Showing posts with label Mid-Atlantic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mid-Atlantic. Show all posts

Family Guide to Winter Wonderland at Dutch Wonderland

Our family had the pleasure of being invited by Dutch Wonderland to enjoy opening day of Winter Wonderland during the holiday season.  Even though Dutch Wonderland is not a new destination for our family (check out my coverage of past visits here!), this was our first time enjoying the park during the holidays.  Staying true to it's slogan as a "Kingdom for Kids," there is plenty for families to enjoy together.  We were delighted with so much during our visit and I can't wait to share some of my tips to make the most of your day at Winter Wonderland as well.

We arrived just a few minutes before park opening and were among the first to enter.  I wasn't sure what to expect crowd wise for the day - it was opening day of the season but there was also a chance of rain throughout the evening - so we tried to think of a plan that would maximize our time in the park.  Upon entering, we headed straight to Merlin's Restaurant where we had the chance to meet the big guy himself - SANTA!  In fact, we had the distinction of being the very first guests of the season to meet Santa.  It was a fabulous visit.  Not rushed at all and several photos taken throughout the time with him.  When it comes to purchasing photos, you have a few options to consider.  If you purchase a day long photo pass for the price of $25, your Santa photos are not included, but digital downloads can be added at just $5 each.  If you don't want to purchase all of your photos from around the park for the day, you can purchase your Santa photo for a $15 digital download price.  I thought this was a great bargain compared to the pricing in malls around us!  Before we leave the topic of visiting Santa, I will say that we were in Merlin's Restaurant later on in the evening too and, again, never saw a line of more than a 2-3 families waiting to meet him.  Maybe we just had a light crowd day, but I was impressed with how easy it was to say hi.  In fact, my boys went back a second time in the evening to talk to Santa and they bought him a hot chocolate because they said "he's been working hard all night!"
First ones of the season to meet Santa!

After stopping by to see Santa first, we headed towards to the back of the park.  This is one of the my common strategies when visiting theme parks - start from the back and work your way forward.  Honestly, there was never a crowd to speak of all night (I think the threat of rain was holding some people off), but we definitely were one of only a few that headed to Exploration Island and were able to walk right on several rides.  Those that we did have to wait for were never more than a 5 minute wait.    You obviously won't find water rides open, but besides those and the larger roller coasters, Merlin's Mayhem and Kingdom Coaster, most everything else was open to ride.  We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time and worked up an appetite by the time we hit almost every ride and made our way back to the front of the park.  Want a quick way to see what the whole park has to offer?  Don't miss the Wonderland Special train ride or the Sky Ride - they are especially beautiful with the lights!

The lights were beautiful!
This was the perfect time to stop back into Merlin's Restaurant for a treat.  When we were here earlier visiting Santa, the cookie decorating station caught my eye and we decided to give that a try along with having cups of hot chocolate to warm up on the chilly November night.  Cookie decorating is $3.99 per person.  You get a very large cookie and then can head to the "buffet" of icing and sprinkles to create your own masterpiece.  My boys had a lot of fun making their cookies and even more fun eating them!  Fun bonus - you even get a cute apron to wear during the experience!

Once we were done, we ventured back outside to find the rain had started up.  We took a quick stroll through the park again to get a final look at the Christmas lights in all of their nighttime glory.  The Christmas light show with dancing lights to music was a lot of fun, but my favorite lights were found on the trees.  There is one tree with gorgeous blue lights and lighted icicles on it as well.  Don't forget to venture back to Exploration Island and walk through the dinosaurs at night too!

We spent 3 hours in the park before the rain really started to dampen the evening, but we pretty much got to see and do everything except the two stage shows that are offered.  This is a great way to celebrate the holidays and have a fun-filled family evening.  Remember, Dutch Wonderland is truly a Kingdom for Kids so most of the rides and attractions here have your youngest family members in mind.  At 4 years old, Caleb couldn't have been happier all night long! Ready to check it out? Season pass holders for Dutch Wonderland have access to Winter Wonderland included.  If you need to purchase tickets for this event, check out my blog reader discount here (Promo Code: DWWBlog19) to save $3 off of the gate price - only $12.99 per person!!  Enjoy and happy holidays!



Website - www.dutchwonderland.com

Twitter - http://twitter.com/funatdw

Instagram - www.instagram.com/dutchwonderland

Facebook - www.facebook.com/dutchwonderlandpa

My family received complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland's Winter Wonderland so we could share our fun adventures with you! As always, thoughts and opinions are my own!

Baltimore Running Festival - Things to Know Before You Go!

I just wrapped up my third Baltimore Running Festival and it was less than a great showing from a performance standpoint.  I went into the weekend undertrained and well aware of that fact so I ran some and walked liberally to my 2nd slowest half-marathon time yet.  But, I finished and still had an amazing time - that's what's important!! So instead of making this the typical race recap post, I'm going to shed a little insight to things you should know about the Baltimore Running Festival in case you decide to run in the future!

Registration - Registration is easy and on the relatively inexpensive side if you do it early enough.  This race is organized by Corrigan Sports Enterprise (CSE), which organizes several other races around Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic.  When you register for the Baltimore Running Festival, you'll also see this race connected with several other.  You can register for the Maryland Double or the King Crab Challenge as well if you're interested in competing in multiple races during the course of the year.  For the Baltimore Running Festival, you can find a race distance regardless of your ability - 5K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Team Relay, and even the BaltiMORON-a-thon (running both the 5K and Half in the same day).  Thinking about registering?  Keep your eyes open during the holiday season as previous years have seen race discounts as deep as 25% for a 24-hour period during the holiday shopping season!!

Premiums & Bling - Each year the Baltimore Running Festival provides top notch premiums from one of our favorite Baltimore companies, Under Armour.  Runners for the 5K and Team Relay each receive short sleeved tech shirts, while half and full marathon participants get long sleeved tech shirts.  And then, there are the medals!  In recent years, the Baltimore Running Festival has celebrated Maryland's unofficial state symbol, the crab, with their designs.  As the final leg in the Maryland Double and the King Crab Challenge, you'll hear lots of runners walking around with "clanging" medals after the race.

Getting Around - In each of my three Baltimore Running Festivals, I've had different transportation experiences on race day.  My first year, I ran the 5K and was on the road into the city in the early morning hours.  Traffic was backed up and it took a while to get into the city, but there was ample parking at M&T Bank Stadium that was free.  Getting in and out of the city isn't super easy on race day with road closures though so plan with ample time on both sides of the race.  The second time I ran, my husband and I got a hotel room at the Hilton the night before.  This was the year I ran the BaltiMORON-a-thon and was a fabulous option.  We could sleep in a bit on Saturday morning, walk right out of our hotel just a few steps to the 5K start and had a warm place to hang out and relax between the 5K and the half.  This year, I was only doing the half and opted to take the Metro into the city.  This was a super easy and effective option.  If you know me at all, you know I despise city driving so I couldn't have been happier to park in Owings Mills and take the subway in from there.  This may not be a good choice for 5K or full marathon runners though depending on how early you need to get into the city and when the Metro begins it's service that morning - be sure to check the schedule!

The Course - Is it just me or does Baltimore get more hills every time I run there???  You will certainly find your fair share of hills throughout the course.  The fist half of the course trends uphill so be sure to train for them.  On the plus side, what goes up must come down, so the the back half of the course trends down hill.  One of the prettiest parts of the course is the run around Lake Montibello.  This is such a serene half-way mark on the course and features the best aid station - energy gels!  Well, maybe that's the second best aid station.  Who can forget about the munchkin mile presented by Dunkin' Donuts?!?  I usually pass on donuts during the race, but decided to stop and smell the sugar this year with any time goals being nonexistent anyway.

The Best of Baltimore - This may be my favorite part of this race.  Baltimore doesn't always get the best press, but this event brings out the best in the city!  First of all, the support from the police department and other first responders is top notch.  There were countless cops who not only worked to block intersections throughout the city to keep runners safe, but they also joined in on the cheering and the fun.  Neighborhoods came together to throw some of the absolute best block parties - from music screaming from speakers, to costumed dancers, to children giving high fives, and endless cheers and applause, it was certainly a sight to be seen and helped motivate everyone regardless of how fast you were running.

Despite the tough terrain, Baltimore is one of my favorite running events - for all of these reasons and much more!  I hope to see you in Charm City sometime soon!!

Ticket Giveaway - The New One

I'm excited to share yet another fabulous giveaway, this time for 2 opening night tickets on September 25th at 7:30 to see The New One at the National Theater in Washington, DC!  This show is direct from Broadway and is getting rave reviews as a wonderfully entertaining and comedic night out.  Find out more about the show here:



He’s made you laugh in Sleepwalk With Me (it was a play presented by Nathan Lane, then a movie, THEN a book), My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend and “Thank God for Jokes.” (He was also really funny in that one season of “Orange is the New Black.” And in “Billions.” And “Broad City.”) Now he’s direct from Broadway, telling a new story in a new way with the same heart and humor we’ve come to expect. Lin-Manuel Miranda called THE NEW ONE “as perfect a night as you’re gonna get.” Do not miss THE NEW ONE. Some people say it’s his best one. (It was John Mulaney. Also Vogue.) Run time: Approximately 1 hour, 20 minutes, no intermission. Recommended for ages 13 and up. Children under the age of four are not permitted to attend the show.

Sounds fun, right?  So how do you win tickets??  It's simple!  This giveaway is exclusively through my Facebook Page, www.facebook.com/runonpixiedust.  You get one entry each for:
  • Liking the post about this giveaway
  • Commenting on the post about this giveaway
  • Each friend you tag in a comment on this Facebook post
  • Sharing this post!
In order to be eligible to win, you must "Like" my Facebook page as well.  The entry period will be open Wednesday, 9/18 until 10PM on Thursday, 9/19.  I'll go LIVE Friday evening on Facebook to draw a winner.  Good luck and I look forward to seeing what lucky follower gets to have an amazing night out! 

Thanks to Allied Global Marketing for the opportunity to host this giveaway!

All Aboard for FUN at Strasburg Railroad

"All aboard!" Can't you just hear the train whistle?!?  When you travel to Ronks, Pennsylvania in tranquil Lancaster County, you won't have to use your imagination because trains are all the rage in this small town.  Ronks is home to the Strasburg Railroad, America's oldest railroad still operating under it's original charter - dating all the way back to 1832!  Still an active rail yard, Strasburg is a popular destination for families throughout the Mid-Atlantic to learn a little bit about trains while having a whole lot of fun!

My family and I were provided complimentary tickets for the train ride and fun extras pass to share with you all the fun at Strasburg Railroad! 

The main attraction at the Strasburg Railroad is a 45-minute roundtrip train ride through the farmlands of Lancaster County.  Guests can select from a variety of options including coach, dining, and luxury choices to travel the rails.  Tickets are purchased at the station and passengers board the train from their assigned platforms.

Train Tip: Seats on the train can be flipped so that you can always be riding "forward" if you are someone who doesn't handle riding backwards well.  This is especially helpful on busy days so you don't have to worry about changing seats!

During the ride, guests will learn a bit about the history of the railroad and the Amish farm community that surrounds the area.  If you chose to purchase tickets on the dining car, you can enjoy a meal during your ride.  More into packing your own food?  Not a problem at all! The train actually stops at a picnic destination where guests can hop off and enjoy a picnic lunch and play time on some playground equipment.  When you're ready to return back to the station, your family can just pick up the next train.  My boys loved riding the rails and especially loved the ghost story that was shared when we passed a certain spot on the ride. . .don't worry, it's not too scary!! There are also themed train rides and special events throughout the year including a Day Out with Thomas, holiday train rides, and much, much more!  To learn more, visit Strasburg's Events page of their website here.

History of the Strasburg Railroad
Train Tip: Purchasing your tickets ahead is a great timesaver for a visit any day of the year, but is very important for those busy special event trains!

But the fun at Strasburg Railroad isn't limited to the train ride itself!  Guests can purchase a "fun extras" pass which gives access to three attractions in the yard.  First up is the Pint-Sized Pufferbelly.  This "junior" train ride takes you on a brief journey on a small train.  Next, you'll want to head on over to the Cranky Cars for a chance to power your own little engine around a small track.  This was the favorite of my boys as they worked hard to see just how fast they can go!  Finally, the fun extras pass includes a turn powering your own pump car.  My kids were too short to participate in this activity, but look forward to trying it in the future! These three attractions certainly add to the excitement of the day for little ones!

Don't miss fun events like the Day Out with Thomas!
Train Tip: There's a special play space that's a bit of a "hidden gem" if you have extra time before or after your train.  Check out the playground which features slides, swings, and it's own train to climb and play on!  It's tucked back behind the bathrooms and the pump car - don't miss it!

While you're waiting for your train and enjoying the fun extras, there are also gift shops and a small diner option.  The restaurant is small on the inside, but also includes outdoor seating.  Here, you'll find some classics like hot dogs, chicken tenders, and grilled cheese along with smoothies and ice cream to cool off on a hot day!  Train enthusiasts young and old can also find plenty of toys and model trains to purchase as well in the gift shop.  During your visit, you can also purchase a picture from the train ride with your family or pose for an "old time" photo before or after your ride in a studio.

All in all, we spent about 3 hours at Strasburg Railroad and had plenty of time to see and enjoy everything.  Special events, like the Day Out with Thomas, can bring larger crowds and may impact the amount of time it takes to be able to do it all at the tracks.  We have loved visiting the Strasburg Railroad for several generations now in our family and look forward to continuing to make memories there for years to come!  



Top Tips to Beat the Mid-Atlantic Heat AND a New Giveaway!

Summer has certainly set in throughout the Mid-Atlantic and temperatures are rising fast!  No need to fear though, your Mid-Atlantic Moms team is here with our favorite ways to beat the heat this summer.  Keep reading through our tips too, because we have an AWESOME family giveaway opportunity to share with you as well!
Learn more about Duke's Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland!

From Mid-Atlantic Mom Rachel (@prettyinbabyfood)While I am not really a hot weather kind of individual it seems like where I live it keeps getting hotter every summer. Haha! Usually we cool off in our own pool, but this year that wasn’t an option. Before school let out we would get out of the heat by going to the local library, but with school out for the summer the Library has been pretty busy. Haha! So, we have been trying to go to some water parks. Like Mid-Atlantic mom Kristi, we love to go to Duke's Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland, and to keep cool while walking around the park in the heat we LOVE to pack our rechargeable stroller fan and cooling towels. These two items have been a lifesaver on many occasions. They are great for any indoor/outdoor occasion where it will be hot. Our stroller fan can rotate to cool whoever is in the stroller, or the person pushing the stroller. The cooling towels can be used for hours once wet. Above all when out and about in the heat stay hydrated. Lots of water!


From Mid-Atlantic Mom Kristen (@genymama) - My favorite ways to beat the heat? I like taking my girls to the local pool club/splash pad, beach or water park! I also enjoy cool treats like ice cream or frozen yogurt while strolling on the boardwalk, (and an iced adult-beverage when we’re at a BBQ!) On super hot days nothing beats the cool, air conditioned rooms of a children’s museum! Loads of energy can be burned without anyone getting sunburned!


From Mid-Atlantic Mom Kristi (@dsnyrunrgrl) - Our family has become huge fans of beating the heat at water parks.  At 4 and 7, both of my boys love splashing, swimming, and sliding their ways to summer fun.  Many theme parks now have water parks as part of their attractions. It means one extra bag to pack of swimming clothes, but those water play areas can be really refreshing on a summer day!  One of our favorite spots at a theme park is Duke’s Lagoon at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA. All of the attractions are perfectly sized for little ones to enjoy so no worries about bringing floaties or dangerous water depths for parents!  If it’s too hot to even go outside, a stay at an indoor water park resort like Great Wolf Lodge might be just the ticket! If you’re looking for us, we’ll be racing down the water slides!

Click here to learn more about Port Discovery!

And speaking of keeping cool, indoor activities are another great option to beat the heat - like Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore! Which brings me to our giveaway I mentioned earlier! I am so excited to share that we have a family 4-pack of tickets to Port Discovery Children's Museum that will be going to one lucky winner!!! Wanna win??? It's super easy!

  • Like the video and comment "I want to go to Port Discovery!"
  • You can even earn a bonus entry for each person you tag in the comments.
  • Giveaway entry period opens July 4th and closes at 9PM on Sunday, July 7th
  • Winner will be announced after the entry period closes!
So don't wait! Head over to Instagram and follow these simple directions. Don't forget, Port Discovery just opened some brand new exhibits in June so it's a perfect time to go and visit this great destination to enjoy a fun day with your kids! Good luck and stay cool this summer!

New Exhibits Setting Sail at Port Discovery

Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore's Inner Harbor has been delighting families for years with entertaining exhibits that foster creativity and learning.  Whether you are visiting for the day, taking a field trip, or planning a birthday party, there is a lot to see and enjoy at this Charm City destination.  It has long been a favorite of our boys and I was delighted to join the fun opening weekend of two new exhibits that have provided a dramatic facelift to the museum.

My family and I received complimentary admission into the museum to share the excitement of these new exhibits!  As always, opinions are honest and my own.

What's New - The two big updates to Port Discovery are Sky Climber and The Port.  You can't miss either exhibit as you enter the museum on the first floor.  Past visitors of the children's museum will remember the large KidWorks climbing and sliding structure that spanned all three floors.  While my oldest always loved playing in KidWorks, it made this mom a little nervous as it was hard to keep track of little ones in the maze of cargo nets, slides, and tunnels.  Parents will be happy to hear that Sky Climber is much easier to keep an eye on little explorers as there is one way up on each side and then everyone comes down the slide.  Kids will be happy to hear that this is a challenging and fun climb that goes up four stories before taking the super fast twisty slide all the way back down to the first floor.  Grown-ups can join the fun too in this exhibit - although I will warn from personal experience that there are some tight squeezes, especially earlier on, and the climb may leave you feeling every bit of your age!  Guests may only wear socks on Sky Climber so come prepared!  They also have socks you can use at the base of Sky Climber, but even though they have a spot for clean and dirty socks, I still have a weird thing about sharing socks with someone else.

Learning about navigating a ship!

The other new exhibit is The Port which is again a multi-level experience for children.  Little minds can learn about the various operations that take place in a busy port - just like Baltimore!  Here they load and unload cargo, navigate a ship, and go through port security. . .and that's just the start.  The boys loved loading cargo and watching it climb up the lift.  On the lower level of the exhibit, young guests can explore the engine room.  There were several Port Discovery staff members around this exhibit to help guests navigate the new area and make sure kids were able to see and enjoy all there was to offer.

Old Favorites - If you've been to Port Discovery before, you'll be happy to know that many of your favorite exhibits are back and feature some fresh updates.  Our boys have always enjoyed Tiny's Diner where they can cook food and serve it to us in a restaurant.  The jukebox is working and the kitchen has received some new items.  The Adventure Expeditions exhibit has also gone through a quick makeover - not changing the contents of the exhibit, but getting everything working again.  The other favorite place for the kids to play was in the Water Works area where they could have fun, practice some engineering, and, of course, get a little wet!  My kids have outgrown the Tot Trails area which is designed specifically for children 3 and under, but this used to be a regular hangout for Caleb and I while Brody and Dan would be off playing elsewhere.  This large room features several sensory friendly environment for children and recently was updated with a private nursing areas for mothers.  I think one of my favorite things about visiting Port Discovery is that each time we go, the kids find new things to enjoy!

Will these objects sink or float? Let's make a hypothesis!
Thinking About Visiting? - Here's what you should know!
  • Admission is $17.95 for guests 1 and over.  I know parents with young children might be used to children under 3 getting into places for free, but believe me when I tell you that your littlest family members will have just as much fun here as older explorers.  
  • Parking is available throughout downtown Baltimore, but I recommend parking at the Harbor Park garage which is located right next to Port Discovery.  You can also have your parking validated for a reduced rate inside the museum so bring your parking ticket!
  • There is no dining option inside the museum, but there is a designated area to eat snacks or food that you bring with you and vending machines are located onsite.  Within a block radius of the museum there are ample restaurant choices from sit down locales to quick service options.  We like visiting Blaze Pizza and then grabbing an ice cream from Lucky's located in the old Power Plant on Baltimore's Inner Harbor, right next to Phillip's Seafood.
  • Lockers are available at Port Discovery and are FREE to use - parents with diaper bags rejoice!  You can set a combination to lock your bags up for the day and enter / lock as much as you need throughout the day.  I will say the code locks were a bit fickle, but after a few attempts we were able to get them working just fine.  
  • Port Discovery takes family safety very seriously.  When you enter, your entire family will receive wristbands with a unique code for each member.  Upon leaving the museum, staff will check wristbands at the exit to make sure that no kid is leaving with an adult they didn't come with - love this!
  • I would plan on your visit taking at least two hours.  Anything less than that and I think you'll be missing out on some exhibits your family may really enjoy.  I would say at a maximum you're looking at 4 hours roughly here.  Beyond that, I believe your children would be running out of steam despite the many rooms to explore.  The more that your family wants to participate in story times, music classes, and such, the longer you'll want to plan for your visit.


I hope that you enjoy planning a visit to Port Discovery Children's Museum with your family!  It's a perfect destination for early elementary and younger to play, learn, and explore for hours of fun.  For more information on planning your visit, be sure to visit www.portdiscovery.org.    I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!  

Giveaway from the New Mid-Atlantic Moms On-The-Go

So last week, I did a thing with some pretty awesome ladies.  I joined forces with Kristen and Rachel to start a new community, Mid-Atlantic Moms On-The-Go.  We hope to create a space to share #momlife, one adventure at a time.  There will be some travel tips, info on family friendly destinations in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond, product reviews, entertainment news, giveaways, and much, much more!  Speaking of giveaways, keep reading until the end for info on how to enter our first giveaway opportunity!!

So let's meet the Mid-Atlantic Moms!

Mid-Atlantic Mom Rachel
Meet Rachel Hi! My name is Rachel. I blog over at Pretty in Baby Food. I started blogging when my first child was born. I had recently become a stay at home parent and found the experience to be slightly lonely. Blogging was a way for me to get my feelings and experiences down on “paper”. Through the years my blog has changed and evolved with me, and my family. (We added baby number 2 to our family in early 2018, and I switched over to being a work from home parent for a small Architectural Business.) While I still write about parenting/mom life I also now write about other topics I feel passionate about such as Travel, Disney, and Entertainment. (With giveaways and twitter parties mixed in. Haha!)  I can truly say blogging has enriched my life. It has introduced me to so many different people across the world I would not have normally met. As well as opportunities for myself, and my family, I didn’t even know where out there. A prime example of both is meeting Kristi and Kristen, and forming Mid-Atlantic Mom’s On-the-Go. I am hoping, through our group, you will also be able to find a tribe/community as I have in these ladies. Welcome! 
Mid-Atlantic Mom Kristen

Meet Kristen - My name is Kristen and I’m Gen-Y Mama, the mama behind the blog “Did I Take a Shower Today?”. I started blogging a few months after my toddler was born, I was struggling with being out of the workforce and looking for something to keep my mind sharp. I formally held a position as a Marketing Coordinator where I wrote and organized the company blog. Now I am stay at home mom to two girls and blogging has allowed me to connect with parents across the country! Topics I cover include travel, reviews, crafts and simple (and I mean really simple) recipes. I am excited for this new venture with Kristi and Rachel and look forward to connecting with even more people through Mid-Atlantic Moms On-The-Go!

Mid-Atlantic Mom Kristi

And, then there's me! - I’m Kristi and you can find me sprinkling a bit of family magic over at Running on Pixie Dust! I started writing several years ago when my blog began as A Disney Loving Mom.  I began my blogging adventures out of a pure love of Disney and as a place to share reviews and travel tips to my favorite destination with people visiting the most magical place on Earth!  As time passed, I found my posts expanding beyond just Disney to include family fun, travel destinations, and entertainment which prompted the re-branding. I work as a middle school administrator as my full-time job and live in Maryland with my husband and two boys, ages 7 and 4.  We are truly a family “on-the-go” as we’re frequently taking off to explore new places and to create new memories at some of our favorites. I have truly discovered a network of passionate, intelligent, and hardworking individuals through my years blogging and look forward to building a community of Mid-Atlanitc Moms On-The-Go with Rachel and Kristen, as well as each of you!


Remember at the beginning of the post we mentioned giveaways?!? Well, we don't want to disappoint so we're getting started right out of the gate with our first one! As parents we know a cup of coffee in the morning is a must. Enter to win a copy of The New Rules of Coffee Book by the Founders of Sprudge, two coffee themed magnets from Birch Coffee, and a 12oz bag of Stan Lee signature blend from Onyx Coffee Lab.  Simply click here to start the entry process.


Mid-Atlantic Mom's Coffee Giveaway 

In the meantime, here are all of the social media platforms where you can find our new community.  Stop by, spend some time, introduce yourself, and don't forget to give us a like and a follow! 



5 Tips to Have a Dutch Wonder-ful Day!

Since Dutch Wonderland opened it's gates in 1963, they have been known to delight families visiting Lancaster County.  While many new rides have been added and the park has undergone numerous expansions, the family fun atmosphere has only grown too.  I remember visiting Dutch Wonderland as a child myself and enjoy being able to bring my kids there to make new memories with them.  There's a lot to love about this Kingdom for Kids and I have a few tips to make to your day truly Dutch Wonder-ful!

As a Royal Ambassador, my family and I received complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland in exchange for sharing our experiences with you.  As always, thoughts and opinions are true to our experiences!

Arrive at Park Opening - We pulled into the parking lot at 9:40 for a 10:00 opening.  By the time the park officially opened we had cleared security, entered the gates, and my family was in in line for our first ride - the Wonderland Special - a train ride around the park.  Coming early to Dutch Wonderland offers a few great perks.  First, we were there to open the park with a special announcement from Princess Brooke as we joined her countdown to begin the day.  Second, we beat the crowds to some of the most popular rides.  While lines weren't a big issue throughout the day, we certainly experienced faster lines and lower crowds within the first 2 hours.  For example, we rode Merlin's Mayhem 3 times in a row - walking right back on each time!  And rode the Kingdom Coaster twice with the same experience.  Lastly, it allows you to beat the heat.  We took a park strategy of riding rides until about 1, then breaking for lunch and a visit to Duke's Lagoon in the heat of the day.  We left Duke's Lagoon around 3:30 and went back to the rides for a few hours before departing.  As the summer weather only gets warmer, this will certainly make your day more enjoyable.

Take Time to Visit Duke's Lagoon - While this wasn't my visit to Dutch Wonderland, this was my first visit to Duke's Lagoon and all I have to say is WOW!  Dutch Wonderland took their concept of creating a Kingdom for Kids and expanded it beautifully to this water play area.  Without an actual pool, Duke's Lagoon is a really a giant splash pad with play features, water slides, geysers, fountains, and, yes, dumping buckets.  The beauty of this play area is that it is entirely safe for little ones!  The concrete becomes a soft pad where the water features are located so little feet don't get burned.  And here's the great part grown-ups - you can totally decide whether or not you want to get wet.  I spent about the first hour in my street clothes and was totally able to keep track of my 4 year old and 7 year old and their friend without getting anything wet but my feet.  Now, because I'm a big kid at heart, I couldn't sit on the sidelines long and I joined in the fun in my bathing suit as well.  We took our 7 year old on Pipleline Plunge as well, which is a large water slide.  Even on this though you don't get soaked.  The water slide is in a raft and you don't end in a large pool, but rather in a chute with just a little water when you come out - again making this not scary and totally safe for little riders - despite the fact that it is a SERIOUS slide from the size perspective.  There are lockers and changing areas in Duke's Lagoon.  It's important to note that lockers are cash only - no cards accepted - especially because I'm usually a cashless person.  My husband actually commented too on how much he appreciated the changing rooms having individual changing stalls for an element of privacy instead of a "locker room" feel.  You can find lunch and snacks over here too.  We easily could have spent way more time than the 2 1/2 hours we already did at Duke's Lagoon and my littlest said it was his favorite part of the whole day!

Don't Miss the Shows - While it's easy to get caught up in so many other fun things around the park, you definitely want to make time to enjoy some of the shows during your day at Dutch Wonderland.  From comedy, to dance, to a little bit of magic - there's a lot to see.  Each show is timed perfectly for little attention spans too with typical run times of 15 minutes or so.  Our favorite show of the day was at the Aqua Theater where they had a diving story presentation.  Yeah - you  read the right.  We heard The Adventures of the Frog Prince, but instead of it just being acted out, it was presented complete with entertaining (and funny!) diving frogs.  The kids and adults both LOVED it and we laughed the entire time.  Be warned though that those red "splash zone" rows are serious splash zones.  If the divers don't get you with their dives, they will come over and give you a few splashes just for fun!  Shows also offer the perfect opportunity to rest your feet during a busy day and most feature some shade from the summer sun.  This is also a perfect time to reapply that sunscreen right before the show begins and let it soak in good during the show before going back out to the heat!  A few of the show locations also offer character meets throughout the day.  We met up with Merlin and Duke the Dragon at one of the stages.  But these locations aren't your only chance to meet characters as they roam throughout the park and are happy to stop for a quick conversation and a photo opportunity! 

Bring Your Appetite - Like most theme parks, there are a lot of great food options here.  While many of the restaurants feature your theme park standard chicken tenders, burgers, corn dogs, french fries, etc., you can also find locations featuring healthier choices like at Bean Sprouts located in the Mill Stream Eatery.  There are also several familiar favorites around the park.  Our boys are addicted to Auntie Anne's pretzels and were delighted to see not one, but two, different locations to get their favorite snack in the park.  We also found a Rita's for a familiar cool, sweet treat later on in the day.  Dutch Wonderland also offers a character breakfast on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer from 9:00AM - 10:00AM.  At only $15.99 per person this is an affordable option to get your day started right!  There's also refillable drink cup options in both adult and toddler size to save you money on drinks throughout the day and season pass holders may be interested in looking at an All Season Dining Pass which offers 2 combo meals each day they are in the park.  

Enjoy Being a Kid Again - Everything at this park is geared with little ones in mind.  I would say Dutch Wonderland is the perfect theme park for elementary school and younger.  My 7 year old was big enough to do any ride he wanted to and my 4 year old was big enough for most rides throughout the park.  This isn't the park to take thrill seeking teenagers as Kingdom Coaster and Merlin's Mayhem are probably the only two rides that would excite them, but those two coasters are perfect introductions into the "adult" roller coaster world that upper elementary school kids will be wanting to start to explore.  Whether it's driving a car, walking a dinosaur trail, laughing on the frog hopper, or getting a little wet on the log flume, the rides are designed to have fun as a family - something really important to us and to many of you!  We visited on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and lines were very manageable throughout the day with our longest waits being about 30 minutes and most wait times being between 5-10 minutes.  With wait times like those, it's easy to let kids enjoy their favorites over and over again.  I sometimes feel very rushed at theme parks trying to get from ride to ride and keeping an itinerary, where here we were able to slow down, let the kids take the lead, and really had an enjoyable time meandering through the park to experience it all.  

So are you ready to have a Dutch Wonder-ful day with your family?  I have a great deal exclusive to blog readers to save money for your whole family to enjoy making memories together.  Don't forget to use promo code summerblog19 to get the best deal. As you're capturing your fun that day, don't forget to share on social media with #DutchWonderland so everyone can see the royally good time you are having!  For the latest information, park hours, and magical details, check out Dutch Wonderland's website and social media channels.  




Frederick Running Festival 2019 Half Marathon

The sun did not shine
It was too wet to play
So we ran through Frederick
On that wet, wet, wet day

Okay. . .so maybe that's not exactly how Dr. Seuss wrote it, but that's my adaptation to intro you into a recap of the 2019 Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon.  I had never run a race before that rained (and rained hard!) most of the race, so this was definitely a first.  Let's recap - the good, the bad, and the wet!

This was my third time participating in the Frederick Running Festival. In 2014, I ran the Twilight 5K and in 2016 I completed the Nut Job Challenge by running the Twilight 5K on Saturday night and the half marathon on Sunday morning.  I've always enjoyed this race weekend for several reasons - number one probably being the company I get to keep when running!  Several of my friends participate in this race each year so it truly is a fun filled event.  In fact, one of the couples we are closest with lives in Frederick and play host to a pasta dinner on Saturday night and open their house to runners to sleep at the night before the half.  I also really enjoy the course in Frederick, or at least the first 10 miles of it.

Miles 1 through 10 of the race are ran primarily through the streets of downtown Frederick.  Whether you're running through the shopping and dining district or winding through neighborhoods, the course always brings out a good number of fans and the time in town passes quickly.  The last few miles of the course though are brutal.  The course opens up to basically be wide open road.  With all visual interest lost and a pretty terrible uphill climb through mile 11, it's easy to quickly fade out, especially in the rain.

So let's talk about the rain for a minute.  We knew a few days out that weather forecasts were predicting a soggy half marathon, but forecasts only increased rain totals as the hours drew closer.  Having never run a race in this type of steady and consistent rain before, I was seeking advice from my more experienced friends.  Armed with anti-chafe cream, a hat, and my poncho I took to the starting area ready to get this race started and finished.  Maybe the rain would motivate me to run faster?  About 5 minutes before the race started, the skies opened up big time.  As I'm standing at the starting line, I'm watching rain pour from gutters of the surrounding buildings and realize I'm already accumulating puddles of water in my already soaked shoes.  It was at this time I started to think that I had made a tremendous mistake.  Luckily, the rain eased up as the race began and by a mile into the race, it was a steady, but slow rain.  It picked up again around mile 6 and I was again trudging through a downpour for about 2 miles.  The highlight of that stretch was one of the volunteers standing outside cheering us on with the song "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" blaring from his car!

After mile 8, the rain again slowed to a more manageable amount, but by this point I was thoroughly soaked and tired and I slowed considerably for the final miles of the race.  I was ahead of pace for where I wanted to be until then, running on average around 11:30 miles, but slowed to over 12:00 miles and then eventually closed in on the 13:00 mile pace.  I think I really need to build in some speed work before my next half because when I tried to "kick it in" at the end, I had nothing - no next gear whatsoever.  Despite this collapse at the end and the conditions, I actually set a new PR by 11 minutes, besting my previous time of 2:53 with a finish of 2:42.


Overall, I would say the day was a success.  With a new PR firmly in hand and proving to myself that I can conquer the weather, I was pretty pleased.  However, I think my favorite part of race day was the hot shower that was waiting for me at the end followed by the big greasy cheeseburger from McDonald's - and the bling! And a great perk post race is that Care First provides runners with FREE, yes FREE, race photos!   Missed the Frederick Half Marathon, but still looking for more great races in Maryland.  Corrigan Sports, the group that hosts the Frederick Half Marathon, also has both the Baltimore 10 Miler and the Baltimore Running Festival coming up in the weeks and months ahead.  If you're interested in learning more about the Baltimore Running Festival, check out my referral link here!

Royally Excited about Dutch Wonderland!

I'm excited to share with you that I've been selected as a Royal Ambassador for Dutch Wonderland this summer!  What does that mean? Well, Dutch Wonderland will be hosting my family for a day of fun and entertainment so I can share all the excitement with you!  I also get to pass on extra savings to my readers and followers so that you too can enjoy all that Dutch Wonderland has to offer this summer.  Dutch Wonderland opens for weekends starting April 27th and will open 7 days a week starting Memorial Day.  Before the summer season kicks into full swing, let's take a quick look at the basics about this "Kingdom for Kids!"

Dutch Wonderland is located in Lancaster, PA - just about 90 minutes from our house in Maryland.  Generations of families have now been enjoying the rides and entertainment at this family amusement park since 1963. In fact, I remember visiting as a kid and now love that I'm getting to create new memories with my own children.  Like many other amusement parks these days, Dutch Wonderland has expanded beyond just rides and shows to bring guests a water play area - Duke's Lagoon which opened in 2003 and has continued to grow over the years.  This continued expansion without losing sight of the core of being a "A Kingdom for Kids" is part of the reason Dutch Wonderland has been voted "One of the Top Five Best Kids' Parks in the World" by Amusement Today in 2008 and 2009.

Caleb and I visited Dutch Wonderland as guests of the park in October for a day of Happy Hauntings and you can relive our experience here!  We loved the fact that all of the rides were perfectly sized for him to enjoy and the entertainment was fun throughout the park. With 35 rides on 43 acres, I'm sure the whole family will enjoy our time there this summer!

If you are planning to visit Dutch Wonderland, check out a great deal for my readers and followers by visiting http://www.dutchwonderland.com/blogreader and use code "summerblog19" for exclusive savings. I can't wait to share my experience at Dutch Wonderland with you and follow your adventures as well! In the meantime, enjoy this look at our Happy Hauntings video from our October visit to give you a taste of the fun that awaits this summer!



As a Royal Ambassador, my family and I will receive complimentary admission to Dutch Wonderland for a day during the 2019 Summer Season in exchange for my reviews and posts. Reviews and posts are always honest and my own!

Hersheypark with Kids - Make the Most of Your Day

Imagine a world where rides, characters, and everyone's favorite - chocolate! - come together in an amazing park. Lucky for us, this gem is just up the road in Hershey, PA.  Hersheypark is home to a wide array of rides for both kids and adults to enjoy as well as restaurants, Zoo America, Chocolate World, and much, much more.  With so much to see and do, you want to have a game plan that's just right for your family.  We all know that traveling with young kids can sometimes be challenging, but here are all the tips you need to make the most of your day at Hersheypark!

One of the things to keep in mind when preparing for your day at Hersheypark is the presence of The Boardwalk area.  Hersheypark is home to an amazing water area featuring kiddie pools, wave pools, a lazy river, water slides, and even a water roller coaster.  I recommend heading up in the morning wearing your bathing suits underneath of shorts and a t-shirt and packing a dry clothes gallon-sized baggie for each family member.  When you are done in the water area, you can put the shorts and shirts back on and your dry undergarments from the baggie then use the baggie to place your wet bathing suits in so the rest of you contents don't get soaked.  You'll want to be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen to in order to reapply throughout the day - there's not much shade around the park.

We are lucky enough to head up to Hershey several times throughout the year, but if you are only in town for the day, you'll want to plan accordingly to see as much as possible.  I recommend starting at The Boardwalk.  While the family is heading that way and getting situated, this park opening time is a great opportunity for a grown-up or two to catch a roller coaster before the lines get long.  The Boardwalk becomes incredibly popular in the heat of the afternoon and can boast long lines for the slides so hitting it earlier in the day, may be your best bet.  Grab a locker by Tidal Force - a water ride just outside of The Boardwalk.  You can drop off your dry clothes there and walk around in your bathing suit as you enter the water area.  Afterwards, there are locker rooms out by those lockers that are often less crowded than the ones inside of the The Boardwalk area.

Once you are in your dry clothes, head to the back of the park and check out Midway America.  Family friendly attractions here include a number of kiddie rides as well as a large Ferris Wheel that give awesome views of the park.  You can also find several coasters for adults to enjoy including, my favorite wooden coaster Lightning Racer.  From here, head back to Pioneer Frontier where there is another group of kiddie rides and you won't want to miss the Dry Gulch Railroad as a fun trip around the park the whole family will certainly enjoy.  Continue further towards the back of the park and grab lunch at The Overlook where you can pick from a variety of food choices all under one roof before heading up for a ride on the Kissing Tower and taking a spin around the Twin Turnpike.

Now is a great time to take a break from the park and visit ZooAmerica - free with your ticket to Hersheypark! This can be done in as little as 45 minutes or take as long as you want to see all types of animals.  There are some indoor buildings here and the zoo offers a little more shade than the park for the mid-afternoon heat of summer.  When you re-enter the park, head down to the Hollow where two kid-friendly rollercoasters can be found - The Comet and SooperDooperLooper.  Fun fact - SooperDooperLooper was the first roller coaster I ever went upside down on when I was a kid!  Don't let the name scare you - it's really only one loop and is a perfect starter coaster!  Lastly, you'll want to head to Founder's Way where kiddie rides abound!  This is a great place to end your day with so many rides for kids to choose from.  And since most people stop here on the way into the park, lines are often shorter in the evening.



We always like to end our day by having dinner and dessert at Chocolate World.  Chocolate World is free for anyone to visit and features a food court with actual meals as well as chocolate decadence that will make your dreams come true!  There is also a free ride that shows how Hershey's chocolate is made.  If you have some extra time, there are additional experiences at Chocolate Word that carry an extra fee - make your own chocolate bar, a 4D movie, and a chocolate tasting experience.  What a sweet end to the day!

Hershey, PA is home to so much family fun that you can easily spend several days enjoying all there is to offer - and we haven't even talked about Hershey Gardens, The Hershey Story Museum, and the downtown area.  What's your favorite way to spend a day in Hershey?

Finding Neverland - Family Ticket Giveaway!

Faith, trust, and pixie dust! That's all you need to carry you to Neverland - that and these giveaway details.  I'm excited to once again be partnering with National Theatre in Washington, D.C. to give away a family four-pack of tickets to opening night of Finding Neverland on Tuesday, February 26th at 7:30PM. Whether you are 7 or 70, there is so much to enjoy in this story.

Directed by visionary Tony®-winner Diane Paulus and based on the critically-acclaimed Academy Award® winning film, FINDING NEVERLAND tells the incredible story behind one of the world’s most beloved characters: Peter Pan. Playwright J.M. Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets four young brothers and their beautiful widowed mother. Spellbound by the boys’ enchanting make-believe adventures, he sets out to write a play that will astound London theatergoers. With a little pixie dust and a lot of faith, Barrie takes a monumental leap, leaving his old world behind for Neverland, where nothing is impossible and the wonder of childhood lasts forever. The magic of Barrie’s classic tale springs spectacularly to life in this heartwarming theatrical event.

Run time: Approximately 2 hours and 25 minutes, including one intermission. Recommended for age 7 and up.

So how do you enter to win tickets for your family?  It's easy and you can earn entries in many different ways.  You'll earn one entry for each follow/share/comment that you complete below:
Simply comment "done" on the Facebook post and let me know which steps you completed.  Once verified, I'll give you your entries!  All entries need to be completed by noon on Monday, February 18th.  I'll draw a winner LIVE that night on Facebook!  



I can't wait to find out who wins this amazing giveaway - then it's "second star to the right and straight on till morning!"

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical Ticket Giveaway!!


I have some really exciting news to share with readers today!  Beautiful - The Carole King Musical is coming to The National Theatre in Washington, D.C. from November 27 through December 30 and I have two tickets to give away to a lucky reader for opening night!  That's right, one lucky winner will receive two tickets to the show on Tuesday, November 27 at 7:30 at The National Theatre.

Entering is easy - simply like, share, and comment on this article on Facebook and get one entry for each of those engagements.  The entry period will close on Sunday, November 18th at noon and a winner will be announced live on Facebook Sunday evening!  For all the details on this amazing show, keep reading below!




BEAUTIFUL – The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation.

Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs written by Gerry Goffin/Carole King and Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song, BEAUTIFUL has a book by Tony® Award-nominee and Academy® Award-nominated writer Douglas McGrath, direction by Marc Bruni, choreography by Josh Prince, and took home two 2014 Tony® Awards and a 2015 Grammy® Award.
The cast features Sarah Bockel (Carole King), Dylan S. Wallach (Gerry Goffin), Alison Whitehurst (Cynthia Weil), Jacob Heimer (Barry Mann), James Clow (Don Kirshner) and Suzanne Grodner (Genie Klein).

The ensemble includes McKynleigh Alden AbrahamBen BiggersJohn Michael DiasLeandra Ellis-GastonKaylee HarwoodWillie HillAlia HodgeJames Michael LambertMarla LouissaintDimitri Joseph MoïseAashley MorganDeon Releford-LeeNathan Andrew RileyPaul ScanlanDeAnne StewartMichael Stiggers, Jr.Alexis Tidwell, and Elise Vannerson.

Appropriate for the entire family, but very young children won’t be interested in the 1950s-era biography. The show is best for pop music lovers age 10 and up.

BEAUTIFUL
TUESDAY, NOV. 27 - SUNDAY, DEC. 30
The National Theatre

A Day of Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland

Halloween decor around the park!
When that crisp chill hits the air and pumpkin spice is suddenly everywhere, you know it's officially time to start the Halloween season!  If you're looking for a place to take the whole family for some festive fun, add a visit to Dutch Wonderland's Happy Hauntings to your to-do list.  Dutch Wonderland is known as "A Kingdom for Kids" and it has plenty to entertain preschool and elementary aged children.  I was excited to visit for the first time since my own childhood - now with kids of my own!

Welcome to Dutch Wonderland!
My youngest and I set out to explore Dutch Wonderland on the first day of the Happy Hauntings weekends.  Happy Hauntings is held select weekends in October on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Caleb was immediately impressed with the decor on the castle as we entered the park and continued to be thrilled throughout the day and evening by all of the entertaining decorations around the park.  We arrived around 1:45 for the 2:00 opening, which I would highly recommend.  Crowds seemed heaviest between 3:00 and 6:00.  By the time we were leaving close to 8:00, crowds were again minimal and Caleb could just about walk on to any ride he wanted.  Around the park, guests could enjoy rides, games, shows, character greetings, food, and trick-or-treating!

Riding his very first roller coaster!
There are so many rides that are perfectly designed with little riders in mind.  From airplanes to trucks, bulldozers to panda bears - Caleb wanted to ride some of his favorites over and over again!  There was also a chance for mom to join in on the ride fun too!  Caleb drove me around the speedway and we enjoyed riding together on boats, the monorail, and the train throughout the park.  If you're traveling with slightly older children that might be up for more of a thrill, there are 3 different roller coasters from the smallest for those just learning to ride up to Merlin's Mayhem which will certainly keep coaster enthusiasts happy! We never waited more than 10 minutes for a ride all day long - a great perk!

Selfie time with Duke the Dragon!
When you wanted to take a break from the rides, there were several shows and character greeting opportunities.  We saw a magic show by Merlin himself which was full of fun songs and cool tricks for kids.  The show was short as I'm sure it's designed with little attention spans in mind.  There were also several characters you could meet, and I couldn't pass up the chance to take a selfie with Duke the Dragon!  There were also several food locations open throughout the park including some familiar favorites like Dippin' Dots and Auntie Anne's pretzels.  We visited the Mill Stream Eatery for dinner as it's home to several food locations where guests can enjoy sandwiches, pizza, chicken tenders, hot dogs, fries, and much more!  I highly recommend the Pesto Change-o Chicken Sandwich which was a nice change of pace from the regular theme park food.

Trick-or-Treat Time!
And of course, what would a visit to a Halloween event be without trick-or-treating?  Here at Dutch Wonderland, Exploration Island is transformed into a trick-or-treat paradise where over 20 dinosaurs are dressed in their Halloween best to greet guests.  I recommend heading here early as the line got long pretty fast.  Kids were allowed a piece of candy at each station along the trail and adults received one ticket that they could trade in for one piece of candy.  It was actually very refreshing to leave a trick-or-treat without being overwhelmed by candy!  And the candy was some of the best - Hershey's!

Happy Halloween!!
We loved our mommy/son date day to Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland and hope you have a chance to check it out soon!  If you're planning on visiting, be sure to visit this link to get a special discount on your tickets - just $22.95 each for everyone 3 and older!  The promo code is "halloweenblog18".  I can't wait to hear about the Halloween adventures you enjoy with your family this year!

Our family received complimentary admission to Happy Hauntings at Dutch Wonderland so that we could share our thoughts with you! As always, my opinions are my own.