Williamsburg Part 2

Saturday our plan was to visit Colonial Williamsburg.  We parked at the Visitor Center and bought our tickets via one of the machines.  The regular purchasing lines were quite long.  No line for the online/pre-purchased or the automated machines.  Eilam was free again which was nice.  We walked from the Visitor Center to the Colonial area stopping at the Great Hopes Plantation.

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We arrived at the Revolutionary City at the perfect time for the Governor’s Palace tour.  Eilam did pretty good throughout.  We had a guided tour of the Palace that ended in the gardens where we wandered through the maze.  The Palace was an interesting place to visit.  The tour guide could have been better.  It could have just been an off day but she wasn’t remembering names and got lost in her words a lot.

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After the tour we wandered around the city for a while and visited the various shops and city sites.  The Capitol was a guided tour but we didn’t last long.  A certain 3 year old was getting hungry and tired.  We did visit the jail which held Blackbeard at one point.  Can you see a theme for our weekend?  Around midday we left for lunch which we had at a sports bar next to our hotel which was really good and again really well priced.  After nap time, I wanted to go back to the Colonial area to finish checking out the various shops (which included the Apothecary).  Brian and Eilam obliged even though I think they were both done for the day.  I got to see the Apothecary with the GIANT mortar and pestle.

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We spent the rest of the evening back at the hotel but had Chinese food across the street for dinner.  Eilam was tired, so it was a low key evening.  He loved his lo mein though and sucked those long noodles down.

The next morning we had a relaxing hour or so.  On our way out of town we went back to the park for him to run around at.  Then we stopped at the outlet mall for a short while before hitting the road.  We drove through Richmond on our way back and stopped at a brewery for lunch.  Richmond looked like a nice city to visit, right on the water and it looked like there was a lot to do for a weekend.  Overall, it was a really nice weekend.  We had a lot of fun family activities and there is so much to do in that area.  We absolutely loved the setting and we had perfect weather.

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A super brave mountain climber
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Showing off his pirate gear on our pirate themed weekend.

 

 

Weekend in Williamsburg Part 1

This past weekend we took a trip down to Williamsburg to see the Colonial settlements.  Williamsburg about 2 & 1/2 hours southeast of D.C.  On a Friday morning there was minimal traffic.  Our first stop was Jamestown Settlement.  There are two Jamestown sites, Historic Jamestowne which is the archaeological site at the original settlement and then the Jamestown Settlement which is a museum and has a recreated fort, Indian village and replicas of the three ships that sailed from England to the Americas in 1607.

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Courtyard at Jamestown Settlement

We decided on just visiting the Jamestown Settlement because of the ships and replica villages.  It seemed more age appropriate for a 3 year old.  Eilam loved it here because of the ships.  As most kids his age, he is a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse fanatic.  One of his favorite episodes is Mickey’s Pirate Adventure which features a pirate ship named the Jolly Golly that looks remarkably like one of the replica ships.  We toured them all multiple times.  Eventually we drugged him away from that and walked through the museums.  They had a great kids activity to explore one of the sections.  Each kid got a card and when they completed an activity they would get a stamp.  He got to load up packages into a canoe and then climb in and row.  There was also a puzzle to learn various Powhatan words.  Overall, it was a really nice place to visit.  We were there almost 2 hours.  Tickets were $17/adult, $8/youth, under 6 free.

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Playing games in a Powhatan village
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The Jolly Golly
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Showing off his super strong muscles

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We left Jamestown and checked into our hotel.  We stayed at the Doubletree in Williamsburg.  It would be a really great location for going to Busch Gardens or the water park.  They were both right down the road.  It was a 10 minute drive to the Colonial area.  Other then just one elevator working, it was a nice place to stay.

The morning drive was rainy but by the time we got to Jamestown it was just overcast.  The temperature was quite nice though.  We took a nap after checking in and when we got up it was sunny and beautiful out.  We thought it could be fun to go miniature golfing and found Pirate Cove Adventure Golf.  Eilam had an absolute blast, well we all did.  It was so funny to watch him play.  Some holes he did quite well, others not so much.  Alas, I guess that is the way golf goes.  They gave out little pirate goody bags to the children.  Eilam got an eye patch, noise maker, pirate flag, ring, tattoo and spinning top.

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Hopefully it curves!

After golfing, we found a Mexican restaurant and sat outside to eat.  La Terraza was a great find.  The food was flavorful and the beer was cheap.

After dinner, we went to Mid County Park which has a giant play structure.  It was a great place to let Eilam run around and play.  There were multiple slides, ramps, walls to climb and another Jolly Golly.  It was a great pirate adventure day for Eilam.

Dupont Kalorama Museum Walk

Two weeks ago the Dupont Kalorama Museum Consortium held their 33rd annual Walk Weekend.  There is free admission to six museums in the Dupont Circle area of D.C.  The six museums are Anderson House, Wilson House, Dumbartan House, Heurich House, The Phillips Collection and The National Museum of American Jewish Military History.  Each museum had special family programming for the weekend.

We went on the Saturday and took the metro getting off at Dupont Circle (red line).  The first stop for us was the Anderson House.

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It was a beautiful house and museum.  Brian and I felt like we were in a mini-Versailles in parts of it.  Eilam walked around and liked making loud slapping noises with his feet on the marble floors.  He had learned about tapestries watching the show Little Einsteins.  I was able to point out real tapestries and we talked about the pictures and scenes.  Overall, it was a really majestic place but I wouldn’t say it is very family friendly.

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Our next stop was The Phillips Collection.  This museum had some great special kids activities for the weekend.  There was painting and making your own maraca but the real treat was the instrument petting zoo.  They had a trombone, french horn, flute, clarinet, trumpet and much more for the kids to play.  Eilam was so excited for this.  Once he went around the room a few times and relaxed, it was hard to get him away from there.  He actually was able to produce sound out of a few of the instruments.  His Little Einstein obsession made this a great, great stop.  After a long time we finally pulled him away for lunch.  There were many tears leaving the museum because he wanted to keep playing.  We didn’t get a chance to visit any of the other exhibits because the instruments had such appeal.  I plan on revisiting it in the future.

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Pure amazement

After having an excellent brunch nearby at Scion we walked to our last museum Heurich House, or the Brewmaster’s Castle.  Very old and very ornate.  There were yard games in the backyard.  Again, not a kid friendly place to visit.  Once done there we headed back to the metro to head home.

Overall, this was a great event weekend and all three of us enjoyed ourselves.  I highly recommend anyone in the area attending future walks.

Animal Kingdom Lodge

When we decided to go to Disneyworld, we knew we were going to stay on property to utilize the shuttle services and we wouldn’t have to worry about renting a car or parking.  The resort that quickly went to the top of our list was the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  This is considered one of their deluxe properties and the rooms were more expensive then we have ever spent on a hotel.  We wanted the Disney experience and to look out from our room and balcony over one of their four savannas and watch the giraffes, zebras, antelope, etc.  We ended up reserving a savanna view room with a bunk bed.

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Check in was 3pm and they made us wait until exactly 3pm for our room to be available.  With our flights and taking the Magical Express we actually got to the hotel around 1pm.  So we had awhile of wondering around, getting lunch at the quick service restaurant by the pool and walking over to the Kidani Village lodge.  With Disney’s Magic Bands, we got a text message when our room was ready with the room number.  No keys are necessary as the Band serves as the key.

The rooms are all decorated with African décor.  Ours was on the dark side, dark walls, bedding, etc.  There was a refrigerator and coffee maker in the room, which was great.  We ordered groceries ahead of time from Garden Grocer.  You select a time frame for delivery and they deliver the groceries to the concierge.  We were able to get milk, string cheese, chips, salsa, and beer.  There was a minimum purchase of $40 and a delivery fee of $14.  We thought it was definitely worth it.  We didn’t have to taxi or Uber to the grocery store.

Eilam absolutely loved the bunk bed and by the end of the trip he was sleeping on the top bunk.  We had a queen bed.  The rooms were on the small size, but bigger then Atlantis.  Eilam didn’t refer to it as a closet, so that was good.

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We looked out over the Arusha Savannah.  Each savanna has giraffes and then various other animals.  We would return to the room midday for a nap which ended up corresponding to the animals feeding time right outside of our room.  So as Eilam napped, Brian and I would snack and relax on the balcony watching them all.  It was really nice and a very cool experience.

One night we ate at the buffet, Boma, at the Lodge.  All the restaurants are African themed.  The food was absolutely fantastic.  I don’t believe I have ever tasted so many different and exotic flavors.  There were multiple soups, salads, meats, side dishes.  They also had some plain American dishes as well.  So while Eilam filled up on pasta and grapes, we stuffed ourselves with lamb stew, chicken curry soup, beef sirloin and salmon.   We highly recommend the buffet.  It was pricey though.

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The biggest negative about the Lodge would probably be the location.  While next to Animal Kingdom, it is the furthest away from the Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs.  So waiting on the shuttle buses and then riding the buses, could take a long time.  The morning we visited Hollywood Studios, we ended up taking a taxi because the shuttle bus time kept getting pushed back and there were so many people waiting, there was no way everybody was going to get on.  I believe the taxi cost $13.

Overall, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is a beautiful property.  Watching the animals was an amazing experience.  The food and atmosphere was fantastic.  However, with all that we decided that we wouldn’t stay there again.  The location is just too far away.  Maybe if the Disney shuttles ran more efficiently it would be different but it was very time consuming to go back and forth.  Also, the cost is too high.  I know you pay a premium to be on property and at a Deluxe resort.  The rooms are just not that high of quality to charge what they do.  For the quality of the room, the rate should be half what it was.  We are very glad we stayed there but in the future we would choose a moderate resort closer to more of the parks.

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