Another year, another ice castles trip in the books! It’s so much fun to see P enjoy it more and more with each year. When we left, I asked her what her favorite part of the ice castles was. Her reply? “the ice castles!”. Haha. She loved all of it. Playing in the snow, feeling the smooth ice, going through tunnels, having hot chocolate, and meeting the princesses. Ok fine, maybe she didn’t looooove the princesses (not a princess girl). But she did love the prizes they were giving out so she reluctently took a photo with them. Whatev, at least I got the photo ;)
I feel like I don’t share enough here photos from our day trips around New England, and I’m going to try and do that more! That’s one of the best thing about living in Boston - such easy access to so many other fun states nearby! We’ve visited Providence and Newport RI, Stowe VT, many areas in NH, and Acadia in ME. Before the new year, we decided to take a quick day trip up to Portland, ME for the first time to do a little exploring.
Some highlights from the trip:
visiting the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport- Penny loved the giant boot, the fish tank, all the animals, and the big chalkboard in the kids area!
Coffee (and hot chocolate for P) at Tandem Coffee and Bakery - really fun and photogenic wall, too!
Walking near the water and around Old Port a bit
Lunch at Duckfat (get the thai chili mayo with the fries - yum! and the apple cider and rosemary spirtzer was delicious)
Stopping in for a prize for P (log cabin building set) at Treehouse Toys
Donuts at Holy Donut
a quick stop at Fort Williams Park to see the Portland Head Light
It was kinda of a quick trip - it was cold, and the days are so so short this time of year. It’s dark so soon! But we really want to go back again in the summer when it’s warmer and the day is longer and we have more time to explore! Anyone have any recommendations for other things to do or see that are also toddler friendly? AKA will not bore a 3 year old lol.
We spent a long Father's Day weekend on our first camping trip of the summer! We changed it up from our usual spot in Acadia, ME and headed into the White Mountains in NH instead. We started out with a quick mini hike the first day, survived a long 5.4 mile hike the second day (which included a railroad bridge and a waterfall!), and spent a lot of time hanging out at the campsite.
Penny definitely takes after her daddy, and loves camping. She slept and napped in the tent like a champ, and thought it was the coolest thing ever to sleep outside. And she could play in the dirt all day. We still have more camping to do this summer, and I eventually plan on doing a separate post on camping toddler activities, but heres a rundown on what she did this trip: painted rocks, shoveled and sifted dirt, played with glow sticks, rode her scooter, looked at things through binoculars, "threw" a frisbee, and played hide and seek behind trees. I have a few more ideas for her for next time, so I can't wait!
I didn't include any pictures here, but we also crawled out of the woods one day to go to Story Land - an amusement park for young kids. It's such a cute park, and Penny LOVED that she could actually ride so many rides. Aaaaand She met Daniel Tiger (and gave him hugs!). If you are ever in the White Mountains of NH and have toddlers or small kids, you should definitely check it out!
While we were in Florida to visit the parks in Orlando, we actually stayed with my brother and his girlfriend in Tampa. They took us to Clearwater Beach, we hung out at their community pool, and we spent Mother's day at brunch, walking Tampa's riverwalk, and visiting the children's museum.
P.S - mine and P's matching swimsuits are from Kortni Jeane.
You guys, we came up with the idea of doing a Disney trip the night of my birthday. We booked it the next day and were on a plane a couple weeks later. That's crazy for us because we never do last minute trips! I'm a planner. But we wanted to squeeze in a trip before Penny turned two, so we could still fly her for free on our laps.
Anyway, I wanted to share some photos from the trip! Surprisingly, I didn't take nearly as many photos as I though I would or that I normally do. I guess I was having too much fun to even think about pulling out my camera. Oh well!
We only had one day to spend at Disney, so we chose Magic Kingdom since it is the most toddler friendly out of all the parks. You guys, Penny did SO good and loved every minute of it. I'd been to Disney World when I was younger, but this trip was so much more fun watching her enjoy it. We rode the teacups over and over and over and she thought it was the very best thing every time. She also loved the Dumbo ride and all the singing fish on The Little Mermaid ride! Turns out she likes seeing all the characters from afar, but meeting them up close was disaster haha (see the photo below with poor Goofy). She took a nice long stroller nap while we sat near the castle and listened to one of the shows, and she picked out a Mickey bubble wand and kid's stationary kit as her souvenirs. And that hat. That freakin adorable hat that she kept on her head THE WHOLE DAY. We seriously did not want to leave at the end of the day. I can't wait to take her back again (and take more photos next time haha).
We debated what to do the next day. Should we do Animal Kingdom? Harry Potter World?
Ultimately we decided to do the park hopper pass to Universal Studios becauseas a diehard HP fan, I can't be in Orlando and NOT visit Harry Potter World. We got engaged there 7 years ago when it was only one side of the park, and I've been dying to go back. This time we got to finally see the Diagon Alley side and ride the Hogwarts Express. I highly recommend it to any big Harry Potter fan. It is seriously so magical. I didn't think it was possibly, but the Diagon Alley side is actually even cooler than the Hogsmead side.
BUT. While I'm happy we did it and I LIVE for that place, Universal isn't exactly small toddler friendly. Unlike Disney, even most of their kids rides have height requirements that someone Penny's size doesn't meet. While she did enjoy her first truly leg and taste of bitterer, there were only 2 rides in Seuss land she could ride. She did enjoy the rope course play area in Jurassic Park though, so that come highly recommended from my almost-2 year old if you ever visit.
Like I said, I'm glad we visited this time. But next time (hopefully next year!), I think we'll concentrate on Disney for Penny!
Our heads and hearts are already gearing up fro spring, but mother nature has had other ideas. With one nor'easter after another pummeling us with snow, we've had to find ways to keep busy indoors still. Zach's coworker told him about the fun interactive exhibits at the Peabody Essex Museum, and it was such a perfect snowy saturday trip!
Penny could probably live in that balloon room, and I don't blame her.
P.S - locals, the fun XYZT exhibit runs through April 22nd, and the Play exhibit (with the balloon room) runs through May 6th!
We made our annual trip up to NH to see the Ice Castle this past weekend. I get so excited for this trip every year! P was really little when we went last year, but she was able to understand and enjoy it more this year which was so ridiculously cute. She loves snow, and the little mini ice slides were a hit!
Every year when I post our pictures (see 2015-2017 here), I get a few questions about it. So I thought I'd share a few tips if anyone else decides to visit for themselves! I think there may only be a couple weeks left in the season for NH, but you could always plan ahead for next year, too!
The ice castle we visit is in Lincoln NH, but there are other locations in Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, and Canada (visit there website for info). Our experience is only at the NH location, but I'm sure a lot of my tips apply to the others, as well.
The biggest thing, that is pretty deceiving from all of my photos, is that it actually gets VERY busy and crowded. SO...
- Buy your tickets online ahead of time. Standby tickets aren't always available.
- Try to get your tickets for the earliest timeslot of the day (this year on a Saturday it was 11am). AND get there early. We were 20 min early and lucked out because they opened the gate early. This is how I get most of the good pictures. We try to be some of the first people in there and get most of the picture taking out of the way before the wave of people start pouring in.
- UNLESS you want to see it lit up at night, which is a whole other experience. We never do this so I don't really have any tips. #sorryguys
- If you're a stickler like me about not wanting a million people in your photos, you just got to have a lot of patience. It takes a lot of strategic framing and cropping, waiting your turn for the most photogenic spots, and a little photoshop to remove the random strangers ;)
- Wear good boots. The ground is all snow and can be a little difficult to walk on without proper footwear.
- Dress the kids in full snowsuits/snowpants. And warm gloves. They'll want to crawl through the tunnels and go down the ice slides and sit on the ice throwns!
- Speaking of kids, don't bring a stroller. You'll never make it on the snowy ground. Bring a sled with a string to pull them around. And wear small babies in carriers.
- I think they may list appearances on the website, or you may just get lucky and be there when Elsa and Anna and Olaf make a visit!
- This isn't about the ice castle itself, but every year we head to lunch at Gypsy Cafe after we're done there. It's our favorite spot! Try the grilled cheese fondue and cranberry mac and cheese.
P.S - this is not sponsored at all. I just love this place and thought I'd share what I've learned over the years! Now scroll and enjoy some more photos. I think this year's photos may rival 2015 as my favorite set.
Zach and I have been making a couple of trips each summer to Acadia to camp (see previous years), but this is the first time taking Penny. I was a little nervous about it, you know, tent camping with a 14 month old. But it wasn't quite as bad as I thought! Girl looooooves being outside. And could just play with and collect rocks all day long. And she did great hiking.
Sleep was.... ok. She didn't take naps. Only quick cat naps in the car and carrier. And man, I know why we don't co-sleep (props to those that do!). P moved around so much, and would wake up and just want to play with us in the middle of the night. I mean, at least there was no screaming and crying. So it definitely could've been A LOT worse. But when we go back next month, we will be trading in our tiny little tent for a larger one that fits a pack and play.
But really, it was an awesome quick little trip. Take your baby on adventures! Even if it seems impossible or like too much work. Do it. I promise it will be worth it.
If anyone has any questions about what we used for her or how we did things, let me know!