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Lately: Chinese Lantern Festival + Weekend in Florida

The last eight days have been so nice. I had my mom here in Charlotte last week and then I was able to travel back to Florida with her on Friday afternoon to spend the weekend with my grandmother. I arrived back in Charlotte this evening and swung by Whole Foods and Harris Teeter on my way home so I could hit the ground running.

Backing up to recap some of the weekend highlights before I jump into this work week.


charlotte chinese lantern festival review

On Thursday evening my mom and I drove out to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden for the Chinese Lantern Festival.

charlotte chinese lantern festival

The Garden currently has over 800 stunning handmade lanterns on loan from China. One of the volunteers told me that it took them over six weeks to make the journey and they arrived in something like a dozen big shipping containers.

This elephant display is made entirely from cups and saucers!

charlotte chinese lantern festival

Here’s a collage of some of the gorgeous lanterns. Most of them are animal themed and they are spread out over 12 acres.

chinese lantern festival

All lit up!

Here are my tips for visiting the Chinese Lantern Festival.

  • The exhibit is open weekly from Wednesday-Sunday 5:30-9:30 p.m. through October 29. I highly recommend visiting on a Wednesday or Thursday. We had minimal crowds and it was easy to see everything and to get food from the food trucks. From what I’ve heard on social media, it’s a zoo on the weekends.
  • Tickets are available online or at the door. They are slightly cheaper online.
  • We arrived while it was still light out and took one stroll around the Festival and really had a chance to admire the craftsmanship of the lanterns with hardly any crowds. At this point we stopped for dinner and then took it all in a second time once it was dark. The show was so different in dusk and dark and equally as impressive!
  • The Festival is kid-friendly and I think that children would LOVE all of the animal lanterns. The whole show is very visually stimulating.
  • There is a beer and wine tent so you can have a cocktail while you walk around. Sounds like a fun date night to me! 🙂
  • There are a few food trucks on site or you could bring a picnic and that would be fun too! There are plenty of places to sit and eat.

charlotte nc chinese lantern festival

If you’re in the Charlotte-area, I hope you’ll go check out the Chinese Lantern Festival. If not, I hope you liked the photos! 🙂


My dad picked us up from the airport on Friday night and we went straight to our favorite seafood spot. My mom and I shared this steamed shrimp platter and also had hush puppies and seafood gumbo.

I lucked out with sunny (but hot!) weather. My mom and I hung out at the pool on Saturday afternoon and the beach on Sunday.

The gulf can change so much depending on the season, the tides, seaweed, etc. but it was crystal clear during my visit. I could go in up to my shoulders and still see my feet.

Sunset dinners + my dad’s cooking!

Rotten golden retrievers.

Nightly Scrabble tournaments with my grandmother. She won the first night. My mom joined us the second night and I came through with the win. I LOVE Scrabble!

Saying goodbye but see you very soon!

My grandmother is the sweetest and she cut the crossword out of the paper (she usually does it herself!) and sent it with me on the plane today because she knows that it’s my favorite plane activity.

That’s a wrap.

What’s your favorite board game? 

Any recent weekend travels or upcoming weekend getaways? 

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Courtney September 19, 2017, 7:52 am

    Hi Jen,

    I’m hoping to go to Destin next year and would like your opinion on what area to stay and places to eat. I haven’t been to Destin in nearly 20 years so I’m sure it’s changed a bunch. Any advice is appreciated.

    • Jen September 19, 2017, 8:28 am

      Hi Courtney! Yes, Destin has certainly changed so much from when I was a kid and we used to vacation there every summer. If at all possible, I recommend visiting in April-May or September-October. The summer months are nuts with traffic and crowds but doable if that’s your only window. The shoulder seasons are AMAZING!

      Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with exact places to stay as I always stay with my family but I will say that if you’re looking for the same beautiful beaches but less huge developments and more small beach town feel, head down 30A and check out places like Grayton Beach, Seaside, Watercolor and Rosemary Beach. Otherwise, I’d just be scrupulous about reading reviews and remember that so many of the condos are individually owned and decorated so they might vary a ton within the developments.

      RE: food. Will depend where you end up staying! 🙂

  • Emily @ Pizza & Pull-Ups September 19, 2017, 2:19 pm

    Those lanterns are amazing! Glad you had fun.

  • Bonnie September 20, 2017, 10:16 am

    The photos from the Chinese lantern festival are beautiful! I wish they had that near me – I would love to see it in person. The crossword puzzle actually brought a tear to my eye. I guess I’m a total sap but that is so sweet and thoughtful. Enjoy your week!

  • Anne September 23, 2017, 6:03 pm

    I was wondering if you were a crossword fiend, too, given your love for Scrabble. My favorite way to pass the time! 🙂

    • Jen September 28, 2017, 2:11 pm

      Yes, I love any kind of word games. That is just how my mind works!

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