Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and adoring Wife to Superman and Mom to older kiddos. She shares "How-To" plan the BEST family vacations in the South with travel reviews and insider travel secrets that Women REALLY want to know!

☕️ It's THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

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Marineland Dolphin Adventure: Don’t Miss The 80th Anniversary Celebration

Honored to be invited to a month-long 80th Anniversary Celebration that started with the Historic reopening ceremony of the Marineland arch entrance, I can tell you that there’s no better time to visit Marineland Dolphin Adventure than right now! Gone are the days for visitors to passively watch performances at this dolphin conservation center located just south of St. Augustine along scenic A1A in Marineland, Florida.  Now a part of the Georgia Aquarium, Marineland Dolphin Adventure is a beautiful facility where families can have physical and emotional connections with playful dolphins through interactive programs and tours.  There are plenty of reasons to soak up the sun and fun at this iconic attraction of Florida.

Visit Marineland Dolphin Adventure - 80th Anniversary Celebration

Thank You, Marineland for tickets in order to facilitate press coverage of this event!

Marineland Dolphin Adventure

My traveling family was ecstatic to visit Marineland Dolphin Adventure for the first weekend of the 80th Anniversary Celebration.  We spent the day getting up close and personal with these beautiful creatures and learned so much about them.  Did you know that dolphins can swim at speeds of 35 miles per hour and that Nellie the dolphin lived to be 61 years old while living at Marineland? You can watch a touching tribute to Nellie HERE.

There’s so much more to see and do any month of the year but especially during this month of special events and activities for the whole family.  You do not want to miss all the reasons to visit Marineland, Florida this year.

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - interact & swim with dolphins - 80 year celebration

MOVIE VENUE

Marineland Dolphin Adventure was created as an underwater film studio in 1938 who wanted to introduce undersea life to audiences nationwide. The most well-known classic movies created at “Marine Studios” in the 1950s are Sea HuntCreature from the Black Lagoon and Revenge of the Creature, who starred a talented bottlenose dolphin named “Flippy.”

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - interact & swim with dolphins - Creature from the Black Lagoon

Through the decades, many movies continued to be shot on location here including Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland. A brand new movie called Bernie the Dolphin was filmed here earlier this year starring big names like Kevin Sorbo and Patrick Muldoon and will hit theaters in December 2018.

Watch Bernie The Dolphin filming 
The movies that have been filmed at Marineland Dolphin Adventure are:

  • Marine Circus (1939)
  • Port Sinister (1953)
  • The Sea Around Us (1953)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
  • Revenge of the Creature (1955)
  • Secrets of the Reef (1956)
  • Sea Hunt (1958, TV)
  • Zaat (1975)
  • Sea Dream (1978)
  • Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland (1981, TV)
  • The Flamingo Rising (2001, TV)
  • Bernie the Dolphin (2018)

MEET THE TRAINERS

Every day in June 2018 is at two different time slots, guests have an opportunity to learn about dolphins and see the highly skilled trainers interact with them.  It’s no wonder that scores of young people leave Marineland every week with visions of being a trainer themselves.

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - interact & swim with dolphins

FUN DISCOUNT DAYS

Sundays and Mondays are fabulous days to visit for Florida fun and discounts.  Each Sunday in June from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you’ll find a Farmers Market with live entertainment waiting there for you.  Sunday also means fun days for families with children’s events, face painting, eating contests, animal touch pools, and more.  Two kids get a free admission with a paying adult!  On Mondays in June, Marineland is offering Buy one – Get one for general admission and the “Behind the Seas” tour.

FREE TICKETS

Join the beach cleanup effort called, “Save Our World Ocean” on June 8th that will begin at the boardwalk adjacent to Marineland.  Live music will entertain those as they clean and volunteers will receive free passes.

Save on your hotel - www.hotelscombined.com

EXCITING EDUCATION

During our ‘Behind the Seas’ tour, we learned that there are 15 dolphins onsite – one fella that’s over 500 pounds.  We also fell in love with Betty – the sweet 50-year-old gal!  Since there’s more than dolphins at Marineland, we were also able to see lots of other sea life including a 5-foot long moray eel!

On June 10th, visitors have the chance to learn more about Marineland history, dolphin research, and conservation.  Visitors that attend the lecture will learn from experts Dr. Kathleen Dudzinski, John Anderson, and Matthew Denny.

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - Green Moray Eel tank

I spy many marine animals – do you?

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - interact & swim with dolphins - octopus in Behind the Seas Tour

He was sweet enough to give us a “heart” pose!

MILITARY SUPPORT

There’s a special 5k on June 16th!  “The Gratitude America 5k Run” starts at 8 a.m. at Marineland and will benefit our USA Veterans.

GATOR NIGHT

An unforgettable evening is planned for June 16 at 7 p.m. as Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier will be on-site to feed dolphins and reenact an experience he had at Marineland during the 1960s.  This event will be followed by a movie that was filmed at Marineland, along with food and beverages available.

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - interact & swim with dolphins - Marineland sign

OFFICIAL CELEBRATION DAY

Don’t miss the big celebration of the official anniversary of Marineland’s humble beginnings on June 23rd.  There will be proclamations, special guests, food and beverages, a silent auction, and a free souvenir booklet.

Not only is Marineland Dolphin Adventure a one-of-a-kind facility for the care of marine life, it’s also situated smack dab in the middle of one of my favorite areas of Florida.  If time allows, take the family 30 minutes north to St. Augustine or south to Beverly Beach.

Warning: Please don’t confuse Marineland Dolphin Adventure with attractions of the same name in Canada or Grand Cayman Island.

Location: 9600 N Ocean Shore Blvd, St Augustine, FL 32080

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - interact & swim with dolphins - posing with anchor

Our girls!

watch video of our family travel adventure in Marineland, Florida
Click Here For Great Hotel Options In Palm Coast, Florida

Visit the official Marineland Dolphin Adventure website to start planning your trip now.


I’m glad to help with any questions about Marineland Dolphin Adventures that you may have.  Ask away in the comments or contact box below!


PIN FOR LATER!

Marineland Dolphin Adventure - interact & swim with dolphins - Behind the Seas Tour



Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and adoring Wife to Superman and Mom to older kiddos. She shares “How-To” plan the BEST family vacations in the South with travel reviews and insider travel secrets that Women REALLY want to know!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Find me on: Twitter | Facebook

Secret Island In The South: 10 Cool Things To Discover With Older Kids

Southerners can be downright secretive when they find amazing family vacation spots that haven’t been discovered yet. That’s why you may not have heard of this “secret island” tucked in along the Georgia coast and just five hours south of Atlanta. Jekyll Island has maintained its fascinating island charm partly because of law protection against overdevelopment and in how the 1800s Millionaire’s Village has been beautifully maintained. Jekyll Island, Georgia is fabulous for all ages but it’s a big hit with tweens, teens and older kids that can appreciate the mysterious stories, legends, and adventure that awaits. Here are the top ten activities that our family loves to do together while on this golden isle – and that you don’t want to miss.

AWESOME secret island of Georgia (U.S.) you MUST see - shaded historical district

The Secret Island

This mystical, enchanting secret island of Georgia will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s where Superman and I saw each other for the first time AND where the marriage proposal happened.  Your older kids won’t be excited about that tidbit of romantic information, but they’ll be glad to know that Jekyll Island, Georgia is also a fabulous place to have lots of active fun together as a family.

1. SWIM & SUNTAN ON BEACHVIEW DRIVE

Because Jekyll Island, Georgia is positioned like it is along a river and inlet, there are three different beach types to choose from. If your family is crazy about suntans, ocean waves and beach wind in their hair, head to the sand in the center of the island.  After passing the welcome center, follow the turnabout to the left and stay on Beachview Drive until you see Great Dunes Park on your left.  There are covered picnic pavilions and clean bathrooms at this beach access.

AWESOME secret island of U.S. - secluded beach

Jekyll Island Beach at Great Dunes Park

2. GO BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF A TURTLE HOSPITAL

The incredible Georgia Sea Turtle Center is a working hospital dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured sea turtles.  The best biologists and researchers are on-hand to guide your tour and show you what is behind the glass.  You’ll see the food preparation areas, animal holding areas, and the Treatment Room for these very large and sick turtles.

AWESOME secret island of U.S. - Sea Turtle Hospital

GSTC Patient, oi vey, cc

3. BIKE RIDE AROUND THE ISLAND

The more you ride bikes around the secret island of Jekyll, the more you’ll want to see.  Time will fly as you go through a Historic Landmark District that seems frozen in time.  The new paved bicycle trail system also weaves you through peaceful wildlife scenes of the maritime forest and alongside the beach.  Free bike trail maps can be found at the Jekyll Island Welcome Center.  Bike rentals are at on location at several hotels like the Jekyll Club Resort Hotel.  We’ve biked half the island (25 miles of trails total) several times as a family and it’s one of our favorite activities!

AWESOME secret island of U.S. - bike trails

Jekyll Island Bike Riding Trails

4. GRAB PHOTO OPS ON DRIFTWOOD BEACH

Driftwood Beach has no real “entrance,” so it gives notion to the secret island vibe.  You’ll only find this picturesque beach by walking on foot from the Jekyll Island Fishing Pier at Clam Creek.  At low tide, the sand is wide and hard-packed which makes it ideal for walking (you can bring Fido on a leash too).  The strong currents on this north end beach cause a muddy sediment at high tide, so swimming is not ideal.

But the slow erosion caused by those strong currents has also created a hauntingly romantic scene that’s called “the tree graveyard” by many and is a photographer’s paradise.  It’s an iconic spot privy to weddings, senior portraits, and family photos.  Vist Driftwood Beach at sunrise or dusk (my fave) for the most beautiful family portraits you could ask for!

AWESOME secret island in the U.S. - Driftwood Beach at sunset

Driftwood Beach Sunset, jillian meridith, cc

5. SHOP & EAT AT JEKYLL BEACH VILLAGE

Not your average shopping center, the Jekyll Island Beach Village showcases eclectic shops with items like gourmet groceries, souvenirs, and essential beach gear.  We enjoy choosing from the many unique dining options such as Club Cafe and Love Shack BBQ. Our family also finds it hard to resist Fuse frozen yogurt while we are in the village too.

AWESOME secret island - Jekyll Island shopping

Jekyll Island Shopping at the Beach Village



6. WATCH THE WILDLIFE

Drive down to the southernmost point of Jekyll Island and you’ll find a delightful, shaded parking lot with an adjacent picnic area under the canopy of large oak trees.  This area of St. Andrews Park has a historical marker called The Wanderer that will give you pause as you reflect on it.  Keep walking past the clean restrooms and you’ll reach the secluded beach filled with migratory birds.  If your family travels to the right you’ll see a two-story observation tower that you have to climb! From the top you just might see dolphins and porpoises playing in the surf.

AWESOME secret island of Georgia - park with family picnic area

Jekyll Island Park, gailhampshire, cc

7. GET ON THE WATER 

Sometimes you’ve got to get in the water with those older kids. Turtle Tides Jekyll will deliver your kayaks or stand up paddleboards with all the safety equipment, maps, and information you need to choose an incredible family adventure.  They will also pick up your equipment when your excursion is over.  If you are unsure of leading your family alone, Turtle Tides also offers a two-hour private tour for your people as well.

The 4-H Tidelands Nature Center would love to have you over to the 17-acre saltwater Tidelands pond to fish for free as long as you bring your own fishing and crabbing gear and follow all Georgia fishing regulations.

AWESOME secret island of Georgia - kayaking the salt marsh

Kayaking the Jekyll Marsh, jason and kris carter, cc

8. GO CAMPING

Whether RV or tent camping is your thing, there are many memories to be shared at Jekyll Island Campground.  Unlike any campground we’ve stayed at before, the entire 18-acres are shaded by magnificent oaks dripping with Spanish moss.  There are 125 RV campsites and 12 primitive sites.  I love how the primitive tent area is tucked back in the corner so that you’ll feel as though you are deep in the wilderness. 

Take the time to unwind and connect with your family onsite by cooking an open-fire meal, walk to the bird sanctuary, shop at the camp store, or walk to the nearby fishing pier and Driftwood Beach.  Be sure to take camp shoes since it’s a sandy campground and plenty of bug spray for those flying Southern critters!

AWESOME secret island - Jekyll Island Campground

Jekyll Island Camping, rob marquardt, cc

9. TAKE A GHOST TOUR

Do something unique by viewing Jekyll Island by night.  Follow up dinner time with a ghost tour with Lighthouse Trolleys.  You’ll get to hear the legends, lore, and ghost stories of days gone by on this secret island.  The whole family will have a blast riding the open air trolley and visiting a very special graveyard!  By the end of the night, maybe you’ll be able to answer the age old question, “Is Jekyll Island Georgia haunted?”

AWESOME secret island of Georgia - cemetery on the ghost tour

Jekyll Island Ghost Tour, cliff, cc

10. RIDE WITH NIGHT PATROL

Teens are known for wanting to stay up late so why not join them on a night patrol across Jekyll Island’s beach on an all-terrain vehicle?  Whoop!  Your family will be searching out nesting loggerhead sea turtles and be able to use what you learned prior to the trip just in case you discover some.  If you’d rather bond with your older during daytime hours, become a graduate of Gatorology class!

Jekyll Island Sea Turtle Experience
As you can see, Jekyll Island, Georgia makes the perfect family vacation spot to find lots of adventure with your family.  Each time we drive across the causeway, we literally feel the layers of busyness and stress roll off our backs.  This is one Southern family vacation spot you can’t miss!

Jekyll Island Welcome Center location: 901 Downing Musgrove Causeway, Jekyll Island, GA 31527

Click Here For Great Hotel Options In Jekyll Island


What do you look most forward to exploring on this secret island with your family?


PIN FOR LATER!
AWESOME secret island of Georgia (U.S.) you MUST see!




Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and adoring Wife to Superman and Mom to older kiddos. She shares “How-To” plan the BEST family vacations in the South with travel reviews and insider travel secrets that Women REALLY want to know!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Find me on: Twitter | Facebook

Ultimate List Of Things To Do At Disney With Teens & Older Kids – Hotel, Food, & Entertainment

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos that the whole family just might have more fun than ever before. On our last trip with our teenager, family bonding happened and memories were made that can only happen at Disney. We laughed, we shopped, we ate the Disney food, we talked, we took selfies, we dreamed and we rode Disney rides together. Let me share our ultimate list of ideas that your family (that includes older children) doesn’t want to miss at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos - Father & Teenage daughter at Cinderella's Castle

Heading into Cinderella’s Castle with our teenager!

Can I confess something to you? It’s more fun at Disney with older kiddos. There, I said it. Think about it friends, they don’t need naps, don’t have tantrums, and they can stay in the parks until late without incident. We honestly had way more fun with Princess at Disney World as a teen than we did when she was a little girl. It brought me so much joy to watch her enjoy Disney World on a whole new level.

THINGS TO DO AT DISNEY WITH OLDERS: Park Hopping

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos - fam on Disney Train

Thanks to Walt Disney World for the complimentary park hopper tickets!

You’ll be able to move faster, lighter, and with a lot more ease (olders can help if you have young ones too).  Fatigue for tween and teens isn’t as prevalent as it is with toddlers and this makes it easier to see more and do more.  Park hopper tickets are a wonderful idea and it’s totally doable to visit multiple parks in one day.  Talk about more for your money!

On our last trip to Disney with our teen, we all agreed to take a slower pace and enjoy two to three parks with our park hopper tickets.  Because we stayed in a Disney resort with magic hours, we were able to hit the Magic Kingdom park early, visit Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival and then see and do everything we wanted to until really late at night.

It was fabulous!

THINGS TO DO AT DISNEY WITH OLDERS: STAY AT A MODERATE DISNEY RESORT

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos - Caribbean Beach Resort sign

Walt Disney World’s Caribbean Beach Resort

One special tip for a family vacation to Disney with your older kids is to stay in a moderate resort hotel if you can swing it.  Though a little pricier than the value resort hotels like Pop Century, hotels like Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort are a little more grown-up but still loaded with fun.  Choices of moderately-priced resorts are Port Orleans, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach Resort and the cabins at the Fort Wilderness Resort.

These slightly more sophisticated resorts are quite an experience in themselves. It’s definitely recommended by us to spend a whole day exploring and relaxing at the resort of your choice if possible.

THINGS TO DO AT DISNEY WITH OLDERS: PLAN RIDES AHEAD OF TIME

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos - it's a small world ride

“It’s a Small World” ride with our teenager

If you and yours want to be able to walk onto Disney Park rides without waiting for unreasonable amounts of time, you’ll want to book your fast passes ahead of time.  Not sure about all the fast pass hoopla?

Basically, you are able to choose three ride reservations within the Disney Park you are currently visiting.  The reservation can be made on the My Disney Experience App. If you don’t already have it, go download it now and click around. It’s very neat and user-friendly! You can only reserve fast passes at one Disney park at a time.

You can certainly reserve fast passes on the app as you walk through the park but you risk the chance of them being full. I suggest choosing the rides you want to ride online and reserving them before you ever leave home. We knew we wanted to ride It’s a Small World, Haunted Mansion, and Jungle River Cruise at the Magic Kingdom park, so I secured those quickly before we visited the park.

THINGS TO DO AT DISNEY WITH OLDERS: VISIT DISNEY SPRINGS 

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos that the whole family just might have more fun than ever before - LEGO Dragon

Disney Spring’s LEGO Store & Displays

I booked our last Disney stay to intentionally have a leisure day to check out Disney Springs, once known as Downtown Disney. We’d never been and honestly wondered what the big deal was about. It’s where shopping and dining meet magic!  It’s an incredibly clean, whimsical and upscale outdoor shopping mall with Disney-style beauty and fun.

All surrounding a beautiful lagoon, there are different sections to cater to the serious luxury shoppers, those seeking celebrity chef eateries, and fun for children and kids at heart.  Don’t miss the LEGO store, World of Disney store (largest Disney retail in the country), Ghiradelli Ice Cream & Chocolate shop and Goofy’s Candy Company. Enjoy the video below of the fun ideas we had:

Disney Springs video
 

THINGS TO DO AT DISNEY WITH OLDERS: EAT YOUR WAY THROUGH DISNEY WORLD

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos that the whole family just might have more fun than ever before. - nachos

Disney Spring’s Smokehouse Nachos

We decided before we ever got to Walt Disney World that we would fully enjoy many of the Disney choices we’d heard so much about.  Whether it’s nachos at Disney Springs, pork tacos and Dole Whip at Epcot, it’s fun to experience these popular foods together as a family.  We opted to only eat one big meal a day and share small snacks throughout the rest so we could truly taste it all.

We didn’t come close to tasting it all but we had fun trying!

THINGS TO DO AT DISNEY WITH OLDERS: BE SPONTANEOUS

There are so many exciting things to do at Disney for tweens, teens, and older kiddos that the whole family just might have more fun than ever before - Amphicar

Disney Spring’s Amphicar

There are a plethora of entertainment things to do within the magic bubble of Walt Disney World.  Plays and musicals can be found at every Disney park.  There are two Disney water parks open seasonally.  Have you heard about the ESPN Sports Hall of Fame?  Listen to a free concert at Disney Springs.  Visit your Disney resort’s pool and grounds to relax and explore.  Catch a movie at the AMC theater at Disney Springs.

Be sure to let your kiddos know that they can let loose and act like a kid.  I hope you adults are too! One of the most fun and entertaining things we did at Disney Springs was quite spontaneous.  We walked up to what’s known as The Boathouse where they offer an Amphicar – part car and part boat.  It’s just easier to show you the video below so you’ll understand.

 

Not only is it free to park at Disney Springs, there’s no charge to visit.  So, technically, your family could check out Disney Springs without ever spending a dime. It’s so much fun though that I’m just going to tell you, “Good Luck on that!”

Our family fell in love with the laid-back, whimsical vibe of Disney Springs – so much that we went on two different days during our Walt Disney World vacation.  I hope this helps you to plan your own vacation and soak up the time you have with those amazing older kids.



Which things to do at Disney are on the top of your list?


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Ultimate list of things to do at Disney with older kids-Princess & Captain pictured




Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and adoring Wife to Superman and Mom to older kiddos. She shares “How-To” plan the BEST family vacations in the South with travel reviews and insider travel secrets that Women REALLY want to know!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Find me on: Twitter | Facebook

6 Exciting Charleston SC Attractions To Do With Older Kids And Teens

Charleston, South Carolina is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and there are more Charleston SC attractions than you can “shake a stick at” (a southern phrase you may hear while visiting).  Yep, it’s true, there’s more to this amazing city than just grits, sweet tea, and palmettos.  Let’s dig into 6 family-friendly Charleston SC attractions to enjoy if you have at least one older kid or teen in tow, shall we?!

6 Exciting Charleston SC attractions with teens & older kids - Charleston Carriage

Charleston SC Attractions

We lived part-time in this captivating city for about seven months when Superman’s job required it.  I was certainly up for the challenge! We fell in love with its Southern charm and out of all of the family travel coverage I write, this is one of my most beloved places.  Below are just a few of the many Charleston SC attractions that parents AND older kiddos can enjoy together.

Have fun!

PIRATE & WAR STORIES

You may have heard that there’s a lot of Civil War history in Charleston. Did you know that there’s probably more Revolutionary and pirate history than any other American city?

You’d never know that the serene White Point Gardens (that border “The Battery” seawall right across from the sea fort of Fort Sumter), where many can be spotted strolling through the brick-paved walkways or reading a book under the canopy of Southern oak trees is the same spot of fascinating pirate stories.  Teens will be fascianted to know that it’s where Blackbeard blockaded Charleston and gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet was hanged along with 5o others.  Find out more Charleston pirate history on a historical carriage ride or Charleston pirate tours.

6 Exciting Charleston SC attractions with teens & older kids - Charleston Park

White Point Gardens, Torrey Wiley, cc

GOODY SAMPLING

Charleston’s historic City Market has hundreds of artists and craftspeople selling their wares like sweetgrass baskets and more.  Some of our favorite Charleston SC attractions, however, are the sweet shops along one side of the City Market.   Savannah’s Candy Kitchen of Charleston and Fudgery Inc will let you sample one of their goodies like fudge or pralines.  The Five and Dime and Moon Pie General Store are two other favorites stores that we enjoy.

6 Exciting Charleston SC attractions with teens & older kids - Savannah Candy Kitchen

Savannah Candy Kitchen

ROYALTY SHOPPING

You know you’re in a shopping mecca of the world when the street names are King, Queen, and George and known as the King Street Fashion District.  Boutique stores like Spartina 449 and the shops at Belmond Charleston Place will leave you speechless.  My daughter and I found a feminine place that had so much wall-to-wall jewelry and plush pink furnishings that we must have stayed for an hour!

6 Exciting Charleston SC attractions with teens & older kids - Charleston shopping

King Street Shopping District, nicksmirni, cc

INTRIGUING CEMETERIES

The sometimes Gothic architecture of these churches and cemeteries leave me spellbound with their iron gates, angel statues, and historic graves. We love meandering through and reading the gravestones – some as far back as the 1600s. St. Philip’s Church contains the graves of signers of the Declaration of Independence like Edward Rutledge and Charles Pinckney.

6 Exciting Charleston SC attractions with teens & older kids - Charleston cemetery

Charleston Cemetery, David McSpaddencc

JAW-DROPPING CHURCHES

Charleston is called The Holy City due to the religious freedom offered to many diverse houses of worship.  St. Michael’s Protestant Episcopal Church, St. Phillip’s, Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue of Charleston, and The French Huguenot Church have some of the most jaw-dropping architecture. Taking a walk around the grounds and hearing their history is pretty fun. Watch the video below to find out why some people had to pay for their church seats:

 Charleston’s Historic Churches 

CHARLESTON WALKING TOUR

One of the most fun Charleston SC attractions we’ve experienced with our older kids is just walking the city on a self-guided tour.  My suggestion is to get your hands on the Charleston Walking Tour and Travel Guide right away.  This handy dandy guide includes routes, photos, and maps of the best way to experience the best of Charleston on your own timing.  There is a mobile guide with this pamphlet purchase as well.

Charleston Guide!

Hotels in Charleston


Which of these Charleston SC attractions will you visit first with your teen or older kiddo?


6 Exciting Charleston SC attractions with teens & older kids - old Charleston door

Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and adoring Wife to Superman and Mom to older kiddos. She shares “How-To” plan the BEST family vacations in the South with travel reviews and insider travel secrets that Women REALLY want to know!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Find me on: Twitter | Facebook

Family Movie Guide #4: Forever My Girl Movie Review

When my daughter and I saw the previews for the Forever My Girl movie, we both wanted to see it. We couldn’t tell if the film would be clean or not. The movie rating can be misleading, and the previews showed the male lead character “living it up” as a country music star on the road. Yep, we want to watch current movies like everyone else BUT I’m not going to pay to stream trash into my home.  Check out what this prude Mama thought of the Forever My Girl movie that just came out on Blu-ray, DVD, and instant streaming.

movie clip!

FOREVER MY GIRL MOVIE

movie: Forever My Girl

date: 2018

cast: Alex Roe, Jessica Rothe, Abby Ryder Fortson, John Benjamin Hickey, Tyler Riggs

runtime: 108 minutes

rating: PG

rating explanation: Parental Guidance Suggested

available to watch: DVD, Blu-ray & Amazon Video (instant streaming video)

available on DVD & Blu-ray
I was not aware until I was about to watch this movie and share a family movie guide with you that it was indeed a book first.  Let me quickly add that to date, I have never watched a movie that I liked better than the book.  I’m a “classic book” snob and I’m not afraid to admit it.  BUT, I stumbled upon an excerpt of this original story written by Heidi McLaughlin.  Let’s just stay that the producers “cleaned up” the storyline considerably in creating this movie.

Thanks, guys!  I’m very grateful.  I’m not being my typical, sarcastic self.  I’m truly thankful that they didn’t go straight by the book.  Mark it down -> I didn’t read the whole book, but what I read was nowhere near as good as the movie.  There, I said it!  Moving on…

The following is the summary that Amazon gave this movie.  “FOREVER MY GIRL tells the story of country music superstar Liam Page (Alex Roe), who left his bride, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar, choosing fame and fortune instead. However, Liam never got over his one true love, nor did he ever forget his Southern roots. When he unexpectedly returns to his hometown, Liam is torn between his two worlds.”



FOREVER MY GIRL MOVIE DISCUSSION

The following is a loose movie guide of the film’s topics that may cause discussion with your people. I try to watch and listen closely, but the only way to guarantee that this movie is suitable for your family is to preview it yourself.

intimacy:  Near the very beginning, the country singer is shown in a hotel room asleep in the bed as a new day is starting.  A woman (groupie) in a long t-shirt is standing in front of a mirror singing and it wakes him up.  It’s obvious to anyone of a certain older age what has transpired the night before but no intimacy or conversation about it happens.  He jumps up to retrieve a phone that she is accidentally standing on and he runs out of the room.  That’s the end of that scene.

Spoiler alert: The main character finds out he has a daughter (it’s obvious from the storyline that it was intimacy before marriage but younger kiddos may not pick up on it – I’m guessing).

inappropriateness: There is a scene or two where the lead actor is in his boxers in bed.

language:  We may have missed one, but my daughter nor I caught any curse words in this movie.

violence:  No real violence.  The female lead actress marches angrily toward a male actor and gives him one gut punch and walks away.

use of substances:  The country singer’s very first song during a concert is about “not watering down his whiskey.”  The audience is singing along while some of them are holding their ‘drinks.’

The male lead actor turns to alcohol several times throughout the movie so that he doesn’t have to deal with his pain.  It’s unfortunate to watch but it made sense to myself and teenager.  Even she said that she “got” why he was drinking so much but it was a little overdone.  He drinks alone or at a bar stool a couple times and appears to be drunk more than once.

overall messages:  I didn’t realize how much this movie revolves around death and grief.  I DID NOT expect to cry – but it got me.  It’s nothing traumatic but certainly a good topic to discuss with family.  For instance, there is a scene where a young boy stands in the doorway while nurses try to resuscitate his Mom, to no avail.  He sees it all and it’s pretty sad.

As mentioned above, people make a choice in how to deal with their grief.  Some people choose roads that lead to destruction.  A great message that comes from this storyline is that it’s never too late to forgive, to be forgiven, and to come home again.  There are a lot of church scenes because the main character’s Dad is a preacher.  While not necessarily a Christian-produced movie (I don’t think), there are some strong biblical undertones.

I love biblical undertones! 

'If we can TRULY forgive then we can truly be set free.' ~from Forever My Girl.Click To Tweet

GOOD, BAD, OR IN-BETWEEN

It was really nice to watch a mainstream movie that wasn’t filled with awful language.  Besides the overall tone of premarital intimacy that resulted in pregnancy and the drinking to ease sorrow, this movie was pretty squeaky clean.

Hallelu!

I absolutely fell in love with the old-fashioned, small-town and Southern vibe of the movie setting of Saint Augustine, Louisiana.  Not only will you love the adult characters, but the little girl named Billy Ann will definitely steal your heart!

After the movie really got started, I thought it was going to be pretty predictable. I was wrong.  My girl and I both got emotional when the movie took a turn that we were not expecting.  We were laughing and crying at the same time. No simple feat, Y’all. It reminded me of how I felt when I watched Steel Magnolias so many years ago.

My daughter and I had some very good conversation about all of the above.  When my husband got home, she told him it was one of her very favorite movies of all time.

Well, there you go.  I pray that this was helpful for you to decide who is ready for this movie in your family and who is not.


I’d love to know what you thought of the Forever My Girl Movie in the comments below!


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Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and adoring Wife to Superman and Mom to older kiddos. She shares “How-To” plan the BEST family vacations in the South with travel reviews and insider travel secrets that Women REALLY want to know!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

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Low Carb Crockpot Italian Meatballs: 3 Ingredients + 10 Min. Prep!

My Low Carb Crockpot Italian Meatballs recipe is one of those gems for days when you need a hearty meal but no time to stand over the stove.  I love it when yummy comfort foods are put on the table fast.  Especially when they are are a wholesome and low carb solution.  Hang onto your socks honey, because this crockpot Italian meatballs recipe is easy and full o’ flavor to please even the pickiest families.

Tasty Low Carb Crockpot Italian Meatballs recipe with 3 ingredients!

Crockpot Italian Meatballs

This is almost too simple to even call a recipe. You’ll find a printable recipe card below but I’ll share the basic process for these super easy crockpot Italian meatballs.

In a large bowl, combine 1/2 Cup of Italian dressing and one egg.  Mix well and form 1-inch balls.  Place on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet and place in oven on (low) broil for 5 minutes.  Flip the meatballs over and broil for another 5 minutes.  Toss into a hot crockpot, set on low, and cook for at about three hours (or until you need them).  Add the second measurement of Italian dressing to flavor until ready to eat.

Easy Peasy!

You can brown these low carb meatballs in the oven quickly and then toss them in the crockpot before running out of the door for the day.

favorite cookie sheet pans for this recipe
 

Related articles:

3 CROCKPOT ITALIAN MEATBALLS INGREDIENTS

1 to 1 1/2 pound ground meat

1/2 Cup Italian dressing

1/4 Cup Italian dressing

1 egg

Here’s your printable recipe card:

Low Carb Crockpot Italian Meatballs: 3 Ingredients + 10 Min. Prep!
 
Ingredients
  • 1 to ½ pounds ground meat
  • ½ Cup Italian dressing
  • ¼ Cup Italian dressing
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Combine dressing and egg in a bowl.
  2. Add to raw ground meat and mix.
  3. Mix well and form 1-inch balls.
  4. Place on an oiled cookie sheet and place in oven on (low) broil for 5 minutes.
  5. Flip the meatballs over and broil for another 5 minutes.
  6. Toss into a hot crockpot.
  7. Turn crockpot down to low and cook for 2-3 hours.
  8. Add ¼ cup more Italian dressing and turn on low if possible.
  9. Set them and forget them until needed.
  10. Eat as an appetizer in sauce or over rice or pasta.
 

I hope you and yours enjoy this simple crockpot Italian meatballs recipe! Serve these as an appetizer in your favorite sauce or over rice or pasta.  You can even get crazy and make a little gravy to pour over them.  YUM!


Do you have your own crockpot Italian meatballs recipe?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!


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Tasty Low Carb Crockpot Italian Meatballs recipe with 3 ingredients!


 

Follow:
Shan

Published on Huffington Post, Okefenokee Living Magazine, multiple sites and her local newspaper, Shan Walker is a Family Travel Journalist and adoring Wife to Superman and Mom to older kiddos. She shares “How-To” plan the BEST family vacations in the South with travel reviews and insider travel secrets that Women REALLY want to know!

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️

Find me on: Twitter | Facebook