Summer Weekends in the Mountains Part II: Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek

Beaver Creek is the sweetest little mountain town you ever will see.

Happy Thursday, friends! As I already mentioned, we were so lucky this summer because we got to go on THREE press trips that took us to awesome places in the mountains.

I blogged about our first trip here.

Our second was to the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek. We had only been to Beaver Creek once before (when Lotte was itty bitty and I was pregnant with Grace!), but we had loved it so much that time, we were more than happy to get back.

There’s plenty to love about Beaver Creek β€” its quaint, safe feel, gorgeous views and friendly people, to name a few β€” but the Hyatt offered its own set of amenities to treasure.

Views from every window!
The cutest kiddie toys in the suites!
The best location! The middle of the town is right outside the door, with tons of restaurants and shops, an ice skating rink in the winter and this huge play area in the summer.
And holy moly the food. So. Much. Good. Food.
So many tasty drinks!
That includes 24-hour-a-day room service.
Nutella pancakes for the win πŸ˜‰
You can also grab a s’mores kit from the front desk and make your own at their outdoor fire pits, surrounded by the glorious mountains.

You can catch the gondola or ski lift right outside the door and take it to the top of the mountain. There you’ll find a lodge with lots of fun games, tons of hiking trails, or plenty of spaces to just sit and sip and relax, if that’s your preferred mountain activity.

We love a gondola ride!
Views from the top.
Look at these cuties <3
Our hike was cut short when Grace fell and skinned her knee, but until then it was glorious!
Rides back down!

The town itself has tons of restaurants and shops, like I mentioned, plus a cute creek and, if you walk a short distance, a playground.

This cutie loved the creek!
Hiking around town.

And obviously no trip of ours is complete without trying out the pool & hot tub situation. Both options at this hotel scored a 10/10 on our scale.

Pool ready!
What better way to wake up the guests than with squeals of delight from the pool down below?!

And that was it in a nutshell, my friends. We love you Beaver Creek! My only wish is that this place is slightly closer (it’s two hours in good traffic). If it were, we’d be there much more often, I can promise you that πŸ˜‰

Bis bald, friends! I’ll be back tomorrow with our third and final press trip of the summer β€” C Lazy U Ranch!

Summer Weekends in the Mountains Part I: Grand Colorado on Peak 8

Happy fall, friends! Back in July of this past summer, we were lucky enough to check out Grand Colorado on Peak 8 in Breckenridge for a press trip. I couldn’t share our adventures until the story came out, and now that it has, I’m so excited to drop some mountain love here, as well.

We stayed at the resort from Friday night through Sunday afternoon. And even though we hit some gnarly traffic on the ride home, it was definitely worth it. Other than a small accident that put Emilia in urgent care on Saturday night, we all had a blast.

Friday Night

We arrived to our suite late afternoon on Friday, and holy hell was it impressive! Our living room had amazing views of the mountain, the Adventure Park activities and the pool area down below. In general, the hotel was very well suited for families, and the girls had the best time exploring.

Kid-sized games galore!
So much people watching!
Dinner at Robbie’s Tavern, located in the resort, was so yum. As were the drinks πŸ˜‰

Saturday

On Saturday we explored the resort a bit more (pools, kids’ crafts & cafe), and drove into town to check out the Breckenridge Alpine Garden.

Is there anything better than a blue-sky mountain day??
The Alpine Garden was the perfect substitute when we discovered that the hike we wanted to take was closed, and the other had no parking. Small enough to enjoy at a kids’ pace, and the kids love being in nature.
Downtown Breck is such a delight <3
The girls and I caught the free gondola from town back to the resort!
More fun games with a breathtaking backdrop.
After a morning spent exploring, we picked up some crafts to paint back in our room while we had some lunch.
Chris & I switched off on having amazing massages in the afternoon while the girls rested, then we hit up the pool. We had evening plans to head back into town, but after Emilia’s accident and urgent care visit, we decided to lay low back in the room and let her rest. Rest assured she was totally fine and back to her adorable, rambunctious self in no time πŸ˜‰

Sunday

Sunday begin with pancakes in our suite and a trip to the second indoor/outdoor pool.
We were given passes for the Epic Discovery Adventure Park, which the girls made great use of, starting with this amazing bungee jump trampoline!
Look at that pure joy!
We also opted to ride the ski lift, which was so beautiful and only about 75% terrifying with littles!
Emilia was unphased by Mom’s anxiety, particularly after her head trauma the day before!
After checking out we headed back into town for lunch at Breckenridge Tap House and ice cream at Higgles.
The girls got to ride the Gondola with Chris this time <3
Mint chocolate chip all around!
After filling up on treats, it was off to find the Breckenridge Troll! (Please know that you can easily park in the huge parking lot near the troll and walk about 400 feet. We started off trying to hike there from the downtown area, and this was so. much. easier!)
Troll spotted!
The hike to and from the parking lot is short but beautiful. My favorite kind πŸ˜‰

And that was it, friends! 10/10 recommend this place for adventurous, outdoor-loving families looking for a fun getaway! Until my next press trip post (we had THREE!) … bis bald, friends!

Early October in Disneyland!

Happy October, loves! This month is the best kind of chaos for us, beginning with a solo trip for me back to New York for my cousin’s wedding at the end of September/first weekend in October, followed a few days later by …. drum roll, please …. OUR TRIP TO DISNEYLAND!

I’ve only been to Disney World, and the girls had never been to anything Disney related, so this was very special. Sadly Chris couldn’t get away from work to join, but we did manage to drag Grandpa Robert along, so that was very lovely, as well.

We stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and splurged for the Genie+ passes, so this was not a cheap trip. Still, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. With a 7-, 5- and 2-year-old, I wanted to do as much as I could to make this trip as “easy” as possible for myself and Grandpa. Staying in a hotel that was walking distance to everything we needed and paying to skip the lines whenever possible was absolutely worth it. Even though we all stayed together in one room, Grandpa and I each got a Queen bed, Emilia slept in a travel crib that the resort had, and the girls slept on a (very large) hide-away bed. It was delightfully comfortable. I also booked the majority of our meals prior to the trip. This turned out to be a smart move, as well. As you can imagine it was insanely busy, so knowing where and when we were eating was an essential step in avoiding hangriness (myself included) all around.

Here’s a bit of what we got up to πŸ˜‰

Day 1: Arrival & Downtown Disney!

We were so lucky that we got to visit during the 100th anniversary of Disney and during the height of their Halloween festivities. I LOVE Halloween, so seeing all the decorations and visiting the special attractions was so much fun!

There was direct access to Adventure Park from our hotel (which we didn’t visit on this trip), as well as to the Downtown Disney District, which is steps to the Disney entrance. Be prepared to open all your bags and walk through a metal detector to get into Downtown Disney. Part of the Disney experience is knowing you’re safe from weapons. Because that’s the world we live in.

Halloween decor at the Disney entrance!
The Disney attention to detail is SO REAL. No stone is left unturned when it comes to delight.
The Storytellers Cafe β€” where characters hang out with you during breakfast and lunch services β€” was in our hotel. Sadly breakfast and lunches were booked out while we were there, but we did do dinner one night. The girls wore their princess best πŸ˜‰
The buffet was great! Honestly the food everywhere was amazing, which is a good thing because that ish is EXPENSIVE πŸ˜‰

Day 2: Our First Disney Experience!

Hello, Disneyland!

One of the best things about this trip was the fact that the girls had no idea what to expect. Yes, they knew we were going to Disney, and they obviously know who most of the Disney characters are, but outside of that, they couldn’t grasp the experience. How could they?

It’s safe to say they were blown away.

Guests of any Disney resort get early access to the park at 7:30 a.m. (it opens to the general public at 8), so we were there bright and early both days, and had good spots to check out Mickey & Minnie’s opening act. Not too shabby πŸ˜‰
Grandpa hadn’t been to Disneyland since he was a little kid, so this was basically all new to him, as well!
The Disney app is AMAZING, including the photo feature. They had professional photographers located around the park who would take photos that got loaded automatically to your app. Genius.
The girls’ first ride was DUMBO … a very solid choice! Emilia in particular was IN LOVE.
It’s a Small World was another hit. We went on it twice!
We hung with so many characters! Goofy was our first <3
I obviously bought special Disney shirts for our trip, and Grace was disappointed in mine because she said it wasn’t “Disney” enough. So I was very happy when we came across this statue with the same phrase!
Captain Hook!
Aladdin!
Mickey’s Toontown was so cute! The girls and I got to walk through Minnie’s house and then meet her, and then Grandpa did Mickey’s house with them. (All this while Emilia slept through the chaos around her!) We also rode the Runaway Railway, which was so fun, although a bit more roller coaster-ey than I expected! Emilia seemed to enjoy it all the same!
Grace was right at home at Minnie’s House <3
How cute is Minnie’s kitchen?
Minnie was a delight!
And Mickey, of course!
We even managed to catch the ending of the parade on Main St., which was so much fun! It was the perfect topper to the perfect first day in the park <3

Day 3: Finding Our Disney Mojo

By Day 2 in the park I figured out how to use the Disney app and Genie service a bit better, so we were able to take advantage of shorter lines more frequently. Our first stop was Pirates of the Caribbean! It was a dark and “scary” ride, but I was so proud of Grace for challenging herself to do rides that scared her! She ended up enjoying (most of!) them.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh <3
The Jungle Cruise was so cute, and the guide was hilarious!
Peter Pan’s Flight had one of the longer lines we waited in (about 30 minutes), and the ride itself was fairly short, but it was definitely cute and worth doing.
Lunch at Jazz Kitchen Costal Grill & Patio was back in Downtown Disney β€” so about a 20 minute walk from Fantasyland in the park, where we were β€” but I enjoyed having lunch in a more laidback setting, away from the insanity of the park. Plus, it was SO GOOD!
Our first ride after lunch was the Haunted Mansion from The Nightmare Before Christmas. We scored a Lightning Lane entrance from the Genie + app for this, which got us in at about a 15 minute wait, as opposed to about an hour. SCORE!
After the mansion we booked it back over to Fantasyland to meet some princesses, and on the way we ran into Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh!
Mulan!
My heart <3
Cinderella!
Ariel!
We had tried to do the Snow White ride our first day in the park and the ride broke down. Oops. We caught it after the princesses, though, and it was worth going back!
The Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage was so much cuter than I expected! Totally worth a visit.
Before heading back to the hotel after an insane day, we managed to snag this photo at the pumpkin in the main square, as well as see the Disney Band play as they lowered the flag for the day.
Back at the hotel we took advantage of the pool and hot tub, which the girls are thoroughly obsessed with.

Day 4: Headed Home

Our final breakfast was Mickey waffles β€” obviously β€” at the GCH Craftsman Bar in our hotel. A fitting final meal for a simply delightful trip.

And that was it, friends! As I type this we are back home, awaiting our next adventure β€” Aussie Nan & Poppa coming to visit in four days! They head in for Chris’ Big Birthday next week, and we cannot wait! Until next time, bis bald, friends! Hope your fall is off to a fabulous start!

Celebrating Birthdays and Friendship in Savannah, Georgia

Happy Tuesday, friends! I just arrived back from the best trip down South β€” to Savannah, Georgia, to be exact β€” with three of my closet friends that I’ve known since our 2nd grade Balmville Elementary School Days in Newburgh, New York. 2023 marks 40 years on earth for all of us, meaning 30-plus years of friendship.

If that’s not something to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

We stayed at this Airbnb, which was the perfect location for us. We were walking distance to so many restaurants, bars and shops, not to mention the water and the Savannah and ghost tours, both of which we took full advantage.

Since I knew I’d be mostly catching up with my friends, I didn’t spend too much time researching what I might want to do while in town. Seeing my friends, checking out some gorgeous trees and eating delicious food was about all I had on my list. Luckily, my friend Laura did do her research, and she guided us through the most magical and perfect couple of days in (holy crap it was hot!) Savannah. Some of our highlights included:

  • Vic’s River Grill for dinner on the Friday we arrived.
  • Visiting the Love Lock Bridge.
  • Treylor Park Restaurant for breakfast on both Saturday and Monday … that’s how good it was!
  • Our tour of the city was hop-on/hop-off, and we hopped off at Forsyth Park to take in some of the gorgeous Spanish Moss (neither Spanish nor moss, mind you) trees.
  • Lunch in the beer garden at Moon River Brewing Company.
  • Dinner at The Olde Pink House. This place was SO. STINKIN. COOL! It’s actually an old house that turned naturally pink when the sun baked through the white paint to expose the brick underneath. You can check out the entire house β€” which is gorgeous β€” after you eat and, of course, they say it’s haunted.
  • On Sunday we drove out to Tybee Island, which was about 20 minutes and totally worth the drive. It was the cutest little beach town.
  • Chamacos Tacos and Surf for lunch on the way back was so fun, especially when combined with Rita’s Ice after.
  • Dinner at Huey’s On the River before our ghost tour was so tasty.
  • Arco Lounge had the yummiest (and prettiest!) craft cocktails.
  • The breakfast at Little Duck Diner was so good (even if the service was so incredibly slow).

Besides all the eating, drinking and site seeing β€” which was an integral part of the trip, don’t get me wrong β€” it was so amazing to catch up with these lovelies. We live in Colorado, upstate New York, Florida and Arizona, respectively, so as you can imagine we don’t get together that frequently. Upon leaving this trip we made a pact to do this every five years.

I surely hope we can keep that promise.

Here’s a bit of what we saw, friends!

Even the Savannah airport was adorable! Look at these cute rocking chairs outside!
Love Lock Bridge was something else <3
Savannah, you sure are cute.
So many treats! Such amazing pralines! This place is a gold mine for candy/sweets lovers.
Look at this Treylor Park breakfast insanity! I ate more grits on this trip than I did probably the entire time I was in college in Virginia. And I’m not in the least bit sad about it.
Touring around Forsyth Park.
Look at these trees!!! (Don’t touch ’em, though! Tiny little bugs called chiggers live in them. They used to be used to make pillows, though, which is where the phrase “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” comes from!)
Look at this gorgeous room at the Olde Pink House!
And this creepy cellar that was actually incredibly cool.
Tybee Island was such a tucked away gem of a spot!
I hadn’t been in the ocean since we were in Australia, so this day was long overdue.
And to be there with these besties was even better.
A little Chamacos humor πŸ˜‰
Dinner at Huey’s.
Drinks at Arco.
And a super cute ghost tour to round out our last night.

I sure do love these muffins. Best friends are hard to come by. People who stick by you through thick and thin are hard to come by. Finding people who have been with you from the beginning is a nearly impossible feat. My luck to have been found these friends is off the charts.

Bis bald, my friends. I hope you’re soaking in the last days of summer, too!

40th Birthday Bucket List Trips

Glacier National Park, in all her beautiful glory … plus my little bubs <3

I feel like I should start this post by writing: β€œAnd just like that, I was 40.”

It’s what almost everyone says about turning 40, but it doesn’t actually feel that way. On the one hand yes, I feel like I turned 21 just yesterday. But on the other hand … holy hell a lot of work has gone into reaching this decade!

Between 30 and 40 I became a whole new person. I entered into my first year of marriage, started my business and moved across the country. I added countries and states and continents to my travels, bought a house, sold a house, bought another one. I had two miscarriages and three babies. I lost and gained friends. I lost my Mom.

It’s been a ride, friends!

Anyway, all of this is to say, entering my 40s does feel like a milestone, but not in a “oh my God I’m so old!” way. More in a, “Wow, that was a whirlwind. I wonder what’s next?!” kind of way.

So to kick off this new and exciting decade, I thought it would be nice to celebrate in a place that’s been on my Bucket List since I wrote a geography report about it in 8th grade: Glacier National Park.

And I was right β€” she did not disappoint.

Although traveling at the end of March/early April meant that most things (restaurants, hotels, sections of the main road) would be either closed or covered in snow, it also meant that we literally had the entire place to ourselves. It was magical, friends. When I tell you the park was our playground, what I mean is that we probably saw about a dozen people the entire time we were there, and the majority of those were on the final day when we visited one of the most popular lakes in the entire park.

We’ve already made plans to go back when the weather is nicer, now that we got to have our initial trip all to ourselves.

Here’s a little bit of what we got up to on my 40th birthday trip.

Day 1: Arrival

We didn’t arrive until mid-afternoon on our first day, which was a nice way to ease into the trip.

These little muffins are becoming quite the travelers πŸ˜‰
Bluey for the win!
When we landed we had time to kill before we could check in, so we headed to The Montana Club in Kalispell (about 20 minutes from the airport) for lunch. It was the perfect Montana introduction.
And the perfect way to toast an introduction to my birthday weekend!
At 4, we checked into our tiny cabin. While this place was fine, there ended up being a few quirks (spider! broken fireplace! hot water that doesn’t last for very long!) that would make me not recommend it for big families like ours. Still, it was a fantastic location β€” at about 15 minutes to the West entrance of Glacier β€” AND had one of our favorite features ….
A hot tub!
Em couldn’t go in for long, but she did get a dip, which she was VERY happy about πŸ˜‰

We knew we wanted to get up early on Friday to start the exploring, so after dinner we hit the hay (the girls did enjoy their loft beds in this Airbnb, that’s for sure!) and called it a night!

Day 2: East Glacier

On our first full day in the park, we hit the road! We were staying near the West Glacier entrance, but we wanted to head over to the East side to check out Two Medicine Grill for breakfast on our way to St. Mary Lake.

Hard not to take picture of EVERYTHING you see in Montana.
Driving over the continental divide!
Only one child was awake for the event.
Breakfast at Two Medicine Grill was everything we could have ever hoped for in a diner.
See what I mean πŸ˜‰
Chris took this photo of me from the car, because ….
I will always stop on the side of the road for horse photos. Always.
The park entrance photo of my dreams, on the way into the St. Mary Lake area!
It was definitely chilly on Friday, so we didn’t actually do any hiking. But driving around and stopping for photo opps was just as good, in my mind.
See what I mean πŸ˜‰
There were a lot of road closure on this trip, but we definitely got the gist, and definitely plan to come back when we can see the whole thing!
All told, we drove about four or five hours on Friday around the park, and the girls were ROCK STARS. I love my little crew…
We stopped at the Glacier Distilling Company on the way home, which happened to be about five minutes from our Airbnb and AMAZING.
Delightful tasting flight!
Delightful cocktails!
Then it was back to our Airbnb for more HOT TUB TIME!

Day 3: Polebridge Mercantile

On our second day in the park we traveled over dirt roads and through rivers (basically) for … HUCKLEBERRY BEAR CLAWS!

The Polebridge Mercantile & Bakery is a Glacier institution, and we were so lucky that it just happened to open for the season on April 1st!

Chris didn’t let on how nervous he was driving to Polebridge until we got home β€” but he did an awesome job and we arrived in one piece!
While Chris fretted the drive, I took photos πŸ˜‰
About an hour later, we arrived!
I mean … HOW CUTE IS THIS PLACE?!
AND THEY HAD PUPPIES!!!!! (that were actually for bear control …. yikes!)
And so many treats! And a coffee that I loved so much I got two of. PLUS …
Don’t ask me how many Huckleberry Bear Claws we purchased …
How adorable is this Lego version of the store?!
Running from a family of Sasquatches. Naturally.
We tried to drive into the park from the store, but our car got stuck in a trench of water. So, we nixed that idea in favor of ….
More hot tub time!
Hot tubbin’ in the cold and snow really can’t be beat <3
It was the PERFECT last day of my 30s, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way <3

Day 4: WELCOME TO 40!

And then there was the One Where I Turned 40 …

Yikes!

It was honestly a good day, friends, filled with Facetimes and family and fun and Huckleberry things. I felt very loved and special on this day, and there wasn’t anything else I could have possibly wanted.

Starting your birthday off with waffles covered in Huckleberry jam and ice cream is ALWAYS a good idea!
For my birthday, we decided to head over to the famous Lake McDonald, which afforded us some glorious views along the way.
Plus this picture-perfect park entrance sign <3
It was a cloudy morning, but look at this splendor …
So incredibly gorgeous.
AND WE BASICALLY HAD THE PLACE TO OURSELVES!
It was a special moment.
How Mom throws …
How Dad throws.
Gorgeous.
Serene.
For dinner that night we headed into Whitefish (about 30 minutes away) and ate at The Firebrand Hotel, which was magnificent.
After dinner the skies had cleared and it was nearing sunset, and Chris had the idea to head back to Lake McDonald. I’m so incredibly glad we did …
Because these views …
Are breathtaking.
We have no fun πŸ˜‰
Thank you, Glacier, for putting on a show.
Birthday pie that night was … you guessed it! … HUCKLEBERRY!
Plus one more hot tub/star gazing soak.

Oh, Montana, you stole my heart. This was the trip of a lifetime, and I’m so happy I got to spend it with my crew.

On Monday it was …

One final hot tub soak and …
One final Huckleberry cocktail, then home.

That was my 40th birthday adventure in a nutshell, friends. I hope you enjoyed following along.

I can’t wait to see where my 40s take me in this crazy beautiful world, and I can’t wait to bring you along.

Bis bald, loves!

Holidays In Australia Part 3: New Zealand

The excitement began before we even got off the plane, friends … look at that view!

After spending Christmas and the next few days at Chris’ parents’ house in Bathurst, we loaded up the car and headed off to Sydney, where the girls would be staying with their grandparents and some aunts, uncles and cousins, while Chris and I headed off to New Zealand β€” BY OURSELVES β€” to celebrate our 15-year meet-a-versary, our 10-year anniversary of being married, New Years Eve (which just happens to be the anniversary of both of those aforementioned things) and the upcoming year of our 40th bdays.

But really, you don’t understand. We never leave our kids, and we especially don’t leave them overnight. In fact, we’ve only left Lotte & Grace overnight once, and that was the last time we were in Australia.

In other words, this was long overdue!

Despite knowing how much we’d enjoy the trip, we definitely waffled. Leaving three kids with any number of adults is bound to be a lot, and flights and accommodation during the holidays are astronomical. After going back and forth on it, we finally decided to JUST GO FOR IT, and we settled on spending our three-night getaway in Queenstown.

I’m so glad we did.

The Details

With so much to celebrate on this trip, we decided to just really go for it. All of that is to say β€” we splurged in a way we don’t normally … and I don’t feel badly about it one little bit πŸ˜‰

The largest expenses by far were the flights ($2,515) and the lodging ($2,243).

Even the airport had stunning views!
QT Queenstown lobby views.

We stayed at the QT Queenstown and would highly recommend it! Besides the fact that they treated us royally (with the sweetest welcome/happy anniversary package of champagne, chocolate, bath bombs and free drink tickets at their hotel bar), the (absolutely spectacular) breakfast was complimentary and in a gorgeous dining room, the location was perfect, and the views were out of this world.

We also went all-out with our meals (besides breakfast, which was always free and always at our amazing hotel). Because hey, you only have a 10-year-anniversary and you only turn 40 once!

Day One: Arriving

Here’s a little pro tip from me to you β€” when you’re an American traveling from Australia to New Zealand (ie. me), you do need a travel Visa, and it’s best to get this sorted before you head to the airport. Also, Quantas and Jetstar both have weight limits for carry-ons (not sure about other airlines, but these are the two that we traveled). Both of these are fun things we learned the hard way.

After our initial hiccups, we landed in gorgeous Queenstown, checked into our hotel, then set out to take in the town at twilight and have dinner at The Bunker, a romantic hidden gem offering a prefix menu and wine pairing situation that we were all too happy to enjoy.

Also delightful was the fact that Queenstown was still all dolled up for the holidays.
This place is a must if you’re looking for a romantic and low-key dining experience!
I mean … yum.
This view was a short walk from our hotel.
Queenstown is probably one of the cleanest, most picturesque places I have ever been, and it certainly has some of the nicest people I’ve met.
Cute when kidless!
Delight.
Stunning water ….

Day 2: Biking Around Queenstown

Renting bikes has become a little tradition for us while traveling (see Japan, Iceland, London, Rome, New Orleans and Manhattan, to name a few), so we knew we wanted to do that in New Zealand if we could, as well.

Of course, I’m never one to let a little biking come between me and a cute outfit. (Please also refer to Munich.)

Anyway, we woke up whenever we wanted to on our first full day in New Zealand, had the breakfast of our dreams at our gorgeous hotel restaurant, then rented our bikes and hit the dusty (and sometimes very narrow and very close to the side of a cliff) trail. We traveled 18 miles out to the Queenstown Golf Club for a drink, then back via a stop at Altitude Brewing.

I basically had to re-learn how to use the gears properly β€” as well as remind myself to ride on the other side of the road β€” but it all worked out in the end!
More than worth it for these views!
Plus my riding partner was cute <3
Quick beers at the gold club before turning around!
It was even prettier on the ride back!
See?!
Altitude Brewing was a delightful highlight.
As was the jack fruit bao bun from the food truck!

After our ride we were more than ready for our dinner/adventure with Skyline Queenstown. This included a ride up the mountain in a gondola, dinner at the Stratosfare and three Luge rides (which I was incredibly nervous about but which turned out to be basically adult go-karts down a hill and incredibly fun!).

Again with the views!
My very chill Luge face πŸ˜‰
Stratosfare dinner views.
Happy.
I kept saying that I felt like Frank Costanza on this trip, wearing my travel resort gear!

Day 3: Burgers, Gardens, & New Years Eve

After a fairly intense Day 2, we were happy to lay low on Day 3 and do some more relaxed activities. We tried out the famous Fergburger (my mushroom sandwich was to die for, but Chris said his actual burger was only okay), took a stroll around the Queenstown Gardens, HAD TWO NAPS and had dinner and watched the fireworks/welcomed 2023 from the restaurant in our hotel.

I did eventually dip my feet in, just to say that I had πŸ˜‰

And that was our short-but-sweet New Zealand trip. It was absolutely everything we had hoped for and more. Thanks for being awesome, Queenstown. You’ll have a special place in our hearts forever.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the final part of our trip β€” a visit to the beach where Chris and his family grew up vacationing.

Until then … bis bald!

YMCA of the Rockies β€” The Estes Park Version

Edit Note: I wrote this post on the Monday after Thanksgiving, as we had just spent the weekend at the second YMCA of the Rockies location. Since the trip was a sponsored press trip, I waited to post this until the story for the publication that sponsored me went live. You can find the complete Good Housekeeping 2023 Family Travel Rewards story here!

Happy Monday after Thanksgiving, loves! Our little family was lucky enough to try out the second YMCA of the Rockies location β€” this time in Estes Park β€” the weekend after the holiday. (You can find information on our stay at the Granby Ranch location here.)

While similar in many ways, and with many of the same amenities as Granby, the Estes Park location did feel slightly different. There is less property at this location, which means the cabins and activities are closer together. This is nice if you’d like to opportunity to walk around more easily, but the vastness of the Granby location also had its perks. Whichever you visit, you honestly can’t go wrong. Grace spent the entire first-day-back-preschool-morning-check-in walking up to her little friends and her teacher and saying, “I went to the YMCA of the Rockies!”

It obviously had a lasting impact. Here’s a little bit why …

Even the check-in area was charming!
We had a real fireplace at this cabin, which you just KNOW Chris loved!
Games were another big part of our stay.
So glad we got to check out the pool on this trip!
The most fun!
Who doesn’t love a good air throw?
Just like in Granby, the cafeteria was a big hit.
Me and my cute little crew πŸ˜‰
We took a cute, short guided nature walk that involved hugging trees!
Borrowed some clubs for some mini-golf!
The library β€” and more specifically the story time at the library β€” is a MUST if you come here!
Grace did some rock climbing on the scrambling wall, while Lotte …
… gave the big wall a go!
Nature Center cuties
We made ice cream!
We explored some trails!
We made art!
We made a mess πŸ˜‰
We tried out the playgrounds!
We got cozy and colored by the fireplace in the lobby!
We made smores in our jammies back in our cabin!
And on Sunday morning, we woke up to gorgeous, snow-dusted vistas.

And that was our action-packed, amazing trip in a nutshell, my friends! Check out the YMCA of the Rockies in the Good Housekeeping travel awards here.

Bis bald, friends!

YMCA of the Rockies β€” The Snow Mountain Ranch Version

Edit Note: I wrote this post the Monday after we made our actual visit, but had to wait until the story was actually live. You can find the complete Good Housekeeping 2023 Family Travel Rewards story here!

Happy Thanksgiving week, my friends! We have been battling all the illnesses over here lately (just like literally everyone else in the world, I know), but we did manage to pull it together this past weekend for a quick press trip out to YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, CO.

As you’ll recall, we are already big fans of Granby, but the YMCA property took that love to a whole other level. I won’t go into a ton of detail here (because all of that is covered in the actual story that the press trip was for, which you can find here), but I’ll just say, this is the best, most upgraded camp experience you could ever have, dropped right in the middle of the most majestic mountain setting.

Some of our activities included:

  • Meeting the sled dog team and going on a little ride
  • Checking out the Kiva/Rec Center
  • Making crafts in the Craft Center
  • Smoresing and bonfireing
  • Building a float for a mini Thanksgiving Day parade
  • Enjoying our SPECTACULAR mountain views

We feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit this iconic spot.

We stopped off in Idaho Springs on our way home, as well, and had lunch at Beau Jo’s <3

I hope you guys are staying healthy and have some relaxing and fun holiday plans ahead. Until next time … bis bald!

Birthday Bashin’ for Chris in Colorado Springs – Part One

Say cheese, it’s almost your birthday!

Happy Monday, friends! We just got back from spending Chris’ birthday weekend in Colorado Springs, where we stayed at this Airbnb in Old Colorado City, to be exact.

Even though we’ve been to Colorado Springs a number of times (like this special trip, for example), we had never stayed in this part of town, or done the activities that we came to do this past weekend.

Let me start by saying, our Airbnb was magnificent. The place itself was very nice, newly remodeled, etc., but really, it’s the location that sets this place apart. It’s right across the street from a great park (which just happened to be the main stage of the town’s adorable fall fest on Saturday afternoon with live music, face painting, plant potting and more), and is right on the main street, making it walking distance to tons of restaurants, bars and activities. The places that we visited on our stay included:

This is a long list for having only been there for two nights and one full day, but even so, there were so many other fun places we wanted to try! (And hopefully will, sans kids, one day.)

Grace is me when it comes time to pick treats … GIVE ME THEM ALL, PLEASE!
Even Emilia got a vegan chocolate treat to devour πŸ˜‰
Air throws are all the rage these days <3
We grabbed breakfast early on Saturday and took a quick walk in town before heading for the main attraction of the day. These sweetest little farm owners were setting up their stand for the fall festival later in the day and gave the girls each a free pumpkin β€” what a fun way to start the day!
My favorite pictures are the ones that girls request, like Lotte, with this one πŸ˜‰

The main reason we picked this particular Airbnb, though β€” even though all the other perks were top-notch once we arrived β€” was its proximity (about seven minutes) to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. These ancestral Puebloan Ruins date back 800 to 1000 years, and they’re so well preserved that you can walk and explore in them which, naturally, the girls were obsessed with. It was so fascinating learning about their way of life, and it really makes you realize how smart they were, especially given the fact that their habitats are still standing today despite having so little to work with.

I mean … incredible.
These cuties LOVED exploring! (Chris, too .. hah.)
Hi!
Never goes anywhere without her tiger these days <3
The surrounding area is so picturesque, too.
These two.
The museum did a great job explaining more about the daily lives these people led. Not entirely sure Lotte should have put her tiger inside the fake fire pit, but sometimes ya gotta pick your battles.
Emilia loved it, too!
Love a good stranger pic!

After spending a few hours at the cliff dwellings, we headed back to our Airbnb and spent some time on our front porch listening to the live music of the fall festival before heading over to partake in the festivities.

It was Emilia’s first “concert,” and she was HERE. FOR. IT!

After a couple hours at the festival, some down time, some snackin’, and a partial viewing of The Addams Family (for me and Chris, not the girls, although I do think they would actually find it hilarious), we hit the streets again to check out The Michael Garman museum, which turned out to be even more fun than I imagined. Michael Garman was a sculptor who created Magic Town, a square-foot miniaturized neighborhood with hand-made buildings and sidewalk scenes, which became The Michael Garman Gallery and Magic Town Museum with more than 500 of his sculptures.

Emilia was fascinated!
The older girls were enraptured.
Chris and I were pretty impressed, too!

After the museum we hit up Westside Cantina for Chris’ birthday dinner, complete with multiple tacos and multiple margh’s …

One of everything please …
Emilia also approved πŸ˜‰

And that was the gist of our Saturday, the day of Chris’ birth. It was so much fun, and the girls had a blast. Sunday was another adventure, but I’ll get into more on that tomorrow. For now … bis bald, friends! I hope the fall is treating you well <3

Royal Gorge and CaΓ±on City, Colorado With Kiddos

The secret to smiling faces? Skittle bribes, all dang day long.

Happy August, friends! The month started out on not such a great foot for us, so we weren’t in our normal headspace when heading out on this quick getaway. (Well okay, I wasn’t!) At the end of the day I’m so glad we did go. It’s always a good idea to take some time to get out of your own head, recognize what’s so special about your life, bond with your kids, show them new things and, as one friend put it, nature is always healing πŸ˜‰

The Details

Lodging (Price: $692 for 3 nights)

We stayed at this Airbnb in CaΓ±on City, which was a sweet little three-bedroom place with a large dining area and kitchen. It might have been a tad overpriced for the location (it was about 20 minutes from the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, which was our main point of interest for this trip), but we still had a blast. It was all one floor (no scary stairs for littles!), and the layout actually allowed us to put Emilia in her Pack and Play at the back of the house so Lotte and Grace could have separate rooms if they needed them (which one night they did).

The backyard was cute, too, with a grill and little table area under a covered patio, where we grilled out and had dinner on our final night.

Entertainment

The kids have a book called Good Night Colorado, and the Royal Gorge Bridge makes an appearance as one of the MUST SEE places in Colorado. When we were planning a final farewell to summer trip (the girls start school on August 16th!), we knew we didn’t want to go any farther than 2.5 hours (exactly how far Royal Gorge is from us), but that we wanted adventure on a low-key, kid-friendly level which, despite the RIDICULOUS photos, the Royal Gorge offers.

This is an amazing place for families … as long as no one is afraid of heights! Travel tip: Most of the attractions, the playground and the visitors center, etc., open at 10 a.m., but the bridge itself is open at 8 a.m., and tickets are cheaper then. (We paid $83 for the four of us over 2 years of age.)

There was also no one there early in the morning, which was delightful, and the weather was so lovely. By the time we ended up leaving around 10:30, it was getting pretty busy and incredibly hot. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been the amazing experience it was if we waited until 10 a.m. to get there.

As it was, we had the best time.

Grace and her insects πŸ˜‰ She was besides herself to find two HUGE butterflies on the way in!
Despite our children’s faces here, we all had fun <3
Makin’ herself right at home <3
Man, oh man.
This girl was spottin’ tiny green frogs in the grass and slithery lizards running in the opposite direction. She’s a gem at this age, and so easy to please!
Feeding the fish.
They have every kind of adventure activity you could imagine here β€” zip lining across the gorge, climbing the gorge, white water rafting in the gorge, riding a train through it, etc. We didn’t do any of those with the kiddos, but the Gondola is included in your entry ticket price, so we did take that, and it was thrilling!

We give Royal Gorge Bridge a big ole’ thumbs up! They have a campground, “glamping” cabins, a dinosaur museum … honestly, we could have spent a week here and not been done exploring. We definitely hope to get back!

Our Friday afternoon was spent hitting up Centennial Park, which had a fantastic splash pad and playground and access to the Arkansas River and was about a mile from our Airbnb. Then it was ice cream at You Scream Treat Emporium.

On Saturday we hit up Skyline Drive β€” a very narrow 2.6-mile drive with the most amazing views and … wait for it … DINOSAUR PRINTS! β€” and then did a short hike β€” the Royal Gorge Overlook Loop β€” to take in the Royal Gorge bridge from a distance.

Nothing to see here, just a mom trying REAL hard not to drive off a cliff!
More skittles bribery in action.
Dinosaur prints! (And yes, Lotte does have dinosaurs on her outfit and she is also holding a stuffed dinosaur, so you can imagine the happiness this activity brought!)
Chris ran up a steep, short trail to snap this pic. (Insert Wow emoji here.)
We accidentally ended up taking the road for drivers for our hike (the hiking trail runs right next to it), but it turned out for the best because there was no way our double stroller would have fit on the other trail.
This girl lives for a Dada snuggle <3
This gorgeous view. So humbling.
Back at the parking lot we had a quick picnic β€” with this ridonc view β€” before packing up and heading home.
My crew. They super cute.

We stopped for coffee at The Bean Pedaler in the cute little downtown area before heading home. All-in-all it was a very successful β€” and beautiful β€” trip, and I’m so glad we did it. It’s a good reminder that it’s often worth doing something to get yourself out of your head. And travel memories are, for the most part, never a bad idea.

And now it’s back-to-school mode over here! This is the girls’ final week before heading back, and I’m so grateful for our summer trips to Seattle and New York, plus this one. I’m grateful the girls had fun experiences with camps and playdates with friends and neighbors and lots of unstructured playtime at home.

We also celebrated a 6th birthday.

The birthday girl requested a trip to the Denver Aquarium on her special day.

It was one for the books. Hope you guys are having an awesome summer, as well <3

BIS BALD, FRIENDS!

Seattle With Three Littles β€” Day One

Happy Memorial Day, friends!

We’re back from our long-awaited trip to Seattle and Olympic National Park, and I can confirm … if you’ve had Seattle on your bucket list for a while, BOOK THAT TRIP NOW!

We had the absolute best time on our little 3-day stay. We planned to fly in late on Wednesday, after the girls got out of what was supposed to be their last day of school before the summer. The school ended up closing two days earlier, though, for renovations. We tried switching to an earlier flight but they were booked out. So we didn’t end up getting in until around 9 pm (on what was NOT our best flight), but luckily the Airbnb where we stayed was only about 20 minutes from the airport.