Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Parkview Riverside RV Park: Why a Private Campground Worked for Us


Private campground versus Public campground – which do you do?  As relatively new  “campers” we had heard all the pros and cons as to which to choose.  And in planning our trip RV Camping trip this summer, we wanted to try both.

So when it came to our time at Garner State Park, we opted to stay in an RV Park versus the park itself.  Here’s why:

In researching the area, we had talked to several people who had stayed at Parkview Riverside RV Park.  Located directly across the river from Garner State Park, you have the main amenity of the park, the Frio River, right at your doorstep – ok, maybe a few minutes walk from your doorstep.

We stayed 2 nights at Parkview Riverside RV Park and enjoyed the quiet, peaceful, and clean facility.  It had lots of trees and almost every spot had some sort of shade.  The park is well-maintained and is gated, as to deter a great deal of traffic.  And we found it to be quiet.  We camped near the front entrance and didn’t find it to be noisy at all.  It was the perfect first stop of our week-long RV roadtrip.

Here are a few more things we really enjoyed about Parkview Riverside RV Park:


Location

Since our main goal of traveling down to this area was to visit Garner State Park and play in the Frio River,  we liked having the river so close to us.  There were 2 entrances down to the river and it was very easy to haul our tubes and cooler down with us when we wanted to go.  If we had stayed over at Garner, we would have encountered a long walk to the river – with 3 kids, that might not have been fun.


Full Hook-ups

Garner State Park does not have sewer hook-ups, and for this new RV-camping family, it was nice to have “full hookups” available to us.

Hot & Clean Showers

Parkview Riverside RV Park has a nice bathroom complex that was always sparkling clean when we used it.  It was so nice to have steaming hot showers after spending the day in the river.  I did not have a chance to see the Garner bathrooms, but I hear during the summer, they are usually busy.


Cocktail Time


Look, let’s be honest, we are on vacation, so Mom & Dad might want to enjoy a cocktail while floating in the river or sitting around the campfire at night. Open consumption of alcohol is not permitted in Texas State Parks. But it is allowed at private parks. Enough said.

General Store

Once again, let me remind you that I am NEW to this camping thing and I “may” have forgotten a few key items  - butter, ketchup, bandaids , whatevers…… Parkview Riverside RV park has a really nice general store on property.  One night, we took a walk up to it to grab a few Blue Bell ice cream treats.


Great for Families

The park had every age represented while we were there.  It was summer, so there were a lot of kids on bikes, but we saw a few older couples as well.  Each campsite has plenty of room for horseshoes, lots of chairs to circle the fire pit and an area for a nice outdoor kitchen set up.  One group of campers watched a movie one night on the side of their RV with a projector.  Fancy!


No Access to Garner State Park

Just beware that when you are booking your reservation, the only way to get over to Garner State Park is by crossing the Frio River.  You can do it, but it’s not legal, unless you hike up to the entrance and pay your daily fee.  So if you are wanting to hike in the park or go to one of the nightly summer dances, you will need a vehicle to drive around to the entrance of the park.

There are many choices of places to stay and camp along the Frio River, so what set Parkview Riverside RV park apart?  The people.  From making the reservations over the phone with the owner, to chatting about the area with one of the staff when we checked in, everyone we encountered here was so friendly and helpful. Even as we were leaving, they helped us out big time.  We accidently left our 5 year old’s bike behind and they came running to the front of the park to catch us with it!


Maybe it’s because they are living in one of the prettiest little pockets in South Texas that I have ever seen.  Maybe it’s cause they get to deal with happy people on vacation.  Or maybe they are just friendly people - Whatever it is, they welcome the weary traveler with welcome arms, eager to help you have an awesome vacation.

Parkview Riverside RV Park rents by the week and you can make your reservations a full year in advance.  Or if your last minute (like me, ahem…) give them a call to see if they have any openings for a few days.  I know from personal experience, they are more than happy to accommodate you.

While on our #darlingroadtrip, we are camping in a 2013 Jayco Redhawk Class C RV.  Woody RV Rentals in Georgetown, Texas provided us with our home on wheels.  They specialize in renting RVs of every size to help you have a memorable RV vacation.

Disclosure: Parkview Riverside RV Park invited us to stay for 2 nights. I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Don't miss our other Camping Articles:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Complete Guide to Hawaiian Fall Pflugerville ~ Pflugerville, TX


Ok, let me be completely honest with you.  I did not visit Hawaiian Falls all summer long because I am not a waterpark gal. But being that Austin's newest place to play in the water is less than 15 minutes away from our house AND the fact that the kids have been wanting to go all summer, I planned a day to check out the new Hawaiian Falls in Pflugerville.  And I'm glad I did.

Despite the rush to open and hearing all the complaints that came out earlier in the summer about it, I wanted to go with an open mind.  I was lucky enough to get a tour of the park and meet with the General Manager.  Truthfully, I was overwhelmed with how much there was to do at Hawaiian Falls.  Not only do they have a lazy river, one of the biggest wave pools in Texas, and several different types of water slides, they recently opened their Adventure Park with a 7-story ropes course and zip lines that zig-zag all over the park.


We had a great day and I would recommend Hawaiian Falls as a fun place for the big kids to cool down & have fun.  It is convenient for those that live in the Austin area and a fairly inexpensive day.  There is more to do for the big kids than there is for the little ones (see below).  My 11 & 13 year old loved it and can't wait to go back.  My 5 year old is a beginning swimmer and was not tall enough to do most of the slides, so it wasn't as full of a day for him.  Next year, he'll be ready for it.

If you are planning to go to Hawaiian Falls, here is your complete guide to know before you go:

Tickets - The best prices I have found are at HEB or if you bring in a Coke can to the park. Both of these deals offer you $7 off the Big Kahuna ticket.  Also, there are some coupons on the Hawaiian Falls website that offer great deals:

  • MauiMoms Mondays - Free Kids Admission with a full price Big Kahuna ticket on Mondays before noon.
  • MauiMoms Meal Deal - Free Kids meal with the purchase of a meal on Mondays.
  • Tuesdays 2Fer - Buy One, Get One Free Big Kahuna ticket on Tuesdays.
If none of these work, check out the Ohana Combo Pack, that includes admission to the park, one combo meal and all-day drinks for $29.99.

If it rains continuously for 15 minutes or if the attractions are closed due to bad weather, all paid guests will receive a complimentary ticket good for any normal operating day through this Labor Day. You receive the free return ticket even if the park stays open.

*Make sure to keep your receipt or ticket stub. YOU MUST PRESENT YOUR PROOF OF PURCHASE TO RECEIVE THE FREE TICKET. (Guarantee excludes season passes and rain or bad weather starting after 4 p.m.)

Parking - Parking at Hawaiian Falls is $5 or you can buy a season pass for $20.

Cooler Policy - If you would like to bring in a cooler with food, snacks, & drinks, you will pay a $10 cooler fee ($30 season pass).  Don't bring with you outside fast food or pizza, alcohol, or glass bottles. If you don't want to pay the cooler fee, you can leave it in your car.  There are shaded (with umbrellas) picnic tables in the parking lot. Also, unopened, clear water bottles are allowed.


Food - Food is available for purchase. As of last week, the Surf Side BBQ sells brisket sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, sausage on a stick, and corn dogs. I think the prices are reasonable too - the 4 of us ate for under $25 and it was pretty good. They also offer large Hawaiian Ices.  Another restaurant is planned to be built for next summer.


Cabanas - Hawaiian Falls has around 15 cabanas for rent for the day.  A cabana can fit up to 8 people and it includes a locker rental, free drinks all day and a server to wait on you.  We had a cabana for the day and it was great to have our own shady spot to hang out in.  Make sure to reserve the cabana in advance, as your admission tickets are discounted too. ($125 weekday/$150 weekend)

Lockers - There are lockers available for rent for $10 ($2 refunded when you return a key).  It is such a small park, that I felt completely comfortable leaving my bags on the chair.

Where is the Shade? - For obvious reasons, get there right when it opens.  While there are many umbrellas for shade over the tables and chairs, you need to get to the park early to claim them.  When we arrived at 11:30, they were all taken.


Is the park good for Little Kids? - Most of the slides require a height of 48" or taller.  There is the lazy river, wave pool and a kiddie splash pool for the little guys.  I would have liked to have seen the inner tubes for the wave pool and lazy river have a bottom, as my 5 year old kept slipping out of them.  Unless you have some strong & brave swimmers, I think this park is geared more toward the big kids.  And that is GREAT - think about the multitude of splash pads and kiddie pools we have in the Austin area, the big kids need a place to play in the water too.


Lifejackets - Lifejackets are available all over the park to use for free.  You are not allowed to bring in your own personal floatation devices and floaties, so it is nice to have these available.


Adventure Park - The Adventure Park at Hawaiian Falls features a 7-story Big Island Adventure Trail for the little kids, a 3-level ropes Challenge Course, and 3 zip lines that fly over the water park (Pineapple Zip Tour).  Everything within the Adventure Park is included with the waterpark admission with the exception of the Pineapple Zip Tour.


Is the Ropes Course Safe? - The 3-tiered, 7-story Challenge course is for 48" and above.  A full body harness and Smart Belay System is used.  There are 2 lobster-claws that attach to the ropes.  When one is off the rope (as when you move from one rope to another), the other is locked in the "clipped in" state.  In other words, you will always have at least one claw attached to the rope at all times.  This gives a mom a great peace of mind when it comes to seeing you 11 year old seven stories high in the sky!


What do I Wear in the Adventure Park? - You are not allowed in the Adventure Park when sopping wet, but you don't have to wear completely dry clothes.  Shirts & shorts are required as well as closed toed shoes (no flip flops).  My son wore his bathing suit with a shirt.

Pineapple Express Zip Tour - The Challenge Course has 2 zip lines, but the really big zip line is the Pineapple Express Zip Tour.  You need to sign a waiver to go on it and pay an additional cost.  The price is less expensive if you buy it online before getting to the park.  My 11 year old did it and said it was AWESOME!

When will the Adventure Park be open? - The Adventure Park will be open year round on weekends after the water park closes.  It was very hot to climb the Challenge course, which took about a half hour to 45 minutes, so I can imagine it will be an awesome winter and spring activity.  The Adventure Park will also be open for team building during the week.


I love the size of Hawaiian Falls.  I felt very comfortable allowing my kids to go off and do a slide or the lazy river and check in with me. I also felt fine leaving my bag on the table of the cabana and getting in the water. As big and exciting as it is for the big kids, as a mom, I felt like this was a small, hometown park.  We ran into several people we knew throughout the day.  And I really like how close Hawaiian Falls is to home.  I could see us buying a season pass next summer and really getting good use out of it.

I think Hawaiian Falls rushed to open and in that time received a really bad rap.  I think the company did the best they could to rush to provide a fun, family option this summer.  The organization is family-owned based on Christian principles. They strive to bring families closer together in a fun way.  I think they succeed with the Pflugerville location.  Now that the summer season is coming to a close,  they will have ample time to finish construction and make improvements before next summer.

Hawaiian Falls Pflugerville Water Park will be open daily through Sunday, Aug. 24, and also Labor Day weekend Aug. 30-Sept. 1 from 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The Water Park will also be open 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6 and Sunday, Sept. 7.

This Friday, August 22, 2014 - Hawaiian Falls presents a Luau with Live Music, Hula Dancers, 
Fire Dancer Performance, Special Menu items and more. Luau activities are FREE for all guests to enjoy.  Delicious Luau Meals will be available for only $10. Luau begins a 6 pm. 

Disclosure - My family & I were invited to visit Hawaiian Falls Water Park & Adventure Park.  I was not compensated to write this article.  All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

5 Fun Things to do in Bryan-College Station, Texas


Just  short day trip from Austin, Bryan-College Station offers more to see than just the Texas A&M University.  We recently spent the day there as we were driving home from East Texas and had such a good time getting to know this great area.  If you are looking for a fun place to visit one weekend, check out all that Bryan-College Station, aka “Aggieland” has to offer.

5 Fun things to do in Bryan-College Station with Kids


The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Sitting on the Texas A&M campus is one of Texas’s Presidential Libraries.  Only 10 years old, this museum does a great job in telling the life story of our 41st President, George H.W. Bush.  With actual artifacts, like his Presidential Limousine, campaign memorabilia, Presidential Gifts of State, and a piece of the Berlin Wall, the museum does a great job of showing us who he was as a boy, a husband, a politiatin, a father, and as a President.  My 13 year old was very interested in the modern displays and the 5 year old had a fun treasure hunt through the museum.


Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley
This fun 2-story children’s museum is located in downtown Bryan.  It features climbable space ship, a H-E-B store, a tv station, and a big construction “site” to learn how to use “tools”.  Though it was a bit young for my older 2 kids (11 & 13), they still had a fun time playing with their younger brother.  And we all played a great game of checkers on a giant checkerboard.  This is a fun stop for kids 7 and younger.


Brazos Valley Natural History Museum
This is a great natural history museum that features animals, plants, minerals, and human activity in the Brazos Valley.  Some of the key exhibits that kids will enjoy the most are the Observation bee hive, butterfly exhibit, and live animals.

Dixie Chicken
We had to make a stop for lunch at the famous Dixie Chicken.  Aggies will tell you that this is the home of dominos, pool, country music and beer – in fact, it once held the record for the most beer consumed in one location in the United States.  So why am I telling you to go there? Cause it’s also home of a really good burger and these incredible cheese fries. Lunchtime is full of families checking out this local legend.  So, it’s kinda a “must do” in these parts.


Bonfire Memorial on TAMU Campus
The Aggie Bonfire was a longstanding tradition before the football team played their biggest rival, the University of Texas, dating back to 1909.  A tragic accident at the 1999 bonfire construction killed 12 Aggies and a beautiful memorial stands in it’s place.   Each of the 12 stones points towards the hometown of the lost Aggie and tells their story.  I found it to be a touching tribute, as I remembered the accident.  The kids didn’t mind the walk and the pretty memorial, but I am sure it didn’t have the same effect as it did me on them.


While we were there, we took a quick drive around campus and popped into Aggie Outfitters to pick up a t-shirt from my daughter.  It was a great way to show her a picture of campus life – since she will be going to college in less than 5 years (gulp).


Here are a few more fun things to do in Bryan-College Station:
Grand Station Entertainment
Santa’s Wonderland
Lone Star Trapeze Academy
Royal Oaks Alpacas
Kingsbury Blueberry Farm

And real close by, my favorite ice cream maker, Blue Bell is located in Brenham – and you can have a tour of the creamery and get a free scoop of ice cream.

Disclosure: My family & I were guests of the Bryan/College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau and they provided us with passes to various museums.  I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Girls Weekend at Westin Galleria Dallas ~ Dallas, TX


What's the one thing a traveling mom needs?  A weekend away with the girls! Lucky for me, Westin  Galleria Dallas invited me and a few girlfriends up for a weekend in July.  And it was just the weekend any tired mom could want.

Comfort

I have always been a really big fan of Westin.  I think their rooms are modern and beautiful and the Westin Galleria Dallas was just what I had expected.  Out room was spacious with a huge bathroom.  We each took turns lounging in this massive window seat that overlooked Dallas.  And the showers had a huge nozzle overhead - creating a rain shower.

But what is Westin known for? Their Heavenly Beds, only the most comfortable beds you will ever sleep in.  Being a tired mom of 3, sleeping in such luxury for the weekend gave me some of the best nights of sleep I have had in such a long time.  I can't decide if it's the pillow-top mattress or the luxurious sheets, or the soft feather pillows.  Or maybe it's the combination of them all that ease you into the deepest sleep.  What ever it is, I'm a fan.

The Westin's Heavenly Bed
We really enjoyed the Executive Lounge in the Westin.  Each evening, they have a Happy Hour with heavy horderves and drinks.  And they had a wonderful continental breakfast each morning.  Typically, when I travel, we aim for the least expensive room.  But after enjoying the amenities the Executive Level provided, I can see how asking to stay at this level would be beneficial for a traveling family.

Breakfast in the Executive Lounge


Dining & Nightlife

The Second Floor by Scott Gottlich had a delicious summer dinner menu while we were there.  The appetizers & Sangria were a delicious start.  My Summer Panzanella salad had melon balls and goat cheese - it was such a light salad that I could have made a meal out of it.  And we all enjoyed the grilled ribeye.  The atmosphere is hip and made for a nice meal with girlfriends.  Later that evening, we enjoyed a few drinks in the bar.  It was the perfect way to end the evening.

The Second Floor lounge
The Westin Galleria Dallas also had a few meals for us in Prive, a private dining room for The Second Floor.  It's a gorgeous area for private parties.  But for even more fun, they invited us back into the kitchen to meet with the Pastry Chefs who invited us to create our own desserts!  What group of girls can say no to a spread of chocolate such as this?


Relaxation

On weekends, the Dallas Galleria Westin partners with lululemon athletica Pool-side Yoga.  We enjoyed an hour of relaxing yoga on the pool deck to start our day with.  The Westin has a gear lending program you can use to borrow athletic clothes and shoes.  What a nice service, as I never pack my running shoes and always regret it once I see how great of a workout facility the hotel has.  And the Dallas Westin Galleria has a nice one.  You can borrow New Balance clothing & shoes for only $5 and you eliminate having to take home your stinky workout clothes.

Westin's Gear Lending program
We relaxed by the pool on Sunday morning.  Three moms, three big cups of coffee and 3 comfy lounge chairs - oh yes, we relaxed.


Location 

Now I have to admit, one of our favorite attractions to the Westin Galleria Dallas is that it is attached to the Galleria.  Shopping was only an elevator ride away.  The Dallas Galleria is a shopping mecca that needs no description.  Home to every store for every need, the mall hosts a full-sized ice skating rink, an American Girl Doll Store and several award-winning restaurants. We were thrilled to find out that if you are an out-of-town guest (guests traveling more than 50 miles), you can receive a VIP Privilege card with specials and discounts in stores across the mall.

Ice Skating at Dallas Galleria
During our weekend, the Dallas Galleria invited us to participate in a shopping scavenger hunt that found us trying on clothes, doing yoga poses, feeling the newest hand scrubs, and more.  We had such a fun time and found plenty of time to shop too - so much shopping that the back of my GMC Yukon was filled to the top.
Fun during the Galleria Dallas Scavenger Hunt
Thank you to lululemon athletica, Brahmin, Tommy Bahama, Belk, Godiva, Lush, & Papyrus for hosting us on the fun scavenger hunt.

Our weekend was everything we could have asked for and more.  We were spoiled by the luxurious Westin Galleria Dallas.  Being able to relax in such nice settings allowed us the opportunity to take off our mom-hats and just be girlfriends.  The Westin Galleria Dallas is the perfect location for a girlfriends weekend.

Disclosure:  My girlfriends and I were invited to stay at the Westin Galleria Dallas for the weekend.  We were invited to participate in the shopping scavenger hunt by the Dallas Galleria.  I was not compensated to write this review.  All opinions are my own. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Design Thundercloud Turkey Trot Graphic & Win Subs for a YEAR! ~ Austin, TX

ThunderCloud Subs has announced the launch of its popular annual competition to design the artwork for the 2014 ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, the beloved five-mile Thanksgiving Day run benefiting Caritas of Austin. 

Artists ranging from graphic design professionals to elementary school students will compete to create the event artwork, which will be plastered on more than 20,000 T-shirts and countless posters and banners, and to win a year’s worth of ThunderClouds subs— that’s a sub a day for one lucky winner. 

The entry deadline is September 6, and the winner will be announced September 15. 

For rules and more information, visit www.thundercloud.com for more info.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Little Gym ~ Austin, TX

The Little Gym Round Rock and The Little Gym Austin Lakeline are sponsors of the I ♥ Austin Summer Fun Checklist. When the kids complete 5 items on the list, they can bring the checklist in to either of the two locations to spin the prize wheel and participate in a FREE class! The prize and free class can be redeemed through the month of August. To find more fun activities to do this summer in Austin, be sure to download the Summer Fun Checklist, and check out AustinSummerFun.com for an insider's guide to exploring Austin. Below, read a review from a local Austin mama who sums up why The Little Gym is so great.
  littlegym

If you’re looking to have some “serious fun” this summer, look no further than The Little Gym of Round Rock and The Little Gym of Austin at Lakeline. From gymnastics, dance and sport skills classes, birthday bashes, summer camps and more, they’re your go-to place for keeping the kids happy in the summer heat – while keeping boredom at bay!

  lg6 My 4.5-year-old daughter has been attending The Little Gym of Round Rock for two years this fall, starting off in the “Super Beasts” parent-child class, and making her way shortly after into the Funny Bugs/Giggle Worms class that she’s still in today. I’ve seen her grow from a toddler in need of reassurance on the bars and beam while a coach assisted her, to a budding gymnast, doing front flips around the high bars and forward rolls across the beam without help! Aside from attending weekly classes at The Little Gym, one of the benefits they offer to members is a weekly “practice time”, allowing coach-led time to focus on new skills and exploring the gym. During those two hours per week, I’ve watched my four-year-old exceed any preconceived notions I held about what preschoolers were physically capable of, but more than that, been pleasantly surprised at her emerging social skills, confidence, and ability to be a contributing member of a team. In fact, my preschooler has enjoyed her time at The Little Gym of Round Rock so much that when I had my son this past fall, it was never a question that he would start his own classes at The Little Gym as soon as he was old enough to participate! Here he is on his first day of “Bugs” class, all smiles, excited to finally get his own chance to crawl around and explore all of the fun equipment he’d been watching his sister enjoy.

lg2Though I initially expected the Bugs class to be more of a social experience for me and the other moms, I quickly realized how much Jack was growing and learning each week as well. From tracking and touching bubbles, to learning new physical skills and strengthening his core, to interacting with other babies in different developmental stages, Bugs class is the highlight of Jack’s week!
 Aside from weekly classes, The Little Gym offers summer camps at both locations, with a new theme offered weekly, and a new mission each day. The camps, held Monday and Wednesday from 9am – 12pm and Tuesday afternoons from 1pm - 4pm, are a perfect way to occupy your 3- to 8-year-old child for a few hours, allowing you some much needed time to run errands, while keeping your little one engaged and active during these triple digit days!



Another new offering at The Little Gym is the WonderKids Club, a preschool-style offering for three- to four-year-olds that provides your child the chance to experience a full morning of fun at the gym, enjoying both gymnastics and other themed learning experiences aimed at enhancing their social, emotional, and cognitive development through play. On the morning that we tried it out, Ava had an absolute blast playing with Lego blocks and other manipulatives, completing a craft, listening to a story in circle time, and, of course, spending time on the big red mat!

 Last but not least, The Little Gym has been rated by Parents Magazine as the #1 place to host a child’s birthday party! Their awesome party packages are available to both members and non-members alike, and can be a great way to introduce your friends to some serious fun! Practically all inclusive, standard birthday party packages include a team member and assistant to lead the fun, set-up and clean up, all the paper goods (napkins, plates, etc.), 16 guests (with the option to add up to 9 additional), drinks for each guest, an opportunity for a gift registry, a TLG shirt for the birthday child, and a TLG evite upon request! There are also theme options and goody bags available at an additional charge. A bonus: Take $25 off any party package when you mention this Birthday Party Discount Guide. The Little Gym Round Rock 3203 S. IH-35, Round Rock The Little Gym Austin Lakeline 14010 N. US Hwy 183, Suite 440, Austin

Briana is the mother of two young children, a freelance writer, and blogs about her journey into motherhood at Unexpectedly Expecting

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

10 Tips for SeaWorld San Antonio's Aquatica ~ San Antonio, TX


I have always been a big fan of SeaWorld San Antonio.  I think their park is educational, fun, and great for all the ages of my kids.  But when it came to visiting their water park, Aquatica, I thought "what's the point?  I'm sure it's just a tiny little park to cool you off." And for the past 2 years, I focused all my time spent there on the SeaWorld side.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Luckily, my friend talked me into going to Aquatica with our kids last week and I was blown away with how much there was to do!  My 5 year old is a beginning swimmer (finally without his floaties!) and I loved that there were many smallish slides for him to enjoy.  My big kids were left satisfied too with a giant wave pool, several high-speed tube rides and a lazy river that goes into a bird aviary.  we all had such a good time that I was kicking myself for not coming sooner.

In fact, we liked it so much, we went back that Sunday to ride more rides.  With a little planning, we accomplished more and I wanted to give y'all some tips in case you go.

So I wanted to convince y'all of 2 things when it comes to Aquatica:

1. Yes, it is absolutely worth the additional ticket price to get into Aquatica.  You have to pay admission into SeaWorld and then Aquatica (2 prices).  Or if you are reading this in August 2014 and have a season pass, take advantage of their "Bring a Friend Free" promotion.

2. It is possible to do both Aquatica & SeaWorld in one day and I can show you how:

Here are 10 Tips for SeaWorld San Antonio's Aquatica

1. Get to the parks 30 minutes before they open.  By the time you park, haul your stuff out of the car, wait in line to get into SeaWorld and then wait in line to get into Aquatica, it will be opening time.  We arrived at 10 am and rode all the rides we wanted to at Aquatica by 11:30 am.

Seriously folks, 7 water rides in an hour and a half because there were no crowds. Take a look at this picture at 10:00 am


And the same spot at 12:00 pm


2. Pick a group of chairs when you arrive.  Grab a spot where you want your central location to be  and lay out a few towels.  In the 2 days were were there this past weekend, no one touched out stuff.  Everyone was very respectful of the lounge chairs.  There are lots (I mean LOTS) of chairs all over the park to choose from. You can even go back by Roa's Aviary for a quiet spot if you like.


3. Ride Stingray Falls first.  This ride's line consistently grew as the day progressed.  It's a really cool ride that goes under the stingray tank so it is not to be missed.  Go first when their is little to no wait because it's a popular one!


4. Go in the morning to Roa's Aviary.  Lucky for us, we visited this new attraction in the morning when the birds were hungry.  When you are there, you can get a free cup of food to feed the birds.  On the second day we visited, by the time we got over to it, all the birds were full and not coming anywhere near us.


5. Rent a Locker.  For complete peace of mind, lock up your iPhone and wallet.  It initially costs $18 but get $10 back when you return the key.


6. Animal Encounters all over the park.  Just like in SeaWorld, Aquatica is full of animals to get to see up close.  Make sure to take the time to pet the stingrays (and you can go in the water with them for an additional fee), see the giant tortoises, and gorgeous birds.  You may catch an animal handler walking around with an animal too.


7. No need to bring floaties or PFD for children - they have plenty all over the park.  I loved that I could put one down in one area of the park and grab another on the other side.  There were always plenty to choose from.


8. Splurge & Rent a Cabana - If you want to go all out, you can rent a cabana for the whole day.  It has comfy chaise lounges and a ceiling fan.  And it comes with a waiter - closest thing to being at a resort on the beach you get in Central Texas.

9. Cashless Wristband.  There are a great way to not worry about having cash or a credit card with you when you want to purchase something.  I saw lots of people with these wristbands and they all said it worked great.



10. Bring your GoPro and capture some sweet movies.  The real reason we went the second day was to take out GoPro camera with us on the slides.  We got some terrific footage like this:



I hope I have convinced you to give Aquatica a try - with the animals and wide variety of slides, you can certainly spend all day there. But if you only have one day to do both parks, get to Aquatica right when they open. You will have most of the fun done by mid-afternoon which gives you hours left to go ride your favorite rides and see your favorite shows at SeaWorld San Antonio!

Disclosure:  I am a member of the SeaWorld Wildside Blogger team and have been provided with season passes to SeaWorld & Aquatica.  I was not paid for this article. All opinions are my own.