Wingate by Wyndham – Cincinnati – Blue Ash

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Wingate by WyndhamWe decided to head to Cincinnati straight from Sandusky and not spend any time at any of the cities in between. We did not have a hotel booked for the hotel where the Cincinnati wedding was located until Friday so we needed a place for Wednesday and Thursday. I did not find anything great doing my regular online searches so I took a hotwire.com. Found a place with a great reviews. As always, the main criteria to keep the kids happy is a pool. My ideal criteria is a heated pool preferably indoors. This one had an indoor heated pool and a free breakfast with great reviews at a reasonable price. (more…)

Marriott Buffalo Niagara

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Amherst, New York on Jun 12, 2015 to Jun 13, 2015

A hotwire purchase. My requirements as always are free parking and an indoor pool and boy did we strike gold. Free breakfast is a bonus and this place did not have it. This was a great stay at a great price. The pool was an awesome indoor outdoor pool. The parking was more than abundant. Check in was easy and fast. The only scary part was that there was lots of security. My thoughts on security is that it is always great to have but always make me fearful that it is out of necessity. We strolled in around 10:30pm and from what we could tell it appeared to be a good area. The front desk staff assured me it was just precauationary and not out of necessity.

Marriott Buffalo Niagara

The room was spacious and the kids loved it. It looked new. The kids slept well and there was no noise at night. There were a couple conferences going on during the day but they were not a bother. The pool was the gem. It was not too cold which is what I always hope for. As much as a free breakfast is nice, we had planned on Paula’s donuts for breakfast anyhow so it was not a total loss. The pool had plenty of towels and not many people so we were able to play without worrying about distracting other people. Checkout was a breeze and we were on our way.

Started the morning with breakfast in the hotel

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Breakfast: Surpringly there was no fruit so I ate bagels. The breakfast is adequate but for a La Quinta, I expect more. The most annoying part is that they only have a standard size styrofoam cup so you cannot get much coffee at one time. We headed out by 9am

Off to the Boston Science Museum. Parking was easy although it was unclear how much parking was. Getting into parking was unnecessarily confusing. The signs says to get a ticket but it takes your credit card and never gives you a ticket.

We walked in an with our local museum membership, we got 4 free tickets which means we only had to pay $20 for one child membership. This saved us $86. The membership cost us $125 so we have about $39 to makeup to get hour Impression 5 museum membership for free.

We quickly stumbled on a live animal show at 10: 30 and stuck around. It was entertaining and an appropriate length at only about 20 minutes. We got to see a screaming hairy armadillo. We overhead a family talking about the electricity show so we scrambled over and found a spot on the floor at 11am. Fortunately this was also only 20 minutes and was also entertaining.

breakfast in the hotel

Kids were hungry so we went to the Riverview Cafe and got some lunch. The menu was pretty extensive and the prices were on par for many museums. After lunch, we saw the main exhibits. It took us until about 4pm. Some were not entertaining but most of them kept our 6, 7 and 10 year old entertained.

So we got to the museum around 10am and left at 4pm. It took longer than we thought but the kids had fun. We did not buy any extras since the 4D movie is only 15 minutes and we have a butterfly garden at Michigan State University that you cannot beat.

As we left the parking garage, it asked for a ticket so we went to the lane with the attendant. The attendant said to just use the credit card again. I am worried i paid twice for parking, we will find out.

From there I took a convuluted rout to get to the USS Constition since that is one of the 2 places on the Freedom trail we had not seen. I missed a turn and it was during rush hour so it about 30 minutes to get there. I dropped the family off and easily found street parking. It took about 45 minutes to see the boat and museum. Museum entry is by a suggested donation so you do not have to pay if you do not want to.

From there, the wife wanted to see China town and traffic at around 6pm was miserable. We did not move. Even though Chinatown was only about 3 miles from us, it took about 1hr to get there. Then parking was not easy so that took another 10 minutes. We finally parked at around 7pm. The Boston Chinatown was not very entertaining and not worth the visit. Since it was a little past 8pm, traffic was light. We picked up some BK on the way and headed back to the La Quinta in Andover and to watch game 3 of the NBA finals

First Night out of Gulf Shores April 9, 2015

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We started calling places after eating dinner at a Waffle House. As always we got the travelers coupons at the rest areas which provide great coupons plus they are organized by highway. We struggled for awhile to find a hotel as most hotels were packed due to it being the peak of spring break plus I think the intense rains in certain parts of Kentucky lead to flooding which forced some locals into hotels. We just kept driving and calling as we watched Louisville pass by.

First Night out of Gulf Shores April 9, 2015

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Things to Do in Bonaire

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Here is a list of 59 things to do in Bonaire. Some are dumb and not really things to do.

I am not sure why the list includes 59 things instead of 50 because some are a stretch. The highlighted ones are ones I have done. If you are visiting Bonaire you are likely going for the diving. If you are going for any other reason, you need to at least try snorkeling. It is amazing there with the bathtub like water.

Things to Do in Bonaire (more…)

List of Things that Left on Tennessee Vacation in Pigeon Forge

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Here is a list of places I had on my list of possibilities for Pigeon Forge but ultimately we decided not to do them:

1. Wonders of Magic Show
100 Music Road
Pigeon Forge TN
Phone: (865) 868-1800
Price: $15 per person
Times: 5:30 and 8pm

We went to Wonder Works which is a MUST visit but we did not feel like going to this. We did go to the connected free magic museum

2. Parrot Gardens
1471 McCarter Hollow Road
Pigeon Forge TN
Phone: 800-356-1676
Pigeon Forge

Pigeon Forge

Mixed reviews. Apparently it is quite expensive for what you see. Although we were trying not to consider expense while traveling and just trying to go to things we would enjoy. Ultimately, we figured we had seen enough parrots at other venues where we did not need this specific location.

3. Titanic Museum Exhibit
3849 Parkway
Pigeon Forge, TN
(800) 381-7670

This is an impressive building from the outside as it is a replica of the Titanic. We had been to a similar exhibit in Atlanta a couple years ago. We figured this was a traveling exhibit and would see the same things so we passed. It is worth seeing once somewhere.

WonderWorks Pigeon Ford

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wonderworks pigeon ford is simply wow. This was a low expectation stop in the late afternoon. We had seen the cheezy upside down building as we drove by it multiple times to get to other places and figured we would give it a try. We figured if it stunk, we could go to the Wonders of Magic show. For the five of us (2 adults, 3 children), the total cost of entry was $93.11. In hindsight, this was a great deal. Parking was easy, as it has its own lot.

WonderWorks-Pigeon-Forge-Tennessee-USA

wonderworks pigeon ford

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Dollywood

Dollywood Here We Come July 9 2014

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I bought our tickets in advance. The e-tickets said I needed to print them out however they were able to scan the barcode from my phone without any problem. I had looked at the dollywood map the day before so i was somewhat familiar with the layout. I intentionally picked a Wednesday for several reasons:

Dollywood

Dollywood

1. The middle of the week tends to have the lowest crowds since it is too early for a long weekend and too late for an extended weekend
2. We had walked a lot on Monday in the Smokey Mountains so I wanted to give my kids a chance on Tuesday to recover before all the walking at Dollywood
3. There was a forecast for intermittent rain showers that day although it would be around 90 degrees. I figured this would keep the crowds even lower and cool us off.

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Oak Ridge TN area 7/5/14

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Checked out the hotel at the Hampton Inn Oak Ridge (TN). Check in and check out was easy. We ate a leisurely breakfast. 1/2 the Craft family left early for Julianna’s tennis match so we had breakfast with Adrianna and Sophia. The lady in the eating area was extremely nice and made sure we got plenty of food even though they were about to close it. The pool and fitness center were under renovations but we knew that going in. Very clean and very helpful staff. I highly recommend it.

We headed over to the the American Museum of Science and Energy which was fortunately open on a Saturday on a holiday weekend. This was like a standard city children’s museum on warp drive. Lots of hands on activities. Educational for the adults and for Hibah (9y old). The younger two just played with the activities and had no interest in a formal education. There was also a cool demonstration on electricity where volunteers could come up and have visible electricity pass through them. We spent a couple hours there and then got lunch. The best part was that it was free with our museum reciprocal membership.

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Tennessee Vacation 6/12 in Lexington

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Since we decided to drive home, we stopped in Lexington Friday night. I did a quick check online and rolled the dice with Hotwire.com and found a reasonably priced hotel for $75/night.

After I purchased it I found out it was a Comfort Inn so I was expecting an outdated run down no frills hotel. After driving 20 minutes to get to the location after hotwire gave a nonfunctional phone number for the hotel and the street name did not show up on my GPS, the hotel was a pleasant surprise

Hotel Name: Comfort Inn
City: Nicholasville, KY (just south of Lexington)

Turns out the street looked pretty new so it probably is not officially on the street maps. Not sure why the number was bogus.
Pros:
1. Fancy lobby that was very modern
2. Friendly desk staff
3. Huge room
4. Modern room with flat screen TV (very upscale)
5. Soft and hard pillows
6. Huge selection for breakfast

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