Apr 212016
 

18 Most Picturesque Places to Visit in Northern California with Your Family | Alldonemonkey.com

We love to travel with our kids, and though this often includes international travel, we have found that when traveling with young children it can be much easier to travel locally.  Luckily for us, we live in Northern California, a beautiful, varied region that attracts travelers from all over the world – and we’re lucky enough to have all these scenic places right in our backyard!  So if you are in our neck of the woods, here are our picks for the most beautiful places to visit in Northern California with your family.  Share your favorites in the comments!

18 Most Picturesque Places to Visit in Northern California

1. San Francisco: Okay, I’m cheating because they are so many picturesque places in San Francisco alone.  From the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park to Lombard Street and Pier 39, there are so many spots to visit.  Here are recommendations of where to visit in San Francisco as well as great day trips you can take in the area.  What is your favorite Bay Area spot?

2. Lake Tahoe: Truly a gorgeous place to visit, one that will win over even the most “indoorsy” child.  In addition to lake itself (one of the largest in the country), there are also lots of fun places to play, hike, and picnic in the surrounding area.  And in the winter, it is a great place for skiing and playing in the snow!  Tip: If Lake Tahoe itself is crowded, try exploring one of the smaller lakes in the area, such as Dicks Lake or Eagle Lake.

3. Yosemite: We absolutely love going to Yosemite and have visited regularly before and after having kids.  There is something for everyone, whether you crave solitude in the woods or more of a camp atmosphere as in Camp Curry.  Being originally from the East Coast, witnessing first-hand the enormous stone faces of Yosemite’s peaks really brought home just how different and big everything is out West.

4. Wine Country: This beautiful region – which includes Napa and Sonoma Valleys – is another world-famous spot in Northern California.  And even if, like us, you aren’t interested in the wine, you still don’t want to miss the breathtaking views this area has to offer.  While much of the area is geared towards adults, you can still find great kid-friendly spots, such as Calistoga, and we had a great time exploring the San Francisco Solano Mission in Sonoma. (For more on Missions throughout California, visit our California Missions page).

5. Point Reyes: Point Reyes has gorgeous beaches as well as its famous lighthouse.  There are so many spots to explore and enjoy.  Just beware of all those stairs to get down to the lighthouse if you take the kids!  And keep in mind that if you are driving from inland, there is a significant drop in temperature when you reach the coast.  It is always much colder, so bring a long-sleeve shirt or light jacket, even in the middle of the summer! (If you love the coast, another great spot south of San Francisco is the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve!)

6. Muir Woods: Northern California is renowned for its redwoods, and Muir Woods is one of the premier places to view them.  It is easily accessible from San Francisco, and there are very kid-friendly trails through the woods.

7. Big Sur:  Located south of Monterey, Big Sur offers some of the most beautiful views of the California coast.  You can simply enjoy the scenery from the viewing spots along the highway, or extend your stay with some camping. When I was in college, it was a popular spot for retreats.  It contains a number of state parks and a federally protected marine area.

8. Santa Cruz: Despite the fact that Santa Cruz is more accurately part of Central California, it is typically included in Northern California, and in any case is worth a mention as a great place to visit!  There are, of course, the beaches, but it is also known for its old-fashioned boardwalk, with carnival rides and games for the kiddos.

9. Monterey: From the beaches and aquarium to Cannery Row, Monterey is not to be missed.  There are lots of areas for families to explore, and personally I enjoyed the beautiful drive along the coast almost as much as the destination itself!

10. Mount Shasta: If you drive along I-5 heading to far northern California, you can’t miss Mt. Shasta, which rises up suddenly and dominates the view for miles.  This potentially active volcano is at the southern end of the Cascades.  Beyond exploring the mountain itself, the surrounding area is beautiful and provides plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family.

11. Sierra Nevadas: This gorgeous mountain range stretches throughout much of Northern California, and includes Lake Tahoe and Yosemite.  And thanks to the California Gold Rush that took place in its foothills, it is also dotted with real ghost towns!

12. Apple Hill: For many families in the Sacramento area, it is an annual tradition to visit Apple Hill in the fall.  This beautiful collection of orchards and farms offers apple picking, pies, petting zoos, and more!  And pie, did I already mention pie?

13. Old Sacramento: This historic part of Sacramento is a fun place to visit with kids, to see what life was like in the time of the Gold Rush.  You can take a river cruise, enjoy the old-timey shops, or visit the State Railroad Museum (always a favorite for kids!)

14. UC Davis Arboretum: The 100 acres of gardens included in the Arboretum are open to the public 24 hours a day, free of charge.  It is a favorite spot for UCD students to study, for professors to spend their lunch breaks, and for families to enjoy a picnic or leisurely walk.  You can also appreciate a great diversity of plants from all over the world included in this wonderful collection.

15. State Capitol and Gardens: The Capitol is an impressive building and has so much history to explore.  (Be sure to check out the paintings of the governors, especially Jerry Brown’s first portrait!).  But the grounds themselves are also worth the trip, with plants from throughout the state.  Our favorite time to visit is at the holidays, when you can enjoy the decorations – including the Christmas tree on the lawn – as well as holiday concerts.

16. American River Parkway: The 23 mile parkway stretching along Sacramento is a wonderful place to enjoy wildlife or recreation and is a favorite place for school field trips as well as family outings.

17. Russian River: The Russian River is a treasure tucked into the redwoods outside Santa Rosa.  Kids will enjoy swimming or kayaking in the cool river water.  Don’t miss these great tips for your visit.

18. Lassen Volcanic National Park: This park, established nearly 100 years ago, is a cauldron of geologic activity innocently situated in the peaceful wilderness of Northern California.  Make sure to hold the little ones’ hands as you cross the plank walkways over boiling mud, evidence of Lassen’s past as an active volcano.  And be prepared for that rotten-egg smell from the sulphur – of course, if you have little boys like mine, it will just add to the atmosphere as far as they are concerned!

What are your favorite places to visit in Northern California?

Apr 122016
 
 April 12, 2016  household, travel Comments Off on Great New Stroller for Family Travel

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by @GBChildUsa as part of a Blog Blast Activation for Influence Central.

The gb Pockit stroller is a great choice for family travel

Making travel plans for the summer? Be sure to check out this great new stroller for family travel!

A stroller is a great item to have on hand when you travel with young children – except that they are usually so bulky!  Introducing the new gb Pockit stroller, available from Babies ‘R’ Us, which actually set a world record for being the world’s most compact stroller.  When folded, it is only 12 x 7 x 14 inches!  What a difference that would have made if we had had one on our last family trip!

It is small and light, but also durable and is designed for kids from 6 months up to 55 lbs.  And I loved that it was really designed with busy parents in mind, as it can be easily steered with only one hand and folds in only two steps. It really is the ideal stroller for family travel!

For more on the gb Pockit Stroller – and for a chance to win prizes! – join the Twitter party on April 28!

  • Date: Thursday, April 28, 2016
  • Time: 1 – 2 PM ET
  • Moderators: @MomCentral
  • Brand Participants: @GBChildUSA
  • Party hashtags: #gbPockit
  • Prizes: 2 pre-party winners and 6 party winners will receive $50 Amex gift cards and 1 grand prize winner will receive the gb Pockit Stroller
  • Party Focus: We’ll be chatting about family adventures, whether a jet-setting vacation or a weekend getaway, the gb Pockit gives on-the-go Moms a portable stroller, ideal for all of our family travels.

gb Pockit Stroller: Great New Stroller for Family TravelThe gb Pockit stroller can be found at Babies ‘R’ Us.

Mar 022016
 

A look at the Sonoma Mission (San Francisco Solano) in Sonoma, California

I love learning about local history, so since we moved to California years ago I have been fascinated with the Spanish missions that dot the length of the state.  I have had the opportunity to visit several of the 21 missions over the years and most recently traveled to the Sonoma Mission (official name, San Francisco Solano) with my family.  It is a great place to visit with kids to learn more about California history!

Sonoma Mission (San Francisco Solano)

The Sonoma Mission was:

  • The last California mission to be built (1823)
  • The furthest north
  • The only mission built after Mexico’s independence from Spain
  • The only mission founded without prior approval from the Church
  • The only one my kids have visited (so far!)

Why We Loved It

My favorite parts were the chapel and the central courtyard.  In the small chapel it is easy to imagine the overlapping prayers and desires of the generations of people who have sat or stood in that very spot.  In the courtyard is where they worked.  It was so amazing to see the old outdoor “beehive” oven they used for baking.  This is a great way for kids to understand how things used to be before electricity.

A look at the Sonoma Mission in Sonoma, California

I loved the central fountain, surrounded by benches and shaded by trees like a little desert oasis.  Although not original to the Mission, it is a welcome addition for today’s visitors. If you visit in the summer, you will appreciate this cool, shady spot even more!

You also can’t miss the huge growth of Prickly Pear cactus, which served as a living fence during Mission times.

A look at the Sonoma Mission in Sonoma, California

My boys loved the army barracks, which show you how soldiers from the Mexican era lived.  There is even an old canon!

How to Find It

The Sonoma Mission is now part of the Sonoma State Historic Park, which includes the Mission, Barracks, and Vallejo family home.  The park is actually six different sites located around the beautiful town of Sonoma, which is in the world famous California Wine Country.

The park is open daily except for major holidays.

While You’re There

We loved La Casa, a wonderful family owned Mexican restaurant right across the street from the Mission.  Before heading home, we also stopped at Chocolate Cow, which has great ice cream as well as candy.  It is located in a cute little shopping plaza just a short walk away from the Mission.

A look at the Sonoma Mission in Sonoma, California

For More Information

California Missions Resource Center

Sonoma Petaluma Parks

MissionTour.org

Sonoma State Historic Park

Do you have a favorite spot to visit in California?

California Family Destinations

Today we are joining with other California bloggers to share favorite family destinations in the Golden State!  Find great resources in this list, plus link up your own below!

Participating Blogs

All Done Monkey: Sonoma Mission

Mama Smiles: Silicon Valley Family Day Trips

Little Hiccups: Planes, Trains & Cable Cars in the San Francisco Bay Area

Trips with Tykes: National Parks Sites in the San Francisco Bay Area Perfect for Kids

Left Brain Craft Brain: Monterey Bay Aquarium with Kids

Savvy Every Day: Family Getaway to Carmel, CA

Nov 192014
 
 November 19, 2014  travel 4 Responses »

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for American Express. I received thank you items for my participation.

Family travel is not for the faint of heart.  Among the more difficult phases of a family trip is flying itself.  Children naturally rebel against so unnatural an act as sitting in a confined space for long stretches of time – especially when parents restrain them from exploring all of the wonderful new places on the airplane and in the airport that are begging to be discovered!

That is why I was so excited to learn about the brand-new Centurion Lounge from American Express in San Francisco’s International Airport.  This 8,200 foot lounge is located in Terminal 3 of SFO and is truly an oasis for family travel.

I had the pleasure of previewing it recently with the Monkeys, and we had a blast!

As a parent, it was so relaxing to be in a safe, clean, beautiful space where I could let my children play without worrying about what exactly they might find in their explorations!  Also, anyone who has traveled with young children will appreciate how heavenly it is to have a space large enough for the kids to stretch their legs – but one that ultimately has boundaries so they don’t run off from you!

A Family Travel Oasis

s1. Engaging, colorful play space

In addition to the general spaces – filled with soft, inviting couches – where kids can play, The Centurion Lounge also has a Family Room dedicated just to them!

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

The Family Room is equipped with fun toys for a range of ages and soft kid-sized cushioned chairs, plus a large screen TV and a collection of children’s books.  It’s also sound-proof – brilliant!

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

2. Wonderful food!

A big perk for families with little mouths to feed is the buffet at The Centurion Lounge, filled with delicious, healthy foods.  But don’t worry, there are also lots of treats for the kids and grownups!

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

Photo courtesy of American Express

The offerings are inspired by the cuisine of the Napa Valley and curated by renowned chef Christopher Kostow.

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

Little Monkey clutching the balloon animal he received at the reception; photo courtesy of American Express

3. Luxury service

For weary travelers, it is a real treat to receive such incredible service.  When you enter, you are greeted by American Express Member Service professionals, happy to answer any questions and help you get settled in.  And throughout your stay there is always someone discreetly available to bring you a drink or help you with your things.  For parents accustomed to doing all the fetching, it is heavenly to have someone taking care of you for a change.

4. Spaces to rest and relax

Families on the move will appreciate having comfortable spaces to recharge.  There are plenty of couches in spacious open areas, as well as cozy nooks to snuggle with your babes or catch some zzz’s.

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

5. Tech space

Of course, one characteristic of travel is being less connected to your networks.  The Centurion Lounge’s high speed wi-fi , as well as the outlets near every seat, make recharging your gear and getting in touch with your loved ones (or your office, or your travel information…) easy to do.

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

Family Travel Oasis: The Centurion Lounge at San Francisco International Airport from American Express | Alldonemonkey.com

6. Spaces to refresh

Finally, one of my favorite features of The Centurion Lounge is the shower!  Now isn’t that a great idea??  It is tucked discreetly into a quiet corner of the lounge, back around a corner, so you don’t feel like you are freshening up in front of everyone!  The ability to clean up is a great feature for any traveler but especially for those traveling with children, who seem to attract dirt and mess.  For once, it would be nice to arrive at our final destination not feeling like we were wearing an inch of grime for every leg of our trip!

If you are looking for a place to unwind and relax with your kids during your next trip, be sure to visit The Centurion Lounge for American Express members!  The new lounge is the first on the West Coast and the fourth in a network that is expanding to major airports across the US.  Entrance to The Centurion Lounge is complimentary for consumer, Business and Corporate Platinum Card and Centurion® members, and their immediate family or up to two travel companions.  All other American Express Credit and Charge Card members can purchase a one-day pass for $50.

For more information, visit The Centurion Lounge website or follow American Express on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

Aug 212014
 
 August 21, 2014  family, travel Comments Off on Family Travel: Benefits and Challenges of Traveling with Young Children

Family Travel: Benefits and Challenges of Traveling with Young Children | Alldonemonkey on Kid World Citizen

Traveling with young children presents particular challenges: You have to figure out what to pack and how to keep them occupied on long plane rides and car trips. But it also offers certain benefits, such as experiencing the wonder of new places through your child’s eyes. Many parents of little ones debate whether it is worth the trouble or if it is better to simply wait until their kids are older. What should you do?

Today on Kid World Citizen I am sharing some factors to consider as you make a decision: Is travel with young children worth it?  What do you think?

Family Travel: Benefits and Challenges of Traveling with Young Children

Jul 212014
 

Places to Visit with Kids in California: Fairy Tale Town, Sacramento {Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014} | Alldonemonkey.com

This post is part of the Second Annual Sunshine Kids Blog Hop.  This year we are focusing on great places to visit in California with kids!  Be sure to link up your family-friendly California posts below, and visit my post on Native California from last year’s blog hop!

Fairy Tale Town has been a favorite destination for families in Sacramento for generations.  Opened in 1959, it was one of a wave of storybook parks that opened around the United States during the 1950s and 60s, thanks in large part to the success of Disneyland.  Yet Fairy Tale Town is one of the few still in operation today.

Places to Visit with Kids in California: Fairy Tale Town, Sacramento {Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014} | Alldonemonkey.comClimbing up the beanstalk

It is truly a magical place, where fairy tales and nursery rhymes come to life.  Kids can slide down the beanstalk, climb up to Owl’s house in the 1000 Acre Wood, swing on the jungle gym in Sherwood Forest, and stop to pet the animals at Farmer Brown’s Barn.

Places to Visit with Kids in California: Fairy Tale Town, Sacramento {Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014} | Alldonemonkey.comEven the bathroom breaks are fun!

There are 25 playsets in Fairy Tale Town, each based on a different childhood tale.  In addition there are farm animals, two performing arts stages, and several gardens.

Places to Visit with Kids in California: Fairy Tale Town, Sacramento {Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014} | Alldonemonkey.com

Since many of the features were built in the 1950s, there is a lot of concrete, but everything is very well maintained and safe for young visitors.  In fact, there are only a few features (several of the high slides) that are not appropriate for very little ones. While older kids will find much to enjoy here, you will also see lots of toddlers moseying around the park.

On a recent visit, my preschooler and my toddler both enjoyed themselves immensely.  The little one loved playing in the bright, colorful play areas just his size.  My older son enjoyed it on a different level now that he is familiar with the stories on which the play areas are based.  We spent an entire morning here and could have easily stayed longer.

Places to Visit with Kids in California: Fairy Tale Town, Sacramento {Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014} | Alldonemonkey.com

In addition to all the fun attractions available on an everyday basis, there are also performances, special events, and summer camps.  There is a cafe (the Dish and Spoon) plus plenty of picnic tables if you prefer to bring your own food.

If you visit during the summer, I suggest visiting in the morning to avoid the heat.  Thankfully, though, even in the afternoons there is plenty of shade from the many trees in the park.

Places to Visit with Kids in California: Fairy Tale Town, Sacramento {Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014} | Alldonemonkey.com

I highly recommend Fairy Tale Town as part of your California Staycation!  It is a whimsical, magical place that you and your kiddos will enjoy.  Afterwards you can head next door to beautiful William Land Park or just across the street to visit the Sacramento Zoo!  (Combined tickets are available for Fairy Tale Town and the zoo).

Are you taking a staycation this summer?

 

sunshine kids blog hop 2014

Places to Visit with Kids in California:

Sunshine Kids Blog Hop 2014

Summer is a great time to explore with your kids – and you don’t have to travel far to do it! California has so much to offer to families. Take a great staycation this summer by visiting your local treasures! In our second annual Sunshine Kids Blog Hop, we are focusing on our favorite places to visit with kids in California. Enjoy! And be sure to add your own family-friendly California posts in our linky at the bottom. You can also check out even more California posts on our collaborative Kid Friendly California Pinterest board!

Participating Blogs:

Alldonemonkey.com Sparkling Buds baykidsplaybutton
A Mom With a Lesson Plan Little Hiccups EHM Grab Button 250x250
Capri+3 Savvy 3 MeMeTales
SoCalPocketMemories made-with-happy-square-200
365ishdaysofpinterest 2KuriousKids
Adventure Bee

And now it’s time to see what everyone has been up to:


Jun 242014
 

Top Ten Places to Visit with Kids in San Jose Costa Rica - Alldonemonkey.com

This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs.  Each time Costa Rica plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture.  Today I am sharing some of our favorite spots to visit in San Jose Costa Rica!

I am been lucky enjoy to visit Costa Rica a number of times since marrying my tico husband, but our visits since we have had kids are been totally different than our earlier trips.  For one thing, the places we choose to visit on our trip have changed.  If you are headed to Costa Rica and will be spending some time in its capital, San José, here are our top recommendation of places to visit with your kids!  (Don’t miss my look at neighborhood life in San José!)

1. Museums

There are lots of great museums in the San José area.  For younger kids especially I recommend the Children’s Museum (Museo del Niño).  It has tons of exhibits on everything from the solar system to an the human body.  Monkey loved the oversized mouth you could climb inside, and he had so much fun at the “archaeological” dig.  While most of the exhibits are for preschoolers and older, younger siblings will still have fun toddling around.  Baby especially loved climbing into the space “rover.”  We also spent a good deal of time in the baby/toddler play area.  Plan to spend a whole day here!

Family Travel: Top Ten Places to Visit in San Jose Costa Rica - Alldonemonkey.com

For older kids, we love the Jade Museum (Museo del Jade), Pre-Colombian Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Precolombino), and National Museum (Museo Nacional).  If you are at all interested in history you will love these small but impressive museums.

2. Amusement Park (Parque de Diversiones)

The amusement park in San José is tons of fun.  There are lots of rides suitable for younger kids, and an indoor play space just for babies and toddlers.  There are also plenty of open spaces for them to run around or just relax.  I loved the recreated old San José.  My favorite part is that it gave us something to do with Monkey’s cousins where language wasn’t a barrier.

Family Travel: Top Ten Places to Visit with Kids in San Jose Costa Rica - Alldonemonkey.com

3. The Volcanoes!  (Irazú and Poás)

You simply can’t go to Costa Rica and not visit a volcano!  And luckily for you there are two within an easy day trip of San José: Irazú and Poás.  Two pieces of advice: go early and dress warmly!  The fog tends to roll in by early afternoon, making it nearly impossible to see anything.  And because you are going to a high elevation, it will be chilly, no matter what time of year – As in, I wish we had worn out winter coats!

4. Culture Plaza (Plaza de la Cultura)

At Plaza de la Cultura, you get a glimpse of the old San José, when people still hung out at the plazas.  This is a must visit if you want to give your kids a flavor of community life in Costa Rica, as you can find the traditional vendors, and people strolling through or taking a lunch break.  Be warned that it is located in a busy section of downtown San José, so if you do visit you should be alert, just as you would be in any large city.

5. Central Market (Mercado Central)

Again, I included this one to give a flavor of the older parts of San José.  While the Mercado Central is still an incredibly busy place, these days many people prefer to shop at a mall.  Still, there is something about the crowded stalls and requisite haggling over prices that I love.  A great place to go people watching!

6. Sarchí

Sarchí is a beautiful town nearby San José, known as a premier place to shop for artisan goods and souvenirs.  There are many different shops to visit, plus great places to eat.  This is more for older kids, though younger ones will enjoy a brief visit to look at all the amazing handicrafts.

7. Farmer’s Market Zapote (la Feria)

We had so much fun visiting this enormous Farmer’s Market in Zapote, a part of San José.  While there are many farmer’s markets in San José, this one is probably the biggest.  You can find so many wonderful fruits and vegetables here – all much bigger (and cheaper!) than you would find in the US.  For younger kids, I recommend bringing water, as it can get very hot and there is not much shade.  We were also glad to have an umbrella stroller handy, as it can be a lot of walking for younger kids.

Family Travel: Top Ten Places to Visit in San Jose Costa Rica - Alldonemonkey.com

8. INBioparque

INBioparque in Heredia (just outside San José) is just gorgeous.  It is an interactive ecological park, designed to bring people in closer contact with Costa Rica’s natural resources.  There are many different areas to the park, so plan to spend all day!  (By the way, it has a really great cafeteria!)  There are plenty of exhibits for little ones, including a petting zoo, plus lots of walking paths through different habitats.   We especially loved the butterfly area.  This is a really nice break from the hustle and bustle of San José and a great way to see a variety of the very diverse natural life in Costa Rica.  Another fun spot for nature lovers is ZooAve, the local zoo.  (I apologize if that link isn’t working – as I write they seem to be having trouble with their server!)

9. Terra Mall

Okay, okay, I can hear you groaning.  No one really plans to go to the mall when visiting another country, but let’s be real – It’s a great, easy place to cool off and wind down with your kids, especially since it can feel very familiar to them when traveling abroad.  So if you do find yourself looking for a mall, I recommend Terra Mall in Escazú (a more upscale part of San José).  If your kids need a little break from culture shock, they will feel at home walking around here.  Plus little kids will have fun riding on the kids’ train that winds its way through the mall.  And then there’s the movie theater – Have you ever heard of VIP seating?  I hadn’t, but now I wish we had it here!  It costs a bit extra (though still far less than you’d pay in the US), and for that you get an assigned seat, a really comfy seat, lots of leg room – and a waiter!  No more waiting in line for popcorn, baby!  Downside, of course, is that kids’ movies are all dubbed in Spanish, so this will be challenging for kids that aren’t fluent.

Family Travel: Top Ten Places to Visit in San Jose Costa Rica - Alldonemonkey.com

10. A Football Game!

Of course, with the World Cup going on, how could I not mention every Costa Rican’s favorite sport?  To really get in touch with Costa Rican community life, just stop by the football pitch, or la cancha.  There are easy to find in most any neighborhood in the city, and usually on the weekend this is where you will find the “guys,” hanging out and playing in informal leagues.  And if you have the means, you can also go to a game at the new national stadium in the La Sabana area of San José.  It is a beautiful modern stadium, where you can catch a battle between rival Costa Rican teams (go Liga!) or international events, such as the women’s soccer under-20 championship this past spring.

For more on Costa Rica be sure to visit my Pinterest board:

 

 

World Cup for Kids - Multicultural Kid Blogs

See all of the posts in the World Cup for Kids project, plus follow our World Cup for Kids board on Pinterest, and join the conversation on Facebook and Google Plus!

Jun 162014
 
 June 16, 2014  food, travel 9 Responses »

Travel with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

Thank you to Cottonelle for sponsoring this post!

Traveling with young children is challenging in many ways (though also rewarding!)  For me, one of the hardest parts has always been deciding what to pack.

Young children in particular require a lot of gear, but you don’t want to be lugging around more than you have to – especially since you will also probably be carrying your little ones at some point!  There are, however, some things that are worth bringing because they will make your life so much easier, like these great new on-the-go products!

Here is my list of essentials to pack for travel with kids:

1. Favorite Foods and Snacks

Yes, travel is a wonderful time to encourage your child to try new foods, but keep in mind that for young children it can be stressful to be out of their routines, even if it is something they enjoy.  Having a few favorite foods from home can help ease the transition.  While you don’t want to overdo this, we have found that having a few familiar snacks actually makes Monkey more willing to try new things.

Travel with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

2. Healthy and Specialty Foods

If you have a child on a special diet, you need to consider bringing with you foods you know they can eat.  (Here are great tips on for families with food allergies).  If you are traveling internationally, specialty foods are increasingly available (especially in large cities/tourist spots), but it is often a question of how much of your vacation time you want to spend searching for these items.  The same can be said for all-natural convenience foods.  In our travels abroad I have found that often foods labeled “all-natural” contain more sugars and additives than their American counterparts.  Again, you can probably find what you want in either the very large chains or the small specialty shops, but why waste valuable vacation time on this endeavor?  In your decision try to balance the following factors: destination (and your familiarity with it) and length of stay.  If you are not staying for very long, and you are not familiar with the area, you may decide it is worth using the slightly more sugary versions, for example, while for a long stay it might be worth throwing a few healthy snacks in your luggage.  Keep in mind that for many international destinations, fresh fruits are available in abundance – the ultimate convenience food!

Travel with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

3. Diapers

Babies go through a looooot of diapers.  I am so used to using cloth diapers that I often forget how true this is!  We do use disposables when we are on the road, and I am constantly surprised by how often we have to go to the store to restock.  Usually we pack enough to get us through the first day or so then buy in great quantity once we arrive, to lessen the number of shopping trips we have to make.  However, with my older son I had to do a little more planning, as he had very sensitive skin and would break out in a rash if we used generic disposable diapers.  Yet all-natural diapers are often difficult to find when traveling abroad – and even when you do find them they are not exactly the same as what you are used to at home.  (Not to say they are better or worse, just different, and with a highly sensitive child, “different” often equals “bad”!)  So instead what I would do was pack an extra package of diapers from home, and space them out throughout the trip, so he was periodically given a break from the new diapers.  Also, it was well worth it to bring plenty of his favorite diaper cream.  An extra tube doesn’t take up much room, and that added layer of familiar protection will mean a lot to your baby’s bottom!

Travel with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

4. New Cottonelle On-the-Go Supplies

Speaking of bottoms, a baby’s isn’t the only one to suffer when you are on the road.  Often when you travel you end up using facilities that aren’t exactly up to the standard you are used to, so it’s great to have products that really help you feel fresh.  Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths On-The-Go Soft packs and Clean Care Toilet Paper are the perfect wet-and-dry combo for when you are on the go.  And I love that the cleansing cloths are flushable – one less mess for me to worry about!  The cloths come in soft packs that are easy to throw into the backpack or diaper bag, and it’s easy to stash a roll of the toilet paper in the car.  This combo is especially great for summer day trips to the splash park or the beach!  Our favorite park, for example, has port-a-potties rather than actual bathrooms, and I feel so much better cleaning my boys (and myself!) off with these convenient products.

Travel with Kids: What to Pack | Alldonemonkey.com

5. Emergency Supplies

You never want to be caught in a health emergency without essential supplies.  I have a mini-first aid kid in our backpack and a larger one in our car/suitcase.  Again, you can find all of these items in pharmacies around the world, but you don’t want to waste precious time searching when someone you love is ill.  Here is a great how-to on creating an emergency kit.

6. Strollers and Carriers

Carriers are an essential for babies and young toddlers.  Carriers are so easy to pack and allow you to be hands-free.  Plus, being so close to you is very comforting for kids when in a new place, and it’s an easy on-the-go way to get them to sleep.  Strollers are great but are very bulky, so this is really a personal preference.  When Monkey was a baby, it was worth it to us to bring his big stroller because it gave us a break from carrying him, plus it provided a safe, clean place for him to sleep when we were out and about.  Once he got older, we switched to an umbrella stroller, which is much lighter and easier to take along.  With two kids, now we have opted to bring a foldable double stroller.  I thought it would be a pain to bring, but it was well worth it for us to be able to easily push both kids through the airport and on long walks.

What are your essential travel supplies?  What do you prefer to leave behind?  I’d love to hear your stories!

Jun 122014
 

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.com

I am so thrilled to be participating in the incredible series put together by my friend and fellow Multicultural Kid Blogs board member Annabelle of piri piri lexicon.  In this series readers get a chance to tour neighborhoods from all over the globe – from France and the Brazil to Kansas City and San Francisco!  Go to the main page for a full schedule of stops in this virtual world tour.  Here is my glimpse of San Jose Costa Rica.

Although we live in the US, we frequently visit Costa Rica, where my husband is from.  During our visits we spend the bulk of our time visiting family in the country’s sprawling capitol, San José.  As is the case with many large cities, San José has many different areas; this is only a glance at those where we spent our time.  Most tourists are more familiar with the beaches and rainforests of Costa Rica, so it is fun to introduce you to the capitol, where so many Costa Ricans live far from the surfboards and the monkeys (though not that far from the volcanoes!)

1. Playground / play area

Exploring San Jose, Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.com

I saw a number of nice playgrounds around San José, but they seem to be a relatively new concept.  Back in the “old days” people tended to congregate in plazas, as in so much of Latin America.  Now many Costa Ricans view the plazas as unsafe, and instead tend to hang out at the mall or on their own streets.  This playground was new since our last visit, and the entire time we were there I never saw any kids playing.  I mentioned this to a friend, who assured me that kids do play at the playgrounds, but only during certain times of day, to avoid the heat.

 

2. Local mode of transport

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.comOutside a weekly farmer’s market

Once upon a time, everyone got around by bus.  While for many people this is still the case, more and more people are buying cars.  Because they are relatively expensive, it is unusual for a family to have more than one car, and they tend to be small.  But everyone’s preference would be to have some kind of hardy 4 x 4, a necessity once you leave San José and travel onto the less reliable country roads.  (Roads are notoriously difficult to maintain in tropical countries, plus Costa Rica is particularly hilly and mountainous).  If you are without a car but don’t want to take the bus, many people don’t mind paying a bit extra for a taxi so they can get where they are going more quickly.

 

3. Typical house/building

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.comA quiet neighborhood in San José

4. Street nearby

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.com

This neighborhood is very quiet.  Most people stay in their own homes, and usually the only person you see walking around is the “watchaman,” or neighborhood security guard.  In another part of town, however, the scene is very different.  There kids were usually hanging out in front of their houses and playing games in the street, and there was a much stronger sense of community.

5. School, nursery or other education facility

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.com

This photo is of a local elementary school.  We happened to be there on presidential election day, when this photo was taken.  The school was being used as a polling station, and you can see the yellow and red flags of one of the political parties.

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.comA view inside the school

 

6. Market, supermarket or other shopping outlet

While more and more people are shopping in malls and grocery stores, I couldn’t resist posting photos of the still thriving farmer’s markets, or ferias.  In many neighborhoods there are also produce trucks that drive by so you can buy your fruits and vegetables right outside your doorstep!

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.com

Exploring San Jose Costa Rica {Show Me Your Neighborhood Around the World} - Alldonemonkey.com

You can see more of my farmer’s market photos in this Wordless Wednesday. You can also follow my Costa Rica board on Pinterest:



 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of San José, Costa Rica! Be sure to visit the other stops in this tour of neighborhoods around the world!

Show me your neighbourhood around the world
May 142014
 

I was provided with a complimentary review copy of Down South; however, all opinions are my own.

Many thanks to my dear friend and West Virginia native J. Pearce for allowing me to share her beautiful pictures here.

West Virginia holds a special place in my heart.  When I was small, my grandparents bought a summer home there, and as I grew up we spent many vacations at their cabin out in the country.  My sister and I passed many happy hours reading in the hammock, helping in the garden, picking blackberries, and mapping imaginary worlds out in the woods.

Travels with Charlie: WEST VIRGINA Coal Experiment {Booking Across the USA} - Alldonemonkey.com

Photo courtesy of J. Pearce

Travels with Charlie: WEST VIRGINIA Coal Experiment {Booking Across the USA} - Alldonemonkey.com

Photo courtesy of J. Pearce

It is difficult to exaggerate how beautiful West Virginia is.  When my brother married, it was no surprise that he and his bride-to-be wanted the wedding to take place at the West Virginia home.  The ceremony was outdoors, in front of the cabin, set against the backdrop of the woods and the rolling hills.

Travels with Charlie: WEST VIRGINA Coal Experiment {Booking Across the USA} - Alldonemonkey.com

Photo courtesy of J. Pearce

We live on the West Coast now, and my grandparents sold the cabin years ago, so I was glad for the opportunity to introduce my son to West Virginia through the Travels with Charlie book on the Southeastern states, Down South from Blue Apple Books.Travels with Charlie - Blue Apple Books

Down South is part of a series of books for young children about the states of the US.  Since Monkey loves maps (and I love teaching him about geography), I knew he would love this book, and he does!  He frequently asks to read his “Charlie book” and loves poring over the pages.  The books are so cute and creative – each state is featured with fun facts plus a map with cartoon renderings of the main state attractions.  Best of all is trying to find the dog Charlie hidden on each map!

One of the aspects featured on the West Virginia map is coal.  For good or for ill, West Virginia’s modern history has been powerfully shaped by the coal industry, and continues to be today.

Monkey loves geology (thank you, Magic School Bus!), so I decided that our extension activity would be a science experiment about how coal is created.

There are many versions of this experiment out there, but I found this tutorial very easy to follow, plus it was designed for just two weeks (as opposed to the four weeks required in others).  I’m sure the results would have been even better over four weeks, but I was still happy with how this turned out.

You can find all the instructions on the original post, but basically the experiment is about seeing how leaves, ferns, and twigs decompose, to get a glimpse of how fossils and coal are formed.

We left our leaves and ferns to rot for 14 days.  Here is how they fared:

Travels with Charlie: WEST VIRGINIA Coal Experiment {Booking Across the USA} - Alldonemonkey.com

Travels with Charlie: WEST VIRGINIA Coal Experiment {Booking Across the USA} - Alldonemonkey.com

At the end of the 14 days, I said it was time to explore the decomposed materials.  Monkey was a bit hesitant to poke around in the icky sand, but he warmed up quickly, and I had to keep Baby from plunging his little arm in up to his shoulder.  As I mentioned before, I’m sure you could observe more profound change over a longer period of time, but even over just the two weeks it was easy to see how the leaves (but not as much the ferns!) had started to decompose.  We were also able to observe how the plants left imprints on the damp sand, opening up a discussion of fossil formation.

This was a fun way to learn about geology, and Monkey had fun checking on our “sand experiment” as it progressed.

Have you ever visited West Virginia?

 

Booking Across the USA Trip 2 created by growingbookbybook.com

I am so excited to be taking part in the Booking Across USA Project, put together by the amazing Jodie of Growing Book by Book.

For more details and to enter the giveaway, visit the main Booking Across the USA page.  Be sure to also visit the other participants in the series for fun crafts and activities for all 50 states:

Growing Book by Book, Everyday Snapshots, Teaching in the Fast Lane, The Educators’ Spin On It, Crayonbox Learning, Enchanted Homeschooling Mom, 3rd Grade Thoughts, Mama Miss, Teaching Stars, Fabulously First, Lemon Lime Adventures, True Aim Education, Guided Math, Primary Inspired, Surviving a Teacher’s Salary, Second Grade Smartypants, The Brown Bag Teacher, The Preschool Toolbox, Country Fun, Picture Books & Pirouettes, One Lesson at a Time, The Resource(ful) Room, Creative Family Fun, Peace, Love, and First Grade, Edventures with Kids, Africa to America, Teach Beside Me, Elementary Matters, Inspiring 2 NH Kids, Pink Stripey Socks, Kid World Citizen, iGameMom, Second Grade Math Maniac, Rockin’ Teacher Materials, Great Peace Academy, Kathy Griffin’s Teaching Strategies, Journey of a Substitute Teacher, My (Not So) Elementary Life, Stir the Wonder, Kidding Around Greenville, The Good Long Road, Kathy’s Cluttered Mind, Curls and a Smile, Dilly Dabbles, Mama Smiles, Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy Crafts, Sprout’s Bookshelf, All Done Monkey, Growing Firsties, ALLternative Learning, Delightful Learning, Kids Yoga Stories, and Where Imagination Grows.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial