Posted in Joy, Travel

The City of Brotherly Love- Philadelphia, PA

We try to visit my family in Maine at least once or twice a year if we can.  Fourth of July is one of my favorite times to be there because all the family gathers to celebrate… or did pre-pandemic. 

But flying to Maine can be an expensive roundtrip so I always try to tack an adventure on to the start or end if I can.  Pre-pandemic we flew through NYC at Christmas time and rented a car to drive up to Maine from there.  This summer we decided to fly into Philadelphia on our way.

It has been a few years since our last visit to Pennsylvania, and now that the kids are a few years older, there were some different things that I wanted to make sure we were able to do!

Post Office, Magic Gardens, Elfreth’s Alley and More

We flew in on a Saturday morning and rented a car big enough for all 6 of us and our luggage for the next week.  We chose a hotel downtown so that we would be able to walk to see as many sites as possible during our stay. 

After picking up the rental car we made our way towards our hotel, the Wyndham Philadelphia in the Historic District.  We had a couple of places we knew we wanted to see that wouldn’t be open the next day.  For starters, we wanted the kids to see the oldest post office in the United States. They still hand-stamp mail there and we wanted the kids to send themselves a postcard!

We found a place to parallel park a few blocks away and stopped at a small drug store in search of postcards. The post office was under construction, but the kids enjoyed seeing some of the items that were on display. We taught them how to address letters and postcards before watching them get stamped (y’all, I had no idea that my children had never been taught how to do this before!).

Our next stop was the Philadelphia Magic Gardens.  The Magic Gardens is a mosaicked indoor/outdoor art exhibit.  Artist Isaiah Zagar created the gardens which cover about a half a city block.  Walking around the outside of the Garden gates, you can see how the art exhibit spills over into the buildings both beside and behind the Magic Gardens.  The kids enjoyed seeing all the mosaicked art and trying to figure out what was being pictured!

After those stops we made our way to check into our hotel. I researched a highly recommended Ramen place about 10 blocks from the hotel, so after checking and dropping our luggage, we made our way to Terakawa Ramen.

The kids were excited to find out that the Christ Church Burial Ground was right next to our hotel and they could see Benjamin Franklin’s grave on the way to dinner.

Dinner was about a 45 min wait, so we walked the streets of downtown seeing the Chinatown Friendship Gate and finding Boba Tea while we waited. The kids could not have been more excited when we finally got to have dinner. The restaurant was worth the wait and the service was great.

The walk back to the hotel was leisurely because it was still early for us. I wanted them to see a few other things while the streets were less crowded.

We made our way to Elfreth’s Alley and were pretty much the only people there exploring and checking out some of the oldest homes/shops in the country. The homes were built between the 1720s and 1830s. Despite their age, they have been well preserved and they continue to be lived in to date!

On the way back to the hotel we passed the Betsy Ross house and the Fireman’s museum.

We called it a night and headed to bed early!

CityPass, Liberty Bell & Independence Hall

Our second morning dawned bright and early. Since we were on east coast time, we decided to grab breakfast on our way to see the Liberty Bell. The line wrapped around the building by the time we arrived. But it moved fairly fast once they opened the doors! The kids took in Independence Historical Park and the view of Independence Hall while we took turns waiting in line.

Attendance was limited due to covid. This actually was nice. It meant we were not waiting to get pictures or to view the exhibits on the way to the bell!  We could take our time, look at everything and get pictures with just us in the room!

A few days before our trip I was able to get tickets to the new Legoland opening in NY for Monday. So we decided to cut our trip in Philly down to two days instead of three! Due to our limited time in Philadelphia AND the fact that we wanted the best deal for all the things we wanted to accomplish we decided to do the CityPass for the day. The City Pass allows for on/off privileges on the city buses AND entrance to most of the museums and historical attractions in the city.

So from the Liberty Bell we made our way to the bus stop on the corner to set off on our tour of the city!

This was a unique and fun way for the kids to hear about the city and its history.  Due to covid all the buses were operating together. This meant any tour company with a bus in the city we could hop on off of all day!  We climbed on the first bus we saw and found seats in the front row!

We decided to hop off at the Reading Terminal. The terminal is set up like a market and we purchased some pastries and Challah bread to snack on throughout the day! 

Franklin Institute and Eastern State Penitentiary

Our next stop was the Franklin Institute. The kids and I had visited when they were younger, but I figured they didn’t remember. But I did, and I knew they would enjoy the exhibits. We spent a couple of hours here enjoying the interactive exhibits (trying to see how fast we could run, how high we could jump, and how hard we could hit a ball). There is also a replica of the heart that you can walk through. And there is a glow in the dark brain you can climb through. We even took the time to sit and watch some science experiments in the main atrium downstairs.

When the kids had their fill, we climbed back aboard the open-air bus and set off for the Eastern State Penitentiary. The kids really enjoyed their stop here. Each person received their own listening device to do the walking tour. This allowed the kids to learn about the different exhibits at their own pace. It was interesting to see how elaborate the prison was. It was once the largest, most expensive prison of it’s kind. The walls have the stories of prisoners who were housed there. And the kids saw where Al Capone was supposedly housed.

After this stop we hopped back on the bus to find some lunch. I had heard wonderful things about Max Brenner’s. We all needed ice cream after all the walking in the heat, so we made our way there to have a late lunch. The food and service did not disappoint, and I highly recommend the restaurant.

After lunch we rode past the Magic Gardens. We saw a few other historic buildings and made a stop at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. We made it to Museum of the American Revolution shortly before closing. They offered to give us a full speed tour of the entire museum in under 30 min.

After watching a short video, we had our own personal tour guide lead us through the museum. They stopped just long enough to explain everything we were seeing.  This is probably the speed the kids would have gone anyways. And this way we were able to learn about everything we were seeing while chasing them through 😉

We took our time walking back to our hotel from the museum and had dinner in the hotel lobby before calling it a night. 

It was a whirlwind weekend start to lead into our trip to Maine. But we packed a lot into our two days in the city!

For younger kids, I definitely recommend the Please Touch Museum. We visited there on our last trip to the city and the kids still remember some of the exhibits they got to play with when we were there!

Posted in Joy, Travel

Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico

A trip to Carlsbad Caverns has been on my radar since we moved to Texas a few years ago.  We looked at making a trip in 2020, but due to the pandemic decided to put it off a year.

We spent the first two weeks of June on the east coast split between Florida and the beach. And were heading to the northeast for the 4th of July! So we decided to stay closer to Texas for the second part of June. We decided a long weekend in New Mexico wouldn’t wear us out too much in the middle of all that travel!

We made the seven-hour trek down on a Friday afternoon excited to get settled into the Airbnb.  The drive from the DFW area took us through endless desert land.  Pretty sure we only saw a couple of stop lights and gas stations during the entire trek.  When we arrived at the Airbnb, we were disappointed to find that it was not going to work out for us for the night. 

Without going into too much detail, the back door to the house was open when we arrived. The house was unclean. And the locks on the windows were not in working order!

We ended up cancelling the reservation (this is a first for me) and getting rooms at a nearby hotel instead! With the temps nearing the 100s, this ended up being a good choice since the hotel had a pool! I love when there is a silver lining 😉

Carlsbad Caverns

We settled into the hotel and went out for dinner before wearing the kids out at the pool before bed!

On Saturday, we had late morning reservations to get into Carlsbad.

  • If I haven’t mentioned it before, I highly recommend getting a National Parks pass.  We have used it repeatedly this year and have gotten our money’s worth about 10x over!   

We checked in at the desk and got our tickets. Then we walked outside in the sunshine to start our trek down into the caverns.

You have two options to get into the caverns. You can make the 1.25 mile steep trek downhill (the equivalent of about 75 flights of stairs). Or you can take the elevator. Being that we had kids with us, we absolutely made the walk down! The view walking down into the caverns was incredible.

For much of the walk we were not within viewing or hearing distance of anyone else. It was cool and calming. And even the kids enjoyed it!

The amphitheater steps leading down towards the caverns.
The descent into Devils Den

When we made it to the bottom, we linked up with the Big Room Trail. This trail explores the caverns and is another 1.25 miles, mostly flat as you go through the different “rooms” of the caverns. The views were incredible and once again I stood in awe of nature.

Pictures do not do this place justice. It’s something you truly have to see to appreciate!

When we finished, we agreed to ride the elevator up. The kids thought it would be neat to take an elevator up over 750 feet! Our obligatory visit to the gift shop was followed by the kids turning in their Jr. Ranger books in order to receive their Junior Ranger pins.

  • If you have not looked into the Junior Ranger program at the national parks, check it out.  It is free at most parks and encourages the kids to answer questions and learn about the park as you are visiting!  They are rewarded at the end with a patch or pin from the park!     

We ate lunch and then made our way back to the hotel to do some afternoon swimming. We decided to return to the park in the late evening to see the bat flight program at sunset. This is one of the more challenging activities to do with kids. They encourage you to get there early before the sun sets, but you must remain still and quiet the entire time. Quiet is essential to not disturb the bats as they are waking up. We ended up at the program the same night as National Geographic had a photographer present to capture the view. Viewers are not allowed to take pictures or have cell phones at the bat flight so you have to imagine the view of 1000s of bats taking off in semi-dark sky!

Sitting Bull Falls

Sunday morning we packed a picnic lunch and made our way to Sitting Bull Falls.  The falls are a short drive from Carlsbad and are unique in that they are located in a canyon.  Sitting Bull is a collection of falls that are in the Lincoln National Forest and are open to the public for swimming.  We all wore our bathing suits because it was going to be another triple digit day! 

There is a parking area for the falls with restrooms and cabanas with picnic tables close to the parking. The falls are only a short hike from the parking area and you as you walk into the canyon you can see wild goats running back and forth across the canyon walls.

We picked a spot to set our stuff and then the kids ran to dip their feet in the water. They each took turns going out to the waterfall and coming back while playing near the shore.

After we sat and watched the goats climbing the canyon walls. Watching them maintain their footing while running back and forth was truly mesmerizing.

See if you can spot them!

We decided to venture back to Carlsbad for the afternoon and found our way to the water park in town.  Admission was only $5 a person and there were almost no lines for the slides all afternoon.  The kids (and adults) had a blast in the water.  We ended the evening with a nicer dinner in town and made our way back to the hotel to get some rest since we would have a long drive home in the morning.  We enjoyed a leisurely drive back through the barren desert after the kids were all up and moving! 

This is definitely a trip that we enjoyed. Like Death Valley though, is not something I would make a special trip back to do again.

Posted in Travel

National Parks Tour: Stop 4- Death Valley National Park

The last stop on our Spring Break National Parks tour was Death Valley.  This was not on the list of places I was dying 😉 to visit. However, it has been on my son’s bucket list for quite some time.  Like his dad, he collects random facts for fun. He was determined we needed to go to the lowest point in North America.  The fact that it was one of the hottest points in the world might have appealed to him a little as well. 😊 

Death Valley Day 1

We cleaned up the AirBnb in Utah and set out early on Friday morning.  We looked for places to stop along the way, but decided to forego the Valley of Fire Slot Canyon and head straight for Death Valley.  The kids were excited that we drove past “Area 51” enroute.

We made it to Death Valley a little after lunchtime.  Everyone was hungry and in need of bathrooms, but it was too early to check in to our hotel.  So we stopped at The Inn at Death Valley for restrooms and lunch.  The inn is gorgeous. At the time we visited California still was not allowing indoor dining. So we ate on the veranda that wrapped around the side of the building.  Lunch was pricey, but it was delicious.  We all enjoyed the chance to get out of the car and stretch our legs.

The Inn at Death Valley view

While we sat around eating we let the kids decide what we wanted to see over the next two days of our visit.  We decided to drive out to Badwater Basin first. The plan was to see how many places on Badwater Rd. we could visit before we needed to check into our hotel.

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America.  And even for mid-March it was incredibly hot.  We walked out on the salt flats and took some pictures and the kids took in the surrounding area.  We were not prepared for the wind and had to chase down a few hats that blew off.  The sand and salt blowing around kept us from staying outside of the car very long.

Devil’s Golf Course

From there we made the long trek back towards our hotel. We stopped at the Devil’s Golf Course so my dad could pretend to play golf 😉. We read that you can hear the salt bubbling beneath the surface of the ground here. So the kids put their ears to the ground to listen. The ground here is very hard and seems very rocky. It is also quite sharp if you fall so they did not venture out very far here either!

Listening to the ground…

Artist’s Palette

Our last stop before the hotel was Artist’s Palette.  We did get out to walk some here. E and I even climbed out into the center of the sand dunes in order to see the colors in all directions at the same time!

Artists Palette
The view back to parking from our hike over the hills!

The Ranch at Death Valley & Living History Museum

We stayed right in the National Park at the Ranch for this trip. Since Death Valley is so big we figured that it was worth the extra cost in order to be able to see a little bit more. After we checked into our rooms, we walked to the front of the property. The Ranch did not have outdoor tables, so we picnicked on a couple benches in front of the restaurant. The Ranch sprawls over quite a bit of land. All of our rooms were at the back right on the golf course. In the middle of the property is an outdoor living history museum. So we took our time walking through looking at old wagons, tools, and trains. Then made our way back to our rooms to end our evening!

Living History Museum at our hotel

Death Valley Day 2

It was too hot the first afternoon to hike the Natural Bridge hike, so we decided to start our day there first thing on Saturday. We hoped to get the hike in before it got to be too warm.  My dad was up early and grabbed us breakfast from the restaurant where we had eaten the night before.  He brought them back for us to eat in the room so we could eat as we got ready.   The breakfast burritos and waffles were amazing!

Natural Bridge Hike
When we pulled into the parking lot for the Natural Bridge there were only a couple of cars.  So we set out looking forward to having the trail to ourselves!  It was warm in the sun, but once we made our way into the canyon like part of the trail it was cooler.  We got a few pictures of the natural bridge and continued a little further past there before turning around to head back.

The Natural Bridge and some shade!

Golden Canyon Hike

The Golden Canyon is one of the places most well-known in Death Valley. Scenes from Star Wars were shot there and my dad wanted to venture on this hike. The morning warmed up fast so we did not do the entire hike, but enough of it for the kids to explore. They hid in some caves and climbed up the sides of the canyon.

Golden Canyon

Zabriskie Point Trail

From there we made our way to Zabriskie. This is a viewpoint that overlooks the far side of the Golden Canyon. While my parents took the kids to look out from the top, E and I decided to climb up another “hill” to see the view. We found ourselves heading down a trail towards the Golden Canyon and before we knew it were almost a mile down below the overlook. We never found the trail up to the top we were expecting (probably because you are not supposed to go that way 😉) but we enjoyed the hike down and back up anyways.

The view from Zabriskie
The sign we read after we hiked 😂

Stovepipe Wells Village

We drove to Stovepipe Wells Village and had a picnic lunch and did some souvenir shopping with the kids.  They picked out shirts and hats and then we made our way back towards our hotel once again!

Borax Interpretive Trail

Our final stop on the way back was the borax interpretative trail. We shared with the kids a little about the history of Death Valley and the Borax that was found there!

Borax Interpretive Trail

We decided to have a low-key afternoon and made our way to the ice cream shop at the front of the resort grounds. Then we played charades on the golf course outside our room with the kids and my parents until dinner time. My youngest even spotted a fox running across the golf course in the middle of the game! It was definitely eventful.

The view from our patio

Death Valley Day 3

We got up on our last morning early enough to pack up and get breakfast before we got on the road.

We knew we wanted to see Dante’s View on our way out of the park.  My dad grabbed another expensive breakfast from the onsite restaurant.  He delivered it to our rooms so we wouldn’t have to eat outside again.  After we finished breakfast, we loaded up the rental car to set out for the airport.  Our last stop in Death Valley was Dante’s View.  It was a brisk, chilly morning so we did not spend too much time at the viewpoint before heading back to the car.

Dante’s view

We made our way to Vegas with some extra time to kill before we needed to drop off the rental car.  So we drove around letting E and B see the hotels and resorts before we made our way back to the airport.  The Vegas airport was packed so we just grabbed a few snacks to share and waited to eat lunch on the flight home.  Our trip was over faster than we expected once again!

My Key Takeaways:

  • It was hot!  Mornings were the best for hiking and sightseeing not just for the temps, but because the wind blew the sand everywhere in the afternoons while we were there.
  • Stay in the park if you can.  Death Valley is huge and covers a lot of land.  Trying to sightsee from outside the park would require a lot of extra driving, and gas stations are few and far between!
  • There is so much we didn’t see, but I do not know that it is a trip we would go back to do again.  At least not in the spring!  If we go back we might try for a winter trip in hopes to see a different view of the park!
  • If you can bring a cooler with food DO! Food is expensive within Death Valley and heading out of the park for meals is quite a trek. Bring lots of snacks and easy meals if you want to save a little cash!

Fun Notes:

  • Our trip through Nevada and California marked states 38 & 39 for the kids and I to visit together!  It also marked the 32nd state that we have visited with E & B!  And we are planning to cross a few more off this summer since we had to change our international travel plans again!
  • This was the fourth National park that we visited this year AND we have about a half dozen more on our plans before the end of 2021!

What is on your travel bucket list?  Do you hope to hit every state or have you already?  Are national parks your speed or do you prefer theme parks and museums? 

Posted in Travel

National Parks Tour: Stop 3- Zion National Park and another rest day

Zion National Park was definitely the part of our trip that I was most looking forward to and it did not disappoint in the least.  This was the part of the trip that I really planned out last summer when we were in Utah, even though I had no idea if or when we would be back!

That Wednesday morning dawned early (okay.. we were up hours before dawn) so that we could head to Springdale, UT to meet two guides to go canyoneering.    

Zion Adventure Company

I spent a lot of time researching the best company to use for canyoneering since we would have kids from age 7 and grandparents along for the trip.  The more I researched, the more I kept coming back to Zion Adventure Company and after a couple of phone calls to ask questions, I was ready to book!  ZAC offers several different options, but after comparing prices and activities we decided to go with the Family Adventure Day for a full day. 

We met the guides at the shop and because the morning was chilly, they quickly invited us inside for a safety talk and provided us with the recommended gear.  Donned with boots and water proof socks (and extra layers for the kids) we loaded back up to head to Zion.

First Glimpse of Zion

The drive through the park was breathtaking.  As you drive through Zion you are greeted with beautiful views in every direction.  The highlight of the drive through for the kids was driving through the 1.1 mile tunnel through the mountain that was completed in the 1930s.  Unlike most of the tunnels they have driven through, this one has no lights other than the natural light coming in from a few openings cut into the rock!

Driving into Zion!

On the other side of the tunnel, we exited the park and found a place to park alongside our guides.

Family Adventure Day

Here we donned our backpacks, grabbed our lunches, put on our scuttle butts (yes, that is really a thing) and started the trek towards the canyons. The mile long trek was cool, but seeing the snow over the canyon and park was a beautiful way to start the day. We were all excited to take a short break before entering the narrow opening into the canyons.

Hiking to the canyon opening

By mid-morning we made it to our first rappelling stop. Our guides led our first safety lesson and then we all took turns rappelling a 20-foot rappel. The kids were impressive. Maybe the rock climbing lessons at the YMCA in Ohio really did stick with them 😊. This was definitely the highlight of my day!

Slipping through the slots and under rocks.

One of their favorite things was sliding down one of the rocks into the canyon below. They learned how to use those scuttle butts to keep from hurting their bottoms. And they proceeded to slide back and forth on as many rocks as they could (and on the snow too).

Getting ready to slide into the canyon below!

We stopped for lunch before our longest rappel of the day and picnicked in the sun, losing our coats to backpacks and enjoying the beautiful weather. We also figured out how to use natures’ best bathrooms 😉 while waiting to rappel.

After lunch we had a 90 foot rappel that made everyone a little nervous, except for the two youngest girls, and surprisingly everyone handled it like champs!   

My dad going over the edge on the 90 ft rappel!

This was the drop that brought out everyone’s fears and insecurities, but between that rappel and the end of the day everyone was able to face their fears and embrace the fun of the adventure.  Our day ended with a few rope drops and a couple of shorter rappels.  As well as rock climbing through some narrow canyons. 

When we exited the canyons, we had to make the uphill trek back to the car. This was probably the hardest part of the day. Everyone was tired and the most fun parts of our hike were behind us. Our day ended up being much longer than anticipated, but our guides were still patient with us!

Despite the weariness climbing up the hill, when our guides offered to return with a car to pick us up, most of the kids said no and instead raced the car back to where we parked!

A few highlights from our day!

We drove back through Zion to Springdale and made our way back home, stopping for dinner on the way!  By the time we made it back to the house everyone was ready to relax in the hot tub.

Zion Day Two- A Short Hike

I still had not had my fill of Zion’s beauty.  The next morning my mom offered to keep the kids in the pool at the AirBnb and I quickly accepted. We offered them the chance to go, but all of them preferred a rest day at home, even without electronics.  My dad drove E and I back to Zion. He dropped us on the far side of the tunnel through the mountain to hike to the Canyon Overlook.

If you are familiar with Zion National Park then you have probably heard about the infamous Angels Landing hike. We decided early in our planning that this was not a hike for the kids to go on with us. Within the month prior to our visits there were two deaths at Angel’s Landing. So it was not a hike that this mom was the least bit drawn to. The day before the guides made some recommendations for hikes to us. They said they preferred the Canyon Overlook over Angels Landing due to the smaller crowds and views just as memorable.

Zion National Park

They were right and after a short hike out we found ourselves looking out over the Canyon below. It was breathtaking and once again pictures just do not do it justice.

There were chipmunks everywhere!

My only regret was not forcing the kids to come along with us. They would have loved climbing over rocks and ducking into caves to make their way out to the Overlook.

The canyon view from the overlook!

After our short hike, we walked the road to meet my dad. Since our phones did not work on the road, we just walked until we saw him again.

Heading back out from the overlook.
The road as we finished our hike!

Then we made our way back through the tunnel. We took pictures of the overlook from below and of the tunnel we had driven back through!

Outside the tunnel!
The view from the tunnel!

Zion was definitely my favorite part of our whole trip.  If we go back we will definitely do more hiking and spend more time in the park. 

My key takeaways:

  • Plan ahead. Shuttle tickets can be hard to come by. There are parts of the park that can only be reached by shuttle.  We got them for afternoons, but no mornings!
  • Canyoneering was a fantastic splurge.  If you visit and can afford an adventure like this, I would definitely check out Zion Adventure Company.
  • There are so many incredible things to do here, but you can see amazing views just driving through the park.  If you enjoy hiking, definitely plan to spend several days.
Posted in Travel

National Parks Tour: Stop 2- Hurricane, UT; Bryce Canyon (and a rest day)

You need to add a widget, row, or prebuilt layout before you’ll see anything here. 🙂

After we left the Grand Canyon we headed north to Utah and our next stop at an AirBnb in Hurricane, UT.  This was the part of the trip that I was most excited about, and not just because of the great place we found to stay. We made it to town in time to eat dinner at a cute little café before checking into the AirBnb and getting settled for the week.

The AirBnb had 6 bedrooms which meant almost everyone had their own room which is always a blessing when we travel.  We called it an early night considering the time change so we would be able to get up the next morning for the 1.5 drive to Bryce Canyon. The drive was fairly quick and while we were on the way, we read up a little on the history of this canyon and the hoodoos that are found there.

If you have never heard of Bryce Canyon (I had not before we started planning this trip), it is not really a canyon at all!  It is actually a collection of amphitheaters that were naturally created.  While it has the appearance of a canyon it is filled with hoodoos.  Hoodoos are these tall, pole shaped columns made out of rock.  The hoodoos were what the kids were most excited to see.

Bryce is a less visited park then both Grand Canyon and Zion, so once again we did not find ourselves in large crowds of people and when we came across a natural bridge across the road we were able to jump out of the car and take pictures on the way into the park. 

Driving into Bryce Canyon

The sun was shining and despite the snow on the ground it was actually really nice out when we pulled into the first parking lot. We set out for a view of the rim leaving water bottles and gloves behind. We figured we would get a peek and then drive through the rest of the park to see the views from the different stops along the way. Though I secretly was hoping we would get to make the hike around the rim if the weather cooperated!

Once again we faced a view that pictures just can not do justice. While we were standing on the edge we could see the next little viewpoint just up and around the corner. We could not go back to the car without making our way to see the view from there!

Our first view of Bryce!

Before we knew it we were standing at Sunset Point… and looking out could see the next viewpoint a ways up… and off we were hiking through the snow to Sunrise Point.  From there we could see the Queen Victoria, Thor’s Hammer, and Wall Street.

Of course I still wasn’t finished because I could see another view point just a little further 😉. The path got a little slippery from there due to the snow and ice. Not to mention there were several places where you were climbing up at a pretty steep incline. So my parents stayed back with my youngest playing in the snow while the rest of us ventured on up the hill.

Starting the trek uphill!

The uphill trek was worth it in order to see the view from the Lower, Middle and Upper Inspiration Points. The snow covered hoodoos were breathtaking and I can see where it got its name.

Inspiration Point! Way off in the distant center you can see where we started our trek!

I am sure the kids did not appreciate the beauty of it as much as the adults. Their highlight was trying to run back downhill without sliding on their backsides. Sadly there are no videos of this cause I was trying to make it down without sliding on mine. Haha.

We could see the Queens Garden Trail and the Navajo Loop Trail from our vantage point on the rim. Both of which I would love to do when they are not icy, wet and muddy! The kids actually said that they looked like they would be fun to hike too which says a lot.

Bryce can definitely be done in a day (or over several).  There are many hiking trails with so many different views, but if you are not a hiker, there is a lot of beauty to be beheld just by driving to and from the different viewpoints along the rim.  When all was said and done, we walked over 4.5 miles, but we passed 3 different parking areas on our trek that we could have driven to if we had not wanted to hike!

We ended the day with Thai food and then went back to the AirBnb to soak our tired bones in the hot tub.

***Our second day in Hurricane was a rest day (we always make sure to plan those so that everyone can relax, recharge, and enjoy the vacation). We woke up to snow falling, but it quickly melted so we could enjoy the outdoors. In addition to the heated pool and hot tub, the AirBnb had miniature golf, volleyball, horseshoes and a firepit in the backyard so there was plenty to do around there. In the afternoon we took an adventure to nearby St. George to look for dinosaur tracks and ended up off-roading through the mud… but that’s an adventure for another day 😉.