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Mandy Bryant Schuchhardt

Orange Park, Florida

MY KIDS

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I typically travel with my family. Sometimes we add extended family into the mix. Since we moved to FL, we have done several mini-cations to the Orlando area.

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Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

600 N Ashley Dr., Tampa, Florida

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: February 2013 | Submitted: Mar 11, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park - Hit and Miss

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Curtis Hixon Park, located in downtown Tampa, is a great place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors if you are visiting downtown. If I could underline the last part of that sentence I would. It is NOT worth a trip just to go there. There are many parks and splash areas that ARE worth the drive, that it is better to skip this one and go elsewhere if you are just looking for a fun park. Located outside of the Glazer Children's Museum, the park is a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch before or after a museum visit. It is also near the Florida Museum of Photographic Art. Do NOT attempt to walk to the museum from the Florida Aquarium - I made this mistake and it is FAR with little ones in tow. The park has a huge grassy ampitheater-esque area where evening concert are held during the warmer months (google Rock the Park Tampa for more information). There is a playground which in my opinion you cannot see your child at all times in, a mist area, a waterfront walk, a snack bar, and restrooms. There is also a splash area up by the street - and therein lies the problem - I feel that it is TOO CLOSE to the street, plus there is always one or more of the local homeless population hanging out near it. My daughter almost ran into the street completely by accident! This is an okay park but I would skip it unless you are nearby and need a time-filler.

Tips for Families

- Keep your eye on your children at all times especially near the splash area. - If you do the splash area, bring a swimsuit and towel for the kids.

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Best Western Executive Inn Latta

1534 Highway 38 W, Latta, South Carolina

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Visited: February 2013 | Submitted: Mar 11, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Best Western Executive Inn in Latta, SC - Clean and Affordable with Excellent Customer Service!

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We recently stayed at the hotel. We were caught in a freak snowstorm and were unable to continue driving on the interstate due to poor road conditions. My father called ahead for us since I was on the road with two little ones by myself. He called this hotel - the hotel staff was very friendly and reserved a room for me right away. Our room was spacious, updated and clean. The beds were very comfortable, and there were enough pillows (this can make or break a hotel in my opinion). the room included a microwave and mini-refrigerator, flat screen television, alarm clock, and phone. The bathroom was clean with soaps and shampoo provided, as well as a coffee pot with coffee and cups. It also had a hair dryer built in. The only thing I would have liked in the room was some tea. I should point out that even though it was cold and snowy outside, our room was well insulated and stayed toasty. We were really glad to find this hidden gem! The television had limited channels, especially for small children. I would have liked to see Disney Jr. or Nick Jr. offered as choices on the channel lineup. The continental breakfast has a waffle station, yogurt, cereal, pastries, bagels, toast, muffins, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, oatmeal, and instant grits. Beverage options included water, lemonade, juice, milk, hot tea, and coffee. I did not have the opportunity to try out the pool while I was there.

Tips for Families

- The breakfast had options for all ages. - There is only one luggage cart for the entire hotel so if you want to use it grab it when you see it!

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Amf Chesapeake Lanes

112 East Medical Pkwy., Chesapeake, Virginia

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  • Big kids (6-8)
  • Tweens (9-12)
Visited: November 2010 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2), big kids (6-8) and tweens (9-12)

Fun for elementary aged kids and up!

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AMF Chesapeake Lanes is a fun place for the family. They of course feature 40 lanes of bowling with brightly colored lanes and computerized scoring. The alley features Xtreme bowling under blacklights with loud, upbeat music on select nights - this is great for a date night! They also have arcade games, pool tables, and a bar area with flat screen televisions. There is a snack bar and the food is surprisingly reasonably priced and not that horrible tasting. The alley features a number of leagues for all ages. This bowling alley also has affordable and fun birthday party packages. I would recommend bowling for older preschoolers and up. This alley features ramps for little ones to assist with rolling the ball, as well as bumpers to prevent the dreaded "gutter ball."

Tips for Families

- For little ones, the alley has lanes with bumpers to keep balls from escaping into the gutter. - Check their website for specials.

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Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

Tomorrowland, Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: September 2012 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with little kids (3-5)

No one wants to be "that guy"

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The Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor is located in the Tomorrowland area of Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. This attractions can seat a lot of people at a time, so waits are minimal. The queue line entertains guests with a video presentation. This interactive allows guests to text jokes to them for consideration for use during the show. They have actually used one of my jokes before! During the show, characters from the Monsters, Inc. movie tell jokes and constantly ridicule "that guy" - a guy whom they pick out of the audience. This attraction is fun for all ages, and is sure to experience an upswing in popularity due to the re-release of the film upon which it is based. This ride is most entertaining for preschoolers for middle schoolers but it is fun for all ages.

Tips for Families

- You can text jokes for use in the show!

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Explorations Childrens Museum

109 North Kentucky Ave, Lakeland, Florida

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: February 2012 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Nice, not too crowded children's museum

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Explorations V Children's Museum in Lakeland, Florida, has all the makings of a fun outing with the wee ones. It is a small but engaging museum that features a lot of fun activities for the children. I would say that this museum is most appropriate for children under age 6. The main floor of the museum features an "Our Town" area complete with a fire truck, a sheriff's care, a boat, a pretend hot air balloon, a tiny tot play area, a clinic, an airplane, a space shuttle, a bank, a school, a newsroom, a theatre, a water cycle exhibit, and a grocery store. The kids can easily spend an hour playing in this area alone. The lower level features the "Our World" area, complete with an orange grove indoor play area with slides, a tot area, and areas where kids can learn about Africa, Asia, Australia, and America. The kids love to spend a lot of time playing on the orange grove structure. The juice factory is another favorite! The third floor features puzzles and science exhibits. There it not a lot in this area. There are fun activities each weekday. Check the museum website for details, as activities/times vary. There are restrooms on each floor, which is great if you are potty training! There are also a lot of options for dining in the immediate area of downtown Lakeland. The museum features a very small gift shop. You can park on the street for up to two hours or pay to park in a garage.

Tips for Families

- Bring money to park

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Common Ground Park

1000 E Edgewood Dr, Lakeland, Florida

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: October 2011 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with little kids (3-5)

Common Ground is a Fantastic Park!

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Common Ground is known as an "inclusive playground," meaning that children of all ages and abilities can play alongside each other. This park is huge and fenced, with countless play areas. There is a "hill" that children can roll down. There are several play structures featuring areas to slide, climb, and explore. There is a tunnel to walk through the hill. There are swings and a rock area to climb. For kiddos that enjoy playing in the sand, they have that too. There are picnic areas for a nice lunch. A favorite feature of the park is the roller slide! There is plenty of room for kids to run and play. One thing they are short on is shade, so wear a hat and sunscreen and stay hydrated by bringing water. Also, you have to stay with your kids, because it is easy for them to disappear behind a play feature and for you to lose sight of them! All in all, kids of ALL ages LOVE this park!

Tips for Families

- Wear sunscreen - Bring water

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Suncoast Primate Sanctuary

4600 U.S. 19 Alt, Palm Harbor, Florida

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: July 2012 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Suncoast Primate Sanctuary - Fun for the Kids and Supports a Great Cause!

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Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, FL, is a nice place to visit for a couple of hours with the family. For over 50 years, the sanctuary has been dedicated to providing a comfortable home to animals who are either unwanted pets, retired laboratory animals, or retired actors. Although they mostly have primates, the sanctuary is home to other animals as well. It is run entirely by volunteers, who are very friendly. There are plenty of places for visitors to sit and rest. You can feed the animals for $1 a scoop. The day we went the primates were not very interested in the food, though! The sanctuary also features a play area for the kids. We had a lot of fun during our visit! We especially loved the chimpanzee that danced to music!

Tips for Families

- Bring water/snacks/lunch - there is a picnic area - Wear a hat - Wear sunscreen

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Bok Tower Gardens

1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, Florida

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  • Little kids (3-5)
Visited: December 2012 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2) and little kids (3-5)

Bok Tower Gardens is great for the older set, kind of boring for the little ones!

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We visited Bok Tower Gardens and Pinewood Estate while they were decorated for Christmas. This attraction features sprawling gardens, a huge tower, and an estate home that you may tour (there are different admission prices based on what you want to do). Apparently according to their website there are a lot of things for kids to do there. However, we were completely oblivious to this as we were not told this by the person at the gate. If you go make sure to borrow a Discovery Back Pack from the information desk. There are, according to their website, a sand box with toys, secret gardens, a fort, etc. We found none of this. Another friend visited and they had a similar experience to us. I guess it pays to be in the know prior to visiting! This attraction features a "singing" carillon tower set amidst gorgeous gardens. A carillon is a type of bell organ. There are several shows daily. Check their website for the type of music and plan accordingly. Pinehurst Estate is a historic home that you can tour. It was really neat for me and my husband...and a huge place full of breakables that they weren't allowed to touch for the baby and toddler. The grounds of the mansion were fabulous though! The attraction also features a gift shop, plant shop, cafe, and small museum. There are complimentary strollers and wheelchairs for use in the gardens. We had fun going here as a family, but if I had known about all the kid-friendly aspects of this attraction we would have enjoyed it a lot more!

Tips for Families

- Bring water and snacks for tired kiddos! - Bring sunscreen - Wear comfortable shoes

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Disney's Boardwalk Inn Lake Buena Vista

2101 Epcot Resort Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

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KID-FRIENDLY AMENITIES

  • Connecting rooms
  • Rollaway beds available
  • Sleeper sofa
  • Smoke-free property
  • Babysitting
  • Kids' club
  • On-site restaurant(s)
  • Refrigerator in room
  • Microwave in room
  • Kitchenette or kitchen in room


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  • Little kids (3-5)
  • Big kids (6-8)

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Visited: April 2008 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with little kids (3-5) and big kids (6-8)

Disney's Boardwalk is a decent hotel, but pricey for what you get.

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We visited Disney's Boardwalk Inn on a visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. We were traveling with our niece (4) and two nephews (both 6). We were staying at the resort during a peak time, and it was very crowded. We were told by Disney that we had to book the deluxe hotel rather than a value resort because we had three children with us (they said something about fire codes). We were told that they had to put an extra daybed in our room because of the extra child (because apparently there is no way three small children can share a queen bed), and that said daybed would only fit in a deluxe room. I mention this because it comes into play later. When we arrived, we were directed to our room. The thing I immediately noticed was the lack of the daybed. We called the front desk, and they said that they had accidentally given us the wrong room, and they would send someone to take us to a new room with the daybed we supposedly had to have. We arrive at the new room, and it also does not have a daybed. They finally tell us to go to the park and there will be a daybed when we get back. There was one there when we came back as promised...with NO LINENS!!! Now, I would think that with the amount we had to pay for the deluxe room that the daybed would have been made up by them with not only linens but also a bedspread that matched the room and pillows. We had to request linens and pillows, and they brought a blanket but no bedspread. The dining options at the Boardwalk are varied, but at the time closed early. The pool was really nice, in a circus theme, and the children really liked the clown slide. I thought it was fairly cold for being a heated pool. This hotel has a small gift shop. The Boardwalk outside the hotel features entertainment at night. All Disney Resort hotels feature complimentary transportation to and from the Disney Parks and Downtown Disney. This is a definite perk of staying in a Disney Resort property. Their transportation runs continuously during park operating hours, unlike off-site resorts, who usually only offer shuttles a couple of times a day and often for a fee. All in all, the stay at this hotel was not bad. However, I have stayed at value and moderate resorts at Disney as well and there was really no upshot of staying at the deluxe resort as opposed to a more economical option, other than the dining. But you can hop on a Disney bus and get to any restaurant in the resort with some planning.

Tips for Families

- If you are traveling with your family, a more economical option may be right for you. - This hotel has really nice decor in the lobby area. - The pool is COLD in the spring even though it is heated. - Boat transportation can be slow. You are better off with the bus!

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Wingate Inn Savannah

11 Gateway Blvd East, Savannah, Georgia

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Visited: July 2010 | Submitted: Jan 29, 2013 | I traveled with tots (0-2)

Awful, did not get past the parking lot!

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I booked this hotel through an online travel sites "secret hotels" option. As I was driving up, I noticed that the area in which the hotel is located is not the best. Most of the hotels and restaurants in this area are older and some are run down. It was definitely not what I had expected in a Wingate Hotel. It was definitely not located in an area that I felt comfortable in with just myself and my then 11-month-old daughter. when I arrived it was dusk, and the parking lot was not well lit at all. As I stepped out of the car to go in because at that point I had no other options, I nearly put my foot on two used condoms next to my car. That was it. I called the travel company and after being on the phone with them for well over an hour, I was able to book another hotel. While I was on hold, however, another hotel patron who was obviously intoxicated backed into my vehicle. I would not recommend this hotel for families.

Tips for Families

Stay away!

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