Category Archives: Road Trip 2013

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Summer Road Trip: Chattanooga Choo Choo

Luke is a huge fan of trains, so after we dried off from our Coolidge Park trip, we drove a short distance to the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel.

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You can actually spend the night in a train car at this hotel! Pretty fun, and definitely on the list for the next time we come to town.

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Luke loved pretending to drive the train. He could’ve spent the whole day there.

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There were also several little kiddie trains to ride for a quarter or two, and a big trolley to ride.

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After we had explored everything outside, we decided to visit the Model Railroad Museum. The cashier didn’t charge us for Scarlett, so it only cost $10 for all of us.

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The museum had a LONG model railroad set up that even had some interactive elements, like making the Incline Railroad climb the mountain and making miniature chickens move around on a farm.

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There was also a very interesting section about how everything was made. We all wished that part had been bigger.

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Before we left, we spent a little more time admiring the gardens and doing a little window shopping.

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I’m so glad we decided to seek out the choo choo in Chattanooga!

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Summer Road Trip: Coolidge Park in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Tom and I had both been interested in visiting Chattanooga for a while. The plan had originally been to visit Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway, and Rock City (visiting caverns was part of our Summer Fun List). By the time we got there, though, we were getting tired from all the travel and weren’t sure the kids would want to do all that walking. We didn’t want to waste $150 on tickets to find out everyone would rather be taking a nap instead of hiking through the mountains.

Plan B – a trip to Coolidge Park on the Tennessee River, followed by a visit to the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel – turned out to be great fun!

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Coolidge Park in Chattanooga

The first thing we did when we arrived at the park was take a ride on the restored antique carousel.

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It was absolutely beautiful and only cost $1 per person – a huge bargain compared to our local carousel.

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An extra bit of fun was that you could pick one of many different animals to ride. Scarlett had her heart set on a traditional golden horse. The rest of us rode more unusual creatures – Luke rode a fish, Tom rode a donkey, and I rode an elephant. 

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The kids never get tired of carousels. I just love to see their joy while the ride.

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When the ride was done, it was time to beat the heat in the splash fountain.
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The kids changed into their swim suits and had a blast running around and getting wet.

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It was especially fun when the animal statues around the edges shot water at them!

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It was a very entertaining place to spend the morning.

Next post, I’ll continue with tales of Chattanooga – this time with Choo Choos!

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Summer Road Trip: Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Tom and I are sort of collectors of different spots we see on vacation. We like to collect states we’ve visited (45!) and we like to collect sports stadiums. The kids hadn’t been to Alabama yet, and the University of Alabama campus was on our way from New Orleans to Chattanooga, so Tuscaloosa was good place to stop and stretch our legs for a bit.

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Scarlett was grumpy so we didn’t stay long. Just enough time to view Bryant-Denny stadium and play among the statues they have on the outside.

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Luke played peek-a-boo with Bear Bryant and got a giant hug from Nick Saban.

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It was a short stop but it was pretty neat.

After picking up dinner at Checkers on our way out of town, we were off to our final stop: Chattanooga!

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Summer Road Trip: Storyland in New Orleans

On our way out of New Orleans, we made a stop at Storyland, a fun storybook-themed play area.

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It was very hot and humid, as expected, but the park was shady and the kids adored the place. Plus it only cost $3 per person.

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It featured many of our favorite stories, and more!

Some highlights:

  • Captain Hook’s Ship

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  • Pinocchio’s Whale
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  • Cinderella’s Pumpkin Carriage
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  • Dragon Slide

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  • Firetruck 

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  • Rocket Ship
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We also played at a gingerbread house, Jack & Jill’s hill, the Three Little Pigs’ houses, and an Alice in Wonderland crooked house, as well as admired a mermaid in a fountain, a Rapunzel statues, and mother goose flying through the air.

The absolute favorite part of the visit, however, was Snow White.

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Asleep and under a spell outside of the dwarfs’ cottage, Snow White just had to be woken up!

Scarlett searched high and low at Storyland for a prince to kiss Snow White and wake her up.
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No help from a dwarf.

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Luke’s kiss was ineffective.

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Even Rapunzel couldn’t get the job done.

Scarlett was kind of distraught! She did NOT want to leave Snow White under the spell of the poison apple.

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We pretty much had to drag her out of there. Luckily, I had the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on my iPad so she could see that eventually, the prince would come to wake Snow White up. Phew! Now Scarlett says, “Snow White ate a poison apple, but she got through it.” Funny girl!

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We left through the clock, and were on our way to the last two stops on our trip: a pit stop in Alabama, then on to Chattanooga, Tennessee!

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Summer Road Trip: New Orleans, Louisiana

The kids had never been to Louisiana, so after Tom was done with his business trip, we headed to New Orleans.

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Jackson Square, New Orleans

Our plan was to go to Storyland before checking into our hotel, but we arrived late and it was already closed. We ended up getting a little energy out at the nearby playground at New Orleans City Park.

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Our alma mater had a football game that night, so we grabbed some dinner at Bayou Hot Wings (yum!) and spent the rest of the night watching TV in our hotel room and swimming in the hotel pool.

The next morning, it was time to see what New Orleans was all about.

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We walked to the French Quarter, which we figured would be more kid-friendly at 8 am than at night!

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We enjoyed breakfast at the famous Cafe Du Monde. Beignets and cafe au lait for everyone! (well, chocolate milk for the kids…)
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We had tried beignets earlier in the year during our Princess and the Frog week. Even though they were very good, the ones at Cafe du Mondewere a million times better. So delicious!

The whole breakfast was reasonably priced as well. We got three orders of beignets – 9 total – for under $9 and that turned out to be too many for the four of us. Made a nice road snack later, though!
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Cafe du Monde Menu

They also sold Cafe Du Monde paper hats for 15 cents – souvenir bargain! Luke was quite happy. 

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After breakfast, we walked around the French Quarter, which was pretty family friendly in the morning. We found a toy store, The Little Toy Shop, where Scarlett got a pretty mask for $5.

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We also saw a horse and carriage, a street car, and a banana tree! – how fun is that?

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We headed back to our hotel to check out and then go to Storyland when it was actually open.

My Storyland recap is coming in the next post!

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Summer Road Trip: Little Rock, Arkansas

Tom had job training for 2 days in Little Rock so that was the second stop on our road trip.

Last year, we visited the Little Rock Zoo and the Museum of Discovery. This year we were trying to spend a little less money so we hung out at the hotel pool, enjoyed breakfast for dinner at Cracker Barrel,  and took a drive over to Peabody Park.

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Playing checkers outside Cracker Barrel

Peabody Park, located in Riverfront Park in downtown Little Rock, is a great playground with a splash park right on the Mississippi River.

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The playground has several levels which is great for climbing and exploration.

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There are rocks, stairs, slides, tunnels, holes and a pretend river to follow. The kids thought it was amazing.

Next, we went to the splash pad. A good spray park is the kids’ favorite thing and they really enjoyed playing in the water until it got dark and the mosquitoes started biting us.

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This is a beautiful little area for kids in the great downtown section of Little Rock. Highly recommended!

Next stop on our summer road trip: New Orleans!

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Summer Road Trip: Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

For the first stop on our summer road trip, we picked Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Tom had to be in Little Rock, Arkansas on Monday night, so we left our Virginia home on Sunday and drove about halfway. Pigeon Forge was just about in the middle.

We stopped there on last year’s trip as well and the kids experienced their first mini golf game. This year we took it a little easier and headed to Old Mill Square.

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It was close to 8pm when we finally got there so the stores were closing soon. We popped into the General Store for a quick look around. Scarlett loved all the bears she could collect!

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After the stores closed we hung out by the river for a while, climbing rocks and watching ducks as the sun set.

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Finally, we took a stroll over to Patriot Park to check out the giant lit up Liberty Bell. How weird is that?

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The kids had fun exploring and didn’t mind returning to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep before the second leg of our trip: Little Rock!

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Summer Fun List: Road Trip!

Tom has a business trip in Arkansas next week so the whole family is going along! We’re making it a road trip and exploring some fun Southern cities.

Tennessee Welcomes Me

We will be visiting:

  • Pigeon Forge, TN
  • Little Rock, AR
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Chattanooga, TN
Some of these places are places we’ve been before and others are brand new. 
I hope the kids will enjoy it.