Family Road Trips Tips

Family Road Trips Tips

Road trips are a constant in my life – the majority of our trips are taken in the minivan! Tanya from Traveling Tanya has some excellent tips for your next road trip with young kids. If you have a trip planned in the near future, be sure to take in her words of wisdom … For some, the thought of loading the family into the minivan for a cross country adventure sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Yet others dread the thought of a long road trip. No matter which camp you are in on this issue, an extended amount of time in the car with young children can test even the most patient person! As a mother of teenagers, I’ll admit I’m happy to be beyond the toddler stage. Although raising teenagers creates its own unique challenges! But I can still clearly recall the struggles I experienced in the car when my girls were little. I do have a few tricks up my sleeve (and in the diaper bag) that I am now happy to pass along to other moms with wee ones in tow. My best advice for traveling with young kids: Be prepared and have reasonable expectations. While every child is different and their needs may vary, here are some practical strategies to try on your next road trip with toddlers, preschoolers and beyond. Pit Stops Even though you may want to get to your final destination so your vacation can really begin, kids require frequent stops. Be prepared to stop at least every 2-3 hours. Regular potty breaks and diaper changes are a must...
Take Your Dog

Take Your Dog

In the mood to spend a day exploring but only have a few free hours?  Why? Because there is no one to let the dog out.  Ever happened to you? We love our dog, but he does cramp our style. When there have been weeks where it seems like he has been alone too much – or we just find ourselves with a full free day and want to run around without having to stop back home mid-day, we find a way to bring him along. It’s a little more work but can definitely lead to a fun and different way to spend the day. Luckily there are many places these days that allow dogs.  I’ve had good luck at local restaurants and breweries or wineries with outdoor seating, parks of course; ice cream shops, coffee shops, farmer’s markets, outdoor concerts and sometimes an outdoor tourist attraction (like a walking tour – self-guided or not). A few tips to make for an easy day: Call ahead to make sure your pup is allowed. Combine a variety of activities – some food, some walking, maybe just some hanging out Check the weather – nothing worse than a wet dog in the car! Be a good dog owner – bring along water and poop bags and pick up after your dog Ready for an example?  If you live in the Indianapolis area, here is a fun day with your dog: The day must start with coffee, right?  Luckily most coffee and bagel shops are happy to have your dog join you. Once everyone is fully charged, a little walking seemed like...
A Perfect Day Exploring Westfield

A Perfect Day Exploring Westfield

As I mentioned in the newsletter this week, Monday was a vacation day for me. Just me. I always seem to end up with extra days towards the end of the year so I like to take a few “mental health” days in November and December. My plan was to check out a new coffee shop/ store north of Noblesville and a few new stores in Cicero (another small town). However, I didn’t take into account that Monday is the day lots of places were closed … Luckily I wasn’t deterred, so once I realized my original plan was out,  I decided to see if I could find enough to do to fill a day in Westfield, Indiana. Westfield is another city next to where I live and although we go to dinner there often and Urban Vines is there which I love and recently shared about in my Five Fun Fall Adventures in Hamilton County post,  I hadn’t spent an entire day exploring before. I started the day off at Titus Bakery for fresh, hot coffee and a delicious donut. Yum! This is a fairly new location and their donuts were perfection. Interesting flavors, freshly baked and tasty. Great way to start the day.   I headed over to the downtown area to see what I could find. Westfield’s downtown is tiny. There are a few stores and one stoplight. However, quite a bit is packed into the small area. In addition to the main street, there is a new “restaurant row” just a few blocks south – which contains some of our favorite restaurants – I’ll have to...
A full day of fun in Kokomo, Indiana

A full day of fun in Kokomo, Indiana

I have to admit that even though I’ve lived in our current area for over twenty years, and driven through Kokomo dozens of times, I’ve never stopped to explore this charming Indiana town that’s only 30 minutes from my home. Thank goodness I finally came to my senses and we decided to check it out. Kokomo, Indiana has some wonderful adventures to offer! We started our day in Kokomo with a tour of the Kokomo Opalescent Glass Factory. This tour was phenomenal. Kokomo Opalescent Glass is 1 of only 4 factories left in the US that specialize in art glass. They are the oldest having begun operation in 1888 – that makes them 130 years old this November. During the tour, we got to walk through the entire factory and learn the process of making art glass from start to finish. I’ve never been on a factory tour where we were able to get so close to the action. Our first stop was the ovens where they melt the glass – look at this! These ovens last about 25 years and run continuously at over 2000 degrees. Needless to say, it was HOT in this room. We got to watch the employees running the molten glass to a machine where another employee mixed it and pushed it through to be flattened. Then it goes through a cooling process and you’ll end up with a beautiful sheet of glass. It was really amazing. Here’s a short clip where you can see a tiny bit of how it’s done: After watching that, we walked through the rest of the factory including...
Animals and Antiques in Lowell, Indiana

Animals and Antiques in Lowell, Indiana

Heavy rain was expected Saturday, so we got up early to get as much fun into our day as possible. After enjoying a delicious and relaxing breakfast at our hotel, we loaded up the car and headed a little bit south to Lowell, Indiana. Our first stop was Buckley Homestead. Buckley Homestead is described as a living history farm. It’s spread out over quite a few acres but is very walkable and so interesting that you cover quite a bit of ground without realizing it. The grounds are open from 7 AM to dusk daily, and the buildings are open from noon to 4 PM on the weekends in September and October. They do charge an admission to go inside the buildings and there are a variety of special events from time to time – check their website for updated information on what’s happening at the homestead. We started at the Visitors Center and walked across the street to the farmhouse. There was a small path with a variety of well-labeled apple and pear trees, and a hen house with pens that contained geese, chickens, a rooster, etc. They were loud! The closer we got, the more they complained – I made a short video as they were cracking us up: We crossed another street to find the large barn area – this was definitely our favorite part as we poked around in the dusty old barn and visited with lots of animals. There were cows, sheep, horses and lots of barn cats. Living in the suburbs we don’t get the chance to see farm animals up close very often, so my...
Circle Your Hometown

Circle Your Hometown

Fall Break is coming up quickly and although we don’t have any big plans (thanks to sports!!!!), we will take advantage of the fabulous fall weather here in Indiana with lots of day trips. Instead of checking out the same places we go every year, we have decided to find some NEW everyday adventures. However, without a dog sitter, we can’t go far … so our challenge is to find plenty of fun things to do within about an hour’s radius of where we live. Instead of just guessing or going to the cities we’ve heard of, I decided to literally circle our hometown. On a map.   Look at all those towns within the circle – pretty amazing when you see it on paper! Now that I have a list of potential places we can check out, the research begins. I recently shared with you how I do this in my post Search Out the Unusual, and that is exactly the process I am following. So what are our plans? So far I’ve found an opalescent glass factory tour, a health bar (kombucha, smoothies, etc.), a cultural center & museum and quite a few Halloween themed events. Plus a Fall Out Boy concert, new brewery, and an apple picking farm! Even without a big trip planned, we will have plenty of fun. Keep an eye out the next few weeks as I share our adventures. In the meantime, do you want to be ready for an adventure of your own? I have a bag in the back of my car that I keep stocked with adventure essentials –...

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