For New Year's Eve we decided to give Great Wolf Lodge a try! We had visited before, once in Texas and once in Colorado Springs but never for a holiday. It did not disappoint!
To be sure we got the best pricing, we booked several months out. If you have flexibility, you can often find a Groupon or great week day rates but these will not apply for holidays. Their basic rooms are very spacious and every room includes a mini fridge and microwave. For an extra treat, you can upgrade to the kids' cabin room which includes a fun little kid's area with bunk beds and a tv.
You can arrive as early as 1:00pm the day of your reservation to enjoy the waterpark- rooms are not guaranteed to be ready until 4pm. They will happily store your luggage and deliver it to your room once it's ready! Just pack a small bag with your swim gear and you can easily change in their roomy locker rooms.
Since we were meeting up with friends, we thought it would be nice to have a dedicated table and chairs for this day (current guests have to check out of their rooms by 11 but can enjoy the water park all day long, so they have seating access beginning in the morning and by 1 most chairs were taken.) The cabanas and day beds were all reserved but we were able to snag a reserved table and 4 chairs- this runs $55 but also includes a large pizza and a 2-liter of soda which was perfect for the kids' dinner later that evening! It gave us a great spot to keep all of our things and have a snack break while still having a good view of the park. No need to worry about reserving anything for the next day- you can enter the park in the morning and snag a spot easily, free of charge. We also packed a small bag of snacks and drinks which are allowed in!
When you are tired of the waterpark, there is still plenty to do around the resort- there's an arcade, mini golf, ropes courses, mini bowling, and of course the Magi-Quest! These all cost extra- you can purchase everything separately or buy the Paw Pass which includes multiple options. Paw passes in CO run from $49-99 each depending on which one you buy. We decided to go with one $99 Wolf Pass for the 3 kids to share- it included one wand and one magi-quest and then we just purchased 2 more. If you plan to come back, you can reuse the wands and just pay for the game!
The Wolf pass also included several more options so the kids each got to pick 2 things and then share a few such as the small candy cup.
New Year's Eve was especially fun- after doing some questing, we headed down to the big ballroom to watch the early ball drop! It was very festive- there was cider, coffee, and a popcorn bar! They also had the NYC ball drop live on tv and the staff was leading everyone in different dances. Confetti and balloons everywhere made it so much fun and there was even a great big photo booth with props! We hung out there for a while before heading up to our room to play some games and wait for midnight Colorado-time.
Now that the kids are a little bigger (7, 10, & 11) we are trying to add in a little more adventure to our trips. One of the big things to do in Monterey is to bike the 17 mile drive (or at least part of it). The boys are strong bike riders and the rental places offered plenty of kid-friendly options such as tag-a-long trailers so we decided to give it a try. We rented from Adventures by the Sea which has several locations and plenty of good reviews. To make things easy, we went to the Cannery Row location which has a back entrance right onto the bike trail. They also had a huge selection and were so helpful. For some reason their website no longer shows the family bike options but I called them and they assured me that they still have everything available- pricing for our whole family for half a day was under $100.
Adventures By The Sea
Address: 685 Cannery Row #210, Monterey, CA 93940
After getting everyone set up, we set off on the trail. The first section is a dedicated bike lane, super easy for everyone.
Before you know it, you are riding right along the ocean- the views are incredible (still on a dedicated bike/walking path) We rode over to a green space and then parked the bikes and hiked the super easy walk up to Lover's Point, that little outcropping of rocks). You could pack a lunch or snack and have a quick little picnic here if you want!
We continued on- eventually the path gives way and you are riding alongside the road but there is still a bike lane and the traffic is not too fast or heavy. It might be a little scary if you have wobbly riders but our boys did great and the little one was secure behind me on the trail-a-bike. We made several stops to regroup and take pictures- the scenery is amazing! They also wanted to stop at every little beach point.
Eventually it was beginning to be lunch time and we decided to cut our losses while everyone was still happy and turn around. We had gone about 5 or 6 miles at this point. We found a good spot to cross safely and began the ride back, still in a safe bike lane. After returning our bikes, we went to check out El Torito for lunch, right on Cannery Row- it was nice and big with plenty of ocean view seating. We will never turn down fajitas!
Please consider your own family's abilities and safety when deciding if this ride is for you, but for our family it was a winner!
Every October the kids get a 4-day weekend and so we try to take advantage of the time off for a quick, local trip. Most places still have great weather this time of year. This trip we decided to head out to Monterey, a part of California we'd never quite made it to. It's very easy to fly right into San Jose- we found great priced flights on Frontier this time. Josh happened to be working in San Francisco that week anyway, so he just swung by to pick us up after work on Friday. We decided to stay in Monterey at the Hyatt Regency- it was moderately priced and very convenient to downtown and the freeway since we did have a rental car. After checking into the hotel, we unloaded our things and headed to town (just 5 minutes away) to check it out. We stopped to let the kids play at the "Dennis the Menace" Park- it's a huge complex with an impressive playground, paddle boats, skate park and more. The weather was amazing and it was the perfect way to run off some energy before dinner.
After plenty of playtime, we headed over to Fisherman's Wharf- a small pier with great views and plenty of seafood options. There's even a nice little beach right next to it. We explored the beach, let the kids put their toes in the water. We walked around the pier, stopping to watch the sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks.
We stopped for dinner at the Crab House- really all of the restaurants here are pretty touristy and a little overpriced but the food is fresh and there are good views. They all are outside sampling their clam chowder. After dinner there a few dessert options around including an old-fashioned candy shop.
After dinner we headed back to the hotel- the Hyatt is very cozy with a nice lobby. There's a big fireplace in the center with seating. There's also a little coffee shop with fresh donuts and some quick and easy breakfast options. My little one and I enjoyed some early coffee and cider the next morning by the fireplace (mornings are very cool- bring your jacket!) The resort is a popular golf destination but we found it to be very family friendly as well.
Shortly after we moved to Colorado, my husband set out to climb all of the Colorado fourteeners. These are mountains that are over 14,000' tall- Colorado has 58 of them! He's very close to finishing but some of the ones left are pretty far from the Front Range. So when he knew he'd be climbing some near Telluride this summer we decided to make it a family trip. Telluride is a good 7 hour drive from us so not somewhere we'd be likely to be back close to for a while.
Telluride consists of the actual town and Mountain Village (the ski resort base). One of the wonderful things about Telluride is that the town and village are connected by a free gondola! It's just about a 12 minute ride pretty much eliminating the need for a car while you are there no matter where you stay.
We started out by taking tbe gondola one short leg to the center of mountain village. The kids were happy to climb the rock wall that's right in the center park. It's free and kept them busy for quite a while!
Stitch Fix is a favorite of mine- I've gotten several fixes for myself over the last few years. But a few weeks ago I tried out their kid's service for my 7 year old daughter. It was a hit! We kept everything! Their kid's pricing is excellent too- a relief because while I think the quality is worth it, the grownup lines do tend to be a little on the higher end.
I started out by filling out a profile for my daughter. You'll answer lots of questions about likes/dislikes and then choose images that would appeal to her or not. It's fun to do this with your child if possible. You can also create a Pinterest board to link to give the stylist a clearer picture of what you like. My girl is very girly, loves dresses and bling so I was sure to add in that info. You can also mention any sensory issues (we can't deal with itchy fabrics or elastic waists, etc).
Just a few days and then you get your box! Here's what was in ours:
So many items! In a grownup fix, you get 5 items. This box was filled! And everything was mix and match, perfect for kiddos! We had 3 pair of leggings- the quality was amazing- my thin, long-legged girl is often hard to size just right but these leggings were all buttery-soft and fit in waist and length- a rare find for us! It's been a few weeks now and they have all held up well to washing.
There were 2 dresses- super cute and very soft and comfortable. Everything was spot-on sizing-wise except for the jacket which ran a little large. But my girl LOVED it and was determined to keep it- with the sleeves rolled up a big it's just fine and will last us extra-long!
The shoes are super cute- they are easy to slip on, comfy, and have all the sparkle and bling she loves. All of the tops fit perfectly and are so cute- it's nice to have something a little different from the usual Target wear everyone else has.
The pricing is amazing, especially if you've done a grownup fix. All of the leggings were priced at $12- very reasonable compared to other stores, especially for the good quality. With any Stitch Fix, if you choose to keep everything, you get 25% off your entire order! With a grownup fix, it's almost always worth it because it usually makes one item free. With the kid's fix, it was a no brainer- we loved everything and it was a bargain- very comparable to what we would have paid anywhere else.
When you use my link you will get $25 off your first fix. On any fix, you will be charged an initial $20 styling fee but it will be applied towards anything you choose to keep. You have the option to keep nothing and will only be charged the $20 fee. Shipping each way is free. Once you receive your items you have 3 days to try everything on and decide what you want to keep. You can check out through the website and there you can also leave feedback on each piece regarding sizing, fit, quality, etc. This is helpful information for your stylist so that if you didn't like something, they can improve in future fixes. Linking a Pinterest board really helps the stylist nail down your personal style.
Let me know if you have any questions- it's so fun to try and not much to lose! I want to try it out for my pre-teen boys next!