5 Fun Cities to Explore With Kids

If you follow along on our adventures, then you already know that we love to explore the outdoors and hike around National Parks. But, we also enjoy changing it up sometimes and venturing to the city with our boys. Below are 5 fun cities to explore with kids!

5 Fun Cities to Explore with Kids: DC, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Dallas!

Washington, DC

Touring the White House was on my bucket list for years!

Washington, DC was the first big city we traveled to with our kids. It was such a great “starter city” for our family. Not only is it extremely walkable, there’s so much to do. And the best part is, there are several free activities around the city to enjoy!

The boys’ first request was a visit to the Lincoln Memorial!

We’ve traveled to DC in September, November, and March. We got lucky on all of our trips and had gorgeous weather each time. DC is stunning in the fall, but just as beautiful in the spring with the cherry blossoms in bloom!

My littlest boy, cherry blossoms, and the Capital!

My favorite visit was our trip over our Thanksgiving break in November. The city was not crowded at all, which made it easy to explore the museums and we didn’t have to wait long for dining at restaurants. The only downside is that we were not able to tour the White House because it is closed this week for Christmas decorating.

Excited to be in DC!

Washington, DC Must Dos:

We can say we’ve been inside George Washington’s house! It was beyond amazing!

Be prepared for a lot of walking. We clocked an average of ten miles per day when we were there! Our boys were only five and nine on our first visit and were tired, but made it just fine! We did use a taxi to get from the airport to our hotel. There are also several taxis that stay around the National Mall area, mostly near the Lincoln Memorial. We jumped in a few of those when the boys were too tired to make the walk back to the hotel for the night.

Posing with the White House

Our most memorable moments of our trips to DC were going inside the White House, watching President Trump leave the White House on Marine One, seeing George Washington’s actual teeth on display at Mount Vernon, and seeing the original United States’ flag & the Declaration of Independence!

George Washington’s actual teeth on display at Mount Vernon!

Click here for my tips on securing a White House tour.

Click here for my complete Washington DC guide.

New York City

Top of the Rock

New York City is an amazing destination for just about anyone! I’ve traveled to the Big Apple with my boys twice now and honestly, we can’t wait to go back!

Our first visit to the Statue of Liberty!

We’ve visited NYC in June and in November. Summertime can get pretty hot, but we’re from Texas, so we’re used to it. Our first day in the city on our November visit was extremely cold, but the rest of the days felt really nice.

My favorite, Christmastime in NYC!

I loved both visits, but there’s something really special about traveling to this city before Christmas! We enjoyed the Christmas décor so much. So, I have to say that our trip over Thanksgiving break in November was my favorite. I highly recommend visiting this week if you can! We got to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and experience all of the Christmas spirit at the same time!

The Empire State Building!

New York City Must Dos:

Summer in Central Park!

You should also prepare to walk a lot in this city, too! Besides walking, we also used the subway system to navigate around the city. It’s definitely true, you’ll never be able to do everything on your list in one visit, so don’t over plan activities and pack in too much each day. We picked one major activity per day that was a must do/must see and it worked out well for us!

The boys’ first subway ride!

Of course, there are different activities based on the season you’re traveling. Some of our favorite New York City memories are riding the subway for the first time, going inside the Statue of Liberty, watching the Macy’s parade balloons being inflated, watching Elton John perform in the street in front of Saks, and finally seeing Naked Cowboy in Times Square!

Awesome experience getting to watch the Macy’s parade balloons being inflated the day before the parade!

Click here for my NYC summer guide with kids.

Click here for my NYC Thanksgiving guide.


We are in Philly!

We were so pleasantly surprised with our first ever visit to Philly! This city is fun, historical, and full of many different activities to explore. And it’s so easy to maneuver, which made it even better for me since I was there with my boys, without Jereme.

The Liberty Bell!

We visited Philadelphia in late June and were only there for three days. The weather was fantastic! It was in the low 80s while back home in Texas it was already pushing 100 degrees.

Independence Hall

I loved that we were comfortable to walk around the city from morning until evening! I feel like we left the city with more early American knowledge than ever before. The old buildings and historical sites, basically everywhere in Philadelphia, have me yearning for another visit!

The Double Decker Bus Tour

Philadelphia Must Dos:

We happened to visit the Betsy Ross House on Flag Day!

Be prepared to walk a lot in this city, too. Again, it’s very easy to maneuver, but we clocked in eight to ten miles each day exploring. The boys were a little older, one was almost seven and the other was ten during our visit.  

We walked to New Jersey on the Ben Franklin Bridge!

My favorite moments in Philadelphia were seeing the room that our Founding Fathers developed the ideas for our country in person, watching early American time period re-enactments, seeing an actual ghost on our Philly ghost tour, and watching my boys get excited to learn so much about Benjamin Franklin! We had an absolute blast and I hope we are able to return again soon with Jereme!

We have a strong love of learning in our family!

Click here for my complete guide to visiting Philadelphia with kids.



We road tripped to Chicago a few years ago on a total whim when we realized it wouldn’t take us that much longer to drive to than our yearly trips to Colorado. Since that first trip, I’ve traveled back another four times!

The Bean

Most of my trips to the Windy City have been in the summertime, only once did I visit in the fall. We love being outside, so walking around Chicago was something that my family enjoyed. In the spring and early summer, the weather is gorgeous, and I still can’t get over the flowers that are blooming virtually everywhere!

I loved the flowers!

My favorite trip was our first summer visit. We packed in so much and had a wonderful time together. Plus, I had previous students that had recently moved to the city from Texas, so they showed us all around!

The Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Must Dos:

Dream come true! We’re at the Home Alone House!

Even though we had our car with us since we road tripped, we walked just about everywhere. We left our car at the hotel the whole entire time. We clocked an average of ten miles each day that we were here. We did brave the bus one time, but otherwise we enjoyed walking.

Walk back from the Planetarium

My favorite memories in Chicago are seeing Payton Manning filming on the Chicago River, eating delicious food the entire time, exploring the aquarium with my boys, and of course, seeing the house that Home Alone was filmed at!

Famous people, no big deal!

Click here for my complete guide to visiting Chicago with kids.



If you live near the Dallas area, or you want to visit Texas, this recommendation is for you! I’ve lived near Dallas my whole entire life, but never really visited as a tourist until last summer. My best friend and I took our boys for a few nights, and we truly had a blast!

A rooftop pool is a must!

We visited in July, and true to Texas, it was HOT. But, that’s not anything we’re not used to. We planned mostly indoor activities and booked a nice hotel with a rooftop pool.

We spent a lot of time swimming!

I wouldn’t really call Dallas a walkable city, we needed our car for most of the places we decided to visit. But, it’s not nearly as crowded as the other cities mentioned above and we never had any issues finding places to park. If you’re visiting from out of town, I do suggest renting a car!

George W. Bush Presidential Library

Dallas Must Dos:

The Reunion Tower

Even though Dallas is close to home, we still had such a great time on our “staycation!” We didn’t even get to do everything on our list, but fun was had by all. My favorite Dallas memories are visiting the George W. Bush Presidential Library, going inside the Reunion Tower and up to the GeO-Deck, lounging by the rooftop pool, and not having to drive too far on our road trip here from home!

The Perot Museum

Click here for my complete guide for visiting Dallas with kids.

No matter which city you plan to visit, a fun time is guaranteed! My boys both agreed that New York City is their favorite city of the five. Mine is Philadelphia! Be sure to check back soon to see what we’re up to next. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

DC vs. NYC – Which City is Best to Visit with Kids?

Have you been thinking about taking your kids to a city destination, but you aren’t sure which one is best? I am here to help! I’ve had the opportunity to take my boys to both Washington, DC and New York City twice now, and I have tons of tips and recommendations. Both cities are truly remarkable in their own way, so keep reading to learn more about which city is best for you to visit with kids!

I have always wanted to take my boys to New York City, but my husband wasn’t really sure it would be a great idea when they were younger. We decided to try Washington, DC with them first, just to see how they’d handle long days of walking and riding public transportation. We had traveled to DC together, just the two of us, so we had a good idea of the city layout and points of interest before venturing there with our boys.

I truly feel that Washington, DC is a great “starter city” to try out with your children, especially if they are younger. My boys were six and nine on our first family trip to DC.

Washington, DC

We have visited Washington, DC over our fall break in November and also over our spring break in March. We loved the fall colors, but there’s also something magical about the cherry blossoms in the spring! The weather was awesome during both of our visits. We did spend more time in DC over our fall break than we did in the spring. The city is less crowded over the week of Thanksgiving, as businesses usually close for the holiday and people leave to visit their families. The downside is that the White House is closed for tours this week because it’s being decorated for Christmas.

Washington, DC Highlights

  • Family-friendly
  • Educational
  • World class museums
  • Walkable
  • Historical monuments and statues
  • Theatre and shows
  • Amazing outdoor parks
  • Nearby day trips
  • More affordable

What We’ve Done in DC

You’ll never run out of things to do in Washington, DC! My boys were so excited to learn more about the Presidents and early American history since they were also studying these things in school. And I will admit, it is really cool seeing the things that I grew up learning about in person. I mean, I got to see the actual Declaration of Independence, the original US flag, the bed that Lincoln died in, plus so much more!

Visit the National Mall

Monument Tour at Night

White House Tour

Ford’s Theatre & Petersen House Tour

Day at Mount Vernon (George Washington’s House)

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian National Museum of American History

National Archives Museum

Arlington Cemetery

Went to the Top of the Washington Monument

Capital Building Tour

Cherry Blossoms

Click here for my complete guide to visiting Washington, DC!

Click here for tips on securing a White House tour!

New York City

We also visited New York City over our fall break this past November and in the summer, too. We absolutely loved our fall visit because we got to experience the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and we got to see all of the amazing holiday décor around the city! The only downside to visiting during this week is that it’s crowded! So many people are here to either watch the parade or be in the parade. The Rockefeller tree is also not complete, so that is one of thing that I will have to return to see in person! This city does the holidays BIG and that was our favorite part! We even witnessed Elton John perform outside of Macy’s, right in the middle of the street, for their holiday light display. This was an experience that I will never, ever forget!

New York City Highlights  

  • Family-friendly
  • Educational
  • World class museums
  • Walkable
  • Excellent nightlife
  • Fantastic shopping
  • Amazing playgrounds
  • Theatre and shows
  • Holiday décor/events

What We’ve Done in NYC

It is true, you will never be able to do all of the amazing things you have on your New York City bucket list in one visit! My boys thought it was so fun to see those famous landmarks and the NYC skyline that are often featured on television and in the movies! I was so excited to go inside of the Statue of the Liberty for the first time on our past visit. There are still several things on our list that we just didn’t have the time for. I hope we’re able to return soon to knock those things off the list!

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Museum

Times Square

Empire State Building

9/11 Museum & Memorial

Top of the Rock

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Floats Inflation

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (from hotel)

Central Park

American Museum of Natural History

Christmas Outside Radio City Music Hall

Naked Cowboy

Click here for my complete guide to visiting NYC with kids!

Click here for my complete guide on visiting NYC over Thanksgiving break!

Our Take Away

There are several factors involved when planning your trip besides just all of the touristy things that your family will want to explore. Along with activities and experiences, you need to consider costs for lodging, food, and transportation. Also, the ease of maneuvering around each city is also a factor. Below, I’ve broken down our biggest considerations that we discussed when deciding the best time to visit both Washington, DC and New York City!


In our experience, visiting DC has been a little more budget friendly than our trips to New York City. This goes for flights, hotels, dining, and activities!

Lodging – We stayed in a great place in Washington Circle in DC that had once been an apartment complex that was converted into hotel rooms. (I’m not linking this property because it’s undergoing renovations right now, but will update soon.) Here, we had a living room, bedroom, two bathrooms, and a kitchen for the same rate as a traditional hotel room. Lodging in NYC is often older, smaller, and pricier depending on what time of year you’re visiting and what area you’re staying in.

Transportation – I will say that both cities are both walkable and you do not need to rent a car to experience either destination. We found that we mostly walked everywhere in DC. Occasionally, we would use an uber, mostly at the end of a long day when our youngest would get tired. In New York, we also mostly walked, but did use the subway several times, too. It was a little quicker to venture around NYC using the subway system and much cheaper than taxis or ubers.

Activities – Both cities are jam packed with amazing activities that anyone can enjoy! We never ran out of ideas on things to do. In fact, we usually found ourselves running out of time to get everything accomplished that we wanted to see and do in both places. I love both DC and NYC, but in my experience, we found that most of the touristy things we decided to do in DC were free!

Free Activities

Speaking of those free activities, DC has tons of free things to do and see! The Smithsonian Museums are free and so are all of the historical memorials and monuments. We enjoyed walking around the National Mall and taking in the historical sites, both during the day and at nighttime. And of course, touring the White House is also free and a must do activity if you’re in the city!

Click here for a list of the best free things to do in DC!

You can also enjoy free activities in NYC. Times Square is one of my boys’ favorite places in the city and it’s free to walk around and take in the lights and different street performers. Central Park is another free location in NYC. And on Monday afternoons, you can visit the 9/11 Museum for free as well, if you request tickets the same day and early in the morning. The Staten Island Ferry is free and you can take in the Statue of Liberty from the boat ride. And there are also other free museum days here, too!

Click here for a list of the best free things to do in NYC!

Getting Around

Again, you can visit both cities without needing to rent a car. In fact, I have actually driven in both cities and I don’t recommend it! We did a lot of walking in both destinations, I am talking about eight to ten miles each day. So, I highly recommend making sure that your kids can handle that. We did find that walking around DC was less crowded and easier for us to maneuver. There just didn’t seem to be the same amount of people or vehicles to watch out for in DC as there is in New York.


Both DC and New York have so many amazing restaurants to choose from! We had no problem finding places to eat at either destination. We didn’t particularly enjoy everywhere we ate, you know kids can be kind of picky. I do think we saw more fast food places in New York than I remember seeing in DC, which came in handy for us with the boys. We also found ourselves grabbing donuts and random snacks in NYC, even pretty late at night!

More Tips

  • Travel during the slow season.
  • Find hotels that offer free breakfast.
  • Hotel rates are more expensive on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Have a plan for both destinations – some places will need reservations ahead of time.
  • You can visit both cities over a weekend or for a whole entire week.
  • Read travel blogs (like roadtripqueens.blog) for inspiration.
  • Make sure to plan for the right weather, check the forecasts ahead of time & pack accordingly.
  • Allow some down time during a visit to the city. Kids (and adults) can experience some sensory overload in all the hustle and bustle.
  • Expect some crowds and wait times.
  • Keep a positive attitude & have fun!

I truly feel that you cannot go wrong with either destination. Both cities are extremely family-friendly and you’re guaranteed to make memories that will last a lifetime! I asked my boys which city that liked the best, and they both said New York City! I am not sure if this because we visited just a few months ago and it has been a few years since we’ve traveled to DC. They both agreed that they love both cities, they just really had a great time in NYC!

If I were traveling with my kids to a new city, I would probably choose Washington, DC first and wait until my kids were a little older for New York City. If this is a once in a lifetime trip for your family, then I would probably choose to visit New York City, there’s just no other place like it!

I hope you find these tips and personal experiences helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Washington, DC or New York City?

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!

Favorite Unique Travel Destinations

If you are anything like me, you might spend your free time searching for unique experiences for your family across the US. I have compiled a list of our favorite unique destinations and experiences for all of your planning purposes!

Ruins of Presidents Park in Williamsburg, Virginia

Have you ever seen a photo of a place so unique that you knew you had to visit? That was my reaction the first time I saw a photo of the Ruins of Presidents Park. The image I saw was so eerie and creepy, I just had to add it to my bucket list. Plus, I have a new love of all things historical, so this was a destination I knew I needed to explore.

There are 43 President Sculptures, from George Washington to George W. Bush. They range in height from 18-20 feet. Most are in terrible shape with crumbling features and water discoloration. This only adds to the character and eeriness of the site!

To visit these ruins, you must purchase a ticket through eventbrite with John Plashal Photo. He is a photographer that has some kind of connection to the family that owns these sculptures and is allowed to host events every few months. Once tickets are purchased, you will get more detailed instructions via email about the location, where to park, what to bring, etc. Upon arrival, you will meet John Plashal and he’ll give out instructions, get you checked in, and then you pretty much have free range to explore during your ticketed hours!

Click here for tickets!

The Elephant Preserve in Fredericksburg, Texas

Do you love up close and personal animal encounters? Have you ever wanted to visit an elephant sanctuary? Then let me tell you about The Preserve in Fredericksburg, TX!

This experience was so amazing, I was literally brought to tears twice. We listened to some information about The Preserve, the back story and how the elephants came to be here. Then we all watched in complete awe as 4 Asian elephants began to head towards us, trunk to tail in a line. Cue the first set of tears I cried. We were able to spend about 2 hours here with the elephants and even participated in giving one a bath! Such a fun experience and the staff is awesome! They were all willing to give each guest an epic experience and wanted to help photograph our time with the elephants.

Overall, without giving too much away in case you want to visit on your own, I will say that this has been one of my favorite family getaways of all time! I am a life-long learner, an animal lover, and adventure seeker. This hit all of those areas for me. But my favorite part about it was seeing the pure joy and excitement from my boys. They loved the experience and want to go back!

Walking Behind a Waterfall in Twin Falls, Idaho

What a fun surprise Twin Falls was! Idaho as a whole is a beautiful and underrated state that I hope we can venture back to explore soon. We didn’t spend a lot of time in Twin Falls, it was more of a resting point for us on our drive from Texas to Yellowstone, but it was a fantastic stop that really made me appreciate the area!

Our first stop of the evening was to see the Perrine Coulee Falls, within Centennial Waterfront Park. It is the coolest waterfall that has a trail that allows you to walk right behind it! This was one of our favorite adventures on our entire road trip! We used AllTrails for directions to the waterfall trailhead. It said that it’s a 2 mile out & back trail, but if you park along the road next to the falls it’s less than 0.5 miles of walking. There are several spots right along the road that offer parking and there is a bigger parking lot farther away that you can use if there aren’t spots available next to the trail, but we had no problem finding a spot. We did go later in the day, around 6:30 pm as soon as we arrived and it wasn’t very crowded at all. The hike also isn’t very long and took less than 5 minutes from our parked car. You can hear the waterfall as soon as you exit your car, before you see the falls. It was so impressive and really flowing! The falls drop almost 200 feet and flow year-round, but summer flows are stronger. We spent at least an hour just taking it all in from different angles.

Home Alone Airbnb in Dallas, Texas

I might have a small obsession with the movie Home Alone. I’ve visited the house in Chicago where the movie was filmed two times now and it’s on my bucket list to go back and see it during Christmastime. So, when I heard that there was a Home Alone Airbnb in Dallas (just 45 minutes from my house), I knew I had to see it! This movie is definitely a family favorite of ours and I cannot even tell you the total amount of times I’ve seen it. I still remember my mom taking my little sister and I to the movies when it released back in 1990, I was 8 years old. I’m not sure a year has gone by that I haven’t watched it during the holidays. And thankfully my boys love it just as much as I do!

I’m happy to say that our stay was everything I hoped it would be! I don’t think we stopped smiling all night. The thoughts and details that went into planning this themed getaway are top notch and I cannot believe some of the memorable in this place! AND, it even came with a FREE large cheese pizza.

I think one night is all you need to experience the magic of this place, especially if you are local. It felt like the most epic sleepover ever and my boys were thrilled we didn’t have to leave once we arrived. If you are traveling from a long distance, you will be right outside of downtown Dallas and have tons of touristy locations and amazing restaurants right at your fingertips!

And my favorite part of all, watching both Home Alone and Home Alone Lost in New York on VHS tape! We taught the kids how to rewind a video and all about Blockbuster and how exciting it was to go rent movies on Friday nights! I’m totally an 80s kid and this just took me back to my childhood!

Click here to book your stay at The Kevin!

Dogsledding at Monarch Mountain, Colorado

We decided to road trip across Colorado up to Monarch Mountain to go dog sledding with Monarch Dog Sled Rides. My littlest son is obsessed with wolves & huskies, so we knew he’d love this animal adventure! And I think it’s safe to say that we ALL loved dog sledding.

The tour started with an introduction and background story about every dog on the tour. Then we learned about the history of dog sledding and the kids were so engaged. From there we learned how to harness a dog and anyone has the opportunity to try it out themselves. Then it was time to start the ride! I have never seen dogs so excited to work! You can totally tell that these dogs are treated very well and are truly born to pull sleds! The kids and I bundled up together in the sled and Jereme got to stand at the back with our guide and drive the sled. The sights were incredible, the guides were so knowledgeable and we enjoyed chatting with them during our tour. The few stops we made were fun, we especially loved getting to play with the dogs and watch them roll around in the snow to cool down. I would highly, highly, highly recommend this company and this adventure for anyone wanting to add some fun to their ski or snowboarding trip to Colorado!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation in New York City

When I was looking for fun things to do in New York, I stumbled across information about walking around the parade balloons while they are being inflated the day before the big event. I knew that this was a must for us! So, obviously you will need to be in NYC the week of Thanksgiving to experience the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation. The cool thing about being in NYC, is that the local news stations detailed exactly what we needed to do to see this in person and we followed the directions and had no issues getting to experience this. We took a subway ride to Central Park and the boys played a little and we walked around the lake for a bit. We had some hot dogs and some pretzels from a street vendor in the Park and then walked back over to Columbus and 72nd Street. There was a line forming, so we got in it and waited less than 5 minutes before we started moving into the blocked off areas around the balloons. You do have to go through a security area and if you have a bag, it will be searched. Once you pass this, you follow the crowd to the streets that they have set up the balloons and the floats on, and you get an up close view of it all! The parade staff even told us this is the best way to experience the balloons and we were even told to just watch the parade from TV! This event is free and you do not need reservations at this time!

The week of Thanksgiving is such a fun time to visit New York! Not only can you experience the Thanksgiving Parade, the city is also decorated for Christmas and just truly magical this time of year.

Click here for more information about the Parade and balloon inflation!

I cannot wait to add more unique adventures to our travel list! If you have a favorite unique experience or destination, please share in the comments! Follow me on Instagram to see more photos and videos of our unique travels.

How to Spend Thanksgiving Break in New York City

I’m here to tell you that Thanksgiving Break is the most epic time to visit NYC! It has always been a dream of mine to see New York in all of its holiday glory. But, I also wanted to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in my lifetime, too. When Jereme asked me what I wanted for my 40th birthday back in September, I immediately responded with a trip and I knew that I wanted to go over a school break so that we would have more time away than a long weekend. We originally decided on Boston, but flights were ridiculously expensive. So, after doing some research, I learned that Thanksgiving is a great time to travel to New York and it was settled! I am beyond thankful that we were able to make this adventure happen!

Day 1 – Arrival and Times Square

We booked an early, 7 am flight out of Dallas and landed at La Guardia around 10:30 am. Thanks to some 100 mph tailwinds, we made it to the city in about 2 hours and 15 minutes. I was shocked but thrilled to basically have a full day to explore! We stayed at The Manhattan in Times Square and taxied straight there from the airport. There were not any rooms ready that early, but the staff was amazingly accommodating and had a place to store our bags while we ventured out. This location was great, we were just a half block away from the Subway and close to all the fun in Times Square! We had been up since 3 am and were tired and starving, so we stopped at the closest place in Times Square without a long wait to eat, which happened to be the Olive Garden. Don’t judge us hah!! We were all hangry at this point and it’s safer to feed our kids what we know they will eat than risk a new place when they’re already cranky. After eating, we walked around Times Square for a bit and then headed back to the hotel for check in. This was also the coldest day of our whole trip, so we were ready to be out of the cold winds before it got dark.

What we loved the most about the hotel was the amazing hotel staff. The lady checking us in thought our boys were so funny and she asked our youngest if he wanted to stay on a high or low floor. He definitely said a high floor, so she got us a room on the top floor, with a view of Radio City Music Hall. When I looked up the parade route, I had saved a map that showed the parade going in front of Radio City. I could not believe that we would have a view of the Macy’s Parade right from our hotel room! (More on this later!!) The room was a little bit bigger than I thought it would be for New York and it was very clean. The bathroom was a little outdated, with pink tile. But again, it was all clean! We ended up just staying in for the rest of the day. It gets dark around 4:30 there and it was already so cold outside. We were tired and the Dallas Cowboys were playing. So, we all agreed to stay in and watch the game. Jereme and our oldest son ended up walking down the street to Krispy Kreme and we had warm donuts for dinner! We are way more fun when were are traveling ha! Then, we all headed to bed fairly early.

Click this link for information about The Manhattan at Times Square

Day 2 – Stature of Liberty & 9/11 Museum

I started day 2 with my alarm set for 7 am. Since it was a Monday, I was up to reserve FREE tickets to the 9/11 Museum. This is only offered on Mondays from 3:30-5:00 pm and you can only get tickets on Mondays starting at 7:00 am. I have traveled to New York City several times, so it made sense to see these two places on the same day since their location is close to one another. I pre-purchased tickets to the Statue of Liberty several weeks in advance, but still had no luck getting tickets for the crown. We did secure tickets to the pedestal and I highly recommend! It is a lot of stairs, but overall you have better access to Lady Liberty and better photos without the surrounding fence in the background.

We ended up taking an Uber to Battery Park to catch the ferry to the Statue. We had tickets for 11:00 am and left our hotel at 10:00 am. You must wait in several lines to go through security screening and then again to get onto the ferry. We made it to Liberty Island at the perfect time and were able to go straight inside to the pedestal as soon as we arrived. We spent at least an hour exploring the pedestal and grounds. Then we headed over to the Café onsite and had an excellent lunch! I had soup, Jereme and the boys had burgers and nuggets. It really is nice to be able to eat here and not worry about your kids getting hungry and not having a place to eat until the ferry returns! Once we had lunch, we ventured over to the museum located behind the Statue. It has a lot of artifacts, my favorite being the Statue’s original torch!

After spending several hours on the island, we got back on the ferry and made it to Battery Park about an hour before we could enter the 9/11 Museum. We had time to check out the memorial fountains and the Survivor’s Tree. We also walked around the Oculus Building before we were allowed inside the museum at our reserved time. I really liked that we had free tickets, but it was really crowded at this time. I have been to the 9/11 Museum once before and went earlier in the day. It felt like I had the museum to myself, but this visit was packed. It could’ve been that it was also during a holiday week. My boys still learned a lot and we were all glad we got to experience this museum, but I would probably recommend trying an earlier time during this week. Full disclosure, this is not a fun and happy museum to visit and I had tears several different times throughout the exhibits. But, we must never forget! They did a beautiful job detailing the events of the day and showing how our country came together during this tragic event in history. I hope everyone gets the chance to visit this museum.

After we left the museum, we rode the subway back to Times Square and stopped for dinner at Dos Caminos. There was no wait, the food was actually pretty good, but the service was very slow. We did enjoy having tacos and margaritas before ending the night walking around Times Square and taking in all the lights and people! We also ventured over by Radio City Music Hall to check out all the holiday decorations and we were enthralled! They do Christmas BIG and I loved every second that I was there! Everywhere decorates and it’s so fun to see all of the holiday spirit! I only wish that we could’ve seen the tree at Rockefeller Center. It was there, but it was surrounded by scaffolding while people decorated it.

Click this link for more information on visiting on the Statue of Liberty

Click this link for more information on visiting the 9/11 Museum

Day 3 – Empire State Building, Macy’s Storefront, Saks Fifth Avenue Lighting Ceremony

My family loves the movie, Elf! So, my boys really wanted to go inside the Empire State Building after watching the movie right before our trip. I got tickets for the next morning, so we left our hotel around 9:30 am and caught an Uber ride over to the Empire State Building. It actually ended up being a really fun experience! The inside is neat and you stop on several floors along the ride up to see different things. There are several replica buildings for photo ops and a floor detailing the construction of this building. Different movie posters and props are also inside and just a lot of opportunities for fun photos as you make your way up to the top. The views are neat, I probably like the Top of the Rock view more, mostly because the Empire State Building is in it! But I enjoyed the inside of the Empire State Building much better! The exit of the tour is probably the best, it’s the iconic Empire State Building entrance area that Buddy the Elf goes inside to see his Dad in the movie Elf. We were so excited to see this! We were pretty hungry afterwards, and my youngest loves pizza. So we walked over to Little Italy right around the corner and had some excellent pizza. It might have been the best and cheapest meal of the week for us! Give it a try if you want something quick and easy and delicious!

After lunch, we walked down the street to see the Macy’s storefront and we even did some shopping while we were there. The window displays are so festive and I was thrilled to see them in person. I don’t have many photos of this, there were a lot of people looking and the glare from the sun made my photos look weird. But, this is a sight you must see if you’re in the city around the holidays! And my boys had some money, so they wanted to shop and we found some great items that were already on sale! One kid got some Crocs and the other got a football jersey. They were both thrilled with their purchases! We headed back to the hotel to rest our legs a little after shopping and got a good nap in before leaving again for the night.

I had heard that Saks would be having their Christmas display lighting ceremony on this night. Even though it wasn’t something I had planned for, I figured it would be fun to see it in person. It ended up being one of my highlights of the entire trip because Elton John made an appearance and even sang right out on the streets in front of the store! We all went crazy and just huddled close to each other singing right in the street along with him. It was amazing and the lighting ceremony is magical and my boys loved all the fireworks! If you are here during the week of Thanksgiving, make sure you look up to see which night this ceremony takes place! It started at 7:00 pm and we got there around 6:30 pm to get a good spot to watch! We ate at Bills Bar and Burger nearby before grabbing our spot for the lighting event and it was really good.

Click here for more information on the Empire State Building

Click here for more information about Saks Fifth Avenue

Day 4 – Central Park and Macy’s Parade Balloon Inflation

This day ended up being another highlight for us! When I was looking for fun things to do in New York, I stumbled across information about walking around the parade balloons while they are being inflated the day before the big event. I knew that this was a must for us! The cool thing about being in NYC, is that the local news stations detailed exactly what we needed to do to see this in person and we followed the directions and had no issues getting to experience this. We took a subway ride to Central Park and the boys played a little and we walked around the lake for a bit. We had some hot dogs and some pretzels from a street vendor in the Park and then walked back over to Columbus and 72nd Street. There was a line forming, so we got in it and waited less than 5 minutes before we started moving into the blocked off areas around the balloons. You do have to go through a security area and if you have a bag, it will be searched. Once you pass this, you follow the crowd to the streets that they have set up the balloons and the floats on, and you get an up close view of it all! The parade staff even told us this is the best way to experience the balloons and we were even told to just watch the parade from TV! This event is free and you do not need reservations at this time!

This area is directly across the street from Central Park, so after we headed back to explore more. This is such a peaceful place and hard to even believe it’s in the middle of NYC. The boys played some football, we found some Home Alone sites, and even walked over to Wollman Rink. We would’ve loved to ice skate, but it was quiet crowded and we opted to skip the wait and find an early dinner. You can spend hours in Central Park after leaving the parade area, but you can also visit the American Museum of Natural History while you’re close by! We have been once and it’s a great museum. My favorite was the dinosaur exhibit!

We actually walked back to our hotel from Central Park and stopped at The Elgin for dinner. It was probably my least favorite meal of the trip. The food was good, there just weren’t many choices and the portions were small. After dinner, we walked around the different Christmas displays around Radio City and Rockefeller Center again before calling it a night!

Click the link for information about The American Museum of Natural History

Click the link for information about Central Park

Click the link for information about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Day 5 – The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Flight Home

It was really important for us to get back home to spend Thanksgiving with our families this week. We had planned to book an early flight, but I had a hard time finding a nonstop option and we ended up not leaving until 2:00 pm. It worked out perfect though, because we were able to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from our hotel window! This was so exciting for us to see and I was thrilled that we didn’t even have to wake up early to find a spot to watch. I had pretty much decided that even though we were in the city the day of the parade, we would be skipping this one. I didn’t want to wake up early, stand outside in the cold, and wait for hours for the parade to start without a bathroom. It could not have been more perfect to have the room that we did! We had an amazing view from above and even caught some of the balloons from the street level right outside of the hotel. It was the perfect way to end our trip before leaving for the airport. We opted to leave the hotel around 10:30 am, even though our flight didn’t leave until 2:00. I wasn’t sure how the traffic would be due to the parade and road closures. We didn’t encounter any traffic on the drive to the airport and had plenty of time to sit down and have lunch before leaving. And we made it home just in time for our first Thanksgiving dinner with family!

All in all, it was just a really good week making tons of memories together! This week is a great time to visit, you get to experience Thanksgiving events and Christmas at the same time! Of course, there were several things I wanted to see and do that we didn’t make it to, so we’ll just have to plan another visit! If you’re going to be visiting New York soon, I highly recommend the City Pass. The savings are amazing! Happy Holidays and Safe Travels!

Click here for information on the New York City Pass

New York City with Kids

Have you ever thought about taking your kids to New York City for vacation? Mine have been asking to go since watching Home Alone 2: Lost in New York years ago. I can honestly say that I wasn’t really sure about taking kids to the city, so my husband suggested we visit Washington DC first to see how they did in a smaller city and how they would handle all the walking and public transportation. I agreed, so we went a few years ago and they did so well considering their ages. (Click here to see our DC trip.) So, when an idea for a summer trip to the northeast popped into my head, I knew the time was right to add NYC to the list!

My boys and me at Top of the Rock

I feel like I need to mention that we got a very mild, tame version of the city, I am sure due to the pandemic. It was really a fun time and I can’t even explain how easy it was to maneuver around with less crowds, which was awesome considering it was just Carrie and I with the kids, the hubbies stayed home to work on this trip. We had a few ideas of things we wanted to show the kids, here is that list (I did not include things that we wanted to do that were closed, like Broadway, etc.):

  • Statue of Liberty
  • Central Park
  • Empire State Building
  • Times Square
  • 9/11 Memorial
  • Museums

Here is how we packed all of these activities into 3 days!

Day 1: Arrival & Times Square

If you follow along on our adventures, you might already know that we drove into the city from New Jersey and dropped off our rental car back at LaGuardia Airport. That was an adventure in itself and I do not recommend driving in this city ha! However, after a tense couple of hours, we made it to the rental car place and I had never been so happy to return a car in my life! We had no issues ubering to our hotel, Hyatt Place New York Midtown/South from LGA. It was in a great location for us – The Empire State Building was outside of our window and it was only a few blocks to Times Square and Penn Station! By the time we made it back to the hotel, it was already mid-afternoon and I was tired from the stress of driving. We also had done some sightseeing earlier in New Jersey before heading into the city. So, the first day was pretty low-key and we spent most of the afternoon and evening close to the hotel.

The view of the Empire State Building from our hotel!

On our first evening in New York, we decided to walk down to Times Square and show the kids this area after checking in to the hotel and unloading all of our luggage. It was crazy because it felt like we had the city to ourselves! The kids loved the lights and sounds and I was happy that it wasn’t so crowded. We grabbed a quick dinner close to our hotel and just took in the sights. After we had our fill, we called it a night to get some rest for the busy day ahead.

Times Square!

Day 2: Statue of Liberty and 9/11 Memorial

Today was the day to visit The Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial. We started off the day at the Statue of Liberty. We took the ferry, it was a very quick and easy check in process, but you do have to go through airport style screening before you are allowed to get on the ferry. Click here to pre-purchase tickets. We rode on the top deck to get the best view of the statue! While we were really sad that the museum was closed and that you can’t climb the stairs into the crown, we were thrilled to get to see Lady Liberty up close! And we were able to grab lunch at the Crown Café right on site while we were there. The kids thought that it would be bigger, so they were surprised with the size. This was a fun excursion and a must see if you’re visiting NYC!

This is the ferry we took to Liberty Island

Be sure to take a photo on the boat, it’s a better angle!

Since the ferry left from Battery Park, we decided to walk on over to the 9/11 Memorial while we were in the area. I think this was an emotional visit for all of us, the kids had a lot of questions and we answered them honestly. It was hard to think about that day and not get emotional. The kids really wanted to see the museum, but we felt like they were still a little too young for this one. Carrie and I both visited the museum together a few years ago, so we knew what was inside. I will definitely be taking them back when they are older, we must never forget that day or the victims. The memorial is very beautiful.

We rode the subway back to the hotel and just spent the rest of the day being typical tourists. We ventured by Radio City Music Hall, ate dinner in Times Square, danced with a street performer and just had a really good night together!

The boys first subway ride!

Day 3: Museum of Natural History, Central Park, & Top of the Rock

This was our last full day on the trip! We knew we wanted to visit a museum, so we picked the American Museum of Natural History because I really wanted to see the dinosaur fossils! We had a great time exploring the museum, there are several really cool exhibits, besides just dinosaurs. However, our time was cut shorter than I would like because our kids were starving and the food court in the museum has not yet re-opened. So, we left the museum after a few hours and grabbed a quick lunch at one of the food trucks parked right outside of the museum entrance. We did see lots of animals, an ocean exhibit, early life on earth – think cave people, dinosaur fossils, & meteors!

One of the many fossils in the museum

A real meteor

We took our lunch to Central Park and had a quick picnic and then walked all around the park. There are some areas that really feel secluded and like you aren’t even in the city at all. The kids loved this part of the day, they are always up for running, climbing, and exploring. We grabbed ice cream once we left the park, walked by the Plaza Hotel, and then headed to the subway for some rest back at the hotel.

After we rested, we decided to go to Top of the Rock. This was a little more expensive than I like to pay, but I really wanted to see the views! The kids liked it and I got some good photos of us. It was so windy, I am not sure if it’s always like that or not. Even though it’s pricy, I think this is one place you should visit if you have the time. The views are stunning!

Views for days

Everyone else looked so cute… then there was me LOL!

We really had a quick, but fun-filled trip to the Big Apple! There were many things that we didn’t get to see or do on this visit, but I hope to one day bring my boys back, along with Jereme. I have big goals to visit over Christmas! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask, I am always happy to help answer questions, provide my honest opinions, and assist with any planning you may need!