Follow Dotting the Map - A Travel and Lifestyle Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook


Las Cruces, New Mexico is on the south east side of New Mexico. It borders Texas and is about an hour east of El Paso. It is a mid-size city with plenty of accommodations and every convenience you can think of. We stopped on our way from San Antonio, Texas to Las Vegas because visiting White Sands National Monument was on our family’s bucket list.  But of course we were looking forward to exploring what this city had to offer as well.

Las Cruces New Mexico is an amazing spot to bring your family. There are lots of things to do with kids in Las Cruces and if you are making a road trip across the Southwest it is a place you will definitely want to pop in for a few days. Besides having amazing restaurants, plenty of free attractions for families, an excellent farmers market it is also within close proximity to White Sands National Monument. This makes it a perfect stopping point to rest up and do some sightseeing with your kids. Not to mention that beautiful natural scenery that borders Las Cruces, New Mexico is worth it alone for a visit.

Related Posts

Tips for visiting White Sands National Monument

Things to do in San Antonio with kids

Here is our list of things to do and see when visiting Las Cruces, New Mexico with kids: Las Cruces Farmers Market The Farmer’s Market in Las Cruces has a wide variety of fresh foods and hand made goods.

Every Wednesday and Saturday morning they close down a few blocks in downtown Las Cruces from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm for the city’s farmers market. Here you will find actual local produce and fruit, unique hand made goods and crafts, and other delicious bakery items and snacks for purchase. 

Just for fun, I gave each of the kids two dollars and told them they could purchase and buy whatever they wanted at the Farmers Market with their money. I was genuinely curious to see how it would play out. One child bought a giant tomato and some mini donuts, another giant filled her pockets with various flavors of honey sticks and we were the proud owners of another giant tomato. My oldest loaded herself up on more mini donuts and my youngest shared a cinnamon roll with his dad (there may have been some persuasion from his father on that choice). It’s a great opportunity to incorporate a few homeschooling lessons while enjoying a morning strolling beautiful downtown Las Cruces.

Stroll downtown Las Cruces  Tons of fun things to do in Las Cruces with kids.

We loved the clean and artsy feel of the downtown area in Las Cruces. There were beautiful doorways, unique architecture, interesting stores as well as fun murals and art pieces to marvel at. Parking is easily accessible and it felt clean and safe. 

Catch a matinee at the Rio Grande Theatre Rio Grande Theater in Las Cruces, NM.

My kids absolutely love going to movies but truth be told my three year old usually doesn’t last long. So when I found out that the downtown historic Rio Grande Theatre hosts a children’s matinee some Saturdays for $1 it felt like just the ticket for the kids to get the movie theater experience and not be heartbroken if we didn’t make it all the way through. The theater itself is worth the trip. It’s an old fashioned theater dating back to 1926 and is stunning. The decor inside makes you feel as though you are stepping back in time. Don’t forget to bring money for popcorn and treats. This is one favorite movie Las Cruces stop your family will enjoy.

New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum The barn at New Mexico Farm and Rank Heritage Museum.

Of course, we homeschool so museums are a must on all of our travels. We love for the kids to learn a little local history but also be able to delve into hands-on learning about a subject. I think the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum does a great job at that. Inside the massive museum, you get a look at what life was like in Las Cruces in the late 1800s and early 1900s. My kids loved looking at the different clothes through periods of time. I also loved some of the mockups of what a kitchen, a general store, and a home in Las Cruces would have looked like throughout the years and see daily wool spinning demonstrations.

Livestock at the New Mexico Farm and Rank Heritage Museum.

Outside you can learn from a working blacksmith, learn about how milk is produced and of course, my kid’s favorite see the baby cows and horses. If you have kids or even just adults in your party this will be an attraction that you will enjoy. I would allow at least 3-4 hours to give yourself plenty of time to explore. There are also a few playgrounds (one indoors!) and picnic areas on site and a well-stocked gift shop with plenty of local treats.

Veterans Memorial Park Women Veteran’s Memorial at Veterans Memorial Park.

When doing some research on Las Cruces, I was drawn to this Veterans park and knew we had to bring our kids. The park is clean, quiet and in a great location. There are memorials set up for all the wars and for every facet of the military. But what really drew me in was that it has one of the few memorials in the world devoted only to women veterans. It’s a beautiful tribute and as a mother to three girls, I wanted them to see it. The park also has a fun playground set off to the side that makes a great stop for kids who need to stretch their legs.

White Sands National Monument  White Sands National Monument is a huge draw to the city of Las Cruces.

Obviously, this was high on our list on our recent visit to Las Cruces. It is about an hour and a half drive out to the monument but it’s worth every second of it. The drive itself is actually pleasant as there is unique and beautiful scenery to see along the way. This needs to be on your must visit list if you are traveling anywhere within three hours of the area. It is definitely one of our top ten favorite days on our extended RV road trip for over a year. Sledding, exploring and enjoying the beautiful contrast of the white sands and the blue sky is just good for the soul.

Read our full guide to visiting White Sands National Monument and check out the video below.

White Sands New Mexico Sledding | Full time RV Family of 6 - YouTube
Dripping Springs Natural Area and Cox Ranch

Unfortunately, we ran out of time and were not able to enjoy this attraction, but it comes with high remarks from fellow travelers so we wanted to make sure we included it in this list. If you love spending time in nature than you will want to make sure to pack a picnic and visit this beautiful area. It offers a multitude of hikes at varying levels and you can catch the ruins of the Cox Ranch and the historical Dripping Springs Resort. This is an easy day trip from Las Cruces.

More Free Things To Do In Las Cruces

Like I mentioned earlier we love to take kids to museums and one thing we loved about Las Cruces is that they have several FREE museums that you can visit. My youngest is train obsessed so visiting the Las Cruces Train Museum was high on our list.  The museum is located in the old train depot and I absolutely love that they incorporate artifacts and images of what it would have been like in its hay day. The bathrooms have been restored but are original. They also have several train displays featuring models of Las Cruces and a kids area to play and set up their own train sets.

A model of Las Cruces at the Las Cruces Train Museum.

Other free museums include the Museum of Nature Science, the Las Cruces Museum of Art, The Las Cruces Railroad Museum, and the Branigan Cultural Center. These are great educational opportunities for your children and family to enjoy while traveling.

RV Parks in Las Cruces

We stayed at the Hacienda RV Resort, which is right off the Interstate 10. It is definitely one of the nicer resorts we have stayed at with an adults only hot tub, gym, clean restrooms, and showers and is very close proximity to shopping, restaurants and Las Cruces attractions.  We loved how the sites had more privacy with fences and nice patio areas. If you have pets there is a great pet area on site as well. We highly recommend this resort, but we will note there is no swimming pool or playground for kids. Regardless kids were welcomed at this resort.

Las Cruces is a great gateway to White Sands National Monument or for a stop on your road trip through the lower Southwest. It offers many cultural opportunities to explore and family-friendly amenities and activities.

We were hosted by the Las Cruces Visitors Bureau but all opinions are our own.

Pin This

The post Fun Things to do in Las Cruces with kids appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Many travelers heading to Costa Rica with kids land at the airport in San Jose, get in their rented car or in a tour bus and promptly leave the city. Costa Rica is an amazingly diverse country and more often than not, people visiting are excited to see the rainforest or travel to the many volcanos Costa Rica is home to. I get it. I have to admit it, I almost overlooked San Jose entirely too. Truthfully, I feel that San Jose is a great place to visit and has a lot to offer especially when bringing kids Costa Rica. For this reason, I’ve compiled a list of things to do in San Jose Costa Rica with kids.

Things to do in San Jose with Kids Rescate Animal ZooAve One of the many sloths found in Rescate Animal ZooAve.

Who goes to Costa Rica and doesn’t want to see rainforest animals? No one. It is part of the draw to this amazing country. There are a bunch of places to see wildlife in Costa Rica and they are NOT created equally. The ideal place to see wildlife of course, is in the wild. With kids this is not always possible. First off, to be in the wild, you’re going to need hike. Depending on the age of your kids and their mood for the day, your hike could be wonderful or a disaster. From my experience, even if you’re having a good hike in the wild with kids, you’re still not going to see much. Why? Because kids are loud and wild animals are usually afraid of noise. 

Iguanas roam wild in Rescate.

The next best place to see wild animals is in Rescate Animal ZooAve. There are a lot of animal “sanctuaries and rescues” in Costa Rica, but not even come close to what ZooAve is doing. Rescate Animal ZooAve has been around since 1990 and does a wonderful job rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing animals. They take every animal in with the goal of eventually releasing it in the wild. Many places say this, but few actually deliver. ZooAve does the best at actually following through with these goals.

Plenty of parrots to view in the rehabilitation process.

ZooAve has a ton of animals in the park, jungle birds, sloths, lizards, turtles, and so, so many more. Most of the animals on display are permanent residents that will never be able to be released in the wild due to injury. Most of the animals that they take in aren’t even seen by the public. They have separate facilities dedicated just to rehabilitation. The coolest thing that they do is breeding. Any animal that is endangered, injured or not, is put in a breeding program to help repopulate the wild. They are making amazing strides in animal conservation in the country.

See Costa Rica’s beautiful wildlife up close.

The entire park is kid friendly with paved paths, tons of viewing areas, a food court and a gift shop. They even have strollers available if you don’t want to bring yours along on your trip. Huge bonus! 

Corso Lecheria  Jersey cows relax in a pasture at Corso Lecheria outside of San Jose.

Just in the mountains outside of San Jose lay lush green forests and farmland which are home to Corso Lecheria. This family friendly dairy has it all. Hay rides, dairy tours, a cheese factory, strawberry fields, livestock, an ice-cream shop and restaurant, and more. Kids are sure to love the setting and their tours are full of interactive learning. Take their farm tour complete with a milking demonstration, strawberry greenhouse tour, a rainforest walk and more. They make the tour so educational and fun for the kids, even giving them a chance to pet and milk real cows. On our nature walk, we even had the privilege of a sloth sighting. Finish up your day with a stop for home made ice cream, which is delicious.

Learning about the growing cycle of strawberries at Corso Lecheria.

A visit to Corso Lecheria is a must. They take pride in their farm and their products and it shows. The food they make is delicious and everything is worth trying. Plus, the scenery is unbelievable.

Oxcarts in Sarchi

The Costa Rican town of Sarchi is world famous for ox carts. Yes, you heard me correctly. Ox carts. The town’s tradition started on the coffee plantations in town when they used ox carts to transport product through town to the trains. Someone in Sarchi thought it would be fun to paint their cart to spruce it up and now the town thrives on a colorful oxcart industry. Everything in Sarchi is painted in vibrant colors to match their oxcarts.

Visiting the oxcart factory in Sarchí is very educational.

Take a tour of an oxcart factory at Fabrica de Carretas Eloy Alfaro, where they still make and paint all of the oxcarts the old fashioned way, by hand, only using machines powered by the stream that runs through their property.

Try your hand at traditional Sarchí painting.

In Sarchi, you’ll find the world’s largest handprinted oxcart in the town square and see the church, which happens to be painted brightly as well. They also have some fabulous bakeries and shops around town.

Espíritu Santo Coffee Tour The views on the coffee plantation are amazing.

You’d be sad to leave Costa Rica without learning more about one of their biggest exports. I’m not a coffee drinker, but Costa Rica produces an insane amount of coffee for export and I’m told it is the best in the world. All around the country, especially in the hills around San Jose

Coffee berries just picked at Espíritu Santo.

Although I don’t drink coffee, I was fascinated to learn about how coffee is produced from bean to bag. We visited the Espíritu Santo Coffee plantation and got an in depth tour of the coffee process. We toured the coffee fields, got to plant coffee, pick coffee and yes, even taste it if desired. 

There is way more to coffee that I had ever even thought of and I learned a lot. The tour is family appropriate, and is a great learning experience.

Costa Rican National Theater

The National Theater in San Jose was completed in 1897 and is still an important landmark in town. They offer tours of the theater and its amazing architecture as well as regular shows. The National Symphonic Orchestra regularly has performances and live productions are constantly being put on at the theater. Many of the productions are kid friendly.

Visiting this theater is like stepping back in time 100 years and is a truly amazing experience.

Jade Museum Just a small part of the Jade Museum’s exhibit.

Costa Rica has a rich jade history and has a museum to display it. The Jade Museum is an architectural beauty and has amazing exhibits showcasing the history and beauty of Jade. The Jade Museum in Costa Rica helps to preserve the heritage of the region and it features the largest collection of pre-Columbian jade pieces in the world.

The entire family can wander the exhibits and see the various ways Jade has been used through the centuries.

Central Market in San Jose Starfruit in Costa Rica found at the Central Market in San Jose.

Check out the Central Market in San Jose for a entertaining shopping experience for the entire family. The market has a range of different vendors including fresh produce, clothing, souvenirs, national products, traditional food, and coffee of course. The prices are very reasonable and you’ll leave with everything you ever needed.

Have you been to San Jose, Costa Rica? What would you recommend doing in San Jose with your kids?

Related Posts

Activities for the Family in Arenal Costa Rica

Ultimate Costa Rica Packing List

Going to Cost Rica? Book with these guys…

Pin This

The post 7 Awesome Things to do in San Jose Costa Rica with Kids appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Louisville, Kentucky may not be on your bucket list, but you may want to consider adding it! With so much to see and do you could easily spend a romantic couples weekend savoring food and betting on a few horse races at Churchill Downs.

But if you do visit Louisville, Kentucky there is a time-honored tradition since the early 1900s you will definitely not want to miss- eating Hot Browns at the Brown Hotel.

Related Posts

Healthy No-bake Cookies

Grocery Shopping on a Budget

27 Keto Snacks for Roadtrips

Home of the Hot Brown

The Brown Hotel, which is conveniently located in the heart of Louisville, is a gorgeous luxury hotel that originated in the 1920s. During that time people flocked to the hotel each evening for its dinner dance and would stay dancing well into the night. Because of this, Chef Fred Schmidt decided to create a dish that wasn’t quite breakfast or dinner but a happy mix of both, and thus created the Hot Brown.

What is a Hot Brown?

A Hot Brown is an open-faced turkey breast sandwich covered with bacon, tomatoes and smothered in a delicious mornay sauce.

A Kentucky Hot Brown at the Brown Hotel

This isn’t your ordinary turkey sandwich so don’t be fooled. I can’t tell you how perfect this lunch was. I ate up every bite and even finished my sister-in-law’s! Please don’t make a trip to Louisville without tasting this bite of history. Watch out for copy cat Hot Browns, they’re everywhere in Kentucky. There is even a Chick-Fil-A Hot Brown at some locations. I’ve tried it and even though it is good, it does not even come close to the Brown Hotel’s. There are also a bunch of other variations of the recipe on the internet, including Hot Brown Sliders and Hot Brown Casserole.

Derby Pie at the Brown Hotel

I was told on the plane on the way to Louisville that I couldn’t leave Kentucky without trying derby pie- I mean the name itself screams Kentucky, so I was delighted to see the Brown Hotel had it on the menu. Wikipedia describes derby pie as a chocolate and pecan tart, but I would describe it as a combination pecan pie with chocolate and a warm half baked oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Clearly, it’s indescribable and really just something you will have to experience for yourself!

And if you can’t make it to Kentucky in the near future? Don’t worry. You can make both of these delicious dishes at home. They are completely worth the work. Check out our Hot Brown recipe here.

Kentucky Hot Brown Recipe
Kentucky Hot Brown
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword sandwich
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2
  • 1/4 cup whole butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to the taste
  • paprika to the taste
  • 14 ounces thick cut turkey
  • 4 strips bacon fried crispy
  • 4 slices of Texas Toast
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes
  • In a medium-sized saucepan melt butter and whisk in flour to create a roux, cook the roux for approximately two minutes while whisking continuously.
  • Add cream and milk to the roux and cook until thick sauce forms over medium heat, stirring continuously and scraping the bottom so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat just before it reaches a boil and stir in parmesan cheese until melted and sauce thickens. Add salt, pepper and paprika to taste.
  • To assemble hot browns, place two slices of the Texas Toast in an oven safe dish. We like to cut ours in to triangles diagonally to allow them to fit in dish. Arrange turkey on each slice of toast (about 7 ounces per dish) and cover in the delicious mornay sauce (I mean really drench it on there- it’s the highlight of the dish). Place the tomatoes at the edge of each toast and place under broiler until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Top with crisp bacon and sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired!

Let us know what you think of the recipe in the comments and be sure to add the Brown Hotel to your foodie bucket list!

Pin This

The post What is a Kentucky Hot Brown? appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
A typical view in White Sands National Monument

The national parks truly are America’s treasures. For way too long I took them for granted. So this time when we were near White Sands National Monument camping there was no way I was going to miss out on taking the kids sledding at the famous New Mexico sand dunes. Sledding at White Sands National Monument had been on our family bucket list since before we started this fulltime RV journey.

We went in February and could not have asked for a better day. The weather was absolutely beautiful overcast 70 degrees and the park was not crowded at all. I absolutely love when you can go to a national park with your family and find a little spot where you can be alone without others and just enjoy nature and space. I can’t speak to the park in the summer. I’m guessing it is a little more crowded but we really enjoyed the time of year we went.

Related Posts:

Visiting Zion National Park with Kids

5 Reasons to Visit Teton National Park

Everything You Need to Know About KOA

White Sands New Mexico Sledding | Full time RV Family of 6 - YouTube
Where is White Sands National Monument?

White Sands National Monument New Mexico is about an hour outside of Las Cruces. From El Paso to White Sands National Monument takes about an hour and a half. You take the Interstate 10 get off in Las Cruces and take the highway 70 in. Make sure you check the weather for wind if you are planning on nearby camping. White Sands is not the most fun when it is windy as you can imagine. Otherwise, it is a lovely place to enjoy the sand dunes in New Mexico. I believe this should be on every family’s bucket list. Plan to visit the White Sands National Monument and spend a day sledding and playing in the sand.

Here is some important information that will help make your trip so much smoother at White Sands National Monument:

Tips for Visiting White Sands National Monument Get a Sled White Sands sledding was a hit for everyone in the family. Bring Your Own

If it is practical, bring your own sleds from home. Most people don’t travel with sleds, we get it.

Buy a Sled Outside White Sands

If it’s the right season buy your sled at Walmart ahead of time (a saucer style works best). You will save a lot of money if you buy your sled outside the park. I’m talking a quarter of the price.

The tip here is, even though it sounds super counter-intuitive, they only sell sleds in the summer, not the winter. They sell for the busy sand sledding season, not for snow sledding. We know because we called all the Walmarts in the area and they all said the same thing- they only carry them in the summer. The monument is kind of out there, so the closest Walmart is about 25 minutes away.

Fresh sled tracks in the white sand. Buy a Sled at White Sands

If you can’t purchase your sled at a different location, don’t worry. The gift shop at the White Sands National Monument does sell sleds. They sell at a premium here, a staggering price of $18. That is a pretty rough price to pay for a one time use kind of thing and it definitely adds up when you have multiple people that want to sled. Don’t get me wrong the experience is definitely worth it and it’s a lot of fun sledding so you don’t want to miss out.

They do sell used sleds at the same gift shop for $10 but they run out (even on not busy days) so try to get there early.

If you buy a sled from the gift shop you have the option of selling it back to them at the end of the day for $5 (or $3 if you bought a used one) if you show your receipt. You will also want to buy a small cube of wax to wax your sled. This costs about $2 and you also have the option to sell it back at the end of the day for $0.50.  If you plan on taking advantage of any of the buybacks you need to be back to the gift shop before 5 pm.

We only bought one sled. We figured the kids can take turns and it wasn’t worth blowing our budget over it. However, as we were driving into the park Reid noticed out of the corner of his eye a sled on the side of the road We drove over to it and some kind Samaritan had left it there with a giant FREE written in the sand. It was a tender mercy meant for our family I’m sure. At the end of the day we made sure to pay it forward and leave the sled the same way we had found it. Be on the look out because apparently it’s not an uncommon thing for people to leave sleds for others to use.

Bring Water Into the Park

There is no free potable water available after the visitors center. You will definitely want to pack in a fair amount of water and drinks as there is nowhere to get it for at the visitors center at the front of the park and it’s not close to where all the fun is.

Bring a cooler with sodas, Gatorade, and water because you will want to spend the day playing not driving back to the visitor’s center to buy water. Staying hydrated is super important in the desert. Please also note that there were signs that restricted alcoholic beverages to certain times of the year so you may want to double check if you plan on bringing adult beverages.

Bring in Food

Similar to the water situation you want to bring enough food at least for one meal and snacks. There are grills and picnic areas if you want to plan on bringing some hotdogs or meat to heat. You will also need to bring your own charcoal and matches. We were happy with sandwiches, chips and fruit in our cooler that we could run back to the truck easily if we needed to.

I do want to note here I wasn’t sure what to expect White Sands National Monument would be like and how easily accessible it would be get to our truck. Just to ease any concerns for moms and dads of littles (because this was a concern for me) you do not need to do much hiking to get into the dunes. Depending on where you go your car can remain in close proximity to you. This was so nice because it was so easy to take a break when we needed or run to the truck and grab a drink or snack and always have it close by.

Bring Sunglasses Sunglasses are a must for White Sands National Monument.

Every single person in your family needs sunglasses and depending on if it is sunny likely a hat as well. The sand is white, even blinding white and if it is sunny outside it makes it difficult to see and navigate. It reminded me of snow skiing when it is snowing and overcast and you have a hard time seeing the ground. It can almost give you a bit of vertigo. It’s not quite that bad but you get the idea. Also, if you’re sensitive to bright light it can quickly give you a headache and could potentially ruin your day. So just remember to pack sunglasses even for the littles.

Bring Flip Flops and Sunscreen

Most likely you will be barefoot most of the day. The sand is cool even in the summer. In the winter it’s cool but not cold. It’s comfortable and soft to walk in and will be easier on foot than in shoes. Flip flops make it easy to slip on and off so you can have them in the parking lots or restrooms.

Set up a Day Camp Our White Sands day camp was a little spread out, but a ton of fun.

Bring sand toys, and camping chairs and set up camp. While sledding was the highlight for my older girls, the sand toys were definitely the highlight for my younger ones. They sat and shoveled sand into buckets over and over for hours. We opted to bring a couple of camping chairs and set up a small day camp. While we weren’t sledding we sat with the younger kids and let the older kids explore the dunes. It really was a magical day for all of us.

Check for Missile Testing

Just outside of the park the US Airforce has a base that frequently tests different gadgets. These tests requir the road to be shut down, often for hours. On the website, they list the times but double check by calling as well. One quick way to ruin your whole day at the White Sands National Monument with your family is to show up only to find the road into the park closed for missile testing. The best thing to do is to look on the website. It will list closures usually 24-48 hours in advance.

Enjoy White Sands Year Round

White Sands is enjoyable at any time of the year. We loved visiting in the winter. It was less crowded and the weather was still favorable. We watched the weather and chose the warmest day of the week with a low wind forecast. The White Sands National Monument hours vary depending on the time of year but usually range from 10 am to Sunset. Check with the park because there are some ranger-led programs available.

Not Super Accessible

Some notes for parents with smaller kids and wheelchair accessibility needs. This is not a stroller or wheelchair friendly national park for the most part. The majority of the park is natural sand dunes so it does take a little bit of climbing. It did not seem difficult for my three-year-old to navigate and he was able to mostly climb and walk by himself. If you are traveling with a wheelchair there are still areas and trails of the park you can enjoy. On your way into the park, there is a nice boardwalk that you can take to enjoy some of the beautiful scenery.

Where to Camp at White Sands

We stayed at the Hacienda RV resort in Las Cruces New Mexico. It was about an hour away right off the Interstate 10 and there were lots of great things to do there. We enjoyed the very clean showers and restrooms. While there was no playground, the kids enjoyed riding their bikes around the campground. Mom and Dad enjoyed the adults only hot tub and exercise room.

White Sands National Monument Hotels

There are plenty of great options for hotels near White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. You will find most of your favorite chains nearby. We really enjoyed setting up our base in Las Cruces, about an hour away. It was right off the main interstate and had all our favorite shopping and dining nearby. Plus, we enjoyed the Farmers Market, $1 children’s movies at the Rio Grande Theatre downtown and they also have lots of free museums. Some great family-friendly hotel options include the Hilton Garden Inn Las Cruces, Staybridge Suites Las Cruces, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Las Cruces and Comfort Suites Las Cruces.

Have you been to White Sands National Monument with your family? What did you think?

Pin This

The post 9 Things to Know Before Going to White Sands National Park with Your Family appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
A $500 grocery budget is possible!

One of the number one questions I hear in all the budgeting and Dave Ramsey groups I’m in on Facebook is how do you save money on your groceries? or How much do you spend on groceries a month for your family? Without fail every single time I post the amount we spend per month, I get tons of replies asking on how it is possible.

For our family of six which is currently 2 adults and four children (who at times it seems as they eat as adults) ages 9,7,5, and 3 we spend $500 a month which is roughly $125 a week on groceries. Often times I still have some of the $500 budget left at the end of the month.

I truly believe that we would spend even less if we weren’t living and traveling in an RV. Because of this I can’t be as frugal and shop bulk items as much as I used to. If we were living stationary and had room for more storage and more fridge space, I am confident it could be $400 a month. To me, $500 seems high.

Do we eat rice and beans? No. Not really. We actually eat healthy and delicious meals and no-one in my family has to go without. In fact, every week when we go grocery shopping our house is bursting at the seams with food. Are there a few meals I throw into our rotation that are cheaper? Oh for sure. But just because they are cheaper doesn’t mean they don’t taste good and often they are the ones my family requests most often.

Grocery shopping on a budget isn’t easy, so, to help others get their grocery budget under wraps and achieve their goals I have compiled our best tips for saving money when grocery shopping.

Heres the deal. Some will read these tips and will want to get started right away. If this is you, pin this page, and start this month with one of the tips and see how much money it saves you. .Others will look at the list and say no way that’s not for me. That’s ok too, pin this page and come back when you’re ready for it. Come back frequently and track your progress.

Tips for saving money on groceries! Avoid Warehouse Shopping If you’re grocery shopping on a budget, don’t shop at warehouse stores!

Stay out of bulk stores like Costco and Sams Club. Yup, I said it. Do you want to blow your entire grocery budget in one place on silly items such as a giant bag of popcorn, a box of frozen sandwiches, and a giant jar of mayonnaise? If so, then head to one of these stores. Seriously, impulse buys here are real and because of the size of items the prices add up quickly. You buy five items and your cart is easily at $50 or more.

If you really want to take advantage of these clubs and have good self-control then focus on the actual deals such as bulk meats, drygoods, or dairy and stay away from packaged or convenience foods. You’ll soon see that to hit $500 we will be cutting those out anyways.

Do your research and know what good prices are in your area and if you still feel like you will save money by buying things at Costco then do yourself a favor and order it online for pickup. It avoids walking through a store of temptations.

Pick the Right Stores Picking the right stores to shop at makes a huge difference.

It matters where you shop. This is SO important. People always ask me: do you spend hours looking over local sales ads in your area? Nope. Ain’t nobody got time for that. For real. I homeschool, I work forty hours a week, I blog, and I own a small business. Do you think I have that much time to think about grocery shopping? So I choose where I shop for my family wisely.

Depending on where you live this may or may not be possible. If you are in a rural area with little options this obviously will not work in your favor. We travel and our options change depending on where we are, but I always try to shop at Aldi whenever possible. If we’re out west I look for Winco. These stores alone save me so much money on my groceries I will even drive half an hour out of my way just to get there.

Find the stores in your area with the best prices and stick with them.

Plan Your Meals Plan your meals ahead of time.

Can I just say this three times? You need a meal plan. There is no possible way to stick to a monthly grocery budget if you don’t have a meal plan. That’s like trying to drive from New York to California without a map. You may get lucky and end up in California but it will take you longer and you may end up in San Francisco when you wanted to be in Los Angeles.

Start a list of your family’s favorite meals, pick some cheap options you know your family loves that you can incorporate weekly (nachos, bean burritos, pancakes and turkey bacon, soup, and grilled cheese). Make it a family affair and sit down and ask what everyone wants to eat for the next week.

Shop Your Pantry First

When you are making a meal plan look in your freezer to see if you have any leftover meat or vegetables or any other extras from the week or month. Do you have leftover spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, noodles or anything else you were planning on using for a meal last week/month? If you have leftovers incorporate them into your new meal plan.

This will also keep your pantry and kitchen cupboards more organized.

Make a Shopping List

Make a list and check it twice. Scour your pantry and fridge and write down anything and everything that you know you will need for the next week or month (depending on how you run your grocery shopping). The less you go to the grocery store the better you will keep your budget.

Shop Monthly if Possible Grocery shop monthly if possible.

I get that this is not always possible for everyone. It’s not possible for us that’s for sure. Space in the RV is very limited. The fridge, freezer, and pantry shelves are TINY. Because space is limited, we have to shop weekly and it’s ok, we make it work. If you can swing it you should try for a monthly shopping trip. That’s what we did when we lived in a house. It takes a lot of prep time up front but then you are done for the month. If you need to grab milk and some fresh produce you can order them to pick up from the store which will save you time. It’s also helpful to keep you out of the store and away from impulse purchases.

Track Your Purchases

Track your purchases in your head or write them down as you shop. As you are filling your cart, you need to count and keep track of how much you are spending AS you are placing the items in your cart. You have a budget to keep and you need to know where you are at each time you are in the store. There should never be a surprise at checkout. You should have a ballpark figure at what your cart will cost. I always make it a game to come in under my ballpark figure. This alone will give you a sense of accountability and keep you from adding items into your cart as you shop.

Is this difficult to do? Yes. Trust me, I still do it when I shop with four kids, so I know it can be done. You want to round up items to account for tax and give you a cushion. So if you are putting an item for 1.78 in your cart you will count it as $2. I keep a running total in my head of how much is in my cart. If I have $80 currently in my cart and I add milk it’s now $85 and so on.

Always Pay Cash Paying Cash will help you stay on budget.

Do not even bring your debit card with you to the store. Bring your budgeted amount of cash for your trip and do the counting method and this is your guaranteed way of staying on track! If you don’t have it with you, you can’t spend it.

Allocate Leftover Cash

Use your leftover grocery budget at the end of the month for bulk purchases or to stock up on items. If you follow these tips it’s likely you will be under budget each month. If you shop weekly or at the end of the month use your leftover budget to stock up on meats, canned goods, cheese to be frozen, frozen items or pantry staples such as sauces, rice, or noodles. It’s always good to stay ahead.

Skip Coupons – For Real.

Couponing will almost never save you money. This is coming from someone that went through a couponing phase. I know I’ll get flack for this from some but I don’t care. Coupons ONLY really save you money if it’s an item you were going to buy anyway. If you buy something that you weren’t planning on or really don’t need just because you had the coupon then you are actually losing money. I don’t care if it’s something your family will use. This is just the truth. Unless you have a coupon for cheese and were buying cheese for tacos anyways, stay away from them. Coupons are just not my thing.

Now, if it’s the end of the month and you have extra for stock up reasons and you have coupons for stock up items then totally use them.

Eliminate Snacks Avoid the snack aisle!

Let’s talk about snacks and convenience foods. They will eat up your budget quickly. Eliminate them as quickly as possible. These include pre-cut fruit and veggies, pre-made breakfast sandwiches, frozen waffles, corn dogs, frozen meals, etc. These are expensive and usually not healthy for you anyways. Are you buying pre-portioned snacks? You will pay extra for those. Get some snack baggies and portion them on your own. Be selective with the snacks. Right now the biggest snack items in our house are usually fresh fruit and veggies (we usually stick with what is seasonal or on sale), popcorn, pretzels, applesauce, tortilla chips and salsa, quesadillas and I do treat the kids with go-gurts because I found there was no difference in price when buying a larger tub and dishing it out. If you are packing lunches for school you can still save money with purchasing non-convenience food items.

Got teenagers who will die if they don’t snack between meals? I’m going to steal a page out of mother in laws book because I’m not at that point yet. When her kids were teens, she would make a huge pot of spaghetti and keep it in the fridge for whenever people said they were hungry and it wasn’t meal time. It’s a great way to maintain the budget and keep those growing bodies fed.

Another easy and cheap snack for teenagers is a pizza quesadilla. Keep a jar of marinara, a bag of mozzarella and a bag of pepperoni in the fridge and buy a big bag of tortillas. When hunger comes, they can add a little sauce, some pepperoni, some cheese and nuke it in the microwave for a quick snack.

You Can Do This!

Can it this be done? Yes, it can. I do it every month. When I see what some people spend each month on groceries, my mind breaks. I don’t think I could even spend that much if I tried.

This is something that has always been easy for me. I understand that it’s not easy for everyone, they’re probably much better at other things than I am. If this is something that you want, but it’s overwhelming for you, pick one or two things from this list to try this month and see how it helps. Next month add one or two and you’ll be on your way to a great grocery budget!

What are your top tips for saving money on groceries each month?

Related Posts

15 Delicious Instant Pot Recipes

Books That Will Change Your Money Mindset

Pin This

The post Grocery Shopping on a Budget appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The last time we visited San Antonio we were expecting our first child. I was eight months pregnant and it was August. In hindsight probably not the best time to visit a city that is notoriously hot and humid. But we loved it! It’s such a vibrant and unique city full of history. Bringing kids to San Antonio is a natural choice because there are a wide variety of fun and unique things to do. Some are very unique and you won’t anything like them in any other city in the country. We absolutely think it’s the perfect place for a quick weekend getaway with your family.

When visiting San Antonio there were times where I wondered if I still was in the same country as some of the history goes back to the 1700s. If you are homeschooling or road schooling your kids it’s the perfect place to close the books and live history.

View this post on Instagram

We spent an abnormally long time looking at these locks on the river walk in San Antonio. The kids were fascinated by all the different types of locks, the colors, the reason each lock was placed, etc. Where as I would have spent two minutes admiring the sheer amount of locks and moved on- the kids were far more interested in the why behind each one. Traveling with kids is NOT easy, but they do help you explore the world with a different perspective. – – – – – #nonadfamily #fulltimefamilies #lpkids #parentswhowander #wanderlust #digitalnomad #rvlife #welltraveledkids #laptoplifestyle #fulltimerv #nomadlife #nomadiclife #sanantonio #texas #familytravel #familytraveltribe #familytravelblogger #travelphotography #exploreusa

A post shared by Reid and Hilarye Fuller (@dottingthemap) on Feb 10, 2019 at 2:39pm PST

Here is our top list of things to do in San Antonio with kids. Just for a reference at the time of our visit our kids were ages 9,7,5,3 and these are the things we did with them. All of these things can be done over a weekend but if you can extend for a few more days then you will really be able to get a better feel for the area and get to explore the San Antonio Mission Trail in depth.

San Antonio Mission Trail Exploring the San Juan Mission grounds.

We found the San Antonio Mission Trail on a whim. We were driving through the city pulling our giant fifth wheel and I saw a sign for San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. Of course, that piqued our interest because we love stopping at National Parks but we hadn’t heard of this one. So after a little investigating it became glaringly obvious that we wanted to visit.

Some things to know about the San Antonio Mission Trail

It is owned and operated by the National Parks Department and is also a UNESCO heritage site. One of the best parts is it is completely FREE. You can come and enjoy these historic sights, kids can get junior ranger badges, you can take a ranger-led tour and it won’t cost you a dime. The parks department does a really good job taking care of it and there was a lot to explore freely. The kid’s thought it was the coolest thing ever to wander through the old buildings.

How to get to the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park. 

The park is located a couple miles off of Interstate 10 and easy to follow signs and locate directions from Google Maps. There are four missions within the National Historic Park but they are all roughly 2.5 miles apart. They are all connected by trails so if you have older children you could opt to bring bikes tour that way.

Each mission offers free parking. You will find the main visitor center at Mission San Jose.

Mission San Jose Exploring more San Antonio Mission Trail

This is the main mission on the San Antonio Mission Trail. If you only have time to visit one mission, this is the one we would recommend. It has a full visitor center, plenty of parking and the church is usually open to tour. The grounds are stunning and seemed to be fairly accessible. This is where you can get your National Parks passport stamped. FYI – each mission has its own stamp that will be found in this visitors center.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Originally was built in 1716 and then was transferred in 1732. This mission includes a granary, friary and a church. It’s smaller than some of the others but it’s still fun to walk around. It is a pretty white building with beautiful architecture. We loved the big bells that missions are notoriously famous for. There is a working farm that is in partnership with the San Antonio food bank that will be fun for kids to walk around and explore.

Mission Espada – Mission San Francisco de la Espada

This mission is the first ever mission dating all the way back to 1690, whoa! That’s old for our baby country. Kid’s will love seeing the traditional loom and learning about how clothing and fabric were made back in the early days. There is also an Aqueduct system that shows how water was carried back and forth from the mission.

Mission Concepcion

This is the “newest” of all the missions and dates back to 1755. It even includes some of the original frescoes inside which are really fun to marvel at but most of them have faded away.

San Antonio River Walk San Antonio Riverwalk

Of course, no visit to San Antonio is complete without a stroll through the River Walk downtown. It is one of the more unusual and unique features of the city that make San Antonio a treasure. One thing I absolutely love about the River Walk is you could spend the day walking and with every turn and bend you would find something completely different. The kid’s absolutely loved that part of the magic on the River Walk.

There are many Riverwalk attractions to choose from and a very popular way to explore the River Walk that is sure to delight the kids a boat ride. River Walk boat tours with GO RIO river cruises is a good place to start. The prices are reasonable and range from 7-12 dollars depending on age. You can either do a cohesive tour or you can use it as a taxi to get from one destination to the other. There are a few ways to find coupons for the boat tours, so keep your eyes open for deals. You can even take a dinner boat tour if you visit the San Antonio CVB welcome center. The boat ride hours run daily from 9 am to 10 pm.

If you are taking kids on the San Antonio River Walk, I highly suggest bringing drinking water with you as San Antonio is notorious for heat and humidity. I also suggest wearing comfy shoes. Also, if you have small children make sure to keep a hand on them at all times as there are many spots where it could be easy for them to fall in the river.

The Alamo The Alamo in San Antonio

Younger children won’t get the historical significance of The Alamo but it will still be worthwhile to bring them along for the journey. While they may not enjoy the history lesson they will enjoy the Coy fish in the garden and the live history demonstrations. So far all of our attractions on this list are free for families to enjoy and the Alamo is free as well. If you are visiting San Antonio with kids the chance for them to understand this important event in history should not be missed.

While the Alamo is free you will have the option to buy photos, and can purchase an audio tour from the kiosks outside. Inside the Alamo there is no photography allowed but you can see some of the original historical markings and flags and engravings from all who died at the Alamo. Outside in the garden you will find an informative timeline of all the historical events that led up to the battle of the Alamo and what happened at the Alamo.

Learning history at the Alamo

As a mom, one of my favorite parts of the visit was walking my children through the timeline of the Missions which we had visited the day before and showing them their history. If you want to combine the Alamo with the River Walk you can easily make a day or half day of it depending on how much you want to do.

Sea World Stop by Sea World and see Shamu

Sea World is a popular attraction in San Antonio with families. Although we did not make it there this trip we have visited previously on our baby moon trip. I do suggest that if you are going to try to incorporate Sea World into your San Antonio weekend getaway you will want to allot a whole day to enjoy the rides, waterpark and shows.


Children’s museums are a great way to encourage hands-on learning and San Antonio’s children museum Doseum is no exception to that rule. The museum boasts two stories of interactive discovery play and has many rotating exhibits so you could visit several times a year and have a whole different experience. The price to attend the Doseum is $14 for anyone 1 year and up but you could easily spend the whole day enjoying it as a family.

There are also many events that happen throughout the year including Spring and Summer camps and membership options for locals that make it more cost effective if you plan to visit multiple times.

The Amazing Mirror Maze

The Amazing Mirror Maze is located just across the Alamo or and just a few blocks from the River Walk in San Antonio. You can also rent a bike or a scooter to get there to make it easier. Our family has done the Amazing Mirror Maze at other locations and loved it. We did the one at the Mall of America and the kids still many months later talk about it and laugh about how mom got lost.

Kiddie Park

If you are looking for a fun outing or a birthday party event Kiddie Park is a fun and nostalgic way to spend the day. Kiddie Park dates back to 1926 making it America’s oldest continually operating amusement park. We loved the train ride and the vintage carousel. It’s the perfect place for younger kids.

Kiddie Park Hours

Kiddie Park hours vary based off the season but the park is typically open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 7 pm during high summer season.

San Antonio Weekend Getaway Itinerary

If I were taking my family to San Antonio for a weekend getaway here is how I personally would arrange my trip just for reference to give some ideas.

Walking along the Riverwalk in San Antonio

Friday night: Enjoy an evening stroll through the Riverwalk and get dinner at one of the many delicious restaurants and enjoy the beautiful views. If you have older kids head over to the Amazing Mirror Maze for a unique family experience and then get dessert on your way back to the hotel.

Saturday: Visit SeaWorld and spend the day enjoying the shows and amenities.

Sunday: After breakfast head over the San Antonio Missions trail and either see all four or just visit the main one San Jose. Get tickets for the GO RIO Riverwalk cruise and either take a guided tour or take the shuttle to the stop closest to the Alamo. Visit the Alamo and wander back through the River Walk before heading home.

Have you ever visited San Antonio with kids? What were your favorite things to do?

Related Posts

Easy Getaways for Parents

Things to do in Niagara Falls

Pin This

The post Things To Do In San Antonio With Kids appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
A perfect day at Disneyland must include the carousel!

There is something magical about Disneyland that turns me back into a kid again. The night before the big day I start to get butterflies and when we are driving on the freeway I am nervously saying to my husband, “Do not miss the exit! Whatever you do please do not miss the exit!” When we enter the parking garage I’m hustling everyone saying, “You guys the tram is here, we need to make the tram!” I’m not really sure what my deal is, maybe it is the nostalgia that one feels when visiting and seeing a place again that as a kid brought such joy and happiness.

However, a Disneyland trip that is not planned carefully can backfire. You’ll find yourself amidst hundreds of screaming toddlers in toon-town or in 3-hour lines for Indiana Jones and the Nemo ride. When your headache begins you’ll be wondering what happened to your magical Disneyland vacation.

Recently, we had one day at Disneyland and I was determined to do it all in the most efficient and pleasant manner possible. It was an extremely crowded day, the kind that you can barely walk through Main Street, the lines were formed way beyond where the actual gates began, and yet we managed to get in all the major rides before lunch, not waiting in any line longer than 25 minutes.

You may be scoffing to yourself, or doubting me, but we did it. Many people think that in order to hit all the major rides, you need at least two days at Disneyland. Unless you have very small kids or you want to do California Adventure along with Disneyland you can do Disneyland in a day.

With these simple tips, you should have a successful and entertaining day trip to Disneyland. Remember they aren’t guarantees, but they’ve been successful for us.

Entering Disneyland Be There Right As It Opens

If Disneyland opens at 8 am, be in the parking garage by at the latest 7:30 am. Most people who go to Disneyland, have two-day park hoppers or longer stays, so most people take their time getting there in the morning. In fact, it is likely that those doing multiple days at Disney didn’t leave the park until late the previous night and chances are they won’t be up on time in the morning.

Plan on Staying Late

If you can, plan on shutting the park down. Many people start leave later in the evening and it makes sense that the park would have pretty good ride times between the hours of 10 p.m. and midnight. As an added plus, you’ll be there for the fireworks show.

Disney Matterhorn Hit the Most Popular Rides Early

If you get there right on time, do not bother with fast passes for the first two hours. At the beginning of the day, most rides will only have a wait time of about 15 minutes or so. You won’t beat this even if you happen to have a fast pass. Suggestion: Run, or walk quickly to Space Mountain. Space Mountain usually has a notoriously long wait time, closely followed by the Indiana Jones ride.

Hit up either of these rides right away and you will be doing yourself a huge favor.  Then, just make your rounds hopping on any rides that you can that have short lines. Another ride with a notoriously long wait time is the Submarines that feature Nemo. Kids love this ride so if you have your heart set on going on this ride, try to do it early.

Early in the day is a great time to go on rides that do not offer fast passes. Some of these rides could include Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, The Teacups. Peter Pan, Jungle Cruise, or any other of your favorite rides.

Check the Disneyland app to see the wait time on most rides. We always like to check nearby rides, just in case there is something nearby that we can sneak on to.

Plan Your Day Around Fast Passes

Fast Passes at Disneyland can make or break your perfect Disneyland day.

Take advantage of fastpass on the most popular rides. You can get your fastpasses near the entrance of each ride. To use fastpass, find the kiosk, scan your ticket, pick the best time for you, get the receipt and they just come back during your scheduled time to enjoy the ride.

The down side to using fastpass is that you have to travel all the way to the ride to get the fastpass. The bonus is that you save a ton of time not waiting in the full line. Fastpasses are first come first served, so go to your top priority rides first.

If you’re not wanting to walk all around the park to collect your fastpasses you can look into MaxPass. This is a pay service from Disney that allows you to access fastpasses through the Disneyland app. This saves you the time of walking from ride to ride.

Sometimes it is hard because you get so caught up in making sure you make it on all your favorite rides when you know you have such a short visit and you want to cram it all in, that you forget to relax, enjoy and reminisce of old times. Make sure you laugh and enjoy the rides, watch the parades and enjoy the shows.

While you are waiting for your fast pass time, enjoy other nearby parts of Disneyland, stroll Main-Street, grab lunch, visit with the characters, go on other rides, and just play around.

Disneyland Teacups at Night Buy Your Tickets Ahead of Time

If you have your tickets already in hand that is one less line you’ll have to stand in once you arrive. Even if you order online and have to pick up at will call, that will still equate to a line and lost time.

You can do this in a number of different ways, for example, a lot of local hotels have discount tickets available. You can always pre-purchase directly from Disneyland online or over the phone. If you’re having the tickets sent to you make sure you have enough time to get them in the mail. There are tons of online deal places, so feel free to do a search to find cheap tickets.

If you have the Disneyland app you can purchase tickets directly through it and skip the pesky lines as well. Just have the app ready and scan your electronic ticket at the gate.

Stay at the Disneyland Hotel

I’m not endorsing the Disneyland hotel, I have never had the opportunity to stay there myself, but there are perks to staying there.

If you’re at the hotel you won’t have to deal with parking and there is a tram directly from the hotel to the park. So this could save you anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on the day, plus the parking fee is waived.

Disneyland Rides with Fastpass
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters
  • Fantasmic!
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Haunted Mansion Holiday
  • It’s a Small World
  • Indiana Jones Adventure
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds
  • Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
Get the Disneyland App

They’re constantly making updates and improvements to the Disneyland app which now does some really helpful things. First off, as we’ve mentioned you can run your entire Fastpass empire with your mobile phone. The app offers a lot of other cool functionality that will save you time as well. It’s free and super helpful.

Here are a few of the things that the app can do:

  • Check ride wait times from anywhere in the park
  • Make dining reservations at popular park restaurants
  • Order food from popular spots ahead of time, imagine not waiting in a 15 min line for your lunch.
  • Track down your favorite characters without searching aimlessly through the park.
  • Plus, you’ll always have a Disneyland map with you at all times.

Related Posts

Ins and Outs of Disney Cruising

Visiting Disneyworld for the First Time

Pin This

The post How To Do Disneyland In A Day appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The National Parks in this country are truly treasures. I will be the first to admit that before our cross country RV trip I had taken them for granted. After spending the better part of the year traveling this beautiful country, I am so grateful for the people who spend their time taking care of and protecting these lands.

We recently visiting Zion National Park as a family for the first time and I think it is quickly topping my list as one of my favorites. It may even beat Yellowstone! We lived in Utah for over five years and I am not ashamed that it took a year long cross country RV trip to get me to visit. From the second you step foot in the park it’s just 360 degrees of beauty. The colors are so unique and complimentary that I think it was hard to speak at times to put what we were experiencing into words.

Zion National Park is a lot different than the other parks we had been to. Usually we pack a lunch and drive into the park going on our own self-guided tours. Zion National Park is unique to the fact for that most of the year due to crowd control and to help ease traffic into the park you can not drive in the park. There are shuttles that will take you to various stops within the park. Parking itself at the park can pose some challenges and because we are traveling with young children including a toddler it did make me a little nervous to the unknown and as to what to expect.

Because of this I have compiled a list of our best tips for traveling to and experiencing Zion National Park with toddlers and young children to help you get the most out of this beautiful National Park as well be prepared so it can be enjoyable and not frustrating. 

Things To Know Before You Go Beautiful scenery abounds in Zion National Park.

There are many places that are stroller friendly in Zion National Park but honestly, you would probably do better babywearing or carrying a baby or toddler in a hiking backpack. Many of the trails are not conducive to strollers. Plus, getting on and off shuttles will be much easier if you just wear baby or toddlers and bring a backpack for hiking essentials.

Zion National Park is a higher elevation than you might realize and it is very important to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen. Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle as there are plenty of water fountains at every trail head.

There are some snacks available to purchase throughout the park but it’s not widely available. It’s best to bring in some sandwiches and snacks to tide over your family as your car will not be easily accessible to you.

Related Posts

Visiting Teton National Park

Awesome Family Activities in Arenal Costa Rica

10 Reasons South Dakota Needs a Visit

Packing List for Families Visiting Zion National Park Parking At Zion National Park

Parking fills up quickly and there are only certain times of the year that you are able to drive all the way into the park. By 10 am most days the parking lot at the Zion National Park fills up. So you will need to park in Sprindale (it costs about $22 for all day parking) where you can pick up a shuttle. You can look for marked parking lots with shuttle stops or you can park on a metered street parking and then walk to a shuttle stop.

I would suggest that if you have small children to try to get a stop with the lowest number shuttle as possible so that you won’t have to deal with cranky kids on a crowded bus. People are typically understanding and will offer their seats but during the busy summers, these shuttles can have some wait times. So the earlier you get there the better.

Inside Zion National Park Zion National Park panoramic

When you get into the park entrance you will pay your entrance fee for your family (or use your yearly pass or 4th grade pass) and walk into the visitors center area which has restrooms. You will want to take a look at your map and decide which trails you want to hike.

You will then board a shuttle bus that will take you to 9 different stops in Zion. The bus ride is scenic and it’s nice to relax and sit back and take in the scenery. We loved the bus tour also because it was educational, and we got to hear from various experts along the ride. We opted to start our day at the end (the very last shuttle stop) and work our way back towards the visitors center.  The shuttles run every 7 to 15 minutes so you could work your way through the park in any way that works for you.

Best Family Friendly Hikes At Zion National Park

Hiking is a must at Zion. There are many easy hikes in Zion that non-strenuous are enjoyable for families that even the littlest of legs can tolerate. At the time of visiting Zion National Park we had kids ages 8,6,5,2 and did not bring a stroller and everyone seemed to manage just fine. We did two hikes, the Riverside Walk which was longer and we were glad we started with that one, and we did a shorter hike to the Lower Emerald Pools. After that our little feet we were ready to finish up the Junior Ranger program and head out of the park.

Just a note about the trails. There are plenty of restrooms at most trailheads so you will want to make sure your kids are well pottied before heading on the trail as there are not restrooms located on most trails.

If you are looking for the most family friendly and accessible trails in Zion National Park for families these are some great options:

Weeping Willow Trail

This .4 mile hike will take you roughly half an hour. A nice easy trail with beautiful views of rock formations. Short and easy for the family.

Riverside Walk Taking a break on the Riverside Walk.

2.2 miles and takes roughly 1.5 hours for a round trip. Allow more time to play in the water and even more time if you want hike into the narrows. We would have liked to do that with our kids but we weren’t prepared. You’ll need watershoes at a minimum but the water is chilly and waders are recommended. We don’t recommend hiking the narrows with small children, but older ones would probably love it.

You can bring a stroller on this hike. There will be some areas that are sandy that make it a little more difficult but it is possible. Most people we saw on this trail with small kids were babywearing.

Lower Emerald Pools Deer crossing the path in front of us on the Lower Emerald Pools hike.

.6 miles and roughly 40 minutes round trip. This hike is pretty easy but does have some steep areas so keep a close eye on children. You can bring a smaller stroller but may be better to babywear with a hiking backpack or wrap. Our 2.5 year old wanted to walk the whole way. He only allowed us to carry him for a few minutes of the entire hike.

Zion Junior Ranger Program Little ones showing off a newly acquired Zion Jr Ranger Badge

Don’t forget to take part in the Junior Ranger program and get your National Parks passport stamped. These are some of our favorite parts of taking our kids to National Parks. If you’re doing Junior Ranger be sure to check the schedule for movie and presentation times.

Pin This

The post Visiting Zion National Park with Kids appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Roadtripping is one of my favorite ways to travel and see the country. It’s quality time crammed together, listening to good tunes and making memories. Of course one of the best parts of any road trip is snacking along the way.

However, this can be a challenge while trying to maintain a Keto lifestyle. With just a little bit of preparation, and these snacks you will have no issue bypassing the fast food temptations and gummy bears at the gas station.

Here is a list of our top 27 favorite Keto approved snacks, many of which are zero carb snacks, to keep you going on your journey.

27 Tasty Keto Snacks for Roadtrips Jalapeño Parmesan Cheese Crisps Keto Jalapeño Parmesan Cheese Crisps – Photo Keto Connect

A little spice, a lot cheesy and just enough crunch to keep you away from the Doritos.

No Bake Coconut Clusters No Bake Coconut Clusters – Photo Essential Keto

These are so chocolatey and crunchy. You won’t miss out on any of the candy bars.

Keto Peanut Butter Cookies Super Simple Keto Peanut Butter Cookies – Photo I Save A2Z

These are ridiculously easy to make. We love to add some sugar-free stevia sweetened chocolate chips like these or some chopped up 85% dark chocolate.

Bacon and Cream Cheese Pinwheels Delicious Low Carb Bacon Pinwheels – Photo 730 Sage Street

These seriously hit the spot and are great for lunches on the go. Just make up a bunch and put them in your cooler.

Salami and Cream Cheese Roll Ups Simple Salami and Cream Cheese Rollups – Photo The Low Carb Diet

Another simple favorite. Quick to put together and has lots of flavor and just a little crunch from the fresh peppers.

Keto Chocolate Covered Pecans Mmmm Chocolate Covered Pecans – Photo Forget Sugar Friday

Another great alternative to keep you away from all the tempting candy bars. Super chocolatey but a much better alternative.

Oven Baked Zucchini Chips Crispy Oven Backed Zucchini Chips Photo Low Carb Yum

If you are in need of a low-carb crunch this is a fantastic option.

Andes Mint Fat Bombs Andes Mint Fat Bombs – Photo Forget Sugar Friday

Fat bombs are important to the Keto diet and these are satisfying for both the sweet tooth and your fat cravings.

Low-Carb No-bake Chocolate Coconut Bars No Bake Chocolate Coconut Bars – Photo Primavera Kitchen

Put these in a reusable hard container so they don’t get crunched. These are some of our favorite treats.

Hard Boiled Eggs Hard Boiled Eggs Travel Surprisingly Well

All of our family loves hard boiled eggs and they are perfect to bring along on a road trip as they are a great source of protein. We love to make a huge batch in our instant pot, peel them and stick them in a hard container in our cooler. 

Pickle, Ham and Cream Cheese Roll-ups Delicious Ham and Pickle Wraps

This is our favorite. Just buy lunchmeat ham, spread on some cream cheese put in a baby dill pickle and roll. You can slice them for snack size or leave them the way they are.

Everything Seasoning Cheese Crisps Everything Cheese Crisps – Photo Linneyville

There is something so delicious about the everything seasoning. I could just eat that plain (and sometimes I do!) Try this classic cheese crisp recipe with a bit of extra flavor.

Low Carb Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Low Carb Cinnamon Rolls

If you need breakfast on the go or just a sweet treat these Keto cinnamon rolls are a go-to. They do take a little bit of prep and more work but you will be grateful to have them on the road!

Additional No Prep Keto Snacks

This is a quick go-to list of no carb snacks to buy for your next trip. These are no prep keto snacks you can grab from the store. These will to keep you satisfied and have no preparation or cooking!

  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Cheese cubes
  • Pepperoni
  • Avocados
  • Salami Slices
  • Beef Sticks
  • Pork Rinds– At first I was not a fan of pork rinds idea but these dill flavored ones are everything.
  • Flavored no sugar nuts. These are too hot for the kiddos to snack but we absolutely love the buffalo flavor of these.
  • Jerky
  • Cucumbers
  • Laughing Cow cheese
  • 85% dark chocolate bars or any Lilly’s chocolate bars. So worth the price.
  • Berries
  • Zevia (Stevia sweetened soda!) My personal favorite flavors are grapefruit, cherry cola, grape, Dr. Zevia, and black cherry.

What are your favorite Keto snacks for road tripping?

Related Posts

Healthy Green Smoothie

15 Awesome Instant Pot Recipes

Pin This

The post 27 Healthy Keto Snacks for Roadtrips appeared first on Dotting the Map.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview