East Coast Cocktails

East Coast Cocktails Living Lark
Photo Credit- Bridging Her Story

I am so excited about this collaboration post! I have once again been fortunate enough to team with Kate Bolt from Living Lark – this time to share her latest summer drinks. We both recently took road trips with our families out east, so these East Coast Cocktails seemed like a fitting match. Continue reading East Coast Cocktails

What to do in Washington D.C.

If you follow me over on Instagram, you probably gathered that we recently traveled to Washington D.C.  If you missed it, below is a photo diary of just a few of the places we visited…

Continue reading What to do in Washington D.C.

Where to Stay in Denver: Hotel Teatro

Hotel Teatro Denver Colorado

I cannot stay enough good things about Hotel Teatro. We usually go for the larger hotels (you know, the hotels with the massive Christmas trees in their lobbies in December) but will without a doubt stay at Hotel Teatro on all future trips to Denver. The staff was incredibly friendly, helpful, and professional while still providing a relaxed and calm environment. The location was also very convenient, especially if you plan to take advantage of Larimer Square’s decadent restaurant scene (which we did and you can read about here), walk to Union Station, head out to a Colorado Rockies game, or enjoy a performance at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. You can also walk to mostly mainstream shopping on the 16th Street Mall or boutiques in Larimer Square. But back to the hotel… Continue reading Where to Stay in Denver: Hotel Teatro

Where to Eat in Denver

I was recently able to check a box on my Bucket List (if you missed it, here is the complete-ish list) as we headed out to Colorado. My husband and I spent 4 days in this city with a beautiful backdrop of mountains. We spent all of our time in the city, although next time, I would like to head for the mountains just to try something new. My husband was able to join me for dinner a few nights, and it was wonderful. We actually had a conversation over dinner instead of wrestling kids back to the table. We did not have a bad meal… In fact, we had several downright delicious dinners. Warning: the majority of our favorite foods and shopping occurred in Larimer Square. It was only about 3 blocks from our hotel, but I would have walked miles if needed to get to this fabulous little corner of Denver. Colorful flags fly in the wind over the street while the sun casts square shadows on the warm pavement below and strings and strings of lights crisscross over the road. It really does feel magical. And the restaurants…

Where to Eat in Denver

Corridor 44- Corridor 44 is a restaurant in Larimer Square and the menu looks fabulous. We took advantage of the happy hour. The champagne cocktail list is impressive. It appeared as though many of the drinks were traditional but rather than add club soda, bubbly was substituted. Yes- you read that correctly.  I don’t even like champagne (yes, you read that correctly, too), but I loved this restaurant.

Dining and Drinking in DenverDining and Drinking in Denver

Cru- Well, we couldn’t go on a trip and not end up at chain, albeit a very quaint and fancy one with only four additional city locations… Sooooo… that doesn’t really count, right?! Regardless, the dinner was delicious and we enjoyed the small sitting area outside on the square. I would highly recommend the Scottish Salmon. We also shared a Shiraz flight that was fabulous.

Osteria Marco- Yes, another fantastic restaurant in the same square. When we walked in, I was immediately impressed with the tiled hostess station. Because it was rainy, we ate in the restaurant downstairs flanked by bottles and bottles of wine on all sides. The food was again amazing. Seriously, some of the best. You can choose from full meals, panini, and pizza.

Where to Eat in DenverWhere to Eat in Denver

Terminal Bar- We did leave Larimer Square one afternoon to check out Union Station. The building itself was incredibly impressive. It is a working train station complete with restaurants, benches, work tables, a book store, a flower stand, and a hotel. The scene is well worth checking out. We ate at the Terminal Bar and again were impressed. The craft beer selection in Denver is amazing and we had fun trying a couple new brews. (Side note: we are not wine snobs- not even close. However, when it comes to beer… we admittedly are. When you are from Beer City, USA, you tend to get spoiled with good beer without even knowing it. Denver crafters, you also do a nice job- we were impressed.)

Dining in Denver

 

Hotel Teatro- I cannot say enough good things about this hotel (and will say even more in a separate post, so stay tuned), but for now, I will stick to the food. We sat outside and had the most wonderful charcuterie while watching all of the people going home from work or going out to eat or doing whatever you do on a weekday at 5:30pm in Denver. Inside, the restaurant and bar are beautifully decorated. While we didn’t eat a meal at the Nickel (which is regrettable), I did pop inside to take a picture and noticed a delicious-looking Bloody Mary bar. Next time…

Where to Eat in Denver

Dining and Drinking in Denver

Want to save this for the next time you dine and drink in Denver? Here’s a pin 🙂

Where to Eat in Denver

**This post may contain affiliate links meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

Top 5 Travel Hacks

Hi all! I feel like it’s been awhile. It’s just incredibly wonderful to feel the spring sun and watch the beautiful flowers in bloom. Also, we’ve been out traveling twice in the last month… that along with birthdays, school plays, soccer, yard work, shooting hoops in the driveway too late past bedtime… you know how the springtime awakening goes… Since packing (and unpacking) have been fresh on my mind lately, I thought that a few travel hacks were in order.

I try to be a no stress traveler. The whole point of going on a trip is to relax and explore. That said there are a few travel hacks that make life easier and don’t require too much planning ahead.  I have also narrowed it down to my top five. While there are plenty of travel hack articles out there,  most of them have lost me at “top 25.” Who has time to read 25 hacks when you are trying to get ready for a trip?

#1  Take a photo of the information plaques while out sightseeing.  This hack came from my sister-in-law and is my favorite hack of them all. We all think we are going to remember our pictures in the details (or even where we took the picture), but there is so much to see that the details often get lost. Having a picture of the info from a historic monument or the name of the restaurant you loved helps when you are sharing pictures with family and friends. Or perhaps, you are just in awe of the architecture (or chasing down your energetic young ones) and don’t have time to read all of the history behind the site. Your picture allows you to read the plaque later that day in the quiet of your hotel room.

#2  Plastic Gallon Bags. Not good for the environment (so obviously try to reuse them as much as possible) but great for packing. This hack is especially useful if you are sharing a suitcase with your children. I put an outfit for each day in a plastic bag and also have one for toiletries, pajamas, and swimsuits. This helps alleviate the drama of them tearing through the suit case to choose an outfit or find a swimsuit and disrupting the order with which I so carefully (most of the time) packed it.

#3  Blue Apron. I love it. I would use it every week if I were able to. However, Blue Apron is a once-a-month kind of thing at our house. As such, I always reserve an order for the week we return.  We will undoubtedly be making several trips to the grocery store, but it is nice to avoid having to plan at least one meal a day until the bags are unpacked and the laundry is done.

#4 An Empty Stainless Steel Water Bottle. (My redemption for using plastic bags.)  The water bottles are great for filling up at the airport once you have passed through security. This can save you quite a bit of money in the long run. I also like having the water bottle at our hotel. If the water tastes funny or we are not supposed to drink it, I can always take my water bottle down to the fitness center to fill it up for the day.

#5 Take a Photo of Your Row/Level at the Airport Parking Garage. Haha- yes, our phones are full of random signs. However, this again is extremely helpful. When in a rush to make our flight (as we undoubtedly always are), we always take  a quick snap and are grateful we have when we return from our trips with our heads in the clouds and sleepy children. 

There you have it- 5 quick, no-stress, no-plan travel hacks. What about you? Do you have any travel hacks that you implement regularly? Planning to stay put and enjoy all that spring and summer have to offer? Me too… but here’s the pin for next February 😉

 

**This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation. Thank you!

 

 

Top 6 activities in D.C. with Small Children

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Washington D.C. is one of my favorite U.S. cities. Not only is it beautiful and historic, but it also seems completely manageable regardless of who your travel companions may be. I have visited D.C. several times throughout my lifetime~ with my family, with my husband, with the Close Up program, and this time with our children, ages 5 and 2. We brought our double jogger and are so grateful that we did because walking was our main mode of transportation during this trip. We were able to walk to most of the activities described below with the exception of the National Cathedral area. Below are the top 5 activities that I would recommend in D.C. with small children.

Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian Museums (National Mall)- I love, love, love the Smithsonians. The free admission takes all the pressure off parents and children. We were staying just a short walk away from the Smithsonians, so I could take the kids to a museum, and if we had to leave for naps or meltdowns, it was fine. We could also do quick walk throughs of the museums and then decide where to go back to spend more time or choose specific exhibits we wanted to revisit. The Air and Space Museum was the clear winner on this trip.

The National Cathedral- One of the most beautiful places in D.C., the National Cathedral took 83 years to complete and is the second largest cathedral in the United States, the 6th largest in the world. When we went, there was also a festival going on with all sorts of activities for the kids, including face painting, rides, and games. My husband and I could enjoy the beautiful architecture and our kids could enjoy transforming their faces into woodland creatures.

 

Beauvoir-  If you are up by the National Cathedral on a weekend, you should check out the National Cathedral Elementary School’s (Beauvoir) playground. It is immaculate, and there is a nice variety of activities for various age ranges.Beauvoir

Georgetown- Again, this is one for the adults and the children. My husband and I enjoyed pushing the kids in the stroller and window shopping. We finished at a kid-friendly, Mexican restaurant with friends in a nearby neighborhood. We went mid-afternoon, grabbed dinner, went to a nearby park, and were back at our hotel at a reasonable hour (we did take a taxi back). You can adjust the time you would like to spend in Georgetown depending on how much you want to explore or how long you want to shop. If you have small children with you an afternoon or even half of an afternoon would probably be enough time.

National World War II Memorial- Opened in the spring of 2004, this memorial has significance as a tribute to those who served during World War II. It is nice to visit in order to have meaningful and age-appropriate conversations with your children. Bonus: it is outside and our children had fun finding our state name engraved in one of the 56 granite pillars located around the plaza. Win, win, win.

World War II Memorial

Memorial Run- Speaking of memorials, we ran almost every morning by the monuments. While we could have spent more time (obviously) at each monument, I’m not sure our children were quite old enough to spend hours at them. Our runs seemed the most efficient and effective for our children’s ages, and there was just something so peaceful and serene about seeing the monuments before the hoards of tour groups descended on them for the day. During our run, we would stop to catch our breath, talk with the kids about the monuments, and take a picture. We were able to see the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument all within our 35-minute run. Amazing.Memorial

 While there is so much to see in D.C. and we were not able to do it all, I feel that this list has a nice balance of history and activity considering the ages of our children. I hope that other families traveling to D.C. with small children will also find this list to be helpful. 

*Please note that some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, which means that, at no cost to you, I may be compensated.

Top 5 Hilton Head Activities with Kids

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We did it! Our first road trip. Naturally, we decided to drive to Hilton Head, South Carolina, a place my husband and I had gone together with our college tennis teams. (I can’t tell you how many times we have already forced our kids to take a walk down memory lane with us. Just add this to the list.) I won’t talk about the ride down, but once we finally got to the island, it made it all worth it. Listed below are our Top 5 activities that we did with our kids on the island.

hiltonheadtrip1.) Gregg Russell- Don’t skip this. It’s #1 on the list for a reason. Gregg Russell has been performing for over 30 years. Meet him under Liberty tree in Harbour Town. Your kids aren’t the only ones who will be laughing and singing along. We went twice and probably would have attended every night if we had been staying in Harbour Town. If your kids want to increase their chances of being called up on stage, they should bring posters saying, “Pick Me!” or something even more creative.

2.) Ride Bikes on the Beach- Again, this isn’t one to skip. How many beaches are hiltonheadtripthere that you can actually go for a bike ride on? I’m talking about riding directly on the sand. The beaches go for miles! Just be sure that you don’t get overly ambitious (as my husband often does) and go too far before turning around.

3.) Salty Dog Cafe– Located in Sea Pines, this restaurant is one of the most well-known on the island. You really shouldn’t go to Hilton Head without eating at the Salty Dog Cafe. And be certain to read The Legend of Jake, the Salty Dog to your children before you go.

4.) Watch a tennis match at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy– these kids are good! Players come from all over the world to attend this academy. We were staying right next door and were also able to use the courts to hit.

hiltonheadtrip5.) Take in the wildlife– all of the jellyfish that were washed up on shore were amazing, and our kids were entertained for a very good amount of time running from one to the next. (This is what happens to you after making it through another long Michigan winter- anything and everything outside becomes amazing.) We also were able to watch dolphins swimming in the ocean right from the beach and feed the turtles at our hotel. There were alligators on the golf course by the street leading up to our hotel. It was fun to look for them from the safety of our car.

Or, just go, have a seat, soak up some Vitamin D, and be happy you escaped a week of snow in April (Why, Michigan? Why?)

hilton head trip

Wandering in NYC

Wandering in NYC

I had never been to New York City in the springtime, so I decided to come along for a long weekend with my husband. He had been there several years back for the US Open and I had been as a teenager for some shopping and all of the historic sites, so we were really just up for wandering. Some random wandering. And some wandering with a purpose… Mostly, pure randomness, though, because that is what we do best…

Wandering in NYC

Central Park- It is the place to be on a Sunday afternoon. Absolutely Gorgeous. There are so many blooms, and it just feels romantic to be walking around the famous park in the springtime.

Wandering in NYC

Finding Neverland- Next, wander over the the Red Staircase and purchase some tickets to Finding Neverland. I can’t say enough good things about this performance. My husband was such a good sport as I obsessed over the Red Staircase and going to a show. I could tell it really wasn’t his thing, but he came along anyway. And loved it! Thank you, Finding Neverland, for making my husband into a Broadway fan. The theater is quaint and any seat is a good seat. The tickets were reasonable. The story was amazing (basically, about how the story of Peter Pan came to be). There may have even been some Cheers jokes thrown in (Kelsey Grammar was one of the main actors when we saw it), which boded well with us.

Wandering in NYC

NYU- If you have a chance to wander down to the campus of NYU, the town homes and architecture are beautiful. Washington Square was entertaining with street performers and people watching. If you are in the area, it is a nice place to grab a coffee to go and take in the scenery.

Wandering in NYC

Fig and Olive- And if you happen to be in the meatpacking district, this restaurant had a trendy but sophisticated vibe to it. The food, drink, and service were all top notch. We were feeling pretty with it. We later, of course, found out that the restaurant is a chain (why do we always find the chains?!). But, still, it obviously doesn’t feel like a chain and is worth the visit wherever you end up staying in the city.

Wandering in NYC

The Waldorf Astoria- Speaking of where you might stay, the Waldorf Astoria was a great location for us. It was an easy walk to 5th Avenue, Central Park, Broadway, and Times Square. We were treated very well. The brunch in the morning is well worth the cost. Who knew I actually do love eggs benedict?

Wandering in NYC

St. Patrick’s Cathedral- Being my father’s daughter, we really couldn’t do a trip without any historic destinations, so we stopped in at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We were in NYC during Easter weekend (yes, we are the good parents who leave their children on a holiday weekend) and just walking through St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the Good Friday service was a moving and spiritual experience.

Wandering in NYC

Last one, I promise! While you are in the area, you might as well wander over to Rockefeller Plaza to watch some ice skating (depending on the season), check out the flags, or (again) just people watch. It feels especially magical at night with all of the lights.

And that was our wander-ful (sometime, I just can’t help myself) weekend in NYC.

Wandering in NYC

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A Few Hours in Saugatuck

Autumn in Saugatuck

There are seriously so many cute stores in downtown Saugatuck, Michigan, that it was difficult to make a short-list (because, of course, I have a list). Nonetheless, here are my suggestions if you only have a  few hours. Autumn is the perfect time to go for a stroll in this cute and artsy village.  It is considerably easier to find a parking spot and, well, the picture above demonstrates the pure beauty of it all. One word to the wise, Saugatuck truly is on its own time, so just because a store opens at 10am one day, doesn’t necessarily mean it will open at 10am the next day (because some days, we all just need that extra cup of coffee).

Saugatuck Uncommon GroundsSpeaking of which, after parking, head to Uncommon Coffee Roasters, because no Saturday morning stroll is complete without that cup of coffee in hand. Also, if you brought the kids and decide to head to my next suggestion, you will need the caffeine.

Saugatuck Toy Store

The Teeny Tiny Toy Store is a must with children. As the name suggests, it is, well, tiny. Nonetheless, there are oh-so-many good toys in the store that you will likely finish your grande vanilla latte and your children will still be finding new toys that they absolutely need.

Saugatuck Landsharks

And then, to make your husband happy, you could head across the street to Landsharks to get geared up for sporting events, ski trips, Michigan souvenir shirts (my favorite!), etc, etc.

Saugatuck Playground

Now, by this point, your children, okay fine, my children, will likely be bouncing off the walls (quite literally), so you can just walk a short block to the village park, deposit them there with your husband, and continue on your merry shopping way. Warning, there is a scary snake/worm at the entrance. While a little disconcerting at first, the snake/worm will grow on you and you will find yourself taking pictures of your children climbing it.

Saugatuck Brass AnchorThe Brass Anchor Co. is my new favorite shoppe in Saugatuck. The clothes are trendy yet classic, the mugs and framed prints make me giggle, the home decor is just my style, and I can easily find a gift for any host.

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Because you may just end up spending too much time at The Brass Anchor, you may just quickly want to pop into Wine Sellers of Saugatuck on your way back to the park to pick up a bottle or ten. There is quite a bit to choose from and also fun wine accessories. If you have more time, other wine options could include either the Tabor Hill or Fenn Valley wine tasting rooms.

Saugatuck PhilsFinally, after dragging your children from the playground, end your day at Phil’s. And get a burger. I do not typically order burgers when dining out, but I almost always order a burger from Phil’s because it is, in my opinion, by far the best burger in West Michigan. Oh, and if you become a regular, you may just get your name on the marque for your birthday or anniversary or graduation… You just never know.

 

Saugatuck is such a great village in winter, spring, summer, and autumn. Brace yourself for more Saugatuck posts because I’ve only scratched the surface and most definitely will have even more suggestions and unsolicited advice.

6 Kid-Friendly, Rainy Day Activities in Boston

 

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Cheers!!!

Mackinaw Road Cheers

The crew and I made it to Boston. We were so excited to see the sights and walk the city… And then it got cloudy…and sprinkled…and rained. The Freedom Trail and all that goes with it was out. The Duck Tours were possible but not probable for us. Whale watching seemed considerably less desirable. Wandering down Boylston and Newbury Streets was unlikely. So, here is the list of 6 things we did in Boston with our children on our rainy day(s) trip.

Mackinaw Road- Quincy Market

Quincy Market– an indoor market full of really good food options, including food you can purchase to go and then sit in the center dome to eat. There are also a few restaurants in the marketplace, including Cheers… you know, just in case you are feeling especially touristy (as we usually are). Also surrounding the marketplace are different clothing and retail stores.

Mackinaw Road-Boston Public Gardens

Public Garden– When it is nice and in season, you are able to ride the pedal-propelled Swan boats. Unfortunately, we were not “in season.” However, the children thought it was fun to find the island from the book, Make Way for the Ducklings, as well as climbing all over the statues of Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings. If it isn’t raining, it is also fun to walk up Beacon Hill just across from the garden. (Side Note: Click on the link above to purchase the book from Amazon before your trip. Disclosure: I may get an advertising reward but I really would have recommended the book regardless.)

Mackinaw Road- Curious George

World’s Only Curious George Store– If you do brave the elements and take the T   (subway) to Harvard Square, be sure to check out The World’s Only Curious George Store. Although somewhat small, it is packed with all the things kids love. These storeowners know what kids like. And, while in the neighborhood, be sure to check out Russell House Tavern. The ambiance and food are beautiful!

(Just a quick aside…Remember how I mentioned the T a while back? Well, I have a tip. Children 11 years old and under ride the T for free when accompanied by an adult with up to 2 children per adult. We were told this after buying 2 round-trip tickets for our children. Lesson leaned.)

Mackinaw Road- Children's Museum

Boston Children’s Museum– I cannot say enough good things about the Boston Children’s Museum. I remembered it being amazing as a child. And, believe me, as an adult with my own children, it was equally amazing. You may even want to go here on a sunny day! Children learn about the arts, science, and culture all while having fun. There are even prompt cards at some exhibits for parents about things to look for, questions to ask your children, and conversations to listen for from your children. We spent 4 hours at the museum and could have stayed longer. There is even a large lunchroom if you bring your own lunch or you can walk through a small area to Au Bon Pain, eat, and then re-enter the museum. If you are looking for a deal, check out their website. When we were there, admission on Friday nights was only $1. Also, if you go for the last hour they are open on any other day, admission is discounted by half.

Mackinaw Road- New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium Again, this is great on a rainy day because you can spend a good portion of the day here. There are also in-and-out privileges, so you are able to leave to grab a bite to eat (there is a Legal Seafood very near to the front entrance of the museum that is kid friendly) if don’t feel like eating in-house, and then head back for more fun with the sea. Our children’s favorite exhibits were the hands-on exhibits. We literally had to drag them away from these exhibits. There is also a huge tank in the center of the museum that spans four stories containing various sea creatures. The penguins were a lively bunch on the day we visited and another favorite attraction. A final tip is to leave your stroller at the free stroller check-in counter. The Aquarium can be quite crowded, especially on a rainy day, so if you don’t absolutely need your stroller, leave it. It will make navigating the four floors easier.

And, there you have it, 6 Kid-Friendly, Rainy Day Activities in Boston.

*Please note that I may be compensated through some of the above links.