Search Results for: Travel in my town

Travel in My Town: Bainbridge Island, Washington

Please help me welcome Trish from 3 Kids and a Breakdown! She is here sharing some of her favorite things to do with kids in Bainbridge Island, Washington. I am embarrassed to admit that I had to look it up on a map. I can’t imagine having to hop a ferry to get to a nearby city. My kids would think that was an adventure in itself! Be sure to stop by Trish’s blog where she writes an honest account of all things parenthood. There is no sugar coating and I love it! 

I am really enjoying my new Travel in My Town series because I am learning more about places that have long since been on my list to visit and adding some that weren’t previously on my radar.  Do you want to share your favorite things about your town?  Send me an email at jennifer at twokidsandamap dot com.

Welcome, Trish!

I’m excited to introduce you to my idyllic town of Bainbridge Island, Washington. We are a 35 minute ferry ride away from Seattle in Puget Sound.  I’m not going to lie it rains on occasion (9 months out of 12, give or take), but it’s still an amazingly beautiful island with a ton of fun things for you and your entire family.  I’m happy to share our family’s favorite island activities with you.

Bloedel Reserve is a beautiful 150 acre public garden. It was once a private estate belonging to Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. The reserve includes landscaped gardens, including a Japanese Garden, a Moss Garden, and Reflection Pool, and the Bloedel’s former estate home. The grounds are breath taking year round. You can easily spend hours exploring the 150 acres.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

They offer a variety of seasonal activities, such as the squash scavenger hunt my girls took part in last fall.

Fay Bainbridge  is a perfect spot for a family picnic. It’s a beautiful spot to enjoy the sound while sitting on the shore. The kids love the playground just feet from the beach. There are picnic tables and a fireplace/oven that you can use.  You can also camp here. We’ve not done that yet.

Fort Ward is a beautiful park with a 2 mile hiking trail that our family loves. It’s a beautiful hike in any season. We like to walk down to the salmon farm where we are often greeted by seals. My kids love to explore the old bunker.  Once you get to South Beach you are rewarded with a view of Mt. Rainier.  There are also picnic tables, a boat launch and views of Rich Passage where you can see the ferries going by.

Photo Credit

Battle Point Park  There are a lot of great playgrounds on the island, but our family’s favorite is definitely Battle Point Park. The playground has equipment for little ones and big ones, alike. All 3 of my girls are thoroughly entertained when we are at this playground.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

Battle Point Park is also home to a lovely duck pond. We enjoy feeding the ducks and seeing the babies each spring.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

Another of my girls’ favorites is the Battle Point Park’s planetarium.  At 27½ inches in diameter it is the largest publicly accessible telescope in the Northwest.  The Battle Point Astronomical Association holds free monthly star parties, which include planetarium shows and telescope viewings that are open to the public.

Photo by Wendy Wallace

Kidimu – Pronounced kiddy moo and short for Kids Discovery Museum. A short a walk from the ferry and a ton of fun for kids of all ages.  On the entrance level you will find a grocery store full of all sorts of food stuff, a cash register, aprons, shopping carts and a scale to weight your goods. There is also a medical office and a bank, equally out-fitted with play things that are also educational. There is a picnic area for all that loot you bought at the grocery store.  It’s right near the ferry.  You’ll find a small gift shop area and the pirate tree house.  There is a small area for crawlers with all manner of soft toys, puzzles and a rocker for mama (or dada).  Upstairs is a design studio that has craft supplies set out. There is also Science Hall where your little ones can discover velocity, gravity and acceleration while playing with golf balls in the motion madness and fun with physics exhibits. Check the website for special events and exhibits.

      
Mora Iced Creamery – After all that playing, hiking, star gazing and picnicing you will need to go to Mora for the best ice cream you’ve ever had! Seriously delicious.  Flavors change with the seasons, but my favorite year round is chocolate peanut butter moreo. My girls like to get a banana split with 3 crazy flavors and all manner of toppings.

My daughter (center) and her two bff’s destroying a banana split in celebration of her 8th birthday last August.

Trish is a stay-at-home-mom to 3 girls, a wife, writer,  and blogger at 3 Kids and a Breakdown. She loves martinis, dessert, trash TV, books and 4-letter words.

Travel in My Town – Greenville, South Carolina

Please welcome Farrah from The Three Under. She is sharing her favorite family friendly activities in Greenville, South Carolina. I have driven through Greenville several times but have never spent any time there. I know my kids would love to visit some of these activities. Be sure to visit Farrah’s site where she talks about bringing up her kids and everything in between.

I am really enjoying my new Travel in My Town series because I am learning more about places that have long since been on my list to visit and adding some that weren’t previously on my radar.  Do you want to share your favorite things about your town?  Send me an email at jennifer at twokidsandamap dot com.

Welcome y’all! Today I am thrilled to invite you to check out Greenville, South Carolina. We’re about 2 hours northeast of Atlanta, two hours southwest of Charlotte, and two hours south of Asheville, NC. Pretty much in the middle of an awesome area with fabulous (and I am not exaggerating) weather year round. The city of Greenville itself has gone through a remarkable transformation over the past 10 years- and is now one of the fastest growing cities in the country. It’s gorgeous, friendly, and has so much to do I don’t have enough time to tell you about it all.

Downtown-Main Street area

For starters- Downtown Greenville has completely revitalized their downtown area. It’s a very pedestrian friendly, tree covered walk from start to finish down Main Street up to the West End. There’s great shopping,  hotels, restaurants, cafes and the stunning Falls Park. As a family, we love to park in one of the numerous garages right off of the main drag and just take our time strolling and window shopping. My preschooler always wants to stop at O.P. Taylor’s charming toy store right in the heart of downtown. One of our frequent stops along the street is to hunt for the Mice On Main– a series of life sized-bronze mice hidden along your path as a tribute to the story Goodnight Moon,  always a kid favorite. A few favorite restaurants are The Cazbah, Sobys, Sassafras and those along the sidewalks that are all kid (and dog) friendly.

Greenville Zoo

Another attraction in the heart of downtown Greenville is our wonderful zoo. It’s not going to be the largest zoo that you ever see in your life, but by far and away it’s a terrific (and affordable) zoo to walk through with your children whenever the whim may strike. Don’t let the size fool you- you’ll see beautiful habitats set up for the lions, giraffes, elephants and alligators. With plenty of shady trees and a generally mild-to moderate crowd to contend with, it’s a refreshing change to some of the larger zoos in big cities. Admission is $7.75 for adults, $4.50 for 3-15years and under 3 is free.

Children’s Museum

Opposite from the zoo downtown is the three year old Children’s Museum of the Upstate. I have been to a few different children’s museums over the years- but it’s clear that I’m spoiled rotten with ours. It’s touted as the 7th largest in the country and I love it. There are so many different hands on attractions for your little ones to encounter- you had better plan on spending the most part of an afternoon enjoying it. My oldest is now 3 and in my opinion he is getting more out of it than ever before. There is an area specifically for younger toddlers- but you’ll enjoy it the older you kids may be. A littler pricier for admission, but worth it: Adults $10, children 2-12 $9 and under 2 is free. They do have member prices as well.

Greenville Drive Baseball

We miss having a major league baseball team locally- but the Greenville Drive does not disappoint. As the minor league team for the Boston Red Sox, they have a mini version of Fenway Park to call home. It’s clean, friendly, and much less expensive than a major league game! There’s also a small play area just for kids to burn off some energy. A family of 4 can purchase tickets and snacks for under $40.  Let’s see you do that at Fenway! Ticket prices vary but range $5-$9 each, depending on your seats, and kids under  2 are free.

These are just a few of the gems hidden in the downtown area of Greenville. There are several parks, gardens, water areas, play places and more waiting to be discovered. It’s so nice to be in a place that values time together as a family and Greenville has surely earned a place in my heart for providing so much for children. The many outdoor festivals that are held throughout the year celebrate the city and keep us coming year after year. You cannot go wrong with a trip downtown Greenville- easy to navigate and find some parking (imagine that!) it’s unintimidating to be sure.

 

Farrah is the overcommitted mom of 3 boys under 3 trying to get a word in edgewise at her blog, The Three Under, when she can.

 

Travel in My Town – Saratoga Springs, New York

Please welcome Colleen Pierre from Saratoga Mama.  She is sharing some of her favorite family friendly things to do in Saratoga Springs, New York.  Be sure to follow the links to Colleen’s blog if you are planning a trip to the area.  She lists calendar events, things to do in the area, good places to eat and more.

I am really enjoying my new Travel in My Town series because I am learning more about places that have long since been on my list to visit and adding some that weren’t previously on my radar.  Do you want to share your favorite things about your town?  Send me an email at jennifer at twokidsandamap dot com.

Saratoga Springs, NY is located about 30 minutes North of our capital city, Albany and about 3 hours north of New York City. Situated near the stunning Adirondack mountain range, near gorgeous lakes and rivers, and home to many cultural events and activities all year, Saratoga Springs is a wonderful spot to take a vacation! It was very hard to pick and choose what to tell you about, but here’s a good overview of just some of what our city has to offer!

Broadway – Downtown Saratoga Springs centers around Broadway, our “main street”. Broadway is home to amazing boutiques and shops, fabulous restaurants, bakeries, ice cream shops, beautiful art galleries, hotel’s and some of the best independent coffee shops I’ve ever been to. A few Broadway kid-friendly standouts include: Bettie’s Cakes, a 50’s-themed cupcake café, G. Willikers, an independent toy store, Circus Café, a restaurant with a fun décor, yummy food and huge plates of cotton candy for dessert, and Plum Dandy, a frozen yogurt place with more toppings than you could ever need. A stroll up and down Broadway is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in Saratoga.

Congress Park in Saratoga Springs

Congress Park/Carousel – In the spring and summer months, Saratoga Springs downtown comes alive! Our “central park” is located just off of Broadway and is called Congress Park. With duck ponds, grassy meadows, historic landmarks and a wooden carousel, Congress Park is a great meeting place, picnic spot, or people-watching destination. In July and August, Congress Park is home to live music concerts, arts and crafts festivals, and other special events.

Childrens Museum at Saratoga

Museums – A trip to Saratoga would not be complete without visiting one of our many museums. Horse lovers will enjoy the National Museum of Racing, dance fans adore the National Museum of Dance, car enthusiasts rejoice at the Saratoga Automobile Museum, artsy folks like Skidmore College’s Tang Museum and Art Gallery, and kids go wild for The Children’s Museum at Saratoga.

SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center) – I grew up attending concerts at SPAC from Journey to Phish, Dave Matthews Band, to the ballet, opera and orchestra. The thing about SPAC is that it’s an amphitheater, which means there’s partial seating inside and a huge sloped lawn area for outdoor seating. Lawn tickets are much cheaper and on a nice evening, you can bring a picnic dinner, lawn chairs, a bottle of wine and enjoy the New York City Ballet or Philadelphia Orchestra! I took the kids to the ballet this past year and we all sat on the lawn- a unique and cultural experience.

Saratoga Farmers' MarketSaratoga Farmers’ Market – Our year-round farmers market is both a social place as well as a place of business. With products including vegetables, fruits, honey, baked goods, meat, cheese yogurt, milk as well as crafters and on-site prepared food, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market is another must-do activity! The market is held on Wednesdays and Saturday from May through October and indoors on Saturdays from November to April. Just about every week there is live music, chef demonstrations, and other community-based special events. We appreciate your support of OUR local farmers too!Saratoga Race Course

Saratoga PoloHorse Fever! Saratoga Springs is probably best known as a horse racing destination because of the Saratoga Race Course, a 350-acre horse racetrack. With 40 days of horse racing starting at the end of July and ending around Labor Day, Saratoga really comes alive in the summer. Tourists (and locals) love attending “the track” to watch and bet on the horses, and Saratoga Polo for the unique experience of attending polo matches.
Here’s a post about enjoying Saratoga Race Course with the kids and another Mama Guide to Saratoga Polo.

Saratoga Springs NY offers so much to do and see, I hope you have the chance to visit us soon!

-Colleen Pierre, SaratogaMama

Colleen Pierre is a mother of two wonderful children, Robby (3) and Angie (1) and owns SaratogaMama an online resource for families. The site provides Saratoga County families and visitors with an easy way to find events and activities, information about area schools, daycare options, community news, recreation options, and lots more.

Let’s Connect!  Email me at colleen@saratogamama.com.  You can also follow Colleen on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Travel in My Town – Seattle

I am so excited to introduce a new series that I will be posting occasionally on Tuesdays called Travel in My Town.  I have some great guest posts from the blogging community to share with you.  I am looking forward to learning some insider tips about favorite activities in their cities!  I am honored to begin this series with my writing pal, Keryn.  Keryn lives in Seattle, a city that I have never been to but is high on my list of places to visit, and she is sharing her favorite toddler-friendly activities.  Be sure to follow the links to her blog, Walkingon Travels, where she writes about everything from flying with children, to exploring Asia with kids and finding inspiration to travel.  Keryn is kind, funny and helpful.  Someday, I hope to make it to Seattle and maybe we can meet for coffee!  Welcome, Keryn!

I’ve lived in Seattle for over 5 years, but I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of all this city has to offer. Whether we are under a seemingly endless rain cloud or enjoying gorgeous summer days (it’s why we all live here after all) I can always find something to do with my toddler son in a city of endless activities and natural wonders.

Woodland Park Zoo

Our local zoo may not be the biggest in the country but it sure does pack a punch. I have been there at least 20 times and I still happen upon exhibits I have never noticed before. Orchids, poisonous frogs and birds fill the Tropical Rainforest building, while snow leopards, tigers and jaguars will have your kids growling and purring in no time. There are daily feedings and animal presentations that both kids and parents can get excited about and learn from. If you are looking for a little break from the animals, there is also an historic carousel you can take a whirl around before setting up a picnic lunch on the lawn.

Pike Place Market

Yes, this seems like a tourist trap to be sure, especially in the summer, but it is also a very active local market. If you love to eat and have kids that can’t wait to try out a few new foods along with some of their old standbys then than Pike Place should not be missed. You will definitely see a few characters offering everything from fresh off the boat fish to bursting with flavor strawberries and a silver necklace with matching t-shirt to boot. Do a little jig along with a street musician, watch cheese masters shoveling curds and gorge yourself on crumpets and donuts from the Daily Dozen. Just watch out for flying fish.

Kubota Garden

A free park, beautifully maintained and away from the tourist crowds, what’s not to love? I continue to head to this park just south of downtown to soak in the Japanese inspired design. The dramatic colors change with each season and make you wonder what next month will bring. Paths are extremely kid-friendly and there are no park rangers yelling at you to keep off the grass. Be respectful, but also feel free to explore what Mother Nature is cooking up that day.

Ballard Farmers Market

This is by far one of our favorite farmers markets in the city. Held every Sunday, rain or shine, this is the place to go for fresh produce, some delicious street food and a whole lot of people watching. If you aren’t up for Pike Place Market this is a great, if not better, introduction to Seattle’s love of farm fresh food. Pull up a slice of curb, a freshly made tamale and just watch the locals stroll by with kids, dogs and bicycles in tow.

Volunteer Park

I’m not sure if I get more excited about the various elements in this park that makes multiple trips a must, or the Volunteer Park café down the street that serves up one heck of a breakfast. Whether you want to swing from the monkey bars at the playground, take a peek at a few paintings in the Asian Art Museum, or just warm up with some flowers in the Conservatory, there is something for everyone. Oh and Bruce Lee is buried just behind the park if you feel the need to make a little pilgrimage.

Seward Park

I’ve only seen a fraction of this park but it is already one of my favorites. Stunning views of Mt. Rainier peak over the horizon. There are sandy beaches for kids to splash around in along with a very impressive playground. The Seward Park Environment and Audobon Center leads toddlers on a Little Tykes Tales and Trails expedition, even on rainy mornings, throughout the park.


Mom and active blogger, Keryn Means left the publishing world in 2011 to take care of her growing family and follow her passion for travel. A native of Philadelphia, she spends her days exploring her new home in Seattle with her toddler son and anxiously awaits the arrival of her second born due in late April. When her son is asleep you can find her editing photos and writing away on Walkingon Travels. Keryn follows the mantra that just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to put your travel dreams aside, if anything they just get bigger and more exciting.  Follow Keryn on Twitter and Facebook, too!

Medical Emergencies While Traveling

You are planning out your dream vacation: hotel is booked, adventures planned, restaurants scouted out, clothes packed. When putting your clothes in your suitcase, you usually plan for contingencies, right? A sweater in case it’s cool, a swimsuit in case there is a pool or beach, a nice outfit for dinner out. You never know exactly what is going to happen so you try to be as prepared as possible. What about when it comes to your health or accidents? How do you plan for that? Of course, we can never foresee an unexpected injury, or that cold that hits you right in the middle of your summer trip to the Bahamas.  But just like we prepare for foul weather, I recommend you always have in the back of your head what to do if someone decides to ruin your trip by going and getting sick on you!

Medical Emergencies While Traveling - twokidsandamap.com

We are still in the middle of a less than stellar move from Newport, R.I. to Omaha, Nebraska.  Our housing plans completely fell through at entirely the last possible minute and we found ourselves homeless in our new town.  After some more house hunting we made the unplanned drive over to Denver to stay with Jen and her family while we wait for our home to be available.  It should come as no surprise to us that my 10 year old daughter would suddenly have an abscess appear below one of her teeth.  AGH!  What to do!?!

It can be incredibly stressful being in a strange area, out of your usual medical coverage area, trying to get in to see a doctor that you aren’t even going to be a patient of in the future. Our stress was compounded by the fact that we are getting ready to separate from our children as they continue their vacation with family.  This had to be fixed YESTERDAY.

I have taken many trips with and without children and here are my tips for how to cope with an injury or illness on the road:

  1. Give Permission for Medical Treatment in Advance: If leaving your children with other friends or family members while you (or they) vacation, write a letter that gives their caretaker permission to seek medical treatment.  Include your name, your kids’ names, the caretakers’ names, and be sure to sign it. Also leave a copy of your insurance card, allergies or illnesses and current physician’s contact information.
  2. Bring Your Insurance Cards: Always be sure to have access to your insurance information while traveling.
  3. Be Aware of Your Out of Network Policy: The last thing you want to worry about in an emergency is if you are making the right choice financially. Our medical insurance company had a webpage specifically geared toward what to do while you are traveling. Do try to be sure you make it to a provider that your insurance will allow, or you could be smacked with major bills later.
  4. ICE Contacts Stored in Your Phone: ICE (In case of emergency) contacts are vital in case you get hurt and are unable to call your emergency contacts yourself.
  5. Timing is Everything: Do not wait to see what happens. If there is a problem, whether accident or illness, take care of it ASAP.  It could develop into something so much worse and your issue could get out of hand faster than you imagine.
  6. Pack a Small First Aid Kit: I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had to use antibacterial cream when someone gets cut while camping, or worse. Jen posted once about what to pack in a car first aid kit. Take a look and see if you are ready for the unknown!
  7. First Aid Kit - twokidsandamap.comStay Calm and Cool and Think With a Clear Head: Nobody will benefit if you are having an anxiety attack mid-emergency.

Have you had to deal with an emergency while traveling? Do you have any other advice to share?

Denver with Kids: A Travel Guide

For the past year, we have been exploring Denver and all that it has to offer families.  I am fairly certain that we could live in the Mile High City for ten years and not hit everything that I want to do.  As we share some of our favorite things (and we have a lot more to share!), we will continuously update this page.

Denverwithkids

Itineraries

3 Days in Downtown Denver

Museums, Tours and More

Butterfly Pavilion

Coors Factory Tour

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Denver Zoo

Dinosaur Ridge

Holiday Activities

Denver Botanic Gardens Blossoms of Light (Winter)

Day Trips and Overnighters from Denver

Celestial Seasonings Factory Tour in Boulder, Colorado

Echo Canyon River Expeditions in Canon City, Colorado

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes in Mosca, Colorado

Ski Destinations Near Denver

Keystone

Breckenridge

Loveland

Winter Park

Three Days in Downtown Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado is one of the most fun and welcoming cities I have ever been to.  When we moved here in November it was at the beginning of the ski season.  My husband, a snowboarder, couldn’t wait to get his whole family sliding down the mountain.  We spent most of our winter weekends exploring the mountain towns and ski resorts.  When we weren’t driving back and forth on I-70, we spent our weekends unpacking boxes, getting used to a new school curriculum and finding our way around unfamiliar surroundings.  Downtown Denver was not high on the priority list yet.

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I was recently given the opportunity to stay as a guest at The Curtis Hotel, a Doubletree property, for two nights as a representative of Trekaroo.  While we made the Curtis our home for two nights, we spent three days exploring a very small bit of what the downtown area of Denver has to offer.  Three days is not enough time to hit all the highlights so we made a list of things we want to do over the summer and free weekends.  Even though we have a list of things to do on return trips, we feel like we made the most of our three day adventure.

Day One – Arrive and Wander

We arrived shortly after 5:00 in the evening on a Friday night.  After getting checked in and settled in our room, we did a little bit of hotel exploring.  Our room at the Curtis was perfect for our family of four.  I loved that there was a sofabed for the kids because we could fold it up while we were hanging out and have lots of room for them to play.  The hotel was big fun for the kids and the best part of it was the elevator announcements made at each of the themed floors.  See more of my thoughts on our stay at The Curtis.

When we could finally get to the first floor, we walked down the street to Sam’s No3 Diner.  I had eaten here with my daughter a few weeks ago while we were at Mary Poppins downtown and she was excited to show it to her dad and brother.  This restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives and has a huge menu.  You can get breakfast at any time of the day but it will be hard to choose a favorite meal!  I had the French Dip, my kids had French toast and my husband had a 2lb burrito.  That is actually the name: 2lb combo burrito!

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After dinner, we walked another block to the 16th Street Mall.  There are mostly shops and restaurants, but we had fun wandering around and adding different restaurants to our list of places to try.  Neither of my kids could walk past the pianos, a public piano art program called Your Keys to the City.  These whimsical pianos are open for anyone who wants to play.  After banging on the keys for a few minutes, we discovered two very talented young musicians playing another piano down the way.  We stood and listened for awhile as they played an impromptu concert.

On our way back to the hotel, we took a detour to visit the Big Blue Bear at the Colorado Convention Center.

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Day Two – A Self-Guided Walking Tour, Stand a Mile High and Try to Catch a Fly Ball

On Saturday morning, we actually had to race to a lacrosse game across town.  When that finished, we returned our car to the hotel and started our day.  We first walked to Larimer Square where we had lunch at Tom’s Urban 24.  I was underwhelmed by the prices of our food (ahem, EIGHT dollars for a kid’s meal?) and the crowd of young Kentucky Derby fans slinging back the drinks, but I would like to return on a date night with my husband so I could give it a second chance.  He was pleased with his meal and I liked the fun atmosphere.  Larimer Square offers a number of places to eat and every single one I saw has been recommended to us at one point or another.  From our booth at Tom’s, we saw the colorful sign for Rocket Fizz and it just called our names.  Little did we know that it is quite the soda and candy store.

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Rocket Fizz offers just about every candy you can think of.  There are hundreds of soda choices and you probably won’t recognize some of them!  We spent about thirty minutes picking out some treats to get us through a lengthy walk to the Capitol.  We wanted to see the Capitol because we wanted to see the plaque that shows where you are standing exactly one mile above sea level.

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We didn’t do a tour or go in because it was closed to the public on the weekends.  After taking some pictures and running up and down the stairs, we walked through a Cinco de Mayo festival that was happening.

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We made our way back to the hotel for a quick break before walking to the baseball stadium to see the Rockies play the Tampa Bay Rays.  We bought our tickets at the gate and were still able to get $15 seats.  I don’t recommend doing this because we had a hard time finding seats in our price point.  The game was great and I will share more about that in a later post.  After the game, we walked back to the hotel and everyone fell asleep quickly!

Day Three – Museums Galore

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Denver has a number of museums that cover all sorts of topics.  We decided to visit the History Colorado Center.  The History Colorado Center can be completed in under two hours as long as it isn’t very crowded.  Our favorite parts were the Denver A to Z exhibit and the Colorado Stories exhibit.  It was great to learn more about all of the different moments in Colorado’s history.  There is a lot that I didn’t know about our new home state.  There is a lot of reading, much like most history museums, but the displays are brightly colored and the paragraphs are short.  The museum is full of hands-on interactive exhibits that will help keep the kids busy while you read the signs.  There is a ski jump simulation, a barn to gather eggs in, and games to play.  After our visit to the museum, it was time to head back to the hotel to pick up the car.  Your day doesn’t have to stop here though.  The Denver Art Museum is just a few blocks away so you could make a full day of museum hopping.

downtowndenver8

We can’t wait to go back to the downtown area and explore Denver some more.  Do you have any suggestions for activities we should put on our list for our next trip?

Interested in other three day itineraries?  See our itineraries about Pensacola, Myrtle Beach, Asheville, and more.

Stop by Delicious Baby and Friday DayDreamin’ for fun travel posts!

 

Twelve Favorite Travel Posts During 2012

The year, 2012, has brought a number of adventures to my family.  Some were planned and some were unplanned.  This year was the year that we were going to stick close to home.  We were able to spend time visiting many of the Southern cities that we haven’t had a chance to visit like Atlanta and Chattanooga.  Little did we know that sticking close to home was going to take on a new meaning.  We had the opportunity to relocate for my husband’s job and we decided to close our eyes and just jump.  We moved from Pensacola, Florida to Denver, Colorado.

Who knows what 2013 will bring but I know we will continue traveling and looking for adventure around every corner.  I will continue sharing our stories except now we are going to be exploring the wild west.  We have plans to explore Wyoming and redo our Yellowstone trip (which goes down in family history as the worst. trip. ever.).  The family is going to learn how to ski and visit several of the popular ski resorts.  I am hoping to make a trip to Arizona now that we are a little bit closer than we were before (but not by much). We are also going to spend lots of time exploring our new town of Denver.

It always surprises me which posts seem to be popular on Two Kids and a Map.  I love to look at it and see what people were searching for and what they spent time reading.  It is always fun to revisit older posts.  These were not all written in 2012, but they were the most popular popular posts of 2012.

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Five Things to Do in Mobile, Alabama with Your Kids – This post continues to be one of the most popular posts on this site.  Mobile, Alabama is kind of like an under-appreciated gem.  It is a great Southern city to visit and there are lots of things to do with the family.

disneycruise

Justifying the Cost of a Disney Cruise – My  husband and I took a low budget cruise when we were newly married.  It was fun but we were young, on a teeny tiny budget and shared the cabin with two friends.  We couldn’t imagine spending the money to go on a cruise with Disney.  This year, I got to join a number of other Traveling Moms on a Disney Cruise.  It was a little bit work, a little bit fun and I got to spend a lot of time deciding whether my family and I would be taking a Disney Cruise ourselves in the future.

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A Dream Family Vacation in Destin, Florida – Destin is one of our favorite cities in Florida.  When we go back to visit family, I hope that we can make it to Destin for a night.  I love the beach, the slow pace of the town and the unbelievable seafood.

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Circle Around the Island of Oahu on a Self-Guided Tour – During our ten year anniversary trip to Oahu, Hawaii, we did a self-guided tour of the entire island in one day.  We saw turtles, the Byodo-In Temple, Lost television spots and more.

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Kualoa Ranch – Oahu, Hawaii – Though the main way to see this area is to invest some money into guided tours, I highly recommend it.  It is some of the most beautiful land on the island and we had fun learning about the different movies that had been filmed at this popular location.

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3 Days in Asheville with Kids – While I attended a conference, my husband and the kids spent a few days exploring the nature, museums and more that Asheville provides.

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Our Fast Pass Route at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom – There was no scientific research for this post.  I simply jotted down the path that we took on our journey through the Magic Kingdom and then shared it here!

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How to Create a First Aid Kit – Don’t spend money on already made first aid kits.  They include a number of things that you probably won’t use.  You can create a kit that suits the needs of your family.

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Kelty Convertible Baby Backpack – This is one of my first posts on the site where I share my love for this Kelty Convertible Backpack Stroller.

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Metropolitan Park – Kid’s Campus – Jacksonville, Florida – Just a little post about a fun park visit a friend shared with us while we were in Jacksonville.

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7 Things to Buy Before You Get to Disney – Living in Florida has its perks and one of them was being able to go to Disney World for a quick weekend without having to break the bank.  We always stopped at the store to purchase these items to help us save even more money.

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Georgia Aquarium – Tips to Making the Best of Your Visit and Enjoying It, Too – I normally don’t find too many things wrong with our traveling adventures.  We are flexible, open to new experiences and know that things we love won’t be loved by others and vice versa.  We have been to many aquariums and as much as I want to love the Georgia Aquarium, I just can’t.  I shared some thoughts about how to go and enjoy the displays despite the crowds and things I just didn’t love.

Happy New Year!

 

Preparing Your House Before Traveling During Hurricane Season

During hurricane season, June 1 to November 1, some people consider whether or not their vacation will be affected by a hurricane. We consider this as well but instead of wondering if a hurricane will disrupt our cruise or our beach trip, we worry about the possibility of having to race home ahead of a hurricane to take care of our house.

If you live in a hurricane zone, you know what I am talking about. We watch the Weather Channel on a 24 hour loop wondering if the hurricane is going to turn and head straight towards us. After going through Hurricane Ivan with a four week old, we make sure that we are prepared each year.  This also includes preparing our house when we travel out of town in case a hurricane is making its way that direction. Many of these tips work for most possible natural disasters or additional man-made issues.

  1. Before you go out of town, put a cup of water in each of your freezers and allow it to freeze. Put a freezer safe object (like a penny) on top of the ice and put the cup back in your freezer. If you lose power, the ice will begin to melt. Should your power go back on, you will see the item frozen in a new location and this will clue you in as to how safe your food is to eat.
  2. Bring in all of your outside toys. Right now, my backyard looks like a hurricane blew though it but it is really just my children’s mess. Some of those toys have the potential to become weapons in 75 mph winds.
  3. Secure the lawn furniture. This is something we are awful about. During one trip a few years ago, we had to have my mom go to our house and secure our furniture before the storm hit. We now try to remember to throw it in the shed or at least bring it close to the house.
  4. Do all the laundry. I am normally doing laundry right before a trip just to fill a suitcase but during hurricane months I try to keep up with the laundry so everything is clean when we go out of town. This ensures that we will have clean clothes even if we return to a house with no power.
  5. Let someone you trust know that you are going out of town so that he or she can be on standby. In some cases, your utilities will need to be turned off and it will be nice to have a friend at the ready. If you decide to stay away from your house, you will also want to have someone ready to check on your house in case you need to call the insurance company.
  6. Take a walk through your house with a video camera. Hurricane insurance is a tricky thing to deal with (trust us, we know!) and you will want proof of your belongings. Make sure that you have the time and date stamp turned on. Be sure to get close-ups of anything important to you like jewelry or antiques.
  7. Take stock of your hurricane stock. Do you need to go shopping for batteries or canned goods? If you are traveling in your car, you will be able to load up on supplies before you get back in town. If you are trying to beat the storm, you may not have time to get supplies or the stores may already be out. Making sure you are stocked up on supplies like water and canned goods before you go on vacation will alleviate some stress.
  8. If you are leaving a car at home while on vacation, make sure that the gas tank is full. If the pumps are down for several days or week, you will be glad you thought to fill the tank before you went out of town

Photo Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory via Flickr Creative Commons

suitcasesandsippycups.com

HTC Rhyme vs. my DSLR

The HTC Rhyme is a compact cell phone that has a fantastic camera on it. This camera is so great that if the company let me keep the phone, I would halt my search for the perfect point and shoot camera. A search which, by the way, has been perplexing me for months. While exploring the Disney Fantasy, I got to review this camera…I mean cell phone.

The camera has a number of settings that help you take beautiful pictures while on vacation or just out and about in your own town. You can adjust the ISO, white balance, resolution, and more. You can auto upload your pictures to Facebook or Flickr.  There are scenes that you can choose from like portrait and landscape. There is an action burst setting that takes five pictures, one right after the other to help you capture those perfect sports pictures. There is an option for close-up and low light. There seems to be an option for just about everything. My favorite setting to try was the panoramic.

You can also choose from several effects that will change the look of your picture such as distortion, grayscale, sepia and more.

The pictures looked pretty great in the phone and it was nice to have a small camera to use when I didn’t want to carry around my DSLR but I wanted to see how the two stacked up against each other.

To do that, I took a number of pictures with both the HTC Rhyme and my DSLR (with a 28-80mm lens) while standing in the same spot. These are all straight out of the camera or phone with the automatic function. There was no post-processing (besides adjusting the image size). Can you tell which picture was taken with the cell phone and which was taken with the camera.

Taken with the HTC Rhyme

Taken with my camera

Taken with the HTC Rhyme

Taken with my camera

Taken with the HTC Rhyme

Taken with my camera

Taken with the HTC Rhyme

Taken with my camera

I should probably disclose that I am already an Android fan and for the past two years my phone has been a Droid. As for the phone features, I didn’t make any phone calls with it but I did set up the WiFi while on the ship. I was able to pull up a search page, check email and send out a tweet on it.

It sounds great doesn’t? The BIG downside?

The phone does not have a slide out keypad, which is something I depend on greatly.

It does however take a pretty decent self-portrait…or at least one that I like enough to share on my site. Don’t I look all relaxed from my working vacation?!

Stop by Delicious Baby to see other Photo Friday submissions!  I am also participating in Friday Daydreaming over at R We There Yet.

*This post is sponsored by HTC. Thank you to HTC and TravelingMom.com for giving me the HTC Rhyme to try. I will be returning the phone to the company next week.  Thank you to Disney and Traveling Mom for providing my cruise accommodations. I paid for travel there and back as well as other expenses. As always, opinions are mine and mine alone.