Family * Travel * Food

Exploring the Gems of the Southeastern United States: 10 Must-Visit Destinations

The southeastern region of the United States is renowned for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and warm hospitality. From vibrant cities to charming coastal towns, the Southeast offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers. In this blog post, we will showcase 10 top destinations in the Southeast, highlighting the cost of accommodation, dining out, and visiting attractions to help you plan your trip accordingly. 

Charleston, South Carolina:

Known for its well-preserved architecture and cobblestone streets, Charleston exudes Southern charm. Explore the historic district, take a carriage ride, or visit the iconic Rainbow Row. Accommodation options range from boutique hotels to charming bed and breakfasts, with prices averaging around $150-$300 per night. Dining out can vary from affordable local eateries to high-end restaurants, with an average meal cost of $15-$40 per person. Many attractions, such as the Charleston City Market, are free, while others, like plantations and museums, may charge admission fees ranging from $10-$25.

Savannah, Georgia:

Savannah is a city steeped in history and beauty, with its picturesque squares and antebellum mansions. Stay in elegant hotels or opt for cozy inns, with average prices ranging from $120-$250 per night. Dining options in Savannah cater to various budgets, with an average meal cost of $10-$30 per person. Don't miss attractions like the historic Bonaventure Cemetery or the Mercer Williams House Museum, which typically charge admission fees of $10-$20.

Asheville, North Carolina:

Nestled in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville offers a mix of vibrant arts, natural beauty, and culinary delights. Accommodation in Asheville ranges from budget-friendly motels to luxury resorts, with prices averaging $100-$250 per night. The city boasts a thriving food scene, with diverse options ranging from food trucks to farm-to-table restaurants, typically costing $10-$30 per meal. Explore the famous Biltmore Estate with admission fees of approximately $60-$85 per person.

New Orleans, Louisiana:

Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and unique atmosphere of New Orleans. From the lively French Quarter to the soulful sounds of jazz, the city offers an unforgettable experience. Accommodation prices vary widely, with options ranging from budget hotels to high-end luxury accommodations. Expect to pay an average of $150-$350 per night. Dining in New Orleans can be affordable, with classic dishes like po'boys and gumbo available for under $10. However, fine dining experiences can range from $30-$100 per person. Popular attractions, such as the French Quarter and Garden District, are free to explore, while others, like the National WWII Museum, charge admission fees ranging from $25-$30.

Nashville, Tennessee:

Known as the Music City, Nashville is a vibrant destination with a lively music scene and rich cultural heritage. Accommodation options include downtown hotels and cozy bed and breakfasts, with prices averaging $150-$300 per night. Dining out in Nashville offers a range of choices, from affordable Southern comfort food to upscale farm-to-table cuisine, typically costing $15-$40 per person. Explore attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame (admission fees around $25-$30) and catch live performances at various music venues throughout the city. 

Miami, Florida:

Miami is a glamorous city that combines stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a melting pot of cultures. Accommodation options in Miami span from budget-friendly hotels to luxury resorts, with prices averaging $150-$400 per night. Dining out can be diverse, with options ranging from affordable Cuban sandwiches to high-end waterfront dining, typically costing $15-$50 per person. Explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Miami Beach, visit the Art Deco Historic District (free), or take a boat tour in Biscayne Bay (around $25-$50 per person).

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina:

As America's most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains offer breathtaking natural beauty and abundant outdoor activities. Accommodation options range from campgrounds to cabins and hotels, with prices varying accordingly. Camping fees start at around $25 per night, while cabins or hotels can range from $100-$250 per night. Dining options can be found in nearby towns, with meal prices ranging from $10-$30 per person. Explore the park's scenic drives, hike the numerous trails (free), or enjoy wildlife watching.

St. Augustine, Florida:

As the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the United States, St. Augustine is a historic gem on Florida's east coast. Accommodation prices range from budget-friendly hotels to upscale resorts, with averages around $120-$250 per night. Dining out offers a mix of casual seafood spots and fine dining establishments, with meal prices averaging $15-$40 per person. Visit attractions such as the Castillo de San Marcos (around $15 admission fee) or take a stroll down St. George Street in the charming historic district (free).

Gatlinburg, Tennessee:

Nestled in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Accommodation options include hotels, cabins, and chalets, with prices averaging $100-$250 per night. Dining in Gatlinburg ranges from affordable barbecue joints to family-friendly restaurants, with average meal costs of $10-$30 per person. Explore the scenic trails of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (free) or visit popular attractions such as the Ober Gatlinburg amusement park (prices vary). 

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina:

Hilton Head Island is a tranquil coastal paradise known for its pristine beaches, world-class golf courses, and abundant outdoor activities. Accommodation options include beachfront resorts and vacation rentals, with prices averaging $150-$400 per night. Dining out ranges from casual seafood shacks to upscale waterfront restaurants, typically costing $15-$50 per person. Explore the island's beautiful beaches (free), rent bicycles, or tee off at one of the renowned golf courses.

The southeastern United States is a captivating region that offers a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. While the cost of staying, dining out, and visiting attractions may vary, there are options available to suit a range of budgets. Whether you're exploring the historic streets of Charleston, indulging in the lively ambiance of New Orleans, or immersing yourself in the natural wonders of the Smoky Mountains, the Southeast has something to offer every traveler. Plan your visit wisely, considering the expenses, and embark on a memorable journey through these top destinations.


8 Romantic Babymoon Stays for A Getaway Before the Family Grows

Hillsboro Beach Resort 

Beautifully nestled on an intimately peaceful peninsula known as “Millionaire’s Mile”, Hillsboro Beach Resort is excited to welcome expecting couples with a complimentary baby rattle and beach tote, as well as a “special cravings” menu for in-room deliveries to satisfy random cravings, including a pickle platter, french fries, ice cream, freshly made cookies, or even a romantic plate of chocolate-dipped strawberries. Future moms will enter the suite to discover a comfortable, breathable maternity beach cover-up from Cotton Natural (perfect for a baby bump photoshoot on the secluded shoreline), bottles of champagne and sparkling cider on ice, and the makings for a rose-scented bath–including soaking salts, a floral bubbling bath bomb, a Pink Himalayan salt scrub, and a whipped body butter–to rejuvenate after a day in the sunshine. Address: 1159 Hillsboro Mile, Hillsboro Beach, Florida 33062  

Hotel Effie

The glamorous Hotel Effie is home to several culinary concepts by acclaimed Chef Hugh Acheson, a luxurious on-site spa, and the only rooftop pool on Florida’s Emerald Coast. Grab a complimentary Grapefruit Lime Mockgarita with an immunity-boosting dose of vitamin C from the Ara Rooftop Bar and get the star treatment right in your hotel with a free Side-By-Side Massage for future parents at Spa Lilliana, and head to Ovide for a nutritious mommy-friendly, three-course meal of kale salad, free range chicken, and a decadent chocolate dessert (with a special to-go box of Effie’s signature biscuits and house-made potato chips for late-night snacking). Finally, the hotel partners with Coconut Kidz in the Baytowne Wharf so you can pick out a free onesie and toy for your future bundle of joy! Address: 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd, Miramar Beach, FL 32550 

The Gabriel South Beach 

The view of gentle waves from The Gabriel South Beach is a gorgeous backdrop for quality time before the baby comes. Expecting parents are welcomed by an in-suite bouquet of fresh flowers, balloons, and a plush toy for your future bundle of joy from Fleurs De La Mer. Get comfy with a plush prenatal body pillow and stay in for a baby-themed movie night. The hotel will stream Baby Mama, Nine Months, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Best of all, couples receive decadent ice cream carts à la Dalia delivered to their room with flavors like banana dragon fruit, coconut, and pistachio. The restaurant will include personalized favorite toppings upon request, from iron-rich dark chocolate and protein-packed peanut butter and other pregnancy cravings. Address: 640 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139 

The Balfour Hotel

The Balfour Hotel is a boutique stay on Ocean Drive steps away from some of South Beach’s best shopping, dining, and entertaining destinations. Along with complimentary beach chairs and plush beach towels, expecting couples receive a picnic basket with all of mom’s pregnancy cravings in tow - this includes, pickles, chocolate and salty potato chips. The culinary team at the hotel’s restaurant Mehzcla will work with the mom-to-be to include craveable foods specific to the mother’s needs.  This package also includes a copy of Growing You: Keepsake Pregnancy Journal and Memory Book for Mom and Baby, to document the journey into parenthood. Address: 350 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139 

The Gabriel Miami

At The Gabriel Miami, those who are expecting a child can focus on getting prepared for their new bundle of joy. The hotel, which is located in Downtown Miami among many of the city’s cultural attractions, partners with local children’s boutiques to bring the shopping experience directly to your hotel room. The hotel collaborates with local shops like Nini and Loli and Babycottons for parents to choose newborn essentials, including light onesies and sleepers that are made from Pima, Peruvian cotton. After the shopping session, couples can enjoy a private meal by a chef on their hotel balcony while enjoying the panoramic views of Biscayne Bay. Address: 1100 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132 

The Marker Key West Harbor Resort 

The Marker Key West is a postcard-perfect stay for future mommies seeking a peaceful resort that’s steps away from Key West’s best attractions. Waiting in the guest room is a maternity bikini by Pink Blush as the hotel has three crystal clear pools that are great for lounging and swimming a few laps for low-intensity exercise. To capture this special time the Marker provides mom-to-be with a private maternity portrait session on the Key West Harbor. This package also includes a curated collection of must-reads during pregnancy, including Bumpin', Expecting Better, Nurture, and What to Eat When You're Pregnant for poolside reading. Address: 200 William St, Key West, FL 33040 

THesis Hotel Miami

THesis Hotel Miami, located in the heart of Coral Gables, is a refined tropical escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Expectant mothers will receive  a private prenatal yoga class with calming meditation and breathwork in collaboration with Wellness @ THesis, and self-care kit by The Honest Company, which includes soaking salts, glow-on body oil, Sweet Curves body lotion and a skin-reviving face mask. To ensure that mom-to-be stays healthy, the team at Orno and Mamey will create a vitamin-rich menu which will boost immunity, milk production and overall wellness. With fresh produce sourced from Niven Patel’s Rancho Patel, moms to be will dine on the ultimate prenatal dinner that is meant to nourish and enjoy. Address: 1350 S Dixie Hwy, Coral Gables, FL 33146 

Gale South Beach 

Gale South Beach is perfect for future moms seeking a fun day out-and-about in sunny Miami. The hotel partners with Jack and Jill Yoga for a prenatal yoga class included with your stay. Return from a day of scenic South Beach photo-ops and baby shopping to a guest room catered to mom’s comfort with special amenities in-room, including The Snoogle pregnancy pillow, which was designed by a Registered Nurse and Mom to follow the natural contour and shape of your body from head to toe. Use to make sleeping and relaxing more cozy without the extra body heat. Address: 1690 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 


Top 9 Missed Experiences in Key West

Photo by Hayden Dunsel on Unsplash
If you’re looking for sun, fun, and excitement, Key West, Florida, is the place to be. Located just a few hours south of Miami, you can drive, fly or even boat your way to Key West. Visitors rave about the snorkeling, fishing, and of course, the Key Lime Pie. If you’re ready to book a week-long or weekend getaway, here are 9 excursions that should make it onto your itinerary.

1. Dry Tortugas National Park

This is a gem of the National Park System that sits around 70 miles off the coast of Key West. You’ll need to book a ferry ticket to get there but it’s worth it. The park includes multiple small islands as well as a significant underwater acreage. Snorkeling is a huge draw here, whether you’re new to the sport or highly experienced. Dry Tortugas National Park offers a variety of dive sites, from coral reefs to old shipwrecks, wooden pilings, a moat wall, and more. There’s even a night snorkeling opportunity to see nocturnal sea animals in action.

2. Conch Tour Train

Sometimes you just want to let someone else do the driving, and this is where the Conch Tour Train comes in. This charming hop-on/hop-off shuttle moves among 3 stops along Front Street, Flagler Station, and Truval Village. It’s a great activity for your first day in Key West, where you can scope out lots of shops, galleries, restaurants and bars, and more. The guides provide conversational insight about the people, places, and history that make Key West stand out.

3. Sunset Celebration

Every night’s a party here so gather with others at the waterfront on Duval Street. There are food, drink, and craft vendors, along with musicians and performers. Show up a few hours before the sun goes down to stake out the best spot for sunset viewing. It’s a great activity for families with young kids because it lets the children feel like they’re staying out late even though it’s only early evening, and a wonderful prequel for adults heading out to restaurants and bars for a late meal or drinks afterward. 

4. Latitudes Restaurant

If you want a night on the town, start with dinner at the upscale Latitudes Restaurant. Gorgeous gulf views and luxury decor complement impeccably prepared dishes whether you’re enjoying a romantic dinner for two or a special celebration. The menu features snapper, grouper, lobster tail, and scallops, plus steaks, pasta, and chicken served by a friendly and knowledgeable team dedicated to your satisfaction.

5. Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden

The lush greenery of the trees, flowers, and shrubs found here represent many native Key West plants that are hard to see anywhere else. This botanical garden is the only one like it in the continental United States, and one of the best places for birding in Key West. Planked walking paths allow for easy exploration, and there’s a picnic area so bring your lunch and make a full day of it.
Photo by Mathieu Le Roux on Unsplash
6. Charter Fishing

The waters around Key West are known for grouper, tuna, mackerel, and dozens of other fish; with a charter fishing expedition, your charter boat captain and his team take care of all the details. Any permits, licenses or gear are arranged in advance. You only need to choose a half or full-day tour and pick what kind of fishing you’d like to do. Novice and experienced guests are welcome for wreck, reef, deep water, and flats fishing. Some local restaurants even offer to cook your catch,

7. Easton Street Seafood Market

Enjoying freshly-caught seafood is one of the big draws of visiting Key West, and Easton Street Seafood Market is the best place to do it. The art deco-inspired market may not look big from the outside but inside, there are cases gleaming with fresh fish and shellfish. Make your selection to take home and prepare or choose one of their menu items and sit outdoors to feast right away. Don’t miss the lobster roll and the fried conch strip basket for a true Key West experience.

8. Key West Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters Museum

If you’ve ever wondered what it would have been like to operate a lighthouse, this is your chance. Test yourself and climb all 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse for an authentic view of the sea, and see how the lighthouse keepers -- essential workers in their day -- protected ships along with their crew and cargo with warning lights.
Photo by Thomas Besseling on Unsplash
9. Local Beaches

While Key West may not be known for expansive beaches with miles of sand, it’s city beaches are charming and well worth the visit. Relax under the palm trees at Smathers Beach or if you travel with your dog, visit Higgs Beach, which welcomes beachgoers and their pups. As with most beaches, the earlier in the day you can get there, the better. Beach space fills up fast come afternoon. Beach vendors sell food and drink, and often additional gear like snorkels.

Key West has a world of cultural, historic, and outdoors experiences to enjoy. Building your itinerary in advance helps focus your planning and give you things to look forward to as you prepare for your trip. These experiences in particular showcase the best that Key West has to offer visitors.

 photo 7636c3fb-e8d9-4b07-af6b-f1ca33a15bfe_zps9lbkp4mn.png

Things To Do In Orlando That Are Cheaper Than Theme Parks

Are you considering a trip to the Central Florida/Orlando, Florida area this coming Spring Break? You might want to check out these great ideas for places to visit and things to do that won't break the bank they way the theme parks can easily do. 


When planning a Spring Break getaway to the Central Florida theme parks you can save more and double the fun by selecting lodgings and add-on recreation in “Orlando North, Seminole County.”  Here your guestroom averages 40% less than those by the attractions, all hotels offer free parking, there are no long restaurant waits, and you're a short drive away from: 
  • Walt Disney World® - 45 minutes
  • Universal Orlando® - 30 minutes
  • Sea World® - 30 minutes
  • Wet ‘N Wild® - 30 minutes
  • Kennedy Space Center - 60 minutes
  • Daytona Beach - 45 minutes
  • Downtown Orlando - 20 minutes

And throughout Orlando North Seminole County there’s lots of family-friendly fun that’s a fractional cost of a day at the theme parks:
  • At Planet Obstacle, kid-friendly activities include a kids’ ninja course, trampolines, bungees, ball pits and bumper cars, while adults can enjoy an aerial ropes course, an extreme zip-line, an adult ninja course, a giant rock-climbing wall and more. Planet Obstacle, 1150 Emma Oaks Trail, Lake Mary, FL.
  • Little girls will love Judy’s Dolls Middleton Newborn Nursery Adoption Center, with an adoption ceremony providing a chance to bond with her new infant baby doll, pick out its first outfit and feel the joy, of becoming a new “parent.” Judy’s Dolls, 280 W. Warren Ave. Longwood, FL.  
  • Stargazing and interactive shows at the Emil Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College in Sanford. For info on planetarium events visit
  • U-Pick Strawberries at Pappy’s Patch. 700 Florida Ave., Oviedo, FL. Check out their Facebook page: Pappys-Patch-U-Pick-Strawberries.
  • Reach new heights at the Aiguille Rock Climbing Center. 999 Charles St., Longwood, FL.
  • Artistic talents emerge at Hot Pots, where kids paint and decorate their own ceramics, from piggy banks to figurines, cups, vases and more. Hot Pots, 1071 WP Ball Blvd., Sanford, FL.
  • Enjoy a thrilling airboat ride with Black Hammock Adventures, on Lake Jesup and learn about the eco system and the birds and beasts who call it home. 2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Rd., Oviedo, FL.
  • Cool down at Wekiva Island where the river is a constant 72 degrees. Swim, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, volleyball, fish or just plain relax. Wekiva Island, 1014 Miami Springs Rd., Longwood, FL
  • Get up close and personal with wildlife at the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, where you can even participate in giraffe feedings. Also at the zoo is ZOOm Air Adventures a zip line adventure course that allows guests to explore perfect natural habitats from an animal’s perspective—in the air traveling from tree to tree by zip lines and suspended rope bridges. 3755 US 17, Sanford, FL.
  • Enjoy the playground and watch youth, collegiate and non-professional teams playing at the 102-acre Boombah Sports Complex at Seminole County. 3450 E. Lake Mary Blvd., Sanford, FL.
  • Seminole County is also home to some of Florida’s best natural attractions, including the Wekiva River, one of only two National & Wild Scenic Rivers in the entire state of Florida, the St. Johns River, Wekiva Springs State Park and Lake Jesup to name just a few. With more than 30 parks and preserves the area is a favorite destination for hiking, biking, bird watching, wildlife study, nature photography and more. There’s something for everyone whether you are a nature lover or adventure seeker.

About Orlando North, Seminole County:
A short drive from all the major attractions of Central Florida and home to Orlando Sanford International Airport, Orlando North, Seminole County offers first-rate accommodations for less, varied meeting & event venues, and diverse dining and shopping in its charming communities. Known as “Orlando’s Natural Oasis,” the destination offers visitors a wide array of thrilling outdoor activities from an aerial adventure course with zip lining to paddling alongside manatees in clear freshwater springs and rivers. Long known as an exciting and affordable meetings/groups destination, Orlando North also offers an array of sports and training facilities, including the new 102-acre Seminole County Sports Complex. For destination information call 1-800-800-7832 or 407-665-2900 or visit
 photo 7636c3fb-e8d9-4b07-af6b-f1ca33a15bfe_zps9lbkp4mn.png

Become the Ninja When LEGO NINJAGO World Opens Jan. 12, 2017 at LEGOLAND Florida Resort

I wanted to pass along some exciting news to all my readers who are LEGO® NINJAGO® fans. Starting Jan. 12, 2017, kids are invited to enter a magical martial arts kingdom where you become the ninja in your very own LEGO® NINJAGO® [NIN-JAH-GO] adventure when a whole new theme park land opens at LEGOLAND® Florida Resort.

LEGO NINJAGO World will add an immersive area filled with several hands-on, outdoor activities where kids can sharpen their ninja skills before the ultimate showdown on LEGO NINJAGO The Ride, a dazzling new attraction that blends 3D computer animation, “4D” effects and groundbreaking technology never seen outside a LEGOLAND theme park.

Inspired by the popular LEGO building sets and the “LEGO NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu” TV show, LEGO NINJAGO World puts guests at the center of the action in lots of fun ways:

LEGO NINJAGO The Ride — a state-of-the-art “dark ride” where guests score points using ninja hand moves to blast animated fireballs, lightning and more at waves of 3D villains
Zane’s Temple Build — a giant LEGO building experience where kids can contribute to a model of a mountaintop NINJAGO monastery
Kai’s Spinners — master the ancient art of Spinjitzu at these twirling, whirling, single-person platforms
Cole’s Rock Climb — an outdoor climbing wall to test kids’ balance and endurance
Jay’s Lightning Drill — measure your reflexes with these “lightning fast” light-up targets

The lushly landscaped area also will feature daily meet-and-greet opportunities with sibling ninjas Kai and Nya [NEE-AH], and Wu’s Warehouse, a themed retail shop stuffed with LEGO NINJAGO building sets, toys, clothing, souvenirs and more.

LEGO NINJAGO The RideAssisted by Kai and Nya, LEGOLAND Florida Resort General Manager Adrian Jones announced the land’s grand opening date on the eve of the resort’s fifth birthday, continuing the largest period of growth and expansion in its history.

Since opening Oct. 15, 2011, the place #BuiltForKids has added LEGOLAND Water Park (May 2012), LEGO Star Wars™ Miniland Model Display (November 2012), LEGO World of Chima™ (July 2013), DUPLO® Valley (May 2014), LEGOLAND Hotel (May 2015) and Heartlake City (June 2015). In addition, the resort has unveiled several phased restorations of the historic Cypress Gardens, which celebrated its 80th anniversary earlier this year.

Along with LEGO NINJAGO World, construction continues on LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, which will more than double the resort’s on-site accommodations when its whimsically themed bungalows open in mid-2017. Guests currently can make reservations for stays from June 1-Sept. 4, 2017, with rates starting at $182 per night. A grand opening date and associated festivities will be announced at a later date, along with additional amenities.

For more information about visiting LEGOLAND Florida Resort, including savings on advance purchase of admission tickets, multi-tier annual passes, special events, VIP experiences, educational programs, services for guests with disabilities, on-site accommodations and much more, visit

About LEGOLAND Florida Resort
Built for kids 2-12, this multi-day vacation destination located just 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa includes an interactive, 150-acre theme park with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, a world-famous botanical garden and the 5-acre LEGOLAND Water Park. LEGOLAND Hotel, located just steps from the theme park entrance, features 152 rooms and suites, each with its own LEGO® theme and some with beautiful views of nearby Lake Eloise. Opening in 2017 is LEGO NINJAGO World, an immersive theme park land with a groundbreaking, interactive ride inspired by the popular LEGO building sets and TV show, and LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, a lakefront resort with 83 themed bungalows offering 166 separate accommodations. LEGOLAND Florida Resort is a part of the Merlin Entertainments Group (LONDON: MERL).


Disney has ruined my kid!

You might recall reading a post about our family going to The Magic Kingdom a few months ago. Well apparently little William has not gotten over it. He is obsessed with all things Disney. He is, as I write this post, singing the "Happy Holidays" song that was being performed at one of the parades. He carries around a map of Disney in the house, the car, the store and asks to go to Disney World... several dozen times a day!
Dwayne recorded video of the parades and William watches them repeatedly. It also doesn't help that Disney commercial come on all day long!! When he meets new people he immediately tells them all about the "castle". SMH, I need to hit the lottery quick so we can take this boy back! I really thought he would have been over it by now. I guess the magic is still in him. I won't lie, I want to go back myself! Looks like it will be on the places to visit list in the next couple years.
Shelly, Mom Files
Blogger Template Created For Mom Files All Rights Reserved