Tag Archives: Road trip 2010

Our American Road Trip Adventure: A Wanderstory [Video]

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Wanderfly recently came to my home to talk about my road trip travels with my family.

Of course, no road trip story is ever complete without talking about the moment my family and I venture out, for the very first time, on a major road trip adventure three years ago, when the boys were only 2, 3, and 10 years old.

I loved watching this video and reliving all our adventures through the photos and clips. It’s a reminder of why I do the things I do, why I don’t question the sensibility in our travels, why I don’t listen to those who say my small children aren’t welcomed or that I should be home, keeping them quiet and well-behaved.

Each journey serves to change and affect us in some way or another, both as a family and as individuals. This video was a reminder of that as well as an inspiration to continue to travel.

I hope that it serves the same purpose for you.

Thank you Wanderfly for allowing me to share my “Wanderstory”. To check out my Wanderlist and get more details on the places we visited on our road trips, please visit: http://bit.ly/nycitymama

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Falling in love with Asheville, NC

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Before beginning our amazing 2010 Road Trip Adventure, my husband and I had decided that our last stop would be Asheville, NC. I had never been. Almost went last year for a conference, but had to cancel last minute. My husband kept telling my about some amazing attraction or another, but honestly, I didn’t really think much of it.

There are travel writers who will say that before you go anywhere, especially if it is somewhere you will write about, that you should research it. I however like going everywhere without researching it at all. I want to come with a completely fresh perspective and even a bit clueless. It’s part of the journey for me. And so when we planned to stay only one day in Asheville, it wasn’t something we had thought would matter. Until I got there. Or rather until I saw it the next day (we arrived so late the night before I saw nothing).

I have always heard that Asheville is beautiful, and it didn’t disappoint. A town surrounded by mountains, it has been called the San Francisco of the South. Artsy, laid back, with a friendly feel, it’s no wonder so many great things are said about it. I spoke briefly to a few people, and it seems everyone is from somewhere else but absolutely love living there.

The downtown area is small and full of cute shops, busy restaurants featuring a variety of cuisine, and bars. You can also enjoy museums, theaters, and art galleries all located nearby.

Our kids had a wonderful time at The Health Adventure, a wonderful health and science center located in Downtown Asheville. The boys spent a long time checking things out, building, playing, learning. The center is interactive and the staff is incredibly friendly, engaging children in the various activities they have and helping them think about the exhibits throughout.  Though the center isn’t overwhelmingly huge by any means, it was captivating enough to keep the kids busy on just one section for a long time. So much so, we almost missed checking out The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, one of their newest Summer exhibits.

Another major highlight of our trip to Ahseville was visiting the breathtaking Biltmore Estate. I was very curious about visiting this incredible destination located on 125,000-acre estate which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who has been referred to as father of American landscape architecture and who is the creator of our very own Central Park here in New York City.

The lavishing grounds and home of the Biltmore Estate require more then just one day to take it all in. Even with walking through 4 acres of floor space and viewing 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces, you still walk away feeling you didn’t see it all. We walked through the garden, a masterpiece in itself, and the greenhouses, and sat outside to enjoy a small lunch which we brought with us.

The Biltmore sellsyear-long passes, and I can totally understand why. We only saw but a small portion of what guests can enjoy regularly, which was sad, but gives us an additional reason to return to Asheville.

Our stay was short, and we had gotten a Go Ridge Card (which I highly recommend for visitors looking to enjoy the many activities in Asheville and want to save money in the process). We never expected that there was so much to do in Asheville.

On our last afternoon there we decided to walk around Downtown and take in some of the local scene. We walked right into Downtown After 5, a free concert series that happens weekly through September. And it is in situations like these that I am happiest as a traveler, when I get to sit back and watch the locals enjoy all their city has to offer as well as their community. It felt relaxing, fun, and close to what I would want “home” to feel like.  We had a really good time, and despite the rain that fell on us for a short moment, no one cared. Friends and family came together, laughing, dancing, and talking as the band Soulglass Rebellion played on.

Maybe it was the beauty of the mountain silhouettes that surrounded us. Maybe it was the gratification of having come to an end of another wonderful family adventure. Maybe it was Asheville being the best it could be. Whatever the case, we ended our 2010 Road trip Adventure on a higher note then we could have ever anticipated, and we thank the people of Asheville for contributing to the many happy memories our family has to share.

Family Vacation on raveable

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Complimentary accommodations and access to attractions were provided courtesy of Residence Inn Biltmore and the Asheville Visitor Center. The views and opinions expressed here are strictly my own. For more information please refer to the disclosure page.

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Exploring Family-Friendly Side of New Orleans, LA

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Anytime I have ever asked anyone about New Orleans I have heard about how fun it is. “The jazz clubs!” “The art scene!” “Mardi Gras!!”

And after visiting New Orleans on this Summer’s road trip, I can say that all of these are definitely a strong part of the city’s culture. But what about the family scene? Things to do with kids in New Orleans isn’t something that most people I have spoken to often talk about, but we were determined to explore it.

We were in NOLA for 3 days and though our hotel, Le Richelieu, offered babysitting services, we never took advantage of it. And still, even with our kids in tow, I feel we enjoyed so much of the city that I can’t wait to go back!

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Just Like Home at Residence Inn Biltmore, Asheville, NC

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Asheville was the last stop on our 2010 Summer road trip and by this time we had pretty much spent our “extravagant restaurant experiences” budget. We could have stressed out a little wondering where all the inexpensive places to eat were in this new town we’ve never visited before. But because we were staying at the Residence Inn Biltmore we didn’t have to. This is because we had the full kitchen we had come to love in the Residence Inn brand, and our two bedroom suite provided us with all the comforts of home. After 12 days of travel we really wanted nothing more.

We intended to make use of all the hotel had to offer, from the hearty breakfast buffet included in our stay, to the relaxing pool in the afternoons, to secluding ourselves into our private spaces (my husband and I in one room, my little ones on the sofa bed in the living room, and my 12-year-old in the other bedroom), cozied up in our comfy beds, and watched our favorite shows. Granted the little ones crashed on our bed to watch t.v., which made it even more comfortable.

The hotel was quiet, our suite was clean and serene, with the view of pine trees surrounding us outside our windows. There was a fire place in the living room, which I imagined is especially nice on chilly Asheville nights. We cooked dinner and popped corn, and sat around the dining room table just as we would at home.

The Residence Inn Biltmore is located a very short distance from the center of downtown and from a lot of the major attractions, such as the The Health Adventure and Biltmore Estates which we really enjoyed.*

Everyone was lovely, which is something I have grown to appreciate about Residence Inn every time we have stayed in one. From the General Manager to the Front Desk staff (even when we arrived at midnight), to the gentleman in charge of bringing out the breakfast plates.

And like all the Residence Inns before it, Wifi was included and in this location so was the parking, which is on an outdoor lot.

Of all the Residence Inns we stayed at, my husband and I definitely had our favorites, and this location was one of them. And at this Residence Inn, just like in the others, our family was able to experience the Nickelodeon Your Stay promotion going on in almost 2,000 participating Marriott hotel brands. With the promotion, which runs through Dec. 6,  kids staying at the locations offering this program will receive a free bracelet with an online code to an exclusive SpongeBob SquarePants branded game on Nick.com; a book full of activities such as mazes and brain teasers; and Nickelodeon activity placemats during meal times.

In addition, parents can upgrade their experience by booking a Nickelodeon Your Stay package.  At Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites hotels, the items ($10 if purchased at the front desk) will include a SpongeBob SquarePants activity bag, a brightly colored splash ball, Nickelodeon sun glasses and a 3-D “build-your-own SpongeBob” craft. (Note: At Marriott and JW Marriott hotels, the Nickelodeon Your Stay promotion costs $20 if purchased at the front desk, and also includes a SpongeBob pillowcase and a travel-themed SpongeBob storybook at turndown.)

The kids got a kick out of their Sponge Bob treats and we really enjoyed being a part of the Residence Inn by Marriott family during our road trip.

Thank you to the Management and Staff at Residence Inn Biltmore in Asheville, NC for their service and hospitality.

Residence Inn Biltmore
701 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, NC 28803
Phone: (828) 281-3361
Fax: (828) 236-0310

Photos provided courtesy of the Residence Inn Biltmore.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Complimentary accommodations and access to attractions were provided courtesy of Residence Inn Biltmore and the Asheville Visitor Center. The views and opinions expressed here are strictly my own. For more information please refer to the disclosure page.


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Meats and Other Eats in Austin, TX

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Aside from all the hanging around and napping we did in our recent trip to Austin, TX we did a lot of eating. A lot. So much eating in fact, that it pretty much set us straight for the rest of the trip…well, almost.

But good food is definitely one of those things Austin has going for it. As we were heading closer to the city my sister-in-law contacted us asking us if we wanted to order Thai food. “Thai food?!” exclaimed my husband, “But we’re in Texas!” And so it was that upon arrival to their home late, late at night we were greeted with layers upon layers upon layers of meat, Texas style.

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Eating Adventure in Memphis, TN

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We’ve been on the road for almost a week and a half now and I have barely touched on the amount of awesome food that we have had since we set off on this amazing Summer adventure.

After our wonderful experience with the discovery of The Cupcake Collection, we moved on to Memphis, TN. Before we even set off on this trip my husband had been talking about eating at Memphis non-stop.

“We will eat here and then there, and then there,” he would say.

“But that’s three meals, and we’re only planning on being in Memphis for a few hours and a night,” I would argue.

“So?”

And thus the eating adventure in Memphis began, even before we hit the hotel, at Interstate Bar-B-Que. A couple of people suggested I stop at The Neely’s. And if you watch Food Network you would know that The Neely’s have a very popular, very successful cooking show, Down Home with The Neely’s featuring some of the best Memphis-style BBQ and soul food recipes.

I had every intention of going except we wanted to first taste it from the original Neely himself, their uncle Jim Neely. Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que has been in business for over 15 years and there is for good reason. The food, especially if you’re going for the pulled pork or beef dishes, is good.

The location, 2265 S. Third in Memphis, is kind of rough around the edges, but I will also say that I thought most places in Memphis, even the more “touristy” parts of town were, though less so. And don’t expect much in terms of service when you get there either. We walked in and no one so much as greeted us. Our server, an older lady, never once cracked a smile or seemed at all that friendly. But the food was good…and really inexpensive! The right wall of the restaurant is covered with photos of celebrities and other people I didn’t know.

The ambiance was casual, the location really not posh at all, and it seemed everyone in there was quiet and really busy digging in and then leaving shortly after.

Worth a try if you’re in Memphis, and if you don’t mind the lackluster in ambiance and service, but can appreciate some awesome ribs!

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Here is another spot that my husband just really, really, really needed to try.

Like with Interstate, this location was in the more “shady” part of Downtown Memphis. How shady you ask? Enough that they feel the need to have a security guard outside of the restaurant in broad daylight. But still the crowds came. Black, White, big and small, people were lining up for Gus’ chicken.

We arrived and there was a crowd waiting outside. An hour and a half wait for a table inside and 30-minute wait for take out.  We chose take out and it was way more than 30 minutes.

But the chicken was delicious. A spicy, fried batter coated the juicy, flavorful chicken pieces, and the gallon of sweet tea that my husband ordered seemed to really compliment it all well. For $21.00 we walked away with enough chicken to last us two days. This is also the first time I tried fried pickles. Proof that you can fry anything!

It was pretty good chicken for sure and totally worth a trip into the more shadier part of town to get it! We were ridiculously full after those two meals. I felt so terribly stuffed that I ran to the hotel gym for an intense workout!

Like I said, neither place mentioned above is much to talk about in terms of looks, ambiance, or even service…but we weren’t disappointed with the price or the food.

Other places recommended to me by friends both locals and visitors alike but that we just were to stuffed to try were:

The Rendezvous, Cozy Corner, and Payne’s BBQ. Hope to check those out next time!

This time, I was willing to sacrifice a little to get good food and I am happy. Next time, I’ll go for the full experience…but not all at once.

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Residence Inn by Marriott Brentwood Nashville

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Residence Inn has partnered up with us* during our 2010 Road Trip Adventure, and we really couldn’t be happier. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I consider the Residence Inn hotels to be a perfect fit for our family. Not only because of the size of the rooms, but also because of the amenities found throughout. These reviews are to give you feedback of our experiences with them and a small view into what you can expect from a stay at any of the locations we experienced.

Upon our visit to Nashville we stay in the Residence Inn by Marriott Brentwood Nashville. We arrived later in the night, and were exhausted.

Our two-bedroom suite was ideal not only in size, but in location as well. On the first floor and located right across the pool, this would have been an even more perfect spot for us had we been able to stay longer.

The room included two-bedrooms with queen size beds as well as a pull out couch in the living room. There was also the standard full service kitchen. Complimentary breakfast is served every morning as well. In addition, this particular location also hosts nightly dinner events for their guests during the week which allow the guests to get to know the General Managers and staff as well as other guests in the hotel. Sadly we missed the festivities for dinner.

During breakfast I was able to observe the GM interact with his guests (before introducing myself to him), some of which he seemed to know personally. He was courteous and helpful, but most of all let his guests know he was available for whatever they needed. This always makes me feel good about the hotel as it sends a clear message that your comfort is their utmost priority.

The drive to downtown Nashville is about 20 minutes, and I found the prices for staying in the Brentwood area much more affordable then staying in the downtown area. A two-bedroom, 2 bathroom suite around the time of our stay was $179.00 a night with better offers available with more extended stays.

The hotel also offers free internet connection (with cable provided in room), a small fitness center, and small office area with fax service.

Our short stay was comfortable and pleasant, further complimented by the friendliness and approachable nature of the GM there.

Thank you to the Management and Staff at Residence Inn by Marriott Brentwood Nashville for their service and hospitality.

Residence Inn Nashville Brentwood
206 Ward Circle Brentwood, TN 37027 USA Phone: 1-615-371-0100

*Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Accommodations at a reduced rate were provided courtesy of Residence Inn in Brentwood Nashville. The views and opinions expressed here are strictly my own. For more information please refer to the disclosure page.


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From Nashville to Memphis, TN: The Quickie Tour

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The third stop on our 2010 Road Trip Adventure was Nashville, TN, where the music scene rules and country stars are discovered.

We didn’t get to see much of Nashville, but Carrie from Tiki Tiki Blog, a Nashville resident for over a decade now, was wonderful in taking us to the many different spots in the touristy area where we landed that would be of great interest to us.

For my husband, she pointed the print and retail shop for Hatch Show Print, which has been designing and printing posters for the music scene since 1879. For my husband who is a talented designer of posters and many other things as well, this was definitely a highlight.

Parts of Nashville are still recovering from the floods that hit them this past Spring, however the city seemed busy, with many of the Honky Tonk  bars delivering the live music performances that so many come to listen to.

We also thought the Parthenon was a pretty great place to visit and held a really interesting architectural piece of history of a city doing whatever it needed to make its mark, which it has in more ways then one.

Our tour was short, and we thank Carrie so much for coming out on this very, very hot day to talk to us about her town.

Immediately after Nashville we drove 3 hours to Memphis, TN. We arrived close to the end of the day when there wasn’t much to do in Memphis with the little ones.

No, we didn’t get to see Graceland, or the Children’s Museum of Memphis. We also didn’t get to visit theNational Civil Rights Museum which was on my list of must sees.  We hope to come back again with our kids and expose them to all the history in both these cities when they are old enough to understand.

However, the sunset over the Mississippi River was beautiful and we managed to get in some really great eating (which I will talk more about in my Good Eats section soon)!

Both cities have a lot to be proud of. I saw qualities worth discovering in both and am glad we got to see some of it even if for only just a little bit.

Here is a summary of our visit in photos. Hope you enjoy it!

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