Travel with Kids

7 posts

Travel The Road to Nowhere, Bryson City N.C.

Travel The Road to Nowhere

Just beyond Swain County high school in Bryson City, North Carolina, you will find “The Road to Nowhere”. To locals, it is a memory of broken promises dating back to World War II. To my family, it has become a must-do on each trip to Western North Carolina.

Shortly after we were married, we took this epic photo (which is printed on a canvas in our bedroom).

On our most recent trip to Bryson City, we recreated the photo and included our girls.

History of The Road to Nowhere

The best information I’ve found about the history of the Road to Nowhere can be found on this website.   In short, back in the 1930’s and 40’s some of Swain County’s private land was given to the Federal Government. During World War II hundreds of people in these communities were forced out of their homes and Old Highway 288 became buried under Fontana Lake.

The government was to replace the road and stretch from Bryson City to Fontana. However, when an environmental issue arose all construction stopped and the citizens named the road “The Road to Nowhere”

In 2010 a legal settlement was reached in regards to The Road to Nowhere.

It’s a really interesting read, so I’d be sure to check out the history on the Bryson City Website. 

Directions

From Bryson City, take Everet street until it turns into Lakeshore Drive and ends. There is a small parking section just outside the tunnel.

Things to Do in the Road to Nowhere

The Road to Nowhere can be an all-day adventure or just an hour or two. It’s really up to you, and what you want to do. Please be aware, if you are traveling with your family there can be some inappropriate graffiti on the walls. If you just shine your light down at your feet and not at the walls, you won’t even notice it.

Walk through the Tunnel

During your visit, you can simply walk from one end of the tunnel to the other. It will take you less than an hour, you can snap a few fun photos and be on your way.

Go Hiking

There are a few trails just beyond the Road to Nowhere. The Gold Mine Loop is only 1.2 miles. However, my Apple Watch claimed we hiked closer to 4 miles. Either way, the hike was awesome. Even with our young girls, we enjoyed this hike.

We had the privilege of having a Bryson City local join us, so we got to learn the history. See some things we might not have. He also escorted us to Fontana Lake. Just off the trail a bit, you can actually walk down to Fontana Lake, which was such a neat experience. We even got to see some bear tracks while we were down there.  If you are going to hike The Road to Nowhere, don’t forget your snacks. #momfail I left all the snacks in the car and only took some water with us.

Tips for Hiking with Toddlers

When hiking with toddlers, safety is the #1 concern. We want our children to explore and enjoy the hike but we also want them to be safe. Here are a couple recommendations for hiking with your children.

  • Use a Baby Carrier

If your toddlers are young enough or small enough to fit in a baby carrier, bring it along. Our girls (4,3 & 2) all took a turn or two in the baby carrier for this hike. This is my favorite one*

  • Buddy System

We made sure at least one adult was with each of the girls during the entirety of the hike. Helping climb up and down the mountain and give the opportunity to take a rest break throughout the hike.

Have a Picnic

The Road to Nowhere is a great spot for a picnic. Either on the other side of the tunnel or somewhere on the trail. The Road to Nowhere is a beautiful destination for a quiet picnic.

Photo Shoot

Have you considered family photos at the Road to Nowhere? Either with the beautiful foliage or the tunnel, this could be the next location for your family photo.

Exploring the Road to Nowhere

There are many things to do on The Road to Nowhere if you’ve been – leave a comment below! Let me know what you think!

If you found this post helpful, would you do me the honor of sharing on your favorite social media platform?

 

Visiting National Parks – Big Cypress National Preserve

National Parks

I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children in the years before they begin school is a solid foundation of experiences. It is those experiences that help them to make meaningful connections in the classroom.

National Parks are an amazing place to create those experiences.

Big Cypress National Preserve

We recently took a quick trip through the Big Cypress National Preserve. It was such a fun trip, one we’ve taken many times over the years but this time was different. This time we decided to pack a picnic to explore the Big Cypress.

Watch the vlog here on our Youtube Channel.

About Big Cypress National Preserve

On October 11th, 1974 Big Cypress was established as America’s first national preserve. (Happy Birthday, Big Cypress!).  There are two welcome centers in the preserve, and there are many things to do. You can go camping, hiking, or just take a drive through it and have a picnic.

With its diverse landscape and the largest habitat for the Florida Panther, it is certainly something to go on your Bucket List.  – Find out more about Big Cypress Here.

Visiting the National Parks with Kids

When visiting the National Parks with children, you will want to stop in all the welcome centers. It’s a great opportunity for them to speak with a park ranger and collect a free stamp. My girls love to ask for a map at each park.

Picnics are also a great idea when traveling through a national park with kids. I also recently introduced our girls to leaf rubbings, this can be a great craft for your family. It’s as easy as collecting a few leaves together and using some copy paper and a crayon to make an art piece. There are many things to do with your family inside a national park.

What are your favorites?

 

Love National Parks? Share the love on Pinterest!

 

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival with Kids!

The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is perfect for young families. Today I am going to share our top three favorite activities to do during the Festival.

Flower and Garden Festival with Kids

This post contains affiliate links.

About Flower and Garden Festival

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. It began on February 28th, 2018 and ends on May 28th, 2018. Each Spring Epcot is filled with beautifully cultivated topiaries, gardens and pop-up venues to try fresh and unique menu options. There is so much to see and do at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, you might want to plan a few days during your visit so that you can see it all.  Since the Festival is held at the Epcot park, you will need to purchase a park ticket.

Shop before you go!

Imagination Play Garden

The imagination play garden is located on the walkway to the world showcase near the Figment ride. This play area is perfect for children of all ages and with plenty of chairs in the shade, you won’t want to skip it. The garden is only open until dusk, so don’t wait until the end of the day, because it will be closed.

Inside the Imagination Play Garden, you will find several xylophones, and materials to create music. You will also find chairs under the shade, this is a great spot to take a break!

Road to Florida 500

If you have a Disney / Pixar Cars fan in your life, you will not want to miss this little play area. Just outside this section, you will find Topiaries for Lightning Mcqueen, Mater and Cruz Ramirez. Cruz Ramirez was introduced to us during the Cars 3 movie. You will have to go watch the movie to find out all about her story.

This play area is much smaller than the imagination garden, but there are plenty of nice shaded seats for parents to watch their children play.  My girls enjoyed racing around the track, and playing in the tires!

StorybookErin - Flower and Garden Festival

The Goodness Garden Butterfly House

Our third favorite must-see activity for kids during the Flower and Garden Festival is the butterfly house presented by Gogo Squeeze.   Located on the other side of Starbucks this little house is both beautiful and educational. Your family will have the opportunity to see hundreds of butterflies fluttering around the house. There are many educational posters to learn about the lifecycle of a butterfly.

This is a walk-through experience and no seating is available. You are permitted to take your stroller inside.  However, I found it to be a little cumbersome to navigate through the exhibit. I ended up taking the youngest to have a snack while my husband and our older girls continued to observe the butterflies.

As mentioned before, there are so many things to do in the Flower and Garden Festival, so be sure to allow plenty of time to explore the park during your visit.

Looking for the most frugal way to get to Orlando? Check out this post from my friend Keri over at Flip Flop Weekend.

Share on Pinterest!

StorybookErin - Flower and Garden Festival

 

Matheson Hammock Park, Coral Gables Florida

This post contains affiliate links. 

 

I have lived in Florida all of my life, and even though I enjoy a day at the beach I hardly ever go – especially now that I have three beautiful toddlers in my life. For the past two years one of the awesome Mom’s in my tribe has been telling us to take the kids to Matheson Hammock Park to play in the ocean, and since my sister was going to be in town I finally said YES, and we had the BEST time!

Matheson Hammock Park
 is absolutely perfect for young families!  

About Matheson Hammock Park: 

“In 1930, William J. Matheson and his son Hugh donated approximately 85 acres of tropical hardwood hammock forest off Old Cutler Road to Dade County, to be used and maintained as a botanical garden. Referred as “Matheson Botanical Hammock”, it was the original extent of Matheson Hammock Park, which was also the first public park to be established in Dade County. 

In 1934-35, Dade County purchased an additional 420 acres of lands adjacent to Matheson Hammock Park, increasing its size to over 500 acres. Matheson Hammock opened in 1930 by the county’s first director of public parks, A. D. Barnes, and designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillip; today it is owned and managed by Miami-Dade County.” – directly from this website  

 

Address 
9610 Old Cutler Road
Coral Gables, FL 33156

What to Expect:

Located in beautiful Coral Gables Florida, Matheson Hammocks Park has a fully functional marina, kite-boarding, and sailing assessability and what makes it so perfect for young families or new swimmers is the man-made atoll pool. This style of pool is filled naturally by Biscayne Bay and is very shallow, warm and the best part – no waves to knock little ones down.

There was a lifeguard on duty while we were there, which made this momma of three feel a little extra safe while swimming. At one time there was a nice restaurant but after some hurricane damage the restaurant is currently closed, that being said you will need to bring plenty of food and water.  

With stunning views of the Miami Beach skyline, you and your family will love having a picnic under the palm trees. Get ideas on what to pack in your lunchbox here.  

Be sure to bring $5.00 cash with you if you are coming on a weekday of $7.00 if visiting on a holiday or during the weekend, and have an AMAZING day soaking up some vitamin D.

Tips for a perfect day at the beach! 

  • Bring a Wagon to carry all your belongings, we have this collapsible one that is perfect for the beach and will fit into most vehicles with no problem!
  • Bring a water bottle that squirts water to wash off your hands before eating.
  • Wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen, we LOVE Babyganics mineral-based sunscreen.

 

 

If the Ocean is calling you, but the large crowds of south beach are not, 

 

 you will definitely want to check out Matheson Hammock Park. 
 
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Le Cellier Steakhouse, Epcot

About Le Cellier Steakhouse

Tucked away in the Canadian Pavilion is a beautiful garden, with a waterfall and the most delicious steakhouse you’ll find on Disney Property.  Le Cellier Steakhouse has been high on my husband’s bucket list of Disney Restaurants to try, so for our 8th Wedding Anniversary, we thought we’d give it a try, and the food and the experience did not disappoint!

The theming was so perfect, you felt as though you were entering into a wine cellar with the dim lights and beautiful architecture. When you are seated, you will be seated in one of the provinces of Canada, so look for some specific details in the section you are seated.

Menu Options

The attention to detail at Walt Disney World is remarkable when we were seated and handed our menu’s I literally almost cried when I saw that our menus were personalized with “Happy Anniversary” at the top and an image of Cinderella and Prince Charming Dancing – this was so special to me because Cinderella is my FAVORITE Princess.

There were so many delicious options, and not everything on the menu was steak.  We tried the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup as an appetizer and it was delicious! – Highly recommend this! 

 

How much does it cost? 

 
If you are on the Disney dining plan, your meal will cost 2 table-service credits.
If you not on the dining plan, adult meals are between $35-$55*
Reservations can be made 180 days in advance by calling 
(407) WDW-DINE or  (407) 939-3463
*DVC and Passholder Discounts are available.


Is it worth 2-Table Service Credits? 

Personally, I wouldn’t use two table service credits for this meal. There are other dining experiences that I’d love to try and so I think I’d pass on this restaurant. The food, atmosphere, and service were impeccable, I just think I wouldn’t use two credits on it.

If you LOVE steak and wine or are celebrating something special – absolutely! It was such a romantic experience and our server gave us an adorable chocolate to share and one to take home for later, so if you are on your honeymoon, or celebrating something special you might want to consider this dining experience.

Bottom line, it depends on the type of experience you wish to have.

Is Le Cellier Kid Friendly? 

We took our three-month-old with us, and it was okay for a young baby but I wouldn’t recommend bringing toddlers to this restaurant.  With the romantic lighting and atmosphere, my kids would struggle to sit still (or at all). Given the price tag, I’d recommend leaving the kids with family or a babysitter for your dining.
Overall, I’d recommend this restaurant for a celebration or a date but would not for just a meal in the parks – there are so many other quick options that are delicious and less expensive.
 
 
Happy Disney Planning! 
 
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Visiting the Everglades Outpost Rescue Center in Homestead Florida

This post contains affiliate links. 
 
For Christmas this year we asked that people limit the number of toys given to our children, and try to find ways to create memories with them, we even opted not to give our children a Christmas gift, but to allow them to buy a gift for each other.  It was such a fun Christmas, and we are still going through some of the experiences we were gifted.

One of them was a Groupon for The Everglades Outpost in Homestead Florida.

About The Everglades Outpost
 
In 1991 Bob Freer and his wife Barbara opened their home as a rescue for wild animals. This non-profit rescue center is available for Florida-native and non-native animals.  The outpost believes in the dignity of every animal, and that is why they work hard to support and care for the animals.

If possible, the animals are released back into the wild, but if not they are loved and cared for at The Outpost. – Read more Here.

Address
35601 SW 192 Ave
Homestead, FL 33034
305-247-8000

The Outpost is open from 10AM – 6 PM on Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Appointments can be scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday. 


Membership Pricing
One-Day: $15.00 for adults; $10;00 for children and 5 years and younger are FREE

Check Groupon for tickets, at one time there were some available for 38% off

 

What to Expect at the Everglades Outpost
You can expect to meet friendly volunteers eager to share their love for the animals with all the visitors. You can expect to see a whole bunch of Alligators, some wolves, tigers and a cute little zebra.

This attraction is not a zoo, as the animals have mostly been rescued or have been found injured. Around 12:00 p.m. on weekends, there is an informational session and show with the Alligators.

There are also a few picnic tables around the facilities and guests are allowed to bring snacks – just remember, please do not to feed the animals.  

After our visit to the Everglades Outpost, we went across the street to Robert is Here for a Milkshake!

If you are looking for more things to do in the area, I suggest you check out Robert is Here for the most delicious milkshake you’ve ever tasted and perhaps some hiking on the trails in the Everglades National Park – here are some of our favorite trails to explore!  

Now go live an Adventurous Story! 

Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast, Trattoria al Forno

Ever since Disney Parks Blog announced the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast I have been wanting to go and take my girls. My oldest daughter is a HUGE Rapunzel fan, and her younger sisters have just fallen in love with Ariel so this restaurant was the perfect fit for our family. 
 

About the Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast

This character breakfast in the newest one available in the Disney parks, and just opened in April of 2017.  Located just outside of the Epcot Resorts on the Boardwalk, this breakfast is the perfect option for guests who want to experience Disney magic without the cost of a park ticket. 

Reservations at Trattoria al Forno

Breakfast reservations begin at 7:30 a.m., and end at 11:00 a.m.
 
Pricing: 
  • 1 table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan 
  • $15-20 per child
  • $15-34 per adult 

 

Since this is a fairly new character dining reservations are recommended and can be made up to 180 days prior to your visit.
 

Dining reservations can be made by calling: (407) 939-5277 

 

The Food at Trattoria al Forno

The food was quite good and very filling, we each got something different off the menu and shared with each other. One of my favorite things about the restaurant is the uniquely themed pastries. 

You can check the full menu here. 

 

Do I recommend Trattoria al Forno

 
Yes, absolutely. 

Unlike the Akershus restaurant in Epcot, this dining experience has both Prince and Princesses, making it an ideal restaurant for families with both young boys and girls. 

Review of Akershus. 

 

What to Expect at the Bon Voyage Breakfast 

 

Each of the characters will come to your table to sign autographs, take photos and converse with you. My daughters were especially excited to be interacting with Flynn Rider and Prince Eric.  This was a new experience for them, and they still giggle about meeting the prince’s when going through their book of signatures. 
 
After you eat breakfast, make sure you leave a little extra time in your schedule to explore the Boardwalk. There are so many fun things to do on the Boardwalk with your family or you can enter into Epcot in the International Gateway.  
 

Frugal Tip*

Although there is a small gift shop just outside the restaurant, you can purchase your outfits ahead of time and save a significant amount of money. 

Planning a Disney Trip? 

Join my FREE Disney Facebook Group! 

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* This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to purchase it will cost nothing extra for you but a small percentage will go to support our family.