty of places with shade to take a break and even these mister stations set up every so often.  What a great idea!

I will definitely go back again!  Thanks Zoo Miami!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Florida Aquarium

Last week was spring break for my kids, so we decided to have a “staycation” and explore some local sites.  Our first stop was the Florida Aquarium located in Tampa.  My daughter is obsessed with anything to do with fish, so she was excited as soon as she saw the entrance sign.  I highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance online.  Not only will it save you money, but it will save you time standing in line.
Navigating around the aquarium is simple.  The self-guided tour starts on the second floor.  When you walk into the lobby/atrium of the aquarium, you will see a set of escalators.  I had to use the elevator since I was pushing a stroller.  The adventure starts in the Wetlands Trail exhibit.  It is housed in a beautiful glass paneled dome with plenty of various aqua life to see.  The walkways are wide and could easily accommodate my double stroller.  Aquariumania is upstairs, so I had to park the stroller as we headed up to check out more exhibits.  My kids especially loved the glass bottom floor that looks down into a tank of sharks and sting rays.  It’s a small floor, so only a handful of people at a time can look.  The exit stairs lead down to the opposite side of the Trail, so I had to go back through and pick up my stroller.

The No Bone Zone on the second floor is great for adults and kids.  It is a touch tank filled with starfish, creepy sea urchins and crustaceans.  My son really enjoyed getting a feel for sea life.

The Coral Reef, my favorite section, is home to the Coral Reef Tunnel and the Panoramic Window.  It is a floor to ceiling view of some amazing creatures including giant sting rays and sharks.  LOVE!

We were back on the first floor and exiting to the sting ray touch tank.  Honestly, this is my least favorite part.  It’s not particularly large and it’s difficult for the kids to get in deep enough to actually touch a sting ray.  There is a small section of the perimeter with a step for smaller kids, but even then, it’s almost impossible to get a chance at the rays swimming by. 

Outside is Explore A Shore, a 2-acre water play area with a pirate ship in the center complete with water guns.  I changed the kids into their swim suits, lathered on the sunscreen and set them loose.  This area is great for all ages!  For the little ones, there is a dry play area with a small pirate ship with a slide and a wheel, because what little kid doesn't love a wheel?  The covered sand play area is awesome.  There are pails, shovels and sifters for your enjoyment and plenty of seating for adults to watch.  The water is shut off on colder days, so the sprayground turns into a playground.

Hungry for lunch?  There are two dining options: inside at Café Ray or outside at Caribbean Cantina.  Café Ray is a self-service cafeteria with many options like pizza, burgers, chicken strips and some local specials like Cuban sandwiches and pulled pork with rice and beans.  The prices are decent and you get a lot of food.  My kids can split a chicken finger kids meal with plenty of food left over. 

Outside is Caribbean Cantina, an open-air sit down restaurant with a full-service bar.  This is a great option if you plan on letting your kids run around in Explore A Shore.  You can see the whole play area from the restaurant.

We had such a great day that we became members AND booked my children’s birthday party for this summer. 

See ya under the sea!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Country Cascades- Pigeon Forge, TN

My family made a quick trip to the mountains of Tennessee for a bit of relaxation. When we arrived our room was not quite ready, thoug it was past check-in time. The counter staff asked us why we were vistng and made a bit of small talk. We told them why we were there and that it was only a short visit. We were hungry after our drive and asked where to eat. They told us of all the many options surrounding the resort, its in the middle of everything in the Pigeon Forge strip. We headed out for pizza to bide time until our room was ready. The staff at Country Cascades was more than apologetic when we returned. Waiting in our room were 2 coffee mugs with hot chocolate packets and 2 stuffed bears for the kids. Everything here is top notch. Eric and Jennifer were always there to answer any questions and resolve any issues. They greeted us every time we came in or went out the door with courtesy and were great with the kids. The rooms and pool area were clean and the breakfast was outstanding. Each morning we had made to order omelets! They also had your usual cereal, bagels and such available. Dining is on the upper floor with seating looking out at the pool. There is an indoor and outdoor pool and an indoor jacuzzi available. The hotel sits along a beautiful creek that is adorned with trees that are beautifully blooming in the spring. They have tables available along the creek for a picnic lunch. you are also allowed to frolic in the creek! This hotel took hospitality to a whole new level. The kids love the mountains and have already said they can't wait to see Eric again at Country Cascades. Thanks for making this trip to the Smokies our best one yet!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Welcome to A2M Travel

Welcome to the A2M Travel blog!  A2M is the official travel agency of Addicted to Mickey.  We are here to share more with you than just Disney travel.  A2M Travels is a full service travel agency that specializes in not only Disney but Universal, Sandals Resorts, major cruise lines, Grand Cayman, Gatlinburg and  Nashville in Tennessee, Vegas and all other well known travel destinations.  In this bloig you will find reviews of our writers as they travel around the world and want to share what they have experienced with you.   If you are thinking of a vacation and want to know how we can help you, email Shannan at