Hey fellow Disneyland goer, heeeeeeeeey!
If you've landed here you either
A. Love Disneyland like we do and read blog posts about it like we do.
B. You are headed there and wanted to peruse a guide to dairy free treats in the park for ideas.
C. You have food allergy kiddos, or have food allergies yourself, and you are seeking super safe ways to enjoy treats in the park.
While I wrote this post for all of the above, my heart writes these posts for the families who feel lost while traveling. Who don't know where to begin and need a friend - one who's gone there before and waded in the unknown waters of navigating menus and taking phone calls with park chefs and testing foods for safety. THAT'S where my passion for this comes from. My hope for you is that you will EMBRACE traveling yourself or with your kids. That you will find MANY options of food you can TRULY enjoy EVERY DAY. Not settling for the plainest one or two options on the menu like I did in the start of my journey.
Today, I'm writing a post on our FAVORITE dairy-free park treats and drinks! And because we are 100% gluten-free all of these items are that as well! A more comprehensive allergen-friendly park food guide is in the works, but we had SO much fun staying cool and sampling dairy free beverages, ice creams and treats in Disneyland and California Adventure that I had to share.
All of the dairy-free delicacies are separated by park + land below to make it easy to navigate the parks with this guide.
New Orleans Square
Buena Vista Street
This post was sponsored in part by the Howard Johnson Anaheim and may contain affiliate links. All opinions are authentic and my own.
This past week we took Grey to Disneyland to celebrate his third birthday and we were hosted by the cute + retro Howard Johnson hotel in Anaheim. We were also asked to take over their Instagram, and if you followed along their stories on August 20th, you got to see some amazing behind the scenes fun of our Disney day, including our first trip to Galaxy's Edge and tons of gluten free and dairy free park eats!!
We had SUCH a good time and I wanted to write a full post on the top ten best parts of the Hojo Anaheim, because there are a few things we would have missed had we not gone looking and I don't want anyone to miss out if they book a stay!
And speaking of booking a stay, I have partnered with them to offer my readers 15% your stay or 20% off if you're an Annual Pass holder! With their already amazing rates, you can't say no to an extra dose of Disney. Read on to see the hotel highlights and snag the code.
10. The Proximity To Disneyland
When timed, our walk from our room to the gates of Disneyland was just over seven minutes. That was with 4 of us, including a toddler. Amazing. No shuttle cost, no parking costs.
If someone in your party can't walk that distance or if there is inclement weather, there IS a shuttle available from the HoJo Anaheim for a very low and reasonable rate.
9. The Perfect Instagram Photo and Cute Merch
Have you eyed cuuuuuute photos taken in the oversized orange HoJo chair? Now YOU and your fam can hop in and say "cheeeeese". Grey LOVED how big it was and I loved getting cute family photos before even getting into the park. It was fun to be able to send family back home postable pics on our first day in the hotel.
8. The Amenities to Make Your Stay Comfortable
As a gluten-free and dairy-free traveler, a kitchen, kitchenette or food prep station is a MUST. We travel often to timeshare resorts or Air B&B's to fit this criteria, however, I was pleasantly suprised to see that the HoJo provided a mini fridge (that was so spacious!), a microwave and a Keurig. I got to start our mornings off with a piping hot cup of coffee (extra flavors, decaf and tea available in the gift shop) and a cup of hot oatmeal and chilled fruit. It was a wonderful start to a busy Disney day!
The shower was also fantastic (I'm a water pressure and temp snob, haha) and they even provided a cute rubber ducky for Grey for post-park bathtime.
In addition to in-room amenities, the gift shop was PACKED with goods. From discounted Mickey Ears and cute HoJo shirts to snacks and all the essentials you may have missed while packing.
7. The Magic Begins at Check-In
I think I was just as excited as Grey when, upon check-in, the staff greeted him with Disney-worthy enthusiasm, a balloon animal pirate sword and pirate sword!
Grey said "this vacation is so fun!" on the way to our room, so I knew we were off to a good start. They also had temporary "If I'm Lost" tattoos you could add your number too, which helps gives parents a little more peace of mind
6. The Retro Remodel
There is something about a retro design that makes being near Disneyland that much better. The HoJo Anaheim's Building One (and soon to be building two, three and so on as they roll out more of the renovation) has implemented a retro design that feels both luxuriously modern as well as vintage, reminiscent of Disney in the sixties.
5. The Comfortable Beds
After busy days in Disneyland and at the water park we needed great nights sleep. Their beds, bedding and pillows envelop you and are so extremely comfortable it made it hard to leave to hit the parks early each day. Even my toddler slept wonderful! Thank you HoJo.
4. The Friendly Staff
From booking our room and checking in, to meeting our needs during our stay and through the check out process, the staff was extremely friendly. With how many customers they serve each day, they always had a smile on their face and were willing to help us with what we needed.
3. View of Disneyland + Nightly Fireworks
In the newly renovated Building One, you can request a view of Disneyland. You get a fantastic birds eye view of Matterhorn Mountain and the Guardian's of The Galaxy Tower.
The first night we checked in we snuggled up on the patio in our jammies and watched the fireworks show and it was amazing.
2. The Ease of Booking
It was such a simple booking process and the price was so fair for how close we were to Disneyland! We had our trip booked in under five minutes and we were able to use a fantastic coupon code as Annual Passholders.
I have that coupon code to share with my friends too, so that you guys can start making your magical memories too!
Use the code 1000022077 upon check out for 15% off your stay.
If you're an Annual Passholder you can receive 20% off your stay by using the code 1000025935 upon check out.
1. Castaway Cove
This was probably one of the BEST hotel additions I've ever experienced in my 30+ years of traveling. I instantly regretted not booking an extra day outside of visiting Disneyland just so we could relax in our hotel and let Grey enjoy a FULL day at Castaway Cove. The hotels on-site water park for little ones of all ages, he spent a good two hours post check-out before we drove home playing with other guests, swimming and using the fun water features.
During our stay at the We Ko Pa Resort in Fountain Hills, Arizona we were escorted by the lovely Gail Manginelli of GM and Associates PR to visit Fort McDowell Adventures. A sprawling adventure and entertainment venue set up two and half miles into the Sonoran Desert.
Set against beautiful mountains, there is something for everyone and I can't wait to share more this fall when we visit to experience what Fort McDowell Adventures has to offer hands on.
We started off our tour by visiting Rosa's Ranch, a charming Western BBQ cookout venue that can host 50-200 and can be rented for corporate events, family reunions, intimate weddings and more.
The authenticity was on point and I could picture shoot outs, wild horses, roasting s'mores over the open fire pits and the smell of BBQ wafting through the air. There were so many photo opp areas as well which would make for the perfect cookout keepsake.
The second venue we visited, La Puesta del Sol, was a breathtaking wedding, concert and corporate venue. The name means "the setting sun" and it's Arizona's best kept secret for one of the best places to watch the desert sunset.
Walking through you can envision a beautiful ceremony. Twinkle lights, built in stage and dance floor, bar and a fun and whimsical Dirty Docs saloon for photos or bachelor/bachelorette parties, the venue hosts up to 1600 guests.
Want to experience adventure in the desert? Beginning in the fall, you can choose where to begin. Take a horseback ride along the Verde River, participate in a real life City Slickers cattle drive, a drive through the desert in a Green Zebra Tomcar or cruise on a segway with a group of friends to experience the local desert plant life.
You can add a lunch or dinner option to any adventure to make it a well-rounded experience and the adventures are perfect for team building.
And for the full vacation experience, you can get a room at the WeKoPa Resort to enjoy a nice meal or a dip in the gorgeous pool to relax after your fun-filled day.
You can read our full post on our stay here, and view the highlight video we captured of the beautiful resort on our channel.
This post was sponsored by the beautiful WeKoPa Resort in Fountain Hills, Arizona. The review and all opinions are my own.
Walk on to the property at We Ko Pa Resort and Conference Center in Fountain Hills, Arizona and you feel as if you're truly transported to a luxury summer vacation alongside the Yavapai Tribe. Meaning "four peaks", We Ko Pa is set against peaked mountains that make for beautiful views morning or night.
You can watch our full We Ko Pa Resort VLOG highlight on our channel here.
The authentic music greets you as you head towards the lobby, taking in the sweeping mountain views. The summer smells of blooming florals and suntan lotion envelop you, and the taste of prickly pear jam comes to mind. A full sensory experience, our stay at WeKoPa was relaxing and fun and we can't wait to go back to experience the adventures available through Fort McDowell Adventures once the weather cools. We got to take a tour of the properties and excursions as a sneak peek - you can see those photos here!
The resorts attention to detail caught our eye as something truly unique. The homage to water and wood was breathtaking and was seen in the details from the rippled glass to the river stones leading from the pool, to the lobby and all the way up to the premier golf courses pro shop.
Upon entering our Junior Golf Suite, we felt at home. From the mini kitchen that made it easy to prep meals in room, to the cozy living room, the main living space made it nice to have a large expanse to play games, entertain our toddler and watch family movies cuddled up in the evening. The bedroom was a haven for good sleep with a luxuriously comfortable king size bed and black out curtains. The large chair and ottoman in the room was a dream for reading stories to our little guy to get him to sleep and for reading a novel once he was asleep in bed.
The bathroom included a lit makeup mirror which made getting ready a breeze and the jetted tub was the perfect touch for sore muscles after a day of exploring Fountain Hills.
You can view our view the full room tour on our highlight VLOG on our channel by clicking here.
After waking on day one, we headed to the resorts onsite restaurant, Ahnala. It was a large eatery that served southwest inspired breakfast, lunch and dinner and they were able to easily accommodate my allergies! For breakfast I got the Traditional Breakfast with eggs, gluten free avocado toast, plain breakfast potatoes and piping hot coffee. Doug enjoyed a breakfast burrito, (that was wrapped in egg instead of a tortilla!) and Grey had the kid's buttermilk pancakes. All of the staff we encountered, from check-in to check-out, were so friendly and helpful as well.
Before heading to the pool, I made a stop at the fitness center, which is quaint but offers treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and free weights. Enough to get in a great post-meal workout. I peeked in to the Amethyst Spa, and saw they had some amazing summer deals. You don't have to be staying at the resort to visit the spa, so if you're looking for a relaxing massage, a mani/pedi or a unique facial, give them a call.
Once we had a light lunch in the room, we headed the pool! It was PERFECT weather, 100 degrees and sunny and the water couldn't have been more lovely. The crowds were light and we were able to secure a few chairs in a shady area by the edge of the pool. Grey had a blast splashing and swimming with Doug and I, and I had a chance to lay out and work on my tan a bit with a book.
Conveniently located near Fountain Hills, Scottsdale and Chandler - there are many dining options. Aside from the resorts own Anhala, and room service options, the resorts adjacent casino for the adult crowd, Fort McDowell Casino offers dining options as well that are just a few steps from the hotels pool.
For those who love to golf, the resorts two world class courses (and home to Arizona's #1 golf course!) at the We Ko Pa Golf Club are beautiful year round. The rolling green grass against the desert landscape and iconic Red Mountains lends a contrast that is a sight to see. The golf course also features an on-site pro shop and an eatery that features classic favorites such as burgers, sandwiches and entrees with patio seating that features postcard-esque views.
Our second morning was spent venturing out to fun family activities you can see nearby. The Fountain Hills fountain park is a MUST visit if you haven't been before. For littles, the BEST offsite activity we found was visiting the Crayola Experience, just 25 miles from the resort at the Chandler Fashion Center Mall.
Fall-Spring you can visit Fort McDowell Adventures, located right near the resort. Horseback riding, boat tours, segway desert tours, Green Zebra rides, cowboy cookouts and more can be enjoyed and we can't wait to experience some of what they have to offer come September.
You can view our full post on Fort McDowell adventures here. Stay tuned for our full VLOG as well!
After a day out playing, we returned back to the pool to cool down and take a dip and enjoyed dinner and a movie cozy up in our room.
The next morning we headed home, filled with a million memories. It doesn't take venturing far to adventure and connect with your loved ones.
We are staycation lovers through and through and I highly recommend WeKoPa Resort for your next family getaway in the desert.
View their Summer Staycation rates and packages (starting at just $99!) by visiting their website:
My husband has always been stellar at surprising me. When we were dating and newly married it was tickets to my favorite concerts, earrings hidden on stuffed animals, nice dinners and, the one thing I joke is my love language, travel.
Vacations, staycations - if you surprise me with a vacation I'm pretty much goo.
Since having our sweet Grey, its obviously been harder to surprise each other with spontaneous getaways. However, for my 36th birthday this past week, my husband was able to pull it off in grand style. And it was lovely!
He had gone early to Cibola Vista Resort and Spa one day after getting off work before coming to pick up Grey and I and set up the room to contain birthday decor, balloons, fresh red roses, a vegan cheesecake and had packed the refrigerator in our penthouse suite (Arizona hotel rates are AWESOME in the summer, so you can get BIG rooms for lower prices!) for dinner and breakfast the next day.
The dreamy decor was modern farmhouse which made me feel right at home! The penthouse suite contained a full kitchen, dining area, living room with pull out sofa, a balcony with grill a huge bathroom and a king bedroom with its own large vanity area.
The beds were soooo comfy and the place felt homey and luxurious at the same time. Having booked two nights, Doug planned on us spending the next two full days at the resort which was the perfect length.
It was nice having this room because we grilled steaks for my birthday dinner and it was nice to have him grill them right on our own patio while Grey was able to play in the living room with me and we didn't have leave the room. After dinner we explored the grounds a bit and made our plan for the next day.
We slept in a little, which was so nice, and woke up and cooked a fresh breakfast of eggs, bacon and fresh fruit right in our kitchen then we headed for the pool for the day! (The hotel also has on site games, tennis and a full service day spa.)
The resort has two pools (one that is adult only, and then the large family pool) however, even when Doug and I stayed here kid-free, we opted for the family pool because it's the larger of the two. The water was PERFECT and Grey loved that it was a wading style pool so he could walk around and play in the water. The water slide is for older kids but it is awesome and was busy all day!
They also hosted food trucks the weekend we were there and played a movie on the lawn the night before we checked out which was fun to watch while we were swimming!
It was such a fun filled weekend in the sun and we can't wait to go back.
Have you visited Cibola Vista or a Blue Green property? We would love to hear your favorites as we are Blue Green Sampler owners and have some points to use!
*this post is not sponsored. This was a vacation we paid for ourselves.
Our spring kicked off with a trip to Las Vegas just us three, my husband, myself and our two and a half year old. Visiting a city as busy and as adult-centric as Las Vegas, we prepared our itinerary a little more rigid than we normally would. As a couple who had frequented Las Vegas often prior to becoming parents, we knew a couple of things to avoid once we had our little guy in tow. Those things we avoided namely being -
Now that we’ve covered a couple of the things NOT to do with a toddler in Las Vegas, let’s talk about all of the things you CAN do. We visited Friday through Monday and we still didn’t do EVERYTHING that was available to us. We had a packed, fun-filled four days. You just have to know what’s available. Below are our favorites and extra suggestions!
This was by far our favorite. I know, I know, you should save the best for last but I wanted to start our trip here because I knew it'd be epic to Grey and so I found it fitting to start the post here too. If you have any Marvel fans or pirate fans in your brood, you'll want this at the top of your list.
- Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N
Located inside Treasure Island hotel and casino, this has to be one of the most well done attractions on the Strip. Disney quality, clean, interactive and SO fun. It was worth the higher end ticket price.
- Pirate Ship
No longer a show, it's still cool to take the kids outside to see the massive pirate ship in the water on the property.
- Pirate Shop
Grey LOVED perusing this shop and we ended up purchasing pirates gold, a really cool faux leather treasure chest and pirate guns for play battle that he enjoyed doing with daddy throughout our entire trip.
Showcase Mall, NYNY Hotel and Casino (and all the sugar)
- M&M World
When I asked Grey what he wanted to do when we went to a Las Vegas, he replied with "get a candy treat". We don't do much sugar at home, so he knows when we travel he normally gets to choose something. Boy or boy was it an OVERLOAD of options. The four story, 28,000 square foot M&M World has ENDLESS candy and merchandise options to please any age 1-100. Grey walked away with a small cup of multicolored milk chocolate M&M's and a lollipop.
- Hershey's Chocolate World
As if that wasn't enough of a toddler sugar high, Hershey's Chocolate towers over the strip directly across the street inside the famous New York New York Hotel and Casino. It boasts a S'Mores bar, milkshake shop, cookie counter and sections devoted to all of their famous candies. Since little man had gotten to choose M&M's, we opted for daddy and Grey to share a chocolate covered strawberry here. For us with dairy intolerance, there was one option by a high end Hershey's partner that was high quality dark chocolate and dairy free! So I was pleased to see that. The NYNY Hotel is also home to a thrilling roller coaster fun for the older age kids.
We headed into Caesar's at the end of day 2 for dinner because there is a Smashburger for us gluten free and dairy free travelers! A tip: Download the Find Me Gluten Free App, it lets you know of safe Gluten Free restaurants in your area and shows you real time reviews. After dinner we strolled through the Forum Shops and found the following attractions to be great for kids.
- Caesar's Palace Fall of Atlantis Animatronic Show
This was under construction on this trip, but we have seen this before and Grey would have LOVED it. A perk? It's free!
This giant 50,000 gallon aquarium is also a free way to relax, take in the shops and let the kids watch the colorful fish swim while you get a breather.
- Trevi Gelato
This gelato stand, located by the Forum Shops replica of the Trevi Fountain, offers many dairy free flavors! We enjoyed bowls of strawberry gelato after a scrumptious dinner and all of our walking.
An oasis in the desert, when I think Mandalay Bay I think of sun, water and great shows. For littles the thing to do here is the aquarium!
Shark Reef Aquarium -
With over 2,000 species of fish and animals this aquarium is a must see. You can even interact by feeding sting rays, shark or turtles in their Aquarist for a Day program.
Another favorite! We were blessed with a beautiful 75 degree sunny day and it was the PERFECT day to see animals, enjoy some iced drinks and let Grey run out energy in the sunshine.
Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat -
Created by Siegfried and Roy (who we got to hang with in the garden on our last trip!) you can come face to face with nature's most beautiful and intelligent animals in this serene habitat. Grey LOVED seeing the lions and got to see a tiger roar, which basically made his day. The multiple gift shops also helped us grow our animal and book collections, haha. A plus: they sell Usborne books IN the park! We LOVE those!
The Volcano! -
Seriously cool and one of Grey's favorite memories, the Volcano erupts each night at 8, 9 and 10. A little late for little ones, but we caught the earliest show post dinner and headed back to bed after. It only lasts a few minutes, is located in the waters outside the Mirage Hotel and Casino and is seriously worth getting a good spot for.
All the fun of a day at the circus. Grey didn't end up wanting to do as much here as we had thought, but we still spent about two hours here after naptime and got to fill part of an afternoon!
With games and rides for all ages, the Adventuredome is a large indoor theme park. You can see a lot of the Adventuredome in our highlight video. The best rides for tots? The plane ride, carousel and our favorite - the hot air balloons!
The Midway -
A bit pricey per game, it was fun to choose our favorites and play traditional boardwalk style games!
Circus Acts -
Another free activity, the midway level of Circus Circus presents live acrobats, jugglers and more throughout the day! Grey loved sitting in the stands and taking in a short show tailored for shorter attention spans.
I wanted to book end the post with two great locales, especially you boy mamas. All things castles and knights, this was the first place that made Grey gasp in excitement when we arrived to the Strip. He's in a knight and dragon phase and he couldn't wait to explore the big white, blue and red castle. He's now asking if our next vacation can be visiting a REAL castle. So we're working that out, haha.
Tournament of Kings -
One of the coolest dining experiences on the Strip, and one of the most kid-friendly, Tournament of Kings showcases knights on horses, jousting battles and delicious fare you eat with your hands. And a plus? They can make the entire meal gluten AND dairy free if you speak to them about your allergies while making your reservation.
The Fun Dungeon -
Similar to Circus Circus' Midway, we preferred Excalibur's Fun Dungeon between the two arcades. It felt cleaner. And while the games were just as pricey, Grey was able to play two games on his on where he won stuffed animals, thus making his night!
The rest of our trip was spent shopping the Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian, playing with our new toys at the resort and taking in the lights as we drove back to our resort each night.
Have you visited Las Vegas with little ones? What DO's or DON'T's would you add?
Travel was, is, and always will be my love language. From a single girl traveling the world in my late teens to exploring the world as a newlywed with my husband in my twenties, we knew it was deeply ingrained in us to continue living our passion for adventure once we introduced kids into our family.
My son took his first luxury vacation, by the blessing of my husband’s job, at just ten-weeks-old to a resort on Coronado Island in California, his newborn toes getting to wriggle on the sandy beach for the first time. From there, we continued to plan vacations for our family and the feedback from outsiders has been mixed:
“I can’t believe you travel with your baby!”
“How do you handle road trips/flights/theme parks with a young child?”
“Travel surely can’t be as fun with kids in the mix.”
I’ve heard comments on both sides, from judgmental to joyfully cheering me on for living our life with kids, and it inspired me to write a little tip sheet on how we believe (because we live it out) that you CAN travel with kids. And not only travel, but travel WELL and LUXURIOUSLY with little kids. A mix of ‘WHY YOU SHOULD’ and ‘HOW YOU CAN’ can be found below.
1. YOU Set the Standard on What Travel Can Be
This was a big goal of ours out of the gate. We wanted to show our son that road trips, flights, hotel life, and sometimes being off-schedule for an adventure day was a part of life. It's why we started early. Taking a trip at least every other month—even if it's just a drive up north for a two-hour drive—shows him (and our future children) that it's just a part of our family culture. I honestly believe our attitude and commitment to traveling so regularly helped with how well he travels. I'm not saying there isn't crying or tantrums, but it has been overall a very positive and fun experience.
2. Give Each Other Space to Disconnect
One of our tricks to feeling truly relaxed and disconnected is that my husband and I give each other "wellness" time while we are away. Just like at home, we each allow each other to carve out some time—whether that be to get a massage at a resort, enjoy the room alone to nap or read, snorkel for a while, or go ride a big roller coaster solo—while the other cares for the little one(s). This is key to really soaking in the luxury aspect of what your resort or destination may offer.
3. Schedule In Downtime
To avoid additional tantrums or tears due to overstimulation, exhaustion, or hunger make sure downtime is part of your vacation. This applies to all vacations, but especially ones where theme parks or busy, packed schedules are involved. We usually book our busy vacations with an extra day, so that we don't feel rushed to get everything in one or two days. You can go at a more leisurely pace without the stress, return to your room for a nap, or take a pool or local bookstore day for everyone to recharge.
4. Plan Ahead
Making a plan is in my nature as a type A mama, ha, however I know it's not everyone's personality. My husband is more go with the flow, but I know when traveling with an infant or toddler, this needs to be a part of the big picture for travel and he lets me take the reigns on it. This includes having a general idea of when naps could happen on both travel and trip days, always having healthy snacks at the ready in the car, plane, the diaper bag, or your purse. Having little books, mess-free color pads, and toys are great as well.
5. Make the Journey a Kid-Friendly Adventure
Diving deeper into what I stated above, making sure the kids have entertainment DURING the travel portion of the trip is important. Children value play so greatly that sitting in a car or plane for hours on end with zero stimuli is a recipe for meltdowns. To avoid them, pack plenty of easy to pack toys, car games, color books, mess-free color pads, mini lego sets, or molding clay. If you don't mind screen time for travel (we allow it during the traveling portions on our trip), a kids tablet or movies downloaded to your phone can also pass the time. You can also make up games along the way. Even though our son is still just two, he LOVES "I Spy" or finding shapes in the clouds—a GREAT one for air travel.
6. Be Smart With Infant Travel
A germaphobe by nature, I didn't plan to travel with our son as early as we did, but work called and so we went. When traveling with a baby under the age of one, there are many precautions you can take to help their immune systems and minimize contact with places or surfaces that may make them sick. I first let our doctor know we'd be traveling out of state, as a naturopathic doctor she gave us some wonderful homeopathic immune boosting drops safe for babies, and as I was nursing, she urged me to take Vitamin C and D to boost his C and D through my milk. Babywearing is also a GREAT way to not only keep your hands free while traveling, but you minimize exposure to strangers and surfaces their little hands may be curious to touch. I also wipe down all surfaces from plane tray tables (the germiest place on a plane, even more so than the toilets, ew!) and eatery table surfaces to ride handles at amusement parks with natural germ-fighting wipes. You can also consistently wash your hands and wipe down your baby's hands. Lastly, do not fly with an infant unless it's necessary. Until Grey was 2, we only took trips we could drive to, to cut down on exposure.
7. Travel with Friends
I learned the perks of this tip most recently on a trip to Disneyland, where we traveled with my husband's sister and her husband. Traveling with friends isn't only a fun way to make memories together, but having an extra set of hands on the road and at your destination is such a help. We travel with friends that our son trusts and loves, and it made it so great for my husband and me to have a little time alone in Disneyland to ride rides our son couldn't yet or grab a quick bite alone. It can feel like a mini date and such a marriage refresher! On our most recent camping trip, friends of ours played ball with our son, so I could relax with a novel in the tent. Make sure to thank them and return the favor to them as well!
8. Talk About Travel Regularly
We are consistently talking to our son about our travels, both past and future. Since he was a baby we would narrate where we going to be going and seeing. Upon returning, we'd regularly show him our trips photos and videos and talk about the memories we made. We hope these actions help to form memories that will last for him, but if not, it grows vocabulary and builds connection and communication, and enhances family culture from a very young age. While you're on your trip, make sure to talk about the highlights of your day as you all lay down at night to begin to learn what they like to do best and learn their travel personality as its forming. What an honor!
9. Memories vs. Experiencing the Now
One of the biggest negative comments I get when we talk about our travel is: "He won't even remember, why are you doing it now?" Well, for a few reasons. 1) Our life is happening now, we aren't pausing it until he's a certain age. 2) There may be things he doesn't remember, but we will and these trips are as much for us as they are for him. And we will have stories, photos, and videos to show him all the things he's seen and experienced. And most importantly: 3) Experiences at a young age have been shown to enhance brain activity, boost learning capability and creativity, and strengthen bonds in the family unit. These are all worth it to us, so we travel!
10. Take Photos – SO Many photos
Lastly, take pictures of SO much but stay connected to the moments. Don't spend time on social media, be in the moment. I only take my phone out to make videos and take photos. Take more videos than you think you should, you'll want to see how they talked, walked, and their mannerisms at every age. We make photo books of our big trips and back up everything on external hard drives always. And most importantly, relax and have fun!
We did something SO fun last weekend.
As I've mentioned briefly, we are renovating a 1960's ranch home on a large plot of land for Grey to be able to grow up exploring. We are not living there yet, but we have access to the land as they begin the renovation.
We decided to get a couple of friends together, grab our tents and take Grey on his first ever camping trip. We figured it was a better bet to start on our own land than head to the mountains with a toddler in case he loathed sleeping in the great outdoors.
Luckily he LOVED it and we will be doing it again before summer temps hit. We roasted hot dogs and S'Mores over an open flame, played games bundled up by the fire pit, showed Grey bright stars in the open sky and slept great, even though it was a tad chilly.
Because of spring time, mosquitos were to be expected. I came prepared with my homemade bug repellent roller and I had to share my recipe because it WORKED like a charm and we didn't get one bite!
Mosquito and Bug Repellent Roller
1 10 Ml Roller Bottle
5 Drops Citronella
4 Drops Lemongrass
2 Drops Peppermint
1 Drop Basil (optional)
Drop in oils and fill the roller bottle the rest of the way with carrier oil. I always use fractionated coconut oil.
Need to get your hands on the oils to make your own? Click here!
That view though.
Seriously, any vacation that includes views of the water I count as a favorite vacation.
And now, any vacation that includes Grey is super special. Because, seeing anything through the eyes of a little man who hasn't experienced these things before makes me melt into a puddle of happy goo.
At just ten weeks old Grey took his first official trip with mom + dad! We hadn't planned on traveling with him so young, but Mr. Charming's work set up a work event he needed to be at and it was taking place on Coronado Island in California. Our options were to A. Go with him, stay in a beautiful resort and take baby to see the beach or B. Leave me and baby at home, leaving me to mom it up on my own for 4 days.
We, of course, chose the former.
We stayed at the Loew's Coronado Bay Resort, and I must say, for health conscious travelers this is THEE place to stay on the island. It's beautiful expansive grounds make for a scenic place to get your steps in and the dining options allowed me to not have to wander to far off to find good eats while I was alone at the hotel with baby.
And check out the beds. Our king was heavenly and gave us a ton of space to sleep soundly with Mr. Charming, myself and baby in his travel co-sleeper. Although I didn't get to sleep as much as I would have wanted to in that glorious bed, the slow, sleepy mornings and post-lunch cuddles with baby made up for it.
The day that Mr. Charming worked, me and Grey did a little impromptu photo shoot in the room because the light was spectacular. After his morning bath, I strapped him in our baby carrier and wore him downstairs to find some yummy nosh.
There was a great little cafe on the grounds, where we also had breakfast and dinner as a family during our stay, and this little juice bar, Juice Therapy, had a delicious selection of fresh pressed juices and it was so Instagram photo-worthy I had to make a stop here.
Once we got some juice, Grey and I headed to the gift shop for some organic chocolate as a treat for mama. I chose a decadent Cherry Chocolate bar that I snacked on a bit as we perused the gift shops.
Aside from the eats we found at the hotel, you can check out the following gluten-free and dairy-free friendly nosh spots while on Coronado Island in sunny California.
Located at the Hotel Del Coronado, highlights include gorgeous views and an extensive salad, meat and seafood selection for the gluten- and dairy-free crowd.
Grass-fed, quality beef burgers in a trendy locale that offers gluten-free buns. A note: Frys are no cooked in a dedicated fryer, so skip the spuds and just enjoy the burger.
Waterfront views and gluten-free Italian make this a swoon-worthy date location.
Have you dined on Coronado Island? I would love to hear your favorite places to grab a bite or take in the views. We also hopped back over to the mainland to grab In n Out one night, because, YUM.
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.
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