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Posts Tagged ‘Day Trips’

Your Kids Will Love This Train Themed Restaurant

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It’s no secret.  Travelers Rest is the place to be. This little town has made its way into the hearts of families in the Upstate, with good reason.  Take an afternoon, better yet a Saturday, and see for yourself.

Our visit to The Whistle Stop in Travelers Rest

One of my favorite places to visit (and stuff my face) is The Whistle Stop at the American Café.  Have you been? If not, you’re missing out.  Now is the perfect time to go.  In addition to the warm, cozy atmosphere, the food is amazing.  I had the opportunity to stop in recently.

I ordered the classic American burger with a side of fries and savored every bite.

burger at Whistle Stop at American Cafe

Is your mouth watering?  The picture doesn’t do it justice. The meat was cooked to perfection but what impressed me most was the bread.  And please do not get me started on the sweet tea. (If you do not drink sweet tea, I am not sure we can be friends).  Being from the South, tea is an essential part of my day.  The Whistle Stop gets two thumbs up!  We just so happened to visit while they were serving their children’s meal in Santa’s sleigh.

Clearly I am excited about the restaurant, but the children’s meal is the reason for this review.  Drumroll please.

whistle stop kids Christmas meal

Move over McDonald’s, you didn’t have to open this box to find your prize. The box was the prize!  I’m not sure who was more excited – the kids or ME.  That’s not all.  Inside the sleigh was a collectible Christmas duck. Each little friend in the series was dressed in a different holiday disguise. Can you say cute?!  I am hoping these little treasures land on the menu next season.

During non-holiday season, they serve kids meals in a train box. It’s adorable.

In addition to the delicious burger and southern sweet tea, I can’t say enough about the service. More than once the manager checked on our table to make sure everything was perfect. Our young waitress kept all five glasses full and met every other request (in record time, I might add) all while wearing a friendly smile.

Plan your own trip to Whistle Stop

Whistle Stop at the American Cafe is located at 109 Main Street Travelers Rest, SC.  They are open Monday – Thursday from 11 am – 8:30 pm and Friday – Saturday 11 am – 9:30 pm. They are closed on Sunday. I cannot wait to go back.  Next time, however, I plan to dine on the roof. They have live music on the weekends.

whistle stop at the American Cafe

Would your kids like to visit The Whistle Stop at the American Cafe as much as mine did?

RELATED: Where to Find All the Trains in Greenville, Kids Eat Free

Mom Review: The Georgia Aquarium

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Recently Kidding Around Greenville contributor Erica McCall and her family visited the Georgia Aquarium, media pass were provided. Here is the recap on their trip to this hot spot that is a only short road trip from Greenville!

Last summer my hubby, toddler, and I went to visit the Georgia Aquarium. The initial plan was to leave Simpsonville early enough to be at the aquarium before it opened. We planned to tour the aquarium on our own and enjoy toddler time before heading to the dolphin show. The weather, however, had different plans.

We ran into a terrible storm on the way which slowed us down by about 45 minutes.  (I was terrified… seriously.  We couldn’t see the road.)  Then, once near the aquarium, we had to find parking, which ended up being about blocks away.  We hustled through the rain towards the aquarium where we found almost no lines.  For the first time, the rain had helped us out a smidge.

That travel delay detail is important only because it meant that we missed out on one of the things we had planned.  We’d intended to do the toddler time, but since we arrived closer to 10 am than 9, we decided the AT&T Dolphin Celebration was way more important.  Ok…so maybe I decided.  I can’t help that I love dolphins.

Our experience at the Georgia Aquarium

The website said to allow for several hours to complete the aquarium visit, but we had an almost-two-year-old with us and we still did the entire thing in about an hour.  The extras are where you’d need to build in time, and of course some kids might take longer looking at the exhibits than other kids.

The experience began with the traditional commemorative photo.  Be sure to pay attention when your photo is taken. Ours was snapped so fast we almost didn’t get a chance to smile.

After the photo, we headed into the GIANT atrium. There are tons of sounds coming at you due to the fact that all the different halls and room lead you back to this area.  You’ll see entrances to different sections, which are pretty self-explanatory without a map.  Restrooms, as you’ll probably need ASAP, are to the right just after the help desk area.

Once we decided to skip the toddler experience (which was slated to take almost an hour and a half), we went through all the different animal exhibits, working our way counterclockwise around the building, planning to end up at the Dolphin Celebration entrance.  Our son was more excited about the moving sidewalk that runs inside the underwater tunnel than he was about looking at all the fish, not gonna lie.  BUT- once we pointed them out for the forty-billionth time, he tuned in a bit more.  I loved seeing all the fish and rays swim over and around us!  Hubby was most impressed with the whale sharks.  They were gi-huge-ic, as my high school English teacher used to say.

Georgia Aquarium day trip Atlanta

Just after the underwater tunnel, we found a little place to meet Deepo, the aquarium’s mascot.  There was a small theatre with a show going where a staff member “talked” with Deepo and the kids.  It was a very cute, well executed production that had kids and adults laughing.  It also made for a great place to set down the increasingly heavy child you’ve been holding.

Once we left Deepo, we continued on with our tour, visiting saltwater, freshwater, tropical, and arctic animals.  It was seriously amazing to see the different animals, but I was even more impressed with the WAY they were all displayed.  So many tanks were overhead, so Baby J, riding on Daddy’s shoulders, could reach up to touch the glass.  He thought that was awesome!

After we finished seeing everything, we were able to get a picture with a guy dressed up as a seahorse.  He did an excellent job of not pushing J to do more than he wanted and even made him smile when he used his trumpet to “kiss” me.  I was really pleased with how great he was with Baby J.

The dolphin show was set to start at 11:30 am. When we got to the show entrance around 11 we were told it was full to capacity.  While we were eventually let in, it might be a good idea to arrive early to ensure your spot. Also, the seating area is large so you will want to get a good seat. Be aware that there are splash zones and dry zones.

So now it’s time for the bad news.  There’s no photography of any kind during the dolphin show.  Yep.  None.  The reasoning is sound- the dolphins and actors have a strictly choreographed show that included a lot of light and sound elements that would have been disrupted by a flash or the screen of a phone.  Just because it was logical doesn’t mean I liked it any better.

Anyway, the AT&T Dolphin Celebration is a MUST if you go.  It was totally cheesy music and costume and acting, but the dolphins were a lot of fun and ALL the kids I could see were totally into it.  They require singing from the audience and man was it cool to see everyone doing their part!  I would HIGHLY recommend going to this if you can.  As far as the seats, we were at the top of the lower section, dead in the middle.  PERFECT seats.  Also, worth noting, the seats were NOT in the splash zone.  PERFECT.

Georgia Aquarium Atlanta

Once that was over, though, Baby J decided he’d had enough of this not eating lunch yet business and so we ended up skipping out on the tour.  The host said she understood and that he probably wouldn’t have really liked it because it was more of a “how the show is produced” sort of thing than a “see the animals” as much tour.  She said the experiences where you pet the animals are way better for the super young and the tour was better for kids who are a little older and might like touching the costumes and meeting actors.

*NOTE: When leaving the dolphin show, take the door to the right of the tank.  That’s the direct exit.  The left side doors just take you to a hall that wraps around behind the seating room and then to the right side of the room.

Once we left, there was a dolphin specific shopping area in front of a viewing window where the kids could stand and see the dolphins underwater.  I say kids, but I totally used mine as an excuse to get right up to the window.  He thought the floor was cool.  I was glued to the dolphins.

We weren’t willing to stand in line for the food there because the line was around the center area once the show let out.  It did smell pretty yummy, though!  The eating area was in the center of the big atrium and it had plenty of tables and chairs.

While I made my way to the souvenir shop, hubby went to go get our picture developed.  The pictures were super cute and he even got a little frame himself for one of the small shots. (So thoughtful, that one.)  Our photo package and frame totaled about $35.

All in all, I’d say you can expect to spend at least $200 for a family of three.  J was free and I had a media pass, but the extras can add up if you’re not careful.  Was it worth it?  I’d say yes, but not as an every month type of outing.  I’ll probably wait a couple of years before we go again because he’ll be a priced ticket next time because of his age and his attention span is just not quite $50-ticket-cost long yet. (Tickets range from $29.95 – $35.95)

*Editor note: If you’re a local or you plan to go more than a few times in a year a Membership definitely makes a LOT of sense!

If you are looking for a fun date experience, I’d say this would be great for that, too.  Families make up most of who you’ll see there, but if you take a vacation to Atlanta, a date trip over to the aquarium would be a great way to be sure you get to see and enjoy all it has to offer.

Tips for visiting the Georgia Aquarium

1. Call ahead to confirm showtimes for things you really want to see.
2. Purchasing online saves you a few bucks, but not everything can be purchased ahead of time.
3. Send someone to get you seats at the dolphin show early.
4. Smile when you see a camera.
5. The hands-on animal experiences are better for the younger kids than the behind the scenes tour.
6. Don’t go out of the doors in the gift shop until you’re absolutely sure you won’t need back in. (Potty, anyone?)
7. The staff all said that the toddler time was a lot of fun, if your schedule allows for it. (Or if the weather will cooperate with your time of arrival.)
8. Most importantly—-Dolphins are awesome.  They just are.  Ok, maybe that’s just my opinion.

Plan your own visit!

Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
404.581.4000
www.georgiaaquarium.org

Daily hours vary, so be sure to check the calendar.

Buy tickets here.

What was your family’s favorite part of the Georgia Aquarium?

How Our RMSC Pass Saved Us $100+ Last Week

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I personally recommend that local families consider purchasing memberships to the attractions in our area. It’s beneficial on a number of levels. Being a member has perks such as providing year-round educational experiences for your kids, investing in local non-profits and access to special parties and discounts. But, another less tapped into benefit is the access to reciprocal admission benefits at other attractions across the United States. We decided to test the benefits of an ASTC Passport Membership this past week during a family trip to see if it was a deal worth the money. (more…)

10+ Things to do on Campus at Clemson University

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Have you visited the campus of Clemson University in South Carolina? There is much more going on than academics on this beautiful campus situated at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you are visiting Death Valley, exploring the SC Botanical Garden and geology museum, or touring the Clemson University Equine Center, you will find something interesting to do for the entire family! There are so many things to do in Clemson, SC that are kid-friendly and worth a visit to explore.

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Kidding Around Atlanta: World of Coca-Cola

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Curious about the World of Coke in Atlanta? Since Greenville is a short day trip from this popular Atlanta destination, Kidding Around contributors are telling you all about their visit.

What makes Coca-Cola’s secret formula so successful, and why is World of Coca-Cola such a popular destination for families visiting Atlanta, Georgia? Our team at Kidding Around Greenville decided to search for the answers to these two questions on our recent weekend trip to Atlanta. While I can’t promise to share the secret ingredients to Coke’s famous recipe, I think that we did figure out why families love visiting World of Coca-Cola.

Our trip to World of Coca-Cola was compliments of World of Coca-Cola. This post contains affiliate links.

Find a place to stay in Atlanta, GA. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

The Quick Scoop on World of Coca-Cola

Ticket Prices (prices are subject to change):

$17 – Adults (13 – 64)
$15 – Seniors (65+)
$13 – Youths (3 – 12)
Free – Babies (2 and under)

Annual passes and a bundle deal for Atlanta attractions are also available.

Location: Pemberton Place in Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia

Hours: Hours of operation range from 9 am to 8:30 pm, see the World of Coca-Cola website for each day’s specific hours of operation.

Time to Tour: 1 1/2 to 2 hours

Ages: While the World of Coca-Cola accommodates all ages, in my opinion the museum would be best enjoyed by children elementary age through adults.

Parking: Parking is available in the World of Coca-Cola parking garage for $15 a day, two Marta stations are also located within 10 minute walking distances.

Nearby Attractions: The Georgia Aquarium, CNN Tower, and Centennial Olympic Park are all located within easy walking distance of World of Coca-Cola. Susan and I easily filled a day with just the World of Coca-Cola and The Georgia Aquarium, though with an earlier start it would be possible to tour the CNN Tower as well. (I personally think that all three attractions would be overwhelming for children). Atlanta has also opened a tall Ferris Wheel with a 15 minute ride within walking distance of Pemberton Place.

Nearby Hotels: Susan and I stayed at Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel.

What to Expect at World of Coca-Cola

World of Coca-Cola is essentially a fast-paced multimedia museum about the history and production of the drink Coca-Cola. Families can expect a quick live presentation of the history of Coca-Cola when entering the museum, followed by a short animated movie in the Happiness Factory Theatre, and then a self-guided tour of the museum’s exhibits.

I did appreciate that all of World of Coca-Cola’s exhibits including the 4-D Movie Theatre are included in the cost of admission.

World of Coca-Cola Travel Tip: All visitors to World of Coca-Cola must listen to the introductory live presentation and movie which takes around 30 minutes total. Be prepared to entertain small children as the live presentation in particular requires standing in one place for several minutes.

Exhibits at World of Coca-Cola

I’ve toured World of Coca-Cola several times, and in my opinion Coca-Cola has kept the museum fresh and interesting. While some of the popular exhibits have remained unchanged, every visit brings new experiences too. You can find a complete list of exhibits and shows on the World of Coca-Cola website, but I’ll list a couple of my favorites.

 Vault of the Secret Formula

Kids will love the dramatic presentation of the exhibit Vault of the Secret Formula. The attendants keep even the line waiting lively, with a beach ball game. Upon entering the vault, visitors are crammed into a small room where a “security clearance” is performed.

Inside the vault, visitors learn about the history of Coca-Cola’s brand success against counterfeit brands while also being teased with a mixture of history and legend surrounding the secret formula.

The exhibit has a fun atmosphere with mirrored ceilings and mysterious voices. At the end the visitors experience a circular room with multi-media moving walls simulating the filling of a cup of Coke.  At the end of the multi-media presentation “the vault” is revealed.

World of Coca-Cola Travel Tip: Families especially with small children will want to be aware that touring the exhibit does involve being crammed into small rooms much like riding an elevator. Upon entering the exhibit, you must follow the timetable of the tour before exiting, so be sure to schedule that bathroom trip first.

Bottle Works

Personally, I would count Bottle Works as my favorite exhibit, a miniature real-bottling line that gives families a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of Coca-Cola.

4-D Theatre

Moving seats, 3-D Glasses, and water mists make the 4-D Theatre a memorable experience. While the movie is a little corny in plot, it’s fast-paced search for the secret ingredient keeps visitors glued to their seats. For visitors wanting a less-active showing, non-moving seats are available and exits are clearly pointed out before the show.

World of Coca-Cola Funny Memory: While Susan and I enjoyed the 4-D movie, we were sitting by a couple women who really enjoyed the movie. From the first small jolt of our seat to the last mist of water, our neighbors screamed liberally throughout the entire show. I was even afraid at one point that the lady beside me was about to end up in my lap.

Taste It!

I think that I can safely say that the exhibit Taste It! is the favorite of children visiting World of Coca-Cola. With over 100 different flavors from around the world and unlimited visits to the soda fountain, Taste It! definitely is a sparkling end to the tour. Whether you discover a new flavor or stumble on the infamous Beverly, you won’t leave thirsty. (Though you may leave feeling a little sick.)

World of Coca-Cola Travel Tip: I was excited to see that World of Coca-Cola added several mix-your-own beverage machines. You may want to walk to the back of the exhibit to check them out before filling up on fruity beverages at the front.

Guest Services at World of Coca-Cola

You can find a complete list of World of Coca-Cola’s accessibility options for persons with disabilities on the World of Coca-Cola website under Guest Services. World of Coca-Cola is completely wheelchair and stroller accessible, though stroller usage may be restricted in some areas during peak times.

Free Wi-Fi is available both inside and outside World of Coca-Cola.

Family restrooms are available, and changing stations are located in all bathrooms. I didn’t notice any private spots that would be convenient for breast-feeding, though there was plenty of seating throughout the museum.

World of Coca-Cola does not have a restaurant, but Pemberton Cafe is located outside the museum.

Souvenirs: World of Coca-Cola provides a complimentary glass bottle of Coca-Cola to every guest. Guests can also get a photo taken with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear or on the vintage Coca-Cola couch by a professional photographer. While you can purchase a photo at the gift shop, the photographers also accommodated guests by taking photos with the visitors’ own cameras.

When planning your trip to Atlanta, be sure to also check out our Kidding Around review of:

The Georgia Aquarium

Find an affordable place to stay in Atlanta on Hotels.com

So, what makes the brand Coca-Cola so successful? I think that the World of Coca-Cola museum proves that Coca-Cola is more than just a beverage but a common experience associated with happiness and fun that we share with people across the globe. Similarly, World of Coca-Cola leaves you happy and full of great memories.