Instagram Travel is Almost Like Being There, But You Still Need To Experience a Tooting Cow In Person

Instagram has given me so many ideas for future travel. When it comes to scenic photos, it's almost like the next best thing to being there.  However, no phone app will ever be able to replace the joy of experiencing travel in person, especially when it comes museum exhibits. 

Last month, my friend and I took our kids to Discovery Place in Charlotte, N.C.  You may have seen some of these photos on Instagram. We were surprised to meet a tooting cow in person. Words just can't describe this amazing Animal Grossology exhibit at the museum. I think we were all in awe. What is not to love about a tooting cow? Seriously, it eats grass then you watch the grass go through the cow's stomach, and the finale is a big, ole toot. I am sorry, but I howled. This is a great example of museums making learning fun for both kids and adults. 

And the kids loved it because the entire exhibit let them laugh and giggle about what they love to laugh and giggle about: bathroom humor. 

Animal Grossology is a special exhibit which will be at the Discovery Place museum in Charlotte until January 1, 2014.  It is based on the popular "GROSSOLOGY" series of books by Sylvia Branzei. It has been such a popular exhibit that the museum has extended its stay. The exhibit is just a small part of the museum though. There is so much more to see and do. 

Discovery Place provided hours of entertainment for us. There is something for every age to discover about science. Our children left with a new appreciation for science, and I did, too. Through interactive exhibits, we learned that science is fun, and full of discovery.

The museum is open daily in Uptown Charlotte. The cost is affordable for families, compared to theme parks, and they have price points that also include IMAX admission. I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself visiting North Carolina this year. 

And Discovery Place is also on Instagram.

We Stayed in StayBridge Suites, an IHG Brand-Hotel in Charlotte
Charlotte is about a three-hour drive from Raleigh, N.C. I guess we could have easily done the trip in one day if we had wanted, but we really wanted to make a fun,overnight excursion out of it.  My Facebook and Instagram community told me that they like to spread out a bit when traveling with children.

I don't like to recommend properties to readers unless I've checked them out myself, and this trip gave me the opportunity to review an upscale, affordable-luxury priced hotel for families. We stayed in a two-bedroom suite at Staybridge Suites Ballantyne. We had two double-beds in one room, a queen bed in another bedroom, two full-bathrooms, a full-kitchen, and a sleeper sofa. 
I was so impressed with the Staybridge Suites in Charlotte Ballantyne. It made a great base for our overnight trip. We were two moms traveling with four kids. We felt safe, secure, and highly welcomed, even though the hotel caters to many professionals on business during the week. We were the only ones with younger children on this night, but that was OK. We still went to the complimentary social anyway, and ate lots of delicious cookies which were a big hit in my Instagram feed. 

The bedding was good. The amenities were upscale. The hotel offered free wi-fi, and the in-room popcorn was a great touch for kids. Honestly, the value is unbeatable for the stay. The hotel also provides complimentary breakfast each morning plus books and games for kids.
I know the Ballantyne Hotel Group runs a tight ship, and their hotel properties in Charlotte are excellent, but I also believe they are upholding the standards of the entire IHG group brand.  For this reason, I do feel comfortable recommending the Staybridge Suites for travel anywhere.  I also give two thumbs up to the complimentary beer and wine socials, which are also at every Staybridge Suites property across the country.  These two wine glasses were an Instagram favorite. 

I am still a luxury hotel girl at heart, and would probably seek out IHG's luxury brand, Intercontinental, for my own vacations when possible, but I would definitely stay in a Staybridge Suites, too and be perfectly content.

I will always have a special fondness for this Charlotte Staybridge Suites hotel's sister hotel, The Ballantyne Hotel and Spa (my very first "Pack Your Bags" of 2012), but a two-bedroom suite in a luxury hotel for an extended stay breaks most budgets, and this makes a good alternative. 

Based on my own stay, I believe Staybridge Suites provides an excellent upscale experience for those families seeking more space when they travel. Rates for a two-bedroom suite is usually priced around $225 per night, depending on season and availability. 

Before we mention the link-up, let's talk about Instagram travel on Twitter. Join me for a special Instagram Travel Thursday Twitter Party next week on August 29 at 12:00 pm (EST). 

Instagram Travel Thursday Twitter Party

WHAT: twitter party to discuss about Instagram & travel WHEN: August 29, 2013,12:00 PM [EST, 5PM GMT (that's noon in New York and 5PM in London) WHO: Join the #IGTravelThursday hosts @skimbaco @luxurytravelmom @elenasonnino @childmode @houseofanais @hinessightblog @satuvw Also @Finnstyle_com will be chiming in and they are giving away a Marimekko iPhone case for a Twitter party participant. PARTY PRIZES: free copies of Instagram as your Guide to the World - How, What and Who to Search and Follow on Instagram to Help You Travel the World ebook, and Marimekko iPhone case.  Use the hashtag #IGTRAVELTH
If you are a blogger, please join us in the Instagram Travel Thursday link-up.  Take a look at the link-up rules below before linking, and please link back to a host so others can find everyone's links. 

Take a look at the official rules on Skimbaco Lifestyle, but here are some important things to remember when linking your post.

Here are the Linky rules:
Link to a new Instagram travel post and use the permalink of your post, not the homepage URL.
Only new posts from the week of the linky and no giveaways, other linkys or sales pitches.
No links to your Instagram profile, only links to your blog.
Link back to one of the Instagram Travel Thursday hosts.
Visit a few other posts in the linky and show them some love (comment, tweet, Pin etc.).
Links that do not follow the guidelines will be removed.

The Instagram Travel Thursday linky is posted on Thursdays at 1AM EST and the linky is open until the following Wednesday.
Be sure to follow me on one or more of my social media platforms.  TwitterInstagram ,FacebookPinterest, Google Plus or on Bloglovin, if you just want post updates. When traveling, I'm on Instagram the most.  My personal family Instagram account is LeighPHines.

Disclosure: I was a complimentary media guest at Staybridge Suites in order to write about the Charlotte area as a travel destination. We paid for our own admission to Discovery Place., and smelled the toots just like everybody else. As always, opinions about my travel experiences are my own, and I appreciate Charlottesgotalot assistance for story ideas in the area.

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