#SpringItOn At Gaylord Palms

This past weekend, Gaylord Palms Resort invited my family and me to stay at their hotel and experience their Once Upon A Spring Event. This event will get you in the mood for tulips and chocolate bunnies; between the cookie decorating, scavenger hunts, and water park, we had the best weekend ever!

Gaylord Palms is situated outside of Orlando in Kissimmee, Florida, and is located very close to Walt Disney World (seriously, minutes away). Gaylord Palms is large and opulent, but from the road, you can’t tell what’s waiting for you inside. The moment you step through their massive revolving front door, you feel like you are in another place altogether. Just past the lobby, you will find yourself in an expansive atrium full of plants and animals; it’s truly magical and the perfect vacation destination.

Gaylord follows Marriott’s Commitment to Clean Standards, and I found the hotel to be clean and safe. Masks are required by anyone two and older while outside of their hotel rooms, hand sanitizing stations are located throughout the resort, social distancing measures are in place, and we found hand sanitizer and wipes in our room.

We arrived on Friday and immediately wanted to explore. My husband has never been to a Gaylord Resort before, and I think I heard an audible gasp when he opened our balcony door. The gardens inside the atrium of Gaylord Palms are lush and feature four areas: Key West, St. Augustine, Emerald Plaza, and the Everglades. There is even a boat, a restaurant called MOOR, inside of the hotel! We stayed in St. Augustine and had the perfect view of the atrium and, at night, the Springtime Light Display (more on that later). 

My daughter was anxious to get a closer view of the atrium, so we headed downstairs to check it out.

During Once Upon A Spring, you will find the Eggspression Garden located in the middle of the atrium. This walkthrough experience full of oversized eggs and larger-than-life chocolate Easter Bunnies will get you in the mood for spring. Brooklyn loved this area, and we walked through it multiple times during our stay. We also participated in the Bunny Scavenger Hunt, which had us searching for Easter Bunnies throughout the resort! These activities helped give us a lay of the land and were a great way to kick off our trip.

As the evening turned into night, we put Brooklyn down for bed and headed out to our atrium facing balcony, where we were able to watch the Springtime Light Display. You can’t see the LED screens that hang from the St. Augustine Atrium ceiling during the day, but at night they come alive with flowers, bunnies, and all things spring. My husband and I really enjoyed sitting on our balcony and watching the lights. 

On Saturday morning, we decided to have breakfast at Villa De Flora.

This newly renovated restaurant offered a breakfast buffet (where your food is served to you) and an opportunity to dine with the Easter Bunny! During our breakfast, we met the King of Easter, who kept Brooklyn laughing throughout our meal. There was a large variety of food at the buffet, and everything we tried was excellent.

After breakfast, we headed straight to Cypress Springs Water Park, and it did NOT disappoint. Honestly, I could write an entire post about how wonderful the water park at Gaylord Palms is, but I’ll leave it at this; my husband and I both agreed it is a place we will definitely have to visit again.

While we were there, Crystal River Rapids opened, and we were some of the first to experience it! This not-so-lazy river is perfect for everyone in the family, and we had an absolute blast. When we finally got my daughter out of the river, she and my husband enjoyed the zero-entry pool, and I was able to enjoy a drink poolside. I also caught a glimpse of the Springtime Pool Party (during the weekend from 12-4pm), full of games, dancing, and prizes. 

The only way we could get Brooklyn away from the water park was with promises of Cookie Decorating. We changed into some dry closed and walked to Old Hickory, located in the Everglades (I think Everglades is my favorite section of the hotel!). Once we arrived, we decorated our own Easter Egg cookie, AND we got to meet the Easter Bunny.

After a quick afternoon nap (that water park wears you out), we enjoyed an evening production of Paint Me A Fairytale. This precious show is narrated by Mother Goose and tells the stories of Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, and Jack and the Beanstock and was the perfect way to end our Gaylord Palms stay. Once the production was over, Brooklyn was given a set of watercolors and a watercolor book depicting the show. This show runs daily during the weekend at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm and you can purchase tickets in advance. 

If you think that the Gaylord Palms is “just another hotel outside of Disney World,” you would be completely wrong! This resort is a destination within itself, and we had such a magical weekend experiencing everything that it has to offer. Between the whimsical springtime activities, delicious restaurants, and incredible water park, I am already trying to convince my husband that we need another trip back to Gaylord Palms soon.

You can enjoy Gaylord Palm’s Once Upon A Spring Event from now until May 16!

Sending love and magic.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

We seem to fill our December with holiday outings, trips, and adventures. So you can imagine how excited I was when SeaWorld San Antonio invited me out for a day to enjoy their park and experience their SeaWorld Christmas Celebration. This holiday celebration is one of Texas’s largest, and we had a magical time experiencing all that SeaWorld San Antonio had to offer.

SeaWorld San Antonio is an animal theme park located in San Antonio, Texas. At 250 acres, it is the largest of the SeaWorld Parks, the others being in Orlando and San Diego. This park has educational animal encounters, incredible rides, multiple shows, and a separate waterpark called Aquatica. As a child growing up in San Antonio, we often took trips to SeaWorld, and I am pretty sure SeaWorld was my first theme park experience.

Please note that SeaWorld San Antonio has many safety measures in place during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Guests two years old and older must wear face coverings while in the park, physical distancing measures are in place, hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the park and, upon arrival at SeaWorld, they will check your temperature. We also noticed that the rides were being wiped down and cleaned every hour, which was nice. All of these precautions made us feel safe during our trip to SeaWorld.

We had big plans to wake up early Sunday morning and spend the entire day at SeaWorld, but after my toddler woke up a little grumpy, we decided to wait to go until she had her afternoon nap. Luckily, SeaWorld was open until 9:00 pm, so I knew that we would have plenty of time to enjoy the park even if we arrived in the afternoon. My daughter napped until 3:00 pm, and as soon as she woke up, we were on our way.

Upon arrival at SeaWorld, our temperature was taken, and we headed off to enjoy ourselves. Our first stop was the Sesame Street Bay of Play, a child-friendly spot with smaller rides for kids and a huge playground area (currently closed due to Covid). In this area, you have the opportunity to meet your favorite Sesame Street characters, and my daughter was so excited to see Elmo (socially distanced, of course).

We also enjoyed Elmo’s Christmas Wish, a cute show starring Elmo, Cookie Monster, Rosita, Grover, and Zoe. My daughter probably would’ve been happy staying in the Bay of Play area all night, but there was more to see!

We continued through the park, where we saw cute Christmas photo spot setups based on the 1960’s classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This area seemed to draw a crowd (and I can see why!), so we moved through rather quickly. But, my daughter and husband were able to quickly grab a picture with Yukon Cornelius.

After a quick stop to check out the flamingos, we stumbled upon the Fireside S’mores area (which might’ve been my favorite part of our whole visit).

This area had live music, hot cocoa, and the chance to roast your s’mores! We purchased a s’more kit, and my husband and I had so much fun roasting our s’mores over the fire.

We also grabbed some hot chocolate in this area and a delicious shortbread Christmas Tree cookie for my daughter. The Fireside S’mores area is the perfect place to have a sweet snack and take a break!

Around this time, the Christmas lights started to come on, and we were getting excited. My mom came along with us, so my husband and I decided to quickly ride The Great White Roller Coaster and Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster before it got too dark. Both of these rides offer breathtaking views of the park, and I genuinely think they are some of the best roller coasters that I have ever been on.

After our rides, the Christmas lights were on so we snuggled my daughter in her stroller and headed off to look at the lights throughout the park. SeaWorld San Antonio’s Christmas Light Display is the largest in Texas and does not disappoint!

There were so many beautiful lights and areas to see; it felt so magical. I truly love that you can stroll through SeaWorld San Antonio and take it all in without feeling rushed.

Although we didn’t have time to do everything that we wanted to at SeaWorld San Antonio, we truly had a so much fun and cannot wait to come back. I was so pleased to see the safety precautions that they have made during Covid and even more excited to see all of the Christmas lights. I am so thankful that SeaWorld San Antonio invited us out to experience their park and give us the opportunity to create some wonderful memories as a family.

If you are looking for a wonderful way to create memories during the holiday season, look no further than SeaWorld San Antonio.

Sending love and magic.

Brooklyn’s 2nd Birthday

Although our plans for having a big 2nd birthday party this year might have changed, we still had to have a celebration (I mean, who do you think I am?). Cinnamon Shore was the perfect place to host a small birthday party, well actually two of them, and today I will share all the fun details.

Let me start by saying that, when I was a child, my mom made every holiday a big celebration. She would cook special meals, plan activities, and even get my brother and me special outfits. My whole life has been full of memorable moments, and I now strive to make those special moments for my daughter as well. So if I seem a little “extra”, you now know where it comes from.

When planning our trip, I told my husband and mom that I would be bringing along my Mickey Waffle Maker to make Mickey Waffles for a birthday breakfast. Well, my mom took this idea and ran with it. She decided that she would decorate and host a Mickey Mouse Birthday Breakfast for everyone, and it was the best way to start the day.

Party City came in clutch with some of the cutest Mickey Mouse birthday decorations ever! My mom brought balloons, a table cloth, Mickey plates and cups, Mickey party hats and a cute banner. With an upstairs open layout, our Cinnamon Shore Vacation Rental was perfect for a party. We decorated the kitchen and dining room the night before my daughter’s birthday so that when she woke up, it would be a complete surprise. She LOVED it!

For breakfast, I made Mickey Waffles using my favorite waffle mix ever, Golden Malted Waffle Mix. This mix makes crispy and delicious waffles, just like the ones you will find at Disney World. Even my niece, who “doesn’t like waffles,” claimed that this was the best breakfast she had ever had. Having a surprise birthday breakfast was the perfect way to start our day!

In the evening, my husband and I hosted a mermaid birthday dinner. When planning my daughter’s party, I wanted to do something beachy as a theme and I found the cutest mermaid birthday supplies from Target. We had so much fun “shell-abrating” my daughter turning two.

Our vacation rental home had a full kitchen, so at one point I considered cooking up a meal. In the end, I decided to make it easier on everyone and order pizza (and wings) from Dylan’s Coal Oven Pizza. This pizza place is located inside Cinnamon Shore, which means we could pick up the pizza in our golf cart, and the food is fantastic.

My friend Suzanne from Suzy Homebaker made us the PERFECT cookies for our party. I reached out to her and sent her a picture of the decor I bought, and she matched it perfectly. These cookies were not only cute but delicious! If you are in the San Antonio, Texas area and need cookies made for any occasion, reach out to Suzanne. I didn’t want our cake to outshine the cookies, so I ordered a white cake from HEB and picked it up on our way to the beach.

We ended our day by eating cookies and cake and opening presents. 2020 is a weird year, but our small, socially distanced birthday party was better than I could have imagined. We had so much fun celebrating at Cinnamon Shore, and I’m almost considering doing the same thing next year.

Sending love and magic.

Our Weekend at Cinnamon Shore

In June, with our Disney Anniversary Trip canceled, my husband and I searched high and low for a place that we could spend our sixth anniversary. Since it was the height of COVID, we wanted to find a home we could rent, within driving distance of where we live, and we didn’t want to feel like we were in Texas. We live near San Antonio, so I thought this would probably be impossible to find, but then we stumbled upon Cinnamon Shore.

Nestled on the Texas Gulf Coast, in Port Aransas, you will find a small beach community called Cinnamon Shore. Cinnamon Shore is a magical place full of family activities (like sandcastle building and movies on the lawn), shops, restaurants, swimming pools, and easy access to the beach. They offer different vacation homes that you can rent, for the weekend or a week, in many different sizes, one-bedroom to six. Although almost everything is within walking distance, there are also golf carts available for rental; you can park your car when you get there and forget about it. Our favorite part is that you no longer feel like you’re in Texas when you pull into Cinnamon Shore.

Initially, I was planning a big birthday party for my daughter. But, with COVID still around and social distancing measures in place, we decided to forgo a big party this year. After some brainstorming with my husband, we decided that the best place to celebrate her second birthday would be Cinnamon Shore. Cinnamon Shore is practicing social distancing, and masks are currently required while you’re inside their main office, shops, and restaurants (if you’re not actively eating), but it is still such a wonderful place to be. We invited my family to come along for our trip, and I think they loved Cinnamon Shore just as much.

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and spent the next two and a half days experiencing all of the fun that Cinnamon Shore has to offer. Even though it was a weekend trip, we had enough time to experience it all and found that it is the perfect family destination and the perfect place to host a birthday.

Something neat about Cinnamon Shore is that you can rent a vacation home through Cinnamon Shore directly, even though each home is privately owned. We rented the house “Happy Kat Cottage II,” and it was absolutely perfect for our weekend trip. This house is a four-bedroom, four-bathroom home with a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and incredible views. Although Cinnamon Shore is a beach community on the Texas Coast, most houses do not face the beach, BUT there are many homes throughout the property that are on a lake. Happy Kat Cottage II is located on Lake Colby, and that, along with its huge porch, made for the best views day and night. We had six adults and three kids in our home, along with our puppy, and we had plenty of space to spread out.

I mentioned before that Cinnamon Shore has its own restaurants and shops. Dylan’s Coal Oven Pizza is one of our favorite places to eat while we were there (we ate their twice) and Coffee Waves has some of the best coffee ever! My husband and I enjoyed grabbing coffee from Coffee Waves first thing in the morning and then driving straight out to the beach in our golf cart to enjoy a view and coffee. On this trip we also ate at Lisabella’s, which I would consider Cinnamon Shore’s fine dining option. Although we ended up getting caught in the rain while eating outside at Lisabella’s, it was one of the best meals we have ever had. I can’t wait to go back and eat there again!

Along with Golf Carts, you can also rent beach chairs and fishing poles from Cinnamon Shore. The beach chairs are great because you literally don’t have to lift a finger! Every morning Cinnamon Shore sets out your beach chairs on the beach, and every evening they head out and pick them up. If you have a golf cart, you can drive right up to your chairs and park when you’re ready to enjoy the beach. It makes for a delightful beach day. My daughter loved building her first sandcastles on the beach.

We also rented fishing poles and a tackle box for some catch and release fishing in their lake on this trip. Fishing was a family favorite, and my niece and nephew have not stopped talking about it.

When we weren’t enjoying our vacation home, eating, riding in our golf cart, building sandcastles at the beach, or fishing, you could find us in one of the three swimming pools! Each pool at Cinnamon Shore has a different vibe. Kiera’s Pool has a bar and restaurant, so it was usually busy with lots of families, the Stillwater Pool is heated and quiet, and the Dune Pool (our favorite) is enormous and located right next to the playground. I love that the swimming pools at Cinnamon Shore feature shallow areas with fountains (almost like a splash pad) where my daughter could play. We spent hours and hours in the pool having so much fun, and there were tears when swim time was over, and it was time to head back to our house.

Overall, we had a fantastic weekend at Cinnamon Shore, and we made so many incredible memories. We are already planning on returning this fall and next summer because we enjoyed it so much. I have noticed that Vacation Rentals at Cinnamon Shore book up quickly, so make reservations as far in advance as possible. If you are looking for an incredible vacation destination on the Texas Gulf Coast, find yourself at Cinnamon Shore.

Tomorrow I will be sharing all of the details of my daughter’s birthday celebrations (yes, there were two) while we were at Cinnamon Shore, so stay tuned!

Sending love and magic.