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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Logbook Simply for Flying

How cute is this logbook? Found on one of my big faves Paul & Paula this fun interactive travel journal  makes for a great way for kids to keep notes on their travels and look back on them later on. I think E may still be a bit young for it, but it may be right on point after she starts school in the fall. You can buy the book directly here.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Palm Springs Eternal

Sometimes, it's important to stop and smell the flowers and enjoy the nature around us. It's important for  the little ones too. It's important for them to take a break from the over-stimulation-non-stop-commercial-media world for EVERYONE to refuel. You'll appreciate it and yes, your kids will enjoy it too. It doesn't have to be Disney Princesses/Batman/Spongebob/Barbie all day, all the time. The Palm Springs/Desert area is the perfect place to do just that.

Only about 2 hours away from San Diego and Los Angeles, the Palm Springs area offers you an opportunity to relax and take a breather, all the while keeping the family entertained thanks to the beautiful desert environment.

I've already written about the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, but it truly is an amazing place to unwind.

The rooms are beautiful, the bed ultra comfy. Hip but still very family friendly. We got a room with a king bed and there was enough room for E to sleep in her trusty camping bed. The prices are generally very reasonable and if you visit this site you can usually find some amazing deals. We stayed for under 100$/night. The King's Highway restaurant in the hotel is also a great option. We had both breakfast and dinner there and both were great. Although there isn't a kids menu per say, they were also very accommodating in making special meals for kids. In the evening the restaurant also has Free theme nights. We all enjoyed Sissy Bingo with Linda Gerard, E thought it was great fun! I really can't say enough about this place, what I can say, is that you won't want to leave!

About an hour away from Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park. It's an amazing day to spend the day taking in the desert landscape. The parks service also has great recommendations for kids. We went on a few hikes and took in some great views. The Keys View will give you an opportunity to see a panoramic view of the Coachella Valley where you can see all the way to the Salton Sea.

Discovering the Salton Sea is also incredible and if you are interested in nature preservation, I would highly recommend doing it while you still can. Isreali born documentary film-maker Alma Har'el  made an amazing film about the Bombay Beach area. 

While you're near Niland, why not check out the zaniness of Salvation Mountain. Created by Leonard Knight, this incredible piece of outsider art is a 50 ft high and 150 ft wide tribute to his love for god.

Another place to see some amazing views is at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway where you will travel through 4 climate zones as you travel up the Chino Canyon of San Jacinto mountain. Sign up your little ones (ages 3 - 12) for the Tramsters Club for some discounts!

After seeing the great heights on the aerial tram head off to The Living Desert Zoo to take in animals from the North American and African continents. The kids will love grooming the dwarf African goat in the Petting Kraal of the African Village WaTuTu. There's a great Discovery Centre which offers some great interactive indoor activities if you need to get out of the sun for a little bit and a really awesome G scale model train which is sure to fascinate if not mesmerize the little ones! There's also a carrousel for all to ride. Note that summer hours are reduced as it gets too hot for the animals (and people), so if your visit is during the summer (June 1 - Sept 30) make sure that you plan your visit for the morning.

Lastly, the canyons were unfortunately closed when we were there, but next time we are in the area we will definitely be checking out the ranger-led hike of Palm Canyon.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Etsy Vintage Travel Finds

TRAV-L-BINGOA perfect solution for those long car rides.

Travel Sketchbook

Cards for Kids book
This reminds me of going up to the country by the lake.
No TV, no video games, but lots of fun with cards.

Car Game Book "Are We Almost There"
A good way to spend the ride, so you don't have
to hear the dreaded "ARE WE THERE YET?"

Zit-Zingo The Travel Game

Vintage blue child's suitcase

Pattern for Car Seat Cover & Travel Mat

Travel Soap Leaves Package
Instead of a bar of soap in the travel kit


Maude and Claude go Abroad by Susan Meddaugh
While cruising to France, a sister and brother go overboard
and begin their adventure.

1926 Parker Brothers Touring Game

Travel Scrabble
We had one of these when i was a kid...
This brings back memories.




Friday, June 8, 2012

California on my Mind (still)

Lots has happened since August and unfortunately, the blog was one of the things I just had to give up in order to make do. But I'm back! ...I think.

Really what happened is that I got pregnant last August and the three first months of my pregnancy hit me like a Mack truck and I just felt narcoleptic - all the time. Not the greatest time to have a family vacation planned... So here I am, with a blog on family travel and how great it is and I had, what I think my husband and I will forever remember as, the most difficult family vacation ever. There you go, even I have suck-y vacation sometimes. California, I love you, but last fall, you sucked. Or maybe rather, it was E that  just sucked all the fun out of it. Now don't get me wrong, there were lots of great times, and we did have some great times, but dragging your kicking and screaming child through Alcatraz and fantasizing about leaving her there, is not something I'd like to experience ever again thankyouverymuch.

That being said, it hasn't killed the desire for family travel in me. In fact, believe it or not, we're planning another trip to the golden state in September with E and now little G in tow. That's how much my husband loves the coastal landscape... or maybe we're just masochists asking for trouble. I'll let you know how it turns out this fall, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share one of the reasons which keeps pulling us back.

Nestled in the lush landscape of Marin County, about 45 minutes North of San Francisco lies the place where in my mind, i am most of the time... Tomales Bay and the Point Reyes Seashore is where, in my fantasy world, I would like to take off to and cash in Freedom 55 a little early... say Freedom 35. In the real world however, if you're on the west coast, it's a great place to spend a refreshing and relaxing family weekend.

Tomales Bay

Nick's Cove in Tomales Bay

The Red Legged Frog Cabin at Nick's Cove

E on the deck, eating apples from our breakfast
delivered to our room
Right on the waterfront, Nick's Cove has beautiful cottages and has the most friendly staff I've met in a long time. The cottages are all recently renovated and feel luxurious and homey at the same time. We stayed in the Red Legged Frog and suffice it to say, none of us wanted to leave. Breakfast was included in the room rate and delivered to our cabin every morning. When E woke up early, we had breakfast on the deck and let my husband sleep. The bed was a pure dream and there was plenty of space in the room for the 3 of us, with E sleeping in her camping bed. Nick's Cove also has beautiful cottages on stilts which are directly on the water which is why they are not recommended for small children, but truly amazing nonetheless. The restaurant at Nick's Cove also has some great food and a great children's menu for the small ones. I honestly can't say enough about this place and can't wait until our next visit.

If Nick's is all booked up, take a look at the Sea Mist Cottage which looks beautiful and is also right on the waterfront of Tomales Bay. It's always been booked when we've wanted to go, but hopefully we'll get the chance to check it out soon!

Sea Mist Cottage
Oyster farming is a major industry on the bay. The two largest producers are Tomales Bay Oyster Co and Hog Island Oyster Co, both of which retail oysters to the public and have picnic grounds on the east shore. For the best oyster lunch you have ever experienced, you will never get them as fresh as at The Marshall Store. A small shack on the side of the road, you can have your lunch right on the waterfront, overlooking the oyster farms where your lunch came from... that's how fresh it is!
Fresh oysters at the Marshall Store

Lunch at the Marshall Store
Hillsides east of Tomales Bay are grazed by cows belonging to local dairies. One of the best by far is the Cowgirl Creamery which has some of the best cheese you'll ever find. You can even book a tour of the farm, or simply buy some of their delicious products at the Tomales Bay Foods market in downtown Point Reyes Station.
Tomales Bay Foods
While in Point Reyes Station, there is a great little bookstore just around the corner from Tomales Bay Foods called Point Reyes Books. Celebrating their 10th year anniversary, they have a great selection of fiction and non-fiction and also have the cutest corner with children's books. They even have a small cubby with a gently used selection so you can share some of your out of print childhood favourites with your kids. Last time we were there we picked up some amazing photography books and cookbooks and a great non-fiction book about the benefits of eating locally. They also have many guest author and book signing events. E left the store with these two children's classics.

Stop for coffee and a delicious snack next door at the Bovine Bakery where you will find fresh hand-made organic coffee,  pastries and baked goods.
Chillin' outside the Bovine Bakery
The National Parks Service operates the Point Reyes National Seashore and wile we where there we were lucky enough to visit during the Tule Elk Season (form July - September) and the three of us took a lovely hike through the park and got to see the Elk roaming free and hear the sounds of their mating calls.
E and her dad walking through Point Reyes National Seashore

Tule Elk
The parks service also operates a great Visitors' Centre from where you can have your own Ranger-Guided tour of a Coast Miwok village during the Kule Lolko walk.

E in the Coast Miwok village
Entrance of a Coast Miwok sweatlodge
After a long day of hiking, enjoy a great Italian dinner at Osteria Stellina, where fresh delicious dishes are made from local organic products. We're still talking about the Bellwether Farms ricotta & toasted hazelnuts crostini... mmmm.

Point Reyes Weekend is a great source of information of what's happening in the area and if you're lucky enough to visit the area during Memorial Day weekend or Thanksgiving weekend, then do take in the local artists' Open Studios.

California, you will be on my mind for a long, long time...