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Review - Florida - Loxahatchee - Lion Country Safari

Lion Country Safari is a highly rated animal drive-through Zoo. They also have another park on site, Safari World Adventure Park, with a walk-through safari and hands-on activities but at the time of our visit it wasn't open yet (only now it has a soft opening).

Please allow plenty of driving time to reach the park. The drive-through safari operates daily 9:30AM-5:30PM EST but they close entry at 4:30pm EST and you'll need well over an hour to drive through the entire park. At this time, tickets must be purchased through their website (Lion Country Safari.com).

Once you enter the gate, you can pull into the parking area on the right to buy snacks at the food stand or to use the restrooms (which were well-maintained).

This drive-through does not allow feeding of animals and you must keep your windows closed (and they do keep an eye out). You can take your time driving along the trail and there are plenty of pull-outs.

Lion Country Safari is one of the few drive-through parks in America which feature lions and rhinos. I'll admit it was challenging taking photos of the lions as they were behind secure wire fencing.

Zebras and Giraffes:

Other animals around the park:

Please note that the park is not currently accepting coupons. Tickets for both parks are $25.00 per person ages 3 and up.

Address: 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL 33470

Our overall family review:
  • 16 year old - Liked the lions; wants to go to the Adventure Park next time
  • 11 year old - Liked the animals
  • 6 year old - Liked the animals

Review - Travel - Florida - Orlando - SeaWorld

During our Spring Break trip, we headed to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida on a Sunday afternoon. It was quite crowded (so if you prefer to avoid crowds, don't plan to visit on a weekend) and there were long lines for all the rides and shows. Our main goal, however, for this visit was the annual Seven Seas Food Festival which runs Friday-Saturday-Sunday through May 9th. You will find over 50 food options and 150 adult beverage options in addition to live entertainment.

Like the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld's Seven Seas Food Festival allows guests to either purchase food/beverage items a la carte or you can purchase a sampler lanyard which you get punched when you order food/drink items at the participating booths. Lanyards are available in 10 sample option ($60.00 or $6.00 each item) or 15 sample option ($75.00 or $5.00 each item). Passholders get 3 extra items with the 15 sampler option.
You can check out menus and information by clicking this link

North Atlantic Market - New England Style Lobster Roll

All-American Market - Lobster, White Cheddar KRAFT® Mac N Cheese

Asian Market - Giant Tempura Prawns and Bingsu Salted Vanilla Ice Cream

SeaWorld Orlando has a wonderful children's area called Sesame Street Land which features tons of hands-on fun for young children. They can touch and press all kinds of gizmos (keep that antibacterial gel handy). Inside the Photo studio building, they can meet two Sesame Street characters in a socially-distanced way (and there are fun activities kids can play while they wait). Outside the photo studio is Big Bird's nest where you can meet the character on a scheduled basis. The playgrounds were closed but most of the rides were operating and lines were reasonable (unlike the adult rides in the rest of the park). The splash zone was open if you remember to bring your swimwear.

Overall Family Ratings:
  • 16 year old - Enjoyed the food festival; favorite item was Lobster Mac and Cheese
  • 11 year old - Sort of enjoyed the food festival; favorite items were Lobster Mac and Cheese and the Caramel Popcorn at the Asian Market
  • 6 year old - Did not enjoy the food festival (but did eat the Cheesy Bread); loved the Sesame Street land

Review - Travel - Florida - Tampa - Busch Gardens

One of my favorite activities is to eat and nothing is more fun than participating in a Food Festival. We had the good fortune to enjoy two such festivals during our Spring Break - one at SeaWorld and one at Busch Gardens.

Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival is open until April 25th and offers a variety of food and drink options as well as entertainment. To participate, you can either purchase items from a booth a la carte or you can purchase a sampler card which gets punched at the booth every time you order something. The punches are good for food or alcohol/drinks. Lanyards come in 5 item samples ($34.99 or $6.99 each item), 8 item samples ($49.99 or $6.25 each item), or 12 item samples ($64.99 or $5.14 each item). Passholders get 3 items free with the 12 item sampler lanyard purchase ($64.99 or $4.33 each item). Click here for more details on lanyards

You can purchase a lanyard at the Welcome Center. You'll find some of the booths are location-themed (such as New Orleans and West Coast). Got picky eaters? Many items can be customized (for example, we ordered the buffalo burger slider plain). I personally felt there were much more alcohol/drink options at Busch Gardens than were at SeaWorld - which can be good if you enjoy adult beverages.

West Coast Catch - Druken Shrimp Tostada:

NOLA Sweets - Beignets:

Yuengling Butchery - Hand-Carved Espresso-Rubbed Tenderloin:

Busch Gardens is a fun amusement park and zoo. When you arrive, you will pay for parking ($25) or preferred ($30). If you are a passholder, you will automatically get the closer parking if it's available. They also have a limited number of family parking spots near the handicapped parking by the entrance. They do have a shuttle that goes around the parking lots to the entrance.

The park is laid out in themed areas - Sesame Street land with kid-oriented activities, Africa the Serengeti, Egpyt, Morocco, the Congo, and more. The theming is outstanding.

There are lots of photo-ops and props throughout the park.

You can buy a refillable soda cup at this Freestyle shop which can be re-activated (for a small fee) any time you visit one of the SeaWorld-owned parks. Right now, you must use a disposable paper cup to fill with soda then you pour into your cup. They will scan your cup after every refill to be sure your cup is active (a bit of a hassle, IMO). You can also purchase a "refillable" popcorn bucket (you actually just pay a small price for the refills which you then pour into your bucket). Depending on how much you drink/eat will decide whether these are good deals for you/your family. You are allowed to bring water into the park but no other food or drinks except baby food/milk.

Overall Family Ratings:
  • 16 year old - Enjoyed the rides and the Food Festival
  • 11 year old - Enjoyed the rides and some of the Food Festival treats
  • 6 year old - Enjoyed the Sesame Street land, the zoo animals, but did not like the Festival options (except a plain buffalo slider)

Travel - Tips - Air Travel with Baby - #TravelTipsTuesday

Welcome to my Tuesday Travel Tips! Before I went on my Spring Break 2021 trip, I scoured the internet for tips on travelling with a baby. Most websites were just grossly trying to sell me products or were just copy-and-paste repeaters of the same useless info. So I'd like to share my own experiences with you to hopefully calm your nerves (because mine were frazzled before I even stepped onto the tarmac) and to help you prepare a bit before you have a "situation".

Tip #1 - Almost all airline carriers allow you to bring a carseat onto the plane if your baby has a ticketed seat. My experience - we lugged the heavy and awkward carseat all the way to the gate ready to install it in the ticketed seat. Then, baby decided to fall asleep in our baby carrier and we decided to dump the carseat at the skybridge to be picked up at our destination. You might want to check with the ticketing agent to see if you can get a refund or credit for changing your child from a seat to a lap, but at this point it might be too late.

Tip #2 - Secure the carseat in a sturdy gate bag and check it. My experience - I tried several options to drag this heavy contraption all over the airport (belts, a dolly cart, carry bag) and none of them worked for my busy family. It was soooo much easier just to check the carseat and forgettaboutit. If you find a decent carrying bag or backpack - please share with the rest of us! So far, none of my contraptions worked well enough.

Tip #3 - The carseat might not fit in the security conveyer belt x-ray machine. My experience - the TSA agent pulled the carseat aside and manually inspected it. Luckily we dumped the nasty cherrios out before we entered the airport.

Tip #4 - You may be allowed to keep baby in the carrier when going through security. My experience - they allowed us to keep baby in the carrer (she was asleep) and we went through the whole-body x-ray machine without any issues. This probably depends on your TSA agents. The airport guide said they can ask you to remove your baby from the pouch. Gasp!

Tip #5 - You cannot keep baby in the carrier while riding in the airplane. My experience - despite a sleeping baby, the flight attendants asked us (on each flight) to remove the baby from the pouch due to TSA regulations. We just unhooked the front pouch thing.

Tip #6 - Not all babies cry from air pressure. My experience - my baby did not cry during takeoff or landing (and we had 3 flights for this trip). Other babies and children did cry, so it depends on your child (and probably if their ears/noses are stuffy). Be ready to offer drink or pacifier or something to suck on to relieve the pressure.

Tip #7 - You can change a diaper in the lavatory. My experience - I asked the flight attendant for help putting the changing table into place. The front lavatory featured this option. I only change dirty diapers on planes since my baby isn't bothered too much by wet ones. I would never use the tray table (it's too small) for this task. Hard to believe people try that. The changing table is a bit flimsy. The bathroom is TINY. I put the dirty diaper in a ziploc bag and put it in the flight attendant's trash bag on my way out.

Tip #8 - You can bring milk/formula and baby food on airplanes. They may or may not check it depending on your carrier. My experience - I kept the baby food in a quart-sized bag at the top of the diaper bag to be removed as needed.

Tip #9 - Breast pumps don't count against your carryon limit as they are medical devices. Feel free to use them as additional storage as well. There are rules against different types of freezer packs - so be sure to look those up ahead of time.

Hope that helps you with some of your planning needs!

Review - Travel - Dallas - Dallas Arboretum - Dallas Blooms

Next weekend is the last weekend for the Dallas Blooms event at the Dallas Arboretum. Dallas Blooms is the spectacular annual Spring event whereby thousands of tulips and other flowers bloom in amazing displays. This year they have the theme "America the Beautiful" with some nice photo-op vertical planters and a giant American flag.

Pre-registration and pre-purchase of tickets is required - this event does sell out. When you purchase tickets on the website, you will select the time slot you desire to enter (sold in increments of 15 minute slots). Also be sure to add parking to your order and if you desire to visit the Children's Gardens, add those too. Members must also pre-register (and add parking and Childrens' Garden as well).

America the Beautiful photo-ops:

It looked like a lot of the Covid precautionary tape and directional signs had been removed. Water fountains were still unavailable so be sure to bring your own bottled water (and snacks!). A lot of people enjoy picnics in the gardens. There were also several outdoor weddings set up in several of the garden areas and you could see bridal photo sessions going on throughout. The busiest area is actually the Woman's Garden (with the infinity pools and the picture-frames).

If you arrive at the gate without tickets, you may still be able to purchase last-minute tickets if they didn't sell out:

The Children's Garden is open and all the activities were running. Be sure to check the daily guide ahead of time to see what hands-on activities will be taking place when and where (usually in the discovery center or outside of it).

Overall Family Review:
  • 16 year old - Was fine taking pictures in the gardens
  • 11 year old - Enjoyed the Children's Garden activities
  • 6 year old - Enjoyed the Children's Garden activities