Touring New England With a Toddler

Mystic PizzaI don’t know about you, but I feel like the cost of everything lately is outrageously expensive.  Plane tickets? Forget it. Gas? It costs almost 100 bucks to fill up my Tahoe (which is, in part, is why we’ve become a one car family, at least for the time being). Date night (what’s that?) At least 100 dollars a pop. That’s why I was thrilled to find out Mystic Country, CT had so much to offer the entire family…and it’s just a short 45 minutes from our home in Rhode Island.  You could truly have a week’s staycation in the area and not run out of fun things to do.  Unfortunately, as I indicated here, we were in the process of moving, so I guess you can’t really call what we did a staycation.  We had been to Mystic once before, pre-baby, and I’m so glad we went back with Paige this time around,  before leaving New England.  However, because of our time constraints, and some meetings I had in Washington DC, we could only stay for a night.

On our way into town, we stopped in charming Mystic, CT and picked up a pizza to go at the famous Mystic Pizza. It’s a lovely spot, surrounded by quaint shops and friendly people.  We drove about another 10 minutes into Waterford, Ct, where our hotel was located.  On the agenda for our trip was The Dinosaur Place & Ocean Beach Park.   SpringHill Suites by Mariott was conveniently located near both, and was a great place for us to stay.  Bonus that the hotel had free wi-fi, a hearty breakfast, two plasma TVs AND an indoor pool and gym. They were kind enough to give us an early check in, so we could unload and head out to Ocean Beach Park.Fountain

 

Father & Daughter on beach

The first thing I noticed when we arrived at Ocean Beach Park, was the white sandy beach.  Beautiful!  That, coupled with the long, winding boardwalk reminded me of the vacations I used to take to Florida as a kid. My daughter loved running up and down the boardwalk and squishing her toes in the sand.  Next, she made a beeline for the spray park.  We spent two hours getting soaked before heading to the snack bar.

baby at pool

 

There’s also nightly entertainment at the park, shops, a massive waterslide, olympic sized pool, and so much more!  It was roasting hot on this particular day and we were exhausted, so we headed back to the hotel early, grabbed our leftover pizza and salad out of our hotel fridge and called it a night!

The next morning, we had a hot breakfast (included in hotel stay) in the lobby, then headed for the dinosaur place.  I’ve gotta say dino place FAR EXCEEDED my expectations.  In my opinion, the prices are reasonable, especially considering you could literally spend all day here.  I think any child under 14 would enjoy this, with the ideal age probably being 3-10 year olds.  My daughter (17 mos.)  had an absolute blast and she’s not yet two.

Dino

Dino PlaceOutside, kids can explore prehistoric nature trails and encounter life-sized dinosaurs, navigate their way through a huge maze, or have some fun in New England’s largest Splashpad. Dino Place SplashpadBaby at Splashpad Inside, they can take part in a fossil dig, select a geode and be the first to see the inside of something millions of years old, or pan for gold in an indoor stream.  There’s also a large toy shop, bead shop, jewelry shop & mineral & fossil shop!

We were so sad we had to leave and couldn’t spend the entire day there (which you could easily do), but we are doing a huge road trip and we didn’t want to leave all our belongings in the hitch basket attached to our car.  The hotel was already kind enough to extend our checkout; I knew it had a busy week and I wanted to give the cleaning crew ample time to get the room situated for the next guests.

If you live in New England, and you are itching to get away, but want to stay close to home, you should definitely check out all that Mystic Country has to offer.

 

Disclosure: In order to facilitate this review, portions of my trip were comped.

Travels to France’s Wine Country

I just returned back home after a week-long journey to France’s wine country. Part of my job as a working mom and wine shop owner is to travel to vineyards in the U.S. and abroad to visit with the great wine estates that I work with and represent at the shop. This trip was amazing– but ever so busy– visiting a different wine region and changing hotels each day. We visited in this order – Alsace, Champagne, Sancerre, Puligny Montrachet, Pouilly, Fuisse and the northern Rhone.  This trip was probably one of the best I have ever had.

Each day I spent time in the vineyards with the owners and winemakers studying the soil, in the winery understanding the  producing processes and of course finishing up with a tasting. The tasting often consists of sampling 10-15 different wines. Of course I am not drinking them. I swish and swirl in the mouth and then spit out. Not too lady like sounding but that is part of the job; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do the job. I tasted Champagne and wine as far back as 1973 and 1976 respectively – wow, I was only 2 and 5 then.

At Olivier Leflaive with Patrick Leflaive & Winemaker Franck

I was the only person from RI (well except for my supplier) who was asked to go on the trip and was the only woman, which made it all the more interesting. This actually happens frequently since the wine industry is quite male dominated. However the industry has changed over the last 20 years with more women representing part of the pie or should I say wine.

My background hasn’t always been in wine. I worked in the public relations world for some time, before deciding to make a change and dive head first into a life centered around a passion – wine and food. I love the jump I made, my career and helping people find the best wines for them.  Not once have I ever looked back.

Despite that I love what I do and the great travel opportunities that accompany my career, I always struggle when I get on the plane and leave my 3-year old daughter. I worry that she is sad and feel that I have abandoned her. As a woman who considers herself intelligent, I know rationally this is not the case. I am certain that it’s harder on me than it is her, especially when I have planned her days full of activities so she won’t have as much down time to realize I am gone.  But no matter if it is the 3rd or 20th time that I have gone away, the departure is never easy.

Tell me your thoughts. Do you ever have these feelings when you leave your children whether for work or vacation?

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