Road Trippin’ to the Lone Star State – Days 7, 8, & 9

Posted by in Texas

On the morning of day 7, we woke up (not too early) and we drove to Austin. We met up with our friend Cheryl and her family. We pretty much spent the day chatting while the kids played with Legos and Littlest Pet Shop and their hamster. And we pretty much didn’t take any photos that day.

We met our friends again on day 8, but this time for some indoor fun! The chilly weather followed us all the way to Texas, so outdoor fun was not in the cards. We ended up at Main Event Entertainment and they had an awesome promotion going on for unlimited fun with a wristband. The kids spent the next several hours rock climbing (who knew they’d get two chances in one week?!), doing cosmic mini golf, and bowling.

Somewhere in the middle there, we took a break to eat a very late lunch at Taco Deli. The food was AWESOME! We’ll definitely be eating there again next time we’re in Austin! One of the awesome things about having friends in other places is that they take you to all the awesome local places you’d never find on your own.

Once we were all stuffed, we headed back to Main Event and the kids had a blast using up all the points on Papa’s arcade pass. The five of them (our three and Cheryl’s two) were running around the arcade like crazy little people (well, that’s probably an accurate description!), running from game to game. It was pretty comical and very chaotic.

And finally, about two hours after we were supposed to leave for Dallas, we said goodbye and loaded into our cars. By the time we got to Dallas, it was pretty late. Everybody was grumpy. And the moral of the story is… go to bed on time and eat when its mealtime. We managed to make it 7 1/2 days into our road trip without a disaster, but we fell apart on day 8.

We spent all of day 9 driving from Dallas back home to Kansas City. WOW is that a long drive! We typically try not to drive that far in one day. But we only had a certain number of days for this trip, so we had to make the drive to Texas in one day and the drive home in one day. I have to say I’m pretty shocked at how well the kids behaved. They handled the long drive really well and we managed to make it home without any more disasters!

Want to learn more about how we road trip with kids? Check out our Adventure in a Box: Road Trippin’ kit!

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Road Trippin’ to the Lone Star State – Day 6

Posted by in Texas

On day six, we woke up to RAIN. I’d been checking the weather, so I knew it was coming. We had planned on SeaWorld for this day, but I’m glad we went the day before. We got a bit of a late start, which was pushed back even more when we had to go back to the hotel to get Gockie (Lia’s blanket) that we had left.

Finally though, we made it to downtown San Antonio. We’ve not had great luck with San Antonio in the past. Josh and I first made a stop here on our honeymoon, but it just rained and rained. So we were determined to not let the rain stop us this time around. Luckily, it was warmer and we didn’t get completely drenched.

We headed straight for the Alamo and spent a good hour walking around the grounds, checking out all the stuff in the museum area, and learning about the history of the Texas revolution. Max was totally into it and we eventually had to drag him away because we were all starving.

It’s interesting that you walk around downtown San Antonio and see something old and awesome like the Alamo, and then right across the street, it’s blocks and blocks of tourist trap attractions like Ripley’s and such. And OF COURSE, my kids were begging to do the mirror maze.

Now, I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a Groupon junkie. But in that moment, it saved me a fortune. You see, just a week earlier, I saw a deal on Groupon for that exact Ripley’s mirror maze. I almost bought it before we left, but then we thought we might not have time. Lucky for me, the deal was still available.

I was able to get 8 passes for just $40! And we spent the next two hours having a blast in the mirror maze and the laser quest. It was definitely one of those overpriced tourist traps and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to pay full price. But we definitely got our money’s worth on this one!

The mirror maze was SO fun!! We made it through quickly the first two times and then spent the next twenty minutes lost because we couldn’t find the right way. We got some 3D glasses that made it almost impossible to find your way through. We probably went through the maze twenty times at least and the kids didn’t get bored with it at all.

Next, we decided to try our luck at the laser quest. I thought it was going to be laser tag, but it was actually like a laser vault and you had to climb through without touching any of the lasers. There were four levels of difficulty and we tried all of them. You can only go one at a time, but there weren’t many people there, so we had lots of turns.

There’s definitely an advantage to being teeny tiny. Max placed in the top ten times on every difficulty level (I think they reset them every day) and even got first place on Expert mode. And Ava and I placed on Expert as well. The only bad thing about the mirror maze place is that they have a bulk candy store right in the front area, so every time we came out of the maze or laser quest, we had to stare at all the candy. And of course, it was super pricey. On our way out we got each kid a (small!) bag of candy and they seemed to be happy enough.

After the mirror maze, we decided to walk along the river walk for a bit. I’ve always hear about how awesome it is, and it definitely lived up to that. I’d love to go back to San Antonio and stay downtown so we can spend more time on the river walk.

After the river walk, we headed back to our hotel room and ordered pizza for dinner. And then we started our New Year’s Eve party. We got in trouble for being too loud around 5:30 pm… The kids were jumping on and off the beds and wrestling, so I guess we deserved it. Then we ate pizza, went swimming, and then headed to an empty parking lot to count down to midnight (well, not midnight local time… we counted down to 8 pm). We blew our party horns LOUDLY and popped off confetti poppers.

And then it was bedtime… and we were all so tired, nobody made it till midnight.

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Road Trippin’ to the Lone Star State – Days 4 + 5 (SeaWorld San Antonio)

Posted by in Texas

We got up on day 4 of our trip and headed to San Antonio. Before we got out of town, we made a pit stop at Hypnotic Donuts. We had seen a billboard for the donut shop and it said “ranked #14 donut shop in the US”. So we stopped in for donuts. We had a bit of a disaster because the giant M&M donut was $4 (see photo below). I was a little grumpy that morning and did not want to pay $4 for a donut. In the end, we got the $4 donut, along with several less expensive ones. I wasn’t a big fan of the donuts, as I prefer cake donuts and these were glazed donuts with icing on them. But oh well!

It was a much longer drive to San Antonio than we thought it would be… or at least it seemed that way. Lucky for us, we had brought the Lego travel boxes that my friend Natalie made for the kids. Several weeks ago, I went to the Lego store in KC and bought a couple of containers of random Legos off their back wall and loaded up the Lego boxes. The kids spent hours in the car building all sorts of things… Max built a police station for his police motorcycle (the motorcycle came from a set) and Ava built an art museum.

Ava was pretty grumpy on the whole ride up. It’s been kind of a strange trip as she has been grumpy a lot. Lia is usually the one having meltdowns. And Ava is always happy unless she’s tired or hungry. So, I’m not sure what her deal has been, but she was having a big fit, so I grabbed my iPhone and Josh’s headphones and turned on this meditation app that Josh bought. I put it on ‘anger relief’ and she calmed down pretty quickly. The rest of the day was pretty much uneventful.

We got to San Antonio and Josh and I headed to La Villita to shoot some happy family portraits. The kids got to take it easy all afternoon, hanging out with the grandparents at the hotel. I’m pretty sure they watched too much tv and ate too much junk food, but what can you do?! Afterward, we got some dinner and then put the kiddos to bed.

The next morning, we got up and ready to head to Sea World. Josh and I went to SeaWorld San Diego almost ten years ago on our honeymoon, but we had never taken the kids. They didn’t open till noon, so we made a quick stop at Party City for New Year’s Eve supplies and grabbed lunch at Chipotle. It was pretty chilly that day, so we all wore our coats and hats most of the day. I assumed that it wouldn’t be crowded because of the weather, but it was pretty busy getting into the parking lot.

There were a lot of people there that day, but it never seemed super crowded. We headed straight in to the Dolphin Christmas show. They had lots of synchronized swimmers and high divers. And there were a few trainers swimming with Beluga whales. The kids really loved the guy who was leading the whole show. He did a lot of cheesy comedy, just the kind of stuff that kids eat up.

After the dolphin show, we made a beeline to the Shamu Christmas Miracles show. The kids enjoyed the Shamu show the most. They had FIVE whales in the pool at one point and they were jumping and splashing and doing all kinds of exciting things. I only wished that it had been warm that day, as I’m certain that sitting in the splash zone on a hot day would have been awesome!

After watching two shows and freezing because it was so cold, the kids were NOT in a good mood. We decided to head to the car and let them eat their second lunch. Lia had a full on meltdown in the car, but the meditation app saved the day yet again. After lunch, the kids were in a much better mood with full bellies and warm bodies. The rest of our visit was AWESOME!

After lunch, we headed straight for the kids area, Bay of Play. There was a giant play area and several kiddie rides. Lia freaked out on the baby roller coaster, but she survived. They did all the rides and then we realized it was almost 3:30 pm and we hadn’t even seen ANY animal exhibits. We did stop at the Steel Eel roller coaster for a quick ride. Ava was super bummed that she was too short to ride it, but Max really loved it! We visited the penguins next, which are ALWAYS fun to watch. They have a moving walkway in the penguin exhibit, so you just stand on it and watch the penguins. It was great because there was no crowding around to get a good view because everybody had a good view.

After the penguins, we headed to the sea lion exhibit. You could buy little fish to feed the sea lions and they looked pretty hungry so we bought a tray. The kids thought it was so awesome to hold a fish up and watch the sea lions swim right over and bark for a fish! After the sea lions, we headed to the dolphin exhibit. Sadly, we missed the cutoff for feeding the dolphins. But the dolphins were swimming up around the edge of their tank and the kids got to see them super up-close! And then they swam closer and closer and all three kiddos got to pet the dolphins! That was the highlight of their trip for sure.

We hit up the shark exhibit last. The shark tank is HUGE and we had to practically pry the kids away as it was getting late and we were all starving. And if you know anything about my kids, you know they are gift shop junkies. We stopped in every single gift shop we passed all day long. At the end of the day, they decided they were ready to buy. Max bought a deck of shark cards, Ava decided not to buy anything because she couldn’t make a decision, and Lia wanted a bracelet/necklace set she had seen SOMEWHERE. They didn’t have the set at the main gift shop, so I ran ALL over the park looking for it. I didn’t find it though, so she ended up with a pink seahorse necklace. (Note: she lost the necklace already)

After we left SeaWorld, we stopped at McAlister’s for a quick dinner before heading back to our hotel and calling it a night. Overall, SeaWorld was awesome! Next time we go, I’ll make sure to note the animal feeding times, and I’ll look into doing one of the dolphin encounters or something. Seeing the animals up close was the kids’ favorite thing, so I think it would be worth it for sure!

Disclosure: We received four free tickets to SeaWorld San Antonio. All opinions expressed are my own.

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