10 Amazing State Parks to Explore This Year

Do you crave getting outside and exploring new places? Does your family enjoy activities like hiking, camping, or kayaking? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I highly recommend visiting your nearest State Park!

It seems like National Parks are all the rave right now, but State Parks are just as amazing! Plus, there’s way more State Parks out there to explore than National Parks. Keep reading to learn about our favorites across the US and why we love them!

Dead Horse Point State Park – Utah

Hands down, one of the most beautiful views we’ve ever seen!

Did you know that the vista from Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the most photographed scenes in the world? Once you visit, you’ll totally understand why! In my honest opinion, I prefer this state park over the Grand Canyon. The views are breathtaking, the hiking was easier for the kiddos, and the location in relation to Moab and the National Parks in the area made for an amazing trip!

We visited in March over our spring break and felt like we had the whole entire place to ourselves! I loved the views and the pictures I was able to take of my family here. The boys loved exploring and climbing around on the rocks (not anywhere close to the edge, I promise). You’ll come across this park right before Canyonlands National Park, so we enjoyed the easiness of seeing both places in the same day!

Click here to for my complete Moab, UT travel guide!

Hunting Island State Park – South Carolina

I love visiting unique beaches!

If you have kids that love to run and climb, then take them to this beach! We visited this state park over spring break in March, so the weather was still quiet chilly and too cold to swim at the beach. That didn’t stop any of the fun, though! This is an awesome beach to visit to search for shells and shark teeth, too!

My boys loved climbing on all of the driftwood along the shore. And they also had a blast running through the trees and bushes farther away from the water. They made little forts under the trees and played together for hours while the grownups relaxed to the sounds of crashing waves! It was nice to see how much fun these brothers had playing together and we have the best memories of this day! I loved the Marsh Boardwalk, so be sure to check that out!

  • Website: Hunting Island State Park
  • Address: 2555 Sea Island Pkwy, Hunting Island, SC 29920
  • Phone Number: 843-838-7437
  • Entrance Fees: $5 per person, $3 for kids ages 5-16

Click here for my complete South Carolina travel guide!

Maquoketa Caves State Park – Iowa

So far, this state park is my most favorite!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, this state park is AMAZING! I only spent half a day here exploring the caves, but I could’ve stayed for days. Picture it, you’re deep in the forest walking along trails that you know lead to different caves. Limestone bluffs surround you. And then you spot the first cave opening and the true adventure begins!

This state park is considered to be Iowa’s most unique and I couldn’t agree more! There are about 13 caves to explore and inside the caves it stays about 55 degrees, even in the summer! Plan to wear hiking boots, bring a flashlight, and prepare to get dirty! It really is a memorable adventure. I’m not sure who enjoyed this place the most, my kids or myself!

  • Website: Maquoketa Caves State Park
  • Address: 9688 Caves Rd, Maquoketa, IA 52060
  • Phone Number: (563) 652-5833
  • Entrance Fees: We didn’t pay a fee when we visited!

Click here for more information about our trip to Maquoketa Caves State Park!

Emerald Bay State Park – California

Have you ever been to a lake that looked like a beach in the Caribbean?

This is another beautiful state park. We kept saying that it felt like we were at the beach and not at the lake! I really enjoyed the hiking trails, the trees are huge and the views along the way are stunning. The beach area at the lake is also great for relaxing, picnicking, swimming, and renting kayaks, canoes, and SUP boards.

We rented a kayak and explored on the water! It was so much fun. We paddled out to an island and got to hike around it and up to the ruins on top. The weather here is also amazing, not too hot at all and we visited in August. We enjoyed snorkeling here, too and just relaxing along the shore after a day on the water and hiking in the area. California is just so dreamy!

  • Website: Emerald Bay State Park
  • Address: 138 Emerald Bay Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
  • Phone Number: (530) 541-3030
  • Entrance Fees: $5 per vehicle to park

Click here for my complete South Lake Tahoe travel guide!

Custer State Park – South Dakota

The hiking in this state park is a must!

This is one of the most memorable state parks we’ve visited, probably because it was the first long hike we took our boys on! The Black Hills of South Dakota are already pretty fantastic, but add in this state park with lake access, wildlife galore, and rugged hiking trails and the experience is one you’ll remember for a lifetime!

If you’re able to visit, be sure to check out the Sunday Gulch Trail. It’s not the easiest trail, but it is so much fun! Who wouldn’t love hiking over streams and around waterfalls? Seriously, besides driving through the park and taking in the sights, the trail is my most favorite memory here!

  • Website: Custer State Park
  • Address: 13438 US Highway 16A, Custer, SD 57730
  • Phone Number: (605) 255-4515
  • Entrance Fees: $20 per vehicle

Click here for my complete South Dakota travel guide!

Dinosaur Valley State Park – Texas

Kids love hunting for dinosaur tracks here!

We come to this state park for the dinosaurs! Where else can you go hunt for dinosaurs tracks? Here, you can find them in different places along the riverbed of the Paluxy River and walk right in them if you choose to! After all, Glen Rose is known as the Dinosaur Capital of Texas!

We’ve always enjoyed bringing our boys here on warm summer days. The river is a great place to cool off and we all really enjoy hunting for those dinosaur tracks! You can also camp, hike, and look for wildlife here. Glen Rose has a lot of other options in the area, from a drive through wildlife park, to campgrounds, river floats, and more!

  • Website: Dinosaur Valley State Park
  • Address: 1629 Park Rd 59 Glen Rose, TX 76043
  • Phone Number: (254) 897-4588
  • Entrance Fees: $8 per adult, age 12 and under are free

Click here for my complete Glen Rose travel guide!

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

I have never seen trees so tall and forest trails so quiet and serene!

There’s not a lot of words that describe just how magical these groves of trees are. And the pictures I took definitely do not come close to showing the massive size of them. Truly an unforgettable day of hiking and exploring and a place that I personally feel everyone should visit if given the chance!

I’ve never seen my boys so happy out in nature. They were impressed with the views, but loved exploring the most. They ran, played, climbed on tree logs, crawled through downed trees, and just acted like kids. It made my mama heart so happy. The Redwoods are unforgettable and this park is a place that we all want to visit again!

Click here for my entire Pacific Coast travel guide!

Robbers Cave State Park – Oklahoma

We felt like outlaws on the run here at this park!

Nestled in the San Bois Mountains of Oklahoma sits Robbers Cave State Park. The landscape and hiking trails are just as legendary as the infamous outlaws that used to flee to the caves to hide.

We find ourselves going back time and again because it’s fairly close to us and it’s just such a fun and easy getaway. The kids love exploring the caves in the area and climbing all the rocks that dot the landscape behind the cabin rentals. We enjoy sitting around the fire pit roasting marshmallows and watching our kids doing all the things that kids like to do when out in nature!

  • Website: Robbers Cave State Park
  • Address: 2084 NW 146th Rd, Wilburton, OK 74578
  • Phone Number: (918) 465-2562
  • Entrance Fees: $3 per person

Click here to my complete Robbers Cave travel guide!

Smith Falls State Park – Nebraska

Short hike to an impressive waterfall, yes please!

This was a surprisingly wonderful stop on our road trip from Texas to South Dakota! We happened to see this state park sign off the road in Nebraska and decided it would be a great place to get out and move around after driving all day. It ended up being so much more than we had expected!

We were utterly shocked at the size of the waterfall we found at the end of a fairly easy walk. Even more surprising though, was that nobody else was there! This is a place that I hope to explore more of one day!

  • Website: Smith Falls State Park
  • Address: 90165 Smith Falls Rd Valentine, NE 69201
  • Phone Number: (402) 376-1306
  • Entrance Fees: $12 nonresidents, $6 residents

Monahans Sandhills State Park – Texas

Being a kid is so fun!

This is another state park that my boys give two thumbs up to! I don’t know your thoughts on sand, but my kids love it! So, can you imagine their delight when we pulled up to a park full of sand dunes for miles and miles? This is a great stop if you’re driving through Texas towards New Mexico. We stopped here along the route to Carlsbad Caverns!

If you visit, bring a sled or something to slide down the dunes on and let the kids run free! There are great facilities to shower off in after a day of playing in the sand. Trust me, it will be everywhere, but totally worth it!

  • Website: Monahans Sandhills State Park
  • Address: Exit 86, 2500 I-20, Monahans, TX 79756
  • Phone Number: (432) 943-2092
  • Entrance Fees: $4 per day for ages 13 and up

As you can see, there are so many amazing places out there to explore! If you find yourself on an adventure, look to see if there are any state parks in the area. I promise you won’t be disappointed! We love adding state parks to our itinerary. They are typically very inexpensive and offer a wide range of activities for all the different interest levels in our family.

Be sure to check back in on the blog to see just which state parks we add to our list this year! We have some fun plans in the works that I can’t wait to share with you all. If you have a favorite state park, I’d love for you to share. As always, happy travels!

The Ultimate Guide to Planning an Unforgettable Girls Trip

I like to think of a girls trip like a little recharge button. The trips I’ve gotten to take with my girlfriends have been so good for my soul! I cannot recommend getting away with the girls enough, even if it’s only for a night. In this post you’ll find ideas about planning the perfect trip, activities, destinations, and more!

Steps for Planning the Perfect Girls Trip

Choose Your Destination – This is the part that I love! It’s so fun to find out where your girlfriends want to explore and to bounce ideas back and forth. Plus, you can use trip planning as an excuse to get together for brunch or a girls night. Start with the destination, then it will be easier to figure out the rest!

Pick a Date – Often times, planning a girls trip can be tough! With so many different work schedules, kid schedules, etc. it can be hard to find the time. I suggest choosing your dates after deciding on the destination. My girlfriends and I usually go for a long weekend. But if you’re a mom, you know that there are so many moving pieces that follow. Do you have childcare while you’re gone? Do your kids have events that they will need to get to? Can you take the time off work? This is always the hardest part, so get that out of the way quick!

Budget – Next, set a budget, respect where everyone is financially, and stick to it! This doesn’t mean you have to share your financials with your girlfriends, but be mindful that everyone might not be in the same position as you. Don’t feel bad to speak up if you just simply can’t afford what others are suggesting. There are so many budget friendly options out there!

Think About the Activities – Once you have picked your dates and set the budget, then it’s time for the fun part! Create a wish list of activities that you would like to do at your chosen destination. My girlfriends and I usually always have something outdoorsy, some kind of pampering, and something relaxing on our lists. And these ideas might change, based on the time of year you’re able to travel together. Be open minded and brave enough to try out some new activities that might not be on your list.

Girls Trip Activities:

  • Spa treatments & pampering
  • Get outdoors and take a hike
  • Hit up a beauty bar for a makeover
  • Go wine tasting
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Relax on the beach
  • Take a road trip
  • Explore a new city
  • Go dancing or sing karaoke
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Visit a quaint town
  • Take a yoga class
  • See a show or concert
  • Go on a ghost tour
  • Have a quiet wine & movie night
  • Go to a fancy restaurant

Designate a Leader – If someone in your group has more of a take charge personality, designate them as the group leader! We all need someone to keep us on track with our schedule and reservations, especially when we get together with our best friends!  

5 Epic Destinations for Your Next Girls Trip

These are some of the girls trip destinations I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of! I can’t recommend these locations enough!

Estes Park, Colorado

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park

My most recent girls trip was to Estes Park this past October. It was such a wonderful fall weekend, spent hiking in the mountains during the day and relaxing in the evenings! I will always suggest traveling to the mountains when you need a little reset.

Mimosas are always a good idea!
Fall in Colorado is simply stunning!

Estes Park Highlights:

Click here for my full Colorado Girls Trip guide!

Snowbird, Utah

Sunrise hike to Cecret Lake

One of my most memorable girls trips was to Snowbird, Utah. My best friend and I did some intense hiking, but also made time to relax at the spa and take a yoga class. But, what I enjoyed the absolute most was the day we ordered room service for every single meal and watched true crime documentaries the whole day!

Thelma and Louis photoshoot!
Fall meets winter!

Snowbird Highlights:

Click here for my full Utah Girls Trip guide!

San Francisco, California

You gotta get that iconic Golden Gate Bridge pic!

San Francisco is always a good time, especially so when you’re with your girls! There are so many different options to explore when you’re visiting this city. But my favorite activity is probably eating, the more fresh seafood the better!

Hiking Lands End Trail
China Town!

San Francisco Highlights:

Chicago, Illinois


My first ever trip to Chicago was several years ago on a girls trip! I didn’t really know what to expect here, but we ended up having an absolute blast! I tried some new foods that I wouldn’t normally pick, took in all the sights, danced the night away, and have returned to Chicago several times since. It’s a really great girls trip option, there are so many things to do and see! Late spring, early summer is a wonderful time to visit, the city is bursting with flowers!

Love these girls and that Chicago skyline!
Loved all the tulips, too!

Chicago Highlights:

New Buffalo, Michigan

St. Joseph Lighthouse

Fall in Michigan is breathtaking! This Texas girl was thrilled to see what fall is actually like in other parts of the country! I can still envision walking along the quaint waterfront towns and wanting nothing more than to move there. Even though it was a quick weekend getaway, it was so memorable. Grab your girlfriends and your cutest sweaters and booties and make the trip this fall!

These quaint waterfront towns are to die for!
Girls trip are good for the soul!

New Buffalo Highlights:

Click here for my full Michigan Girls Trip guide!

Destinations and Activities on My Girls Trip Bucket List

More Tips for an Unforgettable Girls Trip

  • Don’t try to pack too many activities into one trip.
  • Rent a cool car, I suggest a convertible!
  • Use the Splitwise app to split the cost of the trip/activities.
  • Don’t spend the whole time talking about your kids or your job or your hubby!
  • It’s perfectly okay to order room service for every meal & watch true crime tv all day!
  • Plan a Staycation in your nearest city if you’re on a budget and tight schedule!

Just remember, it’s not always about the destination, but rather the people that you’re with! Chances are, no matter where you end up, you’re going to have an amazing time with your best girlfriends! I do hope that you find this information helpful. I’d love to hear your favorite girls trip destinations and activities, so leave me a comment. Happy travels, my friends!

How to Plan a Memorable Romantic Getaway

Day to day life is just flat out hard these days, so making the time to get away with your significant other is highly recommended! Jereme and I try to get away together once a year, but it can be hard to find the time with our busy schedules. I thought I would share some helpful tips for planning a memorable getaway with the one you love the most. After all, it is the season of love!

Planning Activities

For starters, I recommend creating a list of activities that you’ll both be interested in trying. Before I plan a destination, I usually think about what it is I’m craving in the moment. Some days I want to relax on the beach, while other days I want to climb a mountaintop! Once I’ve figured out just what we want to do the most, I start researching destinations that offer those activities. Jereme can be a little more adventurous than me, so I try to include things that we’ll both enjoy! For example, I might prefer cozying up in a cabin surrounded by snow, but I know Jereme is going to want to snowboard. If we decide to head to the mountains together, we’ll go boarding a few days and then hang around the cabin together the other days. It’s a win-win!  

Romantic Vacation Activities You’ll Both Enjoy:

  • Spa treatments
  • Take a hike
  • Go snowboarding or skiing
  • Wine Tasting
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Relax on the beach
  • Take a hot air balloon ride
  • Go camping
  • Take a road trip
  • Go kayaking or canoeing
  • Explore a new city
  • Watch a sunrise or sunset
  • Go snorkeling
  • Take a cooking class
  • See a show or concert
  • Go to a fancy restaurant
  • Go sailing
  • Visit a National Park

This is a fairly small list of activities for a romantic getaway. I’ve spent many hours researching ideas for us, and there are some lists that go on and on. Ultimately, you know yourself and your significant other best. I absolutely know that Jereme would never want to take a dance class together, so I would never plan for that on one of our trips. I am all about trying new experiences, but know your interests and your limits. After all, this is supposed to be a fun getaway!

Amazing Destinations for Couples

Who even are these babies? Photo circa 1998.

You might not know that Jereme and I are high school sweethearts! I love sharing our story. We started dating at fifteen years old and now have spent more of our lives together than apart. Traveling is something that we started doing together over twenty years ago. We were married for six years before we even thought about having kids, so we’ve had countless trips together! The following destinations are some of our favorite places that we’ve visited fairly recently together.

South Lake Tahoe, California

Secret Cove Beach

Lake Tahoe is an amazing destination for a memorable romantic getaway! The location itself is absolutely stunning and there are so many outdoor adventures and places to explore. I have honestly never seen a lake so beautiful in my entire life!

Secret Cove Beach view from the hiking trails
Kayaking at Emerald Lake State Park

South Lake Tahoe Highlights:

  • Hiking to Secret Cove Beach
  • Kayaking at Emerald Lake State Park
  • Exploring Heavenly Mountain Resort

Click here to for our entire South Lake Tahoe guide!

We had such an amazing weekend away!

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

The Arch!

Our first trip out of the country without kids was to Cabo San Lucas for our anniversary. I cannot recommend this place enough! We stayed at an amazing All-Inclusive resort that I never wanted to leave. The food, the drinks, the views were unforgettable! So much so, we ended up returning to the exact same resort the next summer!

We had the best time at the beach!
This resort is amazing!
And the food was the best part!

Cabo San Lucas Highlights:

Full disclosure – I spent a lot of time puking on this boat ride, I was so seasick. Jereme had fun LOL!

Winter Park, Colorado

The views here are gorgeous!

The truth is, we haven’t gone on a ski trip together without our kids in a quite some time. We used to go every winter together before we had them. It was the one trip a year that I knew we would make sure to plan for and we just continued that tradition once we had our boys. We have taken grandpa on several of our recent trips, which gives us some alone time to spend together on the mountain! This is such a great destination for couples that are adventurous. And it doesn’t get more romantic than being tucked away in a cozy ski lodge together!

Finally boarding together by ourselves!
I still got it!

Our Winter Park Highlights:

  • Snowboarding
  • Hot tubbing
  • Ice skating
  • Tubing
  • Snowshoeing on the Frasier River Trail
Can you tell the mountains are our happy place?

Washington, DC

I went to the White House on my birthday!

Remember when I mentioned to find activities and destinations that everyone will enjoy? Well, Jereme totally took one for the team when we visited DC a few years ago for my birthday! He knows that history is totally my thing, even though it’s not really his. But, we both ended up having a wonderful time! It was so much fun exploring a new city together for the first time. And we really both enjoyed the historical sites around DC and the museums and monuments are amazing!

This bike tour was so much fun!
I highly recommend seeing the monuments and memorials at night

Our Washington DC Highlights:

  • Eating all the lobster rolls & clam chowder
  • Nighttime bike ride tour of the monuments
  • Seeing the White House for the first time
  • Smithsonian Museums
  • Massages
We really enjoyed this trip!

Romantic Destinations and Activities on Our Bucket List

We have so many trip ideas on our bucket list! Here are a few destinations and activities that I hope we get to do together, just us!

More Tips for a Memorable Couples Trip

  • Go in the slow season
  • Book a room with a view
  • Splurge on a nice meal
  • Get room service
  • Take a nap
  • Do lots of day drinking
  • Plan a Staycation
  • Unplug from social media

I hope you find these ideas and recommendations helpful for planning the most memorable romantic getaway! Check back soon to see where Jereme and I end up exploring this year. If you have a destination that we should add to our list, I’d love for you to leave a comment! Happy travels, my friends!

7 EPIC Spring Break Destinations

I absolutely love taking advantage of school breaks and have found that the spring season is such a fun time for adventures. I’m an elementary teacher and let me just say, spring fever is a real thing! Getting away for the week has become a favorite of ours. The weather is getting warmer, the days are longer, and the crowds aren’t as busy as those in the summer. I have included a list of the most epic spring break destinations that I believe your family will love just as much as we do!

Moab, Utah

Those views through Canyonlands National Park

I have some mad love for Utah! Our first visit to this state was a few years ago over spring break and we have plans to return again this coming up break. Moab is the perfect destination for adventurous families! Our highlights included exploring two National Parks and going on a guided UTV excursion.

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

UTV riding through the Sand Flats

What makes a trip to Moab so great in the spring is the weather! Spring and fall are the best times to visit. In the spring, you’ll find temps in the 70s. Although it was a little chillier for us in early March and even snowed one day! We loved that we didn’t need timed-entry reservations for Aches National Park when we visited, like is required in the summer.

Arches National Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

Click here for our full itinerary to Moab, UT!

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach just might be my new favorite beach destination! I was just flat out giddy during our spring break visit last year. The views, the food, the beach bunnies, the tide pools! Ah, this place is amazing! We decided to squeeze in a few days in Cannon Beach during our Pacific Coast Highway road trip last minute. We all agreed that out of everywhere we visited on the trip, we wished we had more time here!

The sunsets were impressive!

This was the view right outside of the beach cottage

My oldest absolutely loved playing with the beach bunnies that were often hanging outside the cottage we were staying in. Did I mention that we spent a few days in the cutest little cottage right on the beach? It was just perfectly adorable. We strolled along the beach, ate amazing seafood, finally saw tide pools in real life, and built campfires on the beach at night. I cannot wait to go back, it truly is a magical place!

Sea Sprite Inn at Haystack Rock

Our first time seeing tide pools!

These tide pools are at Haystack Rock

Beach campfires at night are a must!

Washington, DC

Washington Monument in the spring

The history buff in me adores this city just about any time of year! We made the trip over spring break a few years ago and had an amazing time seeing the cherry blossoms, touring the White House, seeing all the monuments, and exploring the museums.

The Capital Building

The White House after our visit!

Springtime temps in DC are pleasantly in the 50s-60s in March. The earlier in the month you visit, the less crowded you will find it! The best times to visit this city are September-November and March-May.

Our favorite stop in DC, the Lincoln Memorial!

We were all so excited to be going inside the White House!

Click here for tips on getting a White House Tour!

Saint Helena Island, South Carolina

Hunting Island State Park

Our first cross-country road trip led us from Texas to South Carolina over spring break several years ago. I loved just about every single part of this trip, but Saint Helena Island was my absolute favorite! I really hope that we can head back to that area in the future. From the food to the landscape, this place is truly unforgettable!

More at Hunting Island Beach

My boys loved climbing on the trees!

What I loved the most was the unique beaches and rugged coastlines that Saint Helena Island offers. I’ve found over the years that I enjoy visiting the beach in cooler seasons more so than when it’s hot and muggy. I know, it probably sounds odd to most. But there’s just something so special about exploring the coast and truly taking in all the sights without the crowds. Saint Helena is a great place for relaxing, exploring, and eating excellent seafood!

Chapel of Ease Ruins

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Click here to read all the details about our Texas to South Carolina Road Trip!

Redwood Forests, California

So amazed with the size of these trees!

If you’ve never visited the Redwoods National & State Parks, then you must add this to your list fast! We were blown away at the sheer size of these trees. Our spring break visit last year was perfect and filled with plenty of adventures! The weather was fantastic, not too cold or too hot. And it felt like we had the whole entire forest all to ourselves!

Stout Memorial Grove Trail

The drive through the Redwoods is gorgeous!

We enjoyed exploring Jedediah Smith State Park by car and on foot, walking along the rugged California coast, and hiking through groves of giant trees in the forest. If you have kids, or a husband that sometimes acts like a kid, then I’m sure they will love climbing on trees and crawling through downed tree trunks! It was such an amazing adventure that we will never forget.

Climbing for days!

And crawling, too!

Enderts Beach looks like a postcard come to life!

Click here to read about our entire Pacific Coast Road Trip over spring break!

Historic Triangle, Virginia

This is the view from the main street through Colonial Williamsburg

The first time I ever visited the Historic Triangle was over our spring break in March and I loved it so much I returned again that same year over Christmas break. I thoroughly enjoy learning about our country’s history and those early days before our country was even established. They really do a fantastic job of bringing history to life in the Historic Triangle! But, I don’t think that means that you have to be a history buff to enjoy all of the things this special place has to offer!

Behind us are stores and shops that are set up like they were in Colonial days

You can take a horse drawn carriage ride through Colonial Williamsburg

We packed in so much during our spring visit! We walked the cobblestone streets of Colonial Williamsburg, visited the Jamestown Settlement, and also ventured to Yorktown and explored the beach there. My boys had the best time learning about these places that they had studied in school and my teacher heart loved the learning that we all experienced! If you enjoy visiting museums, then I believe you’ll especially love these amazingly recreated living-history museums!

Jamestown Settlement was my favorite!

Even the kids will enjoy the living history museums and relics in the Historic Triangle

Native American homes in Jamestown Settlement

Battleground in Yorktown

Click here to read about our day in Colonial Williamsburg

Click here to read about our day in Historic Jamestown

San Francisco, California

Baker Beach

San Francisco is another destination that I have enjoyed many different times of the year. We traveled there last spring break on our Pacific Coast Highway road trip and it was the perfect starting point of our journey. I’ve always loved the vibe of this city and was so excited to take my boys there for the first time!

We also hiked up to the Golden Gate Bridge

There are so many different activities to do in San Francisco! I know there is something here for everyone. My boys loved playing on the beach after hiking up to the Golden Gate Bridge. They also wanted to go to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf almost every single day we were there! And I especially enjoyed eating all the fresh seafood dishes in the area!

Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 area

Beach cave at Baker Beach

So many clams on the rocks at Baker Beach!

Spring Travel Tips:

Weather – Spring weather can change at the drop of a hat. Be prepared for thunder storms or even snowstorms, depending on where you’re going! Severe weather can cause travel delays, so be sure to monitor conditions before and during your travel dates.

Travel Insurance – I don’t always purchase travel insurance, but I usually do when we travel in the spring. Like I mentioned above, severe weather can happen and cause travel interruptions. It’s better to be prepared in case of an emergency!

Safety – Always stay alert and vigilant, no matter what time of the year you decide to travel. Don’t share too much on social media, especially if you’re traveling solo, until you return home. Avoid first floor hotel rooms, these can be a target for thieves. Practice appropriate water safety if you’re headed to the beach. Talk to your kids about stranger danger. Protect your skin and wear sunscreen! Do your research beforehand and make sure that there are no travel advisories for the area you plan to visit.

Travel Documents – I always recommend printing a copy of your confirmation number for lodging and excursions that you’ve reserved, just in case your reservation is missing upon arrival. Take a photo of your passport and driver’s license in case it gets lost.

Leave No Trace – Always practice leave no trace principals. Leave the area you visit just like it was when you arrived. Pack your trash out, leave what you find, and respect all wildlife.

Happy Travels!

Whether you find yourself staying close to home, road tripping across the country, relaxing on the beach, or hiking trails through the forest, I hope you have an amazing spring break! Be sure to check back in to see what we’re up to over the break. If you have a favorite spring destination, I’d love for you to share about it in the comments so we can check it out, too!

Best Destinations for Every Month of the Year

If your New Year’s Resolution is to be more adventurous, but you’re not sure where to start, then you’ve come to the right place! In our family, we truly believe in experiences over things and travel ranks very high on my list of priorities. If I could, I would travel somewhere every month. Now that the boys are older and involved in little league sports, it’s harder and harder for us to get away as much as we used to. Nonetheless, I’ve compiled a list with our tried and true travel recommendations for every month of the year that I hope inspires you to get out there and explore a little more of this amazing country!

January: Winter Park, Colorado

We took family photos on our last trip to Winter Park!

What better way to ring in the New Year than a trip to the snowy mountains? This is usually our go to winter adventure destination and I am here to tell you that there is something in Winter Park for everyone! Maybe you’re an adventure seeker and snowboarding or skiing is the thing for you.

My youngest and me snowboarding together!

Maybe you want a more restful start to the New Year and would love to cozy up in a cabin and watch the snow fall out the window while sipping hot chocolate! Either way, Winter Park is one of my most favorite winter destinations in Colorado! If you get the chance to go, make sure to check out the tubing hill and you have to eat at Hernando’s Pizza Pub!

We love all the ski lodges in Winter Park!

Click here for more details and our full Winter Park itinerary!

February: San Antonio, Texas

Winter at The Alamo!

Texas is a great state to visit in the winter months if you’re looking for something a little milder than cold, snowy mountains! The best times to visit San Antonio fall between November and April due to milder temps and less crowds. We enjoyed strolling along the River Walk, without needing bulky jackets, and touring The Alamo without the summer crowds!

The River Walk

The average daytime temperature in February is around 65 degrees and only 5 days of rain are expected this month. Even though it’s typically mild during the day, be sure to pack for chilly nighttime temperatures. You’ll never regret visiting this destination. The food is outstanding, the history and missions are incredible, and everyone is friendly down in Texas! Be sure to reserve your tickets in advance to visit The Alamo and add Natural Bridge Caverns to your itinerary!

Another view of the River Walk

Click here for more information on visiting San Antonio!

March: Moab, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, UT

Our first trip to Utah was in early March a few years ago. To date, this trip has been one of my all-time favorites and I really credit the two National Parks here for inspiring us to visit more throughout the years. We initially traveled to Moab to visit Arches National Park and ended up riding UTVs on some intense trails, seeing petroglyphs, canyons, wildlife, and even some snow!

An amazing excursion, we all highly recommend!

This is a fantastic spring break destination, the crowds are much smaller than those in the summer. It will still be chilly here in early March, but it is warming up. You can expect temps to range from 30-60 degrees, so bring layers. Like I mentioned before, it snowed on us one day during our visit so be prepared for unpredictable weather! Check out Wilson Arch on your way in to Moab! It’s a short walk to a stunning arch outside of the National Parks, right off the highway!

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park!

Click here for our full Moab itinerary!

April: Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach sunset

I have found that I prefer to visit the beach in the spring when it’s not so hot, humid, and crowded! Orange Beach was the perfect spring destination for us! It was still warm enough to play in the ocean and the restaurant waits were non-existent. We didn’t have many plans for this trip, besides relaxing on the beach and eating as much seafood as possible!

These boys were all smiles our whole visit!

The average April temps here fall between 60-70 degrees. But don’t let that fool you, we all got super sunburned! Be sure to grab dinner or lunch at The Hangout, kids will love the hourly foam party! If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway surrounded by emerald water and white sand beaches, then you’ve got to visit Orange Beach, AL!

Sunny and hot in April!

Click here for more information about visiting Orange Beach, AL!

May: Sedona, Arizona

Munds Wagon Trail to Bell Rock

Sedona has been on my bucket list forever and my boys finally decided to take me over Mother’s Day weekend last May. It was such a special trip! My main goal in visiting was to hike around those stunning red rock formations and my dream came true. Sedona is such a mystical place, it was truly an epic adventure.

Cathedral Rock trail

May is a very popular time to visit because the temps are ideal for getting outdoors. The average high this month is around 82 degrees and the lows are around 50 degrees. This makes for the best hiking conditions as it’s not too hot in this desert climate. The trails are also popping with wildflowers galore, adding to the picturesque scenery! I cannot recommend this destination enough!

We made it to Bell Rock!

Click here for more details and our Sedona, AZ itinerary!

June: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We walked along the bridge from New Jersey to Philadelphia!

Our very first visit to Philadelphia was in June a couple of summers ago. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time we were there, which was great since we walked everywhere! I always love walkable cities, especially since I live in a more rural area in Texas. And while we were savoring our week in Philly with 80 degree days, the temps were in the upper 90s at home!

The boys loved playing in this fountain right in the middle of Philly!

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and all of the early-American history this city proudly showcases. Even the boys really enjoyed all the history and seeing the places they’ve learned about in person! There is so much to do in Philadelphia, we weren’t able to do it all in one visit. I’d love to take another trip here and would likely visit again in early summer! Take the double decker bus tour when you first arrive to map out all of the places to explore on foot later!

Independence Hall behind the boys!

Click here for our full Philadelphia itinerary!

July: Rapid City, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore

Another wonderful summer vacation was spent in Rapid City, South Dakota. Who knew this entire area was so rugged and beautiful! We hiked, we caved, we explored, all the while enjoying the most pleasant summer weather! And I still remember how amazing this little town smelled, too!

Custer State Park

While we didn’t visit Mount Rushmore on July 4th, I think it would be a really cool experience to be there for the firework celebration! There truly is a lot to do in the area, the landscape is stunning, and it remains one of my favorite road trips to date! If you are in decent shape, hike the Sunday Gulch Trail in Custer State Park. It’s a challenge, but the trail is awesome!

Sunday Gulch Trail in Custer State Park

Click here for our full itinerary on visiting South Dakota!

August: South Lake Tahoe, California

Secret Cove Beach

If you’re looking for a dreamy destination, you should head to South Lake Tahoe! Most kids are headed back to school this month, so I am recommending this destination as an adult getaway! Jereme and I celebrated our anniversary here right before I went back to school last August. It was pretty hot, but the good thing is, there’s plenty of water to cool off in!

Emerald Lake

We spent our time here around the picturesque beaches and on the water as much as we could. It was a quick trip for us, but we really, really enjoyed this getaway. I have never seen lake water so clear in all my life! We felt like we were in Mexico looking at the Caribbean. There’s nothing better than some nice quality time with the one you love in a gorgeous location! If you’re craving something peaceful and serene, then head to Lake Tahoe! Rent kayaks at Emerald Lake State Park and take a leisurely trip out to the island to hike around ruins on top!

Trail to Secret Cove Beach

Click here for more details and information about our trip to South Lake Tahoe!

September: St. Louis, Missouri

Gateway Arch National Park

September to October is considered the best time to visit St. Louis, MO and I couldn’t agree more! Our trip to Missouri was taken in very early Oct. several years ago. We were originally scheduled to visit in mid-September, but unfortunately we all got Covid and felt awful and had to push our trip back about a month. The average daily temps are typically in the lower 80s and can be quiet chilly at night! I recommend packing layers!

We stayed at the Hyatt to the left in this photo.

St. Louis is a very dog friendly location, so we brought our pup with us! She enjoyed the outdoor sites, just like we all did. I had no idea how much Lewis & Clark history there is in St. Louis! We did a ghost tour, visited Gateway Arch National Park, and you have got to check out the City Museum. It is the coolest museum we’ve ever visited!

View from the hotel room!

Click here to see more about our trip to St. Louis, MO!

October: Saugatuck, Michigan

There is something truly special about those Michigan beaches!

Cool, crisp weather and ideal leaf peeping is what you’ll find if you travel to Saugatuck, Michigan in the fall! I had the opportunity to visit Michigan for the first time ever and I am ready to go back. I had no idea how stunning and picturesque these quaint waterfront towns could be.

I still cannot get over the colors!

The weather in Saugatuck is in the 60s, the perfect temps for cute sweaters and booties! If you can, take a road trip along the Michigan coast and check out towns like St. Joseph and New Buffalo! We actually stayed in New Buffalo and I highly recommend lodging at The Marina Grand Resort!  Saugatuck is the most adorable waterfront town and the Wicks Park Bar & Grille serves delicious food and provides cozy flannel blankets for outdoor dining!

Wicks Bar & Grille

Click here for more information about my visit to Michigan!

November: Washington D.C.

The boys playing football in front of the Washington Monument.

I have had several trips added to my favorites list, but this one is hands down my most favorite family trip of all time! I wanted to visit DC with my boys and decided to look into this location for a possible trip during our Thanksgiving break. It was highly recommended as a great time to go, because everyone leaves the city that’s there for business. The weather was stunning, we dressed in layers and only needed our jackets early in the morning.

The view from the top of the Washington Monument.

We enjoyed the cooler weather as we ventured along the streets and sidewalks taking in all of the historical sights! It was so neat to watch the boys’ excitement as they got to see things from their textbooks in real life! The only downside is that the White House is closed for tours because it’s undergoing Christmas decorating this week. We ventured to George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, we explored all of the monuments and memorials at both day and nighttime, we ice skated outdoors, we ate delicious food, and made memories to last a lifetime!

Lincoln Memorial

Click here to learn more about why DC is my favorite trip & to grab our full itinerary!

December: New York, New York

Christmas decorating in New York is next level!

I had to include the Big Apple, even though I technically visited the city the last week of November and not actually in December. But there is something truly magical about NYC at Christmastime. It’s cold, it’s crowded, it feels grimy, it smells bad BUT it is still so beautiful! I absolutely love New York, no matter what time of the year. I’ve been six times, still have tons of things on my list I haven’t seen or done, and I cannot wait to plan another visit! I just adore how festive NYC feels around the holidays. If you get the chance to travel in December, I cannot recommend a trip to New York enough!

Radio City Music Hall

It was pretty chilly the week were here and we needed coats and hats and gloves. But with the right attire, we had a wonderful time! I recommend doing all of the normal touristy things, while enjoying the holiday decorations. Watch the Saks Fifth Avenue storefront at night, the lightshow is amazing! Venture down by Radio City Music Hall for a show and to see the décor in the area. It will not disappoint. Christmastime in New York should be on everyone’s bucket list!

We loved visiting at Christmastime!

Click here to see how we spent our week in NYC!

I hope you found these travel recommendations helpful! Be sure to check back soon to see what we’re up to this year. Happy Travels!

Top 10 Hikes Across the US

It’s no secret that a lot of our road trip adventures have led to some pretty epic hiking destinations! I am sharing my top 10 favorite trails that we have hiked so far. These trails are all suitable for my boys that are under the age of 12!

10. South Kaibab Trail to Ooh-Aah Point at Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

We visited the Grand Canyon in November over Thanksgiving Break. I really wanted to hike down into the canyon, so we decided we would take the rim walk from Mather Point to the Kaibab Trail and hike down to Ooh-Aah Point. If I am being honest, I would have really liked to hiked rim to rim. But that just wasn’t an option with our boys. I also looked into mule rides to the bottom, but you have to be 9 and older and Jake was only 7 at the time. So, we did the hike and trail that we thought the boys would be able to handle the best. We ended up hiking 8 total miles because we went past Ooh-Aah Point. The views were truly stunning the father down into the canyon we hiked. The switchbacks on the start of the trail were really cool, until the hike back up! Just remember that however far you hike down, you must hike back up. And while we didn’t go that many miles down, it was very hard for me to get back up and I am in pretty decent shape. I am thankful that the weather was cooler, I cannot imagine doing that hike in the summer temps. The photos will never do it justice!

Click here for our Grand Canyon Trip Itinerary!

9. Hidden Falls Trail in Grand Teton National Park, WY

We were able to spend a couple days hiking in the Grand Tetons this past June on our Yellowstone Road Trip. I really enjoyed every hike, but this one was so peaceful and beautiful! This hike starts at the Jenny Lake area, so we decided to head that way and grab lunch at the store right at the trailhead. From here, we followed the trail around Jenny Lake. If you don’t want to hike, you can purchase tickets for a boat ride across the lake that drops you off about a mile from Hidden Falls. We decided to take the hike since we had been riding in the car so much on this trip! The views are fantastic around the lake and we even saw a deer along the trail. Before getting all the way to Hidden Falls you will eventually see a bridge with a raging river running under it. This is a great place to stop for photos! We stopped in this area and had a picnic snack on the rocks and just watched the river roar by underneath us. From this spot, it’s about a mile or less to the Hidden Falls. This waterfall is majestic and another great location for photos!

  • Hidden Falls Trail Information:
  • Distance: 4.9 mile out & back
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Location: Grand Teton NP, Jenny Lake area, Jackson, WY
  • Rating: Easy/Moderate
  • Grand Teton National Park website

Click here for our Grand Teton National Park Itinerary!

8. Lake Haiyaha Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The hike to Lake Haiyaha was one of the toughest I have ever done. But I am beyond thankful that we persevered and made it to the lake because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! I visited Rocky Mountain National Park this past October for a long weekend of hiking. RMNP is one of my favorite places on earth, but this was the first time I have ever hiked to Lake Haiyaha. The majority of the hike is up a steep incline and there were several times I wanted to give up and turn around. When you finally even out on the incline, you are then faced with several yards of boulders that you must scramble over to get to the lake. Once you do, the sight is amazing! Especially right now since a rockslide over the summer turned the lake a unique shade of blue! This is one hike that you don’t want to miss! And this is one of two listed hikes that I didn’t take my boys on, but I know that they would have loved the rock scramble. Please keep in mind that you do need timed-entry reservations for Rocky Mountain National Park from early spring through the fall.

  • Lake Haiyaha Trail Information:
  • Distance: 4.0 miles out & back
  • Time: 2 hours+
  • Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake area, Estes Park, CO
  • Rating: Hard
  • Rocky Mountain National Park website

Click here for my Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary!

7. Munds Wagon Trail to Merry Go Round Rock in Sedona, AZ

We traveled to Sedona over Mother’s Day weekend in May last year. Our first hike of the trip was on Munds Wagon Trail, which is about 8 miles out and back. AllTrails had the hike at 6.4 miles, but I clocked us at 8.1 miles with all of the extra exploring and climbing we did along the trail. I would rate this trail as moderate, especially if you’re hiking with kids. We needed to stop for food quite a bit. Luckily the majority of the hike is uphill on the way to Merry Go Round Rock, which makes the hike to the car mostly downhill. The views are stunning and the trail was very well marked. We really enjoyed all of the hikes we did in Sedona, but this one had those infamous Sedona red rock views the entire way and that’s why I picked this one as my favorite!

  • Munds Wagon Trail Information:
  • Distance: 6.4 miles out & back
  • Time: 3 hours+
  • Location: Coconino National Forest, Sedona, AZ
  • Rating: Moderate

Click here to for our Sedona Itinerary!

6. Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park, UT

We visited Moab over our Spring Break in March. On our first day in Moab we decided to spend the day hiking at Arches National Park. I had to see Delicate Arch, so that was our first hike for the day. I kept a close watch on the live webcam at the ticket area, and never saw long lines to get into the park. We arrived around 10 am. I am sure it’s much busier during the summer. This was our first visit to Utah, so I didn’t really know what to expect at the Park. But it ended up being super easy! Take the map that is offered to you at the ticket area. The park has signs along the way and we were able to find the Delicate Arch hike fairly easy and we enjoyed the sights along the drive. What I love about this Park is that even people that can’t hike can enjoy almost everything! There are places to pull over and view the famous landmarks or you can park and hike to them. We knew that the hike to Delicate Arch would be the longest and hardest of the trip so we started there first. I am not going to lie, it was pretty hard in one part that is a very steep incline. The rest is fairly easy and the walk back down was no trouble at all. The kids did great and we saw people of all ages and ability levels able to do this one. And I promise that the view at the end is amazing! I also loved that everyone waited turns to take photos under the arch and we all offered to take photos of each other. Please keep in mind that you need timed-entry reservations for Arches National Park starting in early spring through the fall.

  • Delicate Arch Trail Information:
  • Distance: 3.2 miles out & back
  • Time: 1.5 hrs
  • Location: Arches NP in Moab, UT
  • Rating: Moderate
  • Arches National Park website

Click here for our entire Moab, UT Itinerary!

5. Stout Memorial Grove Trail in Redwood National & State Parks, CA

There are several different parks that make up the Redwood National and State Parks, so I had a hard time deciding which area to visit. We settled on Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park and the Stout Memorial Grove Trail to hike. I am so happy with this decision, we had the most amazing day in the Redwoods and ended our hike with a beach walk that was absolutely stunning! We encountered maybe 4 people on this day, at both the Redwoods and the beach! So, I highly recommend a visit if you want to experience a National Park with no crowds. The road to this trail does turn into a packed dirt road, but our 2 wheel drive rental car had no issues making the trip! Our boys loved climbing all the fallen trees, especially after being in the car for so long the day before. The pictures don’t really do it any justice, I have NEVER seen trees so big and tall in my life.

  • Stout Memorial Grove Trail Information:
  • Distance: 0.7 mile loop
  • Time: 30 min+
  • Location: Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park in Crescent City, CA
  • Rating: Easy
  • Redwood National & State Parks website

Click here for our entire Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary!

4. Sunday Gulch Trail in Custer State Park, SD

My favorite day in South Dakota was hiking in Custer State Park! I can’t even begin to describe the trail we hiked. I came across images of the Sunday Gulch Trail and knew we had to do it. I am not going to lie, there were tears shed around the 2.5 mile mark from my oldest kiddo. (We didn’t know he was actually getting sick with a fever/cold at the time). This hike is 3.9 miles long, it’s labeled as a HARD trail with a lot of uphill and downhill hiking, trekking through water, over rapids and streams using rocks or tree logs to get across. It was so much fun, but so much work. I can’t even describe how beautiful the sights were and my pictures just don’t do it justice. We could’ve explored this park for 3-4 days! I didn’t get many shots of us on the crazier parts of the trail because I had to help pass our little one off to Jereme and didn’t want to drop my phone in the water. But trust me, it was so cool! We packed a picnic lunch and found a nice, shady area to eat and then took off. It cost us $20 to get into the park, but that includes a 5 day pass to return. There are bathrooms, a store/souvenir shop, canoe rentals, and probably more than I even saw. After the hike, the kiddos and Jereme jumped into the lake for a freezing cold swim!

Sunday Gulch Trail Information:

Click here for our Texas to South Dakota Road Trip Itinerary!

3. Secret Cove Beach Trail in South Lake Tahoe, CA

Secret Cove Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. The hike is not very long, roughly a mile from the parking lot. There are not a lot of signs marking the trail, but we still had no trouble finding the secret cove. It is a clothing optional beach, I would never go nude, but didn’t mind if others did. However, we didn’t see anyone else without swimsuits on. We were there pretty early and it felt like we had the entire cove to ourselves. We explored the trails above the cove and just took in the sights, then hiked down to the beach and relaxed on the shore and took a few swims.

  • Secret Cove Beach Trail Information:
  • Distance: 0.9  mile loop
  • Time: 30 minutes+
  • Location: Carson City, NV
  • Rating: Easy

Click here for our South Lake Tahoe Itinerary!

2. Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

We visited Rocky Mountain National Park in July a couple of summers ago. On our first day here, we were so excited and decide to head to the Park right before 4:00 pm, and didn’t wait in line for more than 5 minutes to enter. We drove right to the Bear Lake parking lot, used the restrooms at the trailhead, and began the hike to Emerald Lake. It was AMAZING!!!! The signs along the trail were easy to follow and take you around two other lakes, Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, before getting to Emerald Lake. Our boys, ages 10 and 7 at the time, did great on this one. I absolutely love this hike and this National Park! Please keep in mind that you need timed-entry reservations to Rocky Mountain National Park from early spring through the fall.

  • Emerald Lake Trail Information:
  • Distance: 3.2 mile out & back
  • Time: 2 hrs
  • Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake area, Estes Park, CO
  • Rating: Easy/Moderate
  • Rocky Mountain National Park website

Click here for our entire Rocky Mountain National Park & Beyond Itinerary!

1. Lower Caves Trail in Maquoketa Caves State Park, IA

If you are craving a unique travel adventure, then look no further! What makes this State Park so incredible is that it has 6 miles of hiking trails and 13 caves to explore, completely on your own. My family loves visiting caves, but usually that comes with a guided tour and a time limit on your caving experience. Not this place! You park your car and your adventure begins! There are no guides, no time limits, just a nicely marked trail system to venture at your own pace. My boys loved this adventure just as much as I did! We started with the lower caves, so that involved walking down wooden stairs to get inside the caves. There were different places for the boys to climb and explore, and if you have kids, you know that they love to climb and explore! I could not get over all of the geological features and was just in awe the whole time! We will definitely venture back to Iowa just to hike these caves again!

  • Maquoketa Caves Trail Information:
  • Distance: 1.7 mile loop
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Location: Maquoketa Caves State Park in Maquoketa, IA
  • Rating: Easy
  • Maquoketa Caves State Park website

Click here for more information and photos of Maquoketa Caves State Park!

Helpful Hiking Tips: Bring plenty of food and water for the day, wear sunscreen and reapply often, use bug repellent, bring a first aid kit, take a swimsuit or change of clothes/shoes, expect to get wet, and have a blast!

Budget Friendly Hiking Gear Recommendations

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you purchase any items using the links provided at no extra charge to you.

I would love to hear what your favorite trails are! If you have a favorite trail or a recommendation, leave me a comment. And as always, thanks for following along on our adventures!

Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip

San Francisco, CA to Cannon Beach, OR

Alright you guys, I am SO excited to share our latest adventure with you! Not only did we get to add two new states to our list, but we had the most amazing time road tripping over 700 miles along the Pacific Coast Highway!

The boys’ first time to visit CA!
Our whole family’s first time to visit OR!

Below is our itinerary. It might look intimidating, with a lot of driving, but we really enjoyed the journey! Jereme was concerned about not having enough time in any given location, but it honestly felt like a great amount of time in most places. We all agreed we would’ve liked more time in Oregon and that’s probably the only part I would change!

I am also linking some of our outfits, I had so many messages about how well we matched!

Travel Itinerary

  • Day 1 – Flight to San Francisco
  • Day 2 – Full Day in San Francisco
  • Day 3 – Drive to Redwoods with a stop at Glass Beach, CA
  • Day 4 – Full Day in the Redwood National & State Parks
  • Day 5 – Drive to Cannon Beach, OR with a stop to hike in Brookings, OR
  • Day 6 – Full Day in Cannon Beach, OR
  • Day 7 – Drive to Portland for flight back to Texas

San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach

Our journey started with a smooth flight to San Francisco, where we stayed for 2 nights. Both Jereme and I had already visited San Fran several times, so we left it up to our boys on what we did. They really only cared about seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and fell in love with the Pier and kept asking to go back. So that’s what we did! I enjoyed all of the wonderful food, I think just about all we did was eat and I loved every minute of it!

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Fisherman’s Wharf and really enjoyed the hotel and the location. They served a delicious free breakfast each morning and we had a partial view of the bay. It was only a 2 block walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 and that’s where we spent most of our time. We took full advantage of eating seafood at all of the outdoor locations in the wharf. We had the most delicious lobster rolls, shrimp tacos, and fish! I mean, you can’t really go wrong at any of those locations. Our favorite dinner was at Cioppino’s. I had a seafood pasta dish that was to die for, Jett had the spaghetti and meatballs, Jake had the best pizza ever (according to him), and Jereme had the clam chowder in a bread bowel. This was hands down our favorite dinner on the entire trip!

First photo of the trip!

Like I mentioned, we mainly stayed in Fisherman’s Wharf and at Pier 39. We visited the Aquarium of the Bay, strolled along the boardwalk shops, and watched the seals sunbathe. We also drove across the Golden Gate Bridge a few times and hiked the Battery Spencer Overlook trail to see an up close view of the bridge. The hike was fun, the boys picked me beautiful wildflowers along the walk, but it was so windy above the bridge! Our pictures turned out horrible here with the harsh sunlight and my crazy hair. So, we decided to hit up Baker Beach and had the best time. The views of the bridge and the photos we got were everything I wanted! The boys loved running in the sand and we even got to explore a sea cave! We spent a few hours here and then headed back to Fisherman’s Wharf for more food and then walked up to Ghirardelli Square for chocolate and ice cream! Even though we didn’t do a lot in San Francisco, the boys loved the city and how neat the houses looked on our drive.

Baker Beach

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, CA

Glass Beach

Our next say of the trip was in Klamath, CA. The drive to Klamath, CA is about 6 hours. We decided to break up the drive and stop along the way. Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is the place we settled on and it was so beautiful and a wonderful stop! We all enjoyed walking along the beach and the boys loved exploring the rock formations and collecting different colors of sea glass. We only spent about 1 hour here because we wanted to get back on the road and make it to Klamath before dark. We also had plans to stop in the Redwoods along the way, but I was SO carsick on this drive. There are a lot of windy roads through the mountains and it was horrible for a while before the Dramamine kicked in. I highly recommend taking something for motion sickness before you start this drive. I am usually fine if I am driving and Jake never gets carsick, but we both felt pretty terrible.

The beach is gorgeous, but you have to be close to the shore to really see the extent of the colors of the sea glass.

The boys loved exploring the cliffs!

Klamath, CA (Redwood National Park)

From here, we continued the drive to Klamath and didn’t make any more stops on the drive. We were planning on eating dinner once we arrived, but to our surprise the town had zero places open to eat! And it was only 6:00 pm when we arrived, on a Tuesday evening. There are only about 2 restaurants in the town and they are very seasonal. But our hotel had a little grocery store inside and a wonderful staff that told us all the details of eating in town. So, we loaded up on microwavable meals and called it an early night! While we really liked out hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Klamath – Redwood National Park, but I would recommend driving another half hour to Crescent City to stay there!

Crescent City, CA (Redwood National Park)

Redwood National & State Parks

The following morning we decided to get up early and head to Crescent City for the day and explore the Redwoods. There are several different parks that make up the Redwood National and State Parks, so I had a hard time deciding which area to visit. We settled on Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park and the Stout Memorial Grove Trail to hike. I am so happy with this decision, we had the most amazing day in the Redwoods and ended our hike with a beach walk that was absolutely stunning! We encountered maybe 4 people on this day, at both the Redwoods and the beach! So, I highly recommend a visit if you want to experience a National Park with no crowds. The road to this trail does turn into a packed dirt road, but our 2 wheel drive rental car had no issues making the trip!

Such a fun trail! Stout Memorial Grove Trail

The Stout Memorial Grove Trail is about a 0.7 mile loop, with other trails leading off from the loop. Our boys loved climbing all the fallen trees, especially after being in the car for so long the day before. The pictures don’t really do it any justice, I have NEVER seen trees so big and tall in my life.

In awe the whole time!
Stout Memorial Grove Trail

We hiked down to the river and stopped along the rocks for a picnic lunch. Then we hiked back out and decided to head to Enderts Beach in Crescent City. I have never seen so many sand dollars! My boys loved collecting the ones that were on the beach and the cliffs in the distance were so picturesque. We ventured down to an area with tide pools and saw some sea anemones. We walked along the beach for at least two hours collecting sand dollars and viewing the tide pools. Once we left here, we headed to a Mexican restaurant in town for an early dinner before going back to our hotel in Klamath.

Enderts Beach
So many sand dollars!

Brookings, OR (Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor)

After getting a good night’s rest, we left in the morning to begin the seven hour drive to Cannon Beach, OR. I have never been so in love with the views along a drive in my life! Oregon is the most beautiful state and I cannot wait to get back to the Pacific Northwest and explore more. There are SO many amazing locations that you can stop along the drive, but I chose the Natural Bridges in Brookings, OR off the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor. This hike is not very long (less than a mile), but I would consider it to be moderate/hard on the way back up. We had to climb up a pretty steep hill to get back to the parking lot and over some tree roots in one area. There is a boardwalk for viewing the Natural Bridges just a few feet from the parking lot if you don’t want to make the hike down and then back up! Even though the hike is a little tough, I am so glad that we did it! The views of the coast are absolutely stunning and we even got to watch a seal in its natural habitat swim and play along the jagged rocks in the ocean!

View from the overlook by the parking lot.
We were standing on the Natural Bridge!
The hardest part of the trail, climbing down and back up this steep slope over exposed tree roots!

Cannon Beach, OR

View from right outside our beach cottage

Finally, we made it to our final stay of the trip at Sea Sprite Inn at Haystack Rock in the wonderful city of Cannon Beach, OR! We pulled into our beach front cottage right at sunset and man, the views were amazing! I wish I would’ve booked this place for one more night because we loved it that much. We had so much space here, we loved the little grass yard and patio chairs, and the beach bunnies were adorable! Haystack Rock was basically in our back yard and the sunsets here are to die for! Two nights was definitely not enough, but we lucked out with amazing weather while we were here. A week-long weather system of rain moved in on the day that we left to fly home!

Sea Sprite Inn at Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock
Tide pools!
Another beautiful sunset

On our two nights/3 days here, we explored the beach, the tide pools at Haystack Rock, and ventured into the downtown area for some shopping, and had wonderful food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! The people here are SO nice and added to our enjoyment of the area. It was a very low-key and relaxing last two nights of the trip. We ended our evenings with bonfires on the beach and loved watching our boys run around and play together in the sand! Our favorite restaurants were the Pig ‘N Pancake for breakfast, our boys have never eaten so many pancakes in their life! Toms Fish & Chips was a great stop for lunch and the guys working there made it even more fun! The boys got little hats to wear and they stopped by to chat with us and were just so nice and pleasant! And our favorite dinner spot was Driftwood Restaurant and Lounge. We did have to wait for about 45 minutes for a table, but it was well worth the wait!

Beach bonfire

And like all good things, our trip quickly came to an end. The drive to the airport in Portland was less than 2 hours away. Fun was had by all and this is a great spring break destination! I am happy to answer any questions, so please don’t hesitate to reach out! Follow me on Instagram (linked on the homepage) to see videos of our trip!

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South Lake Tahoe

Photo from the hike down to Secret Cove Beach

My husband and I were very fortunate to get to plan a getaway for late last summer. We’ve been traveling together since we were 19 years old and have visited several amazing locations. It took us quite a while to decide on a new place we’ve never visited and we finally settled on South Lake Tahoe. Let me just tell you, if you’ve never been but want to go, make it happen! We had such a wonderful, romantic trip together!

Secret Cove Beach

If you follow the blog, you know that most of our travels are with our boys. Jereme and I dated for 6 years before we got married; and then were married for 6 years before we had kids. We had 12 kid-free years together and we spent a lot of that time traveling alone together or with our friends. In those travels, we just knew that we wanted to take our future kiddos everywhere and show them the world! Since having our boys, we’ve only traveled alone together a handful of times, but man is it fun to get away for a few days and not be Mom and Dad all day, every day!

Like I mentioned earlier, Jereme and I have been to several places and kind of had a hard time deciding on where to go. I think I searched “romantic getaways” and Lake Tahoe popped up. I honestly didn’t know much about this destination, so my research began. And honestly, Lake Tahoe is a huge place and I really struggled deciding on staying in North or South Lake Tahoe. So, I am hoping my blog post helps you when planning your trip!

I finally decided on South Lake Tahoe because I found more information on food and lodging there while I was making our plans. We were very happy with this decision, although we never got a chance to travel to North Lake Tahoe to compare. I booked a quaint hotel right on the State Line, but in California. We stayed at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel and had a lovely room. I loved the space, we had a bedroom, living room, and decent size bathroom! This hotel is in a fabulous location. You can take a right and walk on the Nevada side for gambling or Vegas style shows. You can go left to find several different restaurants, shops, and even the Heavenly Ski Resort is in a walkable distance. The only downside to this hotel was that there wasn’t an outdoor pool. I would have preferred one outside because we visited in August and the weather was beautiful but very warm. We rented a car and drove in from Reno, NV. I enjoyed having a car for some of the hikes we did, but if you plan to stay around the hotel you would not need one.

Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel

We only had two full days in Tahoe, so we took full advantage of those days. The hotel provided a free breakfast, so we got up early for that and then headed out to explore. I used the AllTrails app to find scenic hikes near us. We visited Secret Cove Beach first. Be sure to wear a swimsuit and get to the parking lot early, like before 9 am. We got there by 8:30 and had no issues finding a front row parking spot. But when we left we noticed hundreds of cars along the main road and I cannot imagine having to walk that far from my car to begin the hike!

Secret Cove Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. The hike is not very long, roughly a mile from the parking lot. There are not a lot of signs marking the trail, but we still had no trouble finding the secret cove. It is a clothing optional beach, I would never go nude, but didn’t mind if others did. However, we didn’t see anyone else without swimsuits on. We were there pretty early and it felt like we had the entire cove to ourselves. We explored the trails above the cove and just took in the sights, then hiked down to the beach and relaxed on the shore and took a few swims. Once more people started arriving, we left to do a little more hiking and then headed back to town for lunch. We picked a restaurant at the Heavenly Ski Resort, called Gunbarrel Tavern and Eatery, and we sat outside enjoying the weather, adult beverages, and the people. That night, we walked around and did some souvenir shopping for our boys. We ate at Maya’s Mexican Grill, it was great! If you are coming in the summer, be prepared for extremely long dinner wait times. Some were as long as 2 hours. And make reservations early if you want to do a dinner cruise, there were none available when we got there for any of the days that we were visiting.

Secret Cove Beach
That water though!

The following day, we decided to drive to Emerald Bay State Park. The views were stunning on the drive and even better on our hike! The walk from the parking lot is all downhill, which makes the walk back to the car quite strenuous, but totally worth it. We hiked down to the lake and were some of the first people in line for kayak rentals. These rentals are available right on the beach and I believe they open at 10 am. We got there around 9:15 am, so we waited about 45 minutes for a rental. There are several rentals available, like single or double kayaks and paddle boards. We went with a double kayak and had the best time kayaking out to the island and hiking to the ruins on top. There were so many people boating and snorkeling and enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery.

Emerald Bay

Once we turned in our kayak, we hiked to Eagle Falls and then headed to a yummy Mexican food restaurant that we passed on our drive to the park called Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant (no website). That night we ate at Base Camp Pizza Co. at the Heavenly Ski Resort. I had the most amazing pasta dish! It was probably my favorite dinner of the trip.

The hiking trail
The hiking was spectacular!

And just like that, our 3 night/4 day trip quickly came to an end. Jereme and I had the best time and we cannot recommend this destination enough! It’s hard to believe a place like this even exists. One tip I want to share is to travel in June or early July. We got extremely lucky visiting in early August because a forest fire began shortly before our trip and made the area extremely hazy after we returned home and I believe there were many mandatory evacuations afterwards, too.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions! Be sure to follow me on Instagram at road_trip_queen!