You don't have to travel far to experience the best family holiday as the Med has it all: the sunshine, crystal clear sea and fun-filled days at the beach.
That was until you had kids. What you once packed into your sleek carry-on now hardly fits into your oversized family suitcase. And your new seat of …
For my fellow moms in Texas and beyond I want to make sure you are not only getting value but making wonderful memories when it comes to the annual family vacation. Make a stop to South Padre Island and visit one of the area’s most popular water park attractions, Schlitterbahn Water Park South Padre Island. This is the 15 year anniversary of the opening of the Schlitterbahn South Padre Island Waterpark and create family memories with the water park that has your back. Built in 2001, this park is home to the Transportainment River system that is designed to maximize time in the water and eliminate lines. This river system connects eight attractions that feature rapids, chutes, and gentle currents. Who doesn’t love a good tube ride where moms can relax and tan and the kids get to have a fun filled blast.
If you are looking for ideas on a packing list here is one that you can print out and use: Schlitterbahn South Padre Island Waterpark
I was impressed learning about how “GREEN” and environmentally friendly the resort and park is for Schlitterbahn at South Padre Island. Here are some awesome facts that make planning a trip here a sound and responsible choice:
Some of the key features at this park are the ropes. With over three miles of 3-inch mooring ropes from dozens of former ships you will see a lot of them. They have been painstakingly wrapped around giant concrete structural poles on our Sea 4ever 10,000 square foot patio.
Green House: The retractable roof over the indoor waterpark was built from a large greenhouse – an old Schultz nursery.
Lobby Check in Counter: Built from salvaged walnut trees which were pulled from a road project in Kansas.
Parapet Walls: The hatch covers came off a famous US Troop carrier the John E. Pope and are used on parapet walls and also to make tables. Over 500 are on site.
Chandeliers: The beautiful chandeliers hanging in the Sea 4ever event patio were salvaged from an aging Vegas hotel. Our team glued shells to them and hung in the ceiling.
Waterslides: Yes, even some of the water slides were recycled. The water slides in our indoor park came from a park in Cleveland Ohio, were salvaged, refurbished, and re-installed.
Handrails: An old Dutchman Downs Stadium was the source for all the handrails.
Loblolly Pines: In 2011, a major wildfire raged through Bastrop County, Texas in September. Three separate fires started during Labor Day weekend and by the time it was controlled, it destroyed 1,691 homes and burned over 34,000 acres of land including the vast majority of Bastrop State Park’s 5,900 acres of Loblolly Pines. The Lost Pines Forest, thought to have originated in or before the Pleistocene era, was also heavily impacted.
For safety, the burned pines had to be removed. These scorched trees were destined for the grinder who would have turned them into mulch. Jeff Henry, with Schlitterbahn, offered to take the fallen trees, then had them milled, beginning the process of transforming the pines from scorched wood to the most dramatic feature throughout the Schlitterbahn Beach Resort at South Padre. You’ll also find the pines all over sister park, Schlitterbahn New Braunfels – look for the pine paneling in the Riverbend cabins and the lovely furniture pieces here and there. At the South Padre Island resort you will find them in the guest rooms, the dining areas and the lobby.
– Rooms: In most rooms the cabinets, coffee tables, nightstands, and headboards are made from the Bastrop Loblolly Pines.
– Dining areas: Large tables are made from the Loblolly Pines.
– Lobby: The large tree stump tables by the doors leading to the heated pool are from the fire, as is the siding along many of the interior walls.
– External: The siding on the outside walls of the resort are made from Loblolly Pines.
Tips on what to pack and what not to pack
I created this quick list of items to pack and not pack for your visit to Schlitterbahn Water Park at South Padre Island. Let me know if I miss anything
10 Things to Bring:
Toiletries. Kids will need soap (body wash avoids gloopy bar soap syndrome), shampoo/conditioner, deodorant, toothbrush and paste, hairbrush/comb and a suitable bag to keep them in. Go for biodegradable/earth-friendly products or be an eco-mama and buy them anyway. And don’t forget the little things, like lots of bands to tie hair back for swimming or running laps.
Protection. Sunscreen; bug repellent and after-bite balm (as natural as possible); water bottle; sunglasses; SPF lip balm; hats (sun and rain proof); medications in original containers; EpiPens and inhalers if used, including extras.
A disposable or cheap digital camera. To take photos and also to view and share saved photos of friends and loved ones. This is handy if your kids get lonely too.
Spare glasses or contact lenses.
10 Things to Leave at Home:
Heavily scented body sprays.
Shoes that don’t fit properly.
Portable video game systems. Again, avoid the tears over lost, broken, wet or stolen electronic items.
Fine jewelry and expensive watches. Pick up a cheap waterproof watch or better yet, ditch the timepiece altogether – it is summer, after all!
Food & snacks. They have all that you need at the resort and park
A bad attitude.
Unlabeled gear. Put labels on your child’s belongings so they don’t get lost or mixed up.
Learn more about what kind of adventures you can get into by visiting: Schlitterbahn.com online and enter any of the contests at Schlitterbahn Waterparks, South Padre Island, Galveston Island, or New Braunfels Facebook pages. Follow along on social media via the hashtag #BahnLove
What is your favorite Schlitterbahn park?
I was fifteen and just traveled with the family when I slumped down upon arrival onto my grandmother’s couch and took a nap. I can distinctly remember the smell of hot chocolate from the kitchen and there was always a way that Grandma’s house was always a place of not just relaxation but also excitement. After a long trip it was just good to know that I was in a comfortable place. Now that I have my own kids, my mom continues to know just how to make traveling to her house an enjoyable experience for her grandchildren. This year we got to take Grandma on a few road trips and I was glad we got to experience the Residence Inn with her. Our friends at Residence Inn offered us some complimentary stays over the summer so we could experience what the hotel brand had to offer. Prior to this I had stayed at Residence Inn before mainly for their kitchens but I was unaware of their many amenities and features that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s really small things that make staying a Residence Inn kind of like staying at Grandma’s House and plopping on that couch or bed. So whether you are headed over the river and through the woods, taking a quick weekend getaway or planning the family vacation of a lifetime you won’t be disappointed at a Residence Inn near your final destination.
When we were planning our trip to Charlotte, NC and back to Dallas we knew there would be a Residence Inn nearby. With 650 properties in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and Central America,Residence Inn by Marriott is the leader in the extended-stay lodging segment. The brand offers spacious suites with separate living and sleeping areas. Traveling with Grandma, kids and my partner meant it was great for multi-generational families and families with kids that have different bedtimes. My favorite feature of each Residence Inn was the fully functional kitchens. When I say fully functional I mean that the kitchen comes with an oven, microwave, full size refrigerator and ice maker, dishwasher, dishes, silverware, cups and pots and pans. It also had a full sized coffee maker. This made my stay very enjoyable as we were able to pack food, snacks and grocery items. Just in case we forgot something there was grocery delivery as well as 24-hour markets in the lobby. The family enjoyed also enjoyed complimentary breakfast which I had to get to early to ensure we had something to eat. With all of our laptops, phones and tablets the complimentary Wi-Fi is a must. Many of the places we stayed at also had 24 hour fitness centers, a pool and a basketball court which I saw many kids took advantage of. Some of the Residence Inns we stayed at such as the Residence Inn Charlotte Southpark had evening socials.
Where did our travels take us?
Here are the different Residence Inns we stayed at this past summer:
We decided to take a last minute Labor Day trip out of town to Oklahoma so that we could visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. After leaving Dallas-Forth Worth and heading out of town, we were were in awe and even shed a tear at the memorial itself. Hard to believe it has been 20 years since the bombing of the federal building in April of 1995. We also visited the Oklahoma Sate Capitol and on our way back my mom visited the Winstar Casino.
Whenever I come to Charlotte, NC I enjoy going to the Southpark Mall. It’s convenient to everything and around a lot of restaurants and nightlife. While in Charlotte you should also visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Discovery Place and Carowinds Amusement Park. For distinct tours of the city, check out Tour Specials – Charlotte, NC.
Residence Inn Asheville Biltmore – North Carolina
Asheville is such a beautiful city located near the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is where we got to take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The city is also very picturesque with some of the most interesting art deco buildings. The Montford Area Historic District includes Victorian style homes and Biltmore Village located at the entrance to the famed Biltmore Estate has unique architecture all it’s own. In Asheville, The Biltmore Estate is a must visit for the day with an inside look inside the home of the Vanderbilts.
Jackson – Tennessee
We stayed in Jackson, TN as a midway point between Memphis and Nashville, TN. Just a short drive between Jackson and Nashville is a small town called Hurricane Mills, TN where Loretta Lynn’s ranch is located. We had lunch there at her ranch and made our way to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN.
On July 4th weekend Dallas Single Dad and I stayed at the Residence Inn on the Northside of San Antonio as part of a review tour of Viator’s night tour of San Antonio and VIP access to the Alamo. Whenever we come to San Antonio, we typically always stay at a Marriott property since there are over 50 of them in San Antonio alone (learned this on the double decker bus tour). There are 6 Residence Inns in the San Antonio area alone and I have stayed previously at the one by SeaWorld when I was a SeaWorld Wildside Brand Ambassador. Definitely a great place to stay for families that either head to SeaWorld or to Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
I took Grandma with us on the roadtrips and I think I have converted her to be a Residence Inn fan for life. I overheard her having a conversation with my aunt about taking a vacation and how great the Residence Inn was and bragging about the kitchen. For me I enjoyed being able to book via the Marriott app and making special requests to accommodate. A few things I was able to request were handicap accessible rooms or to have a room on the first floor or close to an elevator. This helped my mom a lot since she can’t walk far so loading and unloading from the parking lot to the room was essential.
Single Parent Family Travel
Traveling as a single parent is TOUGH and having traveled on the road for about 5 days with kids and grandma I was worn out each day. My only saving grace was seeing a Residence Inn after a long day of driving. I was the only one driving so as soon as I could use the hotel cart to get the bags and cooler in and out of the car and in and out of the room, it was all I could to just flop on the couch while we had dinner in the room and get ready for bed and another long day of driving. To plan my trip I mapped out where we were driving to each day and then I chose a Residence Inn typically on the outskirts of the city to control costs and to avoid traffic. I had a different reason for staying at each place. Of all of the Residence Inns we stayed at my favorite was the one in Jackson. The staff was super nice, the rooms were very clean and it was in a suburb close to a Walmart. All the Residence Inns have a friendly staff and the same amenities as mentioned so you really can come to expect a few of the similar things at each one. If you are a single parent family traveling without a partner or another adult you will like the free hot breakfast, free wifi and kitchen. It makes planning that much easier. I was able to use the luggage cart to load and unload suitcases and a cooler of food. Not having to worry about utensils, plates and cups was awesome. Also the big thing I used at one Residence Inn was the coin laundry. I was so glad I had that.
We were so glad we had the Residence Inn for our travel stays and a lot of their amenities made it so much easier for a single parent family to travel or to travel with extended family.
What hotel amenities do you consider must haves when you travel with your family?
Disclaimer: The above post may contain affiliate links. All opinions presented are 100% my own. For more information, please visit my disclosure page.
Families can travel within the resort via its old fashioned trolley, stop by the main lodge for ice cream and even take in story time by the fire at its Timber …
In the first of it’s kind in family and kids travel, Le Méridien Hotels part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. today announced a global partnership with the LEGO® Group to offer a complimentary Welcome Amenity to children checking-in to any of its more than 100 hotels and resorts worldwide. Kids up to age 12 will be greeted with a complimentary LEGO toy to enjoy during their stay and take home as a keepsake from their travels.
Glad to hear of such a wonderful partnership between the two brands. I enjoy how LEGO helps to expand on my children’s creativity and my kids love taking LEGO on vacation.
“Travel broadens a child’s perspective of the world, expanding inherently curious and creative-minds,” said Brian Povinelli, Senior Vice President, Global Brand Leader for Le Méridien and Westin. “Our exclusive partnership with the LEGO Group encourages families to unlock their destination through imaginative free play, strengthening bonds and creating memories that are sure to last, and the LEGO amenity sets the tone for this upon arrival at our hotels.”
The LEGO Welcome Amenity is the first feature that will be offered in the brand wide, multi-faceted Le Méridien Family program, which will debut this fall. Le Méridien Family will focus on illuminating, immersive and inventive experiences for the entire family, to ignite imaginations on-property and unlock the local destination for both parents and children. “At the LEGO Group, creativity and exploration are essential, and we recognized in LeMéridien a similar spirit and mentality,” said Soren Borup, Senior Product Manager for Merchandise & Promotions, the LEGO Group.
If you have never been to a Le Meridien hotel you are in for a very special treat. With more than 100 properties in over 35 countries they really take pride in their properties. For more information, please visit www.leméridien .com or www.facebook.com/leMéridien . Follow @LeMéridienHotels on Instagram and Twitter.
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