Our Recent Visit to American Girl Overland Park, Kansas

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Family Travel

Our Recent Visit to American Girl Overland Park, Kansas

Let me let you in on a not so-secret secret. My ten-year-old daughter is a huge American Girl doll fan and collector. Since the age of 7, she has been collecting the dolls and now has 10 of them in her room. As a mom, I am also a huge fan of the brand because it celebrates the girl power in us all and also gives girls a peek into history with their historical dolls and books. She can play with them and learn from them too, which is a win/win. Since she’s been an American Girl fan, we’ve been able to travel and visit the Chicago store three times, the New York City store, and the Kansas City store twice. A few weeks ago, we took a quick roadtrip and traveled to K.C. for a little fun, and also stopped again at the Overland Kansas store. I made it clear that she wouldn’t be getting any dolls, but she could purchase some accessories and clothing for her dolls if she wanted. She managed to find a few outfits for her dolls alongside some hair accessories and earrings. She also purchased a skirt for herself to wear (yep, if you didn’t know, American Girl sells some of the same outfits the dolls have in real girls’ sizes). If that wasn’t enough, her doll, Lola, got a nice updo at the AG Salon. Lola was her first American Girl doll and we bought that one at the Chicago store. Part of our travel plans have to include American Girl. My daughter enjoys seeing the different store layouts and her goal is to visit every American Girl store in the U.S. Not sure if that is going to happen, but she can dream. The Overland Park, Kansas store is a little smaller than the American Girl in Chesterfield, Missouri. It doesn’t have an American Girl Cafe Bistro like the other locations we have visited, but does have a salon, a t-shirt printing area, and a book and arts and crafts area. This location is nestled in a mall, which may account for the lack of size. The one here near St. Louis is also located at a mall, but you have to walk outside of the store to get entrance to or out of the store. The Kansas store has direct access to the Oak Park Mall. The staff was friendly and helpful as always. I’ve been told other than working for Disney, this is the best place to work. And by the looks of things, I totally believe it. Here are two pictures from our AG Overland Park, Kansas...

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Roadtrippin: Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, IL

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in Family Travel

Roadtrippin: Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, IL

This past weekend, I took a road trip to Galena, IL to stay at Eagle Ridge Resort. The drive was less than 3 hours from Chicago, so I considered it a mini-vacation, a quick getaway for me and the boychild. This was our first time visiting Galena and I can’t wait to go back. Slower than the fast pace I’ve become accustomed to here in Chicago, Galena is the place to go to when you just want to get away. The drive down was so peaceful, the scenic route was amazing, perfect for those who love nature. On the drive over, I remember thinking, if you ever wanted to know that God is real just drive to Galena. The rolling hills, the cows, the cliffs, everything was just so beautiful. I really could’ve spent a few more days in Galena, I know when the snow falls it’s going to be even more beautiful. While in Galena, we got a chance to stay at a 2-Bedroom house at Eagle Ridge Resort. We had our own little house in the hills and I loved it! We got up every morning, cooked breakfast and headed off to explore all the activities that Eagle Ridge had to offer. I’ll tell you more about what we did this week on Swa-Rai.com. The best part was going out on to the back porch, and seeing turkeys in the woods. It truly was our time to be one with nature. And to be honest, I’m not really a nature girl, but in Galena, I felt at peace.  If  nature doesn’t get you the staff and people of Galena will, they were nothing short of amazing! They were so nice and helpful, I immediately felt at home.  Who knew a self-proclaimed city-girl like myself could be changed. I think the boychild was in love with Eagle Ridge even more than me, he didn’t want to leave. It made my heart happy seeing him run around the house and outside just having a ball, not having a care in the world. Somehow Eagle Ridge managed to steal a piece of my heart, as I type this I wish I was still there. It was also fun to get out and explore the City  of Galena as well. If you love shopping, Galena has a wide-assortment of little shops for you to explore. While you are in downtown Galena, stop by one of the restaurants and enjoy a meal. Galena is perfect if you are looking to spend some time with the kids or looking to spend some time with that special someone, you are bound to have a ball in Galena. If  you do plan on making a visit, you must rent a house from Eagle Ridge Resort and don’t forget to tell them I sent you! Disclosure: I was provided with a 2 night stay, however all...

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Top Reasons to Visit the St. Louis Zoo

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 in Family Travel, Travel

Top Reasons to Visit the St. Louis Zoo

I can’t lie, the boychild and I love going to the zoo! Last year while we were in St. Louis visiting Danyelle, we took the kiddos to the St. Louis Zoo! St. Louis Zoo is a pretty large zoo spread over 90 acres of land with over 18000 animals from 700 species. There’s so much to see that it was hard for us to cover the entire zoo in one day. The kids had a ball! We did everything from checking out the penguins and flamingos to the monkeys. After all, you can’t go to the zoo without checking out the monkeys. Between visiting the animals the kids got a chance to ride on the carousel! What kid doesn’t love a carousel. What I loved most about the zoo was the fact that all the animals were out and about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the zoo only to find no animals… sigh! While at the St. Louis Zoo we also got a chance to touch the stingrays.  If your child is adventurous they will love getting an up, close and personal look at the stingrays with the zookeeper. While you are there don’t forget to check out the of children’s zoo. It’s fun for kids of all ages. Lastly, make sure you check out the Zooline Railroad, this is the quickest and easiest way to see the entire zoo if you aren’t up for all of that walking. If those aren’t enough reasons to visit the St. Louis Zoo, just remember zoo admission is free! I don’t know if that excites you but it definitely excites me as it costs almost $20 to go to the zoos here in Chicago, there is a fee for special attractions. If you want to check out the special attractions, I suggest getting the Safari Pass, it’s only $12 and gives you access to all the attractions. So the next time you are in St. Louis, make sure the St. Louis Zoo is on your...

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Family Fun at the Santa Monica Pier

Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 in Family Travel

Family Fun at the Santa Monica Pier

Los Angeles is such a fun and festive place to visit. It has thousands of areas to visit, shop, eat, and play, and one of my favorite areas is Santa Monica and the prized Santa Monica Pier. Nestled off of the Pacific coast, it is an awesome place to get your beach on while partaking in rides, experiencing food and entertainment, and so much more. I first visited the Santa Monica Pier during a trip to Los Angeles in 2012, and when my son moved there last year, I visited the pier once again to take in the sights and sounds. The most visually stunning portion of the Santa Monica Pier is ferris wheel, which has been seen in countless movies and photographs. The landmark entrance into the pier is also known for it’s signage. Because I came in from the opposite direction, I didn’t get a chance to get a picture of the sign, but I was able to take a few shots of the visuals of the evening, and it made for a perfect family night out at the pier. Feast your eyes on a few photos I managed to take during our trip. It was a May evening, but rather chilly.   For a good ole time, I recommend visiting the Santa Monica Pier whilst you are in Los Angeles. I have a trip coming up soon to the City of Angels, and I plan on making a stop at the pier, this time at night to take in the scenery. For more of my last trip to Los Angeles, click here. Visit the official Santa Monica Pier website...

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Getting in the Glow with Disney World’s Main Street Electrical Parade #Disneyside

Posted by on Mar 24, 2014 in Disney, Family Travel

Getting in the Glow with Disney World’s Main Street Electrical Parade #Disneyside

While going through some photos in my Dropbox, I came across some photos I took while Raijean and I were at Disney World Magic Kingdom with both of our kids last August. We were given the opportunity to see the Magic Kingdom compliments of Disney, so we took the last full day that we had while in Orlando to take in as much as we could. Of course a visit to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without seeing the vibrant and fabulous Main Street Electrical Parade, which is a great way to end a day at Magic Kingdom. Filled with sights and sounds that are truly electric, it is a sight to behold. The parade features several floats that are synchronized to music. Through the use of electronically controlled lights and live entertainment, the Main Street Electrical Parade is a technological feat that is fun for the entire family. During our first family trip to Disney World last February, we didn’t get a chance to see the Electrical Parade. So this visit, I made sure that we stayed to see the wondrous lights in action. Below are a few photos I took of the Main Street Electrical Parade. I am not that much of a photographer, but I did my best to capture the visuals.               These photos features “scenes” from Disney favorites Alice in Wonderland, Pete’s Dragon, and Cinderella’s Clock Tower. I ended up running out of power, so I was unable to document every scene from the parade, but got a few shots for my collection. If you haven’t seen the Main Street Electrical Parade live and in-person, I suggest you make sure to go. Take the family. I promise you it is something that you will always treasure and remember. For more information on the Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, click...

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Making it Sweet at Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City

Posted by on Feb 24, 2014 in Family Travel, Travel

Making it Sweet at Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City

My daughter (whom I affectionately refer to as The Chicklet online) wanted to do something special for her 10th birthday. She’d never been to The Big Apple, so after asking her where she wanted to spend her big day this year (last year was Disney World), she decided on NYC. So of course, me and her dad worked hard to make it happen. After doing some research on things to do with kids in the big city, Dylan’s Candy Bar remained high on the list. So of course, we decided to make our way to the Lower East Side for a little fun at the candy store. Dylan’s is known for creating a unique and fun candy atmosphere that is decadent as much as it is sweet, colorful, and filled with delectable goodies. It is as if you are stepping into the world of Candy Land, complete with life-size lollipops, chocolate candy fountains, and sugary goodness abounds. Dylan’s Candy Bar is owned by Ralph Lauren’s daughter, Dylan, who opened the flagship store in New York in 2001. There are also locations in Los Angeles, Miami Beach, and East Hampton, New York. Dylan’s Candy Bar also sells wholesale goods worldwide and is known for their goodies which are sold in many retailers all over the globe. The store, which is a three floor glass wonderment of fun has everything from an ice cream shoppe, bakery and soda fountain, clothing and branded trinkets, and of course, candy. And for the adult customer, they even have Candy Cocktails. 🙂 Here are some photos from our epic candy adventure: The Chicklet and I had an awesome time, and plan to go back the next time we are in NYC. This spot is great for the kid in us all. To learn more about Dylan’s Candy Bar, you can visit the official website here. And on Facebook and Twitter. Not going to be near a Dylan’s Candy Store but want some treats? You can also order goodies online and have them shipped to...

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