Ohio Renaissance Festival

Ohio Renaissance Festival Discounts

Just like I have a weird desire to go to the San Diego Comic Con one year (yet I have never read a comic book in my life), one of the items on our family’s bucket list has been to go to a Renaissance Festival. I think it would be fascinating to see recreations of how people might have lived during the medieval periods, as it has always been one of my personal favorite time periods. However, as we try and raise three boys, I think they would show a great interest in the many recreations of the time period.

As luck would have it, the Ohio Renaissance Festival is coming up September 5 through October 25, 2015. The event takes place Saturdays and Sundays, and also Labor Day Monday.

Since the Ohio Renaissance Festival is located near Mason, Ohio, it makes for an excellent road trip to not only see the festival, but also take in Kings Island’s Haunt event. This is where having a Cedar Fair season pass makes a ton of sense for families!

Over 150 costumed characters welcome you to the village! Rub elbows with Royalty as you cheer your favorite knight to victory in the thrilling Full-armored Tournament Joust. Welcoming you to a festive day in the village are dueling swordsmen, rowdy pirates, nobles, peasants, and daring jugglers. The sprawling landscape is dotted with hundreds of unique shops in the Medieval Marketplace featuring many one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted items. See time-honored crafts of glassblowing, stone carving, blacksmithing, leather tooling, boot making, and more demonstrated. The air is filled with the scents and smells of the foods of the Renaissance period. Feast like Royalty on juicy, giant roasted turkey legs, fresh baked bread bowls overflowing with soups and stews, fish ‘n chips, steak-on-a-stake, succulent roasted corn on the cob and a wide variety of the finest ales and wines. There’s something for everyone’s taste buds!

Ohio Renaissance Festival Discounts – Get $4 off Adult (ages 13+) and $2 off Child (ages 5-12) tickets by using promo code “family” when purchasing discount tickets on their website at renfestival.com. Tickets good any day of the 2015 season (Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day Sept 5 – Oct 25). Online discount only. Not valid with any other offers.

Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in Grand Cayman

Are you headed to Grand Cayman and wondering if you should bring the kids? Sure you may be looking for a relaxing vacation away from the family, but you can also create priceless memories with your children with a variety of great options that are available for kids of all ages.

Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in Grand Cayman

Margaritaville Grand Cayman

150630 Margaritaville, Grand Cayman with Kids

What could be better than ordering your Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville food and drinks and then heading to the adjacent pool, complete with a waterslide? Well ask our kids and it is one of the best things to do in Grand Cayman.

Not to mention, the food at this particular Margaritaville was outstanding!

Rum Point Beach

150701 Rum Point, Grand Cayman with Kids

Rum Point Beach, located on the north side of Grand Cayman, might just be one of our family’s favorite places on the island. Beautiful, calm waters, with perfect sand, palm trees, and shade. Add plenty of lounge chairs, hammocks, a bar, restaurant, bathrooms, and a gift shop, and you have your perfect secluded paradise.

The calm waters provide an excellent environment for the kids to play, and the menu at the onsite restaurant provides some great kid options!

Blow Holes

150702 Blow Holes, Grand Cayman with Kids

The Grand Cayman blow holes are located on the south side of the island along Sea View Road. Depending on the waves and wind, one can see spectacular displays at the blow holes, which seem to have a calming effect on kids.

Starfish Point

150702 Starfish Point, Grand Cayman with Kids

If you have a vehicle and made it far enough to get to Rum Point, drive a little further down the road and find Starfish Point. While unmarked, the location provides an excellent opportunity to step into serene, calm waters that are teaming with starfish. Feel free to pick them up, but keep them underwater.

Cayman Island Turtle Farm

150703 Turtle Farm, Grand Cayman with Kids

Spend a day at the Cayman Island Turtle Farm, and be sure to get the all-access pass. Not only will you see the largest sea turtles you will ever see, but your kids will also get to go into tanks and hold smaller versions of turtles. Then swim in the huge pool complete with twisty slide. Or snorkel in the lagoon with fish and turtles. The turtle farm provides a variety of great options that kids will love.

Stingray City

150704 Stingray City, Grand Cayman with Kids

Book an excursion, like the original Captain Marvin’s, out to Stingray City. Located on a sandbar off of Rum Point, guests will jump into the ocean and instantly be surrounded by wild stingrays in the wild. It is an amazing experience that kids will love, not to mention most boats also offer additional stops to snorkel, or even Starfish Point.

The Wharf to Feed the Tarpon

150704 The Wharf Tarpon, Grand Cayman with Kids

While dinner at The Wharf will set you back a small fortune, the restaurant provides nightly feeding of the tarpon. When the dinner bell rings, they will bring out a bucket of chum to throw to the tarpon. Kids will love seeing the wild fish scurry for food right at their feet.

Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens

150705 Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens, Grand Cayman with Kids

What kid does not love running through gardens? Well how about if it also includes searching out for the elusive blue iguanas? The grounds provide a variety of different gardens kids will enjoy visiting, searching out wildlife in the shadows.

Camana Bay Splash Pad

150706 Camana Bay Splash Pad, Grand Cayman with Kids

Camana Bay Towne Center is located near Seven Mile Beach and offers a variety of upscale dining restaurants and shopping venues. However, they also offer a free, fantastic outdoor splash pad that kids love! Plus it overlooks water and docks, with plenty of chairs for parents to sit and enjoy.

Pedro St James

150707 Pedro St James, Grand Cayman with Kids

The oldest structure on the island, which has been gorgeously restored by the government, Pedro St. James provides a great little shows kids may enjoy prior to touring the grounds. In addition, they are free to roam the area and see the animals on property.

Does your family have a favorite place for kids on Grand Cayman?

Review: Grand Cayman Comfort Suites & Resort

Upon booking 6 nights at the Holiday Inn Resort Grand Cayman, we elected to “save the best for last” with two nights at the Grand Cayman Comfort Suites & Resort.

We had used up some old points via a US Bank credit card promo, and secured our nights at roughly $250 per night. What is ludicrous is that you can get a room for closer to $150 per night when booking on your own, though there are other charges like resort and energy fees that get tacked onto the rate, bringing it back up in cost. Considering that the Holiday Inn was only around $110 per night (plus resort and energy fees), it was quite the splurge to stay at the Comfort Suites.

The Comfort Suites is located along Seven Mile Beach, but is not beach front, as there is another hotel directly in front of it.

We had ordered a two queen bedroom for our stay. Since we were checking out of the Holiday Inn and into the Comfort Suites, we arranged with them in advance to allow us an early check in around 11:00 am, which was incredibly generous of them, and helpful to us since we had milk and some other items we needed to get into a fridge.

The staff was incredibly nice and helpful at the Comfort Suites on many instances. However, as soon as we entered the room, we had regretted our ever leaving the Holiday Inn.

What the Comfort Suites has on location, they are lacking in every other regard.

Our room was located on the first floor adjacent to the gym, which was no big deal, as it made access to the pool incredibly easy. Plus the hotel really does not have any “views” worth upgrading to since the ocean view is blocked by another hotel.

However, the room was incredibly small, at least compared to what we were used to over at the Holiday Inn. There was old carpet in the room, the “suite” aspect was completely lost apparently as there was a small bar area with sink and mini fridge, but that was about it. The furniture was incredibly cheap and dated, with a horrible layout, making it next to impossible to get into the second bed without crawling up into it.

150706 Comfort Suites Grand Cayman (1)

150706 Comfort Suites Grand Cayman (2)

150706 Comfort Suites Grand Cayman (3)

The bathroom was just as pitiful with the door practically hitting you in the knees when using the toilet, a very basic shower, and horrible water pressure.

I am not sure if the reason our room might have been so poor was because we got such an early check in and it was the only room available; however, in talking to a worker who was cleaning apparently the workers suite across the hall, lots of the room looked like ours.

Our family had never stayed in a Comfort Suites prior, and this experience was certainly good enough reason to never stay in one again. While we traditionally stick with more budget friendly hotels like Holiday Inns (IHG), Hampton Inns (Hilton), and even Club Carlson, the Comfort Suites was definitely a step down in room quality.

What was surprising though is that the rest of the hotel was rather nice. The hotel offered a free breakfast, which was good, and money saving. The outdoor pool area and landscaping were beautifully maintained and serene. There was easy beach access with lounge chairs and umbrellas. The food at the onsite Stingrays restaurant was good. It is just that the rooms were terrible!

150706 Comfort Suites Grand Cayman (4)

Not to mention, after requesting a crib in the room on the reservation, stopping in the day before our visit, and twice the day of checking in, we still did not get a crib in the room. It was only after I went down and requested one a fourth time was I told there would be a $15 per night charge for a crib. What? No where did we ever see this supplemental charge when booking, or the number of times we previously discussed about needing a crib. Let alone this was the first hotel I was ever being told we were going to be charged for needing a crib. What is also surprising is their website states “children 14 under stay free when with a paying adult.”

Fortunately, about questioning it, they waived the charges. Otherwise, we might have just checked out then and headed back over to the Holiday Inn.

The other pro of actually staying at the Comfort Suites is it was booked with lots of other families, which made it really easy for our kids to enjoy the company of others.

They also offer an easy towel service, allowing you to get towels, use them, and swap them out as needed.

I am sorry to say, while there are pros of being so close to the beach, especially for those without a vehicle, the Comfort Suites sadly was not well received by our family. Maybe it was because we were granted such an amazing stay over at the Holiday Inn, but surely when guests are paying a premium to be located over on Seven Mile Beach, the room should be adequately appointed, even for a “budget” hotel.

Sadly, we do not recommend staying at the Comfort Suites Grand Cayman unless you are without a vehicle and/or need to have immediate access of Seven Mile Beach. For our family, who was out exploring the island for the majority of the trip, the Comfort Suites was a major disappointment when it was expected to be the surprise ending.