After three full weeks away from home for the girls and I (and 8 weeks for Ron), our trip was beginning to wind down. We left Clearwater on Saturday morning and soon afterward we said goodbye to the state of Florida as well. Heading north, we were on the road pretty much all day – with two notable exceptions.
First, we stopped off at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach to see the display of dolphin statues that was being put on by the City of Clearwater and the local CVB. Each dolphin was sponsored by a local business – and each one was decorated in a totally unique (and fun) fashion. Hannah and I walked through the park and saw the dozens and dozens of dolphins. The Wydham Garden where we’d stayed the previous night had sponsored a dolphin and it was one of my favorites. Below are a few pictures of some of our other favorites as well.
Back on the road, we drove for several hours before making our next stop. One of my fellow TravelingMom bloggers lives right off of I-75 in southern Georgia, and had invited us to stop by for a break from driving. We gladly took her up on the offer – it was going to be a long day of driving from Clearwater through to Atlanta and everyone was definitely ready for some leg-stretching.
Christine and her husband have a beautiful home and they were wonderful hosts, even to supplying the girls with coloring materials. Becca created a whole multi-page vacation ‘diary’ while we were there – on pink paper, no less. And Christine even mailed the pages to me afterward when she realized that Becca had forgotten and left them at her house. I’d worked with Christine for a while through TMOM and had met her on our blogger retreat Fantasy cruise in the spring – but it was so nice to be able to have a longer period of time to talk and visit.
But eventually we had to get back on the road – especially since we knew we had comfy accommodations waiting for us at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in the heart of downtown Atlanta. I’d heard wonderful things about the Omni from other TMOMs – and have to say that after experiencing one for myself, I wholeheartedly see why. We arrived late Saturday night, but I have never felt so welcomed at any other hotel I’ve ever stayed at. They had Omni Sensational Kids backpacks for each of the girls, filled with activities. And the girls were also welcomed with cookies and milk waiting in our rooms after we checked in. Not only that, but there were other snacks and drinks for us as well, all with personalized notes welcoming us to the Omni.
We had two adjoining rooms – a king room for Ron and I and a double queen room for the girls. This was a wonderful arrangement as we could open the double doors between the rooms during the day, but keep them closed (or slightly cracked) at night so that Ron and I had some privacy and could talk or get online without having to worry about keeping the girls up. After such a long day on the road though, we all were asleep not too long after we got there.
Sunday morning, we got up and had breakfast at the Omni’s Prime Meridian Restaurant. They have a full breakfast buffet – and a chef right there to make your eggs or omelet right to your order. I think we all got a little spoiled over the three mornings we were at the Omni! But it also offered my kids a chance to try some foods they hadn’t before. Hannah and Becca discovered they like bagels toasted with butter or cream cheese, and it was refreshing to see all three of them eating something other than simply a bowl of cereal in the mornings. I was very impressed by the breakfast offerings – especially the gluten-free section. We don’t eat a gluten-free diet, but I know people who do so I tend to keep an eye out when I notice someplace that does a great job accommodating it.
Knowing this was probably the last opportunity to swim during this trip, the girls and I made sure to visit the pool at the Omni. They swam – and I relaxed. We also explored the hotel a bit – there’s a lot to see, with two separate towers and a connecting bridge. The hotel is also connected to CNN headquarters, which the girls thought was very cool – especially the huge escalator that goes up and exits inside a globe. We’d learn more about that the next day during our CNN Tour.
Later that afternoon, we headed out to Marietta, just outside of Atlanta. My aunt lives there, as well as my cousin and her husband. The last time I’d seen any of them was also the last time Ron and I had driven through Atlanta on our way home from Florida – on our honeymoon, 12 years ago. So my girls had never met my dad’s only sibling or any of her kids (I also have 2 cousins in New York and one in San Francisco).
We all got together at my aunt’s condo and visited, went out to dinner, and then headed back to my aunt’s for dessert and some more family stories. My cousin had brought each of my girls a bag filled with coloring stuff, snacks, and puzzle books so the girls were in heaven. Her daughter is another Becca – who had to work so couldn’t make it to see us, but sent each of my girls a small ring she’d made for them. My girls were excited to get a present from the ‘other Becca’, lol.
My aunt is a few years older than my dad – and both of them are now in their 80’s. I don’t know if this will be the last time I’ll have a chance to have seen and visited with my aunt or not – but I’m so thankful that we had the opportunity to spend this time with her and for her to meet my girls.
That night we made our way back to our comfy Omni hotel rooms and relaxed a little before heading to bed. The next day was to be our last in Atlanta – and we had a lot of fun and exciting things planned to explore the Luckie Marietta district of downtown. Not only were the girls thrilled to visit an aquarium (one with an amazing dolphin show, no less) but the Omni had arranged for us to go on a tour of CNN and we planned to visit the World of Coca Cola as well. Atlanta is such a beautiful city – both during the day and as the view from our Omni hotel room windows shows, it’s gorgeous at night as well. I really miss that nighttime view.
Thank you to Omni Hotels for helping make our visit to Atlanta possible. We received accommodations and breakfast from the Omni Hotel at CNN Center, as well as admission to several area attractions – but were on our own for everything else during our stay. All opinions stated here are 100% my own or those of my family.