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In the new Betty White sitcom “Hot in Cleveland,” actress Valerie Bertinelli returns from a night out in Cleveland and promptly announces this to her friends:
“He showed me all around Cleveland, and I’m telling you, it’s nothing like we think. They have symphonies and museums and light opera…OK, so nobody really likes those things, but they have ’em!”
I have to admit that I know the feeling, other than the not liking museums thing. I visited Cleveland this spring, and I think I said virtually the same thing in a phone call to my husband.
Sure, I knew Cleveland was a great sports town and that the culinary scene was on the rise. And, of course, I knew about the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. But world-class museums? In Cleveland?
Well, they have ’em.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is the ideal first art museum experience for families because of its encyclopedic collection. Rather than specializing in a handful of artists or eras, this museum seems to have one of everything.
I remember being aware of certain artists or styles when I was a child, visiting art museums and being disappointed that I didn’t see more of the art I was aware of. That’s what makes this museum ideal for families – your kids will see many names familiar to them throughout the Cleveland Museum of Art.
And if your kids don’t appreciate getting close enough to see the brush strokes in some very famous artists’ work, they’ll still be amazed at the suits of armor in the expansive galleries of the museum’s original neoclassical white marble building.
The Cleveland Museum of Art is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission to the museum is free; there is sometimes a charge for special exhibitions.
If artifacts are more your family’s style, there’s the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
At this museum, you’ll meet Happy the dinosaur, a 70-foot-long sauropod, and Dunk, a very old fish with a very big bite. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History also has a skeletal cast of human ancestor Lucy and an amazing collection of minerals and gemstones.
And then there’s Balto. The famous sled dog from the 1925 serum run retired to Cleveland in his old age. (He must have caught on to all the great things in this city much earlier than I did!) Now he’s perfectly preserved here at the museum to keep the story of his heroics alive.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for youth 7 to 18 and $7 for younger kids. Admission to the museum is free on the first Thursday of every month.
There are so many things to do in Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana. I have fun bringing my kids for a family trip and even recently took a solo trip for my full time job. It was wonderful to check out L’Auberge du Lac Casino Resort and Spa. Nice place with a great pool area! ~ CajunMama
Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana abounds with adventures that are affordable for the entire family to enjoy. From an adventure in the great outdoors to a journey back to childhood at the Children’s Museum, there is something for everyone.
- The Creole Nature Trail All-American Road offers up educational fun for the low cost of a tank of gas. Journey out into the marsh on this 180-mile driving trail where you can get nose to snout with the King of the Marsh, the American Alligator! The Wetland Walkway and the Blue Goose Trail offer paved walking paths that allow explorers to journey miles into the marsh and view wildlife up close, in their natural habitat.
- Beaches along the Creole Nature Trail and the Gulf of Mexico allow visitors to swim, hunt for shells and even surf fish. Nineteen miles of uninterrupted beaches are the perfect site for a picnic lunch or to catch a sunset.
- Catching fresh blue crabs on the side of the road is a favorite past time for many locals and visitors. Stop on your way down the trail and pick up some chicken necks, string and a dip net along with a ice chest to store your crabs and you are on your way to catching your own seafood spread for dinner. There are no license requirements for crabbing and several recreation areas along the Creole Nature Trail offer the perfect place to stop off and catch your feast.
- Museums and art galleries offer and educational yet fun adventures for everyone. The recently remodeled three-story Children’s Museum offers hands-on fun for a reasonable admission fee. The Imperial Calcasieu Museum, the Brimstone Museum and the DeQuincy Railroad Museum all tell the story of the area’s history. The Mardi Gras Museum of Imperial Calcasieu celebrates Mardi Gras year-round with more than 250 complete costumes and talking, animated mannequins who tell the history of Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras.
- Galleries with rotating art exhibits are located throughout Southwest Louisiana and offer no admission charges. Places like the 1911 Historic City Hall and the Black Heritage Gallery are a great educational experience as well.
- Spraygrounds like those found at Adventure Cove and Prien Lake Park are free to everyone and offer up great, cool fun on the hot, balmy summer days in Southwest Louisiana. The Sulphur Parks and Recreation Water Park offers affordable, wet fun for everyone too.
For more information on all of these activities, log onto www.visitlakecharles.org.
We love interacting with readers on Facebook and Twitter and sometimes we even get questions asking for a bit of assistance. Recently a twitter follower asked a great question about good road trip food.
Thanks for following us, @StaffordK and engaging with TravelingMamas.com on Twitter. This is a great question that many of our readers would be interested in. We have covered some healthy road trip snacks in the past, but not regarding microwaves in the hotel room. Bringing a few snacks for your overnight stay or final destination can help alleviate some of the costs associated with a road trip. Here are some things to consider when planning what to pack snack-wise:
What do your children like to eat at home? One of the stressors of road trips with kids is getting out of the normal routine. It may help keep the kids on track (and happy) if you include some comfort food. When my family travels and we know that we’ll overnight in a hotel with a microwave, we sometimes bring along a few packs of Kraft Easy Mac and Campbell’s Heat and Serve Chicken Noodle Soup. They’re easy-peasy to prepare and also convenient for when the kids come in from the hotel pool with an appetite. We also bring along a few packs of microwave popcorn to enjoy as a healthy snack (we get the air popped kind).
If your hotel room has a microwave, chances are there’s also a mini-fridge. Another snack option is the ready to serve cereal packs. You can always stop at a convenience store and purchase a small container of milk for the cereal. Many hotels amenities these days include a continental breakfast, some with a few hot foods, for no extra charge. Choosing to stay overnight at these types of lodging properties are not only convenient, but great for the family road trip budget. Be sure to grab a banana or apple from the buffet as a fresh, healthy mid-morning snack while on the road.
Browse through one of your cookbooks. I personally enjoy delicious cuisine, but I’m not very adept at preparing gourmet food. For those that enjoy food preparation, be sure to grab one of your favorite cookbooks and search for easy to snack on items that you can prepare before your trip. This way, you know just what ingredients are in your snacks. A cookbook that I can live with is Bean Appetit: Healthy Food, Happy Tummies. It includes SUPER SIMPLE recipes that even the kids can prepare (I like that a lot) and plus they’re good for everyone.
We also have a list of healthy road trip snacks and an article about the health benefits of cherries that you can print out (or save as a pdf) and use for packing. While you’re packing, be sure to include utinsels and napkins to enjoy your handy snacks and mini meals while on your road trip. We hope you and your family have a safe vacation and we appreciate your follow on Twitter.
Do you have tips for @StaffordK or have you written an article on good road trip food? Please be sure to leave a link in the comments. From time to time we select questions from Twitter and Facebook that readers ask. Be sure to follow TravelingMamas on Twitter and like TravelingMamas on Facebook. We just may answer your question online!
I just love Las Vegas. I’ve been there with friends, I’ve visited for conventions like BlogWorld and New Media Expo, and it’s even a fun place for a Las Vegas family vacation. Las Vegas is pretty much a destination for everyone. – CajunMama
Some of the best things to do in Las Vegas are free! With the bill coming to a grand total of zero dollars, these attractions give Sin City that much more bang for your buck.
- The Fountains of Bellagio are the astonishing, complimentary Las Vegas show of water, music and light. This choreographically-complex water feature amazes guests time and time again with its collection of dynamic performances that are each unique in expression and emotion. Fall in love with the stunning nature of this unprecedented aquatic accomplishment while relishing a clever concert of opera, classical and Broadway tunes.
- Take a walk on the wild side and visit MGM Grand’s one-of-a-kind Lion Habitat. This is a showcase for public education and appreciation for this majestic creature.
- The Welcome to Las Vegas Sign is a great photo opportunity conveniently located on Las Vegas Boulevard on the south side of Mandalay Bay. The sign is one of the most recognizable attractions in Las Vegas and has been an icon of Sin City since 1959.
- Turn up the heat at the new Volcano at The Mirage. A $25 million renovation completed in 2008 reignited this Strip icon including a new original soundtrack by Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart. You’ll feel the heat from the street as the percussion rumbles and more than 120 FireShooters™ shoot flames and fireballs in the air.
- The CityCenter Fine Art Collection features works by acclaimed artists, sculptors and visionaries including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Nancy Rubins, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Frank Stella, Henry Moore and Richard Long, among others. This is the first major permanent collection of art in Las Vegas to be integrated into a public space, and one of the world’s largest and most ambitious corporate art collections in existence today.
- The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens captures the essence of every season interpreted with exceptionally gorgeous plants, flowers and trees thoughtfully arranged to inspire full splendor. To maintain magnificence 365 days a year, 140 expert horticulturists and engineers theatrically arrange large and unusual props along with fresh greenery uniquely for each season. Let your imagination wander as you assume a leisurely stroll through fascinating natural specimens selected distinctively for Bellagio from all around the world.
- Experience the world’s largest permanent circus, highlighting the center stage of the Carnival Midway daily. Be amazed at the aerial, juggling, contortion and trapeze artists in daily performances.
There’s no shortage of free things to experience in Las Vegas. As an added bonus, hotels and casinos on the strip offer FREE self-parking and valet. This means that exploring these top free attractions will be easy to access and even easier on your wallet.
For more information or to plan your visit, check out the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Last summer, ThemeParkMom and I attended Travel Media Showcase in Montgomery, Alabama. The last time I had personally visited this city was during my college search days and I must say, the place sure has changed! There are so many things to do and see in this southern US city, but for many of us who must watch our budgets, here are some free things to do in Montgomery, Alabama. – CajunMama
Montgomery, Alabama with its rich and tumultuous history, the Civil War and Modern Civil Rights Movement, is a wonderful city for tourist to enjoy. The visitor can began their venture at the historic Union Station, which was declared a National Landmark in 1976 and houses the local Montgomery Visitor Center. You can purchase a day pass for $1.00 and ride a trolley car with stops at all downtown attractions. Among the many attractions that do charge a modest admission fee, there are 16 sites that are FREE and one that you may consider CHEAP ($2.00).
Blount Cultural Park – a 350 acre park is a lush oasis inthe middle of the city and is reminiscent of the English countryside.
Governor’s Mansion – built in 1960’s, this graceful mansionhas been home to the Govenor of Alabama since its purchase in 1950.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama – the 2-million-square-foot manufacturing plant reside on 1,744 acres of land and includes a stamping facility, paint shop, vehicle assembly shop, a two-mile test track and an engine shop, where the all-new Hyundai 3.3 liter V6 engine is produced.
Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts – This permanent collection includes examples of 19th and 20th century American paintings and sculptures, Southern regional art Old Master prints and decorative art.
Shakespeare Garden & Amphitheatre-Located within the Blount Cultural Park, is one of seven such gardens in the USA, which features plants and flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.
Historic Union Station – opened in 1898 and declared a national landmark in 1976.
Alabama Cattlemen’s Association “Mooseum” – hands-on children’s educational center has a unique agricultural theme.
Alabama Department of Archives and History – This Archivesisthe oldest state-funded Archives inthe nation and is housed in a beautiful marble building completed in 1940.
Alabama Judicial Building – The Alabama Judicial Building houses the Alabama Supreme Coutr, Courts of Criminal and Civil Appeals, the State Law Library and the Administrative Office of Courts.
Alabama State Capitol-One of the only state capitols designated a National Historic Landmark. The Alabama State Capitol is where Jefferson Davis took his oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America.
Court Square Fountain – The fountain was built in 1885 over and existing artesian basin and was the trading post for the buying and selling of slaves during the Civil War.
Civil Rights Memorial-Water flows over a table inscribed with the names of those who died during the modern Civil Rights Movement.
First White House of the Confederacy – the house served as Jeffererson Davis’ home while Montgomery served as the Capital of the Confederate States of America.
Hank Williams Statue-a life-size statue of the famed country music legend, Hank Williams, stands across from the old city auditorium, the site of many of his performances and later the site of the his funeral.
The gravesite of the famed country music legend Hank Williams and wife Audrey Williams.
Riverwalk Amphitheatre – the Amphitheatre, a sprawling grassy area on the banks of the Alabama Rier, is perfect for picnics, concerts, movies, plays productions and more.
St. John’s Episcopal Church – St. John’s was built in 1885. During the Civil War, Jefferson Davis worshipped here and his pew is still marked.
Civil Rights Memorial Center – the Civil RIghts Memorial Center expands the experience of the Memorial that honors the memor of those who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movements.
This information was provided by Triple E Group Services who designs itineraries and schedules visits to all local attractions free and those who charge an admission. Appointments are required for group visits to the above attractions. For official visitor information be sure to check out the Montgomery, Alabama Convention and Visitor website.