We are off! Somehow holiday season arrived, and it is once again time to shop! I bring you the warmest 2022 holiday wishes as I present to you these holiday gift ideas!
Evolution Of A Holiday Gift Guide
I work on my Holiday Gift Guide all year to find the best gift ideas for him, her, mom, dad, uncle, aunt, pet, cousin, etc., etc. I always debate what to call it because I try to mix up the categories and make it fun. So, in theory, it is part 2022 holiday toy guide, corporate gift ideas, and white elephant party guide. But it is also filled with gifts for kids, gifts for sisters, gifts for brothers, and gifts for teachers. However, you could say it is also packed with gifts for bus drivers and gifts for funkles!
Without a doubt, my favorite category is always gifts for someone who has everything or what to get someone who doesn’t want anything. PS – that answer is often an experience that you can’t wrap in a box.
As always, I love finding different and unique gifts, funny gifts, and meaningful gifts for all the people on your list. Consequently, you should make sure the (wo)man in the mirror is on your list too, because s/he works hard.
Naturally, there are some repeats – indicated with an “*”. These special items are so well loved they’re still sitting out on our dining room table bothering my husband.
New This Year – Social Post Lists And Item Links
This year I’ve sprinkled in some social links to items I’ve featured adding a little more to the story. Click all the links! Go crazy! My gift to you is laughter while watching me dance around and be silly.
I hope you walk away thinking this is the best holiday gift guide of 2022. As a blogger, I rely on my readers to spread the word about my posts. Therefore, if you find it helpful, please share it on your social channels. While there,I would also love a follow on my Blog, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok pages.
Come Back, It’s Update All Season!
Like always, I will be updating my 2022 Holiday Gift Guide all season long, so please save and visit regularly!
A Facial Cleanse facial and Bio Marine Collagen Mask with Beauty Luxe Skin and Body in Great Neck – text code “MINTCHIP” to 516-712-4856 & receive a FREE Gift when you go for a FREE consult at the office!
Most items above contain affiliate links. In addition, some items were received in exchange for an honest review. All items listed above on The Mint Chip Mama’s 2022 Holiday Gift Guide are items I genuinely think are cool and are things that I think you will like too. Happy holidays!
My kids are LEGO® obsessed. They play with LEGOs, talk about LEGOs, and use all their money to buy LEGOs. Their love is so strong that we ran an international daily LEGO build group on Facebook for a year!
LEGOs, LEGOs All The Time
So where does this love take us?
The best gift you can give my boys is a Pick-A-Brick cup from the LEGO store.
But the absolute best gift was taking them to LEGOLAND® New York for my son’s ninth birthday.
LEGOLAND New York
Ever since we learned LEGOLAND New York opened in Goshen we’ve been dying to go. We picked October – not only for the cooler weather – but also because we’re big Halloween people AND it’s my son’s birthday month.
In addition to the fantastic park, we enjoyed the scenic ride this time of year with the changing leaf colors on the New York State Thruway. Every year we say we should do that drive – usually when we’re on a local hike – imagining the grandeur. Well – there you go. Bam – efficiency!
As with all amusement parks, a good day starts with a good strategy. With that said, a little advanced planning goes a long way. Therefore, I put together a bunch of tips (including a secret one) ensuring you’ll also leave saying “Everything Is Awesome!” at the end of the day.
Before You Go
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 1 – Wear Good Walking Shoes
LEGOLAND New York has wide, easy-to-follow, stroller-accessible paved paths. It also has stairs for climbers looking to fast forward. With so many rides and attractions you will be walking back and forth multiple times throughout your day (we walked six miles!), so make sure to wear good walking shoes. With so many cool big builds everywhere, be sure to add walking around and looking at them into your day. Also, keep your eyes open for LEGO QR codes on the builds. These codes open a cool picture filter for your phone!
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 2 – Bring A Refillable Water Bottle & Lunch
We are huge water drinkers and bring our water bottles everywhere. Because of this, we were excited to see water refill stations all over the park. We also packed our lunch to save time and money and ate online while waiting for a ride. We did insist on trying one treat – the special Granny’s Goblin Toes (green fried apples) – and they were delicious! Just remember – LEGOLAND is cashless so bring your credit card.
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 3 – Pack Minifigs to Trade
One of our trip highlights was trading mini-figures or “minifigs” with very friendly employees. Most employees have one displayed on their name tag waiting for a little fan to snag. Therefore, all you do is ask! My kids loved this not only for the excitement of the trade, but it was a fantastic way to purge their least favorite minifigs and hand-pick new ones. Of course, this was successful because they combed through their collection for days in preparation. In addition, we found the best “trading post” was inside the LEGO®Creative Workshops.
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip – 4 Seasonal Events
LEGOLAND New York offers different seasonal events that are not to be missed. These enhancements really add to your amusement park experience. To be safe, double-check the celebration dates before going as some are only on the weekends. During the Fall, LEGOLAND New York transforms into a monster of a good time at the Brick-or-Treat Presents Monster Party (free branded bags and candy!). Coming up next, it becomes a Holiday Bricktacular with shows, characters, and special treats!
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 5 – Arrive When They Open, Leave When They Close
We like arriving when places open and getting a head start on the busy attractions. Because of this, I suggest checking the park hours before you go as they change seasonally. Also, while you’re on the site, save yourself time and money by pre-purchasing your tickets and parking pass. Keep in mind the closing time listed is the last time a rider can get on a ride line. Therefore, if you’re on the line by then, you are good to go!
When You’re In The Park
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 6: Sign Up For A Workshop Upon Arrival
LEGOLAND New York is as much about building and the experience as it is about the rides. My friend gave us a great tip that upon entry we should head left and find the yellow LEGO® Creative Workshops building. Here, you can sign up for one of their timed workshops throughout the day. Sessions fill up, so I suggest going early and grabbing a spot.
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 7: Begin With The Big Rides
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 8: Continue With The Popular Rides
In addition to the “big” rides, my kids were excited about the rides they researched. They had tunnel vision for LEGO® City’s Driving School where they drove their own car AND got an official LEGOLAND® driver’s license. They were also super excited about Coast Guard Academy, Fire Academy, and Tower Climb Tournament. Since these are all popular rides as well one of us walked ahead to get in line while the other routed the kids to a playscape to wait. We find this divide-and-conquer strategy makes everyone happy.
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 9 – Appreciate How They’re Saving The World!
Enjoying an amusement park is hard work. Don’t forget to sit and take a break occasionally. I loved how all the benches (and garbage pails!) have plaques showing the reclaimed, recycled milk jugs count used to make them.
LEGOLAND New York Tips: Tip 10 – Do Miniland Last
As with our strategy to get in early and conquer busy rides, we also like staying until parks close. With that said, we did all the rides and saved Miniland for last. As the sun set, we enjoyed this incredible depiction of the most famous buildings and landmarks in America. It was cool (and less crowded at this point) and so pretty with all the lights. Clearly, it was a wonderful way to end our day.
If you’re celebrating a birthday head to guest services to pick up a complimentary birthday pin. My son loved this little souvenir and enjoyed everyone wishing him a happy birthday as we walked around.
LEGO Birthdays Galore!
In addition to celebrating my son’s 9th birthday, LEGO is celebrating it’s 90th birthday!
But wait, there’s more! If you catch the Louis Vuitton exhibit celebrating 200 years of his trunks, you will also see a LEGO birthday cake there!
We Must Return!
We saw so much but there was still so much more to see. That’s the best excuse for a return visit! Til next time, LEOGLAND.
Everything WAS Awesome
I’m quite sure there’s no better place to spend a little LEGO lover’s birthday than LEGOLAND New York. In truth, it was so much more than an amusement park. It was a museum, a building experience, a thrill ride, and a learning center, we loved it. In conclusion – everything WAS awesome!
The new school year routine and how to come out the other side!
The new school year has totally kicked my butt. While I am not usually the person to admit this, in this case it is very true. The only thing that makes it better is it seems it is kicking everyone else’s butt too!
Back in August – I said how excited I was for September to come and for a new school year to begin. I craved the schedule. Foolishly thinking the new school year routine would make it all better. Yes, in truth it has.
But my goodness.
It’s a lot.
We have three kids in multiple activities. This year – my youngest – is a full-throttle-ahead kid. He’s six. He’s now officially into stuff and on the activity roster. Whereas before he was a handbag, now he too has a new school year routine added into the mix.
But there are only two of us.
We’re one driver short.
It’s a lot.
We Are Constantly Moving
It seems every day we are just running and running. Or better yet I should say driving and driving (although one activity we drive to IS track). But I digress. Thus, we are always on the move, on the go, in the car, and it’s exhausting.
Ok, so it’s been a month. The new school year routine is now firmly in place. All the fall sports are chugging along. It’s time to get organized.
That means we have the running around down pat, now we need to have the downtime – well… down. We need to respect our mental health, physical exhaustion, and well-being in addition to schoolwork and activities.
I Enjoy A Good Schedule and Routine
As a rule, we schedule everything, so why not schedule downtime too? It sounds funny but for us, if it’s not on the calendar it won’t happen. Well maybe that’s just me, and I’m ok with that… Hi, I’m Stacey and I am addicted to my calendar.
By the same token, this means using our time “off” efficiently to repair, restore, and regenerate ourselves. Furthermore, it means spending some quality time together in one place at one time.
With everyone going in different directions all week we can’t lose sight of the importance of being together. Here are five tips to keep a little sanity in your week of mayhem.
1. Incorporate Nature Into Your New School Year Routine
Spending time outside has always been a bonding activity for us. We enjoy taking nightly walks and going on hikes. However, with the sun setting early and homework looming, a daily walk is now challenging. Because of this, I try to schedule a hike or walk on the weekend. This is a priority for us because there are so many benefits to being outside and in the fresh air.
2. Each Weekend Make One Night A Family Night
It is important to us that we eat dinner together as a family. Nevertheless, with five different schedules, this is often challenging. We try to spend Friday nights together and watch a movie asa family. We couple this with taking turns picking the movie so there’s no fighting. Moreover, we love showing our kids the movies we watched growing up in the 80s and 90s.
3. Your New School Year Routine Needs Time For Bodies To Recharge
We are constantly on the go. We put so much emphasis on activities that it’s important to put equal emphasis on downtime. Like all other kids, our kids like playing video games. The rule is they can play in the morning before getting ready for school until we wake up. In effect, this gives them some quality Mario time and gives us some extra sleep. Without doubt too much zoning out time is negative, but we believe video games in moderation are great. In fact, with all the commotion of our week, we’ve learned making video games a family activity is a fun way to veg out together. Hence, on Saturday mornings you can find us resting and relaxing on the couch. Plus, kicking your kid’s butt in a video game gives you lots of credit in the “cool parent” department.
Of course, no new school year routine would be complete without emphasis on schoolwork. With constant school testing these days, there are two ways to look at it. We can either complain or focus on how it highlights our kid’s areas needing improvement. Furthermore, there are so many great resources available that it’s easy to help our kids strengthen one specific subject muscle. So why complain? The key here is finding a workbook your kids like so it doesn’t feel like a chore. We’ve had great luck with Popular Books Complete Math Success workbooks for both boys – so it’s never a fight. We don’t push, we just tell him to do one page a day. Just a little bit for five minutes. We also love their perk-filled Parent Club Rewards Program packed with supplemental material.
Be Patient, It Takes Time To Adjust To The New School Year Routine
With all of the above said, all families look different and come with different schedules and agendas. But with that said, it’s easy to agree on the importance of a new school year routine, the happiness of seeing one’s children excel in their activities, and the desire to create a warm home.
It takes time to adjust to the new school year. Seemingly said, we have to remember that like everything else we do as parents, we owe ourselves some patience and grace to get there.
We are a New York based family of history buffs. Accordingly, our kids – ages 6, 8, and 12 – not only love United States history, but also movies about history, like National Treasure. Enter Philadelphia – the perfect destination for a quick 48-hour getaway.
Philadelphia hits the US history jackpot with unlimited things to see for people of all ages. Therefore, I’ve crafted this “greatest hits” itinerary – in the order we visited – so it’s easy to follow for young families.
Generally, most family friendly Philadelphia landmarks have a knowledgeable National Park Ranger stationed there. They are ready to answer the most challenging questions from little history buffs. Be sure to ask each ranger for a historical figure “playing card”. My kids loved hunting for these, and they made a nice (and free!) souvenir.
Philadelphia is a great walking city with lots of metered street parking. Even better, there’s an app called meterUP you can use to pay online and focus on sightseeing.
Family Friendly Philadelphia: Day 1
Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State is America’s most historic – and one of the most influential – prisons ever built. It is both architecturally stunning and insanely haunting to visit. The included audio guide (narrated by Steve Buscemi, with additional stories told by former inmates) made the walls come to life. Today, Eastern State is not only a family friendly Philadelphia historical site, but also an unexpected space to see an art installation. While you are there, check out the current exhibits and visual commentaries about today’s international prison system. Additionally, check out the prison’s synagogue and Jewish life exhibit.
The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is a excellent science center famous for its walk-through heart exhibit. It’s a must for any family friendly Philadelphia vacation. This Institute brings many of Ben Franklin’s experiments to life through interactive exhibits and experiences. All are guaranteed to entertain your kids for hours. My kids loved learning about electricity (yes, they got a small shock, yes they did it 300 times), the brain, simple machines, space, Foucault’s Pendulum, and more. They were also thrilled to find a giant Luckey Climber – the biggest crowd pleaser in my house.
If you’re a fan of the movie National Treasure, you’ll recognize the steps and façade from the scene where the little boy goes into the museum to help crack the code on a Post-It note revealing the names “Pass and Stow”. This clue leads the treasure hunters to the Liberty Bell for their next clue.
Family Friendly Philadelphia: Day 2
If you’d like to see the most influential chair in American history, head over to Independence Hall. Here, a National Park Ranger will outline the amazing things that happened in the complex in 1776. This includes the birth of our nation with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While many of the artifacts in this room are replicas, the Rising Sun armchair – where George Washington sat while signing is still there.
Additionally, National Treasure fans will “recognize” the rope jumped to sneak up into the bell tower searching for the next clue. Sadly, this scene was actually filmed at a church in Maryland.
The Liberty Bell
The most famous cracked bell in American history has been a family friendly Philadelphia stop for decades. Get your kids excited about it by picking up a National Parks DepartmentJunior Ranger booklet across the street at Independence Visitor Center. Afterwards, once this fun interactive activity book is completed, a park ranger will deputize them like in Washington, DC. They get a little wooden badge, it’s cute.
Franklin Court Printing Office
Ben Franklin was a man of many talents. His fingerprints are all over Philadelphia, but are strongest by his Franklin Court Printing Office. Here you can see old fashion printing presses and learn about the painstaking task of printing. This includes picking out each letter one by one and setting it in place for printing newspapers, pamphlets, or anything else needed in historical times. In a world of fast technology and emails, my kids loved this old-fashioned family friendly Philadelphia stop. I loved learning the terms “upper case” and “lower case” originated from the literal placement of the bins in offices like this one. The capital letters were in the upper case and the rest were in the lower case).
Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest continuously inhabited residential street in the United States – meaning people have lived here for over 300 years! It was a beautiful little stretch to walk through. I think it counts as a cute family friendly Philadelphia destination since it is colorful, made of cobblestones, and has little paths for kids to explore.
Betsy Ross House
The Betsy Ross House is the birthplace of the American flag. Kids will love this family friendly Philadelphia attraction. They can walk up and down the winding staircases to the rooms Betsy Ross occupied while living here. As always, my kids loved seeing the kitchen and the unique ways of heating and cooling food in the 18th century.
Franklin Square Park
After two great days of sightseeing our Philadelphia grand finale was an evening at the historic Franklin Square Park. This family friendly Philadelphia park has deep roots going all the way back to William Penn himself. It is one of the five original open-space parks Penn planned while laying out the city in 1682.
While the park is relatively small, it is filled with several fantastic family friendly attractions. Not only is there a carousel and a historic dancing fountain, but it is home to the city’s only miniature golf course – featuring iconic symbols of Philadelphia.
This park is located right off the Ben Franklin Bridge. It is the perfect last stop vibe if you’re heading home to the North. Don’t forget to fill everyone’s bellies at SquareBurger before hitting the road.
Family Friendly Philadelphia Statues and Signs
Of course, one of my favorite parts of Philadelphia – and all the historic cities we visit – is walking around and stumbling upon history. Likewise, Philadelphia has so many statues, sculptures, and fountains (some historical, some modern) it became a little treasure hunt for us. Be sure to make time to walk around and look at the public art, it will not disappoint.
I love when Autumn arrives. The cooler temperatures. The bonfires. The shorter days. When it comes to keeping our children safe outside during this time, there are a few things to keep in mind. If your kids are extremely active like mine, you can have them spend the majority of the days outside in your backyard. It may seem harmless to let them run and jump, but there are some hidden areas that might pose a threat. Below are a few tips you want to consider to keep your children safe. As a parent, you will want to make sure to keep these ideas close including being on the lookout for hazards, proper footwear attire, helmet safety, and having a fence in your backyard.
1. Be On Alert For Hazards
Believe me when I say that we all think our backyard is safe for our kids to play. However, you’ll want to be on alert for any hazards that could harm your child on a daily basis. This means going outside and checking the swingset that they are playing on. Are there any sharp things poking out of the wood? Did a wasp nest make its home in the corner? These are things you can avoid by looking for them. Also, make sure that there aren’t any glass or other materials that might hurt your little one on the ground. This also goes for playgrounds that you visit as well.
2. Proper Footwear
This is essential to making sure your kids are safe when they are outside. Similarly, when you hike on trails with your kids, make sure the shoes they’re wearing are equipped to keep them safe. This means that proper walking shoes that cover their entire foot are a must. If it’s winter, you’ll want to make sure they have winter boots that protect them from falling and slipping. Avoid open-toe flip-flops or sandals as they can easily cause your child to slip and fall, especially if they are riding their bike or running. Additionally, wearing open-toe shoe outside could also put their toes in danger! Also, make sure to take your child to a proper shoe store to get them the shoes they need.
3. Sturdy Fence
If you’re looking to upgrade your fence to something a bit more practical, the most common material for a fence is pressure-treated pine. This type of wood is pressure treated to extend life. It also protects it against insect infestation, which can be a huge issue in the southern states. A business called Brazilian Wood Depot offers a variety of hardwoods including this composite deck board option and many others. You’ll want to get a quote and ask question if you have any to help pick out a great fence for your backyard.
4. Helmet Safety
Does your child ride their bike without a helmet? That should be a no! Discussing and showing the importance of wearing the proper gear when you go on a ride together is important. If you are unsure about which helmet will work best there are several shops that can help find the best one to fit your child’s head and keep them protected. Role model to your child that you wear a helmet when you ride your bike. This will show them a helmet’s significance. Have them decorate their helmet if they want with stickers to personalize it.
What are some other types of safety ideas you can think of when your children are outside playing? Overall, I think it is important to talk about safety rules when your kids go outside to play. Show them how to pick up items carefully if they see it, or tell a grown-up. While we can’t prevent things from happening, we can educate our children to know what to look for. Spend the time you need to keep this as part of your main focus ensuring they understand.
As summer fades like a sunset, we are reminded that September – and back to school – is on the horizon.
It will be here before we know it.
Starting to get ready NOW will help in the fight against being scrambling parents. Like the parent who you were last year. Remember? Begging stores to stay open five more minutes while we dug around for the last hidden box of crayons.
This year stand strong! I fully believe with some simple preparation, we can all become solid back to school prepared machines. This means come day one, bags will be packed, shoes will fit, and our children will have all things needed to be sharpened ready to go.
To help in this dream I present to you five back to school tips to help get you and your family ready.
Calling all moms and dads, back to school assemble!
Back To School Tips, Tip #1: Buy New Backpacks NOW
If you are like me, you have an annual “heated debate” with your child about getting a new backpack. I always like to begin my rebuttal with “What about this bag? You know, the one you BEGGED me for last year and swore you would use until college?”. But as expected, I often lose to puppy dog eyes bringing me to agree every two years. The best sales (and biggest selection) start in August so look around now. With online shopping it is so easy to compare prices and order a few choices. This also takes away some of the sting from the overwhelming backpack wall in the store.
Then, once the school supply lists come out, we head to the stores for everything else. Next, we come home and begin our fan favorite annual tradition of setting up a “back to school store” in the basement (toy cash register included). My kids LOVE this, take turns shopping and ringing each other up, and do not even notice when I sneak in some old stuff to save a little money.
Back To School Tips, Tip #2: Teach Your Kids How To Make Lunch NOW
Making lunch is arguably one of the biggest chores for parents. Yes, yes there are the parents who embrace gorgeous, Instagrammable bento boxes, but come on, the rest of us are just staring into the fridge abyss praying for creativity to strike.
When I had my third kid, my oldest was in kindergarten. Somehow the idea came up for her to make her own lunch one day. Probably because I was doing nine things at once. Bam! Thus began the most liberating outsourcing of all time. Now with that said, sometimes they buy lunch, and sometimes we make something special for them. But for the most part, it is sandwich time with a side order of pride. Funny enough, I had no idea this would become so empowering. My eight-year-old takes such pride in making his own lunch, it is really cute.
So how do we do this safely? We leave bread on the counter, and they spread ingredients (often cream cheese and jelly) with a butter knife. Since they are making it, they can make whatever they would like (read: guaranteed to be something they will eat). Now, here is the real secret: our deal is that if they make their own lunch, they can “sneak” in a piece of candy for dessert. Luckily, it gets them every time.
Back To School Tips, Tip #3: Research and Register for Extra-Curricular Activities NOW
Extracurricular classes and sports are a great way for kids to learn fun things and be team players. With that said, we all have that one class in our town that sells out during early bird registration – often before the school year even begins. With online registration available for most things now it is so easy to quickly look it up and set a calendar for yourself once registration opens. I send myself the link too, so I do not have to think at all when the time comes. In addition, registering early may save you some money – a fun side of gravy.
Back To School Tips, Tip #4: Start Reading With Your Kids Every Night NOW
Reading is one of the things your kids (pick a word: loves, fights about, refuses to do, embraces). Yes, reading is challenging for many kids, but I believe modeling reading for pleasure is the first step in getting your kids to read willingly. I am a big reader but often do not have the time. However, I always tell my kids to read. This is especially true during the school year when reading is part of their homework. One day my son invited me to read with him. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. So, we started reading together on the couch before bedtime.
Of course, this does not happen every night, but they see that reading can be fun. It is something we can do together, and it has become something we WANT to do together. Starting this tradition in August, will set them up for reading success in school because they will already be in the groove.
Back To School Tips, Tip #5: Keep Flexing That Brain Muscle With Workbooks NOW
Every morning after eating breakfast my kids do one workbook page. It gets their brains moving so they do not suffer from the dreaded “summer slump.” This summer we have been using workbooks from Popular Book USA. I believe the key to success here is finding fun books in the subjects they enjoy. I can tell you it worked because if you want to know the truth – most days they ask to do a second page!
The bottom line is – much like everything in life, it helps to be prepared. These five simple back to school tips will get you ahead of the game so when September rolls around you are ready to rock.
Of course, by “ready,” I mean ready to drive your kids to the thousands of activities you signed them up for and ready to tell them to get their shoes on AGAIN because the bus is rounding the corner and it’s time to gooooooo!
More Resources For Back to School
What else can parents do to set their kids up for success? Getting involved is the best way to start. You might even get a bench as a thank you! No matter how much time you have, your PTA, PA, or PTO needs your help. Get involved – even 15 minutes can make your child’s school a better place. Often things can be done on your own time so if work schedules are challenging you can still make it happen.
Continuing the home to school connection, here are some great resources to help set your child up for success. Whether they are starting Kindergarten, 1-3 grades, or your family is focusing on homeschool these links should help!
Paddle Pub Long Island *use code “MintChip” to save 5% off your booking!*
Every summer, I have one small goal: to go on a boat. Throughout the years, I have accepted this in the form of a ferry, a friend’s boat, and even the little inflatable boat we bought during the pandemic. I’m not picky, just “take me to the river” (in the words of Albert Finney from “Big Fish”).
Paddle Pub Long Island Launches!
Last summer, I read about a new local company called Paddle Pub Long Island. Quite simply, it looked like a whole lot of fun, and I was desperate to try it!
That wish recently came true as we set sail – along with some friends — on a beautiful Friday night on our own private chartered Paddle Pub Long Island boat, which could hold up to twenty-six people.
Paddle Pub Long Island In Patchogue
We chose the Patchogue location – which sails on The Great South Bay – and packed our bags. Not only was the boat a thorough source of fun, but it was also Bring Your Own Beverage (in a can), so we could pack exactly what we wanted. We also opted to bring sandwiches and snacks to make our booze cruise an elevated dinner cruise excursion as well.
As we pulled out of the beautiful Leeward Cove Marina, we passed all kinds of boats and hopping waterfront restaurants. It was heaven. The stress fell off our shoulders as we saw nothing but open water ahead.
Don’t Worry, There’s Also A Motor
When I began this quest, my idea of a paddle boat was something from my childhood involving ducks and some type of lake vacation. I was thinking of little foot pedals. What I didn’t expect was such an advanced set up! It was more a spin class than an aquatic tourist attraction. Now, with that said, we paddled – but there was also a motor – so we didn’t have to work that hard.
In between the six rows of bicycles facing each other we placed our drinks in the coolers (pre-filled with ice) and didn’t have to try too hard to have a fun time.
We drifted around the Great South Bay as our requested music was pumping and the breeze was blowing. We took turns getting up and dancing and taking in the gorgeous sunset.
Party Ashore Or Stay On The Boat
We had the option to stop at one of two waterfront bars down the shore, but the crowds there were large, and we were enjoying our little party, so we happily declined the offer.
It’s funny as you age – you don’t need so much. We were so happy just catching up with each other since the last few months have been so nuts. We were happy to relax and enjoy the views while sipping on a few drinks and listening to eighties pop. I mean, what more does one need?
Staff To Get The Party Started
Our awesome party host Gina took great care of us constantly surveying the crowd to see if there were any musical requests. She was super attentive to anything we needed and got the party rolling with some fun games. The Paddle Pub Long Island crew of two also included our US Coast Guard Licensed Captain, who chatted us up regaling his tales of life on the sea. They were great party guests in addition to being our hosts.
Yes, There’s A Bathroom On The Boat! I Asked Too…
I have that answer too – a clean bathroom (with a sink). Yes, all Paddle Pub Long Island boats have a full head (boat talk for bathroom) ready and waiting for you. Because priorities shift to the necessities as one ages, and I am ok with that.
The Post Cruise Party Continues On Shore
When we docked – always too soon when you’re on a boat – we didn’t want to leave. So, we didn’t! We stayed behind at the dock and relaxed at the welcoming picnic table (with full barbeque open to the public) and waited until the sky went dark before we returned to reality.
From under our little Paddle Pub Long Island tent haven, we could easily hear the live band at Dublin Deck from our Adirondack chairs and squeeze one more moment of the vacation feels into our night. It didn’t matter that we were only forty minutes away from our house.
We sat and relaxed, enjoyed the view some more and then went back to the insanity of our lives. But for a good two hours it was smooth sailing and just a whole lot of fun.
Booking was very easy and can be done online. You can either join one of their fun mixer cruises, a themed tour, or charter the boat for a private party like we did or for a corporate event. This would also be a terrific way to celebrate a summer birthday! If you can grab eight friends to join you, your birthday ticket is complementary! It’s just plain fun.
The whole Paddle Pub Long Island team was easy and great to work with from the beginning. We had a contact who helped confirm all our pre-boat information and set up how we wanted our cruise. We were able to contact him both over the phone and by text. He also went over parking information with us since it gets tricky sometimes at the marina and sent us pre-boarding waivers in advance to save boarding time.
If you also have salty air in your bones, you need Paddle Pub Long Island in your life this summer. This was the perfect summer kick off and reminder that we live on an island, and we must take advantage of that wonderful fact.
Save With The Mint Chip Mama’s Paddle Pub Discount Code!
Are you ready to grab your friends, relatives or collogues and go? Use code “MintChip” to save 5% off your booking! Good for any cruise this season.
Father’s Day gift giving is challenging – for both the giver and the receiver.
With that said, it is my annual joy to bring you The Mint Chip Mama’s first Father’s Day Gift Guide! I love finding unique father’s day gifts and “toys” – also the weird and quirky – and bringing them to you.
Finding unusual things off the beaten path makes you laugh, and we all need more laughter in our lives.
At the end of the day, remember – dads work hard (as do moms) to make the life of their family perfect. So, if nothing else, be nice to them. Let them have some time to relax. Remember it is their day. Also remember to say “please” when you remind them to take out the garbage and start the BBQ so they can cook dinner for everyone.
This list is long but if you need even more ideas check out my Amazon page!
Visiting our nation’s capital is a rite of passage for every American. As a result, the Washington, D.C. area offers family attractions that are unique, interesting, and educational for everyone.
Families with kids learning about the United States of America and democracy will eat up visiting these Washington, D.C. area family attractions.
That is to say, my kids are HUGE American history buffs and Washington, D.C. was their dream destination.
While we missed the famed cherry blossoms (except for ONE tree) we did see museums, monuments, buildings, and all historic sites our eyes could absorb in five days.
Balancing Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions And City Visit
We picked a centrally located hotel in downtown Washington, D.C. (at the midpoint of The Mall). This allowed us easy access to all city attractions. With this in mind, plus the goal of not moving our car, we planned the outside area visits on our way there and back.
George & Martha Washington’s Home: Mount Vernon
Our first stop was Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George & Martha Washington. This beautiful, huge property (once 8,000 acres!) is nestled right on the Potomac. In addition, it is the most popular historic estate in America. Also, if you like historical movies, you’ll recognize Mount Vernon from the movie “National Treasure: Book of Secrets.”
Our mansion tour taught us George Washington was an innovative farmer who changed his crops to control the narrative. Also – he liked green and loved wallpaper – the high-tech rage of his time. We also learned some behind the scenes movie secrets and that the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association (a private, non-profit organization) swooped in and saved Mount Vernon from ruin in 1858.
Gaylord National Resort & The National Harbor
With a car full of hungry bellies, we headed over to the National Harbor for some amazing waterfront dining, spectacular aerial views, and retro desserts.
With full bellies and drooping eyelids, we headed into Washington, D. C.
We began our family exploration of Washington, D.C. family attractions with Ford’s Theater. Here, on April 14th, 1865, during a performance of the show “Our American Cousin,” Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. The course of history was changed by a six inch single shot Derringer pistol.
This excellent museum chronicles the highlights and legacies of Lincoln’s presidency, the events leading up to that fateful evening, and what came next – both immediately – and for the next 157 years.
History buffs can enjoy a self-led tour through the museum and theatre, then walk across the street to the Petersen House (where Lincoln died the next morning) and aftermath exhibits. The pocket-sized murder weapon – found on the floor of the President’s box that night – is on display at the museum as well.
My kids loved the interactive chronicling of Booth’s manhunt, which ended with his capture two weeks later at Garrett’s Farm. I loved the 35 foot tower of books highlighting how Lincoln’s popularity continues today.
The museum tour began three floors below street level in pre-slavery Africa, in the year 1400. Next, it outlined the sickening and shocking ways Africa became the hub of slave trading for hundreds of years.
The ascending exhibit continues up 609 years of history – highlighting African Americans’ vital contributions through all of America’s wars, the Civil Rights movement, and cultural contributions, culminating in a huge 2009 image of President Barack Obama’s inauguration as the first African American President of the United States of America.
Upstairs, you’ll find contemporary African American contributions to TV shows, art, movies, music, and more. Every corner of this museum greeted us with important artifacts – including one of Rosa Park’s dresses and a Greensboro lunch counter stool.
The International Spy Museum
The International Spy Museum was the most requested stop on our Washington, D.C. area family attractions list. This interactive museum grabbed our attention immediately by immersing us into spy culture upon arrival.
Around every corner you’ll find a kiosk to register your intel, chart your course, and complete your mission. There are places to climb for optimum surveillance and places to assess your agility and strength determining your spy ability.
My kids did not want to leave this museum thanks to the interesting history and super cool spy artifacts. I loved learning about the importance of women’s contributions to spying throughout the decades, how important simple observation is, and how spies have impacted wars by secretly moving information across borders.
Washington, D.C. Area Family Attractions: Bring Good Walking Shoes!
In conclusion, chock full of so much of everything, the endless Washington, D.C. area family attractions list offers something for everyone – no matter the age.
Most importantly, my best piece of advice is bring good shoes. We walked over forty miles! In addition, if you’re looking for a tour company – I loved the choices Historic America Tours offered including their Soul Food Saturdays.
*Above all, be sure to check museum and attraction websites in advance. Many are free and open to the public, but some require advanced ticketing.
Hey fellow mamas – do you feel like you’re drowning? Do you swear every day you’ll figure out how to better manage your time? Do you consider the hours between bus pick up and drop off your work day? Me too! But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Moms Can Enjoy Their Lives And Have Fun
Moms constantly feel like we’re on a hamster wheel. We juggle