Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and a few reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


The State Museum of Pennsylvania–Experience Adventure 22 of 100


On Valentine’s Day of 2018, and for our 22nd of 100 adventures, my daughters and I spent the day exploring the remarkable State Museum of Pennsylvania.  Established in 1905 and adjacent to the breathtaking and beautiful State Capitol Building, the historical institution is the commonwealth’s official museum located in the state’s important capital city of Harrisburg.


The museum takes visitors through a full range of fascinating regional history, focusing on Pennsylvania’s multi-faceted culture and prominent figures, beginning with prehistoric geology and archeological exhibits and continuing to present time pop culture influences and art showcases.


Four impressive exhibit floors and a full-dome planetarium chronologically organize and display over 3 million items in the museum’s expansive collection.


Interesting and permanent exhibit halls include Life Through Time, Geology, Mammals, Ecology, a Memorial Hall dedicated to William Penn, and Objects of Valor, which features Civil War artifacts.


**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania was named by King Charles II, who took the Penn family name and combined it with the Latin word “silva”, which means “woods”.






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The Memorial Hall features an enormous mural, state map, and a monumental bronze statue of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania.

**Fun Fact:  William Penn’s forward-thinking policy of religious tolerance and acceptance created a diverse religious and ethnic culture in the state of Pennsylvania.



My daughters and I spent most of our time in the noteworthy exhibits of Pennsylvania Icons, Village Square, the Anthropology and Archeology Gallery, and the Transportation and Industry hall.


**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania is the nation’s #1 producer of mushrooms, #2 producer of apples and ranks 3rd for eggs and Christmas trees!





**Fun Fact:  Pennsylvania produces 80% of the nation’s hard pretzels.

More than 350 unusual and thought-provoking items fill the Pennsylvania Icons hall, where visitors learn about the national influence of Pennsylvania’s unique places, people and products.




**Fun Fact:  20% of the United States’ production of craft beer is produced in Pennsylvania.


True-to-life historical facades, buildings, a summer kitchen and a general store represent a 19th century Pennsylvania town in the walk-through Village Square Hall.  I wanted to find some hands-on activities, but unfortunately, this is a purely visual exhibit.







The creation and historical significance of the Pennsylvania Turnpike is thoroughly explored within the Transportation and Industry hall.  Focusing on the tools, vehicles and the history of innovative machines, the exhibit gives viewers a fantastic and engaging glimpse into transportation industry and commerce.




**Fun Fact:  In October of 1940, the nations first modern superhighway birthed a new interest in cross-country travel for post-WWII Americans.  That superhighway is the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Native American artifacts and archeological methods are explored in great detail inside the Anthropology and Archeology Gallery.



**Fun Fact:  The Meadowcroft Rockshelter, located near Avella in Washington County, Pennsylvania, boasts the earliest signs of human habitation in North America and has been continually inhabited for the past 19,000 years.

As a lover of the visual arts, we greatly enjoyed the engaging, rotating art exhibit, which featured unique art pieces bought and acquired by the museum through the years.






Overall, we found The State Museum of Pennsylvania educational, interesting and thought-provoking.  It was clean, well organized, thorough, and visually stimulating.  Of course, I prefer a hands-on approach and appreciate exhibits with interactive components, but the museum’s extensive collection makes up for its lack of experiential learning.  My daughters and I left with massive amounts of new and relevant Pennsylvania state knowledge and a greater historical understanding of our nation.


Kudos to The State Museum of Pennsylvania.  As a museum-obsessed, homeschooling mom, I give it a “B++”!

Hours of operation:  Wed-Sat 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 pm.

Please note:  The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Adults:  $7.00

Children ages 1-11 years:  $5.00

The museum is FREE for military members and military families with ID’s.  THANK YOU!

The State Museum of Pennsylvania is located at 300 North Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 17120.  For more information, call 717-787-4980 or visit


For some other fun and educational adventures in the great state of Pennsylvania, check out:

The Turkey Hill Experience

George’s Furniture

The Pennsylvania Farm Show

The National Watch and Clock Museum

The Lancaster Central Market





100 Experience Adventures–January Summary


By now, most of my readers know that my daughters and I are attempting to complete 100 experiences during our 6 month sabbatical away from our home in Texas.

For newbies, click here.

And read this.

I am super happy to report we surprisingly completed 18 awesome experiences during the month of January and I kept a running list of the events and the cost for reference.

Below is a quick summary and each one is a clickable link to more information about the experience, in case you are curious. 🙂

Experience 1:

The Pennsylvania Farm Show (Free to attend, $15 for parking)

Experience 2:

George’s Furniture in Marietta, PA (Free to visit, we donated $20 for the personal tour)

Experience 3:

Cinnaholic, Vegan cinnamon rolls in Lancaster, PA ($28.04 for four cinnamon rolls)

Experience 4:

The National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA ($8.40 for four tickets through Groupon)

Experience 5:

The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, PA ($45.75 for three people to attend the lab class and the experience)

Experience 6:

Burning Bridge Antiques Market in Columbia, PA (free to visit)

Experience 7:

The Lancaster Sweet Shoppe and Stroopie Co. in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 8:

Lancaster Central Market in Lancaster, PA (free to visit)

Experience 9:

Beiler’s Doughnuts in Lancaster, PA ($11.25 for 2 dozen doughnuts through Groupon)

Experience 10:

Sledding in real snow in Carlisle, PA (free!)

Experience 11:

Maymont in Richmond, Virginia ($12 for three tickets to the nature center and $15 “donation” for three people to tour the mansion)

Experience 12:

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia ($24 for three tickets)

Experience 13:

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, VA (free for military families, $10 for the audio tour for two people)

Experience 14:

The Prohibition Museum in Savannah, Georgia ($32.10 for three tickets)

Experience 15:

The Museum of Science and History (The MOSH) in Jacksonville, Florida ($30 for three tickets)

Experience 16:

Hunting for fossilized sharks teeth in Nokomis Beach, Florida (free)

Experience 17:

Artisanal Spice Artistry Workshop at the International Festival of the Arts in Epcot, Walt Disney World ($166.16 for four tickets)

Experience 18:

Disney After Hours event at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World ($476 for four tickets)


What is next?!?

Many more adventures to explore in the month of February!


The Museum of History and Science–Experience Adventure 15 of 100


For our 15th experience adventure, we explored the Museum of Science and History (The MOSH) in Jacksonville, Florida.


The museum sits on the scenic edge of the Southbank River Walk and opened to the public at the current location in 1969.  A planetarium was added in 1988.  The most recent renovation came in 1994, even though the planetarium received a technology refresh in 2010.





The colorful, outdoor space represents a natural habitat setting for insects and butterflies and several signs with information are posted so that the learning begins before visitors enter the building.  🙂  I like that!





82,200 square feet of museum space is divided into three levels of exhibits, including the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium and the Hixon Native Plant Courtyard.  The main exhibit constantly changes and highlights different topics, while the other halls are permanent.

My daughters and I chose this museum because the main exhibit (which rotates) showcased ancient Rome and Roman history until January 28, 2018.






The massive exhibit featured a wide array of Roman history, culture, simple machines, weaponry, statues, art, clothing and architectural engineering.









We found the area clean, organized, well maintained and everything in working order within the main hall, which changes its display often.




Though I always appreciate hands-on, interactive exhibits, this one lacked information and left me wanting more explanation.  Some “stations” offered awesome gadgets and instruments to touch and examine, but the educational material was minimal, insignificant, or missing altogether.


We enjoyed the permanent Jacksonville and Northeast Florida history hall called Currents of Time.  It leads visitors through an extensive and visual timeline beginning with the Timucuas and ending in the 1960’s, which represents 12,000 years of Floridian history.  We spent the most time in this section.IMG_20180123_111021.jpg













The Jacksonville, Florida history exhibit showcases one of the best visual and educational timelines we have experienced in a museum.  However, the other halls appear gloomy, dark, dingy and significantly lacked updating.

The Atlantic Tails and Hixon Native Plant Courtyard both present dated and “well-loved” displays and need a good cleaning, repairs, updates, and/or re-tweaking.  Even though the touch tank was supposed to be available from 11 am to 2 pm, there was nothing in it except slime.





Other exhibits are simple and very limited, though each section did present several hands-on activities.







The entire third floor focused on a tiny area with brain teaser stations.  My daughters enjoyed the problem solving, but the exhibit is not substantial and only a fraction of what it could and should be.





Overall, I give the Museum of Science and History a mediocre “C” rating.  The regional history hall and Roman exhibit saved it from a failing grade, in my opinion.  Our tickets included general admission and 1 program at the planetarium, but my daughters grew bored quickly and did not want to wait around for the show.  If my girls want to leave a museum, there is a problem.  We left feeling unfulfilled.

Visit the museum for the Jacksonville and Northeast Florida walkthrough-history timeline.


The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) is located at 1025 Museum Circle, Jacksonville, Florida, 32207.  It is open 7 days a week and until 8pm on Friday nights.  For more information, visit or call 904-396-6674.


Want to check out some other museums in Florida?  Read this!  And this!

Heading to Walt Disney World?  This is a MUST read!

Everything you need to know about the 2018 Disney dining plan is right here!



The American Prohibition Museum–Experience Adventure 14 of 100


Savannah, Georgia offers a ton of awesome places to visit–historical sites, meaningful monuments, yummy restaurants, cool bars and shopping opportunities galore.  My daughters and I drove through Savannah at the end of January 2018, and only had a few hours for a brief stop.  A total bummer for us!











(Currently looking for a good excuse to return!)  🙂

We crammed as much as we could into a few, short hours.  While we ate lunch, I did a quick search and learned that the American Prohibition Museum was just walking distance from our restaurant.  So, of course, we went.  🙂


The American Prohibition Museum opened in Savannah, Georgia on May 29, 2017, and highlights American history, pop culture and societal norms before, during and after the passing of the 18th amendment.  As America’s only museum focused on prohibition, the 2-story building features 5,500 square feet of interactive, hands-on exhibits full of historically accurate, alcohol related treasures.


**Fun Fact (or not-so-fun fact, depending on your personal views, LOL) : The 18th amendment was passed in 1919, and put into action from 1920 to 1933–almost 14 years!


Not only does the museum consist of 13 well organized galleries, it boasts 1,100 prohibition artifacts and 30+ realistic, life-sized wax figures.





**Fun Fact:  The first thing visitors see upon entering the museum is a beer truck from 1918!





**Fun Fact:  Carrie Nation was a hard-core, radical member of the temperance movement and opposed alcohol consumption long before prohibition.  To get her message across, she threw rocks, bricks and hatchets into alcohol serving establishments. That’s legit passion.


As the museum walks visitors through a self-guided tour of the early 1900’s, actors dressed in period clothing offer entertaining stories, historical facts, and interesting tidbits of information.  The characters interact with guests and answer questions, instantly bringing American history to life.  (My FAVORITE way to learn!)


Exhibits illustrate a time in American history when dividing opinions circled around the sale and drinking of alcohol.  The passing of the 18th amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, transport, import, export, and consumption of all alcoholic beverages.  This law affected every citizen one way or another, especially those directly working in the industry.



All of the fascinating facets of prohibition and the side effects, consequences, and results of such a polarizing mandate are thoroughly represented.  This creates a completely immersive and impressive experience where visitors step back in time to walk among prohibitionists, whiskey runners, flappers, mobsters, and gangsters.





There is even a super cool area to learn the Charleston!  Seriously, that is cool.



As the historical experience nears the demise of prohibition, visitors find a door with a “hidden” secret.


Follow the directions and the door opens…to reveal a secret:

The Congress Street Up.


Even as a non-drinker, I certainly appreciate a museum with a bar inside, specifically a 1920’s-themed speakeasy.  Full of vintage signs, art and artifacts, a bar serving 1920’s cocktails (IN A MUSEUM!) is even cooler than the chance to dance the Charleston!  🙂


Finally, a small theater features a quick summary film to tie it all together.  Education Perfection.


From a historical and educational standpoint, the American Prohibition Museum is winning at all things that make a museum one of my favs.  It is comprehensive, interactive, and hands-on, with knowledgeable docents, interesting actors, relevant wax figures, awesome artifacts, including original propaganda posters, pertinent memorabilia, and historically accurate audio recordings, papers and film clips.  Oh, and there is a bar.  Hello.


Even though this is the only museum I have visited in Georgia, I am going to bravely state that this one is my favorite.  🙂

Put the American Prohibition Museum on the “Must-Do in Savannah” list ASAP.


The American Prohibition Museum is located at 209 W. St. Julian Street, Savannah, Georgia, 31401.

The museum is open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm everyday.

Admission prices:  Adults $12 and children $9

Discounts are available online and on the museum website if purchased in advance.

For more information visit or call 912-551-4054.



My favorite museum in Oklahoma?  Read about it here!

Want to plan a Walt Disney World vacation like a pro?  Read this.  And this.  And this.  OH!  And this, too!

Visiting Florida?  Check this out!

How about my favorite restaurant in Illinois?  Yep–click here!




The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts–Experience Adventure 13 of 100

My daughters and I spent a wonderful, art-centric day with my cousin and her son at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, our 13th of 100 experience adventures.


My beautiful cousin  (Her mom and my dad are siblings.)


My cousin’s son and my daughters (Does that make them 2nd cousins or cousins once removed?!?  I can never remember!)  LOL


The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is located in the historic city of Richmond, Virginia.  Like most art museums in larger cities, the VMFA exhibits overflow with artwork from around the globe.  However, the interesting architecture of the VMFA building and the breathtaking outdoor sculpture garden make this art destination exceptionally special.


It certainly helped that we visited on a gorgeous day, but the grounds of the museum begged us to stay outside just a little longer.  What a wonderful park and public space for the citizens of Richmond!








My daughters and I are always excited to find an unexpected Chihuly sculpture!

The COOLEST thing about the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (besides the awesome Robins Sculpture Garden) is that general admission is FREE.  Yep, FREE.  This includes ALL permanent exhibits and most collections.  Traveling exhibits and special engagements might cost a little, but seriously…FREE general admission…that is AMAZING.  I visit a TON of art museums–I cannot recall any of them being free to the public.  VMFA, you ROCK!  (And thank you!)






With over 35,000 pieces of art that represent almost every major culture, The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers visitors a thorough and immersive art history experience.


We greatly enjoyed the American Art and Early 20th Century European Art halls, as well as the Faberge and Russian Decorative Arts collection.  My daughters love Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Comfort Tiffany and were excited to find several pieces in the Decorative Arts After 1890 hall.



One of our favorite traveling exhibits is secretly following our homeschool journey–we have accidently experienced it at THREE different locations in THREE different states. What are the chances?!?


When I noticed it on the VMFA website before our visit, I laughed to myself and originally planned to skip it (since we have seen it twice already).  But when we arrived, the helpful information desk told me this special exhibit was free for military families.


Ok…you twisted my arm…we will enjoy it for the third time!  Honestly folks…it is AMAZING and quite an unbelievable archeological find and can we really see it too many times???  Apparently not.  🙂


Put the Terracotta Army:  Legacy of the Frist Emperor of China on your bucket list.  It is featured at the VMFA until March 11, 2018, and might be near you at a later date.  Who knows…maybe we will be lucky enough to see it for a 4th time some day!  HA!







The museum boasts two on-site restaurants and we enjoyed a delicious, fine dining lunch at Amuse, which features fresh, local ingredients and beautiful views of the sculpture garden.  Best Café, offering a more casual menu, overlooks the reflecting pool.

General admission is FREE (Yippeeee!) and the museum is open all 365 days of the year.  That is FABULOUS!

Hours:  10:00 am -5:00 pm and open until 9:00 pm on Thursdays and Fridays.  Parking for non-members is $5.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is located at 200 N. Boulevard, Richmond, Virginia, 23220.  For more information, call 804-340-1450, 804-340-1400 or visit

Online museum gallery map and gallery activities (homeschool goodies!) Click here!

Our day ended with a fantastic, personal tour of my cousin’s pre-Civil War home, where I saw a new-to-me picture of my grandparents, who left this world long before I was an adult.


Kind of an amazing day.  After we said goodbye to my gracious cousin and her family, my daughters and I continued our journey south.


Want another cool thing to do in Richmond, Virginia?  Read this!

How about Edgar Allan Poe?  Yep, everyone loves his work AND there is a Poe Museum in Richmond!  So cool!  Click here.

Do you love Dale Chihuly too?  Check this out!

Glass blowing on your bucket list?  Read this!

Are you a Salvador Dali fan?  Click here


The Edgar Allan Poe Museum–Experience Adventure 12 of 100

I registered my youngest daughter for the SAT test before I knew about this exciting Pennsylvania sabbatical, so I swapped the testing site to a location a tad bit closer to PA than Texas–and Richmond, Virginia won.

During my “What to do in Richmond, Virginia” search, I found the Edgar Allan Poe Museum and I immediately started collecting curriculum to create a unit study for my daughters.  I bought several books, a biographical DVD and an audio collection of his stories and poetry.  (I will provide a list at the end of this post.)

The girls read many of his pieces, including The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven.  Along with the readings, we focused on vocabulary, writing responses, discussions and literary devices.  We studied his timeline in a historical context, illustrated his poetry, re-wrote sections from other characters’ views and dissected his works as detective-based, science fiction and psychological horror stories.

I love nothing more than finishing up a great unit study with a relevant museum trip.  It is the icing on the homeschooling cake.  🙂


Even more AWESOME:  When we arrived at the museum, we happened upon the COOLEST thing EVER!


Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809.  We visited the museum on January 20, 2018, and guess what?!?  The museum was hosting a huge 209th birthday bash to celebrate Mr. Poe.  Complete happy accident on our part–we were only there that day because my daughter took the SAT that morning in Richmond.


I LOVE when this happens!


The Edgar Allan Poe Museum began as an enchanted garden shrine to Poe and opened to the public on April 26, 1922.  (April 26th is my b-day!  Not really relevant, just fun!)  James Howard Whitty and a group of literary enthusiasts originally wanted to honor Poe by restoring the Southern Literary Messenger building, where Poe began his work as an editor.

Unfortunately, the historical landmark was demolished.  Whitty collected and salvaged the building materials and Annie Jones used the bricks and granite to create paved walkways and peaceful paths, which became the garden and Edgar Allan Poe shrine.  Mrs. Jones used Poe’s poem, “To One in Paradise” as inspiration and filled the garden with plants from Poe’s mom’s grave.


Today, the land and museum consists of the garden, an old stone house and several buildings that display relics, artwork, personal letters and furniture from Poe’s life.


Photography is limited to certain areas, so I do not have a ton of pictures.  But, the museum is considered the most comprehensive in the world and showcases a large collection of Poe related items, including a staircase from his childhood home.


I took this picture of one of Mr. Poe’s desks.


We were thankful to be able to take advantage of the unique, birthday-themed events offered by the museum.  We toured the museum, ate cake, visited the garden and listened to knowledgeable docents explain exhibits.


Our favorite event–hands down–featured an intriguing mock trial, presented by a talented stage actor, portraying the narrator from Poe’s psychological thriller, “The Tell-Tale Heart”.  His performance brought the short story to life for my daughters.



The Edgar Allan Poe Museum is located at 1914-16 E. Main Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23223.  Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors.  For more information, visit or call 804-648-5523.


The museum has a wonderful gift shop and educational resources can be found on the website at



The resources I used to create an Edgar Allan Poe unit study are listed below:

The Edgar Allan Poe audio collection preformed by Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone.

Edgar A. Poe, Buried Alive, PBS American Masters DVD

Who Was Edgar Allan Poe, written by Jim Gigliotti

The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, book

The Best of Poe, book

Poe–Stories and Poems, a graphic novel adaptation by Gareth Hinds

Several Brain Pop and YouTube videos on Poe and literary devices

The educational resources listed on the Edgar Allan Poe Museum website:


Interested in another cool thing do to in Richmond, Virginia?  Click here.

A must-do art museum right in Richmond, VA–yep!  Read all about it here!

Wondering why we are doing all of this?  Read about the insanity here.

Road tripping to Illinois?  Make sure you stop at this restaurant!

Yummy VEGAN cinnamon rolls?  Yes, please!  Click here!


Maymont–Experience Adventure 11 of 100


For our first stop during our 3 week road trip, my daughters and I visited Maymont in Richmond, Virginia.  When conducting my usual Google research, Maymont came up as a Japanese Garden center and since my youngest was registered to take the SAT in Richmond the next morning, I decided a peaceful botanical garden offered the “zen”, pre-test afternoon we would all desire.

We left Pennsylvania on a Friday morning and the three of us drove to Maymont–which surprise–was SOOOOOOOO much more than a Japanese Garden!  We hope to go back some day soon because we did not even scratch the surface.  In fact, we stayed after closing–until we were kicked off the property.  LOL


What is Maymont?  A quick historical lesson:

Maymont is the American estate of Mr. James Henry Dooley and Mrs. Sallie May Dooley.  The couple purchased the 100 acre property in 1886 and lived there from 1893 to 1925.  Nestled up to the banks of the James River, Maymont showcases a beautiful mansion, and a gorgeous collection of pathways, bridges, gardens, and scenic landscapes.  The land also features twenty-five other preserved historic buildings, gazebos, a mausoleum and a nature center.








Mr. and Mrs. Dooley had no children and when Mrs. Dooley died in 1925, (Mr. Dooley passed in 1922), she gave the entire estate to the city of Richmond.  Within six months, it became a museum and park.  Due to the lack of heirs, the mansion is relatively untouched and offers an authentic example of American estates built during the Gilded Age in the south.

**Fun Fact:  Maymont was named after Mrs. Dooley’s maiden name, “May”, and the French word for hill, which is “mont”.


During the late 1870’s through the 1910’s, the Gilded Age movement filled the country with elaborate homes, treasures from around the world and created a society obsessed with status.  The post-reconstruction era focused on the opulent expression of great wealth, pushing aside the serious social issues of the time.

**Fun Fact:  The term “Gilded Age” was coined by Mark Twain.


Maymont, built by architect Edgerton Stewart Rogers, boasts 12,000 sq. ft. with 33 rooms and today, twelve restored rooms on the first and second floor and eight rooms below, can be viewed as a significant and realistic example of life during these times.

My daughters and I walked through the nature center and wandered around the property until we accidentally found the mansion.  Several informational posters hang from the gates and after reading a few, I knew we needed to take the guided tour of the interior.



The guided tour was everything I hoped it would be–thorough and informative.  The guide, though knowledgeable, was rude, condescending, abrasive and sexist.  Her behavior tarnished our experience and made my children very uncomfortable.  However, my girls were able to learn quite a bit about daily life, society and social expectations of the early 1900’s (and how not to act in the early 2000’s).  Everything (positive and negative) can be a learning experience.  🙂







Maymont is located at 2201 Shields Lake Drive, Richmond, Virginia, 23220.


Plan to visit the Maymont mansion and historic buildings, the nature and visitor center, gardens and arboretum, children’s farm and wildlife exhibit.  Visitors can expect to spend the entire day exploring.


The grounds, gardens and farm are free to the public and are open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm during October to March and are open until 7:00 pm from April to September.

The nature center is $4 for adults and $3 for children.

The mansion has a “suggested” donation of $5 a person, but the woman collecting the “donations” was extremely pushy and demanding, shaming the international family in line in front of us.  So, when it was our turn, I just donated the expected $15.  I think it would be appropriate for the “suggested donation” to become the posted price for the tour.

More information can be found at or by calling 804-358-7166. 

Check out some of our other adventures here, here and here!