chucktown (part 2)

Our recent trip to Charleston was wonderful and we found so many great spots to visit as a family. Especially a family with young ones. As we already shared here there are some great things you can do as a family if you are visiting for the first time. Some of them are even free! 

We wanted to share a few more that we will be sure to visit again the next time we come back. 

Whenever we travel we love to find new toy stores that have unique hand made toys. The Magnifilous Toy Emporium immediately caught our attention from the street because of the small scale carousel in the store. Really! It's the first time we visited a toy store where there was a carousel you could ride! Well, that is if you are a small child. Our boys loved it! They giggled as it lit up and cranked out old tunes as they rode around and around on it. For $1 it was a very worthwhile investment! This store had a very hands on approach, as it should with toys. But a few cool things were a musical piano that played by itself, a real train horn you could pull to hear the whistle, a tall tower where you rolled a marble down and played a song, and a variety of quality brand toys that made you want to sit down and play with each one. Truly it was so much fun being in that store we were sad we had to leave. Before we left though one of the workers took us to the little courtyard in the back and showed the boys some giant bubbles with one of their special wands. We left knowing we'd be back for sure! 

For a sweet treat you have to stop for an icecream at Jeni's. Their icecream is made from grass grazed cow's milk (which means no hormones, and makes us happy!) and they offer amazing gourmet flavors as well as seasonal flavors. They also make their own waffle cones right there! You can smell the vanilla goodness from the street and you will not be able to stop yourself from going in! We also found out that they have one right here in our stomping grounds in Atlanta, hurray! (And since we've been back home we have already made a trip to it!)

If you have room for another sweet treat, or if you'd like a quick bite in the morning be sure to head to GlazedYou can choose from a variety of flavors here, made fresh. And by fresh I mean you can sit and watch them roll them out while you munch on the flavors of the day. We are donut people (um, who isn't?) and loved the donuts here. 

photo credit due to the talented  Amelia at Bloom and Lo

photo credit due to the talented Amelia at Bloom and Lo

We did some shopping along King St. and stopped in for lunch at  Jim-n-Nick's BBQ and loved that they had a simple and yummy menu with some options for the boys (grilled cheese, which is always a favorite in our home). We also just realized they have a location locally here in Acworth, so we will be able to visit again! Yum! 

And of course we headed out to the beach a couple times, driving over the amazing Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge. We can't wait to visit again!

chucktown (part 1)

We recently made a quick trip to historic Charleston, SC for a little family vacation and work trip all rolled into one. Though a short trip, it was our second visit within a year. It has easily become one of our favorite coastal cities.

The old buildings, cobblestone roads, sailboats, yummy eateries, one-of-a kind stores, and short distance to the beach are all wonderful things about Charleston. But along with all that, there are so many things to do as a family. Like the park by the pier (just across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge) that has tables for picnicking and a great outdoor playground for the kids to burn energy. Or the waterfront park that has fountains to splash in, and a long pier with swings to watch sailboats and sunsets (a favorite place of ours). Lots of kid-friendly restaurants too, not to mention yummy candy stores like River Street Sweets where they offer free samples of their pralines! 

To say we love traveling is a bit of an understatement. There is so much to see and so much to do when you visit a new place! We wanted to share some of our favorite highlights for you, especially if you are making a trip with your own family.

There are many more places we wanted to explore but didn't have the time this go-round. So here are a few places worth going to (in our opinion). 

Because we are early risers (not really intentionally when you have two little ones that get up super early), a top criterion for breakfast was a place that opened early. Bakehouse is a cafe downtown that offers it's own home-made granola (delicious!), but it also opens at 8:00 a.m. on the weekends. We had parfaits with juice and finished our coffee down at the waterfront park. A wonderful start to the day! 

at the gulf coast

We have been home from vacation for about a week now and can honestly say we still miss the beach! Everyone has a favorite vacationing spot, and ours is definitely on the beach, soaking up some sun, jumping in the waves and living the coastal life. 

Our family vacation this year took us to a couple of spots in Florida: Pensacola and Destin. We stayed with family and thoroughly enjoyed the time with them! Our days were filled with great memories, yummy food (always a favorite part of traveling), sandy beaches, lots of laughter and even some thrift store shopping (woohoo!).

We wanted to share some of our favorite photos from the trip, as well as some great local places to try out if you are in the area. 

In Pensacola, there is an amazing fish market called Joe Patti's Seafood. It's a unique and fun experience to visit as it's fairly busy there. When you arrive, you pick a number to be called on (like in a deli) and tell them what you want. There's a long row of seafood selections behind the glass counters and it can be a little overwhelming when you are narrowing down your choices. Luckily for us our brother (a Pensacola native) was a pro at ordering and took it all in stride! While he ordered, we toured the place and showed the lobsters to our boys, which was pretty thrilling for them. One lobster that was being purchased weighed in at a whopping 14 lbs.! There is also a gelato bar inside that offers free cups of vanilla gelato to children. It was seriously some of the best tasting gelato we've ever had. We can still taste the rich, deep, vanilla tones of it, that make you think you are almost eating a freshly baked waffle cone. Yum! If only they had gallon containers to take home. We came away from Joe Patti's with some delicious shrimp and several varieties of fish, not to mention sushi, and it was all delicious! It's definitely worth a visit if you are in the Pensacola area.


Part of our trip was also spent in Destin. We shared a condo with family and it was the best decision for us (as a family with little ones).  When you are traveling with small children it's wonderful to be able to have separate bedrooms if possible, since there are still nap schedules and bed times to think about. Granted the bed times get pushed a bit later than usual, but having a closed room for them, while the adults can hang out, is definitely the way to go. Our condo was beautiful with an amazing view of both the ocean in front of us and the bay beside us. We had our own kitchen (which was wonderful to help save a little on eating out) as well as a washer and dryer. That was also fabulous so that we didn't have a few suitcases full of dirty laundry to lug back with us. In comparing a condo to a hotel, the condo definitely won out for our family.

One evening our criteria for dinner was a bit unusual to say the least: find a restaurant (non-chain) that served fried pickles. We headed out to a place in Sandestin that was located in the Village of Baytowne Wharf. Tucked away from the road and located inside a resort, it was a neat place to walk around and see sights as a family. There were a lot of options for restaurants and dessert, but also a variety of activities to try out too for the kids (and adults for that matter). We let Oliver ride the carousel with his cousin and it was kind of magical to see it all lit up at night. A neat place to explore and also to snap a few family shots!
(And by the way, we did have some fried pickles here, and they were amazing!)

Funny story. We took the boys to a local park and while we were there we had two weird (or rather a bit abnormal) encounters. One was that Aleksandr found a live crawfish (minus one claw) crawling around. Guess who decided to take it home and boil it for a little afternoon snack? (it was not Carrie). And secondly, we witnessed the strength of a very determined squirrel, who found an apple in the garbage and proceeded to carry it with his teeth up a tree! Um, what in the world? It's kind of fun to visit parks out state! 


Finally we ended our visit back in Pensacola. A favorite spot was walking along the dock at the harbor watching all the big boats. When you have little boys it's pretty easy to find something that captivates their attention, but as adults it was really a perfect way to end an evening. The sun was setting, the breeze was coming up off the water, and we loved seeing the variety of yachts and sailboats anchored at the marina. One of the prettiest ones was a great big red one. We were able to watch this one pull out to sea, which was pretty exciting for the boys to watch. We loved the whole trip and can't wait to go back again! 

charleston {personal}

It's so different when you travel anywhere with kids. Vacation is more appropriately named "trip" as it really isn't a vacation for the parents. We loved taking our boys to see new sites, splash in the ocean, eat out and sleep in a fancy hotel, but it was a lot of work too. And that's okay. 
We made some wonderful memories and relished the coastal life during our short three day stay. We LOVE the ocean. We love the coastal way of life next to the ocean, and if it were up to us we'd have a home right by the ocean. God is good though and knows what is best for us and we feel blessed to have been able to make this short trip. It was our youngest boy's first time at the ocean and our oldest's second. To say they loved the water is an understatement. I think they could've happily spent the entire trip at the ocean (or in it for that matter).
We were able to walk around Charleston and visit some fabulous places, as well as eat some delicious food. One of our favorite things about traveling is the food. Charleston has so many great places to eat, if only we could've stayed another month to try them all! We will visit again one day for sure! A few things that were interesting about this town; it seems to be a bike town and we saw a lot of Schwinn bikes everywhere. There were so many different styles and so many different colors, it was something to see. It's a college town so there's a good mix of older retired people with young college kids. It's a town of love (we actually did see a proposal the first evening we were there—and Jonah totally called that one before it happened) as there is so much beauty there on the water. 

Finally on our last day we took time to go tour the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier. Let me say that if you have a three year old, this is the best place for them to visit! A great big boat plus airplanes? It's a win all around. Our boys loved it, we had a blast and we hope to make it back to the ocean sooner rather than later.