Monday, December 28, 2020

Road Trip Games with Kids, Scavenger Hunt, I Spy, Punch Bug, and More!

As our winter road trip approaches, I am looking forward to the fun times we will have while traveling. Over the years, we have become quite good at passing the time by playing silly road-trip games. 

Playing games while traveling is a great alternative to spending time on your phones, tablets, and gaming devices. By choosing to play interactive games over electronics, you will lower your overall screen time as a family. You will also spend more time laughing, enjoying each other's company, and making memories.

I Spy

This is a classic game that many parents have played with their children. I Spy is a really simple game that can be fun for all age groups and is easy to play when confined to a small area. I will give the description below, but seriously, who hasn’t played I spy? 

How to play:
Youngest goes first by saying “I spy with my little eye, something…”, complete the sentence with a color. The other passengers then start to guess what the object is until one person guesses correctly. The person who guesses correctly then gets a turn to spy something and give everyone else a chance to guess.

I Spy Animal Edition

For this version of the classic I Spy game, the spy does not need to see the animal but only think about it. The possibilities are limitless but for younger players the animal variety may be slightly smaller. This becomes a great teaching moment by simply showing them a picture of the animal on your phone or tablet. 

How to play:
Youngest goes first by saying “I spy in my mind's eye, an animal that is…”, complete the sentence with the color of the animal. The other passengers then start to guess what animal the person is thinking of until one person guesses correctly. The spy usually gives fun clues along the way until one person guesses. The person who guesses gets a turn to spy something and give everyone else a chance to guess.

Road-side Scavenger Hunt

This has quickly become one of our favorite games to play when traveling backroads or side roads. This fun and easy travel game allows us to really focus on the world around us and find some really interesting things. Not to mention we get to take a break from the near-sited tablet and give our eyes some much needed far-sighted exercise.

How To Play:
Simply make a verbal or written list of things to look for as you drive. Some of our favorites are, green mail box, barn with red roof, pink house, yellow car/truck, a tractor, etc. Keep in mind that it is fun to put some wierd but fun things on the list. At some point along the way, trust me, you will find it. Each time that someone does spot an item on the list, everyone celebrates like crazy. Everyone except the driver of course. 

The License Plate Game

This is a great way to pass the time while driving. By the end of your trip, you may be surprised by how many other travelers you share the road with. 

How to play:
Each passenger will look at the license plate of passing cars. Each new plate is written down by a family member. At the end of the trip, you can tally them up to see how many states were represented on your trip. This is also a good game to play when stopping at rest stops, gas stations, and restaurants. 

Create a playlist

This started a few years back when my wife and I were planning our wedding playlist. Since then, this has become a sort of a road trip tradition. To do this, we simply start a Spotify playlist or modify an existing one. We each name songs that we like or have recently heard and after listening to each one we add it to the list. This is fun because we all have different tastes in music but we tend to like all genres. Our playlist will typically be filled with bluegrass, country, rock, and pop. Yes, we are a slighty weird family. 

How to play: 
Press play.

Dot to Dot Cheaters Addition

Dot to Dot is a game that my mom taught me when I was around 7 years old. It is a lot of fun when traveling because the sheet typically gets passed from the front seat to the back seat. Inevitably, my son will begin to make an extra line or two to get a couple of extra spaces. It is no surprise that his favorite game is Monopoly Cheaters addition. This game usually turns into a lot of laughs, but rarely it turns to huge argument. But in my opinion, every road trip needs a good argument.

How to play:
Simply make dots on a page, or print out several pages to take with you. Each person connects one line segment anywhere on the board. Eventually, boxes will be formed and whoever makes the box puts their initials in that box. The person with the most initials on the page wins the game.

Travel Bingo

This idea expands on the earlier mentioned license plate game. For our upcoming road trip I created travel bingo boards. The boards take on the appearance of classic bingo accept each square is filled with a state. Each time we see a license plate with that state we will each mark it off on the sheet. The first person to get 5 in a row wins. Whoever is in the passenger seat always helps the driver.

Punch Bug 

This is a classic game that my family has played for years. We generally don’t “punch” each other as much as tap, but we keep score to see who wins. We have made up some additional rules such as, 2 points for a vintage bug. We also add bonus points for things like convertibles or less common colors. To further complicate things there are made up penalties that causes the game to get completely silly. Needless to say, there is never a clear winner. 

How to play:
Each time you see a Volkswagen bug, tap the person next to you and say bunch bug. Only one tap if it’s a newer model, two taps if it’s vintage, if it’s pink then you get a third tap or maybe more. Be careful though, if that pink is a debatable shade of purple you could get a penalty and lose a stroke. On a side note, pictures of VW beetles shown on billboards or in magazine ads count too.


This vintage, multi-collor bug, with read wheel, a sunshine and flowers painted on it, should be would at least 5 points!   


Thank you for reading, please add your favorite road trip games or ideas in the comments! 

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Maggiano’s, Little Italy, Nashville, TN

Maggiano’s Little Italy, located in Nashville, Tennessee has always been one of our favorite Italian restaurants. My go-to dish is the Ziti while my wife's favorite is the lasagna. Both are great and you will not go wrong by choosing either of these great Italian dishes. Maggiano’s is consistent; they use the perfect amount of flavorful Italian sausage and fresh tomato sauce in both dishes. 

Based on my experience, if you dine at Maggiano’s you will not leave hungry. If you do get hungry later, no worries, you will likely have a take-home portion riding home in the back seat. For years, the taken home portion was included in the price of your entrée. I am sad to say that the days of the free lunch are gone. Maggiano’s now charges five dollars for the take-home portion but it is still a great value. 

Maggiano's Taylor Street Baked Ziti

As our appetizers, we chose the calamari and stuffed mushrooms. I have had better calamari but the mushrooms were just short of being a delicacy. Speaking of delicacies, Maggiano’s offers a dessert sampler that allows you to choose five smaller portioned desserts. I highly recommend the sampler. My family of five split these up and in the end; I was able to try the crème brulee and the butter cake. Both of these desserts were delicious but I think I prefer the butter cake a little more.

If you have not tried Maggiano’s in Nashville, please do yourself a favor and make a reservation today!

Friday, December 4, 2020

The Bent Rod Restaurant, McClellanville, SC

We were on our way back to North Myrtle Beach from Charleston, SC. We had spent the entire day at Patriots Point and by this time we were starving. The Bent Rod, located in McClellanville, SC, was the first eatery that showed on Google maps. McClellanville is a small fishing community with a population of approximately five hundred. The town sits directly on the east coast just north of Bulls Bay, and currently, it was our next stop.

The place looks small from the outside and it doesn't particularly stand out from its surroundings. In fact, if you aren’t paying attention then you may drive by and miss the place all together. On the inside, the owners have done a fantastic job of creating a cool vibe and an enjoyable atmosphere with limited space. They have also incorporated an open-air bar and added patio seating to maximize capacity.

When we arrived, I asked our server if they serve local seafood, I was assured that they do. Our server said that they purchase the bulk of their seafood from a local marina Just around the corner. This is the trend along the entire east coast, where there are several small fishing communities and a lot of great local restaurants. As a result, it is in this area that you can find some of the freshest and best seafood in the world. In my opinion of course.  

We started with the truffle fries; they were good but too oily for my taste. One of the locals overheard our conversation and recommended the shrimp his wife recommended the flounder. In the end, my wife ordered the shrimp, and I chose the flounder, so that we could try both. The portions were large, and everything was cooked perfectly. We had more than enough to eat and even left a few bites on our plates.

The Bent Rod is a wonderful place to stop and have some authentic local dishes. I also get the feeling that this would be a great place to enjoy a beer and try some local bar foods. If you are traveling along highway 17, the Bent Rod is worth a visit.

The Bent Rod