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Category : Travel

City Gems: Top places to visit in Miami

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Are you looking for a short trip to sunny Miami? We’re sharing our favorite places when visiting with your family and when you’re on the town on your own!

A Miami Boutique for original finds: Big Drop NYC

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Big Drop NYC is a boutique that personifies the personal shopping experience. The well appointed, honest team will help you shop! They’ll offer their opinion while helping you find unique and interesting pieces that adhere to your personal style. They know how to steer the client in the right direction. We love that they’re not afraid to refer you to neighboring stores to assist you when searching for that key item you are lusting after. Big Drop NYC offers a myriad of experiences including; beauty, vintage finds, accessories, curating looks just for you and the ultimate private shopping experience (by appointment only).

If you are a Savvy Sassy Mom and are heading to Miami, stop in to Big Drop NYC and share that you are a reader of savvysassymoms.com and receive 10% off your purchase.

Rooftop Bar in Miami: Watr

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While visitng South Beach Miami, if you have time alone with your significant other, I highly recommend you visit the Watr, rooftop bar at the 1 Hotel. The unique bar is inspired by Polynesia and Japan has a warm and lively ambience. Whether indulging in a healthy snack or a toast to your evening out, this is the place to be on a warm evening.

Pop-up store in Miami: Sojara
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Sojara is a pop-up shop that uses flannels, cargo and jean jackets to host inspiring messages and your favorite rock and roll bands. This store inspired by the love of music and fashion is an ode to comfort and has a vintage feel with a rock and roll twist. I have not taken my “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” flannel off since I got it!

Take the kids

There are so many fun and exciting things to do with kids in Miami. So much so, in fact, that we can never get to all the places we love!

For the adventurer: Jungle Island

Jungle Island

Spend the day in the jungle with the monkeys and kangaroos! Jungle Island will you have entertained for a day of fun with the animals and engaged staff who put on shows throughout the day. You can pet the kangaroos, feed the calves and watch the lions in a thrilling show! Let your kids unleash their inner animal at Jungle Island!

Miami Seaquarium

Miami Seaquarium

The Miami Seaquarium is one of our favorite places to go! While the whales are huge, the seaquarium itself is the perfect size. Spend the whole day there viewing all of the under water creatures, playing in the big park and petting the stingrays.

On the cold and rainy days: Miami Children’s Museum

Miami Children's Museum

We know how chilly it can get in Miami in the winter, so we found ourselves at the Miami Children’s Museum a few times! This entire space is designed for kids to wonder and explore. Each room opens their eyes to a different experience such as the fishing area, the fire truck and fire fighter outfits, the doctors office, the music area and arts and crafts. Their imagination will run free in this very engaging and child centered environment.

Have you ever been to Miami? What are some of your favorite places?
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Spring and summer breaks are right around the corner. Whether you’re local to the Phoenix area, or just coming to visit, don’t miss this brand new attraction. At the beginning of March, we were invited to check out the all-new Dolphinaris Arizona. Dolphins in Arizona? Yes, ma’am, and my 7-year-old considers it a life changing experience. Find out why Dolphinaris Arizona is the place for families this summer.

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The facility

Dolphinaris Arizona is a federally licensed facility (like all zoos and aquariums) smack dab in the middle of the desert. But if you’re concerned for their well-being in such a difficult climate, don’t be. Dolphinaris Arizona is first and foremost about the care and treatment of the 8 dolphins in their care. Personally, I was so impressed with the facility, from the temperature controlled pools to this amazing retractable glass wall that goes around the entire inner pool to protect the dolphins from dust storms or rough Arizona weather. I could tell so much attention went into the planning of the facility.

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Education

Before going near the water, the Dolphinaris Arizona team sits everyone down for a quick Q&A and ocean conservation education. Dolphinaris strives for a great experience in the water, but I was so happy to see they were also educating people on how to make the world’s oceans cleaner for these amazing animals. Did you know the #1 pollutant in the ocean is pesticides? I didn’t until they told me. After making all these new friends, I have personally made it a point to buy more organic. My already eco-conscience daughter now mentions the dolphins every time she recycles. She always reminds us — and anyone in ear shot — to do the same.

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The experience

Dolphins are some of the smartest animals in the world. Because of that, the Dolphinaris Arizona staff treats them with immense love and respect, which I got to witness first hand. This facility houses 8 dolphins — 4 boys and 4 girls from 2 facilities in Hawaii and California. However, at any given time only 3 are interacting with the people. The other 5 play and hang out. The facility uses only positive reinforcement during training. So if they don’t want to do anything, they don’t have to, which we saw first hand.

At one point during our session, I happened to look across the pool to the back pool where the “off duty” dolphins were playing basketball! I wasn’t the only one who saw this. It didn’t take long for Chloe (our dolphin friend) to take notice and join them. We all hung out and waited for her to decide to come back, which she did 5 minutes later. This highlighted that the dolphins are free to do as they want, which makes for healthy dolphins and happy interactions.

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Interaction

The actual time you spend interacting with the dolphins will depend on the experience you purchase. However, I found them all to be worth the price of admission. Whether it be from dry land or a full-on in the deep end of the pool interaction — or even be a trainer for a day — you’ll find an experience to suit your sense of adventure and your comfort level. You can make online reservations (discounts for online reservations!) or feel free to just walk in. Keep in mind the last experience of the day happens at 2:45.

You can even make an entire day of your time at Dolphinaris Arizona. Depending on the package you buy, you will have access to the “human pool” — a beautiful people-only pool situated right next to the dolphin pool. Lounge, have a snack or get cocktails from the adjacent bar! The staff told me the dolphins like to come visit the glass partition between the human and dolphin pools. Dolphins sometimes play ball with the swimmers!

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Upcoming events

We enjoyed visiting Dolphinaris Arizona so much my 7-year-old has talked about going back non-stop. Thankfully, this summer Dolphinaris Arizona launches the Dolphin Explorer Summer Day Camp. At camp, kids will get to interact with the dolphins and learn about ocean conservation on a deeper level. At Dolphin Explorer Camp your child will spend the day with a dolphin trainer where they will interact with the dolphins in the water and from land while learning about dolphin intelligence, behavior, how to care for the dolphins, ocean conservation and more! Camp sessions are Monday through Friday starting June 5th through August 25th, for grades 5th through 12th. For more details and reservations for what has to be the world’s best day camp, contact Dolphinaris Arizona.

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I may be a little biased, but if you’re planning a family trip this summer (or fall), add Portland to your list. Often called “the other Portland”, I assure you our quaint little city in Maine will not disappoint. You’ll find a foodie paradise, with top notch restaurants serving up fresh seafood. With gorgeous beaches, lighthouses, and sightseeing for days, your biggest problem will be fitting it all in.  While this list doesn’t scratch the surface, I’ve rounded up a list of 10 family friendly activities you’ll want to check out when you’re in town:

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Experience Lobstering

You can’t leave Maine without eating a lobster. If you come in the summer or early fall, I also highly recommend checking out how that lobster was caught. Jump aboard Lucky Catch and Captain Tom and his crew will show you the ropes. I guarantee this is an experience your kiddos won’t forget.

Take a Train Ride Back in Time

Hop aboard The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad and take a ride along Portland’s waterfront with beautiful views of Casco Bay.  The train will stop halfway through, so kids can explore the engine car and learn about the antique cars. Before and after the 45 minute ride you can let the kiddos play inside the small museum with train tables and wood trains, retired cars to walk through and other fun for little ones.  Maine Narrow Gauge is typically open May through October and then again at Christmas for the Polar Express – check out their Facebook page for details.

Visit the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine

If you find yourself with a cold, rainy or sweltering hot day (yes those all happen in Maine), definitely put the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine at the top of your list. It’s really a fantastic space with something for a wide variety of ages including a baby/toddler play area and some really cool locally inspired exhibits/activities like a lobster boat, farm, discovery woods and so much more fun.

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Head to the ballpark

If you’re visiting the area during baseball season (April – September) be sure to head to Hadlock field and experience a Portland Sea Dogs ballgame.  A mini Fenway, this park offers fun for all ages with mid inning entertainment, fireworks, ad yummy park food including their famous Sea Dogs Biscuits.

Shop at L.L. Bean

Visiting the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport is a right of passage when visiting the area.  Head just 20 minutes north to Freeport, take a picture at the giant Bean boot, check out the fish, buy yourself a pair of signature Bean boots and if you’re visiting on a summer weekend, take in a free concert on the lawn.  Leave plenty of time to shop all the deals at the Freeport outlet and then head to head to the town dock for a yummy lunch at Haraseeket Lunch and Lobster.

Enjoy science and a slice

Nestled in the heart of the waterfront district on Maine Wharf, the Portland Science Center is a relatively new but well loved spot for learning and exploration.  The rotating exhibits keep it innovating and fresh and will keep you coming back – on your next trip.  After you get your science fix for the day, grab a slice (or two or three) of pizza at Flatbread. It’s right next door, the wood fired pizza is delicious and it couldn’t be anymore family friendly.

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Lobster roll at the lighthouse

Just 10 minutes from Portland, visit Maine’s oldest and most photographed lighthouse, Portland Headlight, in Cape Elizabeth. Take time to visit the actual lighthouse, walk the seaside trails, and explore Fort Williams. Then be sure to grab a lobster roll from Bite into Maine, and enjoy lunch with a view at the picnic tables.

Take a drive up the coast to Boothbay

If you’ve rented a car and have the time, take a drive up the scenic coast. Boothbay is just over an hour drive with lots to offer along the way. Your drive with take you through picturesque communities like Bath & Damariscotta, and kids will beg you to stop at Monkey See Monkey Do. Once in the Boothbay area, you’ll want to check out Boothbay Railway Village, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and explore the harbor area. Don’t forget to stop for a craft beer and delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere at the Watershed Tavern & Brewery.

Hop a ferry and explore Peaks Island

Casco Bay lines offers frequent ferry service to Peaks Island. Just a 15 minute scenic cruise from downtown Portland, and you’ll find a relaxed island vibe. The island has a lot of fun to offer families, but you can do as much or as little as you want. Spend the day at the beach, walk with a stroller around the island, rent bikes or a golf cart and adventure, rent kayaks or head over for dinner. If you don’t want to leave, spend the night at the charming Inn on Peaks.

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Pick the fruit of the season

One of the great things about Portland is that we have so much so close. Beaches, mountains, countryside and farms are all within a short drive from the city. Picking our own fruit is also an opportunity right at our fingertips and always such a highlight. While it might be hard to travel home with your fruit, I still recommend giving it a try. You can still experience the atmosphere, the fun and — of course — the samples. If you visit in early summer you’ll hit strawberry season, later in the summer you’ll get to pick blueberries. If you come leaf-peeping in the fall you’ll get to pick apples.

Do we have you looking up travel arrangements yet?  If you’ve been to Portland, Maine, what are some of your favorites stops?

 

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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It’s that time of year again. We can glimpse school spring break on the horizon, in between sports seasons for the kiddos. With cold weather still kicking around here in Maine, we’re dying for some warm weather fun. Sound familiar? Whether you’re looking to put together a last minute spring getaway for the family, or already planning next year’s escape, we’ve got your covered. Here’s 10 warm weather vacation spots we love for families — and think you will, too.

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1. The Florida Keys

For a Caribbean vibe without the passports and longer flights, the Keys is a great option.  Fly right into Key West or rent a car enjoy a picturesque drive from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Hawks Cay in Ducks Key is one of our family’s personal favorites. You can’t go wrong with family friendly villas, Camp Hawk, a pirate ship pool, mini golf, bike rentals, a saltwater lagoon and so much more. If you’re traveling with a bigger crowd or simply want more space or privacy, you can find fantastic home rentals through sites live HomeAway and VRBO. Look at Sombrero Beach in Marathon for renting, because of the very quiet and residential feel with a wonderful beach and park/playground.

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2. Hilton Head, SC

A great spot for a convenient Spring getaway, Hilton Head Island truly has something for everyone.  It’s not surprising to see it continuously picked as a top travel destination for families, because of its quiet streets, great beaches, an appreciation for nature and infinite opportunities to explore. For a classic family retreat rich with history and charm, check out Sea Pines Resort. The newly renovated resort offers top notch accommodations and endless activities, including horseback riding, kayaking, a playground, eco-adventures, golf, bike riding and (of course) the beach. Families love Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, which offers all the kid-focused amenities and services you expect from Disney.

Warm Weather Family Vacations
3. Providenciales Turks & Caicos

Known for being one of the safest spots in the Caribbean, Turks & Caicos is also one of the most pristine. Grace Bay is 12 miles of white-sand beach, clear and calm turquoise water and home to Beaches, one the the most popular all-inclusive family resorts. Amenities abound at Beaches, with something for everyone in the family including onsite babysitting, kids camps, waterparks, water sports, golf and entertainment. Not to mention, they truly are all-inclusive, which takes all the guess work out of your vacation.

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4. Ana Maria Island, Florida

Conveniently located for families looking for easy travel and access to the mainland resources, Ana Maria Island  is an ideal place to relax and get away from it all. With its sugar-white coastline, emerald Gulf waters and quaint downtown, you won’t want to leave this 7-mile stretch. We love the condos and town homes at the Mainsail Beach Inn. If you’re looking for looking for more space or privacy, renting a home is a great option. Start with Ana Maria Vacations for a wide variety of options.

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5. San Diego, California

With a city motto of “Happiness is calling,” you know you’re bound for a great spot. While the weather isn’t always tropical, it’s reliably nice in San Diego, especially in the Spring. Spend a day exploring Balboa Park, hit up the San Diego Zoo and Gardens, discover gorgeous beaches, head out a whale watch or visit Sea World, just to begin. With so many interesting neighborhoods, you’ll be sure to find great accommodations to fit your family’s interests and budget. The Loews Coronado Bay Resort is a consistent favorite, and for many families with younger kiddos, Legoland California Resort is a great pick just 30 minutes north of the city.
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6. Sanibel/Captiva, Florida

Located west of Ft. Myers, these barrier islands offer so much for families looking for relaxing time away. You’ll find an old school vibe with modern amenities. Enjoy amazing beaches, great shell seeking, bike riding, fishing and top notch restaurants. On Captiva, we personally love South Seas Island Resort. We find it perfect for families, with its beachside playground, zero entry pools, waterslides, fun ice cream/pizza shop and water sports. The Sundial Resort on Sanibel is a also a great family friendly option with apartment style accommodations and a private beach . You can read more about The Sundial here.

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7. A Disney Cruise

When traveling with young kiddos you inevitably bring a lot of stuff. One of the beauties of a cruise is exploring different destinations while leaving your stuff in the same room.  A Disney Cruise takes so much guess work out of the equation with everything from an airport shuttle to delicious meals and amazing excursions. What sets the Disney Cruise Line experience apart is its ability to bring Disney Magic to the sea. In true Disney fashion, the cruise thought of everything, keeping families in mind with every step from the design of the rooms to the onboard activities, entertainment and kids clubs. If a Disney Cruise is in your future, check out these great tips before booking your trip, and these tips and tricks before embarking!

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8. The Bahamas

With its close proximity to Florida, The Bahamas can be easier to get to than many tropical destinations. You can find direct flights to Nassau from most major cities. While there are a number of beautiful island destinations to chose from based on your family’s budget and interests, Atlantis on Paradise Island consistently impresses. With some of the clearest ocean water on the planet and countless amenities all in one property, it’s hard not to have a good time. Find out more about visiting Atlantis with families here.

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9. Orlando, Florida

For families looking for activities, excitement and a bit of magic, Orlando is where it’s at. While it may not be your most relaxing vacation of all time, it will be full of fun and memories. With theme parks including all the Disney Parks, Sea World, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios, and Legoland just an hour away, fitting it all in may be impossible. If you want to skip the theme parks, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Enjoy a mystery dinner, go for an airboat ride or take a day trip to Coco Beach or the Kennedy Space Center.

Truthfully, I think my boys’ favorite part about visiting the Orlando area is the selection of awesome, kid-centric hotels. You can’t go wrong, but one of our Disney family favorites is Wilderness Lodge. We like the theme/setting, bunk bed rooms, awesome splash pad and boat ride to Magic Kingdom.  In the Universal area, many families that rave about Universal’s Cabana Beach Resort, in the Downtown Disney area the Wyndham Grand Orlando at Bonnet Creek is a favorite (especially the fantastic pool options), and in the Sea World area we like the Marriott’s Harbour Lake with it’s laid back vibe and Key West theme, deluxe villas, pirate ship pool and lots of other kid-friendly amenities.

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10. Hawaii

For many of us, this isn’t the most accessible or affordable on the list, but your family won’t soon forget a trip to paradise. For young families visiting the island of a Oahu, Disney’s Aulani Resort is a perfect pick. You’ll have a dream vacation with the magic of Disney and family focused accommodations, amenities and activities.

Do we have you dreaming of warmer weather? What are your favorite spots for a warm weather family vacation?

This post was contributed by Rebecca Spear as part of Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts. You can find more from Rebecca on her blog, Mainely Mama.

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When we were invited to Vietnam by Coca-Cola, we were intrigued to see what they were doing to give back to the community and needed to know more. We read up on Coca-Cola’s corporate responsibility project, Ekocenters, that were taking shape in helping the different communities in Vietnam. At the beginning of December, we headed to Ho Chi Minh City to learn from Coca-Cola and the Vietnamese community.

When we arrived at our hotel, we were advised to avoid drinking tap water. Similarly, due to climate change, which is occurring at a rapid pace, the residents of Vietnam are unable to drink the tap water. 

Ekocenter Vietnam
What is an Ekocenter and what does it have to do with water?

There are three Ekocenters in Vietnam, 102 all around the world. We visited two of the Ekocenters in Vietnam — one in Ho Chi Minh City and the other in Ben Tre, in the province of Mekong Delta. An Ekocenter is similar to a community center which consists of a kiosk that is the hub to a variety of initiated activities that are focusing on safe-drinking water, free wifi and computer access, as well as additional services, such as free health checks, and a variety of skill-based classes to support communities and the social enterprises.

Water in the Ekocenter

When we arrived at the Ekocenter in HCMC, we saw many local families filling up bottles of water to bring home. The sign at the Ekocenter informs the residents that they are entitled to 10L of water per day that has been filtered at no cost to them. We spoke to a few of the locals and asked them about the impact that the Ekocenter has had on their lives. When we asked one woman what she did for water before the facility was open, she responded, “I had to boil or buy my water. There was never a guarantee that the quality of the water was good.” She also mentioned that since the Ekocenter has opened, she trusts the quality of the water and she saves money by utilizing this system. Not only does she not have to purchase the water but she also saves money by saving the electricity she used to boil her water. Everyone we spoke to felt the same way.

We felt truly inspired after seeing the Ekocenter in Ho Chi Ming City and continued to learn more about Coca-Cola and the three “W’s” of this project.

Water, Women, Well-Being

You may think that to a social media influencer, the three “W’s” stand for world wide web, but after visiting the Ekocenter in Ho Chi Minh City, “W” means so much more to the Savvy Sassy Moms.

We learned that the three “W’s” stand for women, water and well being. Coca-Cola’s water stewardship program consciously reduces the consumption of water at their factories and provide clean drinking water for local communities. We have already told you about the water, so now let us tell you about the women.

Women in the Ekocenter
How is Coca-Cola helping women?

At the Ekocenter we visited in Ho Chi Minh City, we saw firsthand, how women were given the skills needed to run the kiosk. The kiosk at each Ekocenter, along with the Ekocenters themselves, are run by women. At the kiosk, members from the community can come and purchase drinks and a variety of grocery items.

Coca-Cola has partnered with The Women’s Union of Vietnam, to empower women and push them forward in the workforce. The Women’s Union elects one woman to run the Ekocenter for a two-year term. During these two years, she learns how to run her own business so that when she is done, she is able to go out and start a business of her own using the skills that she has learned.

When we spoke with Tham (pictured above), the woman currently running the Ekocenter in HCMC, she told us how the Ekocenter has changed her life. Running this business has allowed her to earn her own income so that she can support her family. In addition, she is now able to care for her family because of the flexible work hours. She also shared with us, that she takes pride in caring for her community and showing the local community how to get their clean water as well as share with them what services are available daily. Most importantly, she is proud of the work that she does everyday.

Local business woman in Vietnam

By empowering women in the local communities to become leaders, they are able to help these women and members of the community, by building self-esteem, skill-sets, good practices, increase economic activity by increasing household income and increasing confidence in women.

The female leaders, acting as part of the economic empowerment and entrepreneurship programs in Vietnam, represent change. These female leaders inspire change as they learn to support one another to deploy women entrepreneurs in the workforce. By promoting women leaders, we create an infrastructure to support families around the world and are able to help improve a wide range of development outcomes.

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The Golden Triangle Partnership

The Golden Triangle represents a partnership between civil society, businesses and the government to utilize each partners strengths in order to change the lives of women in Vietnam. 

As an example, the Coca-Cola Foundation and USAID work collaboratively with other organizations including Women’s Unions and PACT to enhance the lives of women by offering the opportunity to improve their understanding of financial literacy. Meetings are set up to help women develop social and economic skills, resulting in 4900 Vietnamese women increasing their household income and developing small business and new skill sets. When the three tiers come together, the impact of the collaboration is so much larger, making the Golden Triangle Partnership a huge success. 

As part of giving back to the community and corporate social responsibility, it is imperative that we take it upon ourselves to help others in need. After visiting the Ekocenters and Vietnam and witnessing firsthand how Coca-Cola and other corporations are helping different communities, it is our hope to raise awareness for something we so often take for granted.

This trip was paid for by Coca-Cola. All opinions are our own. 

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Over the winter break, we decided to travel to London as a family. The trip ended almost too soon, it seems, since we were having so much fun. Over the course of five days, we enjoyed many teas, tons of shopping and quite a few tourist attractions throughout the city. Through our travels, we learned 10 tips for taking kids to London, through trial and error.

10 Tips for Taking Kids to London 1. Location is key

Select a hotel in a convenient location. London can be expensive and when traveling as a family of five, it is occasionally challenging to find an accommodation that works, especially when a destination is not within walking distance. Most of the hotels we looked at could accommodate four, but once we added the fifth person, it became quite costly. We decided on a hotel close to everything, ME London, located in the theatre district. Just a block away from the River Thames, we could walk to Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

2. Contact the hotel concierge prior to your stay

Don’t be afraid to email the concierge team at the hotel before you arrive for suggestions about tours and restaurants. They have a wealth of information and are experienced in getting around town and picking great restaurants. The team at the hotel even asked questions based on our children’s interests prior to making suggestions.

3. Get an Oyster card when you arrive

Traveling around London is very expensive. The Oyster card is a smartcard that can be used as a travel card to give you access to public transportation based on your preference of travel. These cards can be purchased at nearly any corner store or at any local underground (subway) station. If you purchase a pass and have leftover funds, you can return it at the end of your holiday or top it off if need be. We used our Oyster pass daily, and the savings were huge. You can take the bus almost anywhere and we definitely didn’t feel guilty if we needed a break in touring midday to head back to the hotel and then head out again.

4. Plan your tourist attractions in advance

London in December is busy! At some of the landmarks, we had to wait for long periods of time. Book tickets and print them off prior to arriving at your planned sightseeing locations. Some tourist attractions even have fast passes, similar to Disney! We could only get in two attractions per day because of the massive lines. We visited the Tower of London, where we waited for a long period of time to see the Crown Jewels and chose a tour with a guide.

10 Tips for Taking Kids to London

The world’s tallest Ferris wheel, The London Eye, in South Bank by the River Thames was a great place for photo ops and to see London from a 360 degree perspective! The line moved very quickly, so you don’t need to buy a fast pass for this one.

5. Book a play

Since we were staying in the theatre district, we decided to see the play, Beautiful based on Carole King’s life story. I found myself smiling throughout the entire play because of the absolutely incredible singing and dancing. My family loved it, and we all considered it a highlight of the trip.10 Tips for Family Trips to London

6. Take a bus tour

My favorite thing to do when I arrive at a new place is to take a tour to get perspective. Taking a bus tour allowed us to acclimate to our surroundings and to see what sites were close to our hotel.10 Tips for Visiting London in Winter... with Kids!

7. Dress for the weather

Prepare to be cold if you’re visiting London in December!  Layer up when going out and don’t forget your hat and gloves.

8. Get New Year’s Eve ready

Central London is closed off during New Year’s Eve for security purposes. If you are planning on going for New Year’s Eve, you will need to purchase tickets to access the streets of London or to get to the London Eye for an incredible fireworks display at midnight. At our Concierge’s suggestion, we booked a restaurant for the latest seating possible, in close proximity to the London Eye. We received wristbands from this reservation, which gave us access to the fireworks. Our wristbands allowed us to walk around freely, which was amazing, especially since most of the streets were closed off for New Year’s Eve from 8 p.m., as well as the next day for the New Year’s Day parade.

9. Allow for travel time

Be prepared for crowds. You will need to plan for the always-heavy traffic if you have booked reservations. Be sure to leave plenty of travel time and consider the traffic.Where to have high tea in London

10. High tea is a must

My family and I enjoyed a high tea at the Savoy! Having a high tea midday was the perfect time to debrief about our day and take a break from all the walking. Plus, the food was absolutely delicious.

Overall, my family and I loved our trip to London. Though we were traveling, the most important part of our trip was spending time together. With my daughter away at university, it is a rare treat get a full week together with the entire family.

Check out Where to Stay in London: The Ultimate Sightseeing Guide by HotelsCombined to enjoy more of London with the family!

What are your tips for a great family holiday?
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Tips for Kids Winter Travel Safety

With the holiday season in full swing, we have booked our trip and are ready for quality time together as a family. As our trip drew closer, it was time to start thinking about what travel with my children would look like. Would we take a cab from the airport or rent a car? Without kids, we didn’t think too long and hard about it, but with two kids under five, our transportation needs are at the top of the list!

Amongst my group of friends, the conversation always goes the same way… what will you do when you get to your destination? Will you bring a car seat or rent one? Can you take a car seat on the airplane? This year, we decided to travel with our Britax car seat, using the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart and Britax Travel Bag, which made it so easy. The travel cart made it a breeze to pull the car seat through the airport, while the travel bag kept it safe and clean when we checked it during the flight. Check out the video on our Facebook page to see just how easy it was to travel with our Britax in tow. 

Whether you are traveling somewhere near, far or simply staying in the city, it’s always important to make sure that you are keeping your kids as safe as possible in their car seats. Living in a city with very cold winters, the question that’s always at the top of my mind is whether or not my children can be in their car seats with their jackets on. The Britax website has a great post on winter travel safety tips to answer this question and so many more. The first and most important part of car seat safety is the straps, no matter what the season. When buckling your child in the carseat, you must ensure that you cannot pinch the straps at the collarbone. If you are able to pinch the slack, you need to tighten the straps until you are unable to pinch any of the strap. Once you know what a secure strap looks like, then you can determine if your child’s jacket is safe to wear in the car seat. 

What should my child's car seat straps look like?

Place your child in the car seat with their jacket on and tighten the straps appropriately, as discussed above. Once that is done without any slack, open the car seat and remove your child without loosening the straps. Take off your child’s jacket and place them back in the car seat. Do up the buckle without tightening the straps. If the straps are snug and you cannot pinch them, then the jacket they were in is appropriate for the car seat, but if there is slack and you can pinch the straps, your child is not safe in the car seat in that jacket. 

If your jacket is too thick for the carseat, here are some tips to try from Britax to keep your kids warm during car travel:
– Preheat your vehicle
– Place your child in the car seat and then put the jacket on your child backwards
– Cover your child in the car seat with a blanket
– Try a coat made out of thin, but warm, material

When going in the car with my kids in cold weather, I start the car a few minutes before we leave and I put them in thin coats. Before they get out of the car, they change into their thick winter coats to keep them toasty in the cold winter weather! While it takes some additional planning and preparation, I know that I am making the best decision for my children’s safety when we head out on the icy roads. 

There are so many fun activities to this winter and while travelling with a car seat may seem overwhelming, I can tell you that it was no big deal! My son loved being pulled in the car seat as well! Stay tuned for clips on Instagram and Facebook as our trip continues! 

We did receive product to review and photograph for this post. This post is not otherwise sponsored.

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Holiday Travel Gear for Parents

Traveling during the holiday season can be a total drag or merry and bright, depending on what sort of gear you’ve got in your travel toolbox. There’s so much to organize during the holidays, so it can be tempting to skip a packing list and just toss everything you own into your bags. Since your kids have their own travel essentials, you need to pack smarter, not more, or you’ll be lugging oversized luggage around the country. From layers to help you stay warm to can’t-miss electronics accessories, we have your must-have travel gear for winter.
Holiday Travel Gear Moms Will Love

Babymoov City Bag, $110

A sleek bag that looks fabulous and holds everything you need is key, whether you’re traveling by car or stowing away your personal items under an airline seat. We love the zinc color because it’s a beautiful neutral that pairs beautifully with anything you’re wearing while keeping all your baby changing essentials under wraps.

S’Well Sparkling Champagne Stainless Steel Water Bottle, $25 and up

Staying hydrated while traveling helps us feel alert and refreshed, and insulated stainless steel means your water stays icy cold for up to 24 hours. The metallic bottle fits perfectly into your holiday style, and we won’t tell if you actually fill this festive bottle with the Champagne it’s named for!

Kate Spade Glitter Slim Portable Charger

Besides a delayed flight, a dying battery on a phone or tablet might be the holiday traveler’s greatest nightmare. Keep your favorite electronics charged with a portable charger. We love this one both for its slim profile — easy to slide into any luggage pockets — and it’s a sparkly reminder that the holidays are all about magic and excitement.

Mermaid Maternity Polka Dot Rashguard, $58

Even if your travel destination boasts sky high temperatures normally, holiday weather can change at a moment’s notice. Toss this adorable rashguard into your luggage for a little extra warmth over your suit or just a little more coverage. The drawstring design means you can use this before, during, and after pregnancy, which means you’ll be packing it this holiday season and for future vacations.

Smythson Live Laugh Love Panama Pocket Notebook, $60

Jotting down a few memories each evening helps keep your favorite parts of your holiday travels fresh in your mind. Keeping a travel journal all year long will remind you of what you enjoyed, what you didn’t, and which memories you’ll share with your family for years to come. You’ll love the special touch of the pale blue paper in this simple notebook.

Samsonite Omni PC 20” Spinner Luggage, $79

Traveling with kids means juggling more pieces of luggage than you can really handle. A spinner bag can save you from getting frustrated with your bags, because the turning wheels go exactly where you need them to go, even when you’re navigating tight spaces or abruptly changing direction to chase down a toddler. The radiant pink doesn’t function any better than basic black, but it absolutely cheers us up whenever we see it.

Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Cami, $55

Pregnant and nursing mamas alike will love this layering piece from Bravado. You can nurse discreetly, because a Bravado Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra is knitted into this smooth, comfortable layering piece.

Belabumbum Before + After 3-Piece Bundle, $126

Your comfiest jammies work just fine at home, but when you’re traveling it’s lovely to have loungewear that lets you feel comfortable and put together. The 3-Piece Bundle includes a cozy robe, nursing-friendly nightie, and the cutest headband to keep your bedhead under control.

Red Twist Cashmere Wrap, $195

The Red Twist wrap is luxuriously soft and lightweight, so you can use it like a small blanket on planes, a nursing cover if necessary, or a wrap to keep warm in overly air-conditioned restaurants. In addition to being the perfect travel essential, Red Twist makes a donation to Room to Read with every purchase, helping Asian girls receive an education.

ZAQ Mini Essential Oil Diffuser, $15

Sleeping away from home can be elusive, but your favorite essential oils help any room feel more familiar and relaxing. This mini diffuser fits easily into your luggage and runs on batteries, so you don’t have to worry about finding an extra outlet when you’re ready for bed.

Find more holiday must-haves, including our list of holiday travel gear for kids, in our 2016 Holiday Guide.

Portions of our 2016 Holiday Guide are sponsored and contains affliate links. Thank you for shopping with the brands that support Savvy Sassy Moms.

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Ski Utah

For families who love to ski, this time of year is golden. In fact, getting to the mountain to hit the slopes — either on skis or snowboards — is probably all they can think about once the weather turns cool and the flakes start falling.

Let Ski Utah help you plan your vacation

If your family is looking for a fun ski destination this winter, Utah should definitely be a top contender and Ski Utah is here to help make it the best experience possible for families. A non-profit agency that was established in 1975, Ski Utah currently represents 14 resorts across the state, which means that you’ll be able to choose from the perfect visit with your kids. New to skiing in Utah? Their 10 Things You Didn’t Know about Utah Snow is a great place for insider tips. (Over six-feet of snow every April?!? What!?!)

ski-utah

Check out the Ski Utah Passport Program

If you have a fifth or six grade child, you’ll want to make sure you take full advantage of the Ski Utah Passport Program. Fifth graders can ski three times at each of the Ski Utah resorts (there are 14 total!) and sixth graders can ski once at each of the Ski Utah resorts throughout the season. And, that’s not to mention all of the other fun offers and deals included in the Passport. 

You can read all of the details about the Ski Utah Passport Program and register your kids on the Ski Utah website. There is a $35 processing fee, a small price to pay for all that time on the mountain, right? The website also has details about upcoming blackout dates and other tips for making your visit as fun as possible that you won’t want to miss.

Want to grab a Passport for yourself, too? They have an adult version, the Ski Utah Yeti Pass, which allows you to ski once at each of the participating resorts, right alongside your kiddo.

See you on the slopes!

Compensation was provided by Ski Utah via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Ski Utah or Momtrends.

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Kids Travel Gear to Make Holiday Travel Easy

Over hills of snow, off to Grandma’s house we go… but not before you pack these 10 kid travel gear essentials that will delight and, best of all, make your holiday travels a bit more cheery and bright. Make sure you check out the entire list and more in our 2016 Holiday Guide!

Kid Travel Must Haves

Bumkins Nixi Snack Bags

If you already love Bumkins bibs, then you’re really going to love the Bumkins bags. Made from the same waterproof and wipeable fabric, these eco-friendly (and dishwasher safe!) bags come in all sizes and can handle everything you can throw at them, from crackers to crayons. Their newest collection, the Nixi Bags and Organizers, includes designs by Coveted Things.

Holiday Travel Must-Haves

Babymoov Traveller Diaper Bag

The Babymoov Traveller Diaper Bag will fit everything you need, and then some. With included changing mat, insulated bottle bag, pacifier pod and integrated stroller clips, this deceptively huge bag will be all you need from hospital to airplane and beyond.

The Brushies

The Brushies

It’s never too early to start good habits, especially when habits can be as cute as Momo, Chomps, Pinky and Willa, the world’s first finger-puppet toothbrushes. The Brushies are made of 100% food-grade silicone, these finger puppets will keep little teeth clean, gingerbread cookie after gingerbread cookie. When it comes to holiday travel, throw a set in your carry-on for a quick brush on the go.

Kid Travel Gear for Holiday Travel and Beyond

Splash About Swimsuits

Just because it’s winter where you are doesn’t mean it’s winter where you’re going. Be water-safe where ever you go this holiday season with the Splash About FloatSuit. With 16 adjustable floats integrated into the swimsuit, your little swimmer will be safe and sound no matter where your holiday travels take you.

Family Travel Maps

76th and Newbury Travel Maps

Family travels can be more than just a trip to Grandma’s house — it can be an entire learning experience, as well, and the beautiful maps from 76th and Newbury will put the world at their fingertips. From push pin travel maps to maps that can be customized to highlight your vacation photos, these beautiful maps will be the perfect start to your next family adventure.

Check out the entire Kid Travel Gear list in our 2016 Holiday Guide.

Portions of the 2016 Holiday Guide are sponsored and contain affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the brands who support Savvy Sassy Moms. 

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