Holiday Magic is Everywhere in Arlington Texas

Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

Last Friday, I was invited to spend the day touring some of the things the city of Arlington, Texas has in store for us this holiday season. You already know Arlington offers so much to take part in all year-long but this season is especially fun! If you are looking for an entire day of Christmas fun you are going to want to read all the way through this post. I even found a few spots I’ll be back to visit all year-long! I’ll let you guess which ones.

Decorator’s Warehouse & Rose Garden Tea Room 3708 W Pioneer Pkwy, Arlington, TX 76013

Decorators Warehouse Arlington Texas

First stop on our tour was Decorator’s Warehouse. It has been recognized for years as the premiere Christmas store throughout Texas. Owners David and Kathy Hanson, who started the business in 1989, have pursued with great passion the design and creation of a Christmas store that would be unparalleled anywhere.

Reindeer Christmas decor Decorators Warehouse Arlington Texas

There are 20 different theme areas from snowmen, Santas and elves to rustic and woodland as well as beautiful elegant and classic themes, and so many more. Each theme area is an adventure in itself where you will see displays such as a full-size Santa’s workshop, a classic truck and life-size bears and Santas. They also feature the largest selection of Christmas trees in Texas as well as ornaments, wreaths, garlands, florals and everything else known to the imagination.

Bear photo op Decorators Warehouse

Vintage Truck Decorators Warehouse

Located in the back of Decorator’s Warehouse is the Rose Garden Tea Room. We enjoyed lunch here after shopping a bit. They have a signature Rose iced tea. I recommend making a reservation because it is a very popular destination but so perfect to enjoy a day of Christmas shopping and lunching with your lady friends.

Downtown Arlington

After shopping to our hearts content we headed downtown to visit some more local shops. You know I am a huge supporter of shopping our local small business.

Downtown Arlington Texas

Legal Draft 500 E Division St Arlington, TX 76011

Legal Draft is possibly one of my favorite new finds. It has a welcoming vibe and great selection. They have seasonal varieties that will keep you coming back and the location lends to additional shopping and eating locally too. This is a place I can see my husband really enjoying for date night or a night out with the guys.

Legal Draft Arlington Texas

Urban Alchmey Coffee

Welcome to your new living room. Urban Alchemy will be your cozy chair, your favorite meeting space and go-to place to celebrate. Arlington’s very first, locally-owned coffee and wine bar is coming to downtown in 2017. Give them a follow on Instagram to be in the know for announcements and local events.

Sleepy Cottage www.thesleepycottage.com 500 E. Front Street #150 Arlington, TX 76011

Sleepy Cottage has curated some of the most adorable merchandise I’ve seen in one place recently. I’m not really even going to elaborate. Check them out in person and online. TRUST ME.

The Sleepy Cottage Arlington Texas

Gift from the sleepy cottage Arlington Texas

Travel gift from The Sleepy Cottage Arlington Texas

Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery   

On top of being one of the best wedding cake bakery the metroplex offers, you can also stop in for an espresso, cupcake or sweet treat anytime you like.  I highly recommend the s’mores cupcake.

Sugar Bee sweets Arlington Texas

Six​ ​Flags Over Texas 201 E Road to Six Flags St, Arlington, TX 76010

Six Flags Over Texas truly outdid themselves with a special surprise for us. They day of our tour they opened the park early just for us! Have you ever had an entire theme park just for yourself? I certainly never have. It was magical. all of the grounds are decorated for the holidays and the music playing made me feel like a kids again. But it just kept getting better!

We were first in line to experience Frosty Snow Hill where you can bring your family to go sledding down a hill made of real snow. Our group had the best time. Afterwards, we stopped in to enjoy a custom-made hot chocolate. If you haven’t been out to Six Flags Over Texas now is the time!! You want to make this part of your holiday festivities!

Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Bloggers Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Sledding at Six Flags over Texas Arlington Texas

Enchant Christmas Globe Life Park Corner of AT&T Way and Copeland Road, Arlington TX

Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

The annual Arlington Texas Christkindl Market, is now even grander as part of Enchant: The World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze & Market. Visit Texas Christkindl Market Lane in Enchant, November 24 thru December 31, 2017.

Ice Skating at Enchant Christmas Arlington Texas

Surrounded by millions of dazzling lights, the memories you make at Enchant will last well beyond the holiday season. Come enjoy the world’s largest light maze, gliding around the magical ice-skating pond, visiting Santa or sharing hot cocoa with your loved ones while listening to live entertainment, you’ll find enchantment around every corner. Enchant has over 100 food and market vendors, including the Texas Christkindl Market Lane. Unwrap new holiday traditions at the most scenic wonderland in Texas!

Enchant Christmas

I’m not sure I realized just how much there was to do in Arlington Texas for the holiday season but since my visit I’ve been telling everyone what a great time we had. I hope I was ably to share some new places and events that you can add to your holiday plans.

Have you visited Arlington, TX recently? Any of these you plan to go to? Leave me a comment below or on IG/FB!

 

 

Where to Stay and Play on South Padre Island

South Padre Island Texas WelcomeBeautiful South Padre Island has a known reputation for the influx it receives during a couple busy Spring Break weeks in March. If that’s the only thing that comes to mind when you hear South Padre, I’d suggest you think again! It is a WONDERFUL getaway for families too! During the rest of the year, South Padre Island is a relaxing oasis that rivals the best beach towns in America. This summer our family was invited to experience this Texas island as a family and we’ve got the best recommendations for a getaway you’ll never forget.

*We believe in full disclosure and wanted to let you know that this trip was provided by the South Padre Island CVB in partnership with Texas Travel Talk. As is common in the travel industry, our family was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation. As always we only provide opinions, recommendations, and experiences that are 100% authentic and our own.  

Where to Stay on South Padre Island

Pool at the Sapphire South Padre Island

One of the things I love most about staying on South Padre Island is that there are a wide range of available properties to fit every accommodation preference and budget. I can assure you that there is not a bad view anywhere on the island but if luxury accommodations are what you are looking for (you KNOW this is what our family enjoys most!), I highly recommend booking at the Sapphire through Coastal Lifestyles Luxury Rentals. The Sapphire has two private pools and rows of private cabanas to enjoy a beautiful day poolside.

Sapphire pools South Padre island

Beautiful lush landscape leads you to the beach boardwalk and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico just steps away from the pool cabanas. If you like to pool hop, staying at the Sapphire also allows you access to the neighboring Pearl pools and facilities as well. After spending a little time in the sun you can indulge yourself in luxury with amazing massages, refreshing facials, relaxing manicures and pedicures at the Sapphire Spa.

Sapphire Spa South padre island

Your teens can enjoy a space all to themselves in the Teen Game Room to enjoy some shuffleboard, pinball, pool and foosball! All fun and games here at Sapphire South Padre! At the end of the night, when you want to wind down as a family there is a private movie theater that let’s YOU choose the movie from a lonnnnng list of new releases. Just schedule the movie of your choosing with the front desk and it’s all yours!! This was one of our family’s favorite amenities.

Private Movie Room Sapphire South Padre island

Where To Play on South Padre Island

There is so much to do on the island you might have a tough time choosing exactly what to do first. We spent a very full weekend here and STILL didn’t have enough time to fit every thing in that we wanted to do. That gives us plenty of reason to plan a second (and third) trip back! Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything that the island has to offer.

-Get up early and watch the sunrise on the beach. 

Sunrise Sapphire South Padre Island

Build Sandcastles with the Experts!  Who else is fascinated with the elaborate sandcastles you’ve seen on the beach? I am always enamored with them. As it turns out, the experts are available and willing to teach you and your crew a few simple techniques to make you a master architect of sand as well. Several members of our group had the opportunity to meet on the sand to get an in-person lesson. This will be one of our “bucket list” items for our next beach trip!

Sandcastle building South padre island

-Get out on the water in a kayak, jetski, water bike or stand up paddle board!

If your body is a little water logged from being IN the water, you can still have fun ON the water. Even if your family has never kayaked before South Padre Island truly is the perfect place to learn. Of course you’ll all be wearing life-vests but the water surrounding the island in most places is only four feet deep. This means even if you are a little apprehensive about your stability on the water, and worst case scenario you do tip, all you need to do is stand up.

ProTip: Be prepared for the hyper-salinity (extra salty) of the water here. If it gets in your eyes it may be a bit more noticeable than average salt water.

Kayaking on South padre island

-Take a Eco-Sea life cruise while Dolphin watching or go on a pirate adventure on the Black Dragon with Osprey cruises

Pirates Pier Port Isabel

We arrived on a Friday night just in time for the evening pirate show and cruise on the Black Dragon. Drinks and snacks are available on the deck and aboard the ship. This cruise is IDEAL for families with young children.

Black Dragon Sign

The Black Dragon cruise is super interactive and the crew is just incredible with families! You’ll be on board to catch a beautiful sunset over the water and if you are there on a Friday or Saturday you’ll also get to watch the fireworks!

On Saturday, we took the 2 pm Dolphin watch cruise and we saw one of the most active dolphin pods I’ve ever seen!  This was a perfect time of day to be out on the ship too.

Osprey Cruises Chase Family South Padre Island

The ocean breezes kept us cool and there was plenty of shade on the deck to ensure we wouldn’t get too much direct sun. While sightseeing, you’ll also learn about the local wildlife and ecology of the Laguna Madre. The crew will use a trawling net to bring sea life directly to you onboard the ship and return it safely back into the eco-system.

Eco Tour Osprey Cruises Starfish South Padre Island

-Go Birdwatching at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. The birding center is fascinating and people come from all over the world just to see the birds that migrate here.

Swim the Day Away Remember the two awesome pools I mentioned at Sapphire? AND at the Pearl? Almost every resort or condo has great pool access to enjoy splashing the day away. Be sure to take enjoy some pool time while you are here!

Swimming at Sapphire South Padre Island

-Enjoy a fun filled day at Schlitterbahn South Padre

“Experience the best the Gulf Coast has to offer… a 25-acre paradise and the most popular waterpark in the Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy nearly two dozen world-class attractions, roar down 13 amazing indoor and outdoor water slides, or float one of the multiple river systems. The resort includes lodging, great Gulf beaches, fantastic dining location options, and unlimited use of both the indoor and outdoor waterparks.”

Where To Eat on South Padre Island

Vegetarian foods at the Painted Marlin grille

Whether it’s prepping for the day or coming in from a full day of island activities, South Padre has you set for dining options for breakfast lunch or dinner. Two of our best recommendations are WindJammers Beachfront Cafe ( located inside the IslaGrand Beach Resort) and The Painted Marlin Grille. Both have spectacular views and casual attire is acceptable at either location. Remember to be laid back enjoying the views and atmosphere, even though you are in Texas this is island life!

Painted Marlin Grille

Painted marlin South Padre dining

 

Fish and Chips at the painted Marlin Grille South Padre Island

For more family fun and ways to explore South Padre Island head over to Visit South Padre for all the latest activities and fun on the island! Be sure to check out our Instagram for more photos of our trip to South Padre Island and for the latest in Texas travel follow @TXTravelTalk on twitter.

Have you visited South Padre Island? What was your favorite activity, accommodation, or memory? Share in the comments below!  

Bring Your Team Together: Team Building with Taste Events

Dallas Team Building With Taste Blogger EventWho else is watching cooking competition shows and dreams what it would be like to participate? Do you make your kids help you in the kitchen, responding to you “YES, Chef!” ? In our house its a semi- regular occurrence. Recently, I was invited for a super fun experience exactly like that with Team Building with Taste at their Dallas location.

After serving us morning mimosas and apps, we were divided into cooking teams and raced against the clock to prepare a meal worthy of chef’s approval. Not only were we racing against the clock but we had several challenges and plot twists thrown at us too. When the clock countdown came to a close, the heat was on as it was time to present our dish to the chef and discuss our strategy and process.

Smoked Salmon Leek Crostini

Our team did an amazing job. We did make some adjustments to the basic recipe that resulted in us winning the competition!! (I’ll be sharing our recipe in another post so you can make our winning recipe at home!)

Chef Joey Allette Team Building with Taste Dallas

Chef Joey Allette is an award-winning chef who has a great reputation in Dallas. He was incredibly entertaining and knowledgeable making the experience even more fun. I immediately called my husband afterwards and recommended he schedule an event here for his board and executive staff. This really is a great alternative to team building that eliminates physical fears some have with ropes courses or other trust challenges.

In addition to business team building, this is perfect for volunteer groups, birthday parties ( ages 13+ allowed in the kitchen). I’m thinking this will be a great option for Kaitlyn’s next birthday! Occasionally there are cooking classes that individuals can sign up for. Check out their special Fathers Day event details here.

For more information on their programs and menus, go to Team Building with Taste.

Tips for the Perfect Family Trip to Six Flags

Six Flags Spring Break
We’d like to thank Kia Motors America for sponsoring this post and providing park tickets for our day of fun! As always all thoughts,opinions, and experiences are 100% our own.

Deciding where to go and what activities to choose during spring break is always a daunting task. This year was no different. Our criteria is always about making it fun and exciting, making the most of the time we have together but without breaking the bank. Sound familiar? Since we’d just returned from a really wonderful family ski trip a couple of weeks ago, we decided staying relatively local was our best bet for a fun time. Six Flags over Texas is only 20 minutes away from our new house in Dallas and of course the kids were THRILLED at the suggestion Spring Break at Six Flag it was! Spring is actually my favorite time to visit ANY theme park because the weather isn’t too warm to enjoy a full day, there is usually a breeze.

We made sure to print our tickets at home before getting to the park to save both a bit of time and money. We also made sure everyone wore comfortable shoes and dressed in light layers.

The Kia Ride and Drive Experience at Six Flags 

Kia Six Flags

(Wait…. what IS a “Ride and Drive” anyway? I’m glad you asked.  If you’ve never been to a ride and drive, it is an opportunity to get behind the wheel of a car (or several cars)  you’ve been curious about without any sales pressure. It’s a great way to keep a current and experience new automotive technology. Sometimes there are even really great thank you gifts- see below.)

Kia Family of cars

The Kia ride & drive tent was easy to spot as we approached the entrance of the park. Everyone was super friendly and asked if we had a preference of what car we would like to drive first. Randall had been looking for a chance to get behind the wheel of the all new Cadenza for himself after I told him what a PERFECT car it would be for him after driving it during the Cadenza national press launch last year. Kaitlyn and Sebastian were looking to ride in Kia that was new to them as well. So the Cadenza it was! Our specialist drove us through the busy parking lot until we got away from the crowds and this gave Randall a chance to check out the passenger comforts of the Cadenza.

Randall at Six Flags over TX Kia Cadenza

inside the Kia Cadenza

We were really impressed with the knowledge the product specialists shared. We like to ask a lot of questions – we like knowing ALL the details. There wasn’t a single question they didn’t know the anwser to. As a thank you for our 10 min drive, each of us were given flash passes and $10 Daffy dollars to use inside the park for food or product. We also go to use a special VIP entrance eliminating the longer lines to get into the Six Flags. Flash passes are one of my VERY favorite things ever invented for Six Flags or any theme park!

Six Flags over Texas Kia

I loved that taking a 10-15 min ride in a Kia potentially saved us hours waiting in line. We also were excited to find a place to charge up our cell phones ( ProTip: Kia ride and drives almost always have charging stations.) During this time we made a plan for which rides we would go to first. We each chose one ride that was a “must do” for us. Honestly the only must do any of us really cared about was being together so there would be no splitting up the group. We all agreed we would wait in line or ride as a group for all rides. 

Charging with Kia Six Flags

Now we were charged up and ready to head into the park! The carousel was our first ride, my choice. I was worried that the kids may have outgrown the fun of it but they were as nostalgic as I was to ride it and happily hopped on their choice of carousel steed.

Next up was a Virtual Reality Coaster, the Galactic Attack! Did you know Six Flags Over Texas has total of 13 roller coasters??11 steel, 1 super-hybrid and 1 wooden! Sebastian doesn’t enjoy extreme roller coasters so I loved knowing that Six Flags has “Thrill Swap” as option for families like ours. When a child (or anyone) can’t or does not want to ride a ride, your entire party stays together and goes through the ride line. When preparing to board the ride, notify the attendant that you’d like to use Thrill Swap. One person rides, while the other stays with the child. When they return, the swap takes place; allowing the other person to ride while the child waits with the other guardian. It is a brilliant time saver and allows everyone to have a great time together.

Six Flags over Texas Kia Rides

In addition to flash passes & utilizing Thrill Swap,  I have a few more time & money-saving Suggestions to making the most of a trip to Six Flags during spring break or any time of year!

Tips for the Perfect Family Trip to Six Flags

  1. Buy your tickets online and print at home – Plan ahead for the day you want to visit, and be sure to review our website to prepare for the day. Our website offers the best deal on admission tickets, so you can save time and money at the park. You’ll be able to save up to $18, depending on the day you plan to visit. Plus, you can print your tickets at home so when you arrive at the park, you’ll skip the ticket booth and head straight to the front gate – getting you in to rides faster.
  2.  Plan your meal times earlier or later than normal – Taking a few moments to re-energize will help you stay refreshed so you can tackle more rides without getting worn out. Plan your schedule accordingly so you can spend less time waiting for meals. Eat lunch and dinner a little earlier or later than the “normal” time. This will allow you to be out riding while everyone else is eating. Then, when you’re ready to eat, you’ll miss the mealtime rush and save time, getting out to more rides as quickly as possible.
  3. BUY FLASH PASSES- I cannot encourage this enough. There is nothing better than breezing past rows and rows of other visitors to be at the front of line at your favorite ride.
  4. Take a photo of your parking spot- There is nothing worse than having a tired crew and not remembering where you parked. Snap a quick pic of your spot to help you remember and make a bee line straight to your spot. You can also purchase preferred parking to get an even closer spot to the park.
  5. Pick a meeting spot first thing- In the event that your family or group splits up or gets separated, pick a meeting spot well in advance with the understanding that you will meet there and wait. I sent my husband a text saying to meet me at the group of red picnic tables, little did I know that around the corner from me were several groups of red tables just like ours. If we had picked a spot first, we wouldn’t have lost time looking for each other.

Funnel Cakes Kia Six Flags

We always wait until after the rides are over for snacks and treats. Because we typically try to avoid fried and sugary foods, we’ll often pack a cooler for lunch and snacks in the van and get stamped for reentry. There is a nice shaded area of picnic tables right outside the park. Since it was Spring Break and we did have Daffy dollars to use from our ride & drive experience we splurged on an ice cream funnel cake. It was a super fun splurge and it was so fun to say yes to a request that seemed so whimsical and extravagant. The kids thought we were the coolest parents ever this spring break!

Funnel Cake Ice Cream Six Flags

It was a perfect ending to a perfect day! If you have spring break in the near future, check out the dates below to see when Kia will be hosting a ride and drive in your area! I highly recommend working Six Flags in as part of your spring break plans.

Chase Family Kia Six Flags

Six Flags Spring Break

Dates & Info for all upcoming Kia Six Flags Events:
4/14 – 4/16: Six Flags Magic Mountain
26101 Magic Mountain Pkwy, Valencia, CA 91355
4/14 – 4/16: Six Flags Great Adventure
1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson, NJ 08527
4/21 – 4/23: Six Flags America
13710 Central Ave, Bowie, MD 20721
5/13 – 5/15: Six Flags St. Louis
4900 Six Flags Rd, Eureka, MO 63025
5/27 – 5/29: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
1001 Fairgrounds Drive SW, Vallejo, CA 94589
5/27 – 5/29: Six Flags New England
1623 Main St, Agawam, MA 01001
What are you doing this year for Spring Break? I’d love to know what YOUR plans are!

Being in the Right Seat can Make all the Difference : the 2017 Kia Niro #ExperienceNiro

My San Antonio adventure with Kia  was a welcome getaway before our personal marathon of holidays, wedding planning and welcoming a baby into the family began in the weeks to come. Truthfully, I was looking forward to the luxury travel experience the Hotel Emma and a few new experiences as well.

My previous experience with sports can be best summed up with the phrase… “I don’t sport”. I enjoy the competitiveness but just have never pledged an allegiance to one team over another. I’ve gotten by generically rooting “Go Team! Yay Sport!” This method typically works well for every sporting event. Needless to say, I felt a bit out my league attending a NBA game, Spurs vs Celtics, during our trip.

NBA San Antonio Spurs

We were transported from Hotel Emma to the AT&T arena in a spirited party bus and escorted up to a suite catered with an array of delicious food and drinks to pregame. Soon, a few of us would take our seats court-side to watch the game. Have you ever watched a game from the floor ? Oh my goodness, courtside is the MOST FUN EVER!! Here’s a few pics from my seat:

I even made a couple of new friends while I was down there and we took selfies, because of course,  we did! We also talked about what influencer marketing is and how great Kia is.

So, as it turns out I DO LIKE SPORTS! Who knew? A good seat can make all the difference.

Hotel Emma San Antonio Texas

As I walked through the hotel lobby the following morning, I couldn’t help but notice the elaborately decorated Christmas trees, holiday music playing in the background, and fireplaces roaring. My thoughts wandered toward the list of presents still to be purchased and wrapped, cookies to be baked, and errands to run back at home. I tried to reconcile time versus tasks and finally just pushed those thoughts aside as I walked into the morning presentation. After all, I really was so looking forward to hearing more on the 2017 Kia Niro and getting my first chance to get behind the wheel myself.

Hotel Emma Kia Niro Event

The Niro is the first hybrid crossover of its kind. It is stylish, aerodynamic and offers plenty of interior space you wouldn’t typically expect from a hybrid.

2017 Kia Niro

It also delivers on the exceptional fuel economy you do expect to see thanks to the hybrid-optimizing powertrain. The Niro touring model I drove, outfitted with top-level accommodations and trim, will manage 46 city, 40 highway, and 43 overall. If you’re willing to trade out a few of the comforts the touring offers, the FE base model will deliver impressive fuel economy ratings of 52 mpg in the city, 49 on the highway, and 50 combined.

2017 Niro fuel economy

After previously driving other a hybrids, there were a few things I just expected to have to overlook because of what I attributed to the nature of driving a hybrid. My biggest surprise was finding that those things I expected to overlook just didn’t exist in this car. On the road, the Kia Niro was extremely responsive and unexpectedly, simply felt like driving a high performing crossover. I highly recommend going for a test drive but be sure to leave anything you previously thought you new about hybrids at home.

In the Kia Niro San Antonio

Dare I say the Kia Niro was even fun to drive. It feels a little strange saying that a hybrid was “fun”. Can you be really be both fun and responsible? Does this mean we’ve grown up? Is this “adulting”? The answer is : Probably.

Luckily, the Kia Niro still looks really cool, so no one will know we’re adulting now.

Kia wasn’t about to let us get too serious though. This was the perfect opportunity to prove that the Kia Niro really is the perfect vehicle for any situation, especially spreading magic and cheer. Remember, I mentioned the increased interior cargo space?

Kia Niro trunk space

When we went out to get behind the wheel, we were delighted to find two Santa hats and every inch of cargo space filled with newly purchased toys to deliver to the Toys for Tots location on our route.

Kia Niro toys for tots

It didn’t take us long to quickly slip into our Santa hats and off we went with the 2017 Kia Niro as our sleigh for the day!

We drove through the city route until we arrived at the Toys for Tots donation center and unloaded the toys to deliver inside. Outside a line of Marines stood at attention.

toys for tots Kia niro

It didn’t take long for my long list of to-do’s, to-get’s and worries from earlier in the morning to be far removed. My concerns now seemed insignificant in comparison. My perceptions were shifted as I was enabled to give and serve. I was humbled to offer something that cost me nothing in front of those that would be willing to give their everything. I thought about the military spouses and children who will be separated from their loved ones this season. I wondered about the families receiving the toys and hope that on Christmas morning their homes are filled with laughter and that joy shines as brightly as the glow of Christmas lights.

My experience with the 2017 Kia Niro was completely different from what I originally expected. Originally, I was simply really excited to drive the Niro on familiar roads in my home state of Texas. What I came to learn was that  if you are open to something new,even in the very place you feel most at home, you can identify what is truly important. You may even discover you DO like sports, you DO love driving a hybrid, you’ve just got to be in the right seat.

HUGE thanks to Kia for allowing me the opportunity to get a first look at the 2017 Kia Niro and for being amazing hosts during my stay at Hotel Emma, including all transportation and expenses during my time in San Antonio.