All Things Arches, With Toddlers

Double Arch Trail

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!

what hiking with toddlers looks like
playing with dinos at the top of The Windows

Hikes:

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!

Main Pool at Springhill Suites

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!

Balanced Rock

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!

Miguels Baja Cafe

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!!

Winter in Yosemite

Last month we went on our first trip in exactly one year! We went on a road trip & visited Yosemite. A few months leading up to this trip Will started enquiring about seeing snow. We landed on visiting Yosemite, because as much as I wanted Will to see snow, the idea of three days with a toddler & infant with snow as the main / only attraction did not seem like my idea of fun. So we landed on going to Yosemite & it was the perfect getaway! I thought I would share what hikes, trails we went on that were kid friendly, info about snow play areas etc in case you find yourself in a snowy yosemite with a toddler & 6 month old!

Cooks Meadow – Located on the valley floor, this trail has incredible view of half dome & Yosemite Falls & you are surrounded by beautiful meadows. There are boardwalks that make pushing a stroller easy. We were able to pull off the trail and have our lunch in a meadow with Yosemite Falls in the background. So serene.

Lower Yosemite Falls – This is a 1 mile loop that is paved, easily manageable with a stroller or a toddler. (although when did this hike it was day 3 & will was exhausted so he opted to ride in the stroller, but on any given day he could easily have walked this trail!)

Badger Pass Ski / Snow Play Area – did you know Yosemite had a ski resort?? I did not, until researching for this trip. At the time the actual ski resort was closed & lifts were not running. however the snow play area was open to visitors. William had a great time sledding. We took our monkey mat and put it down in the snow & Johnathan got to watch. We also packed tons of food for this portion – I premade a batch of chili for our trip, heated it in the morning & stored in a XL Thermos. When we got done playing in the snow we had a picnic in the back of the car with warm chili! I would say be sure to pack lots of food because to & from badger pass there is very little / no food options & I did not want to risk and hungry toddler or husband after playing in the snow for two hours!

Tunnel View – If you’ve been to Yosemite you’ve probably stopped at Tunnel View – there’s not much to do, it’s purely a vista, but I love stopping there & taking it all in! (I just popped out of the car to grab a few photos, no pulling toddlers out of carseats for this stop.

Things to consider

  • If you are planning a trip to Yosemite be sure to check which entrances are open, because many roads are closed during the winter months.
  • Be sure to check if reservations are required to enter the park as of Feb 2021 they were.
  • Depending on accommodations, at the time we booked our trip the Awahnee was still closed for overnight guests, however we booked an airbnb about 30 minutes from the gate. Something to consider is the driving factor – although we were only 30 minutes to the gate, often our actual destination was an hour or so away. So it made for LOTS of time in the car.
  • We loved our airbnb, it had stunning mountain views, a hot tub that you could enjoy the sunset from & was SUPER kid friendly, including a play structure, miniature horses & everything from highchairs to pack n plays! This is the airbnb link in case you are looking for a place to stay!

Have you ever visited Yosemite in the winter?? I would love to hear about your experience or your experience taking young kids to national parks! After this trip Chris & I are really making an effort to take the boys to more parks around us! Leave me your favorite parks in the comments below!

Sunday Sunsets

Last night we spontaneously decided to head over to Baker Beach for the sunset and it ended up being one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve probably ever seen. This past week was so busy, Chris was gone Monday through Thursday for work, I worked 3 shifts including Saturday night. I celebrated a friends birthday & Sunday we went to Dim Sum for a red egg & ginger party. So Sunday was the first day Chris, William & I were all together for a whole day in a week!

Before having Will I used to take Juno to the beach weekly. It’s truly her heaven on earth but now days it’s a two person job. One to wrangle the dog and one to wrangle the toddler. I’m acutely award that we won’t live 10 minutes from the beach forever so I’m trying soak up all the beach days I can & even though it can be hectic I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Chasing Fireflies & other sweet things in the South pt. 2

Part 2 of our trip to Tennessee & Georgia! These photos are from the wedding we attended in Bell Buckle Tennessee. As you can tell by most* of the photos William had a blast. We got to spend some great time with family, we all stayed at a B&B together & were just a few blocks from the rehearsal & wedding.

Chasing fireflies, & other sweet things in the South pt.1

Earlier this summer we visited Bell Buckle Tennessee for a wedding on Chris’ side, but our trip started out just outside of Atlanta. Our first stop was visiting William’s Great Grandma Peggy! We got to go have lunch with her, we ate outside on a beautiful patio while Will played & explored. It was the sweetest. After our visit we spent the rest of the time relaxing at Chris’ Aunts home. That night we took Will outside to look for fireflies. Chris & his sister showed Will the ropes. I was a novice also, & got to experience fireflies for the first time too!

The next day we headed out to Bell Buckle, Tennessee!

Curaçao continued

I’m finally getting around to posting the remaining photos from our trip to curacao. Travelling has certainly changed now that we are bringing our little guy with us, but he was such a trooper. We were gone for 10 nights, took 5 flights, were in 2 climates & he totally rolled with the punches. He isn’t the baby that is just going to pass out on a flight & that’s okay, we just had to change our expectations that even if he’s tired the flight is probably just too stimulating for him to be able to nap for longer than 30-50 min at a time. Despite William not sleeping a ton on travel days, he was in such a good mood which made travelling with him a ton of fun. We booked this trip while I was still pregnant, granted it had a pretty flexible cancellation policy, but we figured if we waited till after we had him we may chicken out and not book it, rather than just planning on going! I think if travelling is something you enjoy than it’s completely possible to continue doing so with a baby. We may not have ventured off the resort as much as we would have, we have woken up far earlier than years prior, but we still had a great time & it was amazing getting to see our guy take in so many new things!! This week we are finishing up Christmas gifts, I’m working two more shifts & then we are heading to my parents on Friday for Christmas, I can’t wait! 

Beach Babe – 7 Months

I didn’t get around to doing our monthly letterboard photos with William this month & now we’re half way through December… oops. I guess you could say we’ve been busy. Will’s 7th month consisted of his first international trip! We went to Curacao for a friends wedding & extended our trip by a few days to enjoy the beach & warm weather before heading to Texas for Thanksgiving. In case you can’t tell by the photos William was a little unsure about the ocean despite the water being bath temp. He eventually came around & became a little more comfortable, I guess swim lessons will be part of 2019 ha! Along with travelling outside the US this month he also began eating a ton of new foods, learned how to crawl & still has zero teeth! I’m looking forward to Christmas because I feel like he’ll really enjoy the wrapping paper element. Onward & upward to month 8!

Our First Family Vacation -Calistoga

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Last weekend we packed up, dropped Juno off at pet camp & headed north for Calistoga! We stayed at Indian Springs Resort & we loved it. Our room was awesome. It had a great little balcony so when Will went to sleep around 7:30 Chris & I would head to the balcony & play cards & drink wine! This was our first getaway as a little family of three. We’ve taken Will to my parents house but he’s never stayed in a hotel. We really wanted to go on a trip to get him more accustomed to new places but we didn’t quite want the stress of flying yet. He’s typically a great napper on the go, but I think the heat was to much for the little guy because he definitely struggled to nap when we were out & about. I can’t blame him though it was hot even for us! Luckily he slept wonderfully at night! William also got to go swimming for the first time this trip! We’d wake up in the morning I’d feed Will really quick & then we’d head to the pool before it got too hot. It was great because the pool was empty that early in the morning. The pools at Indian Springs are natural hot springs so the water is around 92-94 degrees this time of year. William loved it. He was so relaxed, he would start sucking his thumb & closing his eyes while he floated! It was wonderful to get away for a few days & enjoy the summer weather & just recharge. We’re in SF for the next few weeks as I wrap up my maternity leave & then in September we’ll be take Will to Austin for the first time! YAY!

A different kind of paradise

Three years ago you could find me newly married, likely in a white swimsuit, on a beach in Bora Bora. If you had asked me right then & there I’d say I was in literal paradise. Flash forward to now, I’m sitting in a glider chair, rocking my 3 week old son, trying to get him to take his first nap of the day while my coffee sits in the microwave already heated for the second time this morning. But if you asked me today my answer would be the same, this is paradise. This paradise today is so much bigger & deeper than the crystal clear water of three years ago. I remember being on our honeymoon & feeling so in love I thought nothing could compare. And today I love my husband more than I ever knew was possible. We are living in our same San Francisco flat, but our home is so much more full today. Our guest room/ office is now a plant themed nursery for our sweet baby boy. On our wood floors you’ll find tufts of fur from our black lab & the walls are lined with framed moments of paradises past. Sure, I’m more sleep deprived than ever before (although nursing school is a very close second), & we’ll most likely spend our summer in the foggy abyss that is San Francisco June / July, not in an over water bungalow, sipping tropical cocktails; but I wouldn’t trade this moment in time for anything else. For these fleeting moments in time right now, when my baby will never be this small again, I know will be one of the sweetest paradises I’ll ever visit. (However this won’t stop me from posting some photos of the French Polynesian paradise we were at three years ago!)

Happy Friday, hope everyone has a great weekend! Shockingly we have very few plans for the weekend, aside from my brother visiting us & taking the dog for some walks. Also, this blog post is brought to you courtesy of the Time Hop feature on Facebook that reminded me where I was three years ago!

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Adventures in Lisbon

It’s hard to believe nearly a year ago we were strolling through Lisbon, eating cured meats, drinking wines & eating delicious seafood. A lot sure can change in a year! It’s taken me so long to sort through all our photos on various memory cards from our trip to Portugal and Spain but I’m finally all done. I mentioned in a previous post that I really wanted to finish our 2017 photo book (which I did on Friday!!) So now I have all the photos sorted so I thought I’d finally publish some pictures from our time in Portugal. If you ever find yourself in Lisbon I 100% recommend the restaurant SeaMe. It’s a Japanese / Portuguese fusion seafood & it was hands down the best meal we had. We randomly decided to go their the night of our anniversary & it ended up being so good we had our last meal in Lisbon there too! In the past few years we’ve usually gone on a fairly big vacation in the early spring & this spring we’re just waiting for our babe to make his or her arrival & I wouldn’t trade it for a minute. Hope everyone is having a great week!