Review: Statue Cruises – New York City

The Statue Cruises ferry to The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is a “must do” for all New York visitors. We reached the launch area in Battery Park by taking the subway from Penn Station. Before boarding, there was a security check exactly like those found in airports. Once aboard, passengers may choose to enjoy the trip on any of the three decks. We chose the third level because the weather was fabulous and the view spectacular. If passengers wished to debark on either of the two islands, the next ferry docked about thirty minutes later. We enjoyed every minute of the cruise and highly recommend it to all New York visitors.

St. Louis’ Forest Park- IN REVIEW~ By Tiffany

Being new to St. Louis it is exciting to me to get out and explore all that STL has to offer! One of those things is Forest Park, here is a brief look into the history of Forest Park from Wikipedia…

‘Forest Park is a public park located in western part of the city of St. Louis, Missouri in the United States. It is a prominent civic center and covers 1,371-acre. The park, which opened in 1876 more than a decade after its proposal, has hosted several significant events, including the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 and the 1904 Summer Olympics. Bounded by Skinker Boulevard, Lindell Boulevard, Kingshighway Boulevard, and Oakland Avenue, the park is known as the “heart of St. Louis” and features a variety of attractions, including the St. Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, and the St. Louis Science Center.

Since the early 2000s, it has carried out a $100 million restoration of its facilities through a public-private partnership aided by its Master Plan. Changes have extended to improving landscaping and habitat as well. The park’s acreage includes meadows and trees, and a variety of ponds, man made lakes, and freshwater streams. For several years, the park has been restoring prairie and wetlands areas of the park. It has reduced flooding and attracted a much greater variety of birds and wildlife, which have settled in the new natural habitats.’

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You can learn much more about the park at this link…Forest Park (St. Louis) but today’s post is all about my review of the park.

I’ve been to Forest Park twice now, once to visit the St. Louis Zoo and the other to visit the Missouri History Museum (both a recommended entertainment!). My most recent visit to Forest Park occurred on Good Friday 2013, it was a beautiful day and I think most of St. Louis was out and about exploring the park.

There is lots to do in Forest Park, the zoo, the museums and the science center but also it is just a great place to walk your dog or get your daily exercise in. The park has lots of walking paths and even a golf club and tennis center and a lots of open areas to fly kites or play ball with your friends.

While on my visit we parked and walked to the great basin which is a man made lake in the park, it has six fountains and is front and center to Art Hill and the art museum. They offer paddle boats and you can paddle around the lake if you like on a beautiful day. The other areas of the park offer picnic areas and wildlife areas. The park also had loads of street parking and parking lots, there is also a trolley (bus) that you can ride around the park and take in all the sites.

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So if you ever find yourself in St. Louis, take a drive to Forest Park and have yourself a wonderful fun filled day! Till next time, keep traveling!

Missouri History Museum- In Review ~ by Tiffany Lindsey

Missouri History Museum is located in Forest Park in St. Louis Missouri, I had the opportunity to visit it for the first time on the 29th of March. I have been living in St. Louis for almost three years now and I’m finally getting out and exploring more of the city. Before my review here is some history on the museum…

“The museum is operated by the Missouri Historical Society and was founded in 1866. The main galleries of the museum are free through a public subsidy by the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District.

The Jefferson Memorial Building, built in 1913 with profits from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, is the current home of the museum.

In 1988, the Museum joined the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District and began receiving sales tax revenue.

In 2000, the Emerson Center, a significant building addition was completed, boosting attendance and exhibition capacity. The Emerson Center, featuring a ground-to-roof southern glass facade, was designed by Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, and included substantially more exhibition space, as well as an auditorium, classrooms, a restaurant and gift shop. The Emerson Center was selected by the American Institute of Architects’s Committee on the Environment as an example of architectural design that protects and enhances the environment. It is an example of a green museum.

The museum permanent collection includes both national artifacts, as well as Missouri and St. Louis related materials, such as local colonial and native artifacts, Louisiana Purchase Exposition artifacts, and items relating to Charles Lindbergh and his trans-Atlantic flight in the “Spirit of St. Louis”.[ A replica of the “Spirit of St. Louis” can be found in the museum. A large amount of artifacts from the Lewis and Clark Expedition are also housed in the permanent collection, as St. Louis was the starting point for that venture.

Recent travelling exhibits and events have included items related to the Fox Theatre’s restoration and renovation,the Road to Freedom tour (celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act), and, prominently, the Lewis and Clark National Bicentennial Exhibition.”

Now that you have the back story on the museum you can read my review!

The museum wasn’t to busy on good friday so there was lots of space to spread out and not have to be piled into each other like some museums in the area. The architecture was beautiful, well laid out and branched out from a central area holding a statue of Thomas Jefferson in the main building.

Being it was free to get in and see most of the exhibits it makes for a wonderful thing to take the whole family to see and not empty your wallet! It even has a wonderful restaurant and express cafe on the second floor of the new expansion in the rear of the museum. The prices for them wasn’t to bad but they could get expensive quick! It also has a museum gift shop that you can pick up books about St. Louis, Christmas ornaments and other nick naks.

If you are worried your kids might be board and not enjoy this museum, don’t be! I came across several kid activities in the exhibits and I’m sure your children will love them.

Since Museum is located in Forest Park take a walk around the park and enjoy the wonderful outdoors and scenery, but that is for another review!

Take the opportunity to go downtown to visit Forest Park and the Missouri History Museum when coming to St. Louis, you won’t regret it!

Review: St. Louis Zoo

Hello everyone, I’m here today to share my review for the St. Louis Zoo. I’m originally from central Virginia so when my family and I moved out here to St. Louis County, MO it was something new for all of us. One good thing about moving to a new city and state means new and exciting things to do! Sure if you’ve lived in one spot for a while or your whole life going to an area attraction isn’t all the special anymore, like I’ve been to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown so many times I know it like the back of my hand yes it’s still awesome but you’ve been there done that. Anyways back to present day here in St. Louis. Recently I had some family come from VA to visit and we went down to the zoo, I’ve been living here for 2 years now and hadn’t gotten to the zoo yet so it was a good opportunity  to visit.

It was a rainy cloudy day but it wasn’t a very heavy rain so we opted to still go (but with umbrellas and ponchos in hand!) We arrived early just after they opened so the parking lot and zoo was almost empty, and since it was raining it was a very quiet day there. The St. Louis zoo is spread out in Forest Park so it has a very roomy park like feel to it. They also have several exhibits from the 1904 world’s fair that was held in Forest Park, the Flight Cage and some of the other houses on property are from the fair so it’s a bit of a history lesson but with the fun of animals.

The zoo is divided into five animal zones: the River’s Edge, which includes elephants, cheetahs, and hyenas; The Wild, which includes penguins, bears, and great apes; Discovery Zone, which includes a petting zoo; Red Rocks, which features lions, tigers, and other big cats; and the oldest part of the zoo, Historic Hill, which features the 1904 Flight Cage, a herpetarium, and primate house. A sixth zoo zone, known as Lakeside Crossing, features several dining and retail options.

It was very cool seeing the new Sea Lion Sound exhibit they’ve recently added. Sea Lion Sound has above ground viewing areas and a tunnel underneath the water that you can watch the Sea Lions and Seals swim right over head, it was awesome! I’ve heard on weekends though you can expect quite a wait to enter the tunnel.

The Penguin house is really neat and very very cold! It makes you feel as if your right in the arctic with them.  It finally stopped raining and a bunch of the animals finally made their way out from under their shelters to soak up some of the sunshine that had finally started to appear.

We spent a whole day at the St. Louis Zoo and even ate lunch there at the Painted Giraffe cafe, the food wasn’t expensive as you would expect and it was very good. I would love to go back sometime and see their holiday lights event and their Halloween event they have.

Till next time!!

Review: Pacific Park – Santa Monica, CA

Grab the sunscreen, pack the kids in the car, and get ready to have some fun at Pacific Park – The Family Amusement Park on the Santa Monica Pier.  As LA’s only admission free amusement park, Pacific Park is the West Coast’s only amusement park located on a pier.  This iconic park has been seen in countless movies and TV shows through the years.  There are rides, games, and tons of fun things to see and do.

Let’s start with the rides.  Ticket prices range from $3.00 per ride to $5.00 per ride.  The best value, however, is the unlimited ride wristband for $15.95 for 7 years and below or $21.95 for 8 years and up.  The Pacific Wheel is the huge Ferris Wheel that can be seen for miles.  This is a must do if you want a panoramic view of the Southern California coastline more than 130 feet above the pier.  Older kids and thrill seekers will enjoy the West Coaster, Sea Dragon, and Pacific Plunge.  Younger visitors as well as those who don’t want the extreme rides will be drawn to Inkie’s Wave Jumper, Inkie’s Pirate Ship, Inkie’s Air Lift, Inkie’s Scrambler, Sig Alert EV, Sea Planes, Crazy Submarine, and the always popular Frog Hopper.

If you want a break from the rides, check out the many midway games and food options.  Try for a prize then grab some pizza, a taco, or even iced coffee and take a stroll around the pier.  There are so many souveniers to choose from its hard to what to take home.  Just browsing is fun too.  To get the layout of the pier, go to the website and download the park map to help you prepare for your trip.  You will also find cool discounts, party information, and details on location shoots for movies, commercials, or music videos.  There is even a Pacific Park app for your phone.

Taking a trip to Santa Monica Pier and visiting Pacific Park should be at the top of your vacation list when you are in Southern California.  There is something for the whole family to enjoy together.  I know we are anxious to go  back to Pacific Park- The Family Amusement Park on the Santa Pier as soon as we can!!

Review: San Diego Zoo

One trip to the San Diego Zoo will have you chanting, “Pandas and cheetahs and koalas, oh my!” Of course lions and tigers and bears also reside in the zoo so you won’t be disappointed. San Diego Zoo is an absolute must do if you are traveling in Southern California. This world renowned zoo is amazing! This size of the zoo is unbelievable. We only visited one day, but if you or your children love animals, you could easily spend multiple days exploring and learning about hundreds of birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, insects, and even animals that are now extinct. We chose to just meander around using the map as a guide. We should have started with a bus ride. The Guided Bus Tour is a 35-minute tour on a double-decker bus covering about 70% of the San Diego Zoo. This would have been a great way to get an idea of the layout of the park. We truly had no idea of the size so we walked and walked and walked. We could have hopped on an Express Bus to travel from one area to another. Again, we walked. Clearly you need to pack some comfortable shoes when you visit the zoo. By walking, however, we were able to take time for the little details. The absolute most amazing sight involved a dog and a cat. Doesn’t sound too exciting until you consider the cat was a cheetah. These Animal Ambassadors are unlikely pairs.

You may find a cheetah and a golden retriever on exhibit together. You may see a cheetah with an Anatolian Shepherd. We had the unique experience to see the dog and cheetah outside of the exhibit…walking right past us! As we entered a path we were told to step back. Soon after, a cheetah walked past us on a leash-actually on two leashes. It was so cool! Where else are you going to see a dog and a cheetah walk right past you? Later that day our favorite animals were elephants, polar bears, koalas, pandas, and the tiny spider monkeys. There are so many unique animals to see that you lose track of time just observing a single exhibit. Like I said you could go back day after day after day. With special tours and behind the scenes programs, camps for children, and even facilities for weddings and social events, the San Diego Zoo has it all. You can even revisit the animals at home with live cams and videos on the zoo website. San Diego Zoo is like no other zoo that I have ever been to. A visit will be an adventure you won’t soon forget.

Review: Newport Landing Whale Watching Tours

If you ever get the chance to go to Southern California, there is one excursion for your must do list: Whale Watching. It is an experience that will utterly amaze you because no trip is ever the same. You never know what you might see out on the open ocean.

Newport Landing Whale Watching was just a short drive south of Anaheim, CA and Disneyland. The beach parking lot was about a 10 minute walk from the check in office on the dock. There are quaint shops and restaurants in the area to explore before or after your ocean excursion. There are whale excursions seven days a week all year long. Depending on the time of year, you may see the California Gray Whales annual migration, Blue Whales, Finback Whales, Humpback Whales, or Mink Whales. You may also see large pods of dolphins including Common, Bottlenose, Pacific Whitesided, or Rissos dolphins.

On our particular trip we saw a mother Finback Whale that was 70-80 feet long and her calf. They were so close to the boat that when the larger one blew out her blowhole, she sprayed those of us in the front of the boat. The captain joked that we were all “baptized” by the whale. We saw them feeding with their enormous mouths. We watched them for a long time as they came right next to the boat to check us out. The captain narrated with some information as we watched and photographed these amazing animals.

On the way back to the dock we spotted a pod of about 20 Common Dolphins. They were incredible as they darted around the boat. WOW they are fast!! It was a great way to end the outing. The Newport Landing Whale Watching website includes prices and times, a whale count information for school and company trips, whale and dolphin information, directions, and contact information. It was really one of the coolest things we did on our trip to California.

I will be recommending it to everyone I talk to about my trip. One word of caution though, there were a few guests who got seasick on the excursion so make sure you are prepared for that if you happen to get some rough waters on the ocean. Luckily, my family and I thought the ride was awesome and would take the trip daily if we could. Too bad we live smack dab in the middle of Illinois. Next time we go to Southern California, Newport Landing Whale Watching will still be a “must do” for us.

Review: LA Dodgers Baseball Game

Great baseball.  The Los Angeles skyline.  Celebrity sightings.  Gorgeous So Cal weather.  Delicious Dodger Dogs.  What more could a sports fan want?  A visit to Dodger Stadium will satisfy your appetite, excite your senses, and have you thinking blue as you cheer on your favorite MLB players.

Recently we had the opportunity to catch a game at this iconic sports landmark.  Located just minutes from downtown LA, the stadium sits high on the hillside in majestic glory.  Excitement will grow as you park your car and walk towards the stadium.  Be sure to note the location of your vehicle as we made a rookie mistake and exited from a different gate than we entered from and had to walk around half of the stadium to find our car.  One thing that was new to us was the multiple levels and entrances.  If you are not sure which gate to enter, the friendly staff will guide you in the right direction.  If you are on an upper level, escalators are available so you don’t need to conquer the staircases.  Once inside your gate, be sure to get a world famous Dodger Dog and an ice cold beverage.  The All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion tickets include free Dodger Dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, Coca-Cola products, and water.  Yum!  If you are looking for something for dessert after polishing off a few dogs, try the helmet ice cream.  This soft-serve treat is served in a small Dodger helmet dish (we got a pink and a white) and makes an awesome souvenir for the kids.  We also ordered some “helmet fries” that came in a larger, blue Dodger helmet.  Clearly we enjoy our stadium food.  We were seated in an upper level which provided an excellent view of the entire park plus the neighboring mountains and downtown Los Angeles.  Because Dodger Stadium sits higher than most venues, it provides incredible views of the surrounding area-a far cry from other stadiums we have been to in the Midwest.

A day or night at Dodger Stadium is a must for baseball fans and Southern California tourists alike.  Whether your hometown team is playing or not, I highly recommend getting some tickets, grabbing a Dodger Dog, and cheering on the team in blue.  It is an experience that will rank high on any sports fan’s list.  Go Dodgers!