Travel With Sara

An Adventure Around Every Corner

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March MidWest Travel Chat Featuring North Platte, Nebraska- #MWTravel

We hope you will join us for our upcoming #MWTravel Chat featuring North Platte, Nebraska. In case you don’t know, North Platte is located along the I-80 corridor which runs across the great state of Nebraska. There is a lot of history within this community and there’s also family fun! Having made the trek from Iowa to Colorado many times, I can tell you that North Platte is the perfect place to take a little break from your road trip.

Buffalo Bill's Ranch

 

During our one hour chat on Twitter, we will be talking about fun places to dine, historic sites that you must visit and where you and your family can play for the day! Join myself and The Walking Tourists for this fun chat which will take place on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 from 11 am – Noon (CST).

Here’s the specifics on how to participate.

Participants in this chat will have the opportunity to learn what North Platte, NE has to offer over the next few weeks and what happens all year long in this family, friendly river city located in western Nebraska.

If you are a new Twitter Chat participant, here’s a step by step guide on how to participate.

WHEN:  March 4, 2015 11 am- Noon (CST)

WHO:  Hosts @walkingtourists @travelwithsara @NorthPlatteNEBR (Follow these Hosts on Twitter)

WHAT:  Twitter Chat- – North Platte, NE

HOW TO JOIN: Follow the hashtag #MWTravel

PRIZES: Visit North Platte will be giving away the following prizes:

#1 Visitors Bureau Swag Bag- Six pack cooler, sticky notes, pizza cutter, notebook, 2gb memory card, ink pens

#2 4 complimentary admissions to the Golden Spike Tower

#3 North Platte Gifts- Six pack cooler, 2 North Platte hot/cold insulated cups, 2 Lincoln Highway Commemorative Wine Glasses

#4 North Platte Book Collection- Bob Greene’s Once Upon a Town- The MIracle of the North Platte Canteen; Jim Beckius’ – A City Between Two Rivers; Jim Reisdorff’s – North Platte Canteen Pictorial History

To be eligible to win prizes, you must:

Have at least one tweet in the Twitter Chat from 11 am – Noon (CST) on March 4, 2015.

Hope to see you there! Having spent quite a bit of time in North Platte, Nebraska, I can tell you that this is a community that will not disappoint you.

 

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The Carnival Dream Or The Carnival Sunshine?

I cruised on the Carnival Sunshine in November of 2014 and recently cruised on the Carnival Dream. These are two beautiful ships that Carnival Cruise Lines has to choose from. And quite honestly, I have not found a Carnival Cruise ship that I have not enjoyed. Each ship is unique and has its own individual feel.

Carnival Sunshine Serenity

Carnival Sunshine: Serenity

 

The Carnival Dream

  • Deck 5 offers a full lap around the whole ship
  • The Italian Restaurant (Deck 11) is a good place to get lunch
  • Warm Chocolate Melting Cake
  • Beach loungers are everywhere on the open decks
  • Stunning view from the deck on the front of the ship

The Carnival Sunshine

  • Jaime Dee is the BEST Cruise Director
  • Amazing Ropes Course
  • Warm Chocolate Melting Cake
  • Guys Burger Joint
  • Piano Bar

I have cruised several times over the course of the past year and if you can’t find something you like to do on a cruise ship, you should stay home. The Carnival Dream and The Carnival Sunshine both have family friendly activities on board. The Carnival Sunshine is the ship that I would recommend for families with active kids. The ropes course is truly one of a kind and is located in the midst of a ton of family sports oriented activities.

Carnival Dream

Carnival Dream

 

The Carnival Dream offers family friendly activities, but offers something a little more romantic for couples. The music you will find on the Carnival Dream is some of the best. The atmosphere in The Atrium is worth the experience in itself. The musicians that perform here are top notch and if you don’t like the type of music being played, head on over to a pub and listen to a guitarist.

As of February 2015, The Carnival Sunshine is cruising out of Port Canaveral and The Carnival Dream is cruising out of New Orleans. If port location is an issue for you, that may determine which ship you sail on. Both ships are amazing and will provide you with vacation memories of a lifetime. Have you cruised on the Carnival Dream or Sunshine? Do you prefer one over the other? It’s truly a toss up for me! Give me the warm chocolate melting cake and I’m a happy cruiser.

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Springfield, Illinois Is Home To All Things Abraham Lincoln

Springfield, Illinois is a Mid-Western destination that is sure to be memorable for history and presidential enthusiasts. I am not a history buff and I quickly embraced Abraham Lincoln and all the history that is found in Springfield. Abraham Lincoln’s family home is located in Springfield and offers insight into a quieter time in our lives.

Lincoln's House

While standing in the street in front of Abraham Lincoln’s Family Home, I felt a sense of calm take over. It was a hot summer evening and the lamp posts were just beginning to light up the street. I began to imagine kids playing in the street and the fun that kids enjoyed in a different era. There was something special about this area and I knew I needed to return during the day light hours to tour Abraham Lincoln’s Family Home

Abraham Lincoln’s Family Home is part of the National Park System in the U.S., which means tours are given and the grounds are well kept. When you visit, it’s important to stop into the main office before you actually want to take the tour. Free tickets are given out on a first come, first served basis. And in the busy time of the year, these tickets can go fast.

The Abraham  Lincoln Museum offers several interactive displays for all family members to enjoy. The films and special effect theaters are well worth your time.

Lincoln Family

While strolling through the museum I began to really think about “Lincoln’s Eyes.” Do you know about his eyes? Plan on spending a good 1/2 day in this museum, as it’s truly one of a kind.

And just in case you are in search of a little good luck, be sure to head to Lincoln’s Tomb and rub Abraham Lincoln’s nose.

Lincolns' Tomb

Visitors can walk through the tomb and I will be honest, it really makes a person think of our heritage and the impact that Abraham Lincoln had on our country.

Are you curious about Abraham Lincoln? If so, Springfield, Illinois is where you need to visit. Are you into Ghost Walks? Springfield even has one of those! I might add that the World Famous Roadway Route 66 goes through Springfield. Be sure to check out The Cozy Dog and enjoy all of the nostalgia that goes along with Springfield, Illinois. Have you been to Springfield? If so, I’d love to hear about your visit.

*Thank you to Springfield, Illinois for hosting myself and a guest in the summer of 2014.

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Best Kept Secret Along I-55 In Missouri: Cape Girardeau

I recently spent an evening and part of a morning in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Have you explored this charming town in Missouri? Cape Girardeau is home to some of the most amazing murals that I have ever seen. Once we arrived on Main Street and headed towards the Mississippi River, I was taken back. The murals looked amazing! Standing near all of these murals made me more appreciative of our country and those that worked so hard for the freedoms that we have today. Cape Girardeau, Missouri is a little secret that is hidden off of I-55. Hop off of I-55 to explore Cape Girardeau, as your family will thank you!

Murals

The Missouri Wall of Fame features several successful people from Missouri. I had no idea that Walter Cronkite was from Missouri and I was also surprised to learn that Rush Limbaugh grew up in Cape Girardeau. A self guided tour is available where  you can see Rush Limbaugh’s school and childhood home. And most recently, the movie Gone Girl was filmed in Cape Girardeau. Stop into the CVB at 400 Broadway to pick up a brochure showcasing the areas Gone Girl was filmed.

Missouri Wall of Fame

My family and I stayed at The Drury Suites, right off of I-55. This happens to be the hotel that Ben Affleck stayed at while filming parts of Gone Girl.

Drury Suites

Our suite was decorated in wonderful earth tones and was warm and inviting. Two beds were in a separate area from the main area, which makes a great arrangement for families. Two tv’s were also a hit! There’s nothing like a place to call home for the night where you can kick your feet up and feel like it’s all yours.

Suite at Drury Suites

The high speed internet was reliable and worked great. We arrived later in the evening, but had we arrived before 7 p.m., we could have enjoyed a light supper, which often features macaroni cheese and the like. Fresh, hot popcorn is popped nightly in the dining room from 7-10 p.m., which we were able to enjoy. Fountain pop is also available to enjoy with your popcorn.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri is located on the Mississippi River and is surrounded by several parks. I have no doubt that you and your family could spend 3-4 days in Cape Girardeau and have an amazing time. I can’t wait to go back and explore. All I needed was a short period of time to get a glimpse of what this charming community has to offer and I’m ready to go back for a visit. Want to learn more about Cape Girardeau?

Join myself and The Walking Tourists as we introduce all of you to Cape Girardeau during our MidWest Travel Chat, which takes place on February 4, 2015 from 11 am- Noon on Twitter. The hashtag is #MWTravel. We would love to have you join us.
*A special thank you to the Cape Girardeau CVB for hosting my family and I at the Drury Suites.

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Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South With Tips On Getting Around The Strip

Hilton Garden Inn

 

I recently visited Las Vegas, Nevada and have to admit that I was skeptical as to the location of the hotel I had booked. I was attending an event at The Paris, which is located on The Strip in Las Vegas. This hotel had some excellent reviews, but I was still cautious. I can tell you that the reviews are real and this hotel was a great place to stay while in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The swimming pool and grounds were very inviting and tropical at The Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South.

pool in Vegas

 

I found the staff to be extremely helpful, as they were friendly and eager to provide service. There was a 21st Century exercise room on site, as well as a business center where you can print out boarding passes and the like.

A fresh, hot breakfast was available every morning featuring eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and just about anything else you can imagine. There is free transportation to take you to/from the airport, as well as to Mandalay Bay; which is located on the South end of the Strip. Transportation leaves on the 1/2 hour, but it’s important to let the front desk know where you are headed. This way, the front desk person can alert the driver that he will have passengers on the 1/2 hour and where he will be going. It’s also important to remember to keep a couple dollar bills on hand, to tip your driver.

The free transportation to the Strip takes you to a parking area at Mandalay Bay and it’s important to take note that you will need to call for a return trip to your hotel. The bus will pick you up at a quarter after the hour, so plan your schedule around your pickup time. If you are headed further down the strip than Mandalay Bay, you can walk the Strip or take the free tram to Excalibur. To get to the free tram, go up the escalators, and follow the walkway along the shops and you will see signs to the free tram. It’s important to take note, these trams start at different times of the morning, depending on the traffic on the Strip. On one day, my particular event started at 9 a.m. and the tram did not start running until then. I ended up making the 30 minute walk to my destination, but it all worked out.

Sara New York New York

After a long day on the Strip I was ready to head back to call it a night at The Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South. A cozy, quiet room awaited me and I knew I also had reliable internet service, which is very important to me. If you want to be able to step away from the crazy, madness of the Las Vegas Strip, this hotel is great for you while staying in Las Vegas. With reliable free transportation to the Las Vegas Strip, this hotel is a winner with me!

*Note: I paid for my own lodging and this review represents my opinions and no one else’s.

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Four Spring Break Destinations: Tips To Make Your Spring Break The Best Ever

Spring Break is just around the corner. It’s not too early to make some final plans for your family, fun destination. I have four destinations, with a special tip for each destination, that will be sure to make your Spring Break destination the best ever.

  • Wilmington, North CarolinaWelcome To WilmingtonWilmington, North Carolina is home to beaches that your feet will fall in love with. Sunrise is different every day, so my best tip, would be to get up early and make sure you get to witness the colorful sun. Movie and tv enthusiasts will fall in love with Wilmington’s historical district. The Hollywood Location Walk Tour shares all the little “secrets” that Wilmington has to offer when it comes to your favorite television shows.
  • Alabama Gulf Shores Alabama Beach TreeOrange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama will welcome your family with open arms. The sand here is some of the finest you will find. I have spent time on the beaches in Grand Turk, and I am here to tell you; that the Alabama Gulf Coast offers a beach that is just as nice, and maybe even a little bit nicer. The best tip I can give you, is to eat at The Gulf and Lulu’s. They both offer great food and views that are unique to the area. Need a place to call home while visiting Alabama’s gorgeous coastline? I’d highly recommend Caribe The Resort.
  • Walt Disney World

Grand Floridian

  • If you love crowds and being where the is a lot of energy, I would suggest spending Spring Break at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The best tip that I can give you is to stay on a Walt Disney World property and take advantage of the early entry times and extended evening park hours. My boys have closed down the Magic Kingdom at 3:00 a.m. and have told me (I did not stay out that late) that they could walk right on several attractions.
  • Crown Reef Resort: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Myrtle BeachFamilies looking for an affordable beach vacation, will appreciate all that Crown Reef Resort in Myrtle Beach has to offer. Most of the units are equipped with full kitchens, which can be a huge money saver when traveling with a family.The best tip I can give you about this destination is the fact that once you check in, you will not have to leave the property. The beach, water park, and lazy river are available to all guests. There are vendors with activities for hire right along the beach, should you wish to para-sail, jet ski and the like.

Home to me is in the Mid-West, so it’s always been natural for our family to head somewhere warmer over Spring Break. I hope this list helps you find a destination that will meet your families needs when it comes to Spring Break. Most of all, make memories that your family will remember forever. A good rule to go by- if it’s simple, your kids will remember it for years.

 

 

 

 

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February MidWest Travel Chat Featuring Cape Girardeau , MO- #MWTravel

Visit Cape Event Photo

Photo Courtesy Of The Walking Tourists

 

We hope you will join us for our second  #MWTravel Twitter chat that will feature Cape Girardeau, MO. Located along the mighty Mississippi River banks in SE Missouri, Cape Girardeau offers great history and natural outdoor beauty.You can take a stroll downtown for antique shopping and yummy foodie finds or take a driving tour of sites seen in the movie “Gone Girl.”Join us to learn more about this, as well as some of the other great things to do in Cape Girardeau to match any fancy

Here’s how to participate:
Participants in this chat will have the opportunity to learn what Cape Girardeau, MO has to offer over the next few weeks and what happens all year long in this family, friendly river city located in southeastern Missouri. Are you new to twitter chats? Here’s a step by step guide on how to participate.

WHEN: February 4 11a-12 pm (CST)

WHO:  Hosts @walkingtourists @travelwithsara @visitcape

WHAT: Twitter Party  – Cape Girardeau, MO

HOW TO JOIN: Follow the hashtag #MWTravel

PRIZES: Visit Cape will be giving away a Gone Girl prize pack comprised of a Gone Girl DVD, Gone Girl book, copy of the Gone Girl driving tour and a Gone Girl postcard.

To be eligible, you must:
Have at least one tweet on the party from 11a-12 pm CST on February 4.

We will see you there!

 

 

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Transfer Tips From Orlando International Airport To The Carnival Sunshine In Port Canaveral

Cruising is something that I have grown to love and one of the first challenges is getting to and from the ship. We arrived at Orlando International Airport the evening before we were scheduled to sail out of Port Canaveral on the Carnival Sunshine.

Cruising Carnival Sunshine

 

I had traveled through Orlando International Airport a few months before our scheduled cruise and had taken note of the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, which was located right outside of the security gate.

 

Hyatt at Night

 

We got off of our plane from Minneapolis at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport and went up a set of escalators check into our hotel. Our stay here was perfect! There was no chasing down hotel transportation for the night and then having to get up in the morning to catch a ride back to the airport, to catch our shuttle to take us to the Carnival Sunshine in Port Canaveral.

Morning arrived and we checked out of our hotel room and then went down to the large food court that was between the hotel and the area where we were to catch our shuttle to Port Canaveral. We had breakfast and then headed to the desk to check into our shuttle. There were signs all along the way.

 

Carnival Transfer Signs

 

The staff at the Carnival shuttle check in area was fast and efficient. If you lost or forgot to bring your luggage tags with you, the staff here is more than willing to provide you with those necessary luggage tags.

We arrived about an hour before our scheduled departure, which meant a little wait in a comfy chair. I would not recommend arriving anytime later than we did. Our shuttle bus did board early and once we boarded our shuttle, and a headcount was taken, we were on our way to Port Canaveral to cruise on the Carnival Sunshine. It’s a good idea to have some cash on hand, as the shuttle bus drivers do provide great service.

 

Luggage and people boarding shuttle

 

Upon our arrival at the port, the bus driver made sure to unload our luggage before he gave everyone on the bus the AOK to get off. This made for a rather quick departure from the bus, as we got off, grabbed our luggage and headed to the official Carnival check in desk.

So, the next time you fly into Orlando International Airport, I’d highly recommend you stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, as it will easily save you a couple hours of stress. The folks at Carnival Cruise Lines will provide you safe, affordable transportation to and from Port Canaveral. So, tell me… who’s ready to cruise on the Carnival Sunshine? I am raising my hand high!

*Note: We paid for our hotel stay and our Carnival Cruise. The opinions here are mine and nobody else’s.

 

 

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Discover Blue Fields Bay, Jamaica: Luxury Resort In The Caribbean

I recently stumbled across a luxury resort in Jamaica. Have any of you heard of the Bluefields Bay, featuring seaside villas in Jamaica? The photos caught my eye and it’s fair to say that I am dreaming of a few nights stay at this luxurious resort in Jamaica. I dove in a little further and I learned that Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas is an all inclusive resort.

Bluefields Bay

 

One of the amenities that stood out with me is the fact that when you book a seven day stay, you have VIP transportation service from the airport to your villa. You are greeted as soon as you step off the plane by a representative from Bluefields Bay Villas and they will guide you to the VIP lounge where you will be connected with your driver. Have you ever added up all your transportation costs when you arrive at your destination? This service takes out a lot of worries and added costs.

How does your own personal gourmet chef sound? This sounds like a week of fantastic meals that I don’t have to prepare. When I travel I like to check out the local culture and food is high on my list. I enjoy eating anything that doesn’t come out of my own kitchen, which makes Bluefields Bay, Jamaica very appealing to me.

Do you travel with children or adults that need care? Bluefields Bay has you covered with onsite nanny service and adult day care services. And speaking of children, they do produce a lot of laundry. Laundry services are also included in your stay.

Kayaks, stand up paddle boards and snorkeling gear are also included.

Bluefields Bay Kayaking

 

Tennis anyone? The tennis courts have recently been resurfaced and are ready for tennis enthusiasts.

You are now probably asking, “Where is Bluefields Bay located?” Bluefields Bay is located south of Montego Bay and east of Negril, which means that Bluefields Bay is the perfect escape from commercialization, which often means, “tourist trap.” This resort appears to offer solitude and beauty unlike anything you will find around the Caribbean.

I’ve been following Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest to be inspired on a daily basis! I’d recommend you follow along to keep the beautiful Caribbean colors fresh in your mind.

Who loves this view as much as I do?

 

Bluefields Jamaica Hammock

 

The Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas offers an affordable, luxury vacation that I cannot stop dreaming of.

If you are planning a honeymoon, family vacation, extended family vacation or maybe even a corporate retreat, book your vacation today. If you have stayed at the Bluefields Bay Resort in Jamaica, I’d love to hear about your experience! Do you have additional questions? You can call and speak with a real person at 1-877-955-8993.  For now, I’ll be dreaming of a luxury vacation in Jamaica as I view the white snow drifts outside my windows at home in Iowa.

*I did not receive any compensation in any way shape or form for this post. The opinions are mine and the factual information is from the Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas Resort website. Thank you to Bluefields Bay: Jamaican Seaside Villas for sharing their photos.

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Plan Your One Day Visit To Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. While walking the streets in the evening, I could hear the ocean, which was a few blocks away and it was so quiet that I could have heard a pin drop nearby. The pace in Carmel-by-the-Sea was very relaxing and kind of like a step back in time with all of the amenities of the 21st Century. If you have one day to explore Carmel-by-the-Sea, I’ve got the perfect itinerary for you.

Get up bright and early after your cozy nights stay at the Hofsas House Hotel, as in before the sun comes up.

Hofsas House

 

Head south on Highway 1 and drive a few miles South of Big Sur. Then turn back North to return to Carmel-by-the-Sea. The views here are some of the most amazing you will ever see.

Sunrise Big Sur

 

The sun is at an angle that will leave you in awe the whole drive. Be sure to take advantage of the pull outs that are along this route. Early in the morning you will have most of the road to yourself. If time permits, stop at Point Lobos State National Reserve on your way back North.

Drive through Carmel-by-the-Sea and drive to Monterey. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get a glimpse into the sea life in the area and a whole lot of history.

Monterey Canning

Street parking is minimal, so your best parking option is to find a parking ramp. Spend 2-3 hours at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and then head back towards Carmel-by-the-Sea. This is the perfect time to drive the famous 17 Mile Drive.

17 Mile Drive

 

 The views here are stunning and you will more than likely here and/or see a few sea lions along this route.

Evening should be closing in and once you return, park your car at Hofsas House Hotel and use your feet to get you to Anton & Michel‘s for supper.

lamb

 

Here you can enjoy fine wine, a beautiful rack of lamb, served up with top notch service. Hungry for Bananas Foster? Here’s how it’s all put together.

You know what surprised me the most about Carmel-by-the-Sea? It was the fact that it was a very quiet community. The Hofsas House Hotel was the perfect place to call home while visiting. While in the actual town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, I never once drove my car. I walked everywhere. And you know what? Walk down to the ocean in the morning, and if you are lucky, you will have a view like this!

rainbow

 

*A special thank you to the Hofsas House Hotel for hosting me for two nights.