If you have two days in San Antonio…part 2

Knowing how hot San Antonio is in July, I started looking for some indoor options for our second day. We did one indoor and one outdoor activity and in retrospect we should have swapped the times, but the kids did great (just kidding, two of them complained a lot, one complained only slightly, one did not complain, and one did great…except for trying to run off a few times. I’ll let you figure out who’s who. That’s real life, friends). Anyway, our indoor activity was the Natural Bridge Caverns. There are actually two different tours you can take here (both 75 minutes each). We opted for the Discovery Tour where they do not turn out all the lights. We had about thirty minutes before the tour started, so we let the kids do the maze that they have.

Once we got started on the tour I realized I should’ve brought water, blah. We mooched off my sister’s family to keep J from complaining the whole time. This would have been a great place to have their camelback water backpacks. The tour is not super strenuous, but it is a bit of a hike to get out once you get in there. The kids liked the jellyfish formations, the bat nest markings, and the different cave formations the look like pancakes and eggs.

 

 

Afterward we grabbed some lunch at the snack shop:

And then headed to the zoo! If you go to the San Antonio Zoo after 1 or 2 p.m. they discount the tickets, so that was a nice bonus. Now, I know what you may be saying. If you’ve seen one zoo, haven’t you really seen it all? And yes, most zoos have similar animals there. However, depending on the zoo you’ll get a different experience seeing the animals and learn different things, which is why the kids love going. For example, we saw hippos underwater up close:

And J got to be face to face with a wild dog. You could pretty much consider his trip made by that point. He was so excited!

He really wanted to get in there with the wild dogs, especially when one came right up to the glass:

And they had an interactive dinosaur exhibit when we went:

Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and took showers because it was approximately one million degrees when we left the zoo. We then headed out to an Italian restaurant on the Riverwalk.

The boys got their full helpings of spaghetti, so they were quite excited.

And then the next morning we woke up super early and headed for home!

 

A few other restaurants and places to check out if you’re in San Antonio…

Children’s Museum

Lulu’s bakery and cafe

Mi Tierra Cafe

Gristmill river restaurant and bar

Texas Pride BBQ

The Magnolia Pancake Hauss 

Hot Joy restaurant 

And that’s it! Our Texas road trip (after a fifteen hour drive back) was done!

To see the other parts of our road trip, check out Waco, Austin, and San Antonio Part I.

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If you have two days in San Antonio…part 1

We arrived in San Antonio right at dinner time. We stayed at the Marriott Riverwalk (with a river walk view room) and I would highly recommend it. Although there are lots of other quality hotels in the area, you get a great view of the riverwalk, there’s a Starbuck’s in the hotel, and it is walkable to lots of the main San Antonio attractions (like The Alamo). We checked in and then headed to Casa Rio for dinner…

I got the green chile chicken enchiladas (which I forgot to take a picture of), and they were excellent. The boys got nachos and tacos. The margaritas were also excellent!

One of my favorite things about our hotel besides the view:

Was the fold out couch. We usually have a room with two doubles or queens, but it saves us many an argument for the boys to be in separate beds…

 

The next morning we enjoyed our coffee on the balcony:

Then headed to the Alamo!

I have to say we lucked out with our weather. Texas is hot (boardering on insufferable) in July, and we managed to get overcast days with slightly cooler than average temperatures. The boys loved the Alamo, and we did pretty much everything you could do, from watching the movie on Alamo history to listening to a speech on Alamo artillery.

These two were the best listeners of the whole bunch:

And you’ve got to find the House cat:

We thought it was just a stray cat, but they have stuffed animals that match it in the gift shop, so apparently it is a house cat. After we left the Alamo we went to the river walk mall to escape an incoming rain shower, had lunch at the food court, then headed back to the hotel’s activity room:

We kept it pretty low key, which was great for the kids. Some sightseeing mixed with downtime is essential for avoiding meltdowns! We headed to County Line on the Riverwalk for dinner:

Their brisket and black eyed peas and bread were delish:

Afterward we headed out on the riverboat tour of the Riverwalk, which was fun:

A enjoyed it, despite contrary tween facial expressions. The boat tour is a great way to see and hear about the history of the city. And to see buildings like this:

It looks like there is no side! A cool optical illusion, with an interesting back story (I won’t spoil it). After the boat tour we headed off to bed with a cavern and zoo in our sights!

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If you have five hours in Austin…

On Sunday we were headed to San Antonio by way of Austin, so we spent a brief five hours in Austin. We headed straight to lunch at Shake Shack (because if there’s a Shake Shack near me, I’m going to it):

 

 

And then headed to the Capital building. This was a great choice because 1. It’s free and 2. There’s huge (not working obviously) cannons outside. Oh and 3. Lots of stairs to wear the kids out.

 

 

 

They also have several really cool libraries that weren’t open when we were there (Sunday) but I think they are open during the week:

After the Capital we headed to Barton Creek Square Mall because the boys requested to go to a Lego Store…

And I found nothing at Nordstrom despite my best efforts…

And we left at four and arrived in San Antonio in time for dinner!

Other fun spots that we had on our potential Austin list were…

Texas History Museum

Any of the many hiking trails

The bats at dusk

Cosmic Restaurant

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If you’re in Dripping Springs for a wedding…

As I referenced in my Waco post, our Texas road trip idea began because my youngest cousin (I have ten first cousins), was getting married. After we went to Waco we headed to Dripping Springs for the wedding, which is about twenty minutes outside of Austin. If you’re ever in Dripping Springs for a wedding, the Holiday Inn Express has a good pool…

And some nice nearby playgrounds…

But we were really there to hang with my family, and see my Grandparents:

And climb a few trees…

And go to a wedding…

We’ve been to quite a few weddings with these two. My tips are lollipops and iPad time bribes. Obviously they behaved:

J accidentally broke the corner of his iPad, and we are trying to keep it from dying completely, so I replaced it with this cover and have been really pleased (especially because it fully covers the broken corner). We were so excited to celebrate with our family…

And then we were headed out again with Austin in our sights! Stay tuned!

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If you have a day in Waco…

On the Fourth of July, while everyone else (literally everyone…no one was on the road!) was celebrating the holiday, we headed out on a week long road trip to and through Texas. My youngest cousin was getting married, so my sister and I planned a family trip that sandwiched the trip to Austin for the wedding in between Waco and San Antonio. We definitely didn’t have time to do and see everything, but we had a blast, and we fit in quite a bit for eight days with driving time, five kids, and a wedding included. I’m starting in Waco as it was stop number one. We had one full day to spend in Waco before we had to head down to Austin, so here is what we did!

We arrived in Waco at lunch time and made a beeline for In and Out Burger, where J declared he no longer eats burgers (tip to note: they have a secret menu with grilled cheese that you can order). This is the kid who ate burgers up until Thursday, July 5th…

Then we headed over to the Dr. Pepper museum (a great reprieve from the July heat), and spent a good hour and a half (you can definitely tour it in less) letting the kids wander, and enjoying Dr. Pepper floats.

The sweet kiddo next to J is one of my cousin’s daughters. Blonde hair does actually run in our family!

A now has a thorough knowledge of how Dr. Pepper is made, ask him anything! After the Dr. Pepper museum we headed over to Magnolia Market and Silos (as you might expect).

However, as you might not know my maternal great grandparents are from Waco. And Silos Baking Company? My Great Grandfather helped build the original building.

We used to go to Waco almost every summer, but I haven’t been in almost twenty years. It has changed quite a bit since our last visit! At Magnolia Market and Silos we wandered the grounds, the kids got slushies, and we bought a few souvenirs.

 

 

Then we headed to see the Baylor Bear. We wandered just a bit of Baylor’s campus (one of my cousins played baseball there), and J declared he definitely wants to play baseball there when he grows up.

He picked out a Baylor Bear souvenir and we headed down the street for dinner. We ate at Coach’s Smoke and the food was great and the staff was super helpful and kind.

Our landing spot for the night was the Homewood Suites. It’s not as close to downtown as other hotels,  but it’s perfect if you’re headed out the next day to Austin, which we were!

Other notable spots to check out if you have more than a day are:

The Wooly Mammoth Park

The Texas Rangers Museum

Other fun food places to try would be:

Torchy’s Tacos

Twisted Root Beer Company

Magnolia Table

Next we headed to outside Austin for a wedding! Stay tuned…

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New road trip essentials

We’re headed out in a few weeks for a road trip across three states and straight into the middle of Texas. It’s going to be very fun, but very hot, and we are staying at four different hotels. With that in mind I got a few new items to help consolidate supplies and make the trip easier. First up is a new toiletries tote:

Before I was using three different totes to hold makeup, skin care, and brushes and it was ridiculous. This holds everything together and has movable Velcro dividers. Here is a peek at the brushes and mirror…

See! Everything in one spot, so easier and quicker for me to find what I need. My second task was to consolidate our shower and bath supplies. Previously in several totes, now in one hanging bag that I can put on the robe hook in hotel bathrooms…

 

And despite all this stuff it does actually fold up completely!

The label on the front is a bit twisted, but other than that it’s a sturdy tote. Lastly, I’ve consolidated the boys’ on the road trip supplies…

They mainly watch movies and J plays his iPad, so I’m limiting the amount of “stuff” we are bringing. Shareable card games, sticker books, magnet boards, and a few coloring supplies for creativity boredom. A fidget spinner, small squishy Tsum Tsum, and squishy basketball for stuck in a booster seat boredom. Books to read at night in the hotel room and neck pillows for in the car. They each will have a back pack, but it’s for their books, 3 stuffed animals, neck pillow, and blanket. And finally here are a few extra road trip tips that I have learned for our family are…

1. Bring smart water. It has electrolytes so it helps prevent dehydration on the road, and can help settle stomachs. You can buy it cheaper at Wal-Mart.

2. Bring all the medicine you think you’ll possibly need. All of it. Going to a Walgreens at 2 a.m. in an unfamiliar city is a pain. Trying to get a prescription filled in an unfamiliar city is even worse. Believe me. We’ve done both.

3. Sturdy, not cheap, ziplock bags with a zipper that you can access quickly. You’ll thank me later.

4. Snacks, lots of them, but not goldfish with extra cheese. Or anything labeled “extra cheese”.

5. Lollipops for on the road and at events that you need to settle kids who have decided they are now starving despite eating all the snacks earlier. As evidenced below…

This was right before he insisted he was starving. After he’d had snacks. Many of them. Lollipops are your friend.

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Destin 2018


One of our favorite trips of the summer is our beach trip to Destin! We build sandcastles, boogie board, and eat all the fresh fish, and key lime pie we can handle. Here is a re-cap of some of the highlights from our trip!

Some of our favorite restaurants in Destin are Surf Hut, Stinky’s Fish Camp, Kilwin’s, and Hammerheads. The kids almost always get wiki sticks and crayons…

And I almost always get key lime pie…

We typically stay in the Miramar Beach area, near SanDestin and 30A. The boys pretty much want to spend the whole time playing in the sand and boogie boarding…

 

However, we cannot beach twenty-four seven, so we also go to the wharf at SanDestin. We look at the boats, do some rope climbing, and look for Ospreys on the Jolee Island trail…

And best of all we just veg out. We watch movies, play board games, and watch for dolphins from the balcony.

We love our Destin get away!

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Natural well trail

B and I recently headed out on our last hike before fall that’s just the two of us. During the summer we hike with the boys, but there are some trails they can’t do, or that we want to test out before taking them on it. The natural well trail, across from Burritt on Mountain in Huntsville, is at least 4.5 miles round trip. I say at least because we didn’t go all the way to the end. It got too hazardous and over grown at one point and we ended up heading back.

The trail begins fairly smooth…

But about 1/2 mile in, we began having to climb over and under fallen trees, and make our way around streams and various little wildlife.

 

The main attraction of the hike is a large natural well, as the name indicates:

It was very cool to see, and we’d also heard that there was a waterfall further down. So, after more climbing and encountering a snake and bees, we reached the waterfall:

Not as cool as the well. But there were two unusual rock stacks:

So there’s that. We were moving so quickly downhill, that when we started back up, we didn’t realize how strenuous it would be. It definitely is NOT a kid friendly hike (at least not age 10 and under), but I would recommend it if you’re a middle of the road hiker, and if you have better hiking shoes than I did. After slipping twice climbing over trees, B said he’s buying me real hiking shoes!

Happy hiking!

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Best of road trips

For being a family that doesn’t always road trip well (motion sickness sufferers unite!), we have taken over fourteen plus road trips with the boys. As we’re planning for at least four road trips this year, I thought I’d share some of our favorite road trip past recommendations!

Recommendations if you’re going to the beach and staying at a condo…

If you’re sightseeing in the city with toddlers…

If you’re packing a backpack for each kiddo…

If you’re staying at a hotel

Essentials for on the road

And my necessary car items

If you’re packing for yourself and kiddos (including kids under the age of two)…

Carry-on essentials for myself and the boys on flights…

The reason we always carry two backpacks and my ultimate packing list.

Happy road tripping!

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Wilderness Explorers

Hidden among the rides and animals:

Is a lesser advertised adventure full of animal information:

The Wilderness Explorers!

The boys picked up a Wilderness Explorers guide on the way in the park and they literally took us through the entire park. The only stops we made were for lunch and our fast passes, but other than that they were collecting “badges” (stickers) learning about all the different wildlife.

They found each of the guides and learned about animal habitats, conservation, and how animals help us every day:

In addition to all the information, I think they enjoyed that they were taking us through the park, instead of us leading the, from place to place. We really enjoyed it because we were able to sit! And chat with each other off to the side while the boys worked on their badges.

This to me is the true uniqueness of Disney, that you can be among all these rides and attractions, but also have a calmer more laid back experience. Which truly makes it more of a vacation, rather than a trip you need a vacation from after you get home!

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