Showing posts with label Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Museum. Show all posts

National Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola, Florida

During our trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama we made the 35 minute drive over to Pensacola, Florida to the National Naval Aviation Museum. Read on to learn more about our visit.

Washington D.C 2017 - Day 2

Thank you for visiting my blog.  This week my blog will feature the second day of our four day weekend in Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia. Our whirlwind trip would take us to world renowned museums & historical destinations that helped build a nation. So keep reading to learn how to travel to Washington D.C. on a budget. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog so you do not miss any of my posts from our trip. Read on to learn more about our trip.

Washington D.C. 2017 - Day 1

Thank you for visiting my blog.  This week my blog will feature the first day of our four day weekend in Washington D.C. & Southern Virginia. Our whirlwind trip would take us to world renowned museums & historical destinations that helped build a nation. So keep reading to learn how to travel to Washington D.C. on a budget. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog so you do not miss any of my posts from our trip. Read on to learn more about our trip.

Washington D.C. 2017!

D.C. - so much to see! Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, Washington Monument, the Capitol, & so much more!
We spent two days touring Washington D.C. Our first day was a Saturday during Columbus Day weekend. The plane landed at Reagan National Airport around 11 AM.  We hopped on the Washington D.C. metro train, headed south to Alexandria King Street station about 10 minutes away, & checked in at our hotel.  By 12:30 PM we were in the heart of Washington D.C. headed to lunch at a place Presidents have dined for over a hundred years.  The anticipation of what we would see over the next four days would fuel our tired bodies from an early morning flight. 

Pacific Northwest San Juan Island, Washington

Thank you for visiting my family vacations on a budget blog. My family loves to travel! However my husband & I are both teachers making a budget all the more important.  We have one child, our son is 13. I want to show him as much of this wonderful world as I can before he is grown. This summer we visited the Pacific Northwest for our family vacation.  We traveled July 11th-20th throughout this beautiful area of the United States. In this blog post I will tell you about our day spent on San Juan Island, Washington: where we stayed, things we did, & travel tips to help you as you plan your next vacation. In the coming weeks I will feature a different destination or travel tip from our Pacific Northwest journey. Subscribe to my blog so you don't miss any of my posts from this fantastic family vacation (on a budget). 
Lime Kiln State Park San Juan Island, WA

A Day in Kilgore, Texas!

If you are looking to explore beautiful East Texas; Kilgore is worth checking out.  We recently spent a day in Kilgore and found an interesting museum & a tasty restaurant that are not to be missed. 

Kilgore is a small town with a population nearing 15,000. Kilgore has a rich history that tells a true Texas tale! In 1930 this rural town in Texas was hit hard by the depression that was gripping the United States. With the discovery of oil this once tiny town grew to thousands within weeks. As you visit Kilgore today you will find the stories of the early families resonate in the community years after this discovery. 
Replica of Kilgore, TX 1930
Our day trip included a stop at the East Texas Oil Museum located on the campus of Kilgore College in the heart of town. The museum is well worth a visit as you will find it to be the same caliber as metropolitan museums while maintaining small town charm. On the day of our visit we lucked into a
A guided tour guide is a great way
to learn about the exhibits.
guided tour & found the docent to be quite knowledgeable & entertaining.  Typically guided tours are by appointment only. The East Texas Oil Museum has memorabilia from years gone by in the front portion of the museum.  In the back portion of the museum you will find a replica of Kilgore, Texas circa 1930. In this portion you can go into buildings & get a real feel for life during this time. Make sure you do not miss the "elevator" ride to the center of the Earth & the movie theater.

"Elevator" to the center of the Earth
Our tour lasted about an hour and a half but you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring this museum. The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday from 9 AM - 5 PM. Entrance fees are $7 per person. Find out more information on the website for the East Texas Oil Museum.  

After our museum visit, we found a local favorite restaurant to have lunch, the Back Porch Restaurant.  The Back Porch is located within a couple of blocks from the East Texas Oil Museum. It has been a popular Kilgore restaurant for over 20 years.  They serve down-home good food that will keep you coming back for more. The day of our visit we opted for burgers & curly fries that were fantastic. If you are looking for more than a sandwich, plate dinners are also available that range from catfish to pork to chicken to beef. All meals come with self-serve all you can eat beans & cornbread that make you think your mama is in the kitchen cooking. If you like live music, the Back Porch Stage features nightly music 3 times per week from a variety of genres. To view the menu & learn more about the Back Porch visit the website. 
Located in the heart of Kilgore!

Our bellies were full & we headed back to the road to explore new areas of Texas. As we drove away from this quaint Texas town, I could not help but think how the lives of so many were changed from a single discovery!

May God bless you wherever the road may take you!

A Day Trip to Dublin, Texas

For our family vacation this year we took a road trip to New Mexico. As part of the road trip we cut across West Texas. One of the stops we made was to the small town in Central Texas named Dublin.  Dublin is located about 1 1/2 hours southwest of Fort Worth.

Dublin, Texas is the home to the world's oldest Dr. Pepper bottling plant.  While the Dublin Bottling Works still makes sweet goodness, it does not bottle Dr. Pepper anymore. But it does still bottle some of the best sodas you will ever taste! All sodas bottled at the Dublin Bottling Works are produced using pure cane sugar, none of that high fructose corn syrup is produced here!  A variety of flavors are offered ranging from Dublin sweet peach, to root beer, to the Original Black Cherry which tastes a lot like... you guessed it Dr. Pepper! 
All sodas are made with pure cane sugar.
We stopped in at Old Doc's Soda Shop which is across the street from Dublin Bottling Works. Old Doc's has soda jerks that will prepare a soda just like you like it! After sampling
Soda Jerks will prepare your soda just like you like it!
some of the sodas, we picked our favorite & enjoyed the pure cane goodness of a Dublin Bottling Works soda. We liked the soda so much that we bought some bottles to take home with us. If you are interested in the bottling process, you can tour the bottling facilities for $5 for adults & $4 for seniors & kids. Tours run every 45 minutes starting at 10:15 AM running through 4:15 pm Tuesday - Saturday & from 1:00 to 5:00 PM on Sunday. Tours start at the Dublin Bottling Works & ends at Old Doc's Soda Shop.  We did not take the tour but instead headed straight for Old Doc's. 
Old Doc's Soda Shop has a variety of souvenirs. 
We give this pit stop on our road trip a big thumbs up!  If you are in the area, it is worth your time to stop in & step back in time at Old Doc's Soda Shop. 
The tasty sodas we selected!
We had no cell service in Dublin so we were left to find Old Doc's Soda Shop on our own. You will find it about 2 blocks off Highway 6 off Patrick Street in Dublin.

A weekend in Southern New Mexico

When we were choosing a destination for our big family vacation this year there were several locations that came to mind. We wanted a vacation that was diverse in what we would see & do but was also budget friendly.  After giving it some thought we decided we would visit New Mexico.  We had visited the mountains of New Mexico previously but had never explored other areas of the state. Since this would be a road trip we would cut across western Texas which we had never explored either. This would be a new adventure with a mix of familiar territory as well. Our trip would last 10 days and we would visit the the lowest depths to the highest heights imaginable. 
We spent two days in southern New Mexico in Carlsbad &  Roswell. If you are looking for a weekend getaway, this is a great adventure for the budget conscious family.  New Mexico is a much less expensive destination than say Colorado & you have many of the same activities from which to choose. 

Carlsbad, New Mexico
Entrance to Carlsbad Caverns National Park
The first day of our trip was in Carlsbad. We arrived in time to have an early dinner & then we were off to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. That evening the park was having two special events - the bat flight program & the star party.  The bat flight program in the amphitheater is a nightly event that takes place from mid-May through mid-October where thousands of bats exit the cave at around sunset. Prior to the bat flight a park ranger has a program where visitors can learn about the cave & bats that inhabit it. The bat flight was absolutely mesmerizing and well worth seeing!  We watched the bats exit the cave until after sunset. We left because it was growing difficult to see the bats exit but they were still exiting! To learn more about the bat flight program click here

Bat program at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
After the bat flight program the star party began.  In the east parking lot, local amateur astronomers set up their powerful telescopes for the public to use to see the night sky. The telescopes were so powerful that you could see the actual rings of Saturn. The star parties are offered once per month between the months June & October. To learn more about the star party you can visit the National Park Service web page

Admission to the bat flight program & star party was FREE!  This unique adventure is one your family will not soon forget & it does not cost a dime.

Drive into Carlsbad Caverns.
The next day we got up early & headed back to Carlsbad Caverns National Park to tour the cave. The seven mile drive into the caverns from White City is beautiful! The park road had many switchbacks that have amazing views! 

We arrived at the cave by 9 AM & purchased our tickets. The cost for admission at the time of our visit was $10 for adults aged 16 & older & FREE for children 15 & under for a 3 day pass. You can find visitor center hours information here. Times vary based on the time of year of your visit. You can find entrance fee information here

The Natural Entrance hike into the
cave has steep switchbacks.
The Big Room at the base of Carlsbad Caverns is 750 feet down a 1 1/4 mile steep trail called the Natural Entrance Trail. If you or members of your family are not physically able to hike into the cave, there are elevators available. However, we wanted the experience of hiking into the cave. There is nothing quite like watching the entrance as you head in the cave. The last daylight gets fainter & fainter as you descend the trail. I wonder what the original explorers were thinking as they entered the cave? Along the Natural Entrance Trail you will find beautiful formations. The national park service has the cave lit but we brought a high powered flashlight so we could see better. If you choose to take the Natural Entrance Trail, it is a doable hike with benches throughout for those who struggle with the incline. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the Big Room.  At the Big Room you will find a small cafe that sells snacks & drinks as well as t shirts etc. There is also working bathrooms - much to my surprise. There is also a 1 1/4 mile trail through the Big Room where you can see formations such as the Hall of Giants & the Bottomless Pit to name a couple. The cave stays at a cool 56 degrees year round so make sure you bring a jacket or hoodie. The cave is very humid as well so bring your inhaler if you use one.   
Big Room Carlsbad Caverns

After hiking the Natural Entrance we met our ranger for our 10:30 AM tour of the Kings Palace.  I had previously purchased the ranger tour online at the recreation. gov website. The cost for the tour was $8 for adults & $4 for children aged 4+. The ranger led tours cost additional over the standard entrance fees for the park. There are several tours from which to choose, some of which involve repelling. Since this was our first cave tour, we opted for the milder Kings Palace tour. The tour is 1 1/2 hours in length.  The ranger will not only tell you about the formations you will see but you will also learn the history of the exploration of the cave. At one point of the tour the ranger removes all artificial light demonstrating the complete darkness original explorers experienced. This was one of the most memorable moments from our trip.  It is absolutely amazing how dark the inside of the cave was!  

On the Natural Entrance Trail

After our Kings Palace tour we finished our tour of Carlsbad Caverns with the Big Room hike seeing such famous formations as Hall of Giants & the Crystal Spring Dome. We opted to ride the elevator back to the top because we had hiked the Natural Entrance into the cave & wanted to be able to experience both. I will say the elevator was much easier but not nearly as beautiful! When we visited the cave it was not very busy.  However, I have read blogs where the cave is very busy on weekends between Memorial Day & Labor Day and there are lines waiting to ride the elevator. You can choose to hike out of the cave but there are time restrictions you must abide by.  To learn more about the times visit the park website

As I have mentioned on previous blogs, I am a member of just about every hotel chain loyalty program available. Why not? I am going to stay in a hotel when I travel, I might as well earn some kind of reward right? When I stay I try to choose a hotel that has a rewards program.  My personal favorite rewards program is Marriott. I think they have the best rewards & you get free nights faster than some of the other chains. While earning rewards is important, price also affects the accommodations I choose. So when I set out to book a hotel in Carlsbad I considered both. We decided to stay in Carlsbad even though White City has a Rodeway Inn & it is at the entrance of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  
Fairfield Inn & Suites Carlsbad, NM

After price checking & reading reviews of other hotels including the Comfort Suites, Hampton Inn, & TownePlace Suites I selected the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Carlsbad.  I booked my room 5 months prior to arrival choosing the standard rate instead of the slightly less expensive advance purchase rate on the Marriott web page.  The reason I always book a room using the standard rate is because you can usually check back the closer you get to your arrival date & get a rate that is lower. This happens every year without fail for at least one hotel we stay in when travelling. The Fairfield Inn & Suites was $170 per night when I booked it 5 months in advance.  However, I checked the rates periodically & about 6 weeks prior to my arrival date, the rate dropped to $120 per night.  I then cancelled my original reservation that I booked using the standard rate & re-booked the room at the new lower rate. BOOM - I saved $50 & I did not have to work hard to do it!  One more tip about the Fairfield Inn & Suites, the rooms are much cheaper if you can stay during the weekend.  We adjusted our trip so we could stay on the weekend at this hotel instead of during the work week.  By staying on a Saturday, we saved $50 over staying during the work week. 

We stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites for one night but we enjoyed our stay & would recommend it to others. Our room was clean, comfortable, & quiet. The room we stayed in had 2 queen beds, a microwave, & a mini-fridge. My only complaint with the room would be that the sink is not in a separate area from the toilet & shower making getting ready in the morning more difficult. There is a pool outside in a nicely landscaped courtyard that also features a fire pit. We did not get to enjoy the pool during our stay but it looked inviting. While the hotel was close to full, we did not hear any noise. Our room faced the street & we did not experience a problem with highway noise either.  The staff was accommodating & friendly.  The breakfast area attendant, Adrian gave us some helpful tips for our day at Carlsbad Caverns National Park while we were eating the free breakfast that is available every morning. We also liked that the hotel was on the same side of Carlsbad as the national park - so we did not have to drive through much traffic to get to the park. There are restaurants & Walmart nearby making the hotel convenient to necessities. The hotel was a short 30 minute drive to the caverns.
View of street from Fairfield Inn room

Breakfast area Fairfield Inn

Room Fairfield Inn

Bathroom Fairfield Inn

Room Fairfield Inn
Roswell, New Mexico
An "alien" sighting in Roswell.
When we left Carlsbad Caverns we drove 2 hours north to Roswell, New Mexico as it was on our way to Red River, NM. Roswell is world renowned for the unidentified flying object that crashed near the town in July of 1947 & the controversy that surrounds it to this day. We were expecting a small town with a few thousand people.  We were surprised to find Roswell to be a decent sized town with a population of 48,000. There are many shops, theaters, restaurants, & hotels to choose. Roswell has embraced their UFO notoriety & you will find "aliens" all over town.  The town even has a UFO Festival the first weekend in July! 

There are "alien" sightings everywhere in Roswell.

THE International UFO Museum in Roswell

Since we were in Roswell we decided to visit the International UFO Museum(my son was more excited about it than we were) You can't visit Roswell without doing a little UFO research right?  The cost for admission was relatively inexpensive at $5 for adults, $2 for children aged 5-15, & FREE for children 4 & under. Inside the museum you will find many news articles & information about UFO sightings from around the world but the primary focus is the Roswell area. There are also animated displays of aliens & UFOs. They show UFO related movies throughout the day in the movie room. It was fun to go & see what the museum had to offer but I would not plan to spend more than an hour at this location unless you are an avid UFO researcher. 
Inside the International UFO Museum Roswell
Remember how I said I was a member of just about every hotel loyalty program available? Well our night in Roswell was FREE because I cashed in my Marriott loyalty points.  Since I was using my points I really did not compare any other hotels prices because how do you beat free? I did research the hotel to make sure I was not getting a bad hotel, I won't stay just anywhere even if it is free. 

Each morning a FREE breakfast is available. The breakfast included waffles, muffins, bagels, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, sausage, yogurt, fruit, juices, & milk. Everything you need to start your day! Every afternoon from 4-7 PM snacks & Pepsi soft drinks are available for FREE. The snacks vary by day but the day we were there they offered cinnamon rolls & popcorn.  As far as amenities go, TownePlace Suites in Roswell was our favorite hotel on our trip this year. 
TownePlace Suites Roswell snacks are
available daily from 4-7 PM.

TownePlace Suites Roswell, NM
We stayed at TownePlace Suites Roswell & loved our stay!  The hotel was impeccably clean & quiet. We really liked the location, about 1 block from Main Street. TownePlace Suites offers many amenities including a heated outdoor pool, a fitness center, on-site laundry facilities, & an outdoor patio & grill. Our room was our very own studio apartment! There was a small kitchen with refrigerator, cook top, sink, & dishwasher. Our room had 2 very comfortable queen beds, an over sized chair, & dining room table. The closets were big, like walk in big. I liked that the bathroom sink was separate from the toilet & shower which makes getting ready easier.  We never heard anyone in rooms around or above us making for a great night of sleep. The television in our room was a smart TV where not only did we have access to many channels but we could also sign in to our Netflix account & watch a movie. The WiFi network was amazingly fast and FREE!  After a long day of exploring Carlsbad Caverns we went to dinner & then crashed at our room and watched one of our Netflix movies.  

The room at TownePlace Suites Roswell was
 exceptionally clean & comfortable.
Our room at TownePlace Suites Roswell was a studio double queen.

The bathroom sink at TownePlace Suites Roswell
is separate from the toilet/shower.
Bathroom at TownePlace Suites Roswell

Kitchen at TownePlace Suites Roswell
On our visit to Southern New Mexico, our family was able to see & do things we had never done before. After two days we headed for the high country of Red River, New Mexico. Check out our blog on our visit to the beautiful mountains of New Mexico.

Visit our video link at the top of the page to see footage from our trips.

Wherever you go, may God bless you on your travels.

Urban Adventure... Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas Skyline
Our family decided one beautiful day recently to have an urban adventure! We decided to have our experience in Dallas, Texas. Dallas is one of the largest cities in Texas & has much to offer families on a budget. 

Cost saving tip: If you plan to visit this bustling city you should consider purchasing a Dallas City Pass. The City Pass includes: 1. Perot Museum of Nature and Science, 2. Reunion Tower GeO-Deck 3. Dallas Zoo OR The Sixth Floor Museum, & 4. George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum OR Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden. The City Pass costs only $46 for adults & $31 for children 3-12. IF you are planning to see all of these attractions you will save 42% by purchasing the City Pass. For more information about the Dallas City Pass click here.  We did not plan to visit all of the attractions included in the City Pass on this trip so we opted not to purchase one. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 1 - Perot Museum of Science & Nature
Opening in December of 2012 this state of the art science museum was a welcomed addition to Dallas, Texas. The Perot Museum mission is to "inspire minds through nature and science".  Our family has visited many times since opening day & continue to be amazed at the quality of exhibits. The four levels of this architect designed building offers activities & exhibits for everyone from 3 to 103! A day spent at this museum will be fun for all in your family.Operating hours are Monday - Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM & Sunday Noon - 5 PM. Admission cost: General Admission adults -$19, children aged 2-17 is $12, children under 2 are free. Parking is $8.
Earth Resources Level of Perot Museum
Perot Museum

Engineering Level of Perot Museum
Natural Science Area of Perot Museum

Fossil at Perot Museum
Sports Hall at Perot Museum

ATTENTION ALL TEACHERS the Perot Museum offers FREE admission to all educators. (Remember to bring proof that you are an educator - paycheck stub or ID.) The Perot Museum is an ASTC reciprocal admission museum. Discounts are available for military. To learn more about the Perot Museum of Science & Nature click here. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 2 - Stop by Klyde Warren Park
When you exit the Perot Museum of Science & Nature take a left & go around the building to the north.  Go down the stairs & you will find a green line painted on the sidewalk.  Follow the green line a few blocks to Klyde Warren Park. (approximately a 10 minute walk) This 5 acre green space in the center of a bustling city is a sight to see! Not to mention the park is located above one of the busiest freeways in the city! Each weekend there are a variety of activities offered at the park.  If you are hungry you can partake of some yummy food truck offerings as well. On your Dallas adventure make sure to include a stop at this unique park. Cost: FREE!  To learn more about Klyde Warren Park click here. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 3 - Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art
Across the street from Klyde Warren Park you will find the Dallas Museum of Art. Featuring 4 levels of art from around the world, you will not want to miss this stop on your urban adventure. Admission is FREE for general admission. Special exhibit admission is $16 for adults aged 12 & up & FREE for children aged 11 & under & senior citizen & military admission is $14.
Dallas Museum of Art

Urban Adventure Stop # 4 - McKinney Avenue Trolley
After the Dallas Museum of Art, head back to Klyde Warren Park & catch the vintage McKinney Avenue Trolley that picks up approximately every 22 minutes.  Ride the trolley up to McKinney Avenue & grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants.  The trolley runs 365 days per year & is heated & air conditioned. This one of a kind experience in Dallas, Texas is FREE!  Hop on & off the trolley as much as you wish for the affordable price of nothing. 

Urban Adventure Stop # 5 - Hopdoddy Burger Bar
With our stomachs growling we "hopped" off the McKinney Avenue Trolley at Hopdoddy Burger Bar. This is the place to eat if you want some of the most unique burgers that have ever been created.  Don't worry if you are not the adventurous burger eater, they have the classic burger as well. My son & I had the classic burger & my husband had the terilingua. We all devoured our burgers with some tasty fries. The truffle fries come highly recommended.  I liked them but my husband preferred the classic fries. The price came to about $13 per person for our burgers, fries, & 3 sodas. A bit steep for the family on a budget but is par for the location we were visiting. To see the menu for Hopdoddy Burger Bar click here.

With our bellies full we headed back to our car at the Perot Museum. We had a fun day on our urban adventure!  We were able to see & do things that are not seen or done on a typical day in the life of our family.

Visit our video link at the top of the page to see footage from our trips.  

May God bless you on all your adventures!