Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • I was extremely delighted to find a delivery of wine samples, which included a bottle of Clean Slate 2009 Riesling, a German wine from the Mosel River Valley. It is a blend of grapes found throughout the Mosel region. The Lower Mosel grapes provide mineral notes, the Middle Mosel grapes add a hint of spiciness, and the Upper Mosel grapes supply the fresh, peach flavors. 

    I chilled the bottle and waited for the late summer sun to dip beyond the horizon, settling the area into a rosy glow of evening. I sat on my back patio and ended up experiencing one of the most wonderful Rieslings to ever pass my lips. The ripe peach flavors balance any acidity and there was even a hint of lime. It is truly a clean wine. Clean Slate Riesling pairs well with Asian dishes, spicy foods, sushi, fish, poultry and pork. I personally think it would go well with a light meal or dessert. This is definitely a great value wine, with retail between $10-$12. Find out more about Clean Slate and where to purchase in your area at www.CleanSlateWine.com

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    Sent from a Traveling Mama while she’s on the go. Please pardon any grammar or spelling mistakes.

    http://cocktails.travelingmamas.com/clean-slate-2009-riesling-wine

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  • Disney isn’t just about rides and parks, but about the overall experience and making Disney memories that last a lifetime. One of my personal favorite resorts is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. The onsite restaurant, The Mara, is one of the many quick service dining areas at Walt Disney World. I was looking for something different than the typical burger and fries option. My daughter and I were being escorted around the property by our special guide, Larry. When I voiced the request to see  as much as I could during our limited time at a Walt Disney World Resort, Larry suggested The Mara.

    Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah Viewing Area

    We took a walk around Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge to take in the atmosphere of the property. Not many people are aware of this, but Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has the largest offering of South African wines in the US. For lunch, I wasn’t searching for an adult beverage at Disney, but I was glad to learn this fact, in case I visit in the future. We toured the interior and then took a step outside to the Savannah viewing area. Fortunately for us, the viewing area was pretty deserted, as everyone was touring the parks around that time of day.

    Little CajunMama had a wonderful time walking around the fenced area and learning facts about the animals. All the running around had us working up an appetite, so we headed over to The Mara. Disney had given us a set amount of dining vouchers, so we could learn how Disney’s Free Dining Plan works. It was pretty easy to use. The Mara is one of the restaurants listed on the back of the quick service voucher and meal included an appetizer, entree, dessert, and drink. It was too much food, so I opted for the African Stew and a small dessert.

    African Stew quick service dining at Mara Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

    African Stew at The Mara is a sweet and savory stew with meat and vegetables. It is served in a bread bowl and full of comfort. I really enjoyed this taste of Africa, even if it was being served in Florida. I did look around and realized that Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge was the perfect setting for multigenerational families where some members can actually find peace and serenity inside Walt Disney World Resort. For lunchtime, there wasn’t a crowd at all and provided a moment for me to recharge myself during a busy visit to learn about Walt Disney World Resorts and the attractions for family vacations.

    The Mara is just one of many available quick service dining options at Walt Disney World Resort.

    Special thanks to Disney Parks and Resorts for providing the lunch vouchers for this post.

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  • “A Disney vacation is the perfect way to create family memories that will last a lifetime,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at a media announcement today in New York. “We’ll spotlight those ‘only-at-Disney’ moments with family and friends during our ‘Let the Memories Begin’ campaign.”

    At TravelingMamas.com, we’ve always held to the mission of inspiring readers to make travel memories that last. Today, Disney announced their latest information about their family travel experience campaign. The announcement included the latest survey by Peter Yesawich of YPartnership, which was compiled by asking people about their travel memories at different points in their lives. We’ve always been interested in what this company has to say about travel and their report of discovering Celebration Vacations was a hit a few years ago, and still is.

    The question was asked “What Vacation Memories are the Most Enduring, and Why?”

    The survey included some interesting facts:

    • Family travelers plan their travels to make lasting memories for their children.
    • Travelers are capturing memories and sharing them with family real-time through social media sites.
    • Kids want to take vacations with their parents, with friends as second choice, granparents third, and pets last.
    • The top three family vacation choices were: Disney Parks, Europe, and Washington, DC.

    Micheal J. Fox even made an appearance, sharing his photos and memories with his family with Disney Parks.

    Tom Bergeron and Michael J Fox during live stream of Disney Parks announcement

    Screenshot of Disney Parks live stream of announcement on their Facebook page

    Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Tom Staggs, made some announcements regarding new attractions at Disneyland, Disney Cruise Lines, and other items of interest, including Disney Vacation Club’s new property at Ko Olina, Hawaii and Adventures by Disney, the Disney branded family tour company.

    Walt Disney Park and Resort’s fun new campaign is “Let the Memories Begin”, which will allow Disney guests to share their personal photos by using Guest Generated Content (GGC) for Disney commercials online. For future TV commercials and other advertising and marketing programs, Disney Parks is asking guests to share their memories by uploading photos and videos at a special “Let the Memories Begin” online hub at www.DisneyParks.com/Memories. From a first meeting with a princess to a laugh-filled watery touchdown on Splash Mountain, Disney Parks is looking for videos and photos that capture those never-to-be-forgotten experiences. On select nights, these captured moments will be integrated into the Castle Show.

    You can make your own video and upload it to Disney Park’s Disney Memories Youtube Page. I already have my own arsenal of personal Disney Memories including my first visit when I was a teenager, my dad’s first visit when we went on a multi-generational trip for his retirement, and celebrating my daughter’s 11th birthday in a very special Disney way.

    I know that some traveler’s out there poo-poo the Disney vacation, but as a parent, seeing the joy and wonder expressed by my children during their first visit to a Disney Park is truly a magical memory that none of us will ever forget.

    Do you have any special Disney memories?

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  • The Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center is conveniently located near the Museum District, the Houston Zoo, and MD Anderson Cancer Center. I recently visited Houston and MD Anderson and found that there is a lack of information out there for patients regarding lodging while at the medical facility. MD Anderson does have a dedicated travel department to assist patients with their travel needs, but I couldn’t find any indepth information online about the properties recommended.

    Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center (c) Hilton Hotels and Resorts

    For my initial visit, I chose the Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center because I am a Hilton Honors member and the hotel is conveniently located close to MD Anderson. I wasn’t visiting for pleasure, but I knew with a Hilton property, I could expect some of the luxuries that would make my visit to Houston somewhat pleasant.

    The Property: This is an 80% suite hotel and is very accessible for wheeled travelers and slow walkers. Valet parking is available, but we chose self parking in the parking garage. There was ample handicap parking spaces on each level near the elevators. The property itself is located at the edge of the medical facility area and is within walking distance of Rice University and restaurants. While the facility is close to MD Anderson, it is connected to the Houston Medical Center and next door to the Baylor Clinic. Check-in was a breeze, however if you speak a bit loudly, keep in mind the restaurant is nearby and everyone in the lobby will hear what you have to say.

    The Rooms: Since this property is an 80% suite hotel, it’s a good choice for visitors staying a few days. We had a king suite which included a full living area with a half bath, wet bar, desk, and entertainment area. The bedroom was spacious with sitting area, dressing area near the restroom (with Crabtree & Evelyn amenities), and full bath. Everything was very clean in the nooks and crannies and passed my personal inspection.

    Amenities: This property does cater to the business traveler, but it also makes visits for patients to MD Anderson and nearby medical facilities as stress free as possible. The website stated there is a charge for internet, however upon check-in I was notified that free wi-fi is available at this particular property. Hilton Honors members have two branded bottles of water as a perk upon arrival and robes are in the closet. The property offers a workout facility, conference space, outdoor pool, and a running track around the pool. For families, babysitting service can be arranged and cribs are available upon request.

    Pros: The free shuttle is probably the biggest pro in my book. It starts running at 7am and is you want to use the shuttle, you do need to make prior arrangements. The Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center provided us with a phone number to call for pickup after my appointment. They arrived within 10 minutes of our call and picked us up at the front door.

    Cons: This property has been updated with some decor, but not in other areas, such as the bathrooms. I was surprised that the shower curtain rod hadn’t been updated to the curved rods found in most hotels these days.

    Good For: Business travelers, medical travelers (including families), and visits for personal business at nearby facilities.

    My Mama Moment: I’ll be honest, I was nervous and anxious. It wasn’t a vacation and it was hard to even be there. I appreciated my husband taking me for a walk through the nearby neighborhood as we went in search of a light meal and sight-seeing. The conversation and the company helped me take my mind off of the purpose of our stay.

    If you do decide to visit the Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center during your own visit to MD Anderson or other nearby hospitals, I would recommend this lodging choice for a few days. The staff is helpful and caring and does their best to get you where you need to go for your visits. While my husband and I did take a walk to nearby restaurants, it was difficult for me to walk back. Take advantage of the shuttle. That’s what it’s there for.

    We did get a great rate at the Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center. Be sure to call and request a medical rate if you are there for medical reasons. Hilton Honors points can also be used for this hotel near MD Anderson, which may help with your overall expenses. Below is a video that includes photos I took of my room and my take on the property.

    Hilton Houston Plaza Medical Center
    6633 Travis Street
    Houston, Texas 77030
    (713)313-4000

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  • Travel deals can come and go, but finding free attractions all year round can sweeten the pot when it comes to choosing a vacation spot. Daytona Beach is a fun place to visit for girlfriend getaways, a family vacation, mancations, and for a romantic couple’s escape. There’s a lot to do in the Daytona Beach area that won’t bust your budget. Whether it’s simply a day at the beach or an action attraction, the area offers value after value. Below you will find information on free things to do. ~ CajunMama

    Daytona Beach Pier flickr image (c) StevenM_61

    Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory Tour
    154 South Beach St., Daytona Beach
    (800) 969-2634
    www.angellandphelps.com

    Located in the historic Riverfront Marketplace, Angell & Phelps Chocolates has been a Daytona Beach tradition since 1925. Take a free, guided, 30-minute tour through the chocolate-making process. Tours begin at 10 and 11 a.m., and 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. each Monday through Friday.

    Art League of Daytona Beach
    433 S. Palmetto Ave., Daytona Beach
    (386) 258-3856
    www.artleague.org

    Works of state and national artists are on display here, with exhibits changing monthly. The gallery is open from 1 to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

    Atlantic Center for the Arts
    1414 Art Center Ave., New Smyrna Beach
    (386) 427-6975
    www.atlanticcenterforthearts.org

    An artists-in-residence community providing artists the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most distinguished contemporary artists in the fields of music composition, literary, performing and visual arts. Gallery exhibitions, performances and tours every Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on major holidays.

    The Casements
    25 Riverside Drive
    Ormond Beach, FL
    (386) 676-3216
    www.ormondbeach.org/org/the%5Fcasements.htm

    Formerly the winter home of multi-millionaire John D. Rockefeller, The Casements now serves as the City of Ormond Beach’s cultural center and museum containing art and historical exhibits. Tours of the Rockefeller period rooms and other exhibits offered 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 10 -11:30 a.m., Saturday.

    Friends of the Bandshell Concert Series
    Daytona Beach Bandshell, Daytona Beach
    (386) 673-2080
    www.bandshell.org

    This seasonal concert series is held from April-October on selected Wednesdays and weekends beginning at 7 p.m. The Concerts are held in the oceanfront, historic coquina bandshell and feature a variety of musical styles including jazz, swing, country, big band, and Latin music.

    Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Home & Gravesite
    640 Mary McLeod-Bethune Blvd., Daytona Beach
    www.bethune-cookman.edu

    Bethune-Cookman College is one of the richest resources of African-American historical and cultural exhibits in Florida. Bethune’s home, located on the college’s campus, serves as the headquarters of the Mary McLeod-Bethune Foundation. Guided tours by appointment.

    North Peninsula State Recreation Area
    (5 miles north of Granada Blvd. on Hwy. A1A), Ormond Beach

    This 900-acre park offers over two miles of sandy beaches for recreational use. The area features palmetto dunes and sea turtles, as well as some of the best surf fishing in the area. Open daily.

    Ormond Bicentennial Park
    1800 Ocean Shore Blvd., Ormond Beach

    This park stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Halifax River and covers five ecological systems. It features tennis and racquetball courts, a softball field, a fishing pier, an exercise trail, and picnicking facilities. Open daily, sunrise to sunset.

    Ormond Memorial Gardens
    78 East Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach

    Thee lush tropical gardens offer a beautiful setting complete with gazebo and nature trails, fish ponds and fountains. Open daily, dawn to dusk.

    Southeast Museum of Photography
    Daytona Beach Community College
    1200 International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach
    www.smponline.org

    The Southeast Museum of Photography is one of only 12 specialized museums of its kind in the United States, and one of fewer than 30 throughout the world. The museum is Florida’s official museum of photography. Open Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 12 – 4 p.m.

    Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens
    950 Old Sugar Mill Road (U.S. 1 to Herbert St.), Port Orange
    Set amid 12 acres of lush botanical gardens stands the remains of an English sugar mill.

    The gardens were once home to the 1940s theme park, Bongoland. Life-size dinosaur statues remain in the tropical setting and are still a favorite with children. The gardens also house a human sundial. Open daily, dawn to dusk.

    Sun Splash Park
    South Atlantic Ave. and Revilo Blvd., Daytona Beach

    This $1.2 million park opened in August 1999. It features an interactive water fountain, decorative walkways, a shaded playground, volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor showers, two beach access ramps and a Coca-Cola sponsored “cool zone.” The four-acre facility also provides free, off-beach parking. Open sunrise to sunset.

    Tuscawilla Park
    Off Nova Rd. at Orange Ave., Daytona Beach
    Tuscawilla Park has a nature center and trail that offers visitors a glimpse at plant and animal life. The park includes picnicking facilities and a disc golf course. The Museum of Arts and Sciences is also located on the grounds. Open daily, sunrise to sunset.

    Also, an extremely budget friendly attraction is the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet which specializes in sea turtle and seabird rehabilitation. The center also provides an overview of the region’s marine life and eco-system. Admission is $4 for seniors, $5 for adults 13 and over and $2 for kids ages 3-12. Children under 3 are FREE. http://marinesciencecenter.com.

    For more information or to plan your visit to Daytona Beach, visit the  Daytona Beach official website,

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