Friday, August 2, 2013

NEW Baby Penquins at the Aquarium of the Pacific | @AquariumPacific #LONGBEACH

Have you heard? Two new Magellanic penguin chicks were incubated by first-time parents Floyd and Roxy, residents of the Aquarium of the Pacific's June Keyes Penguin Habitat.
Photo Credit: Robin Riggs
The one-month-old chicks are currently being cared for behind the scenes at the Aquarium and will be on public view when they join the other birds in the penguin habitat later this summer. In the meantime, the chicks can be seen via webcam from the Aquarium of the Pacific’s website at The Penguin Cam is courtesy of, the philanthropic multimedia arm of the Annenberg Foundation.
Photo Credit: Robin Riggs
More about Magellanic Penguins:
Magellanic penguins are a temperate species native to the coasts of Argentina and Chile in South America. It takes between 38 and 43 days of incubation before a Magellanic penguin egg will hatch. The chicks hatch with their eyes closed, and they are able to open their eyes about a week later. Magellanic penguin parents take turns incubating the eggs on the nest and feeding and raising the chicks after they hatch. The chicks fledge, or replace their downy newborn feathers with water-tight adult feathers, after about 90 days.
Aquarium of the Pacific is located at 100 Aquarium Way in Long Beach, California.  The chicks will be added to the June Keyes Penguin Habitat sometime in August 2013.

Disclosure: Information obtained from a Press Release. All opinions are our own. Photo courtesy of Aquarium of the Pacific and used with permission. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Photo of the Week: LEGO Knight and Dragon | Downtown Disney @DisneylandDTD #ANAHEIM

This week's photo of the week is of the LEGO fire-breathing dragon and LEGO knight in front of the LEGO Store in Downtown Disney located in Anaheim, California. Photo by Mary Tran @SuitcaseMamas.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why We Prefer The Rio, Las Vegas For Our Family #Travel #lasvegas

For the summer, we usually take a family trip to Las Vegas! Sin City may not be known as the greatest place to take kids, especially young ones, but since we have family that live there, it really makes a fun destination for all.

For us, we like to stay at the Rio.  It is located on Flamingo Road, just off the strip.

We really love going to the Rio with the kids because of the extra large rooms. First of all, when traveling with the family, expect to take shifts gambling. Having extra large suites, we were able to create fun paths with pillows and obstacles that kept the kids entertained while one of us was on the casino floor gambling.

The Buffet is wonderful for little ones. With a huge variety of different options from tacos, pizza, pasta, salads, soups and fruit, you're sure to find something your little one would enjoy.
As for the pool area, the Rio has 3 pools. One in particular was a hit with my kids. This pool has a beach/sand entry. The kids were able to play in the sand, build castles, etc and swim in the other half of the pool, which had a tile bottom.

Some of our other favorite aspects of the Rio?

All of the rooms are spacious suites. Rooms come with a hair dryer, iron and ironing board, in room safe and refrigerator and the bathroom offers two sinks!

We love the pools. There are 3 pools at the Rio! Our favorite is the pool with the “sand beach entry” and cascading waterfalls
Food  – There are so many food options!!! Check out this list of eateries:
  • Seafood Buffet & Carnival Buffet
  • Martorano’s
  • Royal India Bistro
  • VooDoo Steakhouse
  • Buzios Seafood Restaurant
  • KJ Dim Sum & Seafood
  • Wine Cellar and Tasting Room
  • All American Bar and Grille
  • Sao Paulo Café
  • BK Whopper Bar
  • Sports Deli
  • Pho Dan Nang
  • Starbucks

Night Life:
  •   Penn & Teller’s Show
  •   Voodoo Rooftop Night Club
Shopping!!! There are many shops scattered through the Masquerade wing of the Rio, offering a variety of souvenirs, collectibles and fashions.

Sign up for their Total Rewards card.  Each time you play at the slots or gaming tables, you collect points good towards future hotel stay, food and shopping credit and more.  When you are enrolled in the Total Rewards program, you also earn points at the following hotels: Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Flamingo, Harveys, Planet Holywood, Harrahs and The Quad.

Things to know:

The Rio charges a resort fee of $18 per day which includes the use of the fitness center for two and Wifi for one device. Wifi can be purchased separately for  $13.95/day.

Check out the “Buffet of Buffet” pass – 24 hour all access to any of the participating buffet restaurants including:  Caesars Palace: Bacchanal® Buffet; Flamingo: Paradise Garden Buffet; Harrah's Las Vegas: Flavors, The Buffet; The Quad: Emperor's Buffet; Paris: Le Village Buffet; Planet Hollywood: Spice Market Buffet®; Rio: Carnival World Buffet® and Village Seafood Buffet.

Rio, Las Vegas
3700 W. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
Tel: (866) 746-7671

Jenn Willey is a blogger at and a stay at home mom in Anaheim, California, enjoying the craziness of raising my 2 toddlers while Hubby is a high school teacher and coach in the Anaheim School District. We’re a family on the go, with Softball, Baseball and Dance and I love sharing exciting events, locations, products and more for families.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ticket Giveaway: NEW BODIES and Titanic Exhibits in #OC #TitanicBuenaPark #BodiesBuenaPark #Museum #BuenaPark

NEW exhibits in Orange County opens August 1st! BODIES... The Exhibition and Titanic The Experience will open side by side in Buena Park, California. With the opening of these two educational and entertaining attractions, Buena Park’s spectacular attraction total is brought to six - the most attractions in one city in Orange County.

BODIES…The Exhibition
At BODIES…The Exhibition you will come face to face with real, full-body specimens and organs that provide an incredibly detailed, three-dimensional vision of the human form rarely seen outside of an anatomy lab. Multiple galleries provide an up-close look inside the skeletal, muscular, reproductive, respiratory, circulatory and other systems of the human body including a smoker’s lung and a healthy lung. Many of the specimens are arranged in vivid athletic poses, allowing the visitors to relate to their own bodies in everyday activities. 

Titanic The Experience
From the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, Titanic The Experience revives the epic story of the “Ship of Dreams.” This exhibition has been designed to highlight the legendary RMS Titanic’s compelling human stories as best told through conserved artifacts and extensive staterooms, dining and recreational area re-creations. Visitors can become a passenger and time travel back to a prior century to witness the authentic artifacts recovered from the wreck site of Titanic.

Visitors interact with storytellers in period costumes portraying Titanic notables, such as Captain Smith and the “unsinkable” Molly Brown, allowing you to visit the unforgettable sights, sounds, and emotions of most famous Ship that ever set sail, Titanic The Experience heightens the senses together with the chill of a real iceberg to touch and feel what it would have been like at Premier Exhibition Center.

The educational impact of this exhibition is immeasurable,” said Dr. Roy Glover, professor emeritus of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Michigan and chief medical director for BODIES. “For centuries, the medical community has learned about the inner workings of the human body through the study of real human bodies, and now it’s possible for the public to gain an intimate knowledge as well.

BODIES…The Exhibition and
Titanic The Experience

Opens August 1, 2013!

Premier Exhibition Center
at the former Movieland Wax Museum
7711 Beach Blvd
Buena Park, CA


Single Show
Combo Price
*Group Tickets (15 or more) Call 888-647-2789

BOX OFFICE HOURS (Aug 1 thru Sept 2):
Monday-Thursday: 10 AM - 9 PM (last ticket sold at 8pm)
Friday-Saturday: 10 AM - 10 PM (last ticket sold at 9pm)
Sunday: 10 AM - 7 PM (last ticket sold at 6pm)

For more information, please visit their website here:

Disclosure: We will be attending the upcoming media events with provided tickets. All opinions are our own. Information accurate at time of publishing. Photos courtesy of Premiere Exhibitions and used with permission. More coverage coming soon!
Enter to win Two Tickets to both BODIES and Titanic exhibits.
Two Winners! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

US Residents Only. No purchase necessary to enter. All fans have an equal chance to win, however, you must enter to win. A winner will be randomly selected via RaffleCopter and notified via email. No cash value. Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected the same way. Several different ways to earn entries (some can be done daily). Not liable for unclaimed prizes or fulfillment. Good luck!

# # #

About Premier Exhibitions, Inc.
Premier Exhibitions, Inc. (Nasdaq:PRXI), located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a leading presenter of museum quality exhibitions throughout the world. Premier is a recognized leader in developing and displaying unique exhibitions for education and entertainment including Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, BODIES...The Exhibition, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, and Real Pirates in partnership with National Geographic.

Photo of the Week: Joshua Tree National Park, CA #travel #outdoors

Hit the road and visit a National Park this summer. One of my favorite locations is desert park Joshua Tree National Park. Unique rock formations await as you explore the landscape rich with wildlife and the Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree National Park is located in Twentynine Palms, California.
Joshua Tree. Photo by Tee Burgess.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Snow Mountain Ranch Yurt Camping #Colorado #travel

When most people think of Colorado, they think of the mountains and snow. Thanks to Chamber of Commerce shots of snowy mountains during football games, that's the image provided - and it's a mostly correct one. Yet Colorado’s mountains are also in the glory year-round. Take, for instance, the YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch, just outside of Winter Park, Colorado. It is an absolutely beautiful place to visit anytime of year. We have visited in the autumn during their very fun and reasonably-priced themed weekends. And our youngest son has attended Camp Chief Ouray two years in a row now and described it as “absolutely amazing.” When we took him up to camp this year, we decided to make it a family gathering and try out camping in one of the Snow Mountain Ranch’s yurts!

Now you have to keep in mind that I don't particularly like camping. I know, I'm crazy. I am married to a guy (and mother to four kids) who absolutely love camping with a passion. So where does that leave me? Either not going with them to rough it in the wilderness or finding a compromise.

I found it, just an hour and a half away from Denver. The yurts are permanent, round, roofed structures that are more tent than cabin but a lot less rough than a tent. Snow Mountain Ranch currently has 12 yurts in their Yurt Village, spaced far enough away from each other that you don't hear what's going on in the rest of the village but close enough that it's an easy walk to the bathhouse which has individual bathrooms with a toilet, sink, shower stall or bathtub, diaper changing area and space to change clothes in private. 

Each Yurt sleeps up 6 inside and two more outside the Yurt in a tent you provide. Inside, there is a queen size bed and two bunked beds, two square tables, six chairs, a mini fridge, microwave, two windows, a roof-top dome that opens, a ceiling fan and all linens (in the summer) including towels. Even on a cool evening, we were plenty warm. Keep in mind that the Yurts are not heated so you have to bring a good-quality sleeping bag to ward off the cold in the winter. Outside the Yurt, there is a table and benches, grill for cooking and fire pit for making s’mores or for just gathering ‘round. The yurts are just $89 per night which is really a bargain, especially when you consider how many people you can accommodate. I felt like I was technically, camping, but with almost all the luxuries of home, or at least hotel.


You can eat at the dining hall where the menu changes daily and is served buffet style, with vegetarian options available. Or there’s the Buckboard Grille & Grocery where you can get burgers, chicken fingers and pizza. But with a grocery store nearby in Winter Park, it’s just as easy to do your own cooking at the yurt.

Visit the website to learn more about the yurts and the various other lodging opportunities Snow Mountain Ranch offers. There are also activities galore, some free and others very reasonable from mini-golfing to arts and crafts classes to canoeing and horseback riding.


Come to Colorado’s mountains, those at Snow Mountain Ranch, specifically, to see all that our mountains have to offer, even when there is no snow on the ground.

Courtney Drake-McDonough is a Colorado-based travel writer and editor and mom of four whose work has appeared in a variety of magazines and blogs. Write to her at

Saturday, July 20, 2013

DINING: Currant American Brasserie Restaurant in San Diego |@CurrantSD @TheSofiaHotel #DowntownSD

The last time we were in San Diego we stayed at a historical boutique hotel called The Sofia Hotel in Downtown San Diego. Very charming and it's in a great location. On one of the evenings, we were invited to have dinner at their restaurant CURRANT: American Brasserie.

Here's their outdoor seating. Also great for people watching.

I can picture this place happening for Happy Hour. It's very trendy.

Taken later that evening:


My husband enjoyed his gourmet Brasserie Burger. (Fried egg was an optional add-on).
(DESCRIPTION: A Brasserie Burger has caramelized onion, gruyère & thyme fries).

On their "Small Plates" menu, was this delicious Pan Seared Duck Breast. The proportions were perfect. (DESCRIPTION: honey roasted Fitzgerald's Farms stone fruit, jalapeno~walnut molasses)

For the kids, we ordered two kid entrees (pasta and chicken strips) and they were happy to plate it this way for us.


For dessert, we tried a couple of things off their menu like this Chocolate Grand Marnier Mousse Cake - smooth and delicious! (DESCRIPTION: vanilla whipped cream, raspberry coulis, chocolate sauce).

This homemade dark cherry ice cream was refreshing (flavors are seasonal).

We thought it was reasonably priced for the quality, and we also really appreciated the friendly and exceptional service we received at CURRANT.  

CURRANT: American Brasserie is located in Downtown San Diego and downstairs from The Sofia Hotel at 140 West Broadway, San Diego, California. For more information about their menu, please visit their website here: For reservations, call (619) 702-6309.

You can also read more about our visit to The Sofia Hotel here:

Have you been to CURRANT? How was your experience?

Disclosure: We were invited to dinner to try their menu to share with our readers. All opinions are my own. All images by Mary

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Photo of the Week: Jardin du Luxembourg (Garden) in Paris, France

One of our most favorite places to visit when in Paris, France is the beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg (which means Luxembourg Garden). Here you will also find the La fontaine Médicis (Medici Fountain) . Enjoy!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Inside The Sofia Hotel #Travel #SanDiego @TheSofiaHotel

A few weekends ago we were in San Diego for a convention and stayed at a boutique hotel - The Sofia Hotel. The historical building located in Gaslamp Quarter and downtown San Diego renovated in 2006. The first thing that we noticed is the friendly bell service upon valeting our car.

Throughout the now modernized hotel, you will find a glimpse of history on the lighted scones aligning the hallways.

Once inside our room, I found a welcoming card with chocolates. I really appreciate little gestures like these, don't you?

Here's a peak inside our Deluxe Suite:

Pull out couch with armed chairs and ottomans inside the Deluxe Suite at The Sofia Hotel.

Workstation with an ergonomic chair.

    Also available are bedside reading lights which will soon include bedside charging outlets - Yes!

    Here's a view from our room. The Horton Plaza is on the left - very close!

    We stayed in a deluxe queen suite, but here's a standard room if you would like to compare. The main difference is you don't have separate living quarters nor a pull out couch.

    The Sofia Hotel is designed with the business traveler in mind with seating in the Lobby for impromptu meetings, a business center, and two meeting rooms.

    Business Center at The Sofia Hotel.

    Two meeting rooms at The Sofia Hotel.

    Other amenities also include: a Yoga Studio, fitness center, and onsite spa services*.

    * Spa services are by appointment only.

    We really liked the location. It's walking distance to Horton Plaza Shopping Center, there's a Coffee Bean right outside the hotel (literally), and we are minutes away from other attractions such as Balboa Park, Seaport Village, USS Midway Museum, Petco Park, the Convention Center, and the cruise terminals.

    You might also want to know:
    • It's pet-friendly with daycare, grooming, and spa services.  
    • There's a complimentary Walk About Tour Saturday and Sunday Mornings at 9am.
    • You'll receive two complimentary water bottles per night.
    • They have complimentary bikes available for use (there are about 8-10 bikes and it's first come first serve). The "Urban Cruiser" bicycles are available from 7 am until dusk.
    • Rooms include a laptop safe, mini-fridge, microwave, hair dryers and ironing boards.
    • In-room wine bar with full wine bottles available for purchase.  
    • Valet is mandatory and costs $30 per night.
    • Hate waiting for your car? Text them with your valet number before you leave your room to find your car waiting for you.
    • No pool but you are also very close to the beaches and marina.

    The Sofia Hotel
    150 West Broadway
    San Diego, CA
    (800) 826-0009 or (619) 234-9200

    The Sofia Hotel is a member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America. You can read more about the history here:

    Complimentary bike rentals at The Sofia Hotel.

    Complimentary Walk About Tour at The Sofia Hotel.

    It's pet-friendly at The Sofia Hotel.

    My family and I really enjoyed our stay at the charming The Sofia Hotel in San Diego and now curious about the others. Do you have a favorite boutique hotel? I would love to know.

    - Mary @SuitcaseMamas

    You might also like:

    DINING: The Currant American Brasserie at The Sofia Hotel

    Disclosure: We received a media rate to share a review with our readers. All opinions are my own. All images own by Mary