Underwater Adventures at the Downtown Houston Aquarium with CityPASS

Home to over 200 species of aquatic life, the Downtown Houston Aquarium is an impressive & entertaining place to visit with the entire family. You can truly spend an entire day watching the adventures of your favorite sea creatures under 500,000 gallons of wonderment, dining within a full service restaurant and enjoying a variety of amusement rides to thrill kids of all ages. Grab your Houston CityPASS and save 49% off your visit to the aquarium and four other top attractions in the city at just $59 for adults and $49 for kids.

As you make your way through the Louisiana swamp you’ll spy gators, snapping turtles, crayfish, bullfrogs and more that will make you feel like you’re really exploring the bayou. Within the Shipwreck exhibit you’ll view a colorfully diverse array of coral, tangs, groupers and moray eels.


 Aside from the red bellied piranhas and venomous freshwater stingrays they featured in the Rain forest exhibit, we were all happily surprised by the handful of other inhabitants to view, like the emerald tree boa, vibrant birds and tree frogs.

If you’ve ever found yourself curious about the day to day travels of a shark, OCEARCH‘s global shark tracker enables scientists, explorers and even families at home to follow the tagged sharks in real time.

Discovering that the Downtown Houston aquarium has 4 majestic white tigers named Nero, Marina, Coral and Reef in the Maharajah’s Temple was an unexpected surprise. Coral had just awaken from a nap but we were told she’s normally quite the feisty firecracker. The state of the art exhibit is temperature regulated with multi-level areas for the tigers to climb, a large pool for water play and is one of 230 exhibits that have been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Hands down, the stunning restaurant was definitely a feature of the Downtown Houston Aquarium that stood out to me.It felt like a scene from the Little Mermaid with twinkling fish shaped, light fixtures above us. While dining you can take in the mesmerizing views of the beautiful sea creatures swimming by, so why not take a few pictures with family and friends.The sting rays and eels were not shy for the camera at all so snapping pics are a great way to pass the time before your meals arrive.

I’m all for trying new things, so feeding the sting rays at the reef was a must do! Now please keep in mind that this experience is not included with your CityPASS but it’s totally still worth the additional $5.99 for the value pass which includes the entry and the food. If you’ve never done this before it’s really fun, I didn’t realize their mouths were beneath them and when you place your hand below to feed them it’s pretty interesting how they suck up the tiny fish like a vacuum. If they aren’t too grossed out by the idea, kids will get such a kick out of this.


Afterwards we headed back outdoors to check out their 5 amusement park rides. Guests can ride aboard the C.P Huntington train through the Shark Voyage a 200,000 gallon tank filled with a variety of sharks that you can get up close and personal with from every angle. If you’re a fan of being up in the air then take a spin 100 ft. up in the Diving Bell Ferris Wheel or drop 65 feet from the Lighthouse Dive all while catching spectacular views of Downtown Houston. Visitors will also have a good time riding on the back of a dolphin or alligator of the Aquatic Carousel or bounce around on the Frog Hopper. Additional pricing ranges from $3.99 to $5.99 per ride.

Spending the day at the Downtown Houston Aquarium is guaranteed to be a good time for all and with your Houston CityPASS you’ll get the most bang for your buck! 
What would you want to check out first?
Downtown Houston Aquarium // 410 Bagby St @ Memorial Dr. HoustonTX 77002

Ski Mountain High in California

Just outside LA you can hit the slopes!

A short drive from the major cities in Southern California, Mountain High Ski Resort is a must visit this winter. Whether you are a skier, snowboarder, or looking to go down the hill by sled this is the place. My visit was a pleasure from start to finish. The drive is pleasant, the food is tasty, and the winter sports are where it’s at.

Me in my Mountain High Yeti mask!

If you didn’t know January is National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. So I figured I would take on the challenge at Mountain High. Skiing is totally new to me and I could not have picked a better destination to get started. Everyone raved about their ski instructors and I agree. Mountain High has a top notch ski school, their instructors are certified PSIA and AASI, use the latest equipment, and boast some of the highest success rates in the country with lessons for all skill levels.

If you are an expert already there is plenty to keep you busy. Mountain High is broken into three resorts, East, West, and North. Each is packed full of great runs and when the weather gifts SoCal with snow we are ready to rock. There are 290 acres of skiable terrain, The trail breakdown is 25% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 35% Advanced to keep everyone racing along. With a maximum elevation of 8,200 feet keep hydrated and don’t be surprised if you get winded more easily. Hydration is key.

Mountain High’s North Pole Tubing Park offers some family fun for everyone no lessons required! They have ten lanes of high speed sledding with a magic carpet to get you back up to the top of the hill! All the fun and none of the awkward climb with your tube to suck up your energy. The Park is only open on weekends and holidays weather permitting so make sure you check online.

NORTH POLE TUBING PARK PHOTOGRAPHER: MOUNTAIN HIGHYou can read up on all of the ski and weather reports before you go, and you should! The drive is not terribly windy, but you might need chains on your tires at certain times. Or you can take advantage of my favorite feature, the Rally Bus. Go from one of the central pick-up points in LA or Orange County and avoid the drive all together! If you are a local who has never dealt with icy road conditions keep that option in mind.

Find out about all the Mountain High adventures on their website mthigh.com

See pics and get updates on Mountain High’s Social Media – TwitterFacebookInstagram

Mountain High Ski Resort
24510 State Highway 2,
Wrightwood, CA 92397



Fall and Winter at Woodloch

Enjoy the Seasons in the Pocono Mountains

Woodloch Family Resort has it all this season and there is no better way to see the Pocono Mountains than with a family trip to Woodloch. Whether the trees are tipped with crimson leaves or topped with pure white snow, you could not imagine a more lovely local to get away to, and now is the time to plan your getaway!

Fall is a great time to take a ride through the countryside, and kids will love the horse or tractor drawn view. Halloween has the Haunted Hayride for those brave enough to face a fright in the night. Or maybe come for the Holidays and get everyone outside for the Festival of Lights. Enjoy the evening air and glowing decorations before heading in for some hot cocoa. The Nature Trail is lit up for the Holiday Season to give the ride a whole new feel. No matter the time you pick, there is always something going on at Woodloch.

The food served at Woodloch Resorts will keep everyone in your family happy- especially those who can take a vacation from cooking.

You can also join in the Yule Log Hunt, holiday caroling, and more before enjoying cookies and eggnog. The fun doesn’t stop! There are tons of winter sports to keep everyone going or the spa to stay put and enjoy. If hitting the slopes is on the agenda then there are snow tubes and nearby skiing. Ice skating can also be on the agenda. Woodloch will be opening an EZ Glide 500 synthetic ice rink for year round enjoyment too.

Tubing is available seasonally right outside the main restaurant area, weather permitting.

With all inclusive options for meals or a-la-cart dining there is a package to match your needs. A room or guest house, accommodations cover those with families or couples looking to take a romantic trip. Woodloch Family Resort takes care of everything while you sit back and enjoy your vacation.

Bumper Cars (indoors) is year round fun for everyone

Find out more on the Woodloch website Woodloch.com

Or take a look on Social Media – FacebookTwitterInstagram 

Woodloch Poconos Resort

all inclusive resort

An all-inclusive family resort, located in the Pocono Mountains, Woodloch offers the best in lodging, dining, and entertainment for all four seasons. Rent a cabin or a room and enjoy time with family and friends. With views of Lake Teedyuskung and mountain vistas a vacation here is a chance to relax and renew yourself.

Kids will never lack for indoor or outdoor adventures. In warmer months, hit the mountains and climb the hills. In winter, you can ski or snow tube. Too cold outside? Try the six sided rock climbing wall which is available any season. Swimming is always an option as well, as the resort has indoor and outdoor pools. For those that like a little speed and some motorized fun there, are the bumper cars, go karts, and even bumper boats! If you crave some quiet, you can glide silently through the water on a kayak trip and experience a new view of nature and the surrounding wildlife. You might even catch a peek at an American Bald Eagle flying the skies.

Fishing, golfing, skiing, hiking, boating, and horseback riding can fill your daylight hours. After dark there is more still to come. Comedy acts, live music, magicians, and jugglers are just the start of family-friendly show options.  Many nights, they show a family friendly movie as well.

If you like, there is also skeet shooting, paintball, and bow and arrow shooting for both kids and adults- some age restrictions do apply, so check in before you head over.

Between all these options day and night, you will need to keep your energy up. The family-style meal service is an original feature of the resort, and started with the owners back in 1958. Sit down to your meals in the main dinning room, which serves up three squares a day year round. Feel good while you eat knowing that Woodloch is part of a national  “seed to fork” and other initiatives that pride themselves on using regionally grown ingredients. The full American Plan offered makes every meal an all-you-can-eat feast.

Make your trip as easy to plan and enjoyable as possible with an all inclusive vacation. Quality time together with family and friends is the best part of escaping the distractions and demands of our daily schedules.

Indoor Children’s playground- this is a great place for cold weather, rainy days, and running off any random energy the kids have when you don’t.

Welcome to IOWA!

Ever consider visiting Iowa? If not, maybe you should. There are some great family stops and a lot to do.  These are a few of our favorite stops on our recent visit.


Amana Colonies

Located 20 miles from Cider Rapids are the Amana Colonies, 7 villages that were originally German settlements in Iowa. Settled in 1855 the colonies remained self-sufficient until the 1930’s. The Amanians operated independently as a community by farming and handcrafting to maintain their own local economy. Today you can visit the villages and shop at their craft stores, eat local fair, or drink a glass of wine or beer. Antiques, furniture, home decor, clothing, and gifts you will find nowhere else create a unique shopping adventure.

iowa food

The Colonies tradition of great food is available for visitors to explore in the restaurants or specialty shops. The Amana Meat Shop and Smokehouse has over 160 years of experience offering ham, bacon, sausages, beef, and pork to visitors and online.  The Ox Yoke Inn is a fantastic place to stop for lunch, and has amazing German style food. The staff is gracious and the food is affordable and filling. The Broom and Basket Shop is exactly what you might expect, a store dedicated to selling locally handmade brooms and baskets. Another interesting stop is Iowa’s Largest Walnut Rocker, at over 650 lbs. and 11 ft. tall. Great for a family picture. These are just examples of some of the interesting sites you can wander through on a visit to the Amanas.

Adventureland Park

A land of adventure awaits visitors outside Des Moines for thrill seekers and amusement park goers. Water rides and roller coasters are just a start to the fun. Magic shows, circus acts, live music, and over 100 rides all make up Iowa’s largest tourist attraction, Adventureland Park.

iowa family travel

On a hot day nothing like a trip down the lazy river to cool off. Adventure Bay is a full waterpark experience. Water slides, wave pools, and Shipwreck Shores for the kids.

iowa water park

Science Center of Iowa

“Science rules” and no place is better proof of that than the Science Center of Iowa (SCI) Classes, hands on exhibits, and shows to engage visitors of all ages. Pint Sized Science offers programs for kids 3-5 like Superhero Science, Digging Dinos, and Sounds Like Science. These are amongst the classes that might interest the tiny learner in your family and there are option for older kids as well. Café Scientifique is a free program for adults and young adults.

iowa kids activities

Take a break and sit down in the SCI Blank IMAX Dome Theater to view a documentary film or even a Hollywood release. The dome is six-stories high, wrapping around viewers so the images fill your vision in every direction. Feel like you are inside the film while you get off your feet for a while.

Want to keep learning? Why not stay late? Overnight Adventures and Almost Overnights at the Science Center of Iowa are a whole new way to view SCI. Make the experience more than a  museum visit by staying after dark.

There is so much to see and do- so if Iowa wasn’t on your list of places to visit, jot it down. See you there!

Winter Fun at Okemo

Is your family’s idea of the perfect holiday gift several feet of fresh powder beneath their feet? At a time of year when cabin fever attacks, the freedom and exhilaration in skiing is the perfect antidote. When you drive up with your folks or the kids, you want the rest of your vacation to be spent having fun – not more driving around. A resort with all the amenities to please everyone fits the bill: Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont.  We had a great time checking out all that the resort had to offer- and there was quite a bit to do.

ski vermont

Nestled in the heart of the Green Mountains, they offer 8 different styles of accommodations – many with ski in-out availability. Choices range from classic mountain lodge rooms to multiple options for larger families – perfect for those family reunions.

At Jackson Gore Inn, thoughtful amenities like deep soaking tubs to loosen up sore muscles after a run down the slopes. An indoor pool and game arcade keep the kids occupied during inclement weather or after skiing.

All that fresh air exercise is sure to work up your appetite. Okemo has well over a dozen options sure to please everyone in your group. Start your day with a hearty breakfast to give you the energy you need at Base68 or, if a skinny latte’s all you need, they’ve got Starbucks. All your favorite BBQ meats are on the menu at Squeels on Wheels – don’t you just love the name? Sen Den Sushi and Siena boast international flair. E

But, what about the snow? Wintertime is special at Okemo, with Alpine and Nordic skiing for all levels –featuring Vermont’s highest drop — snow tubing, fat bike rentals, a hockey rink, snow shoeing, and, when your legs have given out, special SnowCat excursions. These require prior reservations and are weather dependent, so plan ahead.

ski in vermont

Mom and Dad: when you’re ready for your own Date Night, the Kids Night Out Program (ages 6 months to 6 years) and Kids’ Night Out X (ages 7-12 years) is a fully state licensed child care facility with movies, pizza and even skating for the older kids. Non-refundable reservations are required.

At this time, you can get quite the deal- only $129 for unlimited skiing for the rest of the season with the “real easy” card. Call Okemo for details, this is a pretty cool deal. 802-228-5222

7 Ways to Save for Your Next Family Vacation

Family vacations are a fun, much-needed time for families to have together. It allows them to get out of the normal routines and just create new experiences in a new destination. The only problem is, depending on the size of your family, going on vacation can be expensive, causing some families to miss out altogether. The good news is there are some ways that you can pull more savings so that you can book that much-needed trip this year. Check them out below:

1.  Don’t Eat Out

Eating out is a ton of fun, but also comes at a hefty price. If you’re going to increase your vacation savings you’re going to want to cut back on eating out. If you’re used to eating out 3 times a week, cut back to once per week and put the money you would have spent on the other days into a savings account.

2.  Keep the Change

A penny saved is a penny earned. When it comes to saving loose change, it can add up pretty quickly. When paying for things, use cash and never give exact change. When the cashier gives you the change, place it into a piggy bank or jar. When the jar fills up, take it to your local bank and have it added to your savings account. You can do this every month until you’re ready to book the trip.

3.  Switch Energy Services

Some of the highest bills in the house are the mortgage and the energy bill. If you’re dealing with a higher energy bill, you may want to look into ways to cut those costs. Aside from taking actions like reducing your energy consumption, you can also check online resources to find out how to switch to a more affordable energy provider.

4.  Withdrawal From Your Bank’s ATM

Have you ever checked your bank statement and added up how much you’ve spent in a month on ATM fees? The number just might surprise you. While it might seem like a $2.00 fee won’t be much, if you’re using the ATM even 5 times in a month, you’re throwing away $10 a month or $120 a year. Not to mention any additional fees your bank might assess because you didn’t use their ATM. The best bet is to withdrawal the funds from your bank’s ATM.

5.  Cut Cable

Cable services can cost several hundred dollars per month. While your family may love watching their favorite shows and movies when they get home each day, there are more affordable solutions to get entertainment. Subscribing to streaming services, for instance, allows you to see TV shows and movies instantly. You could also consider getting a library card and checking out movies for free!

6.  Use Coupons and Codes

Coupons have and will always be a great way to save money on things you purchase. You don’t have to be an extreme coupon saver to get the savings either. Simply clipping coupons out of your local newspaper and using them can save you money. You can also use coupon codes and verified codes online to get huge discounts on already affordable internet shopping deals.

7.  Earn Some Cash

If you’re having trouble saving from your current budget you can always increase the amount of income you have. There are plenty of side hustles out there that you could consider to earn some extra cash for your vacation. For instance, having a yard sale and getting rid of all your unwanted belongings can bring in vacation money. Some might consider being an Uber driver and using their car to get some extra money.

Don’t let finances keep you from going out and having a good time with your family. If you’re struggling to find the money to pay for your next vacation, give some of these creative ideas a try. By putting the money you’re saving directly into an interest bearing account, you’ll also allow your vacation savings to increase by just sitting there! With these saving tips and a being financially savvy while on vacation can help you cut back and enjoy creating memories with the ones you love.

Nickelodeon Hotels and Resorts in Punta Cana

When it comes to family vacations, the bar is always being raised. Let’s face it: families want something that’s quite a step above camping in the backyard for their getaways. This time of year, most of us are craving warm temps, sunny skies, and lots of opportunities for a swim. Exotic and different are icing on the cake. That’s why Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) is sure to inspire memories that last forever. I was happy to be hosted to experience it.

dominican resorts

The resort’s luxurious accommodation includes the Swank Swim-Up Suite. Imagine a private, VIP-style wrap-around terrace that’s adjacent to the pool, along with sunbathing beds. You’ll feel like the resort’s all your own. There are other configurations and sizes of swim-up rooms as well, to suit different needs and family sizes.

resorts punta cana

You’ll find the décor bright and cheery, but with simple, modern lines to feel more relaxed – rather than formal and uptight. Kid friendly, but still chic.

spongebob pineapple house

The ultimate in luxe accommodations, and still able to fit a larger family is The Pineapple, inspired by SpongeBob Square Pants’ home under the sea. Two bedrooms and three bedrooms in a loft configuration are looked after by your own personal butler. Special activities can be booked for guests staying here, such as a moonlight beach dinner prepared by a world-class chef, wine tasting, an in-suite afternoon tea party, pizza party, or pajama party.

dominican republic resort

So, if you crave more water than swimming in the pool, they have the beautiful Uvero Alto Beach available and just steps away. There are plenty of lounge chairs and even beach beds available for guests to use, you won’t need to scramble for them or search around in vain. The beach is lovely, quiet, and very clean. You will want to spend quite a lot of time there, if you are like me. You can order drinks while on the beach as well, which makes staying longer even more appealing. Other outdoor games and activities, such as tennis, are found at the resort, along with playrooms for the kids and the opportunity to run into – and take photos with – your favorite Nickelodeon characters, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Indoor activities include the fitness and dance studio.

family resort

Their spa can be a welcome respite from the kiddies – with experienced resort staff taking care of them should you so desire– or have them join in the fun with mani-pedis designed for them or a massage with marshmallow butter. There are several outdoor cabanas where you can get your treatments, as well. My son and I enjoyed a morning at the spa (dad was not into it) where we enjoyed a mother/son massage treatment (in the same outdoor cabana at the same time). He was thrilled he was able to be a “big guy” and indulge with mom in some special time. I also got my hair done, which was fun for me. I very rarely get any alone time. The staff was very nice and made it easy to relax.

hotel spa

For something a little dirtier, there’s always the famous Nickelodeon slime!  This happens several times a day at the waterpark area, and you can also reserve your very own family slime-ing at the front desk.  Not to be missed while at Nickelodeon, of course.

get slimed

The Nickelodeon Place waterpark area is a child’s paradise, with quite a few slides, a giant water bucket that dumps frequently, a “lazy river”, and more. We spent quite a lot of time there, and with a restaurant (Aqua Bite) at the location, it made it easy not to leave. If mom and dad need a minute, there are plenty of lounge chairs to relax on.


Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana is Nickelodeon’s first-ever international property, providing both nonstop family entertainment and Karisma’s renowned Gourmet Inclusive® Experience.   Located on the golden sands of Uvero Alto beach in the Dominican Republic, the upscale property has re-imagined the art of hospitality to deliver delightful twists including surprise slimes and unexpected visits from your favorite Nickelodeon characters.  Combined with world-class dining and drinking indulgences, sleek modern design and innovative amenities, Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana offers an unforgettable getaway for Nickelodeon fans and luxe resort lovers alike.

Disclosure- We stayed at the resort in order to share our experiences with you. All opinions are my own and honest.