Somewhere In Time

An Experience At America’s Oldest Resort – The Omni Homestead

Now I don’t know about you, but I think it would be cool to travel through time, but alas, that’s not possible (at least that I know of 🤔), so here’s the next best thing. A trip “through time” to the oldest resort in the United States. The Homestead. This property is ten years older than the United States itself. It was founded in 1766. And while it has changed ownership and structures several times over through the centuries, it is still a historic resort from all those years ago. And it was an interesting time to say the least.

Truth be told, I had never heard of The Omni Homestead until I received a Save The Date for a friend’s wedding. Nestled in a remote area in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains, the property itself is stunning. The hotel is very grandiose, but my favorite part was the overall scenery. It was so lush and green. Plus, there are a large array of activities for the whole family to do. Options include everything from Horseback Riding, Falconry and Archery to Water Slides, Golf, Hiking and so much more.

The Cascades Gorge Hike

Since I was on a solo trip (the wedding was an adult-only affair and someone had to watch the kids, so my hubby stayed home with them), I opted to go on the resort’s Cascades Gorge Hike. Let me tell you, it was amazing and a highlight of the trip.

The Cascades Gorge Hike is lead by the Resort’s Naturalist Brian, who is very entertaining by the way. We trekked through waterfalls in this Tropical Forest of Virginia. You read that right… Virginia has a Tropical Forest. The Hot Springs in the area create a tropical microclimate. How interesting is that? And can I just say, I learned so much on this hike! Some examples. Did you know plants are actually classified as intelligent life? They communicate with each other. Or how about if you are infected by a poisonous plant, the remedy is typically within eyeshot? That is merely “the tip of the iceberg” so to speak of the facts our group learned on the hike.

In addition to the entertaining and educational nature of the hike, the surroundings were so beautiful and peaceful. There were several waterfalls along the way as we weaved from the base of the trail up to the golf course, and I can honestly say I left feeling re-energized.

If you ever make it this way, I highly recommend the hike. It did cost $31 a person (crazy for a hike, right?!) but I can actually say it was worth it.

The Pool

The Homestead has several types of pools throughout the property, including a Lazy River, a Splash Pad, Water Slides and an Adult Only one. I spent most of my time in either the Lazy River or on the Water Slides. They also have poolside cocktail service (I definitely enjoyed a couple Strawberry Daiquiris). The only downside is there were several bees throughout the pool area, and I was even stung by one… Ouch!

The Hotel Room & Cleanliness

By now, most of you know that I am all about a clean hotel room. It is the main way I judge a hotel to be honest. And this is one of the areas where the resort fell short. The room itself was nice and spacious, but there were cashew nuts, straw wrappers and crumbs left on the floor (leading me to be concerned about the overall cleanliness of the actual room!). Can I just say… GROSS! Plus, what if someone staying in the room had a nut allergy? I did report the issue to management, and they were going to talk with their staff about the incident. But truth be told, it wasn’t just the rooms that needed some cleaning… Cobwebs could be frequently found in the hallways, on stairs and in corners.

The Power

Ok… I get it. This is the oldest resort in the country. But it is also 2019… Power shouldn’t be an issue. But oh was it. The power went out a couple times during my stay (a whole 36 hours on property) with the longest stretch being for around an hour because their generators are so old it takes that long to kick in. Pair that with the hallways that aren’t air conditioned and the heatwave that was sweeping through the region, it made for not the best accommodations.

The Food

As a whole, the food was pretty good. I enjoyed my Pizza, Strawberry Mojito (so refreshing!) and Calamari from Woody’s and the Poolside Chicken Fingers with my Strawberry Daiquiri were tasty.

The only disappointing meal I had was their breakfast buffet in the Dining Room. It was way overpriced for mediocre food. Seriously, my waffle and omelet were the most expensive things I ate the whole trip, and I can find better at an IHOP.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I did have an enjoyable trip to The Omni Homestead. Will I be rushing back? No. But I am glad I went and saw. Plus, the resort will be updated soon as The Omni has budgeted millions of dollars to renovate this property. I’m interested to see what they do with the place.

A Howl Of A Time

Great Wolf Lodge Experience

Groupon!

Great Wolf Lodge. The kids have been asking us to go there for what feels like forever. Truth be told, my hubby and I thought it may be too gimmicky and too expensive when we’d rather put the money towards a trip to Disney World. But… A Groupon deal came up for a $94 per night rate. You read that right… only $94 a night, and that included water park entry. Sure it was over Mother’s Day, but let’s be honest, I can celebrate Mother’s Day with my family at anytime. That deal was only good for a couple days, so I took full advantage. And I’m glad I did!

The Room!

When we arrived at the resort, we ended up upgrading to a Kid’s Cabin Suite (it was an additional $35 a night so still only $129 a night), and the kids were thrilled. The room was so fun, spacious and cute! It included a fireplace, balcony and “Cabin” area (I mean… it is called the Kid’s Cabin Suite…) for the kids, where they had bunkbeds, a little table and their own television. And, the most important part… The room was very clean.

The Waterpark!

The Indoor Waterpark… This is probably what Great Wolf Lodge is best known for. The Traverse City location features 3 tube slides, 2 regular water slides, 3 kiddie slides and kiddie pool, a lazy river, 2 hot tubs (one kid-friendly, one adult only), a water basketball area, an activity pool that includes balancing lily pads and their famous water tower.

The kids loved splashing around the waterpark. While my youngest went down the kiddie slides on loop (seriously… I’m sure she went down the slides a few hundred times… Thank goodness for poolside strawberry daiquiris! LOL), my oldest jumped from the tube slides to the lazy river to the Totem Tower slides to the basketball area and back around again. And they both had a blast! And not going to lie… I always love a good tube slide too. 🙂

Another thing I found interesting about the pool area, is the staff could frequently be seen cleaning everything down or running life guard drills by planting a “dummy” in the pool areas to see how long it took the lifeguards to see and “rescue” him.

But the best part about our time in the waterpark? Since we were there during a slower time of year, there were no lines! It should also be noted that they also have an outdoor pool area that’s open in the summers.

More Fun!

One thing that surprised me about Great Wolf Lodge is how many more activities they had for the kids! Probably the favorite amongst my family was the MagiQuest – A scavenger hunt that involves magical wands, riddles and exploring the entire hotel to complete various quests that ends in a duel with a Dragon or a challenge with a Pixie. It was a great way to get moving, explore the property and use our brains to solve the riddles.

In addition to the MagiQuest, the resort also has a Bedtime Story Time, Clock Tower show, Miniature Golf, Morning Yoga for the kids, Bowling, a Creation Station (basically a Build A Bear for the Lodge) and an arcade.

The Food!

Resort food. It can be hit or miss depending on the resort, so I was skeptical of how good the food options would be at Great Wolf Lodge. And I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised at how yummy the food was! They also had plenty of food options for a variety of dietary concerns (including Gluten Free!) at a variety of restaurants.

If you want a sit down meal at a regular restaurant, head to the Camp Critter Bar & Grill. They have everything from burgers, salads and chicken to pastas and grilled cheese. Plus, they had some tasty rolls (we seriously went through 3 baskets!) and a delicious Pineapple Mango Margarita.

If you’re craving pizza and pasta, head to Hungry As A Wolf (the pizza was delish… and my youngest ate 2 whole pieces!). Hanging by the pool, Buckets Incredible Craveables has you covered with tasty chicken fingers, burgers, fries, flatbread, pretzels and more. If you want something sweet, head to the Ice Cream shop or the Candy Store. And don’t forget… Dunkin Donuts will deliver breakfast to your room in the morning!

Overall!

We had an amazing experience! If the opportunity arises, you should totally head to Great Wolf Lodge for a quick getaway filled with family fun! And don’t forget to check Groupon for a great deal!

Behind The Hair – Chicago

So when I was a teenager looking through gossip and beauty magazines I always loved Jennifer Aniston’s hair and swore that if I ever found out who colored her hair, I would go to them. Imagine my excitement when I was living in DC and discovered her hair colorist – Michael Canale – traveled to DC monthly to color his clients’ hair, which includes several politicos as well. He’s been doing my hair ever since from coast to coast, and I’m happy to say he’s not only an awesome colorist but a great person that I am glad to call a friend. Even more exciting, he colors hair in Chicago while his cousin, a celebrity stylist, Jeffrey Martinez cuts at Bentley Hair & Beauty. Now I drive to Chicago from Michigan for my hair appointments and leave with A-list hair 😀. If you are in the Chicago area (or those that want to join me on a road trip to the Windy City), I highly recommend you give this hair dream duo a try. You will love the results!

To book your appointment, call 310-273-8080. http://www.canalesalon.com

A Slice… Of Donato’s!

What can I say, I love my pizza. Especially the pizza of my childhood. And the pizza place that my hubby asked my parents permission to marry me (mind you, I was there and a part of the conversation – we are a very modern family). Donato’s holds a special place in my heart. And don’t get me wrong, I love a tasty New York slice, a Chicago deep dish or a Neapolitan-style pie, but nothing compares to Donato’s thin crust pizza for me. And it’s all about the crust. It has a flavor that is truly addicting. I could eat a whole pizza myself! All of that said, no trip to Ohio is complete without a stop at this old-time favorite. If you ever see a Donato’s, I suggest you give it a try. You won’t be disappointed! 

https://www.donatos.com

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King’s Island – An Amusing Time

What can I say? My family likes to go to amusement parks. Well, really it’s my kids who LOVE to go to amusement parks. Now that we live in Michigan, we frequent Cedar Point and have checked out Michigan Adventure, but this time we decided to go to King’s Island in Ohio. It has been years since I’ve been to King’s Island (I won’t say how many because that would totally date me), but we were excited to go and see what it had to offer. And let me tell you, we road roller coasters, log rides, raging rivers and so much more. We also got to pet and feed animals, eat funnel cakes and have an all around good time. I would actually say out of Cedar Point, Michigan Adventure and King’s Island, King’s Island was the favorite with the kids (which is slightly surprising because it felt like the smallest of the three), but the lines weren’t too long and we had a great day of family fun… until the end. When we were trying to get a family pic, my oldest’s hand was accidentally sat on and the tears ensued. Needless to say, my family pic turned into a single shot of me… Oh well. Thus is mom life. LOL. 

https://www.visitkingsisland.com

So Happy Together

For the young and the young at heart, the HAPPY PLACE is a fun, intriguing and for lack of a better word, happy, place.  But most of you are probably wondering “What on earth is the HAPPY PLACE?” Started by a SoCal Dad, the HAPPY PLACE is a touring, interactive pop up experience that is intended to spread more happiness into the world. It’s full of “happy” scenes and experiences, ranging from a giant ball pit your whole fam or group of friends can jump into and a confetti blowing machine to giant high heels, an upside down room and a rubber ducky bathtub. It originated in Los Angeles, Chicago is it’s second stop, and more cities will be announced soon. Now it’s time to get happy, keep reading and check out the photos. 

Truth be told, when I saw a lot of my friends posting pics at HAPPY PLACE in Los Angeles, my first thought was why on earth didn’t they have that while we still lived there. My kids (and me!) would love that! Fast forward to our trip to Chicago, imagine how excited I was when I discovered that HAPPY PLACE was there! I was pleasantly surprised that tickets were still available for that Saturday morning (it was a Sold Out event in California), so I jumped at the opportunity and bought our tickets. Now all we had to do was wait (and travel).

That Saturday morning, we caught an Uber to what appeared to be a warehouse district on the outskirts of downtown Chicago. There was a big inflatable outside (pictured above) and the kids were excited to get “happy.” We waited in a line for our time slot. They restrict how many people can go in at a time so all of their patrons can enjoy the experience. Then it was time to walk through those cute smiley face doors. Will the kids like it? Will we have fun? Was it worth the hype? Only time would tell. 

Upon entry, we were greeted with a television that happily goes through the rules of the road. Then we walked into a hallway with giant letters that included “Be Happy” before entering the first room… with giant yellow heels, M&Ms for snacking and a wall of gumball machines. This is my kinda place! We continued through, finding a series of rooms with themed wallpapers, fun sets (some you could climb on and some you couldn’t) and great photo ops/video opportunities. There were hearts, and flowers, and palm trees and confetti. There were signs, and chains, and tubs and dance parties. And at the end of the main exhibits, there were food stands with unicorn and rainbow Cotton Candy, Mac & Cheese, Grilled Cheese and Chicken and Waffles. We opted to try the Rainbow Grilled Cheese and Unicorn Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and not only were they colorful, the were surprisingly tastier than I anticipated. Around the food section were games of corn hole and croquet that the kids and grownups enjoyed. But even though that was the end, the exhibits weren’t over yet. At the exit, they had a gift shop, a giant rubber ducky, a chalkboard the kids were allowed to write on and a wall of butterflies in addition to cute sayings on the walls saying “Happy Trails To You Until We Meet Again” and “Did We Just Become Best Friends.”

In conclusion, the whole family enjoyed a hop into the ball pit which is documented in Slow Mo on my phone (and on Instagram). We have boomerang videos of the kids pulling balloons attached to the ceiling. We posed with a giant “Happy” sign and got to “hang upside down” in rooms. We hopped in a bathtub surrounded by rubber duckies. We have some great family photos and mother/daughter pics, and everyone was all smiles. But most importantly, we made great memories and got happy together. I recommend checking it out. 

For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.happyplace.me