Traveling Mamas

Inspiring you to explore our world

  • Picture yourself at Walt Disney World, pushing a stroller around, possibly on a multi-generational family trip, and you find nap time is quickly approaching – for everyone. You just want a little Me Time. There’s nothing wrong with that. Parents need to stay sane and take advantage of down time, or even treat themselves to a visit to the parks WITHOUT the kids. Family travel can get crazy, so why not
    ask a family member to watch the kids, giving you and your spouse a few moments of adult time.

    Did you know there are nearly 400 places to dine across Walt Disney World Resort? And that’s not counting the portable food carts. In all, more than 6,000 different food items are available. And chances are, if the restaurants aren’t in the Magic Kingdom, they just might have an adult beverages on the menu for you to enjoy. If wine is your poison of choice, then you’ll want to know that more than 600 sommeliers have been awarded the Court of Master Sommelier Introductory Certificate at Walt Disney World Resort, with more than 300 sommeliers currently in restaurants.

    With so many restaurants and dining choices, where should you go for that “special” drink? Here are just of few of our top choices for a cocktail, beer, or wine while at Walt Disney World.

    Epcot’s World Showcase 

    United Kingdom – The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining room brings visitors into Victorian England with its etched glass panels, dark mahogany bar and authentic dart board. If you are looking for hearty ale, this place offers specially designed ale warmer can heat your Guinness to 55 degrees, should that be your preference.

    Mexico – The pavilion features a festive and colorful celebration of the beauty and culture of Mexico that is fun for guests of all ages. “Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros” is an excursion by tour boat through the vibrant, eye-filling sights and lively music of Mexico. If you’re interested in margaritas, you should check out ThemeParkMom’s review of inventive margaritas at La Hacienda de San Angel, a new restaurant in EPCOT.

    Japan – In the Matsu-no-ma Lounge, visitors see a majestic view of Future World across the lagoon while sampling sushi, Japanese pickled vegetables, tempura and exotic specialty drinks.

    Germany – Biergarten, an indoor German “courtyard” featuring a German Oktoberfest buffet. At lunch and dinner time, yodelers, dancers and other lederhosen-clad musicians perform an Oktoberfest dinner show. Guests are invited onstage to join in the musical fun. The wine shop nearby offers samples of Ice Wine for a few bucks. Definitely worth a try.

    French Champagne and Wine cart at EPCOT World ShowcaseFrance – Want a glass of vino but don’t want to wait in the long line inside the wine shop? Across from the front of France there is a wine cart serving Champagne, wines, and frozen blends.

    Want more? Check out our extensive list of wine, beer, and cocktails at Epcot’s World Showcase.

    Other Venues at Disney with Alcohol

    Victoria Falls at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Down a flight of stairs from the lobby, this mezzanine lounge serves wine and spirits imported from Africa, including Windhoek beer from Namibia and Imoya Brandy from South Africa. The specialty drink is a Victoria Falls Mist, with tangerine, melon and banana liqueurs. Animal Kingdom Lodge has the largest offering of South African wines anywhere in the US. Be sure to check out Jiko, The Cooking Place, too!

    The Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Trendy cocktails are served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Start the day with a Pomegranate Splash (vodka, pomegranate liqueur, cranberry juice and soda water) or the Ultimate Bloody Mary (organic vodka, Bloody Mary mix and a dash of red chili sauce). The Pure-tini mixes organic vodka with organic mango and passion fruit liqueur. The Antioxidant Cocktail features wild berry vodka, black raspberry liqueur, açai juice with agave, lychee, aloe juice and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

    Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, next door to 50’s Prime Time Cafe, looks like a family den from the ’50s, with black-and-white TVs and campy retro furniture. You can choose kitschy drinks from “Dad’s Liquor Cabinet” such as Uncle Tim’s Melon Margarita, Scooter’s Long Island Iced Tea or an Electric Lemonade. Beer and wine is offered, too. My personal favorite is a Magical Star. Check out this video of inside Tune-In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as part of our Cocktail Series.

    Dawa Bar adjacent to Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Sit in the shade and sip a hard-to-find Tusker Beer from Africa or Safari Amber, brewed just for Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. South African wines are on the drink menu, too, along with cocktails like Lost on Safari with rum and fruit juices.

    Dawa Bar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

    Mizner’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – A live orchestra plays nostalgic Big Band sounds just outside the doors of this lounge tucked away on the second floor of the hotel. The lounge’s namesake is architect Addison Mizner, whose designs launched a “Florida Renaissance” in the 1920s, so the sophisticated drinks are apropos: champagnes, caipirinhas, mint juleps and cosmopolitans, along with nine vodkas, seven different single malt scotch whiskeys and after-dinner cognacs and ports.

    There are more than 50 lounges in Walt Disney World hotels and three theme parks (no alcohol in Magic Kingdom. Again I stress. No alcohol in Magic Kingdom), making this list just a sampling of the many great place for big kids like parents to have their own magic time at Walt Disney World. If there’s a place you’d like us to know about, be sure to leave a comment, helping our readers discover new places to sample adult beverages.

    If you find yourself wandering around looking for a place to buy alcohol at Disney, all you have to do is ask one of the friendly cast members, who can point you in the right direction.  Be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re in the parks also, as alcohol is dehydrating. Designate a driver or take advantage of Disney’s resort transportation. Cheers!

    All Disney venues selling alcohol have a limit of two beverages per sale per person to limit overindulgence on property. Remember, cocktails can be fun, but this is a family friendly destination and not a place to act inappropriate.

     

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  • I’ve recently been selected to participate in the Lana’ i New Media Artist in Residence program, which excites me to no end! I’ve been to Hawaii a few times, but always on assignment and with no one from home. This will be my first visit to the Island of Lana’ i and I have the chance to experience this journey of discovery with my husband. We’ve contemplated bringing our kids with us, but with their ages (12 and 14) taking them out of school isn’t an option we want to consider. Plus, even though we’re parents, we can’t forget that we’re a couple also.

    manele panorama

    Crystal Pineapple from Four Seasons LanaiI have been dreaming of Hawaii lately, and Lana’ i in particular, ever since I won a beautiful crystal pineapple from @FSLanai on Twitter. When this small, delicate item arrived in the mail, I immediately placed it in my china cabinet, next to my wine and champagne glasses. Every time I relax with a glass of bubbly or vino, I catch a sparkly glimpse of this magical pineapple of travel inspiration and immediately dream of Hawaii.

    Soon, the dream will become a reality I get to share with my man, and it has become his dream also. He’s been exploring the Lana’ i Official website, researching golf courses and outdoor adventures. He knows I’ll have some official things to do while in Lana’ i (like check out the spa), and he plans on making the most of his visit by hitting the links and planning his game strategy.

    We both can’t wait to experience the culture of Lana’ i, the flora, the wildlife, and the natural wonders so that I can share things with you in hopes that you can one day plan your own dream exploration of the Island of Lana’ i. I anticipate a little bit of relaxation, but will be spending the bulk of my time checking out the hotels, food, and attractions of Lana’i for families and couples. I hope to talk story with some of the locals and learn of the people that make Hawaii and Lana’i an inspiring destination. I hope to even add a few new balcony moments to my travel memory library.

    Four Seasons Manele Bay

    Follow along the other new media artists who are also sharing their own experiences through the Twitter hashtag #VisitLanai, the Visit Lana’ i Flickr group, and their own personal blogs. My fingers are crossed that I don’t offend anyone with my attempt at learning the correct way to share the Hawaiian language. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know so that I can make corrections.

    Participants Include:

    TravelingMamas.com (this site) – on Twitter: @Cajun_Mama & @TravelingMamas

    Landlopers.com – on Twitter: @LandLopers

    CAroundTheWorld.com – on Twitter: @CAroundTheWorld

    Everything-Everywhere.com – on Twitter: @EverywhereTrip

    GoVisitHawaii.com – on Twitter: @SheilaBeal

    TravelswithTwo.com – on Twitter: @TravelswithTwo

    Lanai New Media Writer in Residence Badge

    Sponsors of this new media project include: Lana’i Visitors Bureau, Four Seasons Lana’i (includes FS Manele Bay and The Lodge at Koele), Hotel Lana’ i, and many others TBA. All posts identified with this project will display a graphic stating such. An honorarium and some travel assistance is being provided for participants, but as always you can expect on an honest accounting of this travel experience.

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  • Yellowstone National Park is documented in the US National Archives as a “Park or Pleasuring Ground for the People.” I found during my visit that not only is the wildlife abundant, but the flora and fauna make a perfect setting for romance to blossom.

    Researching romance in national parks, I found that there are more relationships that develop and endure in this active use of public lands. Here are a few of my favorite spots:

    Mount Washburn – Drive to as far as you can to the top of Mount Washburn. Near the car park area is a spot of rolling land that is sometimes covered in Alpine Wildflowers. It’s a wonderful spot for a picnic, or a proposal.

    Alpine Wildflowers on Mount Washburn

    Shoshone Lake – The black sand of Shoshone Lake is a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon relaxing and holding hands. The lap of the water against the shore will make you think of a tropical getaway. The sand is black due to the volcanic rock (obsidian) that makes up its shores.

    Old Faithful – Old Faithful is a sight to behold for any visitor of Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful under starlight is even more dramatic. Visitors rarely venture to the geyser area after dinner. This is what makes it a perfect spot for romantics. Lovers can choose to await eruption on the bleachers, or they can venture around the boardwalk.

    Hint: Bring a flashlight.

    Lake Yellowstone Inn – When one walks through the doors of Lake Yellowstone Inn, they are brought back to an era when one dressed up for dinner and only the wealthy visited Yellowstone. The dining room is reminded me of the Titanic dining room and makes one think of the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. The sustainable cuisine of the restaurant rivals any fare in the US. Be sure to order a Yellowstone Caldera for dessert, it is a sensuous prelude to an evening moonlight stroll.

    A Yellowstone Sunset – A Yellowstone Sunset is not only a local beverage, but it is also an event to behold daily (weather permitting). Take a drive to any lookout point and await the setting of the sun with chilled champagne. Kisses are in order after the sun dips over the horizon.

    Things to Do

    Yellowstone National Park is run by the National Park Service(US). The park service in Yellowstone endorses programs offered by the Yellowstone Association Institute, the official partner in education with Yellowstone National Park. Check into each visitor center to see what activities and presentations are planned. Also, be sure to read Yellowstone Today, it is given out at every entrance gate to the park as the ‘official newspaper for Yellowstone National Park’, a National Park Service publication. It is full of useful and valuable information for your stay.

    The Yellowstone Association Institute offers a Lodging and Learning program, in partnership with Xanterra properties. If nature, wildlife, or geology are your bag, these programs are for you.

    Lodging and Dining

    Xanterra is the Concessionaire of choice for Yellowstone National Park. They manage reservations and dining, as well as many of the gift shops in the Park. If you are fortunate, same day reservations may be secured, but this is like winning the lottery. Plan your stay ahead to assure lodging inside of the park. The rates are reasonable and choosing to stay inside the park will help make for a memorable visit.

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  • Los Cabos. The name fits the destination. Simple. Relaxing. Romantic. Translated, it means the capes and takes its name from three capes: Cabo san Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and Cabo del Este. These capes lie at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, the world’s longest peninsula and is a wonderful choice for a romantic escape or girlfriend getaway. Families are also welcome at this destination, but I would prefer to visit sans kids.

    El Arco is a famous image of the Baja Peninsula in Cabo San Lucas, MexicoThis is where romance is as passionate as Lover’s Beach, a place at the tip of the Baja Peninsula at El Arco, where the sand is only revealed once every six years. This is where the Sea of Cortez mixes with the Pacific Ocean, in a blend of senses. Some couples wait to be married until Lover’s Beach is revealed under the famous arches of Cabo san Lucas.

    I was fortunate enough to visit the area, lodging outside of the city, in an area called The Corridor. It’s an 18 mile stretch of beach between Cabo san Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. The flight into Cabo was uneventful and I was the first to get through customs because I only had a carry-on. I was being host by the Hilton Los Cabos Beach and Golf Resort, who had arranged for an airport pickup. A thing to know before going is that the time-share solicitors will try to trick you into telling you they are your ride. A savvy traveler will know that their driver is not allowed inside the airport and will be waiting with a sign outside the glass doors.

    The dramatic drive though The Corridor sets Cabo apart from other beachside retreats. On one side of the road you can’t miss the mountains and rocky hillsides. On the other side, you glimpse the shore, the turquoise waters, and of all things, the cacti on the beach. If you are fortunate enough to visit Cabo in the winter, you may catch a glimpse of a majestic whale.

    Lodging
    The Hilton Los Cabos Beach and Golf Resort was not what I expected and was my first experience at a resort-style Hilton Hotel. The entrance was fabulously massive with marble floors throughout the entire property. My room was a junior beachside suite and included a soaking spa tub with marble shower, a sitting room, plush bed, and relaxing patio area overlooking the beach. I felt like a princess in a beachside fairy tale.

    Hilton Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa Suite PatioThe resort is self contained and couples can spend time here without having to leave. The infinity pool is the main pool located near the whale watching area with towel service provided and numerous beach chairs for sunbathers. The beach is just below and is accessible by a pathway of landscaped concrete making it easy for those of all abilities to enjoy the beach. Snorkeling and other water activities are available onsite by a private vendor. Note: The hotel has experienced a renovation since my visit.

    Nightlife
    Although there is no need to leave the resort, there are many nightlife options available in Cabo san Lucas. My group took a sunset cruise on the Caborey which offers dining and entertainment. The drinks were free-flowing as the ship cruised past El Arco at sunset. This is definitely a romantic kissing moment for those on a romantic escape. As the sun was setting, I could barely make out one of Madonna’s homes, set on an Oceanside cliff. Then it was time to step inside the cabin for dinner and a show.

    After the sunset cruise, my companions and I hit the nightlife of Cabo. We headed first to Cabo Wabo Cantina, known for wild times and crazy parties with Sammy Hagar and his friends, such as Kenny Chesney (hello, my favorite singer), Nickelback, and Smash Mouth. Cabo Wabo was closed for a Cuban Jazz Festival that night. With heads drooping in disappointment, we walked across the street to a little place called, The Giggling Marlin.

    What a blast! This is a cheesy, touristy bar that made me crack up laughing when the waiters busted out dance moves to “Macho Man.” If you need to spice up your life, get one of the waiters to pull you on the dance floor where you can salsa the night away. One of the main attractions of this fine establishment is getting Hung upside down like a Marlin. Imagine that your feet are tied up and pulled towards the ceiling for a shot of tequila. (Tip: Don’t wear a skirt to the Giggling Marlin)

    I don’t remember what time we left, but there are memories of a conga line with tequila. Fortunately, the cab fare back to the hotel was not as expensive as I thought it would be.

    Day Trip
    A day trip on any vacation is a good way to experience the surrounding areas. We went to Todos Santos, an small community located about an hour’s drive north of Cabo san Lucas. Todos Santos is located on the Tropic of Capricorn and is one of the only places in the world where Mangos are in season twice a year.

    Along the desert highway, you can glimpse the area where Troy was filmed. Once arriving in the town, I visited a local contemporary artist, Gabo. I purchased a small canvas of his work to take home (which now hangs in my office). As I walked the streets shopping, I had to stop and look again. There, across the street, was Hotel California. Could it be THE Hotel California? Locals say it is, but Don Henley denies the rumor.

    Spa
    Beach at Hilton Los Cabos Beach Resort and SpaThe day was pleasant, but I was ready for some true relaxation. I enjoyed a massage at the Hilton Los Cabos Spa. The spa was well appointed with a separate area for men and women. Couple’s treatments are available, as well. After an hour of pampering, I took my jellied self back to my room and sat on the patio to read. I listened to the waves splashing along the beach as they crashed on the shore, only to be sucked back into the Sea of Cortez to repeat nature’s process. What a way to end a visit.

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  • The Reach Resort, part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection, is a luxury beachfront resort in Key West, Florida. This property is located one block from Duvall Street and sits on the only natural beach in the area. I checked out this property and found it to be an intimate hideaway for couples and adults making it perfect for a romantic escape.

    The Rooms: My room was a suite overlooking the beach and pool area. The living area was spacious but I spent most of my time at the pool or exploring Key West. The bedroom was a bit small, but with the living area and balcony it didn’t seem cramped. Bathroom had shower large enough for two and enough counter space for a couple.

    The Property: There was construction going on across the street, but that attests to how well the area is doing. Lobby décor was contemporary. This property is large and there was only one elevator area. The pool area was nice and big with drinks available from the bar in the restaurant. It was pretty quiet during the time I was visiting and my traveling companions and I had the pool to ourselves. The beach is fabulous being a private area on Key West’s only natural beach.

    My Mama Moment: Sitting in the pool after a long day of touring Key West, tropical drink in hand.

    Pros: The beach, pool, balcony and location. The property was very clean, even in nooks and crannies.

    Cons: Service. I had to lug my bags up the front steps to the lobby and then make the trek from the elevator to my room, which was located on the far end of the floor. I had to stop twice to rest and didn’t think I’d ever get there.

    Who Should Go: Couples and friends. I personally wouldn’t consider this a family resort, but more of an adult property. This isn’t to say that families wouldn’t be taken care of, just that the kids may find things lacking in the amenities area. My particular room had a shower, no tub, so those with itty bitty kids may have a time bathing them without getting drenched.

    Price: This property is part of The Waldorf Astoria Collection, which means it’s a bit higher on the room rate and should meet certain standards. I will admit that I expected a bit more from a property that has this title attached to it.

    Website: The Reach Resort, The Waldorf Astoria Collection

    Special thanks to The Reach Resort who hosted part of my visit in The Florida Keys.

    Hotel Review on raveable

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