A New Irish Adventure **

Best 2 week Itinerary thru Ireland with kids
Our 2 week route thru Ireland

Our little family of 3 leaves for Ireland in 2 weeks, and I cannot believe it! We have been planning this trip for almost 2 years! We have friends in Ireland that we will be visiting, and get a load of this: We have NEVER met them! I know you are thinking I am crazy! But I have 2 friends from the Netherlands (who I have met:)) that introduced me via Skype to their Irish friend, Claire! Claire is Dutch, but married an Irish gentlemen and now lives in Co. Cork with him and their 2 beautiful girls. My friends in the Netherlands introduced me to Claire because they said they “knew we would like each other” plus she had a newborn while I was pregnant. Fast forward 4 years, and Claire and I are very good friends. We chat weekly, and our girls (hers is 4, mine is 3) have been pen pals sending little packages back and forth since my daughter was born! Plus Claire has been married to her husband 10 years also, and her husband is an electrician just like my husband. Pretty neat!

Because we have had Ireland on our radar for a while now, we have done a lot of research on how we best wanted to map out our trip thru Ireland.  We will be in Ireland for a total of 15 nights. At first we thought we wanted to cover both Ireland and Northern Ireland because we do have 2 full weeks on the ground, but after considering it we decided just to cover Ireland so that we can really enjoy this experience with our daughter instead of spending a good portion of our time in a car. Northern Ireland is still on my list for the future, and I hope one day we get to experience it as well!

Here is our itinerary! I will be blogging about each destination along the way so be sure to check back in for weekly Ireland posts starting mid April and all of our favorite kid friendly tips!

You can see our itinerary mapped out on the map above! 🙂

1.) Dublin: We will be in Dublin for 2 nights, and we have these items on our list: Trinity Library & Book of Kells, Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery, Hamley’s Toy Store, Picnic & Playground in ST. Stephen’s Park. For eats we plan to pay a visit to Brazen Head(Ireland’s Oldest Pub), Butler’s Chocolate Cafe, and Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, plus several more! 🙂 We also may throw in a Vikings Splash Cruise depending on our mood.

2.) Powerscourt: National Geographic named Powerscourt Garden as one of the world’s top 3 gardens! You can read about it here! I am so excited about this day trip. Powerscourt waterfall is Ireland’s highest waterfall. There is a playground next door to the waterfall. Then this estate boasts the main house with a tea room, the walled gardens with Avoca Cafe and 2 golf courses. Our daughter is a huge fan of flowers and with plenty of room to run around I think this is going to be a favorite of hers!

3.) Kinsale: This historic port and fishing town is the jumping off point for the Wild Atlantic Way. We plan on meandering the brightly colored streets of Kinsale, visiting the fort, and the local playground.

4.) Killarney: We will be making Killarney our base for 5 nights as we explore Killarney National Park and the surrounding areas. We will be staying at the Aghdaoe Heights Resort. Our itinerary while in Killarney includes day trips to Dingle to see Fungi the Dolphin & Inch Beach, Ballybunion to play golf at the old course for my better half, Killarney National Park & The Gap of Dunloe, and Kenmare and Killarney townships. I will be covering each of these under a separate blog post so tune back in! 🙂

5.) Dromoland Castle: I did not feel we could come to Ireland without experiencing a real Irish castle! I selected Dromoland once I discovered this castle is part of “Adventures by Disney” itinerary.  This prompted me to do some research, and discovered how many activities are present at Dromoland for little ones. We will be participating in the falconry walk, the teddy bear picnic, and exploring the massive grounds of this 15th century estate and castle!

6.) Cliffs of Moher: I am nervous about the Cliffs of Moher with a little one so I will be sure to catalog all of my tips/experiences afterwards but we are all excited to experience this sheer magnitude and beauty of this natural phenomenon!

7.) Galway: We will be staying in Galway for 3 nights on a HOUSE BOAT! The house boat was my husband’s dream so he took care of those arrangements! TBD if it is a good experience! 🙂 In Galway we will be slowing down a bit before heading back home. We plan on enjoying the local scene while visiting lots of eateries including Dough Brothers, Morans on Weir, The Pie Maker, Galway Bakery Company, Gourmet Tart Company, and of course hitting up the playground in Eyre Square and visiting Claddagh Jewelers the home of the authentic claddagh ring!

8.) Bru na Boinne: Our last stop in Ireland on our route back to Dublin will be Newgrange. Newgrange is a World Heritage Site, and predates the pyramids & Stonehenge. It is a 5,200 year old Stone age passage tomb.

We will be jet setting to Ireland in 2 weeks, and I can’t wait to share our adventures with you in the coming weeks! Please comment if you have any suggestions for us before we embark on this adventure! I would love to hear from you!

xx, Kristin

Lake Tahoe, CA/NV

Top 10 Things to do in Lake Tahoe in the SPRING & FALL

Lake Tahoe
View from Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive, Emerald Bay

The beautiful, stunningly clear water of Lake Tahoe, a freshwater lake, straddles the states of California and Nevada, and is an absolutely stunning destination. Most people visit Lake Tahoe as a winter ski destination visiting the areas of Heavenly, Northstar, Tahoe Donner, Homewood, etc. This is definitely on our list, and we are actually planning a Lake Tahoe skiing trip this December 2018 with my family!

However, we visited Lake Tahoe in the fall before all of the snow fell, and it was beautiful weather and such a lovely time for our 2 year old! These are our top 10 things to enjoy in Tahoe during fall that could also be enjoyed in the spring/summer months:

Travel: The closest airport is Reno and the drive will take you appx 1 hour to Heavenly Village, less or more depending on where you are staying along the lake. We usually rent a car to have our own transportation, but shuttle service is available from Reno to Lake Tahoe to 6 main resort areas (Lakeside Inn, Horizon, Harvey’s, Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, Harrah’s, and Mt. Bleu Resort) via South Tahoe Airporter. If staying elsewhere you can then continue on via public transport.

1.) Emerald Bay Cruise: Emerald Bay is the most photographed place in Lake Tahoe and with good reason. It hosts gorgeous landscapes with peaks reaching 3000 feet starkly rising from the water and is a National Natural Landmark. Cruising Emerald Bay allows you to see the stunning scenery of Emerald Bay State Park from the water. You get a glimpse of Vikingsholm, the Scandinavian castle and Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe. We cruised on the Tahoe Blue Wave which departs daily from the Tahoe Keys Marina and includes a buffet lunch. I researched lots of cruises beforehand, and we settled on this 70 foot yacht because the max passenger load is 49, and we wanted a more intimate feel especially with the 2 year old. We really LOVED this cruise. The crew was fantastic and offered lots of 1 on 1 attention. We really had wonderful views from aboard the yacht, and the cookies are pretty great too!

2.) Ice Skating: There are lots of opportunities for ice skating in Lake Tahoe. Heavenly and Northstar Villages both offer outdoor seasonal skating rinks in the villages. These ice skating rinks open seasonally usually at the beginning of November. And in March Northstar turns their ice skating rink into a roller rink in time for Spring! For year round ice skating; however, you can visit the South Lake Tahoe ice arena. There are daily public skate sessions, and lessons offered. My daughter loved this experience. There is also an outdoor playground located on the premises of the sports complex that we visited after skating which is wonderful!

South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena

3.) Heavenly Village: We love Heavenly Village. My daughter loved the fountain and throwing coins into it. Village Toy Store is a great stop off with little ones. We love Base Camp Pizza as well. They have outdoor seating with lawn games for kids plus the pizza is great and affordable. You can take the gondola up to the mountain from the village for a scenic tour at different times throughout the year.

4.) Lakeside Beach: Located in South Lake Tahoe this is a brilliant beach. There is playground equipment on the beach with stunning views of the lake and mountains. And the great thing about visiting Lakeside Beach in fall is that it is free and open to the public without a pass!

5.) Kings Beach: Located in North Lake Tahoe is Kings Beach which is a great destination for families. It offers a playground on the beach, a cute little strip of shops and eateries as well as paddle board rentals etc beach side. A visit to the Sweet Tahoe Time Ice Cream Shop is also a must with little ones!

6.) Visit the original & new Red Hut Restaurant: My favorite breakfast spot is the ORIGINAL Red Hut Waffle Shop! It is a small dinner with amazing food, and has preserved the intimate diner atmosphere, and they make Mickey pancakes for kids 🙂 We also enjoyed the new Red Hut location for the soda bar! We enjoyed the ice cream and little store inside.

7.) Drive the Lake, Hike, & Picnic: The Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive is stunning and makes a 68 mile loop around Lake Tahoe, CA and NV. The loop passes thru some lovely little Tahoe villages such as Incline Village, King’s Beach, Tahoe City, etc. Some sections of the road are closed during the winter months so visiting during other times of the year is a fantastic way to enjoy the full loop. There are several spots to pull off and admire the scenery as well as hiking trails and picnic spots! Sand Harbor in Incline Village is a great place to stop!

8.) Smores & Drinks at The Ritz Carlton Northstar: We decided to drive to Northstar and visit the Ritz Carlton for drinks and appetizers. They have an outdoor bar/dining/sitting area that is perfect for children. They have lots of lawn games and activities set up which our daughter enjoyed, and she made little friends playing. In addition they bring out the smores cart daily, and you can enjoy roasting smores in the open fire pits with little ones! This is a stunning property!

9.) A day trip to Virginia City: Virginia City is the United States’ largest National Historic Landmark, and visiting the city is like taking a step back in time. The drive from Lake Tahoe will take you appx 1 hour to Virginia City. Read my full review of Virginia City here!

10.) A weekend trip to Yosemite: Before winter, The Tioga Pass is usually open which is a great convenient way to visit Yosemite. The drive will take you appx 2.5 hours from Tahoe and will take you to the Eastern Entrance of the park. Yosemite is one of those places that is mostly indescribable unless you have been there to see its beauty, but still I have tried to catalog our experience with a toddler here!

Yosemite
Yosemite