Nashville Fall Family Fun

Nashville country pumpkin patch


Growing up in Middle Tennessee, fall was and is my favorite time of year. As a kid there were always hayrides, pumpkin patches, and carnivals to enjoy. There is no shortage of family fun to be found today (not to mention zombies) so get ready to mark your calendars! I’ve partnered with Expedia to share some of my fave ghoulishly Nashville fall family fun activities to check out for kids of all ages.

WHITES CREEK FALL CRAFT FESTIVAL

Located just a short drive north of downtown in Whites Creek, Fontanel (former home of country music great Barbara Mandrell) is hosting several fun activities for the entire family October 24-26. The 4th annual Whites Creek Fall Festival kicks off at 10 a.m. October 25. Festival craftsmen will be offering tips and displaying their wares among dozens of booths including burnt wood designers, antique restorations, hand made soaps, black smith artists, jewelry designers, wood carvers, photographers and leather artists re purposed art and painters. There will also be plenty of live music and food. FREE admission.

HAUNTENEL FAMILY FRIENDLY HAYRIDE

Alright a good old fashioned hayride is my speed. This is a 2-mile ride through the dusky woods on the Fontanel property led by a costumed guide. Tailored for families and younger children, who are encouraged to arrive in their Halloween costumes. Upon arrival at the mansion, guests will trick-or-treat before the second part of the hayride begins. There will also be live music, food, and beverages. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Monroe Harding Children’s Home. You can also buy your pumpkins, corn stalks, and other fall decor from The Pumpkin Patch at Fontanel, also benefiting the Monroe Harding Children’s Home.

HAUNTENEL 2

On the spookier end of the spectrum, Fontanel transforms into Hauntenel featuring a new “SIDESHOW” outdoor walking haunt over the greenway and into the woods. This is not for the faint of heart (I hear there’s a Wolfman on the loose) so it’s better for older tweens, teens, and adults. October 24-26 from 6-11 p.m.

GHOULS AT GRASSMERE

Nashville’s littlest ghosts, goblins and monsters are invited to don their favorite costume and head to the Zoo for Ghouls at Grassmere. This annual Nashville Halloween tradition is ideal for kids ages 12 and younger and is open to the entire public (not just zoo members). Activities include trick-or-treat stations, games at the Carn-evil tent, and the newly designed Howl-o-ween Hayride. Other activities include rides on the scary-go-round, a dance party at Monster Mash, animal shows at Monsterpiece Theater, shows featuring Mr. Bond the Science Guy, a corn pit, and a new vortex optical illusion experience at Festival Field. Children ages 2 and younger are free while zoo member admission is $12; zoo non-member admission is $15. October 17 – 19 & 23 – 26 from 5-9 p.m.

FRANKLIN ON FOOT GHOST TOURS

I’ve been dying to do this (get it, dying?) Historic downtown Franklin, Tennessee, is one of my favorite places to take and recommend to out of town visitors. This quaint little town is not only filled with fantastic shops and eateries, but lingering spirits with unfinished business as well. From socialites to soldiers, this hour and a half tour will introduce you to ghosts who call downtown Franklin home. The tour covers about six city blocks and most of the tour is wheelchair accessible. Tours sell out so reserve early by calling 615-400-3808. Cost: $18 adults; $10 teens; $5 children.


GENTRY’S FARM

This was a family tradition with our girls when they were younger (as well as a traditional school fall field trip.) There are plenty of activities, from a 4-acre corn maze that pays homage this year to historic Carter House in Franklin, Tennessee, to a pumpkin patch. Open Saturdays 9-5, Sundays 1-5 p.m. and Mondays 9-noon through October 27. Admission is $7 for ages 2 through 102.

SPOOKY SCIENCE DAY (October 25)

Hosted by the Adventure Science Museum, this is the perfect educational outing for kids and a celebration of all things bubbly, oozy and creepy. There will be, of course, mad science experiments guaranteed to amaze and excite. Kids and adults are also encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and enter the costume contest. All activities included with general admission and include: oozing pumpkins, slime, disappearing ghost eggs, a spooky handprint station, and The Science of Fear, a 1:30 presentation by Jenni Blackford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, who’ll discuss how our bodies respond to fear, what makes us afraid and the psychological effects of fear. General admission for adults and teens, $13; kids ages 2 through 12, $11; children ages 2 and younger, free. Planetarium admission is an additional fee.

WISHING CHAIR PRODUCTIONS - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

The marionette shows at the beautiful downtown Nashville library are truly a family tradition you can’t must experience at least once. I remember going to see these shows as a child. The Halloween special production of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is the perfect family activity. Production dates: October 24, 25, and 31 from 4-5 p.m. FREE admission!

TENNESSEE STATE MUSEUM Haunted Museum (October 25)

If you’re headed downtown to the library October 25, make a day of it and schedule a stop at the Tennessee State Museum. Kids of all ages are invited to arrive in their costumes and hit the “ghost trail” throughout the museum to pick up prizes as well enjoy raft projects along the way. At certain stops, you can hear ghost stories from Tennessee’s past, including those of the Bell Witch (from my neck of the woods in Robertson County), the Cherokee spirit Spearfinger and John Murrell’s thumb. Kids will most likely want a photo op on the mezzanine where a 3,500-year-old mummy — along with its mummified cat — rests in peace. October 25, 11-4 p.m. FREE admission!

DOWNTOWN FRANKLIN PUMPKIN FEST (October 25)

This day-long festival kicks off at 10 a.m. and will feature fun for the entire family.  Produced by the Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County, Pumpkinfest will offer a full day of free family fun along Main Street from First to Fifth Ave., and on portions of Third and Fourth Avenues, including a free children’s activities for younger kids, activities for older kids such as a mechanical bull and a spider web mountain, costume contests for people and pets, and a chili cookoff.

Whew! What fall activities are you going to enjoy this month my fellow Nashvillians? I’m going to need an extra pumpkin spice latte or five to keep up with the fun.

Carmel Limo Car Service: Tips For Stress-Free Transportation During Travel

Disclosure: Carmel Limo provided me with a voucher for one free airport to hotel transportation in exchange for my honest review.

I love flying but sometimes air travel logistics can be stressful. That’s why airport bars are soooo popular (ba-dum-bum). I’ve recently discovered an option I’m definitely adding to my stress-free transportation tips.

While planning my recent trip to New York for my niece’s wedding, I needed to arrange for transportation from LaGuardia Airport to our hotel, located about 35 miles outside the city. My brother-in-law suggested that I contact his favorite car service, Carmel Limo. He lives in Tampa and frequently travels to New York on business. Since I was traveling solo with my 9-year-old I really wanted to streamline everything as much as possible.

I’ve never used a car service before but now that I have I will definitely be incorporating it into my travel itinerary from now on when traveling to a large city and when I’m not in need of a rental car.

5 tips for stress free transporation


Here are 5 reasons to consider using a car service on your next trip:

1. Punctuality

Trying to hail a cab in an unfamiliar city during rush hour can add unnecessary stress to a work trip or family vacation.. Carmel Limo also has the highest on-time record in the business. I’ve missed a flight and had a near-miss before and it’s not a great way to start (or end) a trip!

2. Safety

Car service companies regularly service their fleet of vehicles, meaning you can rest at ease knowing you’re using reliable and safe transportation.

3. Dependability

Our driver was waiting for us when we arrived at LaGuardia and it was such a seamless process to schedule a pick up. Carmel Limo Service has been in business for more than 25 years so I knew they were a reputable company I could trust.

4. Relaxation

Being able to kick back and relax, check voice mail and email, and enjoy talking with your travel companions is possible if someone else is doing the driving. Car service vehicles are clean and pleasant.

5. Pricing

You can view Carmel Limo’s pricing online, taking the guess work out of that portion of your travel budget. We used the most economical choice, the four-door sedan, and it was perfect for me and my daughter.

I was impressed with Carmel Limo’s service area and glad to see they service BNA here in Nashville as well as several major metropolitan cities on the west coast and the east coast.

If you’ve ever experienced the edge of your seat thrill ride known as a New York taxi ride, then Carmel Limo is a much smoother, and relaxing mode of transportation which was just what I was looking for for my daughter and I (although riding in a yellow cab in New York City is on her travel bucket list.)

Carmel Limo offers a full range of vehicles, from full-size sedans all the way up to super stretch limos if you’re feeling a little more Lady Gaga.

The best part about Carmel Limo, however, is their free mobile app. After downloading the app you’ll earn $66 worth of Car Cash applicable toward your next ride using the Carmel Limo App and anyone who enters your referral code upon downloading the app will also earn $66 Car Cash as well. Suh-weet! Once they book a ride, they’ll get an additional $6 Car Cash and you will, too. You can also share your code directly through the app via text messaging, email, Facebook or Twitter. My referral code is 1015969 and you’ll bet I’ll be sharing it with family and friends who travel. You will also earn airline miles for every dollar you spend with Carmel Limo.

You can book rides directly through the app, viewing available cars and scheduling pick ups. You can also scroll through the many airports serviced by Carmel Limo, such as Nashville. Just enter your airline, flight #, and name of city you’re arriving from.

Carmel Limo App Nashville

 

Planning a trip to New York this year? I’d highly recommend Carmel Limo. Follow them on Facebook and check out their app and all the cities they service!

 

Behind the Scenes Family Fun at the Georgia Aquarium

Disclosure: The Georgia Aquarium provided me with two free tickets as well as one night hotel accommodations at the Hilton Garden Suite in exchange for my honest review.

Atlanta is one of our favorite family road trip destinations. Just a four-hour drive from Nashville, it’s the perfect distance to get away, without exceeding the “Are we there yet?” limit.

With big city Southern sophisticated dining, shopping, and entertainment experiences for mom and dad, as well as tons of family friendly activities, it’s perfect for a weekend getaway.

The Georgia Aquarium, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, is one of the world’s largest aquariums and one of our favorite must attractions in the city.

We ended our recent spring break staycation with a surprise trip to Atlanta. My older daughter was out of town, so my 9-year-old Miss A and I hit the road and spent a recent Saturday at the Georgia Aquarium. Part of our day at the aquarium included an amazing behind the scenes tour, offered as an add-on to regular admission for ages 10 and over. As part of this special hour tour, visitors get to visit the top of the Ocean Voyager exhibit to view feedings as well as tour the facilities that keep the aquarium running. Lucky for us we were also able to see new baby penguins as well as the aquarium’s “kitchen” featuring the largest walk-in freezer filled with restaurant quality seafood I’ve ever seen. The residents of the Georgia Aquarium eat very well!

Jellyfish

The Georgia Aquarium features five primary exhibitions:

  • Cold Water Quest

  • River Scout

  • Georgia Explorer

  • Ocean Voyager

  • Tropical Diver

It’s difficult to choose which one is our favorite, but my 9-year-old really gravitated toward Cold Water Quest (she absolutely LOVED the sea otters and wanted to “visit” them twice) and I think the sea otters love their adoring fans as they put on quite a show.

You can easily spend an entire day at the Georgia Aquarium. I’d suggest purchasing your tickets in advance online and arriving when the doors open. Plan to stay most of the day, breaking it up with performances and lunch. Also note that the aquarium sometimes has extended hours, such as during spring break.

There are so many great things to see and explore at Georgia Aquarium. This was our second visit and I’m sharing some of our kid-friendly favorites.

Georgia Aquarium Must Dos Kids


10 Must Dos for Kids at Georgia Aquarium

  1. Touch a ray at the touch pool located at the entrance of the Georgia Explorer exhibit

  2. See the amazing acrobatic talent of the performing dolphins in Dolphin Tales

  3. Watch Deepo’s Undersea 3D Wondershow

  4. Observe divers feeding the fish

  5. Book an Animal Encounter experience (the aquarium features three: Dolphin Encounter, See Otter Encounter, and Penguin Encounter)

  6. Get a sneak peek at the amazing care and feeding that keeps the aquarium creatures healthy and happy by booking a one-hour Behind the Scenes Tour

  7. Have lunch at the Cafe Aquaria Food Court

  8. Explore the fun indoor playground in the Georgia Explorer exhibition

  9. Walk through the incredible clear aquarium tunnel in Ocean Voyager (this exhibit alone contains 6,300,000 gallons water) and get a glimpse at what it’s like to be surrounded by thousands of fish, plus spot the gentle giants, whale sharks and mantas.

  10. Have a caricature artist sketch your likeness for a unique souvenir. My daughter loved hers!

The Georgia Aquarium also features AT&T Dolphin Tales, an amazing performance featuring live actors, special effects, a musical score, and performing dolphins. It’s kind of a mix between Broadway and the Rockettes, but with sea creatures.

One of the coolest experiences at the aquarium, however, involves what you don’t see. Offering Behind the Scenes Tours for visitors, ages 10 and up, the Georgia Aquarium does a great job of educating the public on marine life. During our Behind the Scenes Tour I was impressed to learn that 25% of the Georgia Aquarium building (which opened in 2005) is earmarked for education. Besides the usual tours and day visits, the aquarium also offers camps, overnight experiences, and other special events highlighting education and awareness.

During our weekend stay we had overnight accommodations at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn which was literally just steps away from the aquarium’s entrance. Although we travel quite a bit, this was actually our first time staying at a Hilton Garden Inn property and we loved it. The outdoor heated pool was my 9-year-old’s favorite amenity, but a close second was the indoor heated pool. I also appreciated the indoor gym and being able to walk on the treadmill while keeping an eye on her in the pool. We both loved dining downstairs at Legal Seafood and my daughter had her first ever Shirley Temple. We will definitely rebook the Hilton Garden Inn the next time we are in Atlanta.

Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta View

Our fantastic view of the Atlanta skyline from our spacious and comfy room at the Hilton Garden Suite. You can see the SkyView Ferris Wheel in the distance (which was gorgeously lit at night!)


Some of the perqs I loved, besides a spacious room and bathroom, were the Neutrogena brand toiletries and the Keurig coffee maker. The Georgia Aquarium Package offered by the downtown Atlanta Hilton Garden Inn includes two tickets to the aquarium as well as free breakfast, which was also a fantastic buffet. The downtown Atlanta Hilton Garden Inn is also within walking distance to the World of Coca Cola.

Looking for a fun getaway this summer? If you haven’t visited the Georgia Aquarium, it’s perfect for families and kids of all ages. Be sure to visit the official Georgia Aquarium Plan Your Visit guide!

Here’s a fun update Georgia Aquarium would like to share with my Southern readers:

Southern Hospitality Discount- Save $6 on Total Tickets!!


Hey neighbors! Georgia Aquarium is showing our southern hospitality to our neighbors in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida. We invite you to visit us for just $29.95 +tax for an adult Total Ticket this spring, until June 13, 2014. That’s a nearly 17% savings on our regular price ticket.


Just show your valid ID from one of the states listed above at our ticketing window and tell our guest services representative that you want the Southern Hospitality Discount. Not available for purchase online, as you must show your ID to receive this special pricing.

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