Best Family Hikes at Arches National Park in Moab, Utah

We recently spent a weekend in Moab, Utah, at Arches National Park. It was so fun!! Jeff would go here every year growing up and was excited to finally take the rest of us. And with so many family-friendly hikes, this is a great option when planning an easy family vacation in Utah. Since we live about 3 hours away, we left late one Friday morning, hiked all afternoon,  ate dinner, got ice cream, swam at our hotel pool (very important to the kids!), finished hiking the next morning and got on the road by 2 p.m. We had more than enough time to do all the hikes we wanted with our 11, 8 and 6 year old.

A few tips:

  • Parking is limited at the park–nearly every trail has a designated parking lot at the base, but they get crowded quickly! You may have an easier time finding parking earlier or later in the day. They do ticket, so be sure to only park in the designated spots. Plus we want to preserve the beauty of Arches National Park. If you can’t find a spot at the first trail you come to, move on to another one and come back later.
  • Bring LOTS of water. Even on the smaller trails, bring water. It’s amazing how thirsty everyone gets in the heat, even on smaller hikes. We had a backpack to tote the water along on each trail.
  • Pack snacks- gum and licorice worked great on the trails to keep blood sugar up and little ones happy (and enticed them to keep walking). We also packed grapes, apples, and granola bars.
  • Use the bathroom at any trail head that offers one. Even if little ones just went and claim they don’t have to go. Trust us. Nothing worse than getting to an arch and someone says, ‘I have to go..NOW.’ And then a mad-dash to the bathroom ensues.
  • Lastly, be sure to grab a Visitor’s Guide (a newspaper type brochure) as you enter the park. It has all the up-to-date information you need for your time in the park, including a map. Typically they are available at the Ranger’s Station when you pay to enter the park ($25 for a 7 day pass), but you can also find them in the Visitor’s Center.

So what are the best hikes for families at Arches National Park??

1.Sand Dune Arch was at the top of our list for favorites!

Sand Dune Arch

With so many places to climb, play and explore, no wonder this easy trail was a win with our kids! We packed some sand toys, but our kids had so much fun just exploring, we didn’t even use them. The simple trail was about a 15-minute walk to the arch. We spent about an hour here, but you certainly could spend more or less depending on your schedule. And there was shade, too, which was so nice since it gets VERY hot!

Sand Dune Arch

Sand Dune Arch

Arches National Park

Sand Dune Arch

2. Balanced Rock is the first easy trail you’ll come to when you enter the park.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Balance Rock

This easy trail, maybe even the easiest out of all the easy trails, has a flat walking path to the base of the rock. From there, you can climb up a little bit below the rock if you choose. We spent about 30 minutes here.

3. The Windows are actually three separate arches: North & South Windows and Turret Arch.

The Windows

The Windows

A slightly longer path with some stairs and rocks to climb on makes this a fun, but slightly more difficult ‘easy’ path. It IS still easy, but you definitely cannot take a stroller on this trail and little legs may start to slow down walking from one window to the other. Our kids had a blast climbing all over the rocks on this trail. There is little to no shade on this trail.  Plan for at least 30 minutes–we spent about an hour going from one arch to the next and back to the parking lot.

4. Landscape Arch took us about 1 1/2 hours to explore. It’s a longer trail than some of the other easy hikes, plus there are two additional easy trails where you can see Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches. We also saw PLENTY of lizards on this trail 🙂

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch (pictured above) and Pine Tree Arch (pictured below).

pine tree arch

5. Double Arch is located across the parking lot from The Windows. It is a pretty quick and easy trail, even for little legs. We spent about 30 minutes or so at this arch.

Double Arch

6. Skyline Arch is a super short 20 minute hike on a clearly defined trail.

skyline arch

7. Petroglyps located at the trail head to Delicate Arch are super cool to see whether you plan to hike Delicate Arch (more on that below) or not.

arches national park

arches national park

Lastly: Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch

Should you hike with young kids?  Probably! We did, and were SO glad we did,  but it just depends on your kids 🙂  Keep in mind it is a strenuous hike, in direct sunlight. While it can be hiked in 2 hours, we would say block out 3.5 hours for the entire experience. That includes using the bathrooms before, which there is typically a long line, seeing the petroglyphs at the bottom, and plenty of time for stopping along the way to rest, get drinks, and have snacks. Our young kids did great and we saw several other families with children our age or even younger.

moab utah

drop off on delicate arch

Be sure to follow the cairns (we missed one, following some other hikers) and took a 20 minute detour. Also be aware that the last 200 yards of the hike, there is a rather steep drop off. We had our young kids keep one hand on  the side of the mountain at all times. It can also be pretty steep hiking out onto the side of the ‘bowl’ to get right under the arch. We opted not to do that part quite yet.

One last note: Hotels & Food!

We opted to stay at the Holiday Inn Express and Suits Moab. The pool and free breakfast were awesome.

moab utah hotels

holiday inn moab pool holiday inn moab

After hiking all day, it felt great to cool down in the pool!

As far as dinner went, we opted to eat at Pasta Jay’s  (something about carbs 🙂 )

pasta jays pasta jays pasta jays

Pasta Jays

The Garlic Bread was really yummy, as were all the pasta dishes. Emily didn’t love the chicken in hers, but thought everything else was delicious.

We also grabbed ice cream from Crystal’s Cakes & Cones, just adjacent to Pasta Jay’s. They had the yummiest flavors, were huge scoops and a great price!

crystals cakes and cones

We absolutely loved our time at Arches and can’t wait to go back!


Boston: 9 Awesome Things To Do With Kids

1.The Freedom Trail

freedom trail

We visited Boston for two days last October (it was part of our two week East Coast Road Trip- read more about that here). There were so many fun and historical things to see in this amazing city. Following The Freedom Trail throughout Boston was one of our kids favorite and most memorable activities our entire trip.

freedom trail in boston freedom trail in boston

I’m not even sure they realized how far they walked because of how much fun they had.

2. The Old North Church

old north church

One of the 16 official sites along the Freedom Trail is the historic Old North Church. On April 18, 1775 Paul Revere met up with the sexton Robert Newman to tell him how to signal the advancement of British troops towards Lexington and Concord. Newman then met fellow Sons of Liberty Captain Pulling and Thomas Bernard. Leaving Bernard to keep watch outside, Newman opened the church and he and Pulling climbed the stairs and ladders up eight stories to hang two lanterns for a few moments. It was long enough for patriots in Charlestown to learn what has been immortalized by the phrase “one if by land, two if by sea” in Longfellow’s poem. The British advanced by boat across the Charles River.

signal lanterns of paul revere  Old North Church

Be sure to take a peak inside this gorgeous church. Note: The lanterns are on display at the Concord Museum.

old north church captain jackson's chocolate



Behind the back of the Old North Church is this little shop, Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop. Be sure to stop by and sample some of this unique chocolate.





And if you’re lucky, you just might run into a filming of Wheel of Fortune.

3. Paul Revere House

 paul revere house

We were so glad we made time to tour Paul Revere’s home. Children are $1, Seniors and Students $3 and Adults $3.50. Hours vary, depending on the season, but it opens at 9:30 am daily and closes by 4 or 5 pm daily. It only took an hour to tour and we learned so much about the life of Paul Revere. Paul Revere purchased it in 1770, when he was 35 years old. He and his second wife (his first died after giving birth to their 8th child) lived here when Revere made his famous messenger ride to Lexington on the night of April 18-19, 1775.    Note: They don’t allow photography inside.

freedom trail paul revere stop 

4. Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market

fanuil hall fanuil hall

Faneuil Hall played a vital role in revolutionary politics. Built by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil as a center of commerce in 1741, this is where the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their dissent against Royal oppression.  It has served as an open forum meeting hall and marketplace for more than 270 years and has continued to provide a forum for debate on the most consequential issues of the day. You can go inside and tour this historic building. It is open daily from 9am-6pm. There are little souvenir shops and free historic talks every 3o minutes.

quincy market in boston

Adjacent from Faneuil Hall is Quincy Market. Filled with just about every eating option ever (breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, sweets etc) there is something for everyone and if you leave hungry, well- it’s just not possible!

quincy market food in boston

quincy market in boston quincy market food in boston

Boston Bakery Boston Creme Pies

Of course we had to try a Boston Creme Pie whilst in Boston!

cheers in boston quincy market boston

The iconic Cheers is also located here.

5. Lobster!!

durgin park

We always try to eat authentic and local on vacation. Living in a desert, seafood isn’t really a Utah standard.  Fry sauce, however… Whole other story.

durgin park lobster at durgin park

Located in the Faneuil Hall Marketplace, we decided to eat at Durgin Park. We had the BEST waitress. Such great customer service. We ordered the Surf N Turf and man. Everything was seriously SO good. Our waitress taught us how locals eat ‘Lobstah’ and our kids (especially our oldest) loved it! AND it was a kid friendly environment.

durgin park dining room

We ate an early dinner at 4 and completely beat the rush. When we left an hour later, it was jam packed.

6. Bunker Hill Monument

bunker hill at night bunker hill at night

We had plans to climb the 294 steps to the top of this historic Monument, but our Whale Watching Tour (more on that below) left most of us feeling a little sea sick so it didn’t quite work out as planned. We still walked around the grounds of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War (on June 17, 1775), which looked beautiful lit up at night. The last climb in the Fall is at 4:30pm. The monument and museum are free to tour and hours vary, so be sure to check here and plan accordingly.

7. Boston Common

boston common Boston commons boston common gardens

Oh wow- this park was so beautiful and is another stop along the Freedom Trail. It is America’s oldest park and was training ground for the Redcoats in 1775.  We were sad the famous Swan Boats were closed for the season, but loved seeing the gorgeous Fall leaves as we walked along the trails.

8. Whale Watching Cruise

Boston Harbor Whale Watch Cruise

This was a huge bucket list item for us. To see whales, in their natural environment. It almost didn’t happen though. The cruise had been cancelled for several days due to a hurricane hitting the Florida coast earlier in the week.  Red level 4 meant nothing to us. In hind sight, we should have loaded up on the motion sickness medicine!  haha!

Boston Harbor Boats whale watch boat rideboston view from boat

We went with the only Whale Watching Cruise out of Boston, Boston Harbor Cruises which partners with the New England Aquarium.  The boat has three levels. We suggest trying to snag a seat outside or on the bottom level, near the back (especially if you are prone to motion sickness). It did get pretty cold (we went in October) while the boat was cruising out to the Stellwagon Bank Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary is basically a spot in the middle of the ocean that is a rich feeding ground for several different species including whales, fish, birds etc.

humpback whales boston cruise humpback whales in boston

When the boat arrived after an hour’s ride, we immediately saw a big spiral bubble net formed by 6-7 Humpback Whales. It more than made up for the rough ride. It was incredible! For the next hour we watched over 20 whales swim, blow bubbles, flip and feed. Something we won’t soon forget! Read about our unique trip here on BHC Blog.  There are several ticket options available, but first check with Groupon or similar websites for discount passes. We’ve seen these BHC on there before! Otherwise, you can purchase tickets directly from BHC for $53 for adults and $33 for children. They do tend to sale out, so if this is high on your list, be sure to buy tickets at least a few days in advance. Also plan to arrive early if you want to snag a good seat, as it is general seating.

humpback whales boston boston harbor cruises whales

9. Skywalk Observatory at Prudential Center

And our final destination was taking in the Boston views from the top of the Skywalk Observatory at the Prudential Center.

prudential tower views 

We suggest timing it so you can see the city at both day and night- arriving 30 minutes before sunset was perfect.


Hours vary, depending on the season and it is open 7 days a week (although it does periodically close for private functions.) Tickets cost $18 for adults and $13 for kids. It is also part of the cityPASS, which includes the Skywalk plus 3 more Boston attractions: New England Aquarium, Museum of Science and Museum of Fine Arts OR Boston Harbor Cruises. Valid for 9 days. Cost: Adult $55 (value $96.25); Child (ages 3-11) $42.

skywalk observatory in boston

Boston at night


Of course we ran into another taping of Wheel of Fortune. Vanna was SO sweet, she came over and said hi and took a picture with our kids.

Boston skyline  downtown boston

harvard statue




























We made a quick stop at Harvard on our way into Boston. Very cool to see this historic University.


We loved our time here and can’t wait to go back.

What do you like to do in Boston?  What are your favorite places to eat??


An afternoon in Philadelphia: Liberty Bell + Independence Hall

Liberty Bell Center Liberty Bell Museum

The famous Liberty Bell is a must when visiting Philadelphia and was our first stop. Tickets are not required as it is first-come, first-served. Hours are between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., with extended hours in the summer. There is often a long wait (up to two hours) during peak season. When we went during the off season (October) mid-afternoon there was no line at all. It took about 5 minutes to get through security. Once inside, you have the option to go directly to the Bell, view the many exhibits and/or view a 10-minute video presentation. Please note that there are NO public restrooms inside the Liberty Bell Center, so take little ones before 🙂 Restrooms are available nearby at the Independence Hall Visitor Center.

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia PA Liberty Bell

Independence Hall Visitor Center

After we visited the Liberty Bell, we walked over to the Independence Hall Visitor Center. Tickets are required to tour Independence Hall. Same-day tickets are free and can be picked up here OR they are $1.50 per ticket to reserve in advance online. If you’re on a tight schedule (like we were) we suggest to reserve your tickets online here. You still need to pick up your tickets from the Visitor Center even with online reservations. Hours for the Visitor Center are 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and tickets must be picked up at least 45 minutes before tour time. Although you do have to select a specific tour time, we found they try their best to accommodate you if you are early or late, as long as you have a ticket!

The Visitor Center also has restrooms, water fountains, a cafe, goodies, free WiFi, loaner wheelchairs, and a theater that shows free films about Independence Hall and other topics. Parking is available in the underground garage for a small fee.

Independence hall Line for tour of Independence Hall

You will begin the tour by lining up on the east side of Independence Hall. After passing through security, there is a second line in the back you will wait in until the ranger begins the tour. You will be led in a small room and watch a short video presentation as well as a short presentation by the ranger. It was very informative and we enjoyed the history before the tour.

Independence Hall Independence Hall Court

Once inside IH, you will view the Courtroom of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court first. It was very cool and we all learned some interesting facts we didn’t know before (like where we get the phrase ‘to stand trial’). Kids may have a hard time seeing if they don’t get a spot in the front. There will be time after the small presentation for little legs to move closer and get a good look as well.

Courtroom inside Independence Hall

Constitution signed inside this room at Independence Hall

Next stop on the tour is the Assembly Room. The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both signed in this room. Although much of the furniture in the room are replicas or replacement pieces of furniture, George Washington’s chair is original (it’s the large chair near the top of the picture in the center)! This was very, very cool to see. President Abraham Lincoln’s body was also here for two days following his assassination.

Room where Bill of Rights was signed at Independence Hall Independence Hall Green Room

Staircase inside Independence Hall

The upstairs was closed when we went, however it is known as the Long Gallery. It was used as a reception hall for the Governor’s guests. The architecture and furniture located throughout Independence Hall were beautiful.

Sonnys Philly Cheasesteak Philadelphia, PA

We finished the night off with a yummy Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich from Sonny’s, only a few blocks from Liberty Bell.

Sonnys Philly, PA Sonnys Philly Cheesesteak

Our kids loved the sandwiches (I like mine with extra cheese sauce) and fries, but they do have chicken fingers and hamburgers if a cheesesteak isn’t their thing.



Old Faithful Geyser

How We Vacation- A day trip to Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park covers nearly 3,500-square miles of beautiful wilderness recreation area all atop a volcanic hot spot, which is pretty darn cool if you think about it. Most of the park is in Wyoming, with small parts reaching into both Montana and Idaho. Our family loves to hike, observe, and just spend time exploring the beauty of Yellowstone. We’ve always entered Yellowstone Park through the West Entrance in West Yellowstone, Montana, but you may enter the park through four other entrances as well.

The entrance fee for Yellowstone is $25 per vehicle, which is good for one week (seven days). Other options include a $50 annual pass to Yellowstone, or an $80 annual pass to all National Parks. If you are planning to enter multiple parks in a given year, the annual pass is the way to go. And if you think about it $80 is a cheap pay to spend time in some amazing places.


Yellowstone features canyons, rivers, lush forests, hot springs and geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful Geyser. Old Faithful is a must-see, erupting every 60 and 110 minutes. According to Yellowstone officials, these eruptions last between 1 ½ to 5 minutes and shoot, on average, 130 feet into the air.

Our young kids were anxious to see a grizzly bear, which sadly (or thankfully?) we didn’t encounter. But we did see plenty of bison, elk, antelope, and rabbits. We’ll have to keep looking for that bear.




Have a fourth-grader in the family? A White House youth initiative is trying to get all 4th graders and their families into the National Parks for free. Learn more and obtain your pass at




Yellowstone has five different entrance stations: North Entrance near Gardiner, Montana; West Entrance adjacent to the town of West Yellowstone, Montana; East Entrance which is near Cody, Wyoming; South entrance which is nearest to Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and the Northeast entrance near the gateway communities of Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana. Be sure to visit to learn about dates, times, and weather conditions as not all entrances are open all year long.


Our kids really enjoyed walking on the boardwalk paths to see the geysers. I’m not sure they truly understood and appreciated the beauty we were seeing, but they had a great, great time. Truth be told, I’m not sure we fully appreciated the beauty. This park is one gigantic post card. Next time we come, we are going to bring our tent and sleeping bags and experience even more of the beauty (<<<He says!).

As amazing as these pictures are, I’m not sure they do Yellowstone justice. If you’ve never visited, we highly recommend it.



Downtown Nashville, Tennessee

A Weekend in Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee is known as Music City, USA, and offers plenty of exciting and entertaining venues. Here are 4 things we recommend you hit up next time you are in Nashville.

1. The Grand Ole Opry

Whether you tour the Grand Ole Opry or see a show here, you’ll definitely want to make a visit to Nashville’s most famous venue. Hundreds of thousands visit the Opry each year, and there’s a backstage tour about every 15 minutes. The daytime tour costs $24 for adults (ages 12 and up) and $19 for kids (ages 4-11). The tour lasts about an hour and will place you in the footsteps of country music’s superstars and provide an exclusive look at what happens behind the scenes of the show that made country music famous. For more information on touring the Grand Ole Opry, including Post-Show Tours and VIP Tours, visit


I visited the Opry this summer and was impressed with the tour. I was able to see many different dressing rooms used by the stars, the Opry post office, the wall of honor, the performers entrance, as well as the highlight for me, which was walking across the famous stage. The coolest part for me was standing center stage behind the microphone. The original opry floor was cut and placed here. Famous Brad Paisley quote.



The Stars and Stripes dressing room

A six-foot circle of wood sits center stage at the Grand Ole Opry House, removed from the Ryman Auditorium when the show moved from the historic Ryman in 1974.

The Wall of Honor in the Grand Ole Opry–so many amazing stars!

The Post Office at the Grand Ole Opry. If a country star has been inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, they’ll have a mailbox here where they pick up fan mail before each show.



I stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort which is just a short walk from the Grand Ole Opry. The Opryland is huge and offers great hotel rooms, amazing restaurants, and plenty of shopping. You’ll have all you need, and then some, at this resort. Not to mention that the Opry Mills mall is right across the street from the Opry.

For of a more detailed write-up and additional pictures of the Opry click here.

2.   The Hermitage – President Andrew Jackson’s estate, mansion, and tomb

“I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me,” is a quote I love from President Andrew Jackson that perfectly describes his life.

Located 15 miles east of downtown Nashville, The Hermitage is one of the top-rated and most authentically preserved presidential homes in the country. During a VIP tour you will tour Andrew Jackson’s mansion, presidential museum, burial tomb, gardens, and grounds. Managed by the Ladies Hermitage Association, the Hermitage began as approximately 400 acres which quickly expanded into and the spacious plantation of more than 1000 acres, which makes it one of the largest historic site museums in America.  The tour costs $20 for adults, $15 for students (ages 13 to 18), and $10 for children (6-12), and takes about 1 1/2 hours, although you can stroll at your leisure and take as long as you’d like.

History buffs will love the background and insight into “the people’s president.” I was reminded that Andrew Jackson’s success and rise to the presidency was truly remarkable as the deck was stacked against him from the beginning, being fatherless (his dad died before he was born) and an orphan at age 14 (his widowed mom died from cholera).


The Tomb of Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel in the gardens near his mansion.

The 11,000 square foot mansion is surrounded by massive trees.

Guests tours the Hermitage mansion in groups of 30 or so. No photography is allowed inside. The high ceilings and original wallpaper make this an impressive mansion to tour.

So much land: The Hermitage quickly expanded to occupy over 1,000 acres east of Nashville.

See more Hermitage here.


3. The Ryman Auditorium

Known as the mother church of country music and located in downtown Nashville, this is where country music all started. A self-guided tour costs $20 for adults and $15 for children (ages 4-11) and lasts approximately about an hour. I had about an hour before I had to get to the airport and really wanted to go inside, so I quickly toured the auditorium. I was impressed with its history, great acoustics, and impressive stage and seats. Considerably smaller than the Opry, the remains one of Nashville’s hottest venues, with its more cozy, intimate settings.

To learn more about the Ryman and different tour options, visit


Such a cool venue. Pat Benatar’s crew was setting up for her show later that evening.

Center stage at the Ryman Auditorium! You can see where the six-foot circle once was before it was cut out and taken to the Grand Ole Opry.

4. The Honky Tonks on Broadway

The bar scene is alive and well on Nashville’s famous street, and you will hear tons of aspiring musicians and wannabe singers. It goes without saying that the Broadway scene is not for kids.


St. Louis Summer : 5 Things You’ve Gotta Do

Saint Louis, Missouri, home to the Arch, the Cardinals, and so much more, this midwest city offers cool experiences even in the muggy summer months. Here are five things that you’ve got to try next time you’re in St. Louis.

1. Visit the Top of the St. Louis Arch 


If you’re going to St. Louis you’ll surely want to climb to the top of its most famous structure, the St. Louis Arch. Known as the Gateway to the West, St. Louis was a key U.S. city at the time of westward exploration.

The arch is 630 feet high, which is 63 stories, and interestingly spans 630 feet at ground level between the outer sides of the legs. There are trams in each of the legs that will carry you to the top at speeds of 340 feet per minute. You can fit six or seven people in each tram which can be quite tight–they’ll ask if you suffer from claustrophobia before you purchase a ticket. Tickets are $13 for adults (16+) and $10 for youth (3-15).

Such a cool structure. Viewing and taking pictures of the Arch up close makes it even more interesting and appealing.


In the basement of the arch you’ll learn more of the history and the building of the structure. Interestingly no one died while constructing the Arch, which began in 1963, and was complete two years later.

Views are very cool from up 630 feet. Here’s an empty Busch stadium. It would be cool to visit the top when there was a game being played. You can stay up aAnd the nice thing is that you can stay up here as long as you’d like.

Out the east windows, you’ll have great views of the Mississippi River which is just below the Arch and of Illinois which is beyond the river.

Here’s a shot looking west toward downtown St. Louis at sunset.

The space and windows at the top are quite small, almost like a long hallway.

When I visited, CityArchRiver project was currently under construction, so you if you visit in the next little while you’ll notice lots of work going on, but check out the plans for the area once complete. It’s going to be very nice and provide a much safer, more family-friendly environment. We can’t wait to take the whole family back when it’s done–should be complete in 2017.

2. Catch a St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Game


Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri

There are few cities that love their sports team more than St. Louis loves their Cardinals. The new Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006, is one of America’s finest sports venues. From its rich baseball tradition, amazing restaurants and clubs, and spectacular views, nobody provides a better backdrop for a ballgame than St. Louis. I was thrilled to attend an inter-league game between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. The game was postponed due to a summer thunderstorm, and was threatening to be canceled, but the clouds lifted and thankfully they played the game. I must say I thought I had the best seat in the house, sitting in the third deck behind home plate. Views were amazing of the St. Louis Skyline including the St. Louis Arch.

3. Visit the Ballpark Village


In addition to an amazing sports venue, St. Louis has invested millions of dollars in the first ever sports-anchored entertainment district which occupies 10 acres and seven city blocks. Located just north of Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village adds to the great baseball environment and is a great place for a pre- or post-game meal and socializing (the Village is open year-round, even when baseball is not being played). The $100 million first phase opened in 2014  and is anchored with Cardinals Nation, Budweiser Brew House, Fox Sports Midwest Live!, among others. The Village also has five live performance stages, the largest retractable roof of its kind, the biggest indoor TV screen in the Midwest, and an outdoor festival space that recreates the infield of the previous Busch Stadium in its exact historical location. Phase two is now underway and I can’t wait to go back and see it when it opens in a couple of years.


4. Get a Frozen Custard at Ted Drewes



I remember visiting my cousins who lived in St. Louis when I was 11. After a Cardinals game at the old Busch Stadium, I remember them saying we all had to go to Ted Drewes. It was on a hot summer night and I remember the crowds of people waiting to eat the delicious frozen custard. It was a very cool experience. More than 25 years later when I returned to St. Louis, Ted Drewes was still as popular as ever–and just as good!! If you’re in St. Louis, visiting Ted Drewes is a must!! They have two locations, one not far from the St. Louis Zoo.

5. Visit the St. Louis Zoo


Admission is free to the 93-acre St. Louis Zoo, which has more than 5,000 animals from 700 species. The zoo has a insectarium, a children’s zoo, and a miniature train and is currently in the midst of a massive expansion after purchasing 13.5 acres nearby. While I didn’t make it to the zoo, I heard from multiple people that the zoo is a great attraction when visiting St. Louis. We will definitely be heading here on our next visit, as we love zoos!

Legoland California

LEGOLAND, California

Legoland is such a great place to visit with young kids (and old ones alike who just love Legos!) We took our kids when they were 3, 6 and 9 and they were the perfect ages! Legoland is the ideal place for kids 10 and younger as there are several kid-only rides with maximum height restrictions (meaning adults can’t ride- we get to just watch). The Driving School and Jr. Driving School pictured below is an example (this was also our kids’ favorite- who didn’t want to drive a car like a grown-up when you were little?!).

 legoland cars

legoland cars legoland cars

If purchased at LegoLand California, tickets for one day admission are $84 for children (3-12) and $90 (13+), but can be purchased much cheaper through various deals. For example, Lego Magazine always has a coupon, including a free child admission when purchasing an Adult Park Hopper Ticket. The Park Hopper Ticket is good for admission into two parks: Legoland and Sea Life Aquarium or the Water Park (all within walking distance of each other). Costco also has season passes for Legoland California: $95.99 for unlimited admission to all three Legoland California Parks. One day was more than enough for Legoland (and a few hours was plenty for the aquarium), however, if you plan to go to the Water Park, or spend more than one day at Legoland, the pass through Costco is a great deal! Just be aware that there are blackout days in July and August.

 legoland r2d2 legoland chewy starwars

The Star Wars Miniland was a huge highlight for our Star Wars loving boy (notice the padowan braid? Aren’t we glad that phase is over now!!).

lego star wars miniland

legoland starwars legoland star wars

Miniland USA was so cool- we could just see the wheels turning in our kids’ imaginations. It was SUPER hot, as much of this is in direct sunlight, no shade, so plan to go in the morning or evening when it’s a bit cooler.

us capitol legoland white house legoland legoland washington monument

legoland rides

In this area, adults (or at least one big kid) is needed to ride both rides as you are the source of power!

legoland rides

legoland legos in line

Most of the lines throughout the park have little Lego building centers for kids to play in while parents wait in lines. These two rides had the longest wait times while we were there. Consider skipping these rides altogether or go in the evening when it’s not quite so hot.

 legoland rides

In this ride, you pull yourself up- work those arms!

legoland rides 

legoland pedaling rides


On this ride, you must be able to reach the peddles (neither of our young girls could reach- so lucky mom got to do the work!)



Heartlake had a darling carousel, little playground (great for 8 and younger) and of course singing and dancing from our favorite Heartlake City girls!



Although these boats were fun, they were very challenging to maneuver! Our 9 year old had a tough time driving- next time we’d have a parent go with him!

legoland park

There were several fun parks throughout. This one was nice and shady! A perfect spot to rest tired feet.

legoland splash pool

There is also a mini splashpad/water park called Soak N Sail  in Legoland (not to be confused with the Legoland Waterpark, which is separate). There are locker/dressing rooms to change into swimsuits (yay! no need to wear your swimsuit all day!) and store anything you don’t want to get wet.  There is also a big family sized dryer, that for a fee of about $5, you can also blow dry off in. We had a ton of fun in this section! Plan to spend at least 1 1/2- 2 hours here (or more!) and pack towels, swimsuits and sunscreen.

legoland parks legoland ball pit fun

Another park in Legoland- while the kids played, we enjoyed some Granny’s Apple Fries. MMMM. Definitely try some.

legoland rides legoland

playing at legoland ca legoland lines

Waiting in line was never so fun! For a map and complete list of all attractions (including height restrictions and requirements) visit the Legoland site here.

Other tidbits not pictured:

While we were there, they had a special dining option where kids ate free with paying adults at select restaurants. We took advantage of this- our kids loved the all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta (and salad) at the Pizza & Pasta Buffet. Look for these special deals!

Also be sure to ask a cast member for a “First Time Visit” Button- our kids were so excited to get theirs!

Although we try to avoid busy season, we did visit Legoland in June. It was crowded, but not overly. The majority of wait times were 20 minutes or less.


Have you been before? What are your Legoland tips and tricks??

Texas State Capital

Keep Austin Weird

Yes, Austin is a weird, cool place. I’ve been here a few times on business and love the city, the food, the people, and everything about the Texas capital. Texas is a very red state, but Austin is very, very blue. Some of the best food you’ll ever eat is here and you’ll see plenty of Texas pride manifest over at the University of Texas at Austin, or UT (Hook ’em Horns, right?!). The statehouse is mighty impressive, you’ll surely want to hit Sixth Street, and don’t forget to the see the bats on the Congress Bridge–quite an interesting phenomenon.

More than 2 million people call the Austin region home, and that number climbs daily. In fact, they estimate close to 150 people move to Austin EACH DAY! You’ll probably see that if you drive on the overcrowded freeways. Home to Willie Nelson, Austin also welcomes the world each March for the famous South by Southwest, the annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conference, which grows every year in scope and size. Welcome to the Lone Star State.

Texas State Capital


As they say everything is bigger in Texas, including the capitol building. It’s the largest of all state capitols in terms of square footage. The impressive building built in 1888, is located in the heart of downtown Austin and can be seen from all over town. Its exterior is covered in “sunset red” granite with a limestone foundation, making it look a red color during the day and white when lit up at night.



A portrait hangs in the rotunda in the capitol, including the 43rd President of the United States and former Texas governor George W. Bush.


Both the Texas House and Senate meet at the capitol. The Texas Session is held every other year, and so marathon sessions transpire when meetings actually take place.

The interior is just as impressive as the exterior. From its Texas floors to its Texas-branded ceiling.

And what a way to conclude the day: A beautiful sunset to the west of the capital.


University of Texas at Austin

The Main Building, also known as the Tower, is a recognizable symbol on the University of Texas campus.

Hook 'em Horns

The Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium is huge! It seats more than 100,000 fans. Wow. I’d love to see a game here someday.

Bats at the Congress Avenue Bridge

The largest urban bat colony in North America can be found living underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge. During “bat season” (which is March through November, with the best months being August and September), swarms and swarms of bats fly out in the evening typically around dusk.

Especially in the warmer weather (typically August and September) hundreds of people line the bridge in anticipation of the bats. Yes, kind of weird, but also kind of cool!






Viva Las Vegas!

Believe it or not, there is more to Las Vegas than gambling and adult entertainment. With that said, Vegas is not a destination we enjoy taking our young family. But, there are plenty of things to do that don’t have to “Stay in Vegas.” One of our recommendations is to take a ride to the top of the Stratosphere Tower, which, year after year, is voted Best Place to View the City by Las Vegas Review-Journal readers. $20 admission per person will get you cruising up the elevator more than 1,000 feet above ground. There’s an observation deck, restaurants, shopping, and if you’re a little more adventurous (or border-line insane) you can participate in the thrill rides from the Sky Jump (open-air 829 foot leap) to X-Scream (massive teeter-totter ride 900 feet above ground), among others.

Vegas from Above

 The Stratosphere Tower

The Stratosphere Tower was built in 1996 and is the tallest structure in Las Vegas, at 1,149 feet. The tower is also the tallest observation tower in the Unites States. Interestingly, because it is not fully habitable, it is not considered a building.

The Stratosphere Observation Decks


The top of the Stratosphere can get pretty breezy, but you’ll be able to capture a perfect shot of the Las Vegas skyline.
The photo on the left is a shot of the very top level, while the photo on the right shows an inside level view behind glass windows.

The Bellagio Water Show

Crowds gather nightly for the world-famous water show outside the Bellagio. The video below is a portion of the show.

Off the Strip Family Fun

On the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard is Town Square Las Vegas, which provides many boutique and fashionable stores, family-fun outdoor parks, entertainment, and plenty of great dining. In the center of  Town Square is an expansive children’s play area including swings, climbing gyms, and even a hedge maze!

The famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign


The iconic Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada sign is a popular attraction both day and night and you’ll often wait in line for a picture. Located at 5200 South Las Vegas Blvd (south of Mandalay Bay and west of the McCarran Airport), there’s plenty of parking in the middle of the street. Sometimes you’ll even find Elvis or Marilyn Monroe there posing in pictures for donations.

The Las Vegas Strip

The strip is a live 24/7, but honestly, not the most family-friendly environment.

 Street performers and people watching

Street performers never disappoint in Las Vegas. From Michael Jackson to this guy above to super heroes, you name it, the Vegas strip is always a buzz. And if you’re into people watching, this is the place for you.


William Howard Taft

A Visit to William Howard Taft National Historic Site In Cincinnati

Ohio is home to 8 U.S. presidents. If you are in the Cincinnati area, you may want to pay a visit to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. This brief tour will help you learn more about the only person in history to be a U.S. President as well as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

I (Jeff) was recently on a business trip in Ohio, and since I’ve made it a goal to visit every presidential library or historic site, I thought I’d stop by. Although I was by myself, I noted that on the tour there was a family with children also attending. There is no entrance fee to visit the museum or his boyhood home, and tours, which are run by the National Park Service, run seven days a week between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Since I am a history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and learning more about the 27th president. If learning about history isn’t your thing, or if you have small children who need to be entertained, I wouldn’t recommend visiting this site. For sure Mount Vernon or the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., are a must for all to visit, but these other presidential historical sites are more appealing to those really interested in U.S. history.

A few quick facts I learned about the 27th U.S. President after visiting this national historic site:

  • He is the only person to serve as BOTH President of the United States and a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. 
  • He weighed 350 pounds, easily the largest of any U.S. President.
  • His father was a prominent attorney in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Taft was born in the house you will tour at the national historic site. 
  • He went to Yale Law School, became a lawyer, and, eventually – after his presidency – achieved his dream job of becoming a Supreme Court Justice. 
  • Taft served as President Teddy Roosevelt’s Secretary of War.
  • Roosevelt encouraged Taft to run for the presidency and he was easily elected President in 1908.
  • But Taft was his own man and his politics differed from his friend Roosevelt’s, which upset Teddy. 
  • Because Teddy didn’t like the way Taft ran things in his first term, he ran against him, and after being defeated, created a splinter Republican Party (Bull Moose). He ran against his friend, Taft, as well as the Democratic Challenger Woodrow Wilson. Both Roosevelt and Taft were defeated in 1912, when Wilson was elected instead. 
  • He felt the role of the Supreme Court was greater than the Presidency.
  • Taft had a considerable wit, charm and an influence – and was very beloved by all who knew him.
  • He took up golf for exercise, but maybe more for leisure.
  • He was the first President to throw out the first pitch, which has since become tradition in the U.S. 
  • His wife, First Lady Nellie, planted the first cherry blossoms along the tidal basin in Washington, D.C. – we have her to thank for the beauty of Cherry Blossom Season every March / April in D.C. 
  • Funny presidential side-note: I also learned from reading George W. Bush’s memoirs, Decision Points, that while Barbara Bush would watch her husband George H.W. Bush play on Yale’s baseball team, she was pregnant with George W. and she would sit in the rather large chair which was constructed for one William Howard Taft.  

William Howard Taft




A really enjoyable experience to learn more about this U.S. President who was was proud to serve his country in any capacity possible.