I have the pleasure of hosting a post by Melissa who blogs at Thrifty Family Travels. Today Melissa is sharing with us some of the best activities to do on a trip to Australia with kids. Continue reading “Australia With Kids – Guest Post ft Thrifty Family Travels”
We’re halfway through winter, and this is the time of year you might look forward to getting away from it. Are your friends heading to Florida or some tropical destination? Yeah, we know you’re jealous. But, maybe you have your own winter escape plans?
If you haven’t figured out a getaway destination or if you want to try something new, consider the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, Missouri. You will find history, adventure and a whirlwind of activities for your children. Here are seven things you can include for a unique and fun family vacation in St. Louis.
The Touristy, but Very Worthwhile, Stuff
No trip to St. Louis would be complete without a visit to these iconic locations:
1. Visit The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch is an iconic monument that sits on the bank of the Mississippi River. It holds its name as a representation for the city’s part in westward expansion in the United States during the 19th century.
Architect Eero Saarinen designed the arch in 1948, which was later built between 1963 and 1965. It’s a huge stainless steel sculpture that stands 630 feet tall as well as 630 feet wide. It appears as a giant door opening into the West.
You can even go to the top the structure if you are brave enough. Two trams, each with eight five-passenger cars, can carry you to a viewing platform at the top. It’s an amazing view riding up wherever you are seated, and once you reach the top — well, it’s breathtaking.
The arch is a national park, and it also has a museum, tourist area and welcome center. Consider it a gateway to the many activities St. Louis has to offer.
Picture Source Pixabay
2. Take a Riverboat Cruise
Could there be a better way to tour a city than by relaxing aboard a riverboat cruise? Just sit back and enjoy a ride on a replica 19th-century paddle-wheel boat while taking in the views of modern-day St. Louis.
Ride along the Mississippi where Lewis and Clark began their historic journey, but feel confident that modern technology will keep you safe. There are a variety of hour-long sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises and specialty cruises to choose from.
3. Enjoy Busch Stadium
If you are sports fans and the weather is good, take in a game at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. You can see one of the best baseball teams at a stadium with one of the best views in the country. From nearly every vantage point, fans can see downtown St. Louis and the Gateway Arch.
The St. Louis Cardinals played first played in the new 47,000-seat Busch Stadium in 2006. The stadium also has many gathering and party areas, including the Budweiser Brew House and other restaurants and bars.
Picture Source Pixabay
The Highly Kid-Friendly Activities
You certainly can spend a lot of money and get your money’s worth of fun in St. Louis, but there are also plenty of inexpensive and free kid-friendly things to do:
4. Go to a Museum
If the weather isn’t cooperating or if you want to give your kids some culture, take them to The Contemporary Art Museum, which always has free admission. The artists and exhibits vary throughout the year, so check online for specifics.
The museum also offers family-friendly, age-appropriate events such as Morning Play Dates and the Stroller Tour program. These give art lovers a chance to enjoy the museum with their children or to bring along little ones who might not be able to appreciate it yet. Family-friendly tours are accessible and more enjoyable when everyone has kids in tow.
5. See a Musical
The St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre, affectionately known as “The Muny,” is America’s oldest outdoor amphitheater. The theater seats about 11,000 people and offers 1,450 free seats on a first-come, first-serve basis to anyone who would like to enjoy a show.
Be careful when making your plans as this not-for-profit outdoor theater is only open June through August.
6. Explore the Zoo
The St. Louis Zoo recently received recognition as America’s best zoo. Three million visitors per year enjoy free admission and the chance to see over 17,000 animals, some of them rare and endangered. The zoo is dedicated to wildlife conservation, saving the environment and to animal research and education.
Visiting the zoo is a great way to expose your children to animals they may never see in their natural environment. It also gives them awareness about the dangers these animals are in, due to human encroachment and destruction of their environment.
The zoo is sectioned based on which animals reside there:
- River’s Edge: Rhinos, elephants, cheetahs and bears. Also a 33,000-gallon aquarium.
- The Wild: Primates, penguins and polar bears
- Discovery Corner: Kangaroos, insects and domestic pets and animals like goats and guinea pigs.
- Historic Hill: Birds, reptiles and amphibians
- The Red Rocks: Lions, leopards, giraffes and other four-legged animals.
- Lakeside Crossing: Sea lions, seals and a stingray pool.
Enjoy safari tours, shows, feedings and other events for just a few dollars per person. The St. Louis Zoo is an all-day, family-inclusive and budget-friendly event everyone will enjoy.
7. Check out the Science Center
General admission to the St. Louis Science Center is free. Don’t let your kids tell you they aren’t interested in what they might think is a boring museum. They will learn while having fun as they enjoy science through interaction and demonstration.
Kids from one to eight years old can experience the Discovery Room where they can learn about outer space, play with water and interact with live animals. Older kids can learn about engineering and build real structures with limited supervision.
The Fun Awaits in St. Louis!
These are just some of the many activities, exhibits and amusements that can be found on a trip to St. Louis, so let your friends go back to Florida year after year. You and your family members may have different ideas of what fun is, but all of you will be able to find it in St. Louis, Missouri.
Jennifer Landis is a nutrition nut, fitness fanatic, mindful and millennial mom. She loves tea, peanut butter, and red wine. Follow her blog – Mindfulness Mama – for more on mindfulness, parenting, and healthy living. You can also find Jennifer on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
*no remuneration has been received or given in return for hosting this guest post.
Planning a first family cruise can often be both nerve wracking and thrilling. From booking to disembarking, there are many aspects to keep in mind, since any of them could make or break the whole vacation. On a brighter note, a wide array of activities, amenities and food can potentially satisfy anyone, no matter whether it is a newborn baby or a seasoned grandpa. Those who want to stay on top of these aspects quickly find out that cruises are the ultimate family vacations. Here is how to take the stress and frustration out of the process and navigate the minefield of decisions.
Across the seven seas
Some basic rules of travelling always apply, although many specifics are different. For instance, packing techniques help just like with any other vacation, but when cruising, it is also highly advisable to pack a tote bag with all the essentials you need ‒ namely because it takes a few hours for your luggage to be delivered to the cabins. Also, getting off a ship is not like checking out of a hotel. There is again a process of waiting involved. Speaking of which, cruise lengths vary from a couple of days to two weeks.
Decide how many days makes sense for you and your family, depending on your preferences and free time. Another thing to take into account is the selection of the arrival and departure ports. The basic dilemma comes down to either visiting just one destination or hitting many with one fair. Some of the most popular bucket list destinations are the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South Africa, Northern Europe, North America, etc. In any event, pick a destination the whole family is on board with.
The bottom line
Next, it is time to look around for the best deal out there. Choosing the right cruise line is the cornerstone of a successful cruise. The lines differ in terms of quality of service, size of the ship, and offered amenities. It is not uncommon to stumble upon shabby offers that are complete duds. You want to steer away from shore excursions that are basically glorified bus rides. Also, keep your eyes open for discounts, special offers, and deal alerts from reputable agencies.
Do your homework and utilize websites like Onboard.com that allow you to research and book cruises as well as read reviews on them. For families, it is important to note that some cruise lines stand out from the rest because of what they offer to young kids. Carnival cruises, for example, have a great line-up of kid programs, activities, and features that’ll keep the little ones entertained and engaged.
Once the cruise is booked, you need to figure out the itinerary. As for the time on board, there should be a variety of possible activities, including pool, cinema, skydiving, roller skating, bumper cars, golf, etc. Ports offer excursions such as snorkeling, kayaking, city tours, shopping, and horseback riding. Some cruises are marketed and tailored to be all-inclusive. Even then, however, you cannot expect not to have extra expenditures on board, such as pay-extra eateries, gift shops, beverages, various activities, etc.
From stem to stern
Some people overlook the fact that the location and the type of the room on the ship do play an important role. Staterooms are a budget option for those who do not plan on spending much time inside. If you are willing to pay a bit more, though, you can opt for balcony rooms, suites, and deluxe packages. Cabins on the low decks are a nice solution for people who are prone to seasickness.
The good news is that with the marvels of modern technology, you should be able to find high-quality pictures of the rooms or even go on virtual tours and watch live video feeds. Just remember to book the room well ahead of time and reserve the tickets before boarding. The most popular tours sell rather quickly and you do not want to miss the opportunity.
Finally, landlovers should not fret once on deck. Cruising is something that quickly grows on you, even if it feels scary at first. Rely on the crew to help you and provide you with all the necessary information. Make sure to let the kids rest after all the fun and games. Do not forget that you can (and should) stay in touch with your kids in case you want to do some activities separately. True, the cell phones won’t work, but Walkie Talkies will do the trick just fine.
When planned and done right, a cruise is the perfect vacation for the whole family. To make the magic happen, you have to know where and when you want to go and what you want to get from the vacation. All ships are not created equally and your choices matter a great deal. So, first-time cruisers, brace yourself. Do not skip the research if you want to have the time of your life and explore new horizons with winds in your sails.
Hello everyone and welcome to another guest post here on the blog while we drive miles and miles of the Pacific North West. This time I am bringing you a post from Ruth of It’s Just a Phase. Ruth is a former journalist turned parenting blogger based in Kildare. She is mum to Aidan and Sarah, and started blogging to feed her love for writing after leaving her journalism role to find a happier work/life balance. She writes about all things parenting including family travel, recipes and just the sheer madness of it all. Over to you, Ruth.
Summer 2017: A family holiday to The Netherlands
Did you miss us? We were off swanning around The Netherlands for the last while and now I have a serious case of the post holiday blues.
So when you hear about someone heading off to Holland on their holliers, a lot of people automatically think Amsterdam, tulips, Anne Frank’s gaff, canals, sex shows and stuff you smoke that you’re not allowed smoke here! Well, we saw none of that. I’m here to tell you that The Netherlands is one seriously great destination for a family holiday.
We had an amazing week that was packed with activity for the kids and chilled out evenings for myself and himself. So, let me fill you in.
We flew from Dublin to Eindhoven with Ryanair, which is in the North Brabant province. We booked well in advance and flew from a Tuesday to Tuesday to keep costs down. In fact the flight came in just over €300, which is pretty good for two adults and two children.
We hired a car for the week and stayed in an Airbnb property we rented. The house was actually in Belgium, just two kilometres over the border and it was huge. It had four big bedrooms, a massive living room, kitchen, utility and had things like a tree house, table tennis and a hammock to entertain the kids. Having been holed up in a tiny wooden house for a week in Spain last year, the house was a breath of fresh air. Both kids had their own bedroom, the garden was great and with electric gates, it was totally safe for Aidan (four) and Sarah (two).
The Netherlands, though densely populated, is a small country so you’re not too far away from any of the big cities really. We were less than an hour from Rotterdam and even closer to Antwerp and Brugge. However we stayed ‘local’ and never really ventured anywhere more than 45 minutes from our rental property.
Breda, a stunning city nearby, was our first port of call. Pre-children myself and himself visited this small city for the annual ginger festival and we totally fell in love with the charm of the place. It’s cobbled streets, big squares and beautiful architecture.
First up we visited a reptile house, where himself got to hold a snake, much to Aidan’s delight! We visited the city’s big park and playground, fed the ducks, walked cobbled streets through market stalls and sat out on the big square with a coffee and ice-cream for the kids. I even managed to sneak off and find some bargains in the sales!
One of the highlights of the week was our trip to the Efteling Theme Park, which I can only describe as a Dutch Disneyland. It was amazing. It was huge. It was the stuff of dreams for the kids and the adults had a ball too. Aidan went on a rollercoaster, we watched the most amazing 3D nature short film, went to a land of fairy tales, sat on toadstools, went on boats, ghost trains and were serenaded over our evening dinner. We were there all day and only got to see half of it. It’s massive. The entrance fee is pricey but it’s genuinely worth it. Efteling alone would make me want to return again next summer. It really is that good.
Another super experience was the Beekse Bergen Safari Park. We got to drive our hire car through the park. The kids were amazed to see giraffe, zebra and rhinos just rambling past the car. After the drive though we had access to the park for the rest of the day, it’s essentially like a zoo but the animals have much more space. There were obstacle courses and playgrounds dotted everywhere and we even had our lunch over looking the baboon enclosure. Sarah couldn’t quite believe they had their pink bums on show! My one tip if you are visiting the safari park is, bring your own lunch. The fare on offer inside is poor to say the least. If you’re in to deep fried frozen food you’ll be fine but if not a picnic is your best option.
Back in Belgium and just minutes from our house, we stumbled across a local amenity called De Mosten, run by local government. It was out of this world. There was a man made beach, two huge playgrounds, a restaurant, big Connect Four games all over, slides in the water, benches galore, green space, volleyball courts, tennis courts and basketball courts. It was so relaxing. The kids had so much to do they didn’t know what way to turn, and myself and himself got to do a lot of relaxing too.
In 2013, a Unicef report rated Dutch children the happiest in the world. According to researchers, Dutch kids are ahead of their peers in childhood well-being when compared with 29 of the world’s richest industrialised countries and I can really see why. There’s so much for kids to do. Aidan and Sarah were greeted with a smile and a pat on the head everywhere they went. The locals seem to have the work/life balance down to a tee. People are so friendly and so relaxed. It made for a dream holiday. If I were to pick one negative, I’d say eating out is expensive, the same as Ireland, if not a bit more. But a few drinks are cheap. Leffe, my favourite beer, is only €1 a bottle and wine is dirt cheap too.
I can safely say that I will never again do the package holiday thing with the kids. I just want to explore more of what the Netherlands has to offer. I would highly recommend it as a family holiday destination.
If you’d like to see my full review of our holiday head on over to It’s Just a Phase or feel free to get in touch if you have any queries. I’d be happy to help if I can.
Thank you so much to Ruth for sharing with us her best holiday with her kids so far. I don’t know about you, but after that glowing review the Netherlands has just winged it’s way onto my must-visit list of destinations.
This is my first ever guest post from a fellow blogger on my blog and I am delighted to welcome Kate of Kate Lili to the blog. As we are currently travelling somewhere in the Pacific North West and hoping it’ll be a holiday to remember, Kate has kindly written a post about her best holidays with her kids, both at home and abroad. Without further do, I’ll hand you over to Kate.
When I was pregnant with my first baby I prayed over her that she would have lots of family, that she would be loved and that she would get to travel. I had visions of her taking a gap year in uni and exploring some of the world. Little did I know by age 5 she would be the most well travelled kid in her class! By her 5th birthday she had been abroad 3 times as well as having holidays and trips around the UK.
She is a great little traveller and I relish taking her on exciting adventures. In my view we’ve done 2 of the best holidays you can do with kids; Walt Disney World Florida and Butlin’s Minehead. There is quite a stark difference between the two but both great for their individual reasons. Here’s why:
Minehead Butlin’s was Beg’s first ever holiday. She was 6 months old and I booked it when I was still pregnant. I remember putting her age into the booking form and getting a reality check that she would be here being a real person in a few short months. We’ve been to Butlin’s Minehead as a family more times than I can actually recall, I’d guess around 8 times. Most recently we went when Beg was 7 and her little brother Beb was 1.
It’s suitable for children of all ages. Butlin’s Minehead is like a giant kids playground. Their tag-line is ‘Our greatest pleasure is all for your delight’ and there is just so much for kids to do they will never be bored. The typical British weather doesn’t even matter as most of the entertainment is under the Skyline which is like a giant circus tent.
Things to do
When you arrive you are given a programme of events for your weekend. Every hour slot has been thought of. Have a look in here to plan what you don’t want to miss. The live shows are really Butlin’s forte, they source top acts and the in-house entertainment is A plus too. Live shows we saw on our last trip were:
- Teletubbies live
- Sam & Mark
- The Skyline Gang
- Bonnie bear
Padded around this are regular sports activities like archery and football to join in with. Kids will also love the giant splash pool with slides, traditional funfair, and beach, just 5 minutes walk away. There is so much to do at Butlin’s you won’t be bored for a minute. That is the main reason I love Butlin’s.
Accommodation is apartments and bungalows with or without kitchenette and diner. They go from standard, to a brand new apartment village at the Minehead Butlin’s. I would recommend booking from Gold up. Book a dining plan before you go and you won’t have to worry about sorting tea every night while you’re away and the food is really good with loads of choices for kids. Minehead is a lovely old seaside type of town and the beach is lovely.
Walt Disney World Florida
We were so lucky to get to take Beg to WDW. Rich won vouchers at work and that was how we managed to go. In short, it’s all the magic you imagine it to be. Disney really knows how to go all out to make your holiday feel special. It really was the holiday of a lifetime.
We went at Easter time, so it was Spring Break for the American schools, and it was busy but that didn’t seem to matter. The parks are so big there is always something you can go to see if one area is jam-packed for something. The Easter decorations were out and we caught the flower festival at Epcot which is well worth a look.
Things To Do
I would be writing for years if I could list all the things there are to do at WDW Florida. The parks are Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. There is also Disney Springs which is like a souped up retail area with themed restaurants. Highlights for me were:
- A visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and a princess make-over for Beb
- Meeting Cinderella and Rapunzel
- The parade at Magic Kingdom
- The safari ride at Animal Kingdom
- A meal at the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom
- The fireworks at Magic Kingdom
There is so much to do I think you could probably visit every year for 10 years and still find highlights. I’m following loads of Disney vloggers on YouTube and I love watching all their favourite things to do. I’m quietly planning our next trip.
Stay on a Disney resort for shuttle bus travel across the whole WDW area. The parks are quite far apart so this is a definite perk. They run really regularly and until after parks close to make sure everyone gets back to their hotels safely. Book a dining plan before you go otherwise the food bill racks up really quickly, especially if you don’t have a car to drive out of the Disney area to find a food place. Disney resorts go from your average 3* to high luxury resorts. You could choose to hire a villa or stay in a motel on International drive as other options (that’s what we did when I was a kid).
Two great family holidays at either end of the budget scale both child centred. I have wonderful memories from our holidays to both Butlin’s and WDW Florida and we talk about our holiday memories to each other most days. I’m sure there are relaxing Caribbean beaches beckoning me in the future when my kids are older and perhaps have left home, but I know these fast paced non-stop action holidays with the kids are the ones I will look back on most fondly.
Thanks to Kate for sharing with us her two best holidays to date with her kids. WDW is somewhere most parents want to take their children and we can see why.
If you’d like to read more from Kate, please head on over to her blog Kate Lili. She has just rebranded and was formerly The Hippy Christian Mum.
If anyone would like to contribute a guest post about their best and/or worst holidays with their kids to date, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.