Travel

CoCo Key Water Park Resort

Recently we had an opportunity to stay at the Adam’s Mark Hotel and CoCo Key Water Park in Kansas City during my boys’ spring break.  It’s about a 4-hour drive from St Louis right off Interstate 70, directly across the highway from the Royals’ and Chiefs’ stadiums.  It’s affordable family fun that gets you out of town in a few hours.

We arrived at the Adam’s Mark Hotel the lobby area was updated and inviting.  Our room was clean and simple no-frills accommodations. The outside of the hotel could use some updating, the good news is they currently have plans in place for an outside renovation. All my boys could think about was getting to the waterpark.

CoCo Key Water Park

According to my boys, CoCo Key Water Park was amazing!  Some hotels pools may have a slide or two, but never a full-fledged water park.  Even if you are not staying at the hotel you can still go to the water park.  It was a perfect fit for both of my boys, who are 7 and 3.  Logan, my oldest, was tall enough to ride all the slides.  CoCo Key also features a lazy river, splash area and lily pad adventure for little ones, and even basketball goals.   There were some local residents who were having their birthday party at CoCo Key. There are cabanas along the side of the pools for rent and a restaurant for food and drinks. No outside food is allowed.

The hotel has a huge arcade. In addition, they host several activities throughout the day, such as movie night, dance parties, face painting and appearances from CoCo the Bird.

For all the details check out http://www.cocokeykansascity.com

Logan’s favorite was: The big slides
Mason’s favorite was: The little kid slides
Mom’s favorite was: The boys slept like rocks after spending most of the day there.

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The weather was not so great when we were in Kansas City but it didn’t matter because Coco Key was inside and heated.  It was a fun place to stay for my kiddos while in Kansas City for the weekend that doesn’t break the bank. My boy’s keep asking when we are going back.  If you are needing a quick fun and affordable family getaway, Coco Key will have you kids smiling the entire visit.

Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Adam’s Mark Hotel and Coco Key Water Park, however, all opinions expressed here are my own.

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Choo Choo,  All aboard the Kozy Kaboose.  Over Christmas break, I took my boys on the ultimate little boy staycation.    I gave them clues to where we were going and when they saw the caboose they couldn’t believe their sweet little eyes.  Spring break and Summer break are approaching and KOA’s campground in Eureka, Missouri has just the answer for those wanting a memorable camping experience without battling the St Louis crazy hot/cold weather.  

Kozy Kaboose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kozy Kaboose authentic caboose has the original Route 66 nostalgic feel.  It was completely refitted to a modern condition.  If your child is a train enthusiast, they’ll go crazy over spending an overnight in this choo choo delight.  It sleeps four people comfortably; 2 adults and 2 children, with a queen size bed and a bunk that my boys couldn’t get enough of.  My youngest spent almost an hour just going up and down the ladder.  

Kozy Kaboose

 

 

The bathroom has a shower-tub combo.  A small fridge is supplied and is large enough to hold some basic food supplies and drinks.  When eating, or playing a fun game of candy land you sit at a cute booth that seats four.  Also, there’s a TV with over 20 channels, and swivels from the dining area to the bedroom location.     

Kozy Kaboose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just steps from the back door, which has a porch with furniture, a grill and there is a fire ring that’s ready for roasting hot dogs and making s’mores.  My guys devoured more chocolate bars than anything else, which made bedtime a lengthy process.  Instead of purchasing pricey firewood, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by going to Academy Sports.  They have these convenient tree stumps, which have a core that’s soaked in lighter fluid.  All you have to do is light the middle and you have a toasty fire that lasts around two hours.  We added some Funky Colored Flames, that are also available at Academy, and your kids will be mesmerized by the variety of colors it produces.     

Kozy Kaboose

 

 We stayed for just one night, but given the chance, multiple nights would make for an awesome staycation.  They gave us a scavenger hunt on arrival the kids could hunt for.  When it’s warmer they have a pool, a playground and tons of fun kid-friendly activities.  For more information check them out at Kozy caboose Eureka

Kozy Kaboose

So, gather your family and get on board for an experience that’ll create great family memories!  If you missed our other family-friendly trip ideas check them out here:  

Echo Bluff state park

Bentonville, AR

Big Cedar Lodge

  • This post was sponsored by KOA but all thoughts are completely my own.

 

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Nashville girls trip Day 2

We started off with breakfast at Proper Bagel.  We ordered a trio of tasty toast and the must-have lavender honey iced latte.  You have to try it.

Proper-Bagel

Avacado Toast, Pruchetto and Fig, and Peaches and Cream with a honey lavender latte.  Bring it on.

Proper-Bagel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After fueling up we couldn’t wait to check out the 12 South neighborhood.  This place is a little piece of heaven.  Shops, Restaurants, Murals for photo ops and the cutest flower truck to take home a bouquet.

Amelia’s Flower Truck cruises around town but lucky for us the truck was at White’s Mercantile.  You can pick flower stems to create your own bouquet.

Amelias-Flower-Truck

 

 

 

 

 

Shop til we drop time.

Draper James is Reese Witherspoon’s boutique.  They have the sweetest southern style clothing and accessories.  The shop is pricey but it worth a trip into browse.  They even greet you with a sweet tea to enjoy while you shop.

Draper-James

Draper-James

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are so many fun murals and painted walls to get your photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next door to Draper James is Sprinkles Cupcake ATM.  OMG, WHAT!!  This concept is genius.  I had to get a couple cupcakes for my boys.  I opted for the pumpkin and sprinkle cupcakes. They loved!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After shopping, photos and cupcakes we needed some pampering.  We had set appointments for blowouts at Parlor 3.  This salon is where Nashville celebs get their hair done.  The owner works with Carrie Underwood.  One of my favorite bloggers, Living with Landon always talks about Parlor 3.

My stylist was Derick.  He just moved to Nashville from LA and was so sweet.  He said it was his first job in a salon.  He had been working with celebs in LA and NYC doing celebrity events.  He was modest about the celebs he had worked with but on his IG account @derekpeterw, he has pics with Khloe Kardashian, Gweneth Paltrow, Whitney Everport,  Rebecca Romijin and tons of others.  I loved feeling like the celebs do for an afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

Tip:  If you are in Nashville, go to Parlour 3 on Saturday.  They said Saturday is there slowest day but book in advance.  We had the best service and time.

After getting our hair done we were ready for a night out in Nashville.  The first stop was The Thompson Hotel.  They have a swanky rooftop bar called LA Jackson that overlooks the Gulch.  It was the perfect night.  We order some cocktails and an app and enjoyed the fresh air and Nashville glow.

LA-Jackson LA-Jackson LA-Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LA-Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

Since we had our dancing shoes on, we headed to Broadway we went to Acme Feed and Seed.  This was a four-floor honkey tonk on Broadway.  Each floor had a totally different vibe.  We spent most of the night on the first floor listening to the live band, watching the bachelorette parties, and dancing.

Thankfully The Mariott Renaissance Nashville was a quick uber ride back.

Acme-Feed-And-Seed

 

Acme-Feed-And-Seed

 

 

 

 

 

Another amazing day in Nashville.  If you missed Girls Nashville Weekend Day 1 check it out.  Stay tuned for more Nashville excitement.  Are you ready to grab your girls and go?

Nashville here we come!  We have been planning this girls weekend for months.  On our agenda: Shopping, spa treatments, great restaurants, photo-ops, and fun night life.

From St Louis, it took us about 4 41/2 hours to get to Nashville.  We arrived just in time for lunch so we headed straight to Caviar and Bananas.  I heard about this place from one of my favorite Nashville bloggers @Living with Landon

Caviar and Bananas

 

 

 

 

 

This place is gorgeous.  It’s a fast casual cafe and market.  We created our own sandwiches and salads.  They have huge pastries, cookies the size of a dinner plate, a coffee bar, wine, brunch, cheese plates and Fro-zay that looked AMAZE!

Curious about the name?  I was.   An employee told me originally it started as a market and expanded into a cafe selling everything from Caviar to Bananas.  Clever.  The decor alone made me so happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had manicure appointments booked that afternoon at Poppy and Monroe a natural salon in Germantown.

We got relaxing gel manicures, picked the perfect neutral nail color #30 and soaked up the peace and quiet without having the kids around.  Next time I want to try the sugaring which is a natural alternative to waxing.  Have you tried sugaring?  The salon also has amazing natural skin care, jewelry, and other goodies in their gift shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our mani’s we walked to a cute shop Alexis and Bolt Boutique.  You have to check out their greeting card selection and other cute gifts and clothing.

For dinner, a Nashville BBQ joint came highly recommended.  Martin’s BBQ. They are known for the “Redneck taco” and brisket sandwich.  There was a long line but it moved quick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After dinner, we had to make a sweet treat stop to 5 Daughter’s Bakery.

We indulged in the decadent Maple, Chocolate, and Purtin.  These are 100 layer cronuts.  They are unlike anything I’ve tasted nothing like a regular donut because they have 100 layers of heaven in each bite.  YUM!

 

 

We stayed at the Mariott Renaissance Downtown.  It was a perfect location.  Everything we wanted to see and do was within a few miles.  Our room overlooked from a distance Broadway and all the Honkey Tonks. There is a Starbucks in the lobby for coffee if you’re a coffee fanatic like me.  Parking tip:  We parked across the street at the Nashville Public Library garage for $13 a day (there is a covered cross walk to the hotel on the 4th floor) vs. the hotel valet $40.

We packed a lot into our first day.  Day two includes Proper Bagel, 12 South Shopping, Roof tops, mural photos, and more.  Are you ready to get your girl gang together and go?

Hey guys, I wanted to get you all the details from our amazing weekend at Echo Bluff State Park.  If you love being outdoors this state park needs to be on your bucket list.  It’s only 2 1/2 hours from St Louis and is absolutely beautiful and is great for small children, family reunions, girls weekends, and for couples too.  Here’s the details from my trip.

Where we stayed:

The Betty Lea Lodge has regular rooms, cabins with 1- 4 bedrooms, or large stacked duplex and even camping sites.

Here is our 2 bedroom cabin (they are a year old everything is nice and new)

 

 

Here is the Lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where we ate:

We ate at the Creekside Grill in the Lodge for breakfast and lunch.  They had all the typical grill foods.

We also ate at Dos Rio’s a Mexican restaurant in Eminence and had hand dipped ice cream at Dino Mart

 

 

 

 

 

What we did:

Hiking:   Painter Ridge Trail South Loop, Painter Ridge Trail North Loop, Current River Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy the crystal clear water at Sinking Creek in front of the Lodge.  Note:  Bring your water shoes, bring floats, nets water toys and buckets for the kids.  You’ll find lots of critters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Playground, this playground is top notch.  My boys loved climbing, sliding and running all around the beautiful landscape.

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Scoop:  

There is little cell phone reception in the area so have a plan ahead of time

The Lodge has board games for use in the main lobby

If you want to roast s’mores let the front desk know and they will make sure the fire pit is lit.

Other Activities in the area:

What to bring:  Water shoes and water toys and floats, water proof case for your phone, s’more supplies or you can purchase in gift shop.

I promise you will not be disappointed but call in advance they were booked months out when I made our reservation.

Hope you enjoy!!  XOXO  Sarah~

Here is a little OOTD inspiration for your upcoming summer parties or 4th of July BBQ’s.  All of these pieces are so versatile.  As you may have noticed I am obsessed with this hat.  Lucky for me the cost per wear is pennies at this point.  J-Crew Outlet is one of my favorite spots for afforable wardrobe staples and accessories.  This clutch literally goes with everything.

Favorite Straw Hat | Earrings | Tassel Necklace | Dress | Clutch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sarah’s Scoop:  If you are shopping at an outlet mall, sign up for the VIP shopper club.  It’s FREE.  Then when you get to the mall go to the customer service office for a discount book.

At the St Louis Premium Outlet they give you a savings passport for tons of the stores that offer even additional discounts.  So for J-crew the passport offers an additional 10% off $100 or more.  BONUS!!

Happy shopping friends!!  XOXOX

Roadtrip part 2.  We started off our trip in Bentonville AR and are now at Big Cedar Lodge.

Big Cedar Lodge– was created by Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris when he purchased the existing property in the area, known as Big Cedar Hollow, in 1987.  Since then, it’s grown into one of the best wilderness resorts in the U.S.  It covers 800 acres that overlooks Table Rock Lake in the Ozark Mountains just outside Branson, Missouri.

If you like being surrounded by gorgeous natural scenery while still enjoying premium facilities and amenities, this is a wonderful destination.  This is one of my favorite places in Missouri.

Big Cedar Lodge offers plenty of outdoor activities for all ages.  Having two very active little boys, this is music to many parents’ ears.

The main lobby is tastefully decorated in a rustic theme.  While I checked in, my boys played with the Lincoln Logs on a game table, which would’ve kept them busy for hours.

For dinner we ordered some pizza from a local place, while playing some of the board games you can check out.

For dessert, we headed to the campfire area for s’mores.  They had several fires going and each family got a s’mores kit.  The weather was fantastic, and we were serenaded by the sound of hundreds of tree frogs croaking.  To cap off our evening, we hit the links at the fishing-themed mini golf course located next to the campfire area.

When we returned to our room, the “cookie lady” had left us some treats: “wishing” maple leaf cookies.  They’re gingerbread in the shape of a maple leaf.  They get their name because when you hold one in your hand, you make a wish and then tap the cookie’s center.  If it breaks into three pieces, your wish will come true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2-

When I woke up the next morning, I headed to Big Cedar’s fitness gym.  This facility has a lot of machines of all kinds..  After lifting weights, I went outside to get some cardio in.  I quickly found the 5K walking/ running trail on site.  Well-marked and paved, it took me all around the amazing property, where I was surrounded by the sounds of nature (waterfalls, frogs, birds, etc.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lodge had organized a kids fishing rodeo, so we hopped on the shuttle and headed to the lake.  Just like at the s’mores night, don’t worry about bringing your own supplies to Big Cedar, you’re already covered.  The staff gave my boys fishing, rods, showed them how to put a worm on the hook, and off they went!

After fishing, we headed over to the marina for the paddle boats.  We toured the lake and cove, where there’s a beautiful waterfall.  They boys enjoyed spotting ducks and turtles that were out sunning.  When we got back to the marina, we headed to the outdoor café for lunch, where we saw even more turtles on the banks.  There were several turtle families with babies, so the boys were very excited to see them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Top of the Rock

The only time we left Big Cedar Lodge, was to go to The Top of the Rock, which is a short drive north on Hwy 65 from Big Cedar.

They give you a golf cart, which an adult drives around the property on very scenic paved trails.  Waterfalls, bridges and other breathtaking nature scenes surround you during your journey.  The highlight of the drive comes when you drive into a cave with a gigantic waterfall.  After leaving the cave, we drove over several covered bridges and saw more waterfalls.  The drive lasts between 45 mins and a hour, but when done, we all wanted to go around again!  It was AMAZING!!!  Tickets are($25 for adults/ $12.50 for kids), but we all thought it was well worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just read this week that Big Cedar opened a new activity center called Fun Mountain on property.  It looks amazing.

Overall I would describe our trip to Big Cedar Lodge magical.  If you love being outdoors I would highly recommend this place to anyone.

Happy Travels to you.  Sarah

 

A goal I have for my family, is visiting all 50 states before our two boys (Logan, 6 and Mason, 3) graduate high school.   Right now we’re focusing on hitting all of Missouri’s border states.  Arkansas is a reasonable distance away (less than 5 hours), so off we headed to the “Natural State”. This was a two part trip.  First, we went to Bentonville, AR.  After that we traveled to Big Cedar Lodge, which is just outside Branson, Missouri.  More details on Big Cedar Lodge in a future post.

Bentonville is a cute mountain town with a Wal-Mart on every corner.  No surprise, because Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton is from Bentonville.

Amazeum: 

Our first stop in Bentonville was the Scott Family Amazeum.  And it was true to its name, because it’s an amazing kids museum.  Some of the hands-on exhibits included:  Load-and-Haul (simulated an assembly line-like factory), art studio, cave exhibit, cardboard box mazes, and Nickelodeon Play Lab featuring Sponge Bob Square Pants.  Our visit wrapped up around closing time, and they give all the kids streamers for a parade out the door.

 

Crystal Bridges Art Museum: 

Founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation, Crystal Bridges Art Museum is a great and free destination for art lovers.  After viewing some of the art exhibits, we spent  a lot of our time exploring the trails that wind around the 120-acre grounds; which was absolutely beautiful!  It has two spring-fed ponds, with a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking them.

Downtown Bentonville:

Downtown Bentonville features the Wal-Mart Five and Dime Museum.  The gift shop is a fun stop, because it sells a lot of unique and historic items which were sold there in previous decades.  My boys chose a package of Peeps to satisfy their sweet tooth.

After a brief playground stop in Eureka Springs, we hit the road to Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri.  Stay tuned for more details on this excursion, as it’s truly one of the gems of the Ozark Mountains.

 

Hello!  Here’s a breakdown of all the dresses I wore on my vacation to the Virgin Islands.  These are snap shots I also share on Facebook and Instagram, created by mixing and matching items I already have in my closet.  I hope this gives you ideas that maximize your wardrobe, and add new things for the summer.

We flew from St Louis to Charlotte, and because airplane temps are unpredictable, I layered for comfort.  These drawstring cuffed linen pants worked perfectly.  They’re light-weight and don’t wrinkle.

I’m always cold, so my denim jacket was a lifesaver.  I used a cross-body to keep my necessities (credit card, phone and lip stick) handy and it fit into my tote come boarding time.

I’m a huge hat fan! I narrowed my hat choices to two, and wore one on the plane.  With a long day of traveling I didn’t have to worry about styling my hair.  

Linen Pants | Denim Jacket | Straw Tote | Straw Hat (similar)| Polo T-shirt (TJMaxx)

 

 

 

 

 

Downtown St Thomas-

Taxis are very pricey in St Thomas, so  we decided to rent a car.  There were tons of shops close by in the main downtown area, so I changed into this cute open-shoulder ruffle romper.  It was a beautiful day, making this a good fit for outdoor shopping.  My beach bag doubled as my shopping tote, and I accented it with my “go to” hat, that shaded me from the bright Virgin Islands sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romper | Tote | Hat  (similar)| Vince Camuto Sandles (TJMAxx)  | Fitbit  | Earrings

Sky View

One morning we took the gondola up to one of the highest points in St. Thomas to check out the views.  It was absolutely gorgeous!  I threw on this casual and cool halter drawstring dress, again using my beach bag as a tote, and wearing my wedges I can walk in for days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halter Dress | Straw Tote | Cork Wedges (similar) | Sugar Fix Earrings | Straw Hat | Bracelet

St John

In St. John (a short ferry ride from St. Thomas), we went from shopping to hiking, to beach activities. This green dress worked like a charm.  It’s so light-weight and cool with the razor back cut in the back. This dress folds up to the size of a cell phone!  I paired it with the statement necklace from Target.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dress | Necklace | Fitbit | Hat (similar)

Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas

This blue dress is not only chic, but flattering, especially after all the frozen drinks I had on the trip.  It comes in many colors and was great when going from around town and getting a little sun on my shoulders, to dinner with my husband.  The statement clutch added a pop of fun, and the earrings scream vacation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dress | Wedges (similar) | Earrings (similar) | Clutch (TJMaxx)

The Ritz Carlton, St Thomas

On our last day I picked this Maxi dress.  We went from the beach, to lunch, to the airport.  It feels like wearing pajamas, but looks like the ultimate long flowing dress.  I knotted it on the side for a more casual look while walking on the beach with flip flops.  After lunch I had my denim jacket handy for the airplane, and the hat disguised my messy hair.

Dress  (similar)| Hat | Sunglasses | Clutch (Target) | Bracelets (Loft)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you got some outfit inspiration.  I’ll be sharing my beach and pools looks along with more details of our trip soon.  If you have any specific questions, please leave them, and I’ll address them in upcoming posts.  If you’re heading a vacation yourself, don’t miss my “Top Packing Tips” video.  You’ll never over-pack again!

Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook.  I love hearing from all of you, so please leave me some comments.  XOXO  Sarah

Hey guys,

I have gotten several requests for packing tips so I put together a video of what I do when I’m packing for a trip.  Check our the short video on the blog:  www.SarahOutandAbout.com

There are 5 easy steps:

  1.  Make a list of the days your traveling, what you’ll be doing, and what you want to wear.
  2. Start pulling outfits you’d like to take and accessorizing.  I hang everything on a garment rack.
  3. Snap a pic of the complete outfit.
  4. Roll everything up
  5. Cross pack with your travel partner