Haystack Rock

Our Pacific Northwest Road Trip

We loaded up the family, plus Emily’s parents and sister, and headed out for the West Coast of the United States. What an adventure! We started in the Northern part of Washington, even making it into parts of Canada on our Whale-watching tour, and ended down the coast in San Francisco. Here is our 12-day itinerary with our recommendations and things we want to do next time. This is “How We” did the West Coast!

Day 1 – Travel Day

We left Salt Lake City early Friday morning with a quick stop in Boise, Idaho (Panera!), and then on to our final destination of day one, which was the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in Richland, Washington, after traveling roughly 11 hours.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express in Richland, Washington; Breakfast included with stay

Day 2 – Snoqualmie Falls then Downtown Seattle

Snoqualmie Falls Snoqualmie Falls How We Vacation

We left Richland bright and early and drove approximately 3 hours to Snoqualmie Falls. The drive was GORGEOUS through the Snoqualmie Pass, and we were greeted with green trees everywhere with a little snow even. Snoqualmie Falls is a must and a stop that can be as quick or as long as you like. Oh, and this started our fascination with Big Foot!

Seattle LDS Temple

Our next stop was the Seattle Washington Temple which is located in Bellevue, 20 minutes outside of downtown.

Then on to Pike Place Market for the rest of the day.

Pike Place Market is the ultimate farmer’s market – fresh flowers, food, veggies, fruits, seafood, etc. It has everything from breakfast, lunch, and dinner — so come hungry! We spent about 3 hours here before starting the Seattle Underground Tour.

Seattle Underground

This underground tour came highly recommended, and while we enjoyed it, keep in mind it is a lot of walking with a lot of stairs.

Last stop of the day was to Kerry Park that offers beautiful views of the Seattle Skyline. Looking for the perfect photo op of Seattle? This is it.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express North Seattle Shoreline;  Breakfast included with stay. This was a decent hotel and we opted to stay here because it was more affordable, but for a little bit more you could stay in a safer, nicer area.

DAY 3 – Ferry to Bainbridge Island

We had hoped to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, but our passports did not come in time, so off to Bainbridge Island we went. While we were sad not to be able to go to Canada, we fell in LOVE with Bainbridge. What a gem!

Bainbridge Island

We took the 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge and then walked to shops and restaurants. From Mora’s Iced Creamery, fresh seafood to many fun stores, including an epic toy store, we thoroughly enjoyed this charming island. You can take your car on the ferry, but we opted to explore by foot since everything is in walking distance.


Be sure to catch the views of Seattle from the ferry — you won’t find a better one. This was our view coming back into Seattle.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express North Seattle Shoreline; Breakfast: Yes, included with stay.

Day 4 – San Juan Islands

We got up early and headed for the Port at Anacortes. The hour-long ferry ride to Friday Harbor was amazing. For this desert-born fam, we found the ferry rides a highlight — we saw porpoises, jellyfish, octopus, and an otter on our ride. We opted to drive the van onto the ferry this time, which we were then able to drive around the 15-mile wide island to fully explore.

 San Juan Islands

Our highlights on San Juan Island were Roche Harbor, where we ate a delicious lunch, and the Lime Kiln Point State Park and Whale-watching Observatory.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Burlington; Breakfast included with stay

DAY 5 – Whale-Watching Tour

We jumped on a small boat and headed out passed the San Juan Islands into Canada in search of our orca friends. It was AMAZING!! The company we toured with, Mystic Sea, recently merged with another company and is now Puget Sound Express. We recommend checking Groupon for tickets first.

Whale Watching  Whale Watching

Orca Orca

Our tour, which was advertised as a 4-hour excursion, doubled because there were two pods of orca whales passed the U.S. border near Sydney, British Columbia. We didn’t mind at all. It was a bucket-list item to see these killer whales in the wild. Truly breathtaking.

Then we drove 4 hours to Astoria, Oregon. Had we known that our Whale-watching tour was going to take all day, we probably would have stayed in Burlington another night.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Astoria; Breakfast included with stay

DAY 6 – Seaside, Oregon

Next we spent the day in Seaside, Oregon, which was a bustling town on the 4th of July. Fireworks are often restricted along the coast, but Seaside is one of a few beaches that allows fireworks. And boy do they let loose. People come from all over the coast to enjoy the fireworks over the ocean. This ended up being a great choice for our family, as evident from the picture below of our daughter plugging her ears. We pulled in at 11 a.m. and people were shooting off their large, loud aerial fireworks and it did not stop until well after midnight.


Seaside Beach

The next morning was much more enjoyable, although the firework crowd did leave some large holes in the beach from their bonfires. There is lots of shopping, restaurants, and even a little aquarium.

Hotel: Best Western Plus Seaside Oregon, Breakfast not included.

DAY 7 – Cannon Beach, Oregon to Tillamook to Depot Bay to Lighthouses

One of our favorite stops along the trip were the Tide pools at Haystack Rock along Cannon Beach.

 Tide pools at Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock

We saw so many starfish, anemone, and other sealife.

Then on to Tillamook, about an hour from Cannon Beach, for a factory tour and some yummy cheese and ice cream!


On our way to the lighthouses we literally saw whales right off the roadway in Depoe Bay. So we pulled off for an hour to watch. We are becoming obsessed with whale-watching and could do it for hours.

Orca Whale Depot Bay Oregon

And then down the coast to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

From Yaquina we drove an hour to the Heceta Beach just below the lighthouse. Our kids had a blast running on the beach. Our son even found a shark tooth. It is important to remember . . . never turn your back on the ocean. The Pacific Northwest is known for large and unpredictable waves and rip currents. Watch your children very closely.


Oregon Coast  Lighthouse

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Springfield, Oregon; Breakfast included with stay

DAY 8 – Wildlife Safari to the Redwoods

Today’s drive took us from Eugene, Oregon, to Eureka, California. We had many fun stops along the way. The first was the Wildlife Safari Park in Winston, Oregon.

Wildlife Safari Wildlife Safari

Wildlife Safari

Wildlife Safari is not your typical zoo. You’ll get to get to see ostrich, watusi cattle, lions, bears, elephants, bison, zebra and much more. All from the comfort of your own car.

Our next stop just happened and that was the beautiful Redwoods. Unlike other national parks where you pay to enter, the Redwoods are just there scattered along the Pacific Coast Highway. The trees are just incredible. There really aren’t words to describe. You must drive the Pacific Coast Highway for so many reasons, but the Redwoods would be near the top of the list.

Our first time at the Redwoods was amazing. We highly recommend the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. You’ll get off the freeway for this scenic drive, which will add 30 minutes to an hour to your drive depending on your stops. It’s hard to explain the Redwoods and the pictures just don’t do justice to the size of these gigantic trees. Notice the picture with our van above. Incredible.

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Eureka; Breakfast included with stay

DAY 9 – Redwoods to San Francisco

We got up early and were super excited to explore the Redwoods some more. We enjoyed hiking around the Avenues of the Giants.

There are many campgrounds and trails in the area. You could spend a few hours to a few days or more. It is totally dependent on what you want to do. 

Then we drove about four hours to San Francisco for the rest of the day. We didn’t have a lot of time here, but enjoyed every second of seeing the City by the Bay, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Lombard Street and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

We took in the views from the Golden Gate View Point from the north side. There are several little viewpoint spots as you wind your way to cross the bridge. When we were there the police had closed traffic making it a one-way street. It was very crowded and parking was very limited. Bathrooms were also very limited and not great. With that said, we still would highly recommend the visit. 

Lombard Street

Then over to Lombard Street, aka the “crookedest street in the world”,  where unfortunately our 12-passenger van exceeded the size limit to navigate the eight hairpin turns. But we parked and walked down and back up this unique street. 

Gotta ride a cable car when in San Francisco.

And a stop to Ghiradelli Square? Yes, please!


Ghirardelli is located a few blocks west of Fisherman’s Wharf. And well worth the lines for the free sample of chocolate and our family’s favorite brownie sundae. 


Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco is pretty cool, as were the views of Alcatraz (from a distance!). Boudin, which is part of the Wharf, is a great option for lunch, dinner, or even just for a loaf of their delicious sourdough bread. 

San Francisco

This was the end of an amazing and truly epic trip. We cannot wait to go back. We hope this helps you plan your Pacific Northwest Road Trip. Please reach out via Facebook with any questions. 

Hotel: Holiday Inn Sacramento Rancho Cordova; Breakfast not included 



Two-Week East Coast Road Trip

What do you get when you have 2 parents + 3 kids + 2 five hour plane rides + 1 mini-van + more luggage than we could count+ 11 states + 1500 miles? The trip of a lifetime? A whole lot of fun? Unforgettable moments? Hands-on learning? Laughter/tears/chaos? Tired & achy feet and a heart full of happiness?  YES to everything! (You also might end up with 4000 pictures that you have to sort through…)

From the time we were married, we knew we wanted to visit New England, where Jeff served his LDS Mission. It’s been on our list for a while. When the LDS Connecticut Temple was announced, we decided we would go back east for the Open House. Meanwhile, Jeff and I went to Washington, D.C., Emily’s first time, a few years ago and we decided we also really wanted to take our kids there. What a family-friendly city!  Slowly our East Coast trip began to form. We went through several itineraries–including driving across the country from Utah to D.C. and everywhere else in between. After consulting with extended family members who have made similar trips, we decided to fly at least part of it.

So, what did we do those 14 days? What states did we visit? Read below for our overall trip experience. We will also be posting about each section of our trip separately as well.

With any trip we take, it always starts with a folder.

Yep, this is our actual trip folder and itinerary. It’s not pretty after what it’s been through. But either were we after day 14 😉

I always have a stack of these folders laying around the house and they are so handy for traveling. They fit in any backpack, are lightweight, and a great place to store all travel documents + the itinerary. I always print hard copies of our hotel, car and air reservations. I also print any tickets we have purchased. You never know if technology will cooperate.  I like to create a separate folder in my email, too, to store all digital reservations. It makes finding everything so much easier.

As far as booking airfare, hotel and car- we always try to use points. Jeff has a job where he travels a bit, so we were able to use points to buy our airfare and the majority of our hotel stays.

This post talks more about which credit cards we use and how we get the most out of our points. With any trip, look at what you already have point wise, and plan accordingly. If you don’t have any points or any travel reward credit cards, that’s ok too. It’s never too late to start earning them! We also suggest earning points through the free loyalty reward programs that pretty much every airline and hotel chain offer. You’ll be surprised how they add up- a free night or two can really make a difference. If you would have told me five years, heck even 3 years ago, that we’d be taking our fam of five across the country like this I would have thought you were nuts. A lot of planning, saving and just some smart point-using got us to this point. If traveling is a goal of yours, don’t give up on it!


Hotel: Holiday Inn Washington DC- Central/White House   Pool: Outdoor      Breakfast Included: No, but kids eat free with Adult Entree.

Travel Day! We had a non-stop flight that landed about 5 p.m. (ET) at the Baltimore Washington International Airport. We gave ourselves a full hour to gather our luggage and pick up our rental van. At BWI, the rental car facility is off-site. It went very smoothly and we were so impressed with how helpful and kind everybody was. We weren’t ever worried about putting our luggage on and off the shuttle, the carts etc- there was always someone to help us and that extra pair of hands was much appreciated.

Our first stop was to the Washington D.C. LDS Temple.


As you’re driving down the freeway, you’ll see these majestic spires shooting over the trees. Whether you’re LDS or not, you’ll wonder exactly what it is you’re looking at! Take an hour and visit the beautiful grounds and visitor’s center.

Our next stop- The White House.

Even though it was only 7:30 p.m., it was definitely dark. It was beautiful and our kids were so excited to see it! See more on D.C.’s historic sites here.

We finished the night off with dinner at Emily’s very favorite restaurant- Founding Farmers. MMMMMM. It’s only a few blocks away from the White House, totally within walking distance.


Hotel: Holiday Inn Washington DC- Central/White House   Pool: Outdoor    Breakfast Included: No, but kids eat free with Adult Entree.

Oh adjusting to the time change was harder than we thought it would be! We had Ford’s Theatre planned for 9 a.m. and meant to eat breakfast before. But we slept in, quickly got dressed and drove a few blocks to the Theatre just in time for our ticket time. Packing granola bars and snacks was a good idea, as we all munched on them as quickly as Jeff drove us there 🙂

This was amazing and although we were expecting our 10 year old to love it, our 7 and 5 year old girls did just as much, too! They were enthralled! Tickets are free, but you can also reserve them ahead of time for a small fee. Read more about our experience at Ford’s Theatre here. 

We grabbed breakfast after from a Pret a Manger down the street- mmmm. It was fresh, quick, and relatively inexpensive.

Our next stop was the National Zoo. Admission is free and we spent all afternoon there.

It was a rainy day, which we knew ahead of time and planned accordingly. The rain didn’t stop our fun at all, and if anything the animals were more active and the crowds were non-existent. Such a gorgeous Zoo!

After the Zoo, we checked out Georgetown. The stroll along the waterfront plus yummy cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake was a great way to end the day.

Seriously, that salted caramel cupcake. No words. So good.  And the views were gorgeous! There are several upscale eateries and river cruises offered along the waterfront as well.

We finished with dinner…at 8 p.m…at our hotel, where kids eat free. The kids didn’t seem to mind eating cupcakes for dinner earlier. Either did we. And I was really impressed with our hotel’s food options too. We climbed into bed with the achiest feet ever, tired, but so happy!


Hotel: Holiday Inn Washington DC- Central/White House    Pool: Outdoor    Breakfast Included: No, but kids eat free with Adult Entree.

Mount Vernon! We grabbed breakfast from McDonald’s as we made the most beautiful drive ever. The fall leaves were gorgeous and in abundance, plus we found the best blue grass radio station- it was heaven!

This ended up being our 10-year-old’s favorite stop the entire trip. It was hard not to be captivated by the beauty and spirit spread across the 400 acres that General George Washington once owned. Read more about our experience at Mount Vernon here. 

After Mount Vernon, we visited Arlington National Cemetery. 

Oh this was a beautiful and sacred place. Our kids loved walking these grounds, seeing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame, .

We finished the day off with a stop at the National Museum of Natural History. It was another rainy day and the museum was jam packed. The kids liked all the animals and Hope Diamond.

We ate dinner a couple blocks away  at Shake Shack. Our kids love a good cheeseburger and fries and the ice cream combinations are crazy good.

We finished the day off walking around the National Mall including:  Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial & the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. Read more about our time at the National Mall here. 



Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Princeton Southeast   Pool: Indoor   Breakfast Included: Yes.

Our final day in D.C. We started off with a trip to the Supreme Court, where we ate a great breakfast in the basement cafeteria. We walked around the Capitol Building and toured the Library of Congress.


Our next stop in D.C. was a visit to the National Gallery of Art followed by the National Museum of Air and Space (which ended up being one of kids’ favorite museums- they could have stayed all day).


After packing up the car, off we went to Philadelphia!

First stop in Philly: Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.


Next a yummy Philly Cheesesteak sandwich from Sonny’s, a short distance from Independence Hall & Liberty Bell.

We finished our brief time in Philadelphia with a stop at the LDS Philadelphia Temple, only a couple miles from Independence Hall.

It was beautiful! There is also a Visitor’s Center across the street.  We swung by Trader Joe’s after and stocked up on a few essentials, checked into our hotel and had a relaxing night swimming in the pool. Read more about our time in Philadelphia here. 


Hotel: Candlewood Suites Jersey City   Pool: No  Breakfast Included: No   Laundry: Free self-serve washers & dryer

Onto New York City! We opted to stay outside of New York, in Jersey City, NJ. We checked into our hotel and caught the subway into the city. We went straight to our favorite spot for lunch- Patzeria Perfect Pizza.

We visited Times Square and Rockefeller Plaza next.


The kids really liked the Disney and Lego store. We cruised up 70 floors to the Top of the Rock and had a bird’s eye view of the city during the day and again at night.


Our girls were especially excited to eat dinner that evening at the American Girl Doll Cafe. 


Hotel: Candlewood Suites Jersey City   Pool: No  Breakfast Included: No   Laundry: Free self-serve washers & dryer

We started with a visit to the LDS Manhattan Temple.

The rest of the day was spent exploring Central park. We walked as far we could, checking out some of the iconic bridges, rode the carousel and took a pedicab ride when our feet couldn’t walk any more. Such a gorgeous park in the heart of a busy city.


We made our way to Connecticut. We took a pit stop at historic Yale University (as close as Emily will ever get to Rory, Logan and Paris).

Next we visited the brand new and completely gorgeous LDS Temple in Farmington, CT.

We ended the day with a lovely visit with local friends.


Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Middleboro Raynham  Pool: Yes  Breakfast Included: Yes.

We headed to Rhode Island to catch up with more friends in beautiful Narraganset.  It was GORGEOUS. We lost track of how many bridges we crossed, but each one was unique and seriously awe-inspiring for this desert-born family!

After Narraganset, we drove to Newport, RI. WOW! We drove around and checked out all the amazing mansions (an understatement) as well as the many charming shops and Bed & Breakfasts. See more photos of our afternoon there here.

We *barely* made it to our next stop- Woods Hole, MA to catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. In fact- we missed our original ferry and our back up ferry! We ended up taking a Cargo Ship! But it was worth it!

We grabbed ice cream, checked out some of the lighthouses, saw the darling ‘Gingerbread’ houses, drove through the charming town, ate popcorn and tried to ride the carousel (it was closed).

Definitely another place we’d like to go back and explore more…maybe when it’s warmer, though!  Read more about our time in Martha’s Vineyard here.


Hotel: Holiday Inn Boston Bunker Hill  Pool: Indoor (as well as indoor activity center with table tennis, basketball court etc.)                                                                                                                                 Breakfast Included: No  Shuttle: Yes (complimentary- right to the heart of Boston, exactly where you’d need to go!)

Today took us to two amazing places: the coast town of Plymouth, MA and the very beautiful an historical city of Concord, MA.

Plymouth Mayflower

We took time to tour the Mayflower II as well as Plymouth Rock.  We could only imagine what the pilgrims thought when they finally reached land after more than 10 weeks at sea.

The Old North Bridge, part of the Minute Man National Park,  was at the top of our list.

After we finished exploring the Minute Man National Park, we checked out some of the amazing and famous literary homes including: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, The Wayside (home to Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Sidney, and Nathaniel Hawthorne at different times) and Henry David Thoreau. Read about our time in Concord here

We made a quick stop at Harvard University and then the LDS Boston Temple.


We checked into our hotel in Downtown Boston after and grabbed a delicious Lobster dinner from Durgin Park, part of historic Faneuil Hall.

We explored Quincy Market and the Boston Harbor and enjoyed a relaxing evening at our hotel’s indoor pool.

DAY 10

Hotel: Holiday Inn Boston Bunker Hill  Pool: Indoor (as well as indoor activity center with table tennis, basketball court etc.)                                                                                                                                 Breakfast Included: No  Shuttle: Yes (complimentary- right to the heart of Boston, exactly where you’d need to go!)

We started our day bright and early with breakfast at the historic Quincy Market. There really is something for everyone here.

After,  we started following the Freedom Trail- which our kids LOVED! They thought it was so fun.


We toured Paul Revere’s home and the Old North Church before heading to the harbor to catch our boat for our Whale Watching Cruise.

We were able to see over 20 humpback whales less than 15 feet from us. Incredible. We finished the day off with the spectacular Boston views atop the Skywalk in the Prudential Center and a stop at Bunker Hill.


DAY 11

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites: Rochester-Victor  Pool: Indoor  Breakfast Included: Yes

Driving Day! Onto Vermont. This ended being one of Emily’s favorite spots the entire trip. What a gorgeous state.


Our first stop in Vermont was the birthplace of the LDS Prophet Joseph Smith. Read more about that here.


Next we drove over to Woodstock, VT. This is a place we would love to come back and spend a few days exploring all the little antique shops, general stores, walking trails, and especially the covered wood bridges. See more pictures of our time there here.

The rest of the looooooong day we spent driving! We pulled into Palmyra, New York around 11 pm.

DAY 12

Hotel: Holiday Inn Express & Suites: Rochester-Victor  Pool: Indoor  Breakfast Included: Yes

Was spent exploring the many LDS Church History Sites in Palmyra. The Smith Family Farm, which includes the Sacred Grove, as well as the Book of Mormon Publication Site at the Grandin Building was pretty amazing! Read more about our time in Palmyra here.

DAY 13

Hotel: SpringHill Suites BWI   Pool: Indoor  Breakfast Included: Yes   Airport Shuttle: Yes

Our trip is winding down. Sad day!  We spent this day driving through the gorgeous New York countryside, with stops at Hershey World (chocolate is a must on long driving days) as well as Gettysburg.



We grabbed takeout from a local restaurant the night before, Bob Evans, and spent the night doing laundry and swimming in the indoor pool. Read more about our time in Pennsylvania here.

DAY 14

Hotel: SpringHill Suites BWI    Pool: Indoor    Breakfast Included: Yes    Airport Shuttle: Yes

We stayed at a hotel a few miles from BWI, which was very nice since our nonstop flight left at 9am! With such an early morning, we wanted to be as close as possible.

Goodbye East Coast! It has been the most amazing two weeks.

staten island ferry

A Weekend in New York City with Kids

There is so much to see and do in New York City, and with only a weekend here (NYC was one of our stops on our two-week East Coast trip), it was so hard to narrow down all the things we wanted to do that would be the most meaningful and fun for our kids. But first: Where to stay? We chose to stay in Jersey City. There are pros and cons for staying outside the city just like there are for staying in the city. The main reason we stayed outside the city was because we were using points and there weren’t any free nights available in the city. Also, family and friends both recommended this area as it is their preferred place to stay when visiting NYC. The rates are usually significantly less, it’s a safe area, and is a very quick train ride to the World Trade Center (only 4 minutes from the Exchange Place, right by our hotel). Other options to get into the city: Staten Island Ferry (more on that below), driving into the city yourself (we also tried this and would suggest picking a parking lot out ahead of time and/or plan to get to the city early to take advantage of early bird pricing), taking other forms of public transportation (bus), or a taxi, which often can be pricey.

world trade center word trade center

From the WTC, we headed to Midtown. Thank goodness for Google Maps (our favorite map app) for helping us find which train routes we needed and where to go. Oh, and our kids did great on the subway.

staten island ferry

staten island ferry

Another way into the city is the Staten Island Ferry, which is a very fun and unique experience! Parking was a breeze (we got there early though, like 7 a.m.) and easily snagged a spot in the secure lot. For less than $10 for the entire day, parking was significantly cheaper than driving into the city! The Ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is a FREE 25-minute ride from the St. George Terminal on Staten Island to the Whitehall Terminal in Manhattan. PLUS the views were great! We didn’t have time to visit the Statue of Liberty this trip, but had great views of Lady Liberty from the ferry. Note: if you plan to leisurely ride the ferry, avoid rush hour when it’s super crowded. The ferry is a great option if you plan to visit New York for only a day. There are bathrooms and food options, as well as indoor and outdoor seating.  Once we arrived, we caught the train to Midtown.

staten island ferry

nyc bakery


First stop! To try a Cronut. Just Kidding. They were already sold out 🙁 (Cue the tears. Hangry is a real thing.)








top of the rock top of the rock NYC

top of the rock

We also wanted to take in the great views of the Big Apple. We decided to go with Top of the Rock. And let me tell you, they had the BEST customer service. We had such a great time! We were able to go during the day and again at night. It was awesome to see the city at both times. They have both an indoor and an outdoor viewing area (and boy was I praying the engineers used the right kind of glass to secure us in…for a girl scared of heights, I seem to find myself above ground a lot 🙂 )  At the bottom is a mini-mall with several dining options and of course there were plenty of restroom options throughout the building as well–we should know!

top of the rock top of the rock

rockerfeller plaza with kids

lego store times square times square disney store

We visited the Lego Store right on Rockefeller Plaza. We also visited The Disney Store at Times Square.

patzeria pizza nyc pizza nyc

And lunch. DROOOL. Our favorite pizza place. And not just in New York. So good. It’s by the slice, so everyone gets exactly what they want (and they are large slices!). Add a few garlic knots and this ended up being one of the cheapest meals for our fam of five the entire trip! Only bummer is there aren’t tables, so plan to get cozy on the ground outside.

patzeria pizza nyc patzeria pizza nyc

serendipity 3  

We also had the chance to see Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theatre and it was AMAZING. We had seats in the rear mezzanine and were a little worried we wouldn’t be able to see, but the seats were just fine! The music and acoustics were even more wonderful than we expected. We finished up with a Frozen Caramel Hot Cocoa from Serendipity. We also ordered some food, which was pretty good. Next time I’d probably go for one of the ice cream sundaes, though. Something I can sink my teeth in. Important to note that Serendipity does have a minimum food order requirement, like so many other restaurants in New York.

central park pedicab

Central Park was another fun stop for us. We took a pedicab ride around the park and somehow our driver managed to cart all 5 of us around! This park is huge, so plan to rent bikes, take a carriage ride, or any of the other options to see this beautiful park. If you do go with a pedicab, check the pricing. They are NOT all priced the same (trust us–ouch!!).

central park central park

bow bridge

central park carousel central park carousel

And of course we had to ride the Central Park Carousel. From the statues, to the bridges, to the mini-sail boats, there are so many fun things to see and do here.

Bethesda NYC central Park

 lindor chocolates nyc

Our kids happen to be excellent walkers–seriously their endurance and stamina on these long days of walking was impressive. The bribery truffles from Lindor didn’t hurt, either!

 nyc view from top the rock 

American Girl Cafe NYC

But the highlight for our girls was dinner at the American Girl Cafe. It was darling! We made reservations ahead of time (it was very crowded, so we are glad we did!). They seated us promptly and the service throughout the evening was excellent! Dinner is about $26 per person and includes appetizers and dessert. They promptly brought out each course, which was much appreciated as we had worked up quite the appetite from all that walking. Dinner includes a ‘warm welcome’–mini cinnamon buns followed by the first course which included hummus and veggies, bruschetta and pigs in a blanket (pictured below). Each person in our group picked our own main course followed by AG’s signature dessert–chocolate mouse in a flower pot and a vanilla cupcake. Beverages are also included (hot cocoa, lemonade, juice etc.) There are additional beverage options available for an additional fee.

American Girl Cafe NYC American Girl Cafe NYC

Big brother had a great time too, playing host and asking us the cute questions they had at each table.

American Girl Cafe NYC American Girl Cafe NYC

American Girl Cafe NYC American Girl Cafe NYC American Girl Cafe NYC

Although we brought our girls’ dolls from home, the Cafe also had several dolls you can borrow for the meal if you didn’t bring one. And the little pink plate and cup (pictured above on the right), as well as the pink bow in the doll’s hair, are a cute little souvenir you get to keep.

American Girl NYC doll options American Girl Cafe NYC

American Girl Cafe NYC American Girl Cafe NYC


We had so much fun and can’t wait to go back!

Our list of ‘gotta do’ next time includes:

American Museum of Natural History

Brooklyn Bridge

Statue of Liberty

Empire State Building

Highline Park

Matilda on Broadway

Black Tap (MILKSHAKES!!!)


and just maybe we’ll get to try that darn elusive Cronut!!


What are your favorite things to do in New York City?? Where are your can’t miss places to eat?

Mickeys Halloween Party

Halloween Fun at Disneyland

What could be happier than the Happiest Place on Earth?  The Happiest Place on Earth at Halloween!!  Disneyland at Halloween is our family’s FAVORITE time to visit!  Disney and Halloween=magic! (Note this post was from 2015 and there have been a number of changes to Disney’s Halloween Celebration, but the fun is still the same).

Halloween at Disneyland



So what is Mickey’s Halloween Party and is it worth it? It’s the main reason we go at Halloween and YES, it is worth it! It is a special Halloween Party held inside the Disneyland Park from about the last week of September to October 31st. It requires a separate ticket from your regular Disney park tickets. All guests of the party are given a special wristband and park officials close the party to all other guests (if you don’t have a wristband, you will have to leave the Disneyland park. Note: California Adventure remains open for those who aren’t attending the party. And yes, they really check to make sure that only those with wristbands are in the park.) Tickets typically go on sale in July and usually sell out. Tickets prices range from $72-$99 per person. Weekday tickets are usually less expensive than weekend tickets. Hours vary, but typically weekday hours are from 6 to 11 p.m. and weekend ticket hours are from 7 p.m. to Midnight. Disney opens the gates to party guests 3 hours before the party starts (3 or 4 p.m.) That’s another reason we go on a weekday–with young kids we feel we get the most bang for our buck going as early as possible. We also don’t try to overdo it by going to the park that day with our regular tickets. We sleep in, take our time getting ready (costumes are a must for adults and children!) and show up an hour before they open the gates for Halloween Party guests (about 2 pm). That way we are well-rested and ready to play!

There are lots of spook-tacular activities including:

1- Frightfully Fun Parade

This parade includes some favorite Disney villains as well as Minnie and Mickey and pals all decked out for Halloween. Disney usually does at least 2 showings of this parade– one earlier in the evening and one later. TIP: If attending with little kids, it’s great to attend the earlier one, usually around 6 or 7 p.m., before they get too tired. Look for the parade times in your special Halloween Map when you enter the park. The parade was updated in 2016 and if it’s even possible, is better than before! Although we are huge fans of the original Halloween Parade. And yes, you can only see this parade during the party! It is not the same parade that runs during the day.

2- Special trick-or-treat stations

The trick-or-treat station provide candy and healthy goodies. Be sure to bring your own bags- we’ve yet to make it to every station, and our reusable grocery bags are nearly full every time! They have everything from name-brand candy to sliced apples, raisins, baby carrots, etc. We like to get a mix of both! TIP: We always schedule the Halloween Party at the beginning of our Disney trip (Monday or Tuesday) and then the rest of the week we have lots of snacks leftover from the trick-or-treating to eat while waiting in line for rides, walking around, for the drive home, etc.

Halloween at Disneyland Trick or Treating at Disneyland Halloween at Disneyland

3- Halloween Screams

This boo-tiful fireworks show, is presented exclusively for Mickey’s Halloween Party Guests, weather permitting.

4- Virtually NO lines for all attractions, including Halloween-themed attractions

Access to nearly all attractions, including Halloween-themed attractions like Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and Haunted Mansion Holiday. And the rides have nearly NO wait time during the party as everybody is trick or treating or doing other festivities. We love taking advantage of this and spend much of our time on rides.

Image credit: Disney Parks Blog


5- Special Disney Halloween Food!

Disney often has special holiday treats only available during the Halloween season. From super yummy mummy caramel marshmallow sticks, pumpkin beignets, to the most adorable caramel apples you will ever see- they almost look too good to eat. Almost. These treats are available for purchase anytime, not just during the Halloween Party.

Here are some of the special food Disneyland has offered over the past few years:

Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland

  • Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue

Sugar Cookie Bake dusted with powdered sugar and a cinnamon-orange mulling spice, topped with vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce

  • Café Orleans

Flat Iron Steak with Peppercorn and Cognac Sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash and green beans
Pumpkin Beignets served with vanilla crème Anglaise (SOOOOOO good!!)

Grilled Flat Iron Steak – Served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, haricots vert, peppercorn cognac sauce
Butterscotch Beignets

  • Carnation Café

Mickey’s Frightfully Spicy Chicken Sandwich – Fried chicken served with pepper jack cheese, spicy Sriracha sauce, coleslaw and breaded and fried jalapenos served on a brioche bun with a side of French fries

Blackened Spicy Chicken Sandwich

  • French Market Restaurant

Haunted Mansion Cake
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Traditional Shrimp Po’Boy – Deep fried popcorn shrimp, lettuce, tomato, vinegar dressing and Cajun remoulade sauce on a toasted potato roll

Cookies & Cream Mousse Coffin Cake
Butterscotch Beignets

  • Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor

Halloween Premium Cone

  • The Golden Horseshoe

Ice Cream Nachos
Halloween sprinkles

  • Hungry Bear Restaurant

Apple Pie Funnel Cake
Pulled Pork Hot Dog – Topped with citrus slaw, fried jalapenos and fresh cilantro

  • Jolly Holiday Bakery Café

Bat Mickey Cookie
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Muffin
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pie
Maple Creme Brulee
Spiced Bundt Cake
Caramel Eclair
Holiday Brownie
S’mores Bar
Chocolate Hazelnut Mickey-Shaped French Macaron
Corn Chowder Soup
Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • Maurice’s Treats

Pumpkin Twist
Mint Julep Bar

Pumpkin Beignets

  • Plaza Inn

Pumpkin Pie

  • Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante

Pork Tamale and Cheese Enchilada
Orange Pumpkin Flan

  • Royal Street Veranda

Banana Fritters with crème Anglaise

And throughout Disney you can find:

Candy Corn Cotton Candy (Our kids loved this!)
Poison Apple Stein – Served with fruit, beverages or ice cream sundae (yummy! It’s often still hot in California in October and this was a refreshing drink!)
Vampire Mickey Popcorn Bucket (And we still have our bucket!)
Zero Popcorn Bucket
Halloween Hot Mug

Are you hungry now?  Haha- nothing quite like Disney goodness. For all food Disney, visit their Blog for the latest tastiest treats.

Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland Halloween Treats and Disneyland

Images credit: Disney Park Blog 


6- Halloween photos with your favorite characters

Photo locations with popular Disney Pals and legendary Disney Villains, often dressed up in their Halloween costumes. These characters are spread throughout the park, but typically the villains are on Main Street USA. Check your map for more details. These lines can be very long, especially early on. We waited nearly an hour to see Winnie the Pooh and friends, which, at the time, was super important to our two young daughters. TIP: Try greeting the characters later in the evening (7:30 or later) when the lines seem to die down.

Halloween at Disneyland Halloween at Disneyland Halloween at Disneyland

7- Spooktacular In-Room Surprises

When you stay at a Disneyland Resort hotel room, you’ll be treated to Spooktacular in-room surprises. Can you imagine how magical this would be?!

If you’re visiting during Mickey’s Halloween Party, you can make your stay in a Disneyland Resort hotel an even more magical with a personalized Halloween In-Room Celebration, Mickey’s Spooktacular Halloween Celebration.

Imagine walking up to your hotel room to discover a spooky door banner indicating something special took place inside. As you step into the room, a host of personalized surprises, goodies, and treats make you feel like Mickey himself has visited.

For more, including costume guidelines, visit Disneyland’s official Halloween website.

Any one else been to Disneyland during Halloween? What are your Halloween tips and tricks for Disneyland? We’d love to know!

East Chop Lighthouse

An Afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard

Cargo Ship to Martha's Vineyard Martha's Vineyard transportation

Em here: Confession. Thanks to those darn Gilmore Girls I’ve always wanted to explore Martha’s Vineyard. We had the chance to go back east for a couple of weeks fall of 2016. And it was amazing! It was a jam-packed trip and as soon as we started to plan it, I knew Martha’s Vineyard had to be a stop.  First, a little bit about Martha’s Vineyard. It is an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and is divided into six towns. It’s primarily known as a summer colony, with a population reaching over 100,000 in the summer months. It is accessible only by boat or air. In early October, we took the Steamship Authority Ferry from Woods Hole, MA to Martha’s Vineyard. Or at least that was the plan. We ended up taking a little longer playing in Rhode Island, and missed our original ferry that was set to leave at 11 am and our backup ferry- but just barely! (I know–how did we miss both?!) The off-site parking lot for the ferry is a few miles away in Falmouth, MA, where after parking, a complimentary shuttle transports you to the port. We didn’t realize this and would suggest you plan to arrive at least 30 minutes (or an hour, during peak summer season) prior to your depart time. Thankfully, we were able to take the 45-minute-ride via cargo ship from the same port, which had limited seating for the public (pictured above). Tickets are available the same day, unless you plan to take a vehicle with you. If you plan to take your car, you do need an advanced reservation. To find more information about the ferry we took, visit here. There are several other ferry options available, through different companies that we personally haven’t tried out, that depart from Rhode Island (1 1/2 hour ride), New York and New Jersey (about a 5 hour ride for both). You can find out more about those options here and here.

Light House on Martha's Vineyard

There are five lighthouses on the Island:

West Chop Lighthouse East Chop Lighthouse Edgartown Lighthouse Gay Head Lighthouse                                                                                           Cape Poge Lighthouse
The West Chop Lighthouse, East Chop Lighthouse, Edgartown Lighthouse, Gay Head Lighthouse, and Cape Poge Lighthouse (Pictured from left to right). Images courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce

Aren’t they all beautiful?!! I’m so sad we weren’t able to visit all of them. We only had time for one, the East Chop Lighthouse.


Gingerbread Houses Gingerbread houses

Another stop on our quick tour of the Island: the Gingerbread Houses! More than 300 Victorian Homes in Oaks Bluffs are known as the ‘Gingerbread Cottage Village,’ some of the cutest and most colorful homes you’ll ever see. Check out this Image Gallery from Country Living here). Once home to the Methodist Summer Camps, these darling cottages replaced the tents originally used. During the summer, there is even a special day where, for a fee of about $30, you can tour six of these homes (aren’t you dying to get a peak inside??) and includes a treat. Find more about this one day special event here. There is a museum as well that is open during the entire summer season and gives you a glimpse of what life on the campgrounds in the 1800s would have been like. Find more information about the Cottage Museum and Shop here.

Flying Horses

Maybe the only bummer about traveling in the off season to this most ‘summery’ Island, was that we missed out on riding the Flying Horses Carousel (only open on weekends during off-peak). This is the nation’s oldest carousel, originating from Coney Island, New York. It costs about $2.50 to go ’round and ’round. Find more information here.

Martha's Vineyard Shopping

We grabbed some delicious ice cream from Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium and ate it outside, pretending it was about 30 degrees warmer and easily imagined what summers must be like on the Island.

Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium

Popcorn on Martha's Vineyard

The many different shops were charming and fun to explore.

Martha's Vineyard Ferry

And thankfully, we did make it on time for our return ferry. The vessel is very large, filled with tables and soft seats. If you’re worried about sea sickness, it traveled just slow enough that we didn’t feel any effects (unlike our Whale-Watching Cruise– haha!). There are restrooms, snack bars, free wi-fi, tv, etc. Our kids did great round trip. I know I’ve typed this a few times, but we definitely hope to go back and spend a few days on the Island, hopefully during the summer- crowds and all!



Abraham Lincoln Memorial at Gettysburg

Gettysburg and Hershey, Pennsylvania


We were so glad for the chance to stop in Gettysburg!

Gettysburg Address Sign

Gettysburg Cemetary

It was humbling to walk these sacred grounds at the Soldier’s National Cemetery (Gettysburg National Cemetery). This is the final resting place of the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg and where President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous 272 word address.

Gettysburg Address Abraham Lincoln Photo Gettysburg

Gettysburg Address History Gettysburg Lincoln Photo


Abraham Lincoln Statue at Gettysburg

We also visited the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center, which is free to visit. We found lots of cool little souvenirs and books. Find more information on Gettygsburg here, including hours.

Harrisburg City Line


One of the final stops on our trip was Hershey’s Chocolate World. We knew there was an amusement park in Hershey (which we didn’t have time for) but were happy to learn about this massive place just adjacent to it. It has a free tour/ride, shops (think just about every Hershey sweet ever, apparel, etc.) and a food court. We started with the free factory tour. Find more on the tour here.

line for hershey tour ride hershey free ride tour

 hershey, pa

hershey store, pa hershey store, pa

hershey store, pa hershey store, pa

We had fun looking at all the yummy treats- we found the BEST Salted Caramel baking chips (holy moly, they are soooo good) that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else since- and let the kids pick a treat out for the remainder of our drive into Baltimore.

food court at hershey, pa food court at hershey, pa

food court at hershey, pa

We were also blown away by the food court- everything looked so good. If we hadn’t eaten lunch an hour earlier, we totally would have eaten there. Lots of yummy options. For a complete list, visit here.

hershey brownie sundae

Of course, there is always room for dessert 🙂 We loved this brownie sundae (the free fun size chocolate bar we got on the tour)! Hershey’s Chocolate World was the perfect pit stop on our drive back into Baltimore.



vermnt covered bridges

Woodstock, Vermont

We hadn’t planned to a stop in Woodstock, but I (Emily) completely feel head over heels for Vermont, so Jeff knew I would just love Woodstock. And I did!!

vermont dam

The drive to Woodstock from Sharon was GORGEOUS. I know that is a word I’ve used a lot (if you’ve followed our posts on East Coast trip), but those fall leaves! We drove over a bridge with this dam below and had to turn around, pull over and snap a picture (all while the kids slept in the car!). It doesn’t do it justice. It was breathtaking.

Woodstock Main Info. Board

Once we made it to Woodstock (and passed some completely charming wood covered bridges- a couple photos of some of them we saw below) we made it to the heart of Woodstock. So many antique shops, people strolling everywhere, little restaurants, charming bed and breakfasts. Oh I loved it.

Woodstock Covered Bridge view from the woodstock bridge

The main highlight was this amazing bridge. We drove through it a few times and also got out and walked across it a few times.

Vermont homes vermont buildings

The many colonial homes and other buildings (pictured above) were just as charming.

Woodstock Covered Bridge view from the woodstock bridgeWoodstock Farmer's Market

We also recommend you stop by the Woodstock Farmers Market on the edge of town. It was darling! So many yummy maple and apple treats (seriously the BEST fresh cider we’ve EVER had) and other local goodies fresh eats.





Sharon, VT white chapel vermont roads

vermont bed and breakfasts the shire in woodstock

We did discover our cell phone provider gets ZERO reception in Woodstock. We were completely lost without GoogleMaps!! We pulled over at this Bed and Breakfast and as soon as we told them we lost cell service, they immediately said,’You have Sprint, huh?’  Haha. They were kind enough to print us directions to help us get on  our way. It was a darling B & B and we would love to go back and stay there sometime.

vermont countryside

vermont countryside Vermont General Store

Oh we loved the few hours we spent in Woodstock. It was such a darling city and if we lived closer, we’d spend every weekend in the Fall there. Our most important of important tip, though: when buying maple syrup, buy WAY more than you think you need. Buy WAY more than you can fit in your suitcase. Because when you get home and try it for the first time and finish the quart you bought the first week back, you are going to be DEVASTATED. Once you have Vermont Syrup, you won’t go back. It’s torture!! Yes. It really is THAT good.


Downtown Nashville, Tennessee

A Weekend in Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee is known as Music City, USA, and offers plenty of exciting and entertaining venues. Here are 4 things we recommend you hit up next time you are in Nashville.

1. The Grand Ole Opry

Whether you tour the Grand Ole Opry or see a show here, you’ll definitely want to make a visit to Nashville’s most famous venue. Hundreds of thousands visit the Opry each year, and there’s a backstage tour about every 15 minutes. The daytime tour costs $24 for adults (ages 12 and up) and $19 for kids (ages 4-11). The tour lasts about an hour and will place you in the footsteps of country music’s superstars and provide an exclusive look at what happens behind the scenes of the show that made country music famous. For more information on touring the Grand Ole Opry, including Post-Show Tours and VIP Tours, visit www.opry.com/backstagetours.


I visited the Opry this summer and was impressed with the tour. I was able to see many different dressing rooms used by the stars, the Opry post office, the wall of honor, the performers entrance, as well as the highlight for me, which was walking across the famous stage. The coolest part for me was standing center stage behind the microphone. The original opry floor was cut and placed here. Famous Brad Paisley quote.



The Stars and Stripes dressing room

A six-foot circle of wood sits center stage at the Grand Ole Opry House, removed from the Ryman Auditorium when the show moved from the historic Ryman in 1974.

The Wall of Honor in the Grand Ole Opry–so many amazing stars!

The Post Office at the Grand Ole Opry. If a country star has been inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, they’ll have a mailbox here where they pick up fan mail before each show.



I stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort which is just a short walk from the Grand Ole Opry. The Opryland is huge and offers great hotel rooms, amazing restaurants, and plenty of shopping. You’ll have all you need, and then some, at this resort. Not to mention that the Opry Mills mall is right across the street from the Opry.

For of a more detailed write-up and additional pictures of the Opry click here.

2.   The Hermitage – President Andrew Jackson’s estate, mansion, and tomb

“I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me,” is a quote I love from President Andrew Jackson that perfectly describes his life.

Located 15 miles east of downtown Nashville, The Hermitage is one of the top-rated and most authentically preserved presidential homes in the country. During a VIP tour you will tour Andrew Jackson’s mansion, presidential museum, burial tomb, gardens, and grounds. Managed by the Ladies Hermitage Association, the Hermitage began as approximately 400 acres which quickly expanded into and the spacious plantation of more than 1000 acres, which makes it one of the largest historic site museums in America.  The tour costs $20 for adults, $15 for students (ages 13 to 18), and $10 for children (6-12), and takes about 1 1/2 hours, although you can stroll at your leisure and take as long as you’d like.

History buffs will love the background and insight into “the people’s president.” I was reminded that Andrew Jackson’s success and rise to the presidency was truly remarkable as the deck was stacked against him from the beginning, being fatherless (his dad died before he was born) and an orphan at age 14 (his widowed mom died from cholera).


The Tomb of Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel in the gardens near his mansion.

The 11,000 square foot mansion is surrounded by massive trees.

Guests tours the Hermitage mansion in groups of 30 or so. No photography is allowed inside. The high ceilings and original wallpaper make this an impressive mansion to tour.

So much land: The Hermitage quickly expanded to occupy over 1,000 acres east of Nashville.

See more Hermitage here.


3. The Ryman Auditorium

Known as the mother church of country music and located in downtown Nashville, this is where country music all started. A self-guided tour costs $20 for adults and $15 for children (ages 4-11) and lasts approximately about an hour. I had about an hour before I had to get to the airport and really wanted to go inside, so I quickly toured the auditorium. I was impressed with its history, great acoustics, and impressive stage and seats. Considerably smaller than the Opry, the remains one of Nashville’s hottest venues, with its more cozy, intimate settings.

To learn more about the Ryman and different tour options, visit http://ryman.com/tours.


Such a cool venue. Pat Benatar’s crew was setting up for her show later that evening.

Center stage at the Ryman Auditorium! You can see where the six-foot circle once was before it was cut out and taken to the Grand Ole Opry.

4. The Honky Tonks on Broadway

The bar scene is alive and well on Nashville’s famous street, and you will hear tons of aspiring musicians and wannabe singers. It goes without saying that the Broadway scene is not for kids.


Ryman Auditorium


View of Ryman Auditorium


Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee

Tour the Ryman Auditorium


The auditorium opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892. Its construction was spearheaded by Thomas Ryman (1843–1904), a Nashville businessman who owned several saloons and a fleet of riverboats. Ryman conceived of the auditorium as a tabernacle for the influential revivalist Samuel Porter Jones.[3] Ryman had attended one of Jones’ 1885 tent revivals with the intent to heckle, but was instead converted into a devout Christian, and soon after pledged to build the tabernacle so the people of Nashville could attend a large-scale revival indoors. It took seven years to complete and cost US$100,000 (equivalent to $2,638,148 in 2015).[4] However, Jones held his first revival at the site on May 25, 1890, with only the building’s foundation and six-foot walls standing.[5] Architect Hugh Cathcart Thompson designed the structure. Exceeding its construction budget, the tabernacle opened US$20,000 (equivalent to $527,630 in 2015) in debt. Jones sought to name the tabernacle in Ryman’s honor, but Ryman denied the request several times. When Ryman died in 1904, his memorial service was held at the tabernacle. During the service, Jones proposed the building be renamed Ryman Auditorium, which was met with the overwhelming approval of the attendees.[4] Jones died less than two years later, in 1906.

The building was originally designed to contain a balcony, but a lack of funds delayed its completion. The balcony was eventually built and opened in time for the 1897 gathering of the United Confederate Veterans, with funds provided by members of the group. As such, the balcony was named the Confederate Gallery.[5] Upon the completion of the balcony, the Ryman’s capacity rose to 6,000. A stage was added in 1901 that reduced the capacity to just over 3,000.


Ryman Auditorium upstairs hallway

Portrait of Thomas Ryman


Thomas Ryman (1843–1904)

Stage at Ryman Auditorium


Downtown Nashville, Tennessee


How WE do the Grand Ole Opry! 8 things you’ll discover at Nashville’s most famous venue

A trip to Nashville isn’t complete without a tour or a show from the famous Grand Ole Opry. Built in ??, this ?? -seat venue has the acoustics that make a music fan …Grand Ole Opry






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  1. In 201?, Nashville was underwater. Big time. Unfortunately for country music fans the sacred Opry Showhouse was severely damaged. At least four feet of water poured into the Opry which closed for nearly a year to undergo a massive restoration project. The Opry
  2. The Opry does not valet and stars must move their own cone when entering their vehicle into the parking lot.
  3. The Grand Ole Opry Post Office. Write to your favorite country artist and mail it to the Grand Ole Opry and the letter will be delivered to the star’s mailbox. Box # ? is Brad Paisley. #? Is Garth Brooks. #? Is …..
  4. How many stars are members of the Opry….how often do they induct… and what does it all mean…
  5. The 6 feet circle from the Ryman… Brad Paisley quote “The dirt from Hank Williams’ boots has fallen into the cracks.
  6. How it all started… NBC ….
  7. What is the capacity of the Opry?