Toronto: Must See & Do

We may have booked a little family getaway!! We are so excited to take the kids up north to one of our favorite cities.  We will be staying right by the CN Tower and the Aquarium, but what else is fun for little ones?  I am sure we will spend some time at the pool for sure!

The last time we were up here, we celebrated Joe’s 40th birthday. 

We most likely will be hitting up Rodney’s Oyster House once again– best oysters ever!

The kiddos will get their own area on a pull out couch, so we will have plenty of room for all four of us.

3 years ago we were up in Toronto in May and had a ball.  We could not for the life of us find this amazing restaurant–we must have walked by it a dozen times before we saw it.

Lunch over in the ‘fancy’ area … Bloor/Yorkville.

I know it won’t be quite this warm, but we are hoping for some warmer weather for sure!

We did travel up here with Brookie back in August of 2013; it was tricky with a stroller and her being a baby, but still was fun! She was great until our last nice dinner…she wanted nothing to do with it!

It will be about a 2.5/3 hour drive so that shouldn’t be that bad with the kids.  They will be totally fine I am sure.  Once we are there, we can’t wait wait to take them to some nice restaurants, do a little shopping and certainly some site seeing.  We’ve started experimenting and taking them to ‘fancier’ restaurants around here and they’ve been doing really well!  They’re starting to not eat off the ‘kids menu’ (aka chicken tenders/pizza/hot dogs) and boy do they sure love a good steak!

Most of all, I look forward to making memories!  It’s been awhile since the 4 of us packed up and traveled.  There’s something refreshing getting out of the house, seeing all walks of life, experiencing different cultures and living.  We will be sure to take tons of photos and videos to share!

Family Vacation: Charleston, South Carolina

Back in August, we headed South for my mom’s wedding.  Her and Mark got married on Folly Beach, which is about 20 minutes or so from Charleston.   It’s a super cute little beach town with fun little shops, restaurants and of course an amazing ocean view.

img_7882

We stayed at the Tides Hotel, which is one of the only hotels on this beach.  We enjoyed our stay and the wedding was held here too!

img_7999

We grabbed a quick dinner since the 4 of us were starving from traveling all day.  This was our first “officially on vacation” photo.

The kids enjoyed their kid friendly strawberry daqs.

Brooke was LOVING all of the seafood!

That night we checked out the beach and the kids of course loved swimming in the pool.

img_7893.jpg

The next morning we headed out for some girl time!! Pedicures and a tea room lunch with the bride to be…my mama!

img_7901.jpg

Brooke loved it.

img_7909img_7917

img_7913

My sis and I snuck out to grab a quick “Folly Vice” at the beach bar.  Gosh it was tasty!

img_7919

Later that night was the rehearsal dinner.  We all had dinner & drinks at the Pier which was next door to our hotel…I never did get to walk that damn pier! haha

img_0536.jpg

img_0558

After that we played in the ocean…I mean, figured out who went where for the next day!

img_0557

The wedding was beautiful! If you missed that post, you can catch up on that here.

We had a semi-early morning the following day as well, as we had a carriage ride/tour to catch.

The kids loved their new hats.

img_7969

img_7971

 

img_7970.jpg

They did pretty well on the carriage tour, but it was hot (obvi) and history isn’t exciting to them yet.  They did pretty well though!

img_7975

We had so much fun and were very grateful that my mom and Mark put together this activity for us to enjoy.  We only wish we had more time to go back and explore the old streets and sights!

img_7979.jpg

They loved getting to pet the horse.

img_7983

After that, we walked the market, hit up the Charleston tea & spice shop –yum!! We also enjoyed a nice lunch together on a rooftop–which I am totally blanking on. Mom?

img_7984

That was our final night in Charleston.  I believe I ordered this AMAZING Low Country dinner that night, which happened to be at our hotel restaurant.

img_7989

When we got up the next morning, Joe & I went off to Savannah, which I posted about here.

When we returned, we picked up the kiddos and checked into a Marriott in historic Charleston.  It ended up being a good place to walk to a lot of places!  We walked over to this BBQ joint which was quite delish!

img_8077

We made sure to make plenty of pit stops for ice cream, because, vacation.

img_8081

img_8080

The next morning Joe found this amazing little French breakfast place, it was SO good!

img_8085

Brooke & Daddy basically had dessert for breakfast.

img_0663

img_0665.jpgimg_8086

I was pumped to have some Orangina!  It has been YEARS since I had this.  I’m thinking the last time was when we were in Paris on our honeymoon, 2010!

img_8083.jpg

We walked up to the market, hit up a Starbucks and let the kids rest here and there.  We stopped at this old water fountain and of course read the history all about it.

img_8090-1img_0667

We found some little Raw bar and the kids sort of ate whatever it was we ordered them.  Joe really enjoyed his lobster roll & I had a divine glass of rosé and some ceviché.

img_0674

That night we had a fancy dinner at the Charleston Hotel.  We all got dressed up and walked there.  On the way, Bradley kept seeing these bicycle guys and was throwing a FIT because he wanted to drive one!  We promised him on the way back to the hotel, we’d get one.

img_8098-1

The kids were PUMPED for their big bowls of popcorn!

img_0679

Mark, mom & us

img_8104

Our fun little ride back to the hotel.

img_8108

Overall Charleston is not extremely kid friendly, as it’s just a lot of walking, eating, history, and repeat.  I thought our 3 & 5 year olds did amazing!! They dined out at fancy restaurants and kept up with most activities.  My mom and Mark took them to the Aquarium the day Joe and I went to Boone Hall Plantation.

Joe and I had a drink at the Market Pavillion Rooftop bar that night and Saturday morning we went back home.

It really proved to us that we need to travel more.  Joe and I always went away a few times a year before kids and well, the idea of flying with babies terrified us.  We SO needed to get out and explore.  The kids are ready and it was so good for all of us to be in new places, get out of our routines and shake it up a little.

Not to mention, I really loved spending time with my mom.  We can’t wait to come back, or heck, just drop the kids off and keep heading South haha!!

img_7880

Boone Hall Plantation

While down in South Carolina this past Summer, Joe and I really wanted to check out a plantation.  We figured the kids would be too little and it just so happened that my mom (Grandma) and her new husband Mark (Grandpa) wanted the kiddos another night!

My mom said of all the plantations she could think of, Boone was the place to go.  It also happened to be filmed in one of my favorite movies, The Notebook, so I just had to see!

Obviously the home is stunning, and learning the history of what it’s been through the years was quite amazing.  You can’t help but just stop at the gate in awe.

The Avenue of Oaks was also quite breathtaking; I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

As much as we enjoyed our day together, it was quite a somber experience.  The deep history of slavery was all around us.  I swear I could feel something a little different in my soul.

It was such an odd feeling, admiring the gorgeous home and beautiful views, but my heart was heavy thinking of all the people who were considered property here.

The trees were so old and breathtaking.  The little smokehouse below fascinated Joe, since we love our little smoker so much, how crazy that’s how they used to preserve their meats etc.

I had a hard time even smiling while standing in one of the slave cabins; I still have trouble wrapping my brain around how humans treated other humans so inhumanely.

But I suppose that is why we teach history, so we can learn and not repeat past mistakes.  My favorite part of the day was the Gullah presentation.  A lady sang and shared stories of her people. I had no idea that when the slaves would go out into the plantations and work, they’d often sing a song; this song would many times tell a story of what would be happening later that night or day, like an escape.

Above you can see the water way; that was the main source of transportation back then as there were no roads.  Slaves would try to escape that way, but it was so difficult!

img_0693.jpg

It was interesting because I was just finishing up a book, Small Great Things and it delved quite deeply in racial issues, white supremacy and was quite fitting for me to be thinking about all of it as I walked the cabins.

When I got home, I started a fiction book on slavery, which was honestly quite hard to stomach at times.  Again, I felt the importance of reading it as it is part of our history and it’s history that schools don’t really teach…we definitely give the watered down version to our students, understandably so.

If you’re ever in South Carolina, I’d make time for a stop here at Boone.  It’s one of the memories from our trip that continues to pop up in our minds and hearts.  Joe and I have had many beautiful discussions about it and how grateful we are to be living in a time period like today.

Savannah, Georgia

After mom & Mark’s wedding,  they insisted on keeping the grandbabies for a few days while hubby and I went exploring!  My mother has talked of Savannah for quite some time now, and knowing what big foodies Joe and I are, she and Mark knew we’d have a ball dining at some fantastic places and soaking up all of the rich history of the South.

Mark brought us to the airport so we could pick up our rental and then we were off! We were quite hungry, as we didn’t have breakfast and by now it was time for lunch.  We used TripAdvisor to find us some down home southern cooking, and find it we did!!

We had fried okra, hush puppies, fried shrimp, scallops and the best garlic & butter soft shell crab ever!!  (this is the point in the trip where I started giving ZERO cares to calories; you only live once right?!)

Ravenel Seafood!

IMG_5556

There were no public restrooms and the little old lady came out and showed us how to eat it; we must have Northern folk written all over us.  It was quite the experience and we enjoyed ever second!

img_8004

We soaked up the kid free time by listening to history on you tube about how Civil War went down.  We were intrigued to learn about Savannah’s history and were fascinated by the stories.

We chose The East Bay Inn for our stay.

IMG_0610

It was beautiful!! We got the King Suite and the decor was to die for.  I felt like royalty!

img_8011

img_8013

This charming old city has a lot of spook to it, if you ask me.  Joe doesn’t believe in it, but as rumor has it, there is a ghost named Charlie here that stays on the 3rd floor (our floor).  I was a little obsessed with learning more about him and apparently he worked in this building in his young 20’s and died falling out of the window of the 3rd floor.  (Not our room though!)  We did get to look inside ‘his room’ and it smelled so weird!  Our room smelled fresh and light…

As for any encounters with the ghost, I believe that I did.  I did not recognize it when it happened though; when we checked in we were seated in chairs at the front desk.  Joe was sitting to my left.  At one point, it felt like someone grabbed my right side as if to tickle, and I looked around and saw nothing.

It wasn’t until I was riding up the elevator later on that it dawned on me, that could have been Charlie!! The staff said he was fresh with the ladies…

This architecture though!!

We loved the room, it was a little noisy being right on the street.  Other than that, everything was very well kept and the staff was amazing!! (I even left my new ipad mini there, and they shipped it back up to me!!)

We need to travel more…it’s so good for the soul!

We walked around a little bit and of course I grabbed a Matcha frap from Starbux.

We walked down to Riverstreet and man, ladies do NOT wear heels haha!

The old buildings were so cool to look at.  We had dinner at Vic’s on the River the first night.

The Spanish Moss and the trees…

Our Inn has a complimentary happy hour.

Cheers to a hot hot day!!

I got all dressed up and just felt an odd presence when I snapped this photo.  I think it came out kind of eerie too!

Horribly blurry, but Hot Damn!! These Shrimp and Grits were to die for!!  I may have licked the plate…jk..maybe.

We asked around where we should grab a drink, non tourist style and we were sent to this basement of a place!  It was pretty cool, and they only had “red or white wine” so I decided to be brave.

I ordered the bottom drink, as it was the only truly native drink to Savannah.  I could not finish it, or I may have puked, but goodness it was cool to drink history!  According to the paragraph below, it was served to George Washington and he awoke with a hangover so severe after drinking too much of the punch, he vowed never to return to Savannah ever again.  He never did!

img_8035.jpg

Voila!

The next day we knew we wanted to hit up the Trolley tour as we heard nothing but great things about being able to ride around and listen to the stories and then you can hop on and off all day.

The fountains!

We had a fancy little lunch in what used to be a funeral parlor…

Sweet y’all…it’s the real deal!!

I loved the decor and furnishings…

We did do a mansion tour and wow, how incredible it was to hear and see!  This house was one of the FIRST to have indoor plumbings for bathrooms–even before the white house!  Calhoun Mansion.

You could feel the history, the butlers, the slaves, the rich…

That night we dined at The Olde Pink House.  (Thanks again to Katie & her hubby for the recommendation!) Best. Dinner. EVER.  The server was absolutely fantastic and did an excellent job at explaining all of the fabulous dishes and history of the house.

This fish was out of this world–literally I have never had something this like.  Tangy, sweet, buttery, smooth–incredible.  Not pictured, the collard greens, the most amazing mac & cheese, grits and whatever Joe ordered!

This was from the Ming Dynasty!

Breakfast the final morning was a little French bistro, Café M.

Delicious chai latté!

Fancy cheese & egg on a croissant…

img_8072

Our final stop was back to River Street Sweets for some pralines and peanut brittle.  I shed a tear when I finished the chocolate praline.

There’s much debate over which city is better, Charleston or Savannah?  While we adored Savannah, Joe and I agreed that Charleston still has our hearts in the South.  Someone said Savannah’s like Charleston’s little sister.  It’s hard to compare them as they are both so different, but we enjoyed every second!  I can’t wait to bring the kids back when they are older and can appreciate the history and the culture.