Family Weekend in Brisbane

A Local’s Guide for a Family Weekend in Brisbane

Guest Blogger, Olivia, from highstylelife.com tells us her top picks for a Family Weekend in Brisbane, Australia.

A Local’s Guide for a Family Weekend in Brisbane

 

Brisbane with Kids

Brisbane is a marvelous city. It is full of different attractions for everyone, from art enthusiast to families with kids. It continues to amaze with its sandy isles, sparkling forests, fascinating wildlife, palm trees, vineyards, and street art, even us who see those things every day. Living in Brisbane with a family with young kids is a chain of excitements. If you are planning to visit this Australian jewel, and you are not quite sure about how to spend your family weekend in Brisbane, here are some tips from the person who spends almost every weekend with her family there.

 

Visit one of the many playgrounds in the city

Frew Park Brisbane

If there is one thing that keeps my kids always entertained, that is a visit to the playground. Fortunately, in Brisbane, there are so many of them that each time we go is different. Because you will be here only for one weekend, you will have to decide for one or two of them. Most of the playgrounds are equipped with tree houses, forts, sand and rubber bases, picnic spots, slides and climbing opportunities.

Here are some of them your kids will definitely love:

  • Frew Park at Milton
  • New Farm Park
  • Pine Rivers Park
  • Riverheart Parklands
  • Kidspace Chermside

Tour the Queensland Museum

Located at South Brisbane, this museum offers free entrance and a ton of amazing exhibitions to explore. The majority of the exhibitions are kids-friendly and interactive. You can see the specimen section and a lot of evidence of Queensland’s biodiversity. There is also an outdoor play area where the children can play while the parents are having their morning tea.

Befriend the koalas

Koalas are truly adorable creatures, and the kids absolutely love them. So pack a picnic and set off to Daisy Hill Koala Centre. If your accommodation is on the north side of the city you can also visit Walkabout Creek for a similar experience in nature.

Go for a Wynnum Manly family bike ride

This is our all around favourite family adventure. It’s fun, it’s active and the scenic views along Family Weekend in Brisbanethe trail are amazing. Each month we take our bikes fully equipped with Shimano accessories and go for the 10km return drive. During that time the kids enjoy the parklands along the way. Of course, because the road is pretty long for small kids we usually pack some snacks and a lot of water. There are some spots where it is possible to stop and have a picnic or barbecue, and some playgrounds and a water park.

 

Cruise the Brisbane River

Kids are not big fans of sightseeing, and it is only a matter of time when they will start screaming “We’re bored”. However, if you make sightseeing more interesting for them, you might get away without that sentence. One way to do that is to go for a family-friendly cruise along the Brisbane River and enjoy the famous city landmarks, such as Story Bridge. Some cruise routes will stop at interesting sights where you can go out. You can visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and go for a ride on the famous Wheel of Brisbane.

Be creative at the QAGOMA Children’s Art Centre

Children’s Art Centre in QAGOMA in South Bank offers a unique opportunity of creating

Children's Art Center in Brisbane

Enjoy the QAGOMA Children’s Art Center in Brisbane

masterpieces in the activity centre within the gallery. Before they embark on this adventure, children can get inspired by the many word class art pieces exhibited in the gallery. When they start working, they will be supervised by many experienced artists. The activities they can try range from making shadow puppets and origami to painting.

There are plenty of other family-friendly activities available in Brisbane, including visiting the city library and stargazing at the Planetarium. One thing is sure: not a single member of your family will be bored in this city.

 

Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs,Teo and Mia. She is passionate about writing and always inspiring her readers to be clever in their lives. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”. She is a regular contributor at www.highstylife.com 

 *All Content and pictures were provided by guest blogger unless noted otherwise.

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Urgicare Clinic in St. Croix USVI

Purchasing Travel Medical Insurance – Why you need it even when traveling within the USA

 

Purchasing Travel Medical Insurance

As a young and care-free couple, purchasing travel medical insurance wasn’t on our radar. However, once we started traveling with kids, we realized we needed to be adequately covered in case of emergency.  We purchased our first travel medical plan to cover our family vacation to Mexico.   Since then, we have purchased plans from several different companies and have submitted a claim twice.   Our first travel illness happened while visiting St. Croix for a month long excursion and our second was on a recent trip to Florida.  Each time the claim process was smooth with prompt payment.

This is a non-sponsored article that contains our personal experiences with several Travel Medical Insurance Companies.  We did not receive any free products or discounts from these companies. This article contains affiliate links where we may receive a commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Why you need Travel Medical (even when traveling within the USA.)

Current ACA insurance plans are required to cover emergency medical even when you are out of network.  However, if the facility is not in your provider network, the rates may be much higher than an in-network facility causing you more out of pocket expense.  A travel medical plan will reimburse you for charges not covered by your insurance for specific covered medical reasons outlined in your policy.

Non-ACA plans (short-term health insurance or insurance that is not ACA certified) may not cover any out of network costs.  Check with your specific plan.  If you are traveling outside of your network, it is important to have adequate travel medical coverage.

Your Health Insurance plan may not cover you Internationally.  If you are traveling abroad it is important to check with your insurance plan to see what (if any) coverage you have in case of emergencies.  Medicare generally does not cover internationally.

Your insurance plan may not cover emergency evacuation.   When researching the best travel plan for our upcoming trip to the Cayman Islands, I discovered our employer-sponsored health insurance will cover us for emergency care worldwide. This was great to find out! However, the representative explained our policy did not include emergency evacuation back to the states.  They would only pay up to $500 for transportation to the nearest facility.  In most cases this is probably ok, however, medical air evacuation can cost $25,000 (or more) which may not be covered by standard health insurance.   Emergency evacuation is especially important when traveling to remote areas with poor medical facilities.

Some Travel Insurance plans cover both Travel Medical AND Trip Cancellation.  Have piece-of-mind when you book your beach vacation during hurricane season or if you experience an emergency just before your trip.  We usually book our beach trips during off season (hurricane season) to save money.   Because we know there is a chance of a weather-related cancellation, we always purchase a policy that includes both medical and trip cancellation.  Be careful to review covered reasons and policy rules before purchasing.

Tip: Decide which features are most important to your family before purchasing Travel Medical Insurance.  For us, we look for plans that include pre-existing conditions, emergency medical evacuation, and standard scuba diving coverage.  By standard we mean, non-extreme; recreational diving up to 100 feet with a certified dive master.

Trip Insurance

Enjoying a hike in St. Croix after recovering from illness.

Just a few days before taking the above picture our “Superman” was struck with a severe ear and sinus infection. A quick trip to the Urgicare got him back to enjoying our vacation. Delaying care due to cost concerns may have resulted in longer downtime.

Travel Medical Plans:

GeoBlue – We have purchased the GeoBlue Voyager Plan for several international trips because it was a great price for the coverage received and met our requirements.  The cost for one week for our entire family was around $70 and included pre-existing coverage, medical evacuation, and scuba diving (with some limitations).   We have not submitted claims to GeoBlue, however, they have great reviews from other customers regarding ease of claim processing.  GeoBlue also offers long term Expat plans for citizens living abroad. Pros: 24-hour phone/internet support, large provider directory for most destinations, and cost effective.  Cons: International travel only, requires a primary health care plan, and does not include anything other than travel medical/medical evacuation.  At the time of this post, GeoBlue is rated A+ by the BBB.

Travel Insured International – World Wide Trip Protector Plan.  We purchased this plan for our month long trip to St. Croix, USVI.  The cost was $288 ($144/adult, one child insured free with each adult policy).  This plan covered our list of required features including trip cancellation & interruption, up to $100,000 in accident/medical, and emergency medical evacuation.  The pre-existing condition exclusion was waived because we purchased the plan within 21 days of our initial trip payment.  The plan also covered Scuba Diving, as long as the divers are certified and diving with a dive master not exceeding 120 feet.  Unfortunately, our vacation started out with an immediate trip to the Urgicare.  At the Urgicare we found out our primary health insurance covered the visit and prescriptions with our regular copay.  After our trip, we submitted the out of pocket costs via email and were reimbursed for our entire out of pocket copay within about two weeks. Pros: Combo medical/trip insurance plan, easy claim submission, one child included with each adult plan.  Cons: More expensive, however, provides additional trip and medical coverage. At the time of this post, Travel Insured International is rated A+ by the BBB.

 

Purchasing Travel Medical Insurance

Sick can happen anytime and we’ve visited an Urgent Care facility more than once while on vacation. Our Allianz claim was easy and we were reimbursed within 2 weeks.

Allianz – Classic Plan with Trip Plus.  We purchased this plan for our recent vacation to the Cayman Islands.  The Cost was $214 for two weeks of coverage ($107/adult, kids insured free with each adult policy).  This plan includes our required features; trip cancellation & interruption, up to $50,000 in accident/medical, and emergency medical evacuation.  The price was $44 less than the online quote from Travel Insured International.  The policy includes preexisting conditions when purchased within 14 days of the initial trip deposit and covers standard scuba diving with a dive master.  Now that we know our primary health insurance will cover emergency visits worldwide, we no longer pay for additional emergency medical coverage; our primary concern is ensuring emergency evacuation coverage.  Last year we purchased this plan for our Florida family vacation.  During our trip, three of us contracted strep throat.  We visited the local Urgicare listed as a preferred provider for our primary insurance.  After our trip, we submitted all three copays & medication receipts online and received a check for all out of pocket costs within 2 weeks.  In this case, our refund received was more than the original cost of the plan.  Pros: Combo medical/trip insurance, easy claim submission, children included with adult plans, medical evacuation up to 1 million dollars, slightly less expensive than the Travel Insured World Wide Plus Plan.  Cons: less emergency medical coverage (up to $50,000 versus $100,000 with the Travel Insured comparable plan).  At the time of this post, Allianz is rated 9.1/10 on consumersadvocate.org.

Travelex – Travel Select Plan.   The Travel Select Plan seems comparable to the plans listed above.  It includes trip cancellation & interruption, up to $50,000 in accident/medical, and emergency medical evacuation.  When purchased within 21 days of the initial trip deposit the plan also has a pre-existing condition waiver.  A recent online quote for two weeks to the Cayman Islands came in at $174 ($87/adult, one child insured free with adult policy).  However, this plan excludes coverage for recreational diving.   Since that is one of our required features we did purchase this policy.  Pros:  A little less expensive than comparable plans from other companies.  Cons: Lacked one of our required features.  However, this plan could be an option for non-scuba diving adventures.  At the time of this post, Travelex is rated 9.3/10 on ConsumersAdvocate.org.

World Nomads – Explorer Plan. A recent online quote for two weeks in the Cayman Islands came in at $330 for the entire family.  It includes both emergency medical and evacuation and adventure sports such as scuba diving; however, pre-existing conditions are not covered so this plan did not meet our required features for purchase.  Pros: Includes trip cancellation & interruption as well as emergency medical up to $100,000 and evacuation up to $500,000.  Cons: More expensive than other quoted plans and does not include a pre-existing condition waiver. At the time of this post, World Nomads is rated 9.2/10 on ConsumersAdvocate.org.

Tips for ensuring the best coverage if you get sick during travel:
  • Contact your primary insurance in advance to find out what coverage they provide at your specific destination. Pick the best Travel Medical Insurance plan that covers any “gaps” for your particular needs.
  • Take a list of preferred providers for both your primary insurance (if applicable) and travel medical insurance in case you experience a medical emergency during your trip. Most insurance companies have a “provider finder” tool on their website.
  • If you have a serious emergency during travel, such as a heart attack, contact the local emergency (911 or equivalent) and go to the closest hospital. As soon as you are stable or when your travel partner has a chance, call both your primary insurance and travel insurance company to notify them of your emergency.  In some cases, your travel insurance will arrange for payment up front if needed or direct you to the closest appropriate medical center for further treatment.
  • If your medical issue is non-urgent (as in the case of our strep throat), take a few minutes to call or look online for your policy’s preferred urgent care provider near your location. Most travel insurance companies offer a 24-hour travel medical hotline.  They should be able to help you find a covered provider at most destinations.
  • If your emergency requires hospitalization, keep in contact with your insurance company(s) as they may require preauthorization for some services.
  • Understand your travel policy rules and exclusions before purchasing. It is important to know what is covered and what is not covered before you take your trip.

*This post is not meant to replace specific policy information provided by your insurance plan.  When purchasing travel medical insurance it is important to read and understand your coverage prior to purchase.

This post is non-sponsored and contains affiliate links where we may be paid a small amount for purchases at no additional cost to you.

 


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A Season by Season Guide to Minneapolis, MN

Last week we heard from a local Minnesota Blogger on the 10 Best Things to do in The Twin Cities; and this week Guest Blogger Emily from emdashed.com gives us reasons we should visit Minneapolis all year in her Season by Season Guide to Minneapolis, MN.

 

Season by Season Guide to Minneapolis, MN

Season by Season Guide to MN

Minneapolis, Minnesota is a small metropolis in the Upper Midwest, a region of the United States often overlooked by foreigners and Americans alike.

Many tourists have never even heard of this city; those who have are often scared off by its reputation for harsh and extreme weather. There’s a common joke that says Minneapolis has two seasons: winter and road construction.

In reality, it has all four seasons, and each one has something unique and fun to offer. Here’s a season-by-season guide to Minneapolis, MN — no matter the weather.

 

Spring

Season by Season Guide to MinneapolisSpring can be a tricky one to nail down in Minneapolis. It might be warm and beautiful, or there may be snow on the ground through Easter.Minnihaha Falls MN

 

 

 

 

But when the season does arrive, it’s a sight to behold: rain pours down, and the city’s many green spaces become lush and vibrant once more.

When the rain stops, head out to Minnehaha Falls to see the waterfalls cascading and the creek waters gushing. Or take your pick of the city’s parks and enjoy a picnic sans mosquitoes—something you certainly can’t do in July.

 

Summer

Minneapolis State FairSummer in Minneapolis usually comes in the form of heatwaves broken up by cooler periods, accompanied by sky-high humidity.

Luckily, the city has 19 lakes within its limits—the perfect place to cool off when the air turns hot, heavy, and languid.

Free music performances and outdoor movie screenings take place throughout various parks in the evenings. And at the end of August, the Minnesota State Fair opens up and asks the timeless question: just how many different foods can be served on a stick?

 

Autumn

Come autumn, the air turns chilly, but the leaves turn brilliant. It’s a great time to head down toMinneapolis in the Fall the Mississippi River—the longest in North America—and see the trees decked out in glorious shades of orange, red, and gold. Take a walk, go for a drive, or rent a bicycle and explore via one of the area’s many cycling paths.

This season is ideal for those who wish to avoid summer crowds and high season, without sacrificing the good weather entirely. If you’re lucky, sunny mild days will last well into October. (Of course, there might also be a blizzard on Halloween—but it’s all part of the adventure, right?)  *Fall Photo credit – Unsplash (dot) com.

 

Winter

Minneapolis Winter AttractionsThere’s no sugarcoating it: winters in Minnesota are rough. Average temperatures in January are around 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 Celsius), and large snowfalls are typical.

That said, Minneapolis offers a variety of indoor activities to keep you busy (and perfectly warm) during these icy days. Take in a show at one of the city’s highly-acclaimed theaters, such as the Guthrie—an award-winning venue whose annual run of “A Christmas Carol” is an iconic part of the holiday season for many Minnesotans. Or pop into a museum, like the Walker Art Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, or the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Looking for a bit a thrill? Take the light rail to the Mall of America and ride the rollercoasters at Nickelodeon Universe, the mall’s indoor amusement park. Or hey: grab a sled, embrace the cold, and go find a snowy hill to fly down. (Just make sure you bundle up first!)

If you’ve previously disregarded Minneapolis because of its climate, I hope I’ve convinced you to think again. There’s nothing to fear from any of our seasons—except maybe a bit of frostbite. (Seriously: bundle up.)

 

Emily is an American blogger who has lived overseas for the past six years. Born and raised in Minneapolis, she spent four years backpacking in New Zealand and Australia before moving to the Netherlands in 2014. Now, she lives in a small Dutch town in the countryside and shares stories of her life as a foreigner on her blog, emdashed.com.

*All Content and pictures for A Season by Season Guide to Minneapolis were provided by guest blogger unless noted otherwise.

 

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Twin Cities Skyline

10 Best Things to do in The Twin Cities

Guest blogger Jenn Singer of Day Tripper, (and Minnesota Native), tells us her Top 10 Best Things to do in The Twin Cities.

10 Best Things to do in The Twin Cities

 

10 Best Things to do in the Twin Cities1. Target Field

Target field is my favorite sports venue in the cities. This was the way baseball was meant to be seen. My husband and I get excited every year just for the food alone. My favorite foods are in Hrbek’s Pub located downstairs behind home plate. It’s a great value, exceptional product and food served fresh.

 

2. Science Museum of MinnesotaScience Museum St. Paul MN

Every kids favorite school field trip location was the Science Museum. And as a grown up it’s even better. With hands-on activities for every age group, Omni screen and always changing displays; it’s worth every penny.

 

 

 

The Minneapolis Institute of Art3. Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The Twin Cities has a great collection of different museums to check out. Most of them are free too. I loved the MIA for a couple reasons. They have a bit of everything, from different cultures, to pop art from the 60’s. Their collection of period pieces and rooms is phenomenal. It transforms you into another world. The rooms on the 4th floor are haunted too.

Minneapolis Institute of Art

White dog from the Pop Art and Neo-Pop Wing

 

4. Mall of America
Mall of America Twin Cities Carousel

Mall of America Carousel

No list of the Twin Cities could not be complete with the Mall of America. With over 530 stores, you are bound to find something you like. The mall becomes a favorite of many out of town visitors because we don’t charge sales tax on clothing. That guarantees you a 7-8% off on all clothing purchases. On a cold or rainy day, you’ll be bumping into a lot of people. My recommendation is to visit during the week or on a nice day. That way you can jump on to all the rides at Nickelodeon Universe without waiting.

 

Sealife Aquarium in the Mall of America5. Sealife Aquarium

Also in the Mall of America is Sealife aquarium. It’s perfect for getting up close and personal with aquatic life. They have touch pools for kids to explore and an amazing stingray exhibit. Besides petting the rays, you can also feed them. There are 4 different underwater tunnels with different ocean life to explore. Tip: Purchase tickets online before you go for an extra discount.

Sealife Aquarium Minneapolis MN

Stingray Exhibit

 

6. Minnesota Zoo, Apple ValleyMN Zoo Farm

With a few zoos to choose from, the Minnesota Zoo has always been my favorite. They have over 2.5 miles of trails with all kinds of different animals. The zoo staff is always on hand to answer any question you may have about the animals. My favorite season to visit is always fall, just because the leaves are changing. They also put out seasonal treats for the animals. It’s always an adventure. If you can, go right when the zoo opens. The animals are the most active then.

Minnesota Zoo Moose

Moose at the MN Zoo

 

Lake Harriet's Enchanted Elf Door - 10 Best Things to do in the Twin Cities

Enchanted Elf Door – Lake Harriet

7. Lake Harriet

Minnesota’s is known for their amazing trails and lakes. My favorite is Lake Harriet in Uptown. They have a band shell that plays music during the summer months. There are separate paths for bikers and walkers. Parking is found all around the lake for free. If you have younger kids, stop to see Mr. Little Guy. His home is located between the bike path and the walking path just past South Oliver Avenue. At the base of the tree, kids leave little notes for him and he always responds.

8. Lake Minnetonka Steam Boat

Lake Minnetonka is one the biggest in the Twin Cities. If you don’t want to rent a party boat or go on a cruise, check out the Steamboat Minnehaha. It’s an hour long tour of Lake Minnetonka on the historic Minnehaha Steamboat. This boat was used in the early 1900’s as a ferry. This is a great way to view the lakes and kids especially like it because they can see the interworking’s and get the opportunity to drive.

 

9. Main Street in StillwaterStillwater Bridge

Everything in Stillwater moves a little slower. Located right off the Mississippi, this town is perfect for a taking a stroll though. When downtown, check out some great antique stores and riverfront restaurants. They also offer different trolley tours of the city. It’s worth it because they’ll take you past some of the amazing homes. Just outside of town, they have three wineries and an apple orchard.

 

Minnesota's Largest Candy Store10. The Largest Candy Store in Minnesota

In Jordan Minnesota, just 30 mins south of the Twin Cities, you’ll find Minnesota’s Largest candy store. This place is amazing. You will find all the candies you loved as a kid and so much more. They also boast bacon flavored everything, 100s of different pops, Pez, licorices and more puzzles you could ever image. Make sure you grab cash before you leave because they don’t take plastic. We always make sure to stop a couple times during the year, because they are only open during the summer months.

Special thanks to guest blogger Jenn Singer for showing us her top 10 Best things to do in The Twin Cities.  Next week we will be featuring another Minnesota blogger who gives us some pretty convincing reasons Minnesota is perfect for visiting during every season of the year!

 

JGuest Blogger Fun Family Vacationsenn Singer is a travel writer for DayTripper28.com, a Minnesota Travel blog that explores different Minnesota destinations. She doesn’t believe that a Vacation should require you to use up your precious Vacation time from work. As a Minnesota native, her passion for exploring has led her to try all kinds of new things. As someone that takes 30+ Day Trips a year, she is always up for an adventure.

*All content and pictures provided by our guest blogger.

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Two Traveling Texans
Winter Weekend Getaway

Winter Weekend Getaway at Kalahari Resorts

Winter Weekend Getaway at Kalahari Resorts

 

We just finished our Holiday travels and we are already thinking about a Winter Weekend Getaway.   The Kalahari Resorts and Convention Centers seem like the perfect destination to escape our winter blues and wind down from the hectic holiday season.

Summer Fun in the Middle of Winter at Kalahari Resorts

We need a Vacation from our Holiday Vacation!

They have so much to offer people of all ages.  From Waterslides to wave pools, splash padsKalahari Resorts Pocono Mountains, PA for the little ones, and a luxury spa and swim up bar for the adults.    Not only do they feature the world’s largest indoor waterparks, they’ve been voted the “world’s coolest indoor waterpark.”   Kalahari Resorts currently offers three African-themed resorts in Wisconsin Dells, WI, Sandusky, OH, and Pocono Mountains, PA.

 

 

Kalahari Resorts Family VacationWe’ve been looking at the Pocono Mountains, PA indoor waterpark which currently features some pretty awesome slides, The Anaconda Water Roller Coaster, a Lazy River, Safari Kids & Toddler play area, and much more.  Plus, this location is conveniently within driving distance of most major East Coast metropolitan areas.  In just a few short months, (March 2017), The Kalahari Resorts and Conventions Pocono Mountains location is opening their Newest Addition that will make it America’s largest indoor waterpark.

 

 

Winter Weekend Getaway

Summer Fun in the Middle of Winter!

Some of the newest features at Kalahari Resorts Pocono Mountains, PA will include:

8 New Water Slides:  Screaming Hyena – 25mph near vertical plunge (what teen wouldn’t love this?), Sahara Sidewinder – 250 foot indoor looping waterslide, “The Smoke that Thunders” and Victoria Falls – a South African Waterslide experience, Kenya’s Korkscrew  Zig-Zag slide, and The Cheetah Race Mat Slide.

Character Meet and Greets Kalahari

They also offer Kalahari Character Meet & Greets

The new additions will also include a newly expanded Lazy River, Coral Cove kids area, and Dungeons of Hout Wavepool.  What I’m most excited about is the Cabana Island; this looks like an awesome place for me to relax watching the kids experience summer fun in the middle of winter.

Kalahari Resorts Spa

This Could Be Me!

There will also be several non-swimming attractions including an expanded family entertainment center that offers a Virtual Reality experience.  I’d love to spend an afternoon in their Luxury Spa.

Winter Fun at Kalahari Indoor Water Parks

Several On-Site Dining Options at Kalahari Resorts

Each location also offers a variety of onsite dining options, so there is no need to leave the resort during your stay.   You can enjoy full sit-down steak dinner experience; a casual pub-like atmosphere and even a market style grab and go option.

 

 

 

Their resorts look like so much fun!  Who knew you could take such an adventure packed vacation indoors, in the middle of winter?    Check out their resorts and newest attractions at the Kalahari Resort Pocono Mountains location and start planning your Winter Weekend Getaway today.  We are.

Winter Weekend Getaway at Kalahari Indoor Waterpark

 

*Sponsored post by Kalahari Resorts.  All Kalahari Resorts Photos courtesy of Kalahari Resorts.