Travel With Sara

An Adventure Around Every Corner

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The Henry Doorly Zoo In Omaha Offers Fun In Fly Over Country

I have visited several zoos across the country and I have said for years that the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha was one of the best in the nation. And just recently, the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha was ranked #1 in the country! The Mid-West is often an area of the country that many people fly over and don’t visit. The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is a must visit; as it has everything and anything you could want in a zoo. Thanks to the Omaha Bloggers and The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha I visited on July on a hot summer day and had another fun memorable visit.

I have always been a fan of penguins. At the Omaha Zoo you can get a real close up of several penguins. The viewing area is good for families, as kids and adults have opportunities to view them from a comfortable point of view.

Penguins at Zoo

 

I can recall when our boys were young, they loved the penguins at the Omaha Zoo. I know that the excitement my boys had when they saw a penguin, has rubbed off on me. The penguin exhibit at the Omaha Zoo is my go to place when it comes to visiting the Omaha Zoo.

In recent years a skyway has been added, and it’s a great way to get from one area of the zoo to another area of the zoo. The Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha is hilly, there are a lot of ups and downs. The skyway is a little shortcut and a fun way to see the giraffes. The skyway goes right over the area that the giraffes reside in. This does cost extra, in addition to regular admission, and is not for someone that has a fear of heights.

The Desert Dome is truly a one of a kind exhibit featuring all features of a real desert.

Cactus at Omaha Zoo

 

The Lied Jungle is also a favorite of mine. Here you will just about anything you can possibly find in a jungle.

Rainforest zoo

 

The rain forests from South America, Asia and Africa are found here. The monkeys, hippos, snakes and bats will leave you with your jaw dropped!

This is just a quick glimpse of what the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha has to offer. Omaha, Nebraska is a booming area of the Mid-West. There is a lot to explore while in the Omaha area, as it’s not a place I would recommend that you fly over! Visit, play and even stay a few nights to explore a fun area of the Mid-West.

 

 

 

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Experience The Original Cozy Dog In Springfield, Illinois

Cozy Drive In

 

While touring Illinois Route 66 you have the opportunity to explore Springfield. If you have ever traveled on Route 66, you know that there are amazing places to explore along this route. Springfield, Illinois was no exception. I recently had the opportunity to visit Springfield, Illinois, and was introduced to the famous Route 66!

Route 66 Sign

 

The Cozy Dog Drive In is located right on Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois. It is home to the one and only Cozy-Dog, which is the original hot dog on a stick! You will find these cozy dogs at fairs and festivals all across the country. But, you will find the original cozy dog here in Springfield.

Corn Dog

 

The food here was amazing and extremely affordable.  Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. featuring a traditional breakfast of eggs, ham, bacon, french toast and pancakes. Lunch and Dinner are served featuring Cozy Dogs (priced under $2 each), hamburgers, hot dogs, chili dogs, pork tenderloins, french fries, onion rings, cheese sticks and ice cream. Kids meals are also available. What surprised me the most was the fact that they had a huge menu! There was something on it for everyone.

The dining are showcased the history and nostalgia surround The Cozy Dog In. While sitting in the dining room it was very much like the 1950′s. From the juke boxes to the music of the era. And then there were these authentic license plates- they just made my day!

license plates

Route 66 is often referred to as the Main Street of America. In fact, Route 66 originates in Illinois and ends in California. The Cozy Drive In is an authentic, fun place to stop while traveling Route 66 across the United States. Your visit here will be sure to bring a smile to your face. You will instantly be taken back to a simpler place in time and be allowed to enjoy original, tasty food!

A special thank you to the Springfield Illinois CVB for hosting me. I had a wonderful time visiting Springfield, Illinois. Springfield is a family friendly community with a lot of family friendly places to experience. I found a lot more to do in Springfield, so stay tuned, as there is more to come!

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Three Fantastic Places In The Mid-West To Make It A Fun Road Trip

The Mid-West is full of a lot of destinations that are often overlooked by a lot of families. Let me introduce you to three Mid-West destinations that I think you need to visit, so…. start planning your road trip today!

Springfield, Illinois

Springfield is home to our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Presidential Museum is full of history and if you don’t leave this museum more intrigued than ever; I’m not sure you will be inspired anywhere in the United States.

Lincoln Family

 

There are two theaters here, which are worth your time! Upon entering the Lincoln Presidential Museum a volunteer greeted us and explained the layout and did recommend that we not miss the shows in the theaters. This museum is one of the best presidential museums that I have ever set foot in and would highly recommend you visit the Lincoln Presidential Museum while in town.

Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, lived in Springfield and you can visit his home during the day. The Lincoln Home is a National Historic Site in Illinois, in fact, it is the only National Park in Illinois.

Lincoln Home

 

The neighborhood here is inviting and it gives you a new appreciation of a much quieter time in America. Keep in mind that tickets to tour the Lincoln Home are limited, so it would be in your best interest to get your tickets early in the day during the summer travel season.

Omaha, Nebraska

I have driven through Omaha on I-80 several times over the past few years and just recently set foot in the Old Market in Downtown Omaha. All I can say is WOW! This area is amazing. The brick pavement and horse carriage rides add to the atmosphere and all say welcome!

Horse Carriage Old Market

 

I stayed one night near the Old Market at The Magnolia, within walking distance of the Old Market. This hotel fits right in with the feel of the Old Market, as it takes you back in time while in the 21st Century.

The Henry Doorly Zoo is a family friendly attraction that offers everything from penguins to giraffes.

Giraffes Omaha Zoo

 

The Desert Dome is unique and offers insight into life in the desert. This is a large zoo and it’s important to put on a comfy pair of walking shoes.

Omaha is also growing Westward and while I was in Omaha I did have the pleasure of partaking in a hard hat tour of a new property going up on the West side. The Home 2 Suites is located near the popular shopping area, Village Pointe. Nicky Chipps, Director of Sales, of the Home 2 Suites in Omaha will make sure you receive top notch service while staying on her property.

Nicki Home 2 Suites

This new property is eco-friendly and will offer families a nice place to call home when the need for an affordable extended stay property is needed.

North Platte, Nebraska

North Platte is located on that ever popular I-80 corridor that runs from Iowa to Colorado and should be on your list as a must experience town! Train enthusiasts will love North Platte. Did you know that on an average day, 139 trains pass through the Bailey Rail Yard?

Rail Yard North Platte

 

And then there’s fun at Cody Go Carts and then loads of history out at Buffalo Bill’s Ranch! With a variety of food around each corner, your taste buds will also be having a good time.

The one thing I can tell you about traveling anywhere in the Mid-West is that you will always find helpful people wherever your travels take you. These are just three fantastic places in the Mid-West that will offer you the road trip of a lifetime. What are you waiting for? Now is the time to bring that road trip to reality.

* A thank you to the Springfield CVB, North Platte CVB, The Magnolia, The Henry Doorly Zoo, Kinseth Hospitality and the Omaha Bloggers for their hospitality.

 

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Home 2 Suites In Omaha Offers An Eco-Friendly Property

Hard Hats

 

It’s no secret that the Omaha, Nebraska area is growing Westward. The Hilton hotel chain has definitely seen the need to expand out on the Western side. The Hilton Garden Inn is right across the street from the soon to be Home 2 Suites, 17889 Chicago Street,  near the popular Village Pointe shopping area. I recently had the delight of participating in a Hard Hat tour that the crew of the Home 2 Suites hosted and I must say, “I had a great time!” The hospitality was top notch and I can only imagine what a stay at the new Home 2 Suites in Omaha will be like! You can expect the best when it comes to customer service as well as a cozy place to call home!

Nicki Home 2 Suites

 

Kinseth Hospitality and the team at Home 2 Suites Omaha will be rolling out the red carpet for those that choose to stay at the Home 2 Suites in Omaha. We toured the property on a very hot summer day and construction is still happening on a daily basis. Here’s a glimpse of the kitchen area in this brand new Home 2 Suites in Omaha.

kitchen

 

And in case you wonder what a hard hat tour looks like- here you go!

Hard hat tour participants

 

The Home 2 Suites in Omaha will offer a complimentary breakfast and it will be served in a family oriented environment. There will be long tables with chairs. The folks that do opt to dine in this are will find it easy to meet other families that are staying at the hotel. Nicky, Director of Sales, wants the hotel guests to be free to be themselves and the hotel to be a family friendly environment. The Home 2 Suites offers spacious rooms and a place to kick back and be yourself!

couch

 

The Home 2 Suites in Omaha plans to be open in late Summer 2014. You can reserve your room today. The other cool thing about Home 2 Suites is the fact that they seriously want you to be you when you stay on their property. From recycling to energy star efficient appliances,to the saline-based swimming pool, you will have an eco-friendly experience when you stay with the Home 2 Suites in Omaha!

Oh yeah, and one more thing. If you think there is no reason to plan a road trip to visit Omaha, think again! From the Henry Doorly Zoo to Old Market in Omaha, you will be busy! So, tell me… Have you stayed at a Home 2 Suites before? If you have, I’d love to hear about your experience.

To stay in the loop on the construction progress and more…. Be sure to “like” Home 2 Suites Omaha on Facebook! They do a nice job engaging with their customers through social media.

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Crown Reef Resort And Brookgreen Gardens: Myrtle Beach

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing all that Brookgreen Gardens has to offer. Located just a few minutes south of Crown Reef Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; these gardens will not disappoint. Upon entering Brookgreen Gardens it was almost as though I had arrived to the middle of a book.

Brook Green Gardens

I have never in my life seen so many beautiful gardens! I knew that Brookgreen Gardens had been rated as a Top 10 Garden in the U.S., but I seriously had no idea what that actually meant. If you find yourself in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Brookgreen Gardens is well worth the short drive from Crown Reef Resort.

Let’s face it, if you are traveling with kids, they will probably frown upon a mention of a visit to a garden. So, my advice is to let them use their energy playing in the water park at Crown Reef Resort and then head to Brookgreen Gardens by 3:00 p.m. This will give everyone in your party something to look forward to. Crown Reef Resort not only offers a water park, but they also offer a beach and just a hop, skip and a jump you will land in the middle of all of these fun toys for the ocean.

Beach Toys

 

The lazy river, water park, beach and several swimming pools will keep the kids happy and possibly wear them out. Crown Reef Resort will not disappoint! With a new water park that opened during the summer of 2014, this property has it all.

Pool at Crown Reef

 

Once every one has had their water and beach fun for the day, it’s time to hop in the car and drive South to Brookgreen Gardens.

Brookgreen Gardens is divided into several areas. Kids of all ages will appreciate the zoo area, who doesn’t love an animal or two, right? But I must tell you, the beauty all around Brookgreen Gardens is absolutely breath taking- take a glimpse!

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I loved my stay in Myrtle Beach and do appreciate the hospitality that Crown Reef Resort did provide while I was in town. I have more to share about Myrtle Beach, so stay tuned!

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Magnolia Hotel Omaha: For Business Or Travel Adventures

Magnolia Hotel Omaha

The Magnolia Hotel located in Omaha, Nebraska offers character unlike any other hotel. The windows and ceilings are all very tall throughout this hotel. The charm of “historic” is perfectly tied into contemporary. My room featured a King sized bed with all of the amenities of the 21st Century.

Magnolia Hotel Bed

 

  • 37″ Flat Screen TV
  • Wireless Internet That Worked Perfect
  • Executive Desk
  • In-room Coffee
  • Pay Movies
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Electronic Key System
  • Hair Dryers

The Charm of this hotel was felt right after I parked my car. Speaking of parking, valet parking is available for $17.00 a night, which I would highly recommend using. Street parking is hard to come by and can be difficult to find. I walked by this gated area, which turned out to be a gorgeous courtyard. This gate really says it all!

Gate at Magnolia

There’s something about the words Magnolia and the architecture of this beautiful hotel which is located just a hop, skip, and jump from the Old Market in Omaha. This particular courtyard had a great view from the other side, you agree?

Courtyard Magnolia

This area was filled with a family celebrating a wedding earlier in the day. The setting here is ideal for weddings and any type of business gathering. The Magnolia Hotel in Omaha is unique in that it offers such character and charm, yet offers a setting that is ideal for family celebrations and business events.

The Magnolia Hotel Omaha does have a restaurant which offers table seating, along with more casual areas to gather.

Lounge area at Magnolia

Room service is available and it’s also important to note that a large buffet breakfast is included with your stay. The environment is casual and they do offer a kids menu.

It’s also important to note that this property does not have a swimming pool, so if your family is set on swimming, this may not be the ideal location for you. In my opinion, there is so much to offer all around this hotel that you will be busy enough and not have time to swim. While staying at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha you can easily walk to The Century Link Center, Omaha Children’s Museum,  and the Historic Old Market. Should you need transportation, the Magnolia Hotel Omaha offers complimentary airport and downtown Omaha transportation.

And let’s face it, who doesn’t love a bed time cookies and milk? Be sure to swing into the lounge area to enjoy your bedtime snack while staying at the Magnolia Hotel Omaha.

The charm and location make the Magnolia Hotel Omaha the place to stay while visiting Omaha, Nebraska. With so much to offer, you will find yourself at home! Oh yeah, and one more thing, the staff at the front desk was some of the friendliest and most helpful around. So, the next time you are heading to Omaha, book a stay at the Magnolia Hotel Omaha, as you will be glad you did. Tell them that Travel With Sara recommended them and don’t forget to take a glimpse of the Omaha skyline from your hotel room window, it’s quite a view.

*A special Thank You To the Omaha Bloggers for inviting me to be a guest speaker at their networking event and the Magnolia Hotel for partnering with the Omaha Bloggers to host me for one night in July 2014. All opinions of this property are mine and nobody else’s.

 

 

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How To Visit Two California Disney Theme Parks In One Day

I recently returned from a weekend at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, and it’s fair to say that I kept moving while I was there. I had one whole day to explore the two Disney parks. I was able to take in a lot of Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure Park in one whole day.

I arrived late Thursday afternoon and had all day Friday to explore the parks. I was first in line at the gates of Disneyland at 6:50 a.m. with Disneyland scheduled to open at 8:00 a.m..

Disneyland Entrance

While standing in line, be sure to ask a team member for a map of the park, as this will help you navigate your visit to Disneyland. If you have been to Walt Disney World in Florida, you will notice the park has the same layout as The Magic Kingdom. The fact that I know The Magic Kingdom like the back of my hand at Walt Disney World made getting around Disneyland super, super easy!

Main Street Disneyland

We were let into the park at approximately 7:45 a.m. and led to ropes near the castle, which were dropped promptly at 8:00 a.m.. Here is where you can make the choice of which area to visit first. I opted to head to Fantasyland. By 10:30 a.m. I had rode all of these attractions in this order:

  • PeterPan’s Flight
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures
  • Alice In Wonderland
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ( two times)
  • Splash Mountain
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Autopia

Autopia

  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster

I then headed over to Disney’s California Adventure. I ate lunch at 11:00 a.m. back in the Cars themed area. My jaw dropped when I entered this area, as it was just as though I was in the movie, “Cars.”

I ate my lunch and headed over to Radiator Springs Racers.

Cars on Road

Here I got in the single rider line and found that I was able to ride this attraction four times in a row, by going single rider. If you are willing to split your party up and ride solo- by all means, go for it! The wait time in the regular line was 90 minutes.

I then went to the following attractions in this order:

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Luigi’s Flying Tires, presented by Alamo

Bumper Cars

  • It’s Tough To Be a Bug
  • California Screamin’

California Screamin'

  • Toy Story Midway Mania!
  • The Little Mermaid- Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
  • Soarin’ Over California

I was able to hop in the single rider line at Soarin’ Over California, for a relative shorter wait time. I would recommend getting fast passes for Radiator Springs and Soarin’ while visiting Disney’s California Adventures. I had an open mind, and wanted to experience all that I could on this day. If it worked out it did, and if it didn’t, that was just fine.

I then hopped back over to Disneyland to visit The Magic Kingdom at night and rode the following attractions:

  • Pinocchio’s Daring Journey
  • It’s A Small World
  • The Mad Tea Party (super fun at night)
  • Space Mountain

In between It’s a Small World and The Made Tea Party, I crossed back over to Disney’s California Adventures to experience Radiator Springs Racers at night, and boy, am I glad I did! The view in the car at night was amazing!

Cars At Night

 

I then headed over to Disneyland to finish the night out! A lot of walking, but well worth it.

Now, I did have a one day park hopper pass, which allowed me to hop back and forth from park to park. Park hopping at Disneyland is a short walk, compared to some form of transportation while at Walt Disney World in Florida. I did not see and do everything, but I can tell you, that it is possible to experience both Disney parks in California in one day! A long full day will let you take in all Disney has to offer and more.

Hey, I got to open the park and close it down- A long day that started at 6:50 a.m. and ended at midnight!

If you are planning a one day visit to the Disney parks in California I’d love to hear how your experience compares to mine. The above route worked great for me and I hope it does for you too!

Stay tuned, I’ve got more California Disneyland travel tips for you in the near future.

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Central Gardens of North Iowa: Plan Now To Visit

 

Central Gardens

 

Clear Lake, Iowa, is home to some of the most beautiful gardens you will find in the state of Iowa. The Central Gardens of North Iowa is not huge and overwhelming, which makes this smaller area accessible to more people. I spent an hour in the gardens this past week and let me tell you, it was absolutely gorgeous! The Little Free Library and bench near the entrance say, “Come on in!”

Little Free Library Gardens

 

With several stunning areas throughout the gardens, I’d suggest to take a book to read. If you enjoy a babbling brook surrounded with a lot of beauty, Central Gardens of North Iowa will embrace you. Now tell me, doesn’t this just pull you in? As I took a glance of this in the gardens, my mind wandered, does yours?

 

Statue in Centra Gardens

The Central Gardens of North Iowa have several areas that are available to rent for weddings, corporate picnics, family reunions, and club meetings. There is not any playground equipment on site, so a family reunion with younger kids present may not be a good fit, but definitely a good fit for teens and adults.

stream in gardens

 

Clear Lake, Iowa, is a lake community that offers activities and events all year long. Anytime you are in Clear Lake swing into the Central Gardens of North Iowa. In North Iowa we do experience all four seasons, so the gardens have a different look all year long. Summer definitely brings color and a lot of events to the gardens.

And if you happen to be near the Sea Wall in downtown Clear Lake, be sure to check out this amazing masterpiece!

Metal Bicycle

 

RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) is a pass through town on July 23, 2014, and offers a whole day of entertainment for participants. For those bicyclists, make note to swing into the Central Gardens of North Iowa, as it will be a highlight of your stop in Clear Lake, Iowa.

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Clear Lake, Iowa: 4th of July 2015- Make Plans Now To Attend

Clear Lake, Iowa, is home to one of the most festive 4th of July celebrations you will find all across the United States. 2014 lived up to its name and I’d suggest you plan now to attend in 2015. This years event was jam packed with family fun and there’s just something about hanging around the lake on the 4th of July.

Evans United Shows has been a staple in Clear Lake over the 4th of July holiday weekend for the past 40+ years.

Evans United Shows: Clear Lake, Ioowa

 

The attractions are family friendly and they offer a great experience for families over the 4th of July festivities in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Bicycles are available to rent in the heart of all the activity and can offer a fun way to relax.

Bicycles Clear Lake, Iowa

An afternoon riding a bicycle around Clear Lake, which is home to 7,000+ folks, swells to almost 100,000 over the 4th of July holiday. While on a bicycle you can bike around the lake and even plan a picnic lunch in Clear Lake State Park or McIntosh Woods State Park. Both state parks are home to family friendly beaches and offer playgrounds that kids of all ages will appreciate.

The evening entertainment in the heart of Clear Lake is simply top notch! My advice, arrive early to get a seat without a tree in front of you.

Music In Clear Lake Park

Clear Lake, Iowa, goes all out in finding entertainment that is family friendly and music that appeals to a lot of people.

From BINGO to a round of Family Feud and a parade, there is something going on all weekend. And if you like the water, City Beach is right near the heart of the festivities, as well as a kid friendly splash pad. Let’s face it, kids love to splash around in water.

From the shops on main street to the beach, you will find hours of entertainment for you and your family over the 4th of July holiday in Clear Lake, Iowa. Oh yeah, and then there are those fireballs in the sky called fireworks. This fireworks show is absolutely the best around with a beautiful lake in the backdrop. Claim your seat near the seawall by 7:30 p.m. for the 10:00 p.m. show- you will be grateful that you have a great viewing spot!

So, if you waited to long to plan any 4th of July activities for 2014, let me suggest you make then now for 2015. Clear Lake, Iowa, is sure to offer another family friendly 4th of July Celebration. North Central Iowa will welcome you and provide you with family memories to carry with you forever.

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Wilmington, North Carolina Offers All Of This In One Day And More

Wilmington, North Carolina is home to a historic district you will fall in love with. I recently had one day to visit Wilmington, North Carolina. I cannot wait to return, as I heard from several other visitors that the beaches were some of the finest in the country. I had a day to explore the Historic Downtown District of Wilmington, North Carolina and it offered more than I ever imagined.

Historic Downtown Wilmington

Upon your arrival into Wilmington, North Carolina, I would highly suggest that you stop into the Wilmington CVB, located at 505 Nutt Street. You will see the Wilmington Railroad Museum and the CVB is in the same building as this museum; just right behind it. Here you will find a lot of helpful information on the area. The staff is friendly and willing to answer your questions. If you are more the self service type of person, they have a nice selection of brochures available for you to take.

Brochures Wilmington

I had no idea that Wilmington, North Carolina is right behind New York and Los Angeles when it comes to film and television production. Several buildings and sites from familiar movies and television shows are scattered throughout the historic district. I had the opportunity to participate in a Hollywood Location Walk Tour. And let me tell you this, our tour guide was fun and extremely knowledgeable. Anytime we came upon someone that worked in the film industry, they had something fun to share with him.

Hollywood Location Walk

Towards the end of the tour we were able to watch a large team of people prepare the set for a scene of Nicholas’ Spark new movie, “The Longest Ride.”

I was also able to experience the neighborhood of Wilmington while riding in a horse drawn trolley with a very knowledgeable tour guide.

Horse Drawn Trolley

We went down by the river front and then explored the historic district. The homes in the area were beautiful and the tour itself was a nice way to relax and see what Wilmington, North Carolina is all about. The mansions in Wilmington are absolutely gorgeous!

Keep in mind that I only had one day to spend in Wilmington and it was a fast paced day. The Bellamy Mansion, Wilmington Railroad Museum and a boat tour were also highlights of my day. Oh yeah, and then there’s this place called The Cotton Exchange. So much to tell you… Stay tuned…. Wilmington, North Carolina is a place you need to visit. I had a fantastic day and can’t wait to share more details with all of you.

*A special Thank You to the Wilmington CVB for hosting me for the day.