For the past four years instead of new years resolutions, I’ve made a list to help bring intention, thoughtfulness and whimsy into the year. I make these lists without the pressure the everything must.get.done. Instead I try to pick a mixture of little tasks that I’ve been putting off (get my sons birth certificate, get dental work done, etc.), things I want to try (new hikes, new recipes, new travel destinations), and then some broader goals like decluttering, start meditating. Yesterday I shared my 2022 wrapped and what got completed on last years list. You can also read about the origin of this idea in my 2021 post, here!
This summer we chose Arches for our National Park in Utah to explore with the boys! Today I’m sharing our overall experience, the hikes we managed, gluten free food we found & the accommodations so you can make the most of your trip! We have made it a goal to take them to one park a year if possible. You can see our winter trip to Yosemite last year here .
I found Arches to be very family friendly and very manageable when it came to a National Park. It’s a fairly small park only about 1/10 the size of Yosemite so driving through the park, hiking and exploring felt less daunting! There was no shortage of short easy hikes some that were even stroller friendly. We saw tons of families enjoying the park & would say it’s toddler approved!
The Windows: This was the longest hike we did with the boys! But it was definitely one of the most beautiful! This hike definitely has some incline & lots of steps, but is 1 mile round trip with phenomenal views at the top!
Balanced Rock: Stroller Friendly 0.3 mile loop hike with tons of photo ops! This is a great one to save as a second activity of the day! You can see balanced rock from the road but the loop trail has next to no elevation gain and is mostly paved making it super accessible for kids!
Double Arch: Take this 0.6 mile hike to see the tallest arch in the park! This relatively flat packed gravel hike leads to 2 gorgeous arches. You could easily take a stroller right up to the base of the arch!
Delicate Arch Viewpoint: Lower viewpoint is stroller friendly – we didn’t use the stroller but wish we had! By the time we did this one the boys were pooped, it was peak heat in the day so needless to say we didn’t stay long. This viewpoint is wheelchair accessible and only about 200ft, but for a tired, overheated toddler you might opt for the stroller!
Sand Dune Arch: This was on our list but we didn’t get to hike this. This 0.4 mile hike is listed as a popular hike for kiddos! But as the name eludes to there’s lots of sand so plan accordingly!
*If you’re planning a trip in the summer I can’t recommend these cooling towels enough! They’re ultra light weight and you simply pour water on them when you’re ready to cool off! We used these everyday we were out in the park & they’ll definitely be a summer staple!
Accommodations: We stayed at Springhill Suites in Moab & LOVED it! If you’re visiting in the Summer this resort is amazing. They have two pools, a splashpad & 4 hot tubs including one that is considered a “warming tub” that is significantly less hot & geared towards littles! One of the pools is super shallow which was perfect for toddlers who are still getting the hang of swimming! They also have family suites that include bunk beds and a great free breakfast that starts at 6am which I never truly valued until I started traveling with kids!
Things to consider:
Time of year – the weather can certainly be a factor so if your trip is lined up for mid summer be sure to plan accordingly. The actual park does not have any food inside and you’re encouraged to bring a LOT of water with you inside the park. We went ahead and booked tickets for early morning entry & spent the morning in the park and left by noon when the temperatures were reaching their highest for the day!
Plan your days – My advice is to plan to do about 2 hikes or sights in the park per day if you have young kiddos, especially in the summer when the heat is no joke. We found it was to start with the longer hike & save something that is stroller friendly or shorter for the second half!
Expect / plan breaks – Toddlers are more than capable of enjoying and participating in hikes and national parks but planning in breaks is KEY. I recommend bringing some small toy for the halfway point of the hike. When we hiked The Windows hike I knew we’d want to stop at the top, rest, hydrate and admire the sights. Toddlers are less into pausing and soaking in the vastness… So I brought the boys little toy dinosaurs to play with at the top. I kept them in my backpack so there wasn’t any temptation beforehand and then it was a little surprise. Then I told them we had to pack them away so they could get down the hike safely again! This seriously bought us 20-30 min at the top, which allowed for both Chris and I to go see the views at the very top, and allowed for everyone to feel rested for the walk back!
Keep it fun – hiking in the heat, even short distances can be a lot for little kids. So keeping it fun and lighthearted is the best way to keep your toddler moving forward. We play red light / green light. Chase / stomp on each others shadows, play ispy, and look for little creatures and of course racing each other! These little distractions helped a ton with our kids and kept the carrying them to a minimum!
Food – Downtown Moab has a ton of options all within a 5 block radius. There was no shortage of gluten free options available.
Pasta Jays – gluten free pastas, garlic bread, huge portions and large outdoor patio!
Miguels Baja Cafe – Nearly everything here is gluten free unless otherwise noted! Super cute colorful outdoor area to eat!
Moab coffee roasters – affogatos to die for here.
Food Truck Park – A ton of food truck and a nice shaded square to enjoy your food!
Moab Giants: If you extra time this Dinosaur park is the best add on for your toddlers. It’s a few minutes from the park entrance and you can explore these life size replicas of Dinosaurs. They also have an air conditioned museum. We did this one morning instead of the National Park & the boys loved it!
All in all we had a great time at Arches, I think the boys were at a great age to experience this park & I didn’t feel like we missed out on much! Obviously the older your kids are the more they can hike and explore but I think for toddlers this park is perfect. There’s short hikes, minimal cliffs and plenty of beauty and nature to be appreciated!
I’d love to hear about other National Parks you think are great for kids! Every time we finish one of these trips it gets me so excited to research and plan our next park so I’m open to any and all suggestions!!
If you have a toddler then you already know, the feelings are BIG. Here are some our favorite books to help make sense of these big feelings. I bought The Invisible String, before going out of town and Will LOVED it! So I thought I would share our favorites for anyone else navigating those BIG feelings.
Things I love about each book:
The Boy with The Big, Big Feelings – does a great job actually explaining what it feels like when we get upset “feelings push out of our eyes” aka tears.
The Invisible String – I just love this book and the concept that we are always connected to the people we love even if we aren’t with them at that moment. Plus Will LOVED this book!
In My Heart – This one has so many emotions & the design is cute!
The Color Monster – Will also refers back to this one about feeling mixed up & feeling lots of emotions at once!
My heart – I love the illustrations in this one & the simple message!
Do you have a favorite feelings book? If so I’d love to hear what it is!
On Sunday we celebrated William’s 2nd birthday in quarantine style. Since we couldn’t celebrate in person with all our family & friends we tried to still make it feel very much like a birthday party! I stuck with my original theme Two The Moon theme. William helped bake his cake the night before, he was so into it. I’ve fallen in love with King Arthur Flour Co! I used their gluten free, soy free chocolate cake mix, it was delicious. And then I attempted my first balloon arch, it was kind of a pain to hang it up on the wall but overall it was fairly easy & I think it turned out SUPER cute! We had a zoom family call in the morning where Will got to open his presents & everyone sang & we ate cake! We got Will a scooter, our upstairs neighbor’s daughter has one & he has been eyeing it for months – he got a chance to ride it over Easter & took to it right away so it was a no brainer. I don’t know if it’s the fact that there’s a pandemic happening, or the fact that I’m very pregnant but this birthday felt so emotional compared to turning one! Do other mamas feel this way??
Here’s the link to the scooter we got William – I’m impressed with the quality.
A few weeks ago we went to Scottsdale to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was such a fun long weekend. My best friend & my parents joined us & it was so low key & relaxing. We stayed at the Scottsdale Mccormick Ranch which has an awesome pool, that you can walk into. Will LOVED it. He was so brave and would just walk right in, which had us realizing he needs swim lessons ASAP because he has no concept of what to do when he gets too deep (literally). We also went and saw a Giants preseason game, which is always fun. All in all it was a great weekend with great food & even better company & it definitely felt like a special way to ring in 30. (which I still can’t believe I am!)
It’s officially summer & San Francisco already had it’s first heat wave of the year. Temperatures got up into the 90’s which is about 30 degrees higher than our usual summer temps! Keeping a toddler entertained as well as trying to get them to sleep when it’s 90 degrees in your apartment is no joke. So in the spirit of summer I thought I’d share some ways to beat the heat with a toddler & share some photos from the heat wave & the weekend we spent enjoying the heat at my brother’s house.
Water tables – these are an awesome investment! We got this one for William’s birthday. And it was a serious lifesaver during the heat wave. I highly recommend water tables – they are fairly affordable & provide so much entertainment for toddlers. Even when it’s a little too chilly to be playing in the water William has a great time playing with the table without the water. He loves putting the balls down the track & finding things in the yard that can go in the water table. If you live somewhere remotely warm I’d totally invest in a water table.
Popsicles – pair a Popsicle with a water table and you’ve got yourself one happy toddler, enough said!
Baby wipes in the fridge – talk about a quick & inexpensive way to cool off. This is such an easy trick to make your baby or toddler or even yourself just slightly more comfortable in the heat.
Stroller fan – this is a good gadget to have if you live somewhere that experiences a fair amount of heat. This is perfect for car rides where kiddos don’t always get the best airflow in those hot car seats especially facing backward. You can also clip it onto a stroller.
My final tip for beating the heat is to seek out AC wherever possible. Libraries are a great free place to take a toddler to try to get some reprieve from the heat. Even just an hour wandering around the grocery store or target was a great way to get out of our stifling apartment. So if you have a membership to a museum, a local library you’ve been wanting to check out or if your kids are old enough a movie theater these are all great places to try and escape the summer heat, especially if you’re living somewhere without AC like we are!
Our little boy is ONE! Saturday was his birthday & we celebrated at home. He woke up and got to read new books & play with his birthday balloons. Will’s auntie stopped by to have brunch with us. After Will woke up from his nap he got to play with his water table that Chris & I got him. And he ended the evening doing his cake smash before his bath! It was the perfect low-key day, we decided not to do anything big since there will be plenty of years of birthday parties to come so laying low and enjoying time with just us felt like the best way to celebrate.
The past year has simulatenously felt like a blink of an eye and a lifetime. When I think about all that happened this year it just doesn’t feel possible that it was only 365 days. The past month I feel like William has really transitioned into such a little boy! He can wave & blow kisses & give high fives, say yes & hi & shakes his head no. My sweet little guy loves to give Juno treats and pets Peggy. I can’t wait to see all the leaps he’ll take this next year.