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!


Art of Animation Resort

Art of Animation Resort
Art of Animation Resort, Disney World, Florida

During our most recent trip to Disney World, we stayed at the Art of Animation resort, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share my thoughts/reviews of the property. This marks the third time I have stayed at Art of Animation Resort. The first time I stayed in the Cars family suite with a group of 6 fun loving girls on a bachelorette trip! The second time was with my family of 3 plus my mom+dad+and sister when our daughter was newly 2. We stayed in 2 adjoining Little Mermaid standard rooms. And this last time was just my family of 3 and our dear daughter was 2 (almost 3), and we again stayed in a Little Mermaid Standard Room!

Resort: The Art of Animation is a value resort hotel, and opened in 2012 making it the newest value resort on property. Art of Animation celebrates the animation and fantasy of 4 beloved Disney movies: Cars, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid. The resort is divided into sections with The Little Mermaid section offering standard hotel rooms. The Cars, Finding Nemo, and Lion King sections offer family suites with interior halls/doors. In addition, the family suites are in closer proximity to the resorts main hub, Animation Hall whereas The Little Mermaid section is a bit of walk. It took us appx 10 minutes each day to walk from our hotel room to the buses with a stroller and tot in tow from The Little Mermaid section. The hotel also features 3 pools (more comments later), an arcade, a quick service food court: Landscape of Flavors, a souvenir shop: Ink & Paint Shop, a playground with slide for bambinos, and standard Disney amenities including Disney bus transportation to/from parks, Disney’s Magical express transportation to/from airport, and Movies under the Stars.

Rooms: The family suites can sleep 6, and have a designated bedroom with a door in addition to 2 full sized pull out beds in the living area of the suite (1 in the couch, and 1 pulls out from the wall and doubles as a table/bed). The suites also offer a kitchenette and 2 bathrooms! The Little Mermaid rooms have 2 full sized beds, and can hold a max of 4 people, but if you get adjoining rooms like we did you can technically fit 8, although I think it would be extremely tight. The rooms are fashioned after the themes of each movie and are fun and vibrant. If you are not into animated Disney decorum then you may feel the furnishings are cheap and cheesy, but we found them to be whimsical, and our 2 year old loved every second at the hotel!

The property: In addition to the rooms, each section is designed on the outside to reflect the movies’ setting. The Cars section has the cozy cone motel sign as well as cars parked outside. The Finding Nemo section has my husband’s favorite touch, the squalling seagulls that caw “mine, mine, mine” from the humorous dialog on Finding Nemo at set times throughout the day. This really brought out the inner kid in him as he would want to wait to hear their very loud caws 🙂  The Lion King & Little Mermaid sections have your favorite character statues including a rather scary over sized statue of Ursula – might need to give little ones a head up on this!

Little Mermaid Art of Animation
Ursula Statue, Art of Animation

Pools: There are 3 pools at Art of Animation. The Big Blue Pool, The Cars Pool, and The Little Mermaid Pool.

The largest pool at Disney World is the Big Blue Pool in the theme of Finding Nemo. There are underwater speakers in the pool for music. The pool has a splash pad area for younger kids as well as a poolside bar and beverage station. The hotel also hosts weekly activities at this main pool including outdoor movies and games, etc. The pool is located directly behind the Animation Hall providing convenient access to the food court as well.

Big Blue Pool, Art of Animation
Splash Pad Area, Big Blue Pool

The Cars Pool is the smallest pool at Art, but it has cabanas which are first come/first serve.

The Little Mermaid pool is a good size, but nothing extra special about it. It is a nice pool area, and has laundry facilities (fee), bathroom facilities, and vending machines in the poolside buildings.

There is not a pool area in the Lion King area; however, I do not view this as negative since there is no pool noise to work around. When we stayed in the Little Mermaid rooms once it was April and once it was January. For January we had a room overlooking the pool, and it was lovely as it was cold during our visit and not too many people were swimming. However, in April every evening once people would return from the parks the pools would be packed out with tons of noise. My tip for this is to request a lake view room if staying in the Little Mermaid section! When we stayed in Cars it was also cold during the month of February, and we also experienced no pool noise so I am not sure how loud this pool area gets during peak months.

Restaurant: Landscape of Flavors is a great quick service counter restaurant as it has multiple options, and a good variety in terms of food fare. There are 5 service areas. There is a dedicated build our own salad/ sandwich counter, build your own pasta counter, a pizza counter, a burger counter that offers a wide variety of options on burgers and toppings, and the last counter is international fare options including chicken tandoori, chicken curry, ribs, and fish. There is a wide variety of kids meal options, and they also have an entire wall of coolers which contain pre-made pastries, sandwiches, fruit & veggie cups, on the go snack and drink options. You also have the option to order pizza in your room! For breakfast, there are lots of options ranging from a breakfast platter, build your own omelette, pancakes, Mickey waffles, etc. Most of the time the lines were manageable; however, I will say, if at all possible avoid eating dinner here right after the park closes. It is a mad house. The set up is that you order your food and then go thru a cafeteria style line to pay for what is on your tray. One night we opted for this, and once I got my food I stood in line to check out for 20 minutes. By the time I checked out, all of our meals were cold. 😦

Ink & Paint Shop: We think this is a fabulous little souvenir shop. We have found some souvenirs here that we did not find elsewhere in the parks so definitely check out what they have. Also, if you purchase something at another store in the park, you can always return here as well so that is extremely convenient as well. You can also have anything you buy in the parks sent back to your resort hotel, and you can pick up inside this Ink & Paint Shop.

Fun Extras:

Draw Class: Art of Animation offers an area where kids can learn how to draw their favorite characters with a Disney artist. This is held in the little activity center adjacent to the check in area 3 times a day: 11am, 2pm, 5pm.  You also have the opportunity to bring your sketch of your favorite Disney character to the front desk to enter a contest as the hotel picks a winning sketch daily. You can also get art supplies from the front desk.

Jogging and Biking: There is also a free jogging trail around Art of Animation that links it with Pop Century. You also have the opportunity to rent a single or double bike from the property.

Coming Soon: Sky high Gondola: Construction was already underway when we visited last month (Jan 2018) for the new gondola transportation system which will allow you to enjoy an ariel view of Disney World. This system will link Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach Resort with Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. This is something exciting and unique for these 3 resorts!

Overall: We have really enjoyed staying at Art of Animation, and highly recommend it! We have chosen to visit this property repeatedly because we really feel while our daughter is still little this is a really fun atmosphere for her! She loves all of the attention to Disney films. Some of her favorites are:

  • The shower in the Little Mermaid rooms is is designed to look like Ariel’s grotto where she hides all of her treasures. It has all of the treasures printed on tiles in the bathtub which is a blast for a 2 year old.
  • The cawing seagulls in the Nemo section just like her father.
  • The slide/playground area in the Nemo section

    Playground Art of Animation
    Playground, Art of Animation
  • The chance to draw on easels in the nook inside reception.
  • The outdoor movies
  • The statue of Rafiki in the Lion King section which we discovered last trip has now been removed. 😦
Art of Animation Directory
Art of Animation Directory
Hourglass Lake, Art of Animation
Hourglass Lake, Art of Animation Resort

Epcot, Disney World

EPCOT with a Toddler

EPCOT, Disney World

We just returned from our second **Magical** trip (** is my electronic version of pixie dust:)) to Disney World with our 2 year old! We have often heard that Epcot isn’t a great park for a 2 year old, or that it is only a “half” day park with a tot in tow! While Epcot doesn’t offer quite the same level of experiences as Magic Kingdom for a 2 year old, it is still a fantastic FULL day park to be enjoyed with a toddler! Our daughter loves EPCOT! Here are our top things to enjoy in EPCOT:

1.) Character Experiences: EPCOT, in our opinion, has some of the best character meets! At the character spot in EPCOT you can meet Minnie, Mickey & the crew! You can also reserve a fast pass for this attraction so you do not have to wait for long with a little one. We waited all of 5 minutes, and were able to meet some of her favorite characters in one sweep! You can meet Anna & Elsa in Norway, Jasmine & Aladdin in Morocco, Mulan in China, Donald Duck in Mexico, Snow White in Germany, Princess Aurora & Belle in France, and Mary Poppins & Alice in The United Kingdom. We have found the lines are often shorter in EPCOT, and the characters are able to spend more time with the little ones!


There is also the fabulous princess dining experience at Akershus Royal Banquet Ball in Norway where you get to meet Belle upon entering, and then get visited table side by other princess who rotate in appearance. We loved this dining experience, and got to meet Aurora, Snow White, Cinderella, and Ariel in addition to Belle! We actually prefer this character dining experience to Cinderell’s Royal Table. Plus you are right next door to ride Frozen Ever After upon finishing dining. Having done both Akershus & Royal Table with a 2 year old, I will be reviewing and comparing both during my blog post next week so be sure to check back in! 🙂


2.) Kidcot & EPCOT Passport: This is a fantastic free program for little ones! In every country in The World Showcase there is a Kidcot area where your little one can get their EPCOT passport stamped. The cast members will write your child’s name in their native language as well as draw special surprises on their countries page for your little one! Our daughter loved finding the Kidcot area in each country, and kept asking “What country are we going to next?” It was so cute! Also, at each station there are activities. In Japan they were demonstrating how to make origami animals. In Norway they were coloring Olaf pictures with markers. They also will give your child a “Duffy the Bear” and they can color and decorate the bear along the way. The passport comes with a pin, and stickers. While we ate lunch, our daughter had fun finding each page the stickers went on!



3.) Visit During the Flower & Garden Festival: If you are able, I highly recommend visiting EPCOT during The Flower and Garden Festival which runs from February 28th thru May 28th. During this time EPCOT is stunningly beautiful. There are topiary displays, a butterfly garden, and interactive playgrounds. There is a special playground that is set up on the grass lawn adjacent to the walk way from The Land area to the World Showcase area. This was a fantastic area. Our daughter played, and we lounged under the covered umbrellas with our Dole Whips and Floats! (Which you must try if visiting Disney World by the way –  pineapple flavored frozen soft serve ice cream or if you make it a float with pineapple juice!) The butterfly garden was also a hit! And at each country our daughter loved finding the topiary displays of her favorite characters. Also during this time, there are special food stall vendors that sell small plates which makes eating around the world so fun and cost efficient!

Epcot during Flower & Garden Festival!


4.) The toy train: Besides Germany in EPCOT is the toy train display. This is a favorite of toddlers! It is a huge toy train that runs thru tracks of villages, displays, etc. It is fun to watch, and follow alongside!

5.) Splash Pads: If visiting during warmer months, pack a swimsuit and a change of clothes for little ones. On the main path from Future World to World Showcase there is an oval splash pad that is a hit for small ones!

6.) Innoventions: Visit Colortopia inside the Innoventions pavillon. This is so fun, and often overlooked! You dip your digital paintbrush in different colors, and then paint screens located around the room. When painting with each color different images appear! Kids can have free reign as it is all digital, and they can reach the screens independently!

7.) Sea Base: This is where The Seas with Nemo & Friends ride is located which is a great ride for little ones, but we particularly enjoy the aquariums located inside the sea base pavilion. This offers a great break from the sun, and is interactive and a big hit with little ones!


EPCOT, Disney World
France, Epcot, Disney World

Enjoy EPCOT! Sending Pixie Dust your way 🙂 *****************

A kiss around the world

A photo journal

On our honeymoon we started a tradition that has now been running for a decade, and that our daughter is now a part of! Follow our photo journal below of our kisses around the world!

Kissing in Rome Italy
Rome, Italy
Kissing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Kissing at the Eiffle Tower
Paris, France
Kissing at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru
Kissing at Sydney Opera House
Sydney, Australia
Kissing at Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn, New York
New Zealand
Matauri Bay, New Zealand
Kissing in New Zealand
The Lost World Cave, New Zealand
Kissing in Venice
Venice, Italy
Kissing in the Bahamas
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Kissing atop Roys Peak
Wanaka, New Zealand
Then there was 3
Then there was 3… Southern Oaks – Alabama
Kissing at the beach
30A, Florida
Kissing Top of the Rock
New York, New York
Kissing Top of the Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia
Kissing Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe, California
Kissing in New Zealand
Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand
Kissing Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Disney World
Paris, Epcot, Disney World

We have an entire wall in our home dedicated to “our kissing wall”. When we look at these beautiful pictures, we are reminded of our wonderful memories. Travel has a way of humbling you; making you realize how insignificant you are compared to the scale and grander of the world. However, there is nothing small about love. We are so thankful each and every day for the gift of marriage, and our greatest blessing of all: our beautiful,happy daughter! We look forward to adding to these photos over time… our next stop is Ireland! Maybe a photo in front of the Cliffs of Moher or Ring or Kerry! 🙂 What is your favorite travel tradition?


Favorite beach products for little ones!


Enjoying the beach with little ones can sometimes be a lot of work! There is so much preparation in order to avoid sunburns, heat overload, bathroom disasters, and sandy eyes! Here are my top favorite items that always make our beach trips with little ones a joy!

Tent: We always pack the tent! It is amazing how much more enjoyable our beach trips are with our tent! But then again with me having quite a fair complexion, I probably benefit  from the tent more than my daughter! 🙂 The tent makes nap time, potty breaks, etc so much better. It is like our own little home on the beach!

A portable potty: Little ones often have to have numerous potty breaks at the beach! And often kiddies are very scared about going potty in the ocean, and they do not want to take a break to go find a public restroom. Please use this suggestion within reason because obviously a public restroom will be needed in circumstances especially if anything other than number 1 is going down. We love our Potette Plus Travel Potty! It folds up to fit into a purse, backpack, or beach bag! The legs fold out and make a small potty. Absorbent liner bags fit inside the potty, and once done the bags tie up and throw away mess free. This is one of my favorite toddler contraptions!

Baby Powder: If your little one gets sand all over them, use baby powder! Baby powder takes dry sand right off and will circumvent that dreaded situation of sand in the eyes!

Inflatable Pool: We always take an inflatable pool with us to the beach. Our daughter used this at the beach for the first time when she was 6 months old, and continues to use it and she is almost 3! The inflatable pool we have is small and once deflated folds up to fit in my beach bag! It is easy to blow up, and offers a great place for a tot to play and cool off from the heat!

Inflatable Pool

Portable Clip Fan: Sometimes, the summer heat can be sweltering and a little hot for a baby who is only a few months old. A fan like this is great, and clips to to the beach chair!

Radio Flyer Wagon: This wagon breaks down with all of the paneling coming off, and makes it easy for us to load it into our Toureg for a drive to the beach! The wagon isn’t a necessity, but it definitely adds a bit more fun to long beach days. We use the wagon to pull all of our gear to the beach! Your tot can sleep in he wagon, and our daughter loves wagon rides on the beach!

Radio Flyer Wagon Beach

Mum & Bub Soothing Ointment: Long beach days can sometimes leave little one’s sensitive skin chaffed. This is my absolute favorite skin product! The soothing ointment was developed by a leading dermatologist and is naturally derived. It is infused with pawpaw fruit, and free of sufates, parabens, phthalates, gluten, soy, chemicals, etc.

The Beaches of 30A

Rosemary Beach, FL

Scenic 30A is an appx 20 mile stretch of road in Florida that runs parallel to the beach through charming seaside towns and alongside the Timpoochee Biking Trail.

We have visited 30A numerous times staying in multiple locations. We have stayed at Gulf Place near the beginning of 30A. At Rosemary Beach at the end of 30A, and at Watercolor and Seaside in the middle of 30A. We have booked directly through Watercolor Resort and Gulf Place, and we have also booked through VRBO and cottage rental agencies throughout 30A.

The beaches along 30A are a great place to make memories with little ones that will last a lifetime! I will never forget when my daughter giggled when she saw a crab on the beach the first time, or how she begged us to go crash into the waves with her. She and her cousins had a sand castle building contest and a sand burying contest! She collected nearly 45 seashells which are displayed in mason jars on my bathroom shelves and she filled our hearts with laughter and joy! 30A is where our favorite beaches are located, and I hope these tips help you enjoy 30A with your little bambinos in tow!

Logistics: 30A is an approximate 30 minute drive from Destin, Florida or Panama City Beach, FL. If coming from Panama City Beach you will hit the beach community of Rosemary Beach first. If coming from Destin, you will hit the communities / resorts located at the western end first beginning near Sandestin and hitting Gulf Place, Blue Mountain Beach, Grayton Beach, Seaside, etc first.


The Beaches: Beautiful stretches of white sandy beach, sand dunes, clear bright blue waves, and beautiful sunsets are abundant along the beaches of 30A. The majority of our time is always spent enjoying the beach and activities beachside.

We love paddle boarding the waters of 30A with our daughter, and have found Surf Sup Rentals to be a great rental company. They deliver and pick up your board when you are done, and we find the prices more reasonable than the companies located directly on the beach especially for a full day rental! If you are only wanting to try paddle boarding for an hour or so then the companies located directly on the beach are much more convenient.



If your little one wants to try their hand at surfing, 30A adventures hosts daily surf camps from their Seagrove location in both the morning and afternoon during the warmer months! And if you are visiting outside their normal camp offerings, you can always book a private lesson.

Biking: We always book bikes for our trips to 30A. Normally the bikes are included in our rentals, and they are either on the property premise or we are provided vouchers to go to the rental company, and pick up our gear. We always purchase a child carrier as well. Our daughter enjoys riding in a child seat and the pull behind wagon so it is always a tossup as to which we book! We enjoy riding our bikes to the beach, and through the charming towns that dot 30A. We also have tried our hand at some bike trails located throughout 30A. A great guide to the Timpoochee Trail can be found here! Also there are some great trails specific to each development along the way. One such example are local trails located throughout Watercolor Resort that allow you to bike around the lake, etc.

Beachside Communities: Beginning at the Eastern end of 30A in Rosemary Beach, our favorite stops along the way with kiddies are as follows:

The Sugar Shak (Rosemary Beach): Kids LOVE this place which is stocked from floor to ceiling with stacked rows of CANDY! Every candy imaginable is housed here from old school candies to imported candies from Europe. They also have an extensive ice cream bar, and I must say the ice cream is great! This is a fun little shop for kids, and very memorable. Our daughter still talks about the Sugar Shak!

Playground Park (Rosemary Beach): This park is located on the beach side of 30A in Rosemary Beach accessible right off the biking/walking path nestled in between mature trees! It is a great little playground with wooden equipment including swings, slides, monkey bars, and family swings to sit on and watch the kiddies play! We rode our bikes here one evening before heading to dinner!

Camp Rosemary: Created for kids ages 5 – 12, Rosemary Beach offers Camp Rosemary which runs from end of May to beginning of August! The camp is a drop off program with daily activities planned for kids. However, Camp Rosemary also offers kids activities/crafts throughout the week for any kids staying in Rosemary! You can pick up a local calendar of events upon arrival or check their website here!

Rosemary Pools: Rosemary Beach has 4 pools: Coquina Pool, Sky Pool, Barbados Pool, Cabana Pool. The Cabana Pool has a separate kid’s pool and kid’s playground adjacent to the pool which makes it our favorite. The Sky Pool is also great as it is indoors for a brief reprieve from the sun or if you happen to get a bit of rainy weather in sunny Florida! More info on the pools here!

30A Farmer’s Market (Rosemary Beach): On Thursdays and Sundays from 9 am – 1 pm located on the green at Barrett Square. This is a great farmer’s market with so many wonderful local foods, vegetables, fruits, breads, and specialty items! My favorite vendor is “Matt’s Mom’s Mustard”! I did not expect to spend $18 on mustard on a random Saturday morning in Rosemary Beach, but this mustard is so amazing! We purchased the “original mustard”, “pineapple mustard”, and “Russian mustard” We also got a fourth free for buying 3! They give free samples so if you find their stall, definitely stop in for a try!

Cowgirl Kitchen (Rosemary Beach): Love their pizzas!!! Menu here!

Fonville Park & Press (Aly’s Beach): Fonville is a fantastic kid’s park, outdoor seating area, and coffee bar and café located in Aly’s Beach! This is one of our favorite stops on 30A! We love going for breakfast, sitting outside, and watching our daughter enjoy the park! It has a fantastic green space!



Charlie’s Donut (Aly’s Beach): We enjoyed riding our bikes to this donut food truck located in Aly’s Beach! They open daily, but often sell out quickly especially during the peak summer months. They have amazing donuts with some unique flavors such as red velvet or my favorite the sour cream pound cake. We enjoyed our donuts, and then our daughter played in the splash pad located directly in front of the donut truck! This is a great morning stop for kids! And don’t worry about cash, they accept cards!



Seaside Outdoor Movies (Seaside Amphitheater): Enjoy Seaside’s Outdoor Movie Series during the Summer Months at the grassy Seaside Amphitheater right in the middle of town! Movies are on Friday nights, and begin at 8:00 pm! Be sure to check the summer schedule seasonally! Our daughter loved this, and my suggestion is to get food from either Modica Market in Seaside which has great takeaways and specialty foods such as cheeses, coffees, cakes, etc or the nearby food airstreams which leads into…

Food Airstreams (Seaside): Enjoy food truck fare right in the middle of the cute, charming town of Seaside which is where the 1998 movie the Truman Show was filmed! There are so many great options, but our favorites are Barefoot BBQ and Meltdown on 30A. Meltdown has some quirky spins on a traditional grilled cheese, and my husband loves the spicy BBQ Pork from Barefoot! And mine and my daughter’s absolute favorite food airstream is FROST BITES for all of your snow cone/ice cream needs! Order the piggly wiggly: custard on the bottom, shaved ice in the middle, and cream on top. My favorite flavor is vanilla custard, peach shaved ice and cream for a spin on peaches and cream!



Duckies Fun Shop (Seaside): Duckies is a great toy store in the middle of Seaside with fun, unique toys! A favorite of our daughter! We first took her here when she was 6 months old, then at a year, and then again at 2! Every time it was a hit!!!

Sundog Books (Seaside): Sundog Books is a great local book shop for adults and kids located right in the middle of Seaside. All of the books are arranged by categories which is so fun! They showcase popular books up front, and then have similar genres grouped together so that if you are a fan of say Jane Austen books then you would also quite likely enjoy the books grouped with the Jane Austen books! And who doesn’t love a good read at the beach!

Seaside Farmer’s Market (Seaside): Seaside also offers a local farmer’s market similar to the one located at Rosemary Beach although Seaside’s Farmer’s market is a bit bigger! The market is every Saturday from 9 am – 1pm and you can find everything from organic meats, vegetables, fruits to specialty cakes, breads, and crafts!

Watercolor Outdoor Movies: (Watercolor Resort): Watercolor also hosts an outdoor movie and concert series for guests running from end of May through early September. Movies are hosted normally on Thursday nights with concerts on Wednesdays at Marina Park! Be sure to check the seasonal schedule at Watercolor!

Watercolor Pools: If guests of Watercolor resort, you have access to 6 resort pools!!! One pool is an adult’s only pool so for kid friendly options there are 5 pools to choose from! All of the pools are fun and beautiful. We love the Beach Club Pool due to its proximity to the beach and food service; however, we also enjoy the frog and dragonfly pools located further back in Watercolor as they are very kid friendly!

Western Lake (Watercolor): A plus of staying at Watercolor Resort is access to the boathouse where you can kayak, paddleboard, or fish. We have kayaked the lake, and find it extremely relaxing and fun!

Camp Watercolor (Watercolor): Watercolor also offers a kids camp similar to Rosemary Beach. Geared towards children ages 5-12, the drop off camp offers daily activities and crafts!

The Red Bar (Grayton Beach): The Red Bar is an iconic, unique venue located in the heart of Grayton Beach. They schedule live performances weekly, and during the summer months the wait to eat here can be quite lengthy as they do not accept reservations! With smaller children lunch would be a great option, but with older kids in tow they would no doubt enjoy the eclectic mix of furnishings and live entertainment!

Blue Mountain Beach Creamery (Blue Mountain Beach): Located right off 30A on county road 83 in the community of Blue Mountain Beach is the creamery. This place has amazing ice cream made fresh daily, and an amazing amount of flavor variety! The line at this place is sometimes wild, but definitely worth the stop!

Beach Horse Back Riding: (Gulf Place): Just north of Gulf Place on 30A is Arnett’s Horse Ranch where you can enjoy horseback rides along the beach!

Artists at Gulf Place (Gulf Place): The colony of artists at Gulf Place hosts art camps for kids during the summer months at Gulf Place on 30A! The cute little huts in the center of Gulf Place development feature work from various local artists daily! Be sure you check the schedule for which kid’s workshops will be presented during the next summer offering! Visit their webpage here!

For my favorite beach items with a tot in tow, please read my post here!

Rosemary Beach

Rosemary Beach Sunset

Wanaka, New Zealand

Husband – Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka
My bambina & me – Lake Wanaka

Wanaka is a small town in the Central Otago region of New Zealand on the Southern Lakes. Wanaka is a holiday resort town that fluxes with the stream of year round visitors, but the permanent population is just over 7000. Wanaka is full of charm and beautiful scenery. Wanaka is located an approximate 1 hour drive from Queenstown, and has often been compared to Queenstown with some even calling it “Queenstown’s sister”. We enjoyed our time in Wanaka with our 18 month old, and found it has a very different feel from Queenstown that we fell in love with. It is very charming, and a perfect setting for a family holiday! We also found Wanaka to be less expensive than Queenstown which is always a plus!

Travel: Wanaka is located an approximate 1 hour drive from Queenstown via the Cardrona Road. Wanaka is also a gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park located only 54 minutes to the park via State Highway 6. There are also some bus options that will carry you from Christchurch which is an appx 5 hour drive away.

Hotel: There are plenty of hotels, inns, hostels, and bed and breakfast options in Wanaka. We chose to rent a house via, NZ’s equivalent of homeaway or airbnb, and it was lovely. We highly recommend bookabach. We had an entire balcony that overlooked Lake Wanaka, and we were close enough to walk to town!


The Lake: Lake Wanaka is crystal clear, and amazingly beautiful. There are so many activities to participate in. You can swim, wade, kayak, paddle boat, fish, raft, jetboat, sail, waterski or wakeboard. Our toddler enjoyed wading in the water, and collecting rocks as the water is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom and see tons of rocks! There are also tons of ducks which is a great recipe for a toddler adventure.You can also rent kayak’s, boats, etc right on the lake front from Lakeland Wanaka.

Biking: You can also rent bikes from Lakeland Wanaka right on the lakefront. There are lots of bike trails, bikes parks, or road cycling available. You can even do heli biking for a more challenging ride. I have found the best source of info on biking in Wanaka can be found here! 

The Dinosaur Park: The Dinosaur Park is amazing, and was our daughter’s favorite attraction in Wanaka. We visited this park daily. It is right in the center of town, directly on the beach, and full of lots of fun activities including the famous dinosaur slide! This is a must stop with kiddies in tow. We were able to sit and take in the awesome views, picnic, wade in the water, etc while our little one played at the park and chased ducks! My suggestion is to get fish & chips take aways wrapped in newspaper from Wana Takeaways, and picnic beachside. You will see lots of other people doing the same!

Wanaka Lavender Farm:  Our daughter loved running through the rows of lavender, sitting on the purple tractor, seeing the farm animals, and eating lavender ice cream! This is a beautiful farm, and a great place to visit. We also partook of the lavender ice cream as well as tea, and it was simply divine! The little shop also has fantastic lavender products / souvenirs! Link to their website here!

Hiking: There are lots of family friendly hikes in/around Wanaka. The visitor’s center told us the Mount Iron Walk was a good walk for kids and would allow us to see sprawling views of Lake Wanaka, but we ran out of time to complete this hike. This is a full comprehensive guide of all of the hiking/walking options in Wanaka.

Lone Lake Wanaka Tree: We really enjoyed hiking around the beach to the Lake Wanaka Tree with our daughter. It was an easy beach walk around to the south end of the lake to see this feat of nature. There are no signs or placards that will point you in the right direction so make sure to just keep walking, and you will find it around the side of the lake. The tree sits just off shore from the public beach access, and is framed by the Southern Alps.

Lake Wanaka
The Lone Wanaka Tree, Lake Wanaka

Roy’s Peak Hike: Besides our trek up to Machu Picchu and The Great Wall, this is the most awe inspiring view I have ever had the privilege of seeing! And this def takes the cake for a natural landscape! This hike is NOT TODDLER/KID FRIENDLY. I try to tailor my recommendations to only kid friendly activities, but this view is so stunning I thought it needed mentioning. We left our daughter with my parents while we embarked on this hike. They took her to the dinosaur park, Patagonia Chocolates, and lots of other fun activities around town while we were gone! If you have an older child who is physically fit you can make the determination as to whether to take them along. The hike will take you appx 5-6 hours depending on your level of fitness. It took us about 6.5 hours as we stopped several times on the ascent. You climb appx 1500 meters straight up a mountain thru private farmland. There are sheep grazing alongside the hiking path, and can sometimes block your path. This is an exposed track. There is no shield from the sun, heat, rain, wind, etc. When we hiked, the sun was blazing. The burn time in New Zealand is appx 12 minutes so I required lots of sunscreen, layers of clothes, and an umbrella! I am very fair skinned. My husband fared better since he is not! Also, there are only bathrooms at the beginning/end of the trail so plan ahead for this. You will need to carry lots of water, provisions, clothes, etc as the temperature changes drastically throughout the day and as you ascend. On the descent, it is worth noting that you will be utilizing your knees very frequently as you are walking down a mountain the entire way down. I have relatively good knees, and they were extremely sore following this hike. It is also noteworthy to state that I am not a hiker. I am not extremely fit. I was working out regularly before this trip, but I was by no means an “athletic” individual so this may be WAY easier for someone else!

Roys Peak Summit
View from the Top!

Wanaka Golf: My husband played this course, and loved it. He is an avid golfer, and said this course was great to play and the views were beautiful yet distracting 🙂 You can hire a cart, and take your kids along for the ride! Our daughter loves going golfing with dada!

Amigos Mexican Grill: We really enjoyed this restaurant right in the center of town on Ardmore. It was very kid friendly. They have mariachi hats that my daughter loved, and also have hoola hoops on the lawn street side to be enjoyed.And get the Churros con Chocolate! Amazing!

Patagonia Chocolates: I have the same entry for this place under Queenstown as it is worth mentioning twice, and visiting multiple times. I am a huge fan. This place is amazing for adults and children alike. My favorite is the spicy hot chocolate, and my daughter loved the chocolate croissants. This is a must stop. They also serve ice cream and loads of other treats. My recommendation is picking up a treat before going to enjoy it lake side!

Puzzling World: A bizarre, fun filled alternate reality! Fun for the whole family! Visit their website here!

Make sure to save some time to visit the Hekwick Street Boutiques which are lovely. We found some of our favorite souvenirs in Wanaka!

Its also important to note we visited Wanaka in November. During the winter months, Wanaka is an amazing place to view the southern lights as well as ski and participate in winter activities! Cardrona Ski Park is loved by families!

And if you have time, tack on some time in Queenstown. Check out my guide to family fun here!