Best Vegan Restaurants in Philly to Try in 2020

Even though it’s known for cheesesteaks and pizza, Philadelphia is actually a really vegan-friendly city with a lot of great vegan restaurants. Here are my favorite go-to spots for vegan food and desserts in Philadelphia:

Vegan Pizza in Philadelphia: Earth Bread and Brewery (Mt. Airy)

Technically, Earth sells flatbreads, not pizza. But it’s probably the best vegan pizza I’ve ever had. They don’t have vegan cheeses – but they have great ingredients and combinations. And if you ask them, they can make pretty much any flat bread on the menu vegan. My favorites are The Seed and The Continental made vegan. As a bonus, they sell local craft brews and their very own kombucha.

They’re conveniently located to some of my favorite hikes in Philly also! Note: During the week they open at 4:30pm for dinner, but there are lunch hours on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information on hours, location and menu, see their website.

Vegan Popsicles in Philadelphia: Lil’ Pop Shop

From June through August, I’m obsessed with popsicles. Usually, we make a field trip at least a few times during the summer to Lil’ Pop Shop. This is also one of my favorite spots to bring out-of-town guests. Ice cream shops are fairly common… but popsicle shops?! Not so much.

Lil’ Pop Shop has a great selection of seasonal vegan flavors – Coconut Hibiscus was my favorite this past summer! But you can’t go wrong with any of them. There’s two locations – one in Rittenhouse Square and one in West Philly. If you visit the West Philly shop with kids, there’s a magnetic wall with alphabet magnets AND a super cute play popsicle stand with toy popsicles, which is STILL a hit with my son.

For current flavors and location, see their website.

Vegan Brunch in Philadelphia: Front Street Cafe (Fishtown)

This restaurant is not totally vegan – they serve dairy and meat. But what’s really cool about the menu is that everything is vegan unless stated otherwise. Which is essentially the opposite of all other menus. This makes ordering really easy.

I tried the French Onion Soup (made vegan), the Buffalo Cauliflower and the Tostada Grain Bowl. Everything was delicious.

For more information, see the Front Street Cafe website.

Best Gourmet Vegan: VStreet in Philadelphia

VStreet is owned by the same group that owns Vedge. My sister and I ate here and it was delicious. The only downside is the prices are high and the portions are small – so if you’re on a budget, I’d skip it.

But if you’re looking for an amazing dining experience and don’t mind splurging, definitely add it to your itinerary. We got two plates from each “course” and shared them, which was a good amount. Everything is AMAZING. The menu is constantly changing, so check before you go to make sure there’s something you’ll like!

For more on the menu, hours and location, see the VStreet website.

Vegan Takeout in Philadelphia: Moms Organic Market in Center City

I know, this is a grocery store. But they also serve DELICIOUS ORGANIC meals. My favorite is the loaded sweet potato, but the whole menu has a lot of great options. You can also purchase kombucha on tap. It’s good in a pinch, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

For location, hours and menu, click here to see MOMS’ website.

Vegan Restaurant in South Philly: Grindcore House:

This is a vegan coffee house and cafe in South Philadelphia. They have their own menu – with a pretty solid avocado toast – and they also sell pastries and doughnuts from local vendors. Whenever I go, I always end up spending extra money on the baked goods… because it’s SO rare to find a vegan doughnut! 

For more, see the GrindCore House website.

Vegan Soft Pretzels in Philadelphia: Center City Pretzels

Soft pretzels are a Philadelphia staple and they are also vegan, by default. This spot on Washington Ave in South Philly opens at 4am to start selling pretzels – and their website states they are an egg and dairy-free facility. It’s near the Italian Market and not too far from South Street, so it makes for a great add-on to your Philly sightseeing!

For more, see the Center City Pretzel website.

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Best Maui Beaches for Kids to Visit in 2020

Best Maui Beaches for Kids 2020

There are so many great things to do in Maui. You can be ten thousand feet above sea level at the summit of Haleakala or go off grid along the road to Hana.

In between our adventures, we carved out some time to do one of our favorite things in Hawaii – just hang out on the beach. It’s not hard to find a beautiful beach in Maui, but it can be tricky to find one that’s kid-friendly, especially for kids who aren’t strong swimmers.

Here are my favorite beaches in Maui for kids:

Things to do in Maui with Kids: Hana Beach Park

Hana beach is in Hana, which is the town at the end of the Road to Hana. We came here to unwind after a long drive, close to sunset and jump some waves. It’s a bay, so the waves were fairly calm.

hana beach park
Hana Beach Park
footsteps in the sand at the shore line in Hana.

Kid-Friendly Beaches in Maui: Baby Beach in Paia/Sprecklesville

We made the mistake of coming here in the afternoon when it was SUPER windy and cold, but besides that, this is a great beach for kids. There is a barrier wall in one area that makes the water a little more mellow, which is great for kids who aren’t strong swimmers but still want to enjoy the ocean.

As a bonus, as soon as we walked onto the beach, we saw a giant sea turtle!

This post gives a pretty good description of how to get here.

sea turtle on baby beach in Maui
red sand at Baby Beach in Maui
View walking from the street to Baby Beach. I love the color of the red dirt.

Maui Family Activities: Black Rock Beach in Ka’anapali

There are lots of great beaches near Lahaina and Ka’anapali on the resort side of the island. We visited Black Rock Beach in Ka’anapali in the late afternoon until sunset. The current and waves were a little on the stronger side, but there was plenty of sand to run on and my son loved staying by the shore and jumping waves.

Close to sunset, there was a traditional cliff diving and torch lighting ceremony. It’s free to the public – you can learn more about the tradition via this article.

Black Rock Beach in Kaanapali at sunset
Kaanapali Beach at sunset with silhouettes of people and sailboats.
Palm tree silhouette at sunset

Maui with Kids: Ho’okipa Beach on the Road to Hana

I wrote about this in detail in my post on the Road to Hana. It’s one of the first stops, and it’s one of my favorite spots on Maui.

The beach itself is a great spot to see sea turtles, but if you park at the lookout, you can walk down and explore on the rocks. Use your judgement, as rogue waves are always possible and the rocks are slippery. 

hookipa beach
Hookipa Lookout

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Miami Weekend Itinerary: Fun Things to do in Miami

Fun things to do in South Beach Street Art Miami

I had the chance to visit my best friend in Miami for a weekend trip without our kids (GASP). I love traveling with my son, but it’s also nice to travel with my friends – it keeps the pace more mellow and you can experience a city in a whole different way. I put together our itinerary for the weekend – these are all things that could be done with kids, and we’ll probably check them out again WITH our kids the next time we’re in Miami.

Where to Stay: South Beach Miami Hotels

We stayed at the Impala Hotel, right on Ocean Drive. This is a super cute hotel a block from the beach and walkable to Lincoln Road. It was clean and quiet, even though it was right near restaurants and the busier area of South Beach. I would definitely stay here again on our next visit!  

I booked the hotel on United Airlines’ hotel partners site to earn miles on my stay. The hotel itself doesn’t appear to have a website, but you can get an idea of the location but you can see the listing here.

courtyard at night with patio lights

Miami Weekend Itinerary: Things to do in South Beach

Friday Night: I arrived from Philadelphia around 7pm. We checked into our hotel and went to Planta South Beach for dinner. We loved our meal at Planta so much that we made a reservation for the next night while we were waiting for our dessert course.  

Planta is a plant-based restaurant and they have some really creative meal options, like a watermelon ahi tuna roll. Since we were there both nights, we were able to sample a lot of the menu items. Their dessert is phenomenal as well – I loved their charcoal soft serve with coconut.

We were lucky enough to try a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie that was on special the night we were there. It was so good it sold out by the next night – but if it happens to be on the menu when you’re there, DEFINITELY try it.

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel to get some rest for the next day. 

Fun Things to do in Miami: Wynnwood Walls and the Miami Art District

Saturday Morning: We grabbed coffee at the Starbucks near our hotel and then headed straight for the beach. The Impala Hotel is only a block from the beach, so we just walked. We hung out there until we had to leave for our brunch reservation at Plant in Downtown Miami.  

Plant is also plant-based, with a lot of amazing options. We split a Forbidden Roll and got the Rain Bowl Grain Bowl. The ambiance is super chill and there is indoor and outdoor seating available. For the menu and more information, see their website.

vegan sushi
vegan grain bowl
yellow sign that says "love yourself" next to a green bush and blue sky

After our brunch, we took a walk down to Wynnwood, Miami’s Art District. There’s a lot of great murals and graffiti art on the buildings and the sidewalks. There’s also a lot of artsy shops and good restaurants. We did some shopping and got  donuts at the Salty Donut and ice cream at Dasher and Crank – both places have delicious vegan options (see my post on vegan eats in Miami for more).

railroad tracks next to street art in wynnewood
street art in Wynnewood: Frankenstein that says "Run" and the word Love next to it.
street art that says "RIP Love"
street art that says "Risk Love" in Pink
street art: Blue Envelope with a Pink Paper that says "Care too much."
wynnwood walls miami

After, we headed back down to South Beach to spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach before dinner. 

Saturday Night: We went BACK to Planta for dinner. So good.

Miami Weekend: South Beach and Lincoln Road Mall

Sunday Morning: We went for breakfast at Joe + the Juice, which was near our hotel. They have fresh juices and açaí bowls. Then back to South Beach, where we hung out until lunch time.

organic juice and açaí bowl
footsteps in the sand on south beach

For lunch, we headed over to Lincoln Road Mall. We did some shopping and went to Books and Books, an independent book seller and outdoor cafe, for lunch. Lincoln Road Mall has a great vibe, and it’s fun to people watch while you eat!

After that, we headed back to my friend’s house so I could get ready to head to the airport and head home! All in all it was a GREAT weekend.

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My Favorite Vegan Restaurants in Miami Beach for 2020

Vegan Restaurants South Beach Miami

Miami is a really great city for FOOD. And it’s one of the most vegan-friendly cities that I’ve been lucky enough to visit. Whether you’re looking for something light for lunch or something trendy to experience the Miami restaurant scene, there are so many great, completely plant based or vegan-friendly restaurants to choose from.

Here are some of my favorite spots that I’ve had the chance to experience:

Vegan Restaurants South Beach: Planta South Beach

This restaurant is more gourmet and on the pricier side, but it was so delicious I came here twice with my best friend during a kids-free weekend. Highlights include their vegan watermelon ahi sushi, charcoal soft serve, dumplings, spring rolls and buffalo chicken pizza. They also have some really fun mocktails, like a matcha mojito.

For more details and the full menu, see Planta’s website.

Healthy Restaurants Miami: Vegan Brunch at Plant

We came here for Saturday brunch. Just like Planta South Beach, they also have a vegan sushi option that goes beyond the normal avocado roll. We sampled the golden milk lattes, grain bowls and split the forbidden roll. Everything was amazing.

For the menu and location information, see Plant’s website. There’s a special brunch menu and they also offer vegan cooking classes, if you’re local or want to carve out time during your trip for a class!

turmeric latte on wooden table
vegan sushi with dipping sauce and chopsticks
colorful grain bowl

Vegan Restaurants South Beach: Joe and the Juice

This spot is near Lincoln Road Mall and South Beach. It’s a great spot to grab breakfast or an after-beach juice. They have fresh pressed juice, ginger shots, smoothies and some vegan-friendly food items.

We came for breakfast and sampled their ginger shots, juice and I tried the Açaí Bowl. Everything was amazing – I’ll definitely come back here next time I’m in Miami!

For more on the location and menu, see the Joe and the Juice website.

organic juice, ginger shot and açaí bowl

Vegan Donuts in Miami: The Salty Donut

If you’re craving donuts, this is the spot to check out. The Salty Donut is not completely vegan, but they do have one great vegan option – a peanut butter and jelly donut. Basically, a modern day take on the classic jelly donut. If you’re not vegan, or traveling with people who are not vegan, there are lots of creative artisanal donut flavors to choose.

I visited the shop located in Wynnwood, Miami’s Art District (read more about Wynnwood here), but they also have a location in South Miami. See their website for more.

vegan peanut butter and jelly donut

Vegan Miami: Ice Cream at Dasher and Crank

This shop is located in Wynnwood, the same neighborhood as the Salty Donut. We stopped by both shops after lunch, which madefor a delicious (albeit filling) afternoon.

Dasher and Crank is not exclusively vegan, but they had four vegan flavors on the day I was there. From what I understand, flavors do rotate, but some of the flavors are on the menu more consistent.

I sampled the Ube, which is coconut ice cream with Filipino purple yams (THIS was my favorite) and the Salty Beach, which is coconut ice cream, sea salt and graham crackers.

Check the menu before you go, just to make sure there’s something that looks appealing to you! For menu, location and hours, see the Dasher and Crank website.

vegan Ube and Salty Beach Ice Cream from Dasher and Crank

Vegan Restaurants Miami Beach on Lincoln Road: Books and Books

Books and Books is a locally owned independent book store that has an outdoor cafe. It’s not exclusively vegan, but they have some decent options, including a delicious avocado toast and guacamole with freshly made corn chips. You can check out the book store after lunch or while you wait to be seated. If you opt for outdoor seating, you can enjoy some people watching while you eat!

For more, see the Books and Books website for menu and hours.

Vegan Restaurants on South Beach at Lincoln Road Mall: Time Out Market

We took a walk through here after eating lunch at Books and Books. There’s a great-looking, plant-based cafe in this cafeteria style market called Love Life Cafe. They sell vegan baked goods and comfort food lunch/dinner menu items. We didn’t get firsthand experience because we were stuffed from lunch, but it looked tasty enough that it’s tops on my list to visit when we come back.

For more on the menu, locations and hours click here for the Love Life Cafe website.

Vegan Ice Cream Miami Beach: The Frieze

The Frieze is an ice cream and non-dairy sorbet shop located at Lincoln Road Mall. It’s a great spot to get a frozen treat. There are vegan and non-vegan frozen dessert options. For the full menu, visit The Frieze’s website.

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6 Things to Do in in Miami with Kids in 2020

Family Things to do in Miami with Kids

My best friend has lived in Miami for almost 20 years, so I’ve had the opportunity to visit Miami a LOT over the years. But it’s been a whole new experience exploring Miami with our kids together. Here are some of the things that we’ve done together over the past few years:

cherry blossom mural in Miami

Miami Beach with Kids: Visit South Beach

This one is obvious – go to the beach! Every time we’ve visited Miami, we’ve made at least one trip to the beach.

South Beach is a great spot to visit with kids. If you’re not staying in South Beach, park (we parked around 7th Street) at one of the lots and take a walk to the beach. There are a lot of great shops and restaurants to grab a snack or lunch after – and some places even deliver to the beach! We stopped at a Gelato shop after the beach for a treat.

If the weather is good and it’s not too windy, the water is perfect for kids. The only downside is that it’s super crowded because everyone goes to South Beach.

We’ve also visited beaches more toward the Northern end of Miami Beach. This was great, because there were NO crowds and the kids had plenty of room to play. The water was still very calm.

The only downside here is that we had to leave to go eat lunch, as there were no restaurants that were walkable for us with our kids! Both beaches are a great experience, and if it’s your first time in Miami, it’s definitely worth it to stop by the iconic South Beach. 

south beach at sunrise
ocean drive Miami
Ocean Drive in Miami Beach
close up of a colorful crosswalk on Ocean Drive
little boy in the water at south beach Miami
palm trees in front of Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive
path to south beach Miami

Fun Places to Go in Miami: The Miami Children’s Museum

For my son, the children’s museum is always a hit. We went during the week, so there were no crowds. The museum had some great exhibits – grocery shopping, a giant boat and a fishing area, a police motorcycle they could sit on and a fire house, complete with a pole to slide on, a model fire truck and cute little miniature firefighter costumes to wear.

It’s in the same direction as South Beach, so it’s a great activity to do in the afternoon after you hit the beach when the sun starts to get really hot. For more visit their website.

little boy sliding down the fire pole at Miami children's museum fire fighter exhibit

Fun Places to go in Miami: Lincoln Road Mall

This isn’t just for kids, but it’s fun. There’s ice cream shops, restaurants and places to go shopping. We came here for lunch at Books and Books, which is a local, independently owned bookstore with an outdoor cafe. After, we took the kiddos for ice cream at The Frieze.

There’s a great ambiance on Lincoln Road – there is often artwork displays and there are pretty fountains. For more on Lincoln Road, click here here.

green wall on Lincoln Road
Green wall on Lincoln Road

Family Things to Do in Miami: Ride an Air Boat in the Everglades

When we tried to do this for the first time, the Everglades National Park was actually closed from damage from the Hurricane that hit in Fall 2017.

However, we went on an Airboat tour with a company just outside the National Park. We did it on the fly, as we didn’t find out the park was closed until we got to the entrance. One day we’ll make it back!

For information on Everglades National Park, click here.

Everglades marsh
everglades marsh
everglades marsh

Miami Fun: Look for Lizards + Cool Tropical Flowers

One of the things that’s cool about Miami, is that there are beautiful tropical flowers and plants everywhere. I love seeing a gorgeous orchid – or even just the plants that I can only grow as houseplants up in Pennsylvania – just growing in people’s gardens.

Even more fun than plants, is spotting the little geckos and lizards that hide in the plants. This is probably my son’s favorite thing to do anywhere.  

white wax begonia (Begonia x semperflorens-cultorum)
purple orchid
white red and yellow orchid
white Plumeria rubra (frangipani)

Miami Family Attractions: Explore Miami’s Art District in Wynnwood

This neighborhood is really cool – there are a ton of different murals and graffiti art on the buildings and sidewalks. It’s beautiful to look at, and there are also cute shops and some delicious food options, including ice cream at Dasher and Crank (vegan options available) and Donuts at The Salty Donut (one vegan option available and it was delicious).

There’s a full art walk you can do through the Wynnwood Walls. You can learn more about that here.

For more, see my post on vegan eats in Miami.

railroad tracks in wynnwood art district
street art: Dream to Live written in pink three times

Weekend Trip from Miami: Key West with Kids

We’ve gone down to Key West with our kids twice, and it was a lot of fun both times. There’s a lot of stuff to do in the Key West and on the drive. See my post on Key West for more!

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palm tree silhouette sunset

Fun Places to Go in Oregon: Things to do in Astoria Oregon and Cannon Beach with Kids

Cannon Beach with Kids

Whenever I think of the Oregon coast, I picture Haystack rock at Cannon Beach. So when my best friend and I planned a trip to Portland, my son and I flew out a few days early so that we could make a trip to the coast. 

After doing some research, I decided to spend our first day in Astoria, so we could make a stop at the Oregon Film Museum, which has an exhibit on the Goonies.

Here are some of our favorite things during our trip to the Oregon Coast:

Astoria: The Goonies at the Oregon Film Museum

If you’ve ever seen the Goonies, you’ve heard of Astoria. The movie was set in this cute riverfront town. Our first stop when we arrived was the Oregon Film Museum. There’s an exhibit where you can use actual equipment to create a film. It was a little advanced for a five year old, but older kids with an interest in film would definitely enjoy it. 

Admission is $6 for adults, $2 for children and kids under 6 are free. For more, visit the Oregon Film Museum website.

The Goonies film Museum Oregon

Astoria Kids Activities: See the Sea Lions

After having lunch, we took a walk down to the docks to get a view of the sea lions that are basking in the sun. The pier is located off of the Astoria Riverwalk at 36th Street. You can get a great view of the sea lions and the Columbia River!

This was a favorite for my son – when we were there in August, there were a ton of sea lions and they were very easy to see.

shipping boats in the Columbia river
sea lions on the dock in the Columbia River
fishing boats docked in the Columbia River
shipping boat in the Columbia River
View of the Columbia river, boat docks and Astoria
boats and shore line of the Columbia River in Astoria
view of the Columbia river, Astoria and a bridge

Oregon Beaches near Astoria: Fort Stevens State Park and the Wreck of the Peter Iredale

We did a little exploring in the evening here, since it was close to our Airbnb in Warrenton. There are all kinds of trails and cool things to do at the park, but since we were short on time, we chose to go to the Wreck of the Peter Iredale, which is right on the beach. 

There’s a parking lot and bathrooms at the beach. It was cloudy and kind of cold (which I understand is normal for Oregon in August). The water is ice cold, which did not seem to bother my son at all. 

The shipwreck is really cool – it’s the rusted out skeleton of a ship that ran aground in 1906. It’s been on the beach ever since.

For more details on the location and trails, see the Oregon State Parks’ website.

wreck of the Peter airedale

Things to do in Cannon Beach with Kids: Haystack Rock 

We left Warrenton early to head down to Cannon Beach. When we first arrived, it was quiet and cloudy, but luckily the sun came out! The beach was really nice and the view was even better!

Fun Fact: There are puffins on Haystack rock. We didn’t get to see any, but it was still cool to know!

Besides the beach, there are lots of shops and restaurants in Cannon Beach itself. We checked out a really great surf shop and a cute toy store called Geppetto’s Toy Shoppe.

haystack rock at cannon beach
cannon beach shoreline
child running in the water near haystack rock at cannon beach

Where to Stay: Astoria and Cannon Beach 

I booked an Airbnb in Warrenton, which is a really close drive to Astoria and Fort Stevens State Park. It’s about 30 minutes away from Cannon Beach.

 Both towns of Astoria and Cannon Beach are really cute – if we ever returned, I’d probably try to stay in Cannon Beach. I love staying in beach towns!

Places to Eat near the Oregon Coast

Astoria, Oregon Restaurants:

We ate at Rogue Pier 39 Public House, which is right on the Columbia River in Astoria. It’s close to the sea lion pier and accessible via the Astoria Riverwalk. See their website here.

Eat in Cannon Beach

We ate at Pelican Brewing Company, mostly out of convenience. They are a local brewery, if you like craft beers. They also have a vegan-friendly menu, with clearly marked items that can be made vegan.

You can see the Pelican Brewing Company website here.

Get Groceries in Astoria: The Co-Op

I love shopping at local co-ops. Usually, they have a good selection of local items made by small companies. Astoria has great co-op that we visited and stocked up on groceries before heading to our Airbnb.

Learn more about the Astoria Co-Op on their website.

Fun Things to do in Oregon

Want more things to do in Oregon? You can read about our experiences in Portland, Oregon.

Fun Things to do in Portland Oregon with Kids

Things to do in portland oregon with kids

Portland was my first trip to the Pacific Northwest and I loved it. Portland is a really interesting city – it’s set close to a lot of national parks, such as the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood National Forest. The city itself is sort of sprawled out and it’s cut in half by the river. I thought it was a great city to visit with kids.

We spent five days in Portland, and two nights on the coast near Astoria where we visited Cannon Beach to see the famous Haystack Rock (stay tuned for a post about our trip Astoria + Cannon Beach).

Love Rocks sticker on a window

Where to Stay in Portland: Mt Tabor Neighborhood

There are lots of great neighborhoods in Portland. We decided to stay in the Mount Tabor neighborhood, which was a great location to access some really great eats in the Southeastern quadrant of the city (stay tuned for my post about vegan eats in Portland). 

With kids, we decided to rent a car. Although I’d heard good things about their public transportation system, the city is spread out enough that it made sense to rent a car.

Portland with Kids: Mt Tabor Hike and Park

There are trails in Mount Tabor Park. We stayed nearby, so we walked from the south side to the north side of the park through the trails to the playground. It was a nice perk to the area we were staying, which was a great way to let the kids get some energy out before dinner.

view from mount tabor
trees and wildflowers on mount tabor

Saturday Market: Enjoy Street Food and Shopping on the River

This was one of the highlights of the trip. There are vendors selling art, crafts, and other homemade goods. There’s also foot stands with lots of good eats. 

As a bonus, Saturday Market is within walking distance from the famous Voodoo Doughnuts, so it makes for a great double visit if you’re short on time.  

For more on Saturday Market, see their website.

Portland Children’s Museum

I’ve visited several different children’s museums across the country, and I’ve noticed that each one is similar, but has its own unique exhibits. The differences may be subtle to adults, but to kids it’s huge. Whenever we work a children’s museum into our travels, it’s usually the highlight of the trip for him. This was no different. 

Some things my son liked about it:

  • The Giant Alligator whose teeth you could brush with giant tooth brushes
  • The Veterinary play area, where he could pretend to take care of animals
  • The construction room, which had little plastic chips the kids could dig with tools
  • The giant climbing tree in the back outdoor exploration area.

For more on the Portland Children’s Museum, click here to see their website.

brushing alligator's teeth at Portland children's museum
vet section of Portland children's museum
digging area of Portland children's museum
wild carrot (Daucus carota) or queen Anne's lace flower

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

We had two whiny kids in tow for this day trip, so we stuck to two simple spots in the Columbia River Gorge:

  1. Multnomah Falls – This is a nice low key hike that gives you a beautiful waterfall view without a lot of hiking. Which is a huge perk for hiking with two kids. En route to the visitor center, we were able to see a salmon nursery area with baby salmon. You can walk to the lower and upper falls. There’s a visitor center with some interesting exhibits. From there, you can walk to see the lower and upper viewing areas of the falls. 
  2. Vista House at Crown Point: Vista House is in the Crown Point State Scenic Corridor. You can actually go into Vista House and explore or just park and admire the view from the overlook. 

For more on trails and current conditions at Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, see their website.

multnomah Falls at Columbia river gorge
Columbia river gorge
columbia gorge
Union Pacific sign at Columbia river gorge
multnomah falls from the upper deck
crown point vista overlook

Oregon Zoo 

This is a pretty big zoo with lots of pretty cool exhibits. Some of the highlights for us include:

  • the sea otters were super playful and cute. Definitely make time to see them during your visit!
  • There’s a pretty cool discovery center with a nature play area and a wildlife garden.
  • The Predators of the Serengeti exhibit was really extensive – we lucked out and the kids got a great view of the cheetah!

For more on the zoo, click here.

cheetah at Oregon zoo
lions at oregon zoo
tiny sedum plants

Portland Japanese Garden

This was another great place to see in Portland. It’s not as kid-focused as the other activities on this list, but if you enjoy gardens and/or Japanese culture, it’s definitely worth it to add this to your itinerary. It’s located in the same area as the Zoo and the Portland Children’s Museum, so you could combine this with one of those.

The Japanese garden has several types of traditional Japanese gardens, including a Sand & Stone Garden, a Strolling Pond Garden and a Natural Garden.

You can get an idea of the different types of gardens featured here as well as the other garden details on the Portland Japanese Garden website.

portland japanese garden
sand and stone garden at portland japanese garden
Portland japanese garden

Powell’s Books

If your kid loves books as much as my son does, you can easily make this an afternoon event. The book store is massive and has a huge children’s section filled with new and used books. My son liked this so much, he chose this when I let him pick our last day activity. 

The bookstore is located Downtown, where there are lots of restaurants and other shops. We were able to find metered street parking both times we visited.

For more on Powell’s Books, see their website.

Slappy Cakes: Make Your Own Pancakes

Technically, this is a restaurant, but it’s a great experience too. Slappy Cakes is a make-your-own pancake restaurant. Each table has a pancake griddle in the middle. They send out your batter of choice (bonus: there’s a vegan option!) in a squeeze bottle, so it’s easy for kids to make their own. You can get your toppings and dips of choice

For more, see the Slappy Cakes website.

BONUS: My favorite book to get kids excited about the trip!

I love buying books about that places we’re going to get my son excited about the trip and help him learn more about we’re going before we get there. I loved the Larry books to learn about Portland:

What are your favorite things to do in Portland? Comment below 🙂

mural of dog saying "eat all your soup because there are no to go."

3 Family Day Trips from Boston for 2020

Family Day Trips from Boston New England Summer

I’ve taken many trips to Boston over the years. It’s an amazing city with SO much to see and do. But, since we live in a city (Philadelphia), sometimes its nice to see what there is to do in Massachusetts outside the city of Boston.

Boston is really close to a lot of cool places. Here are the places we’ve had a chance to explore ourselves and would definitely go back to if we have the chance!

Outdoor Things to do in New England: Cape Cod Day Trip

Chatham is a cute little beach town on Cape Cod, right at the elbow point. Technically, it’s not part of Cape Cod National Sea Shore, but the beach is really nice. We had the opportunity to see seals, which was amazing.

I have been to Chatham twice during the shoulder season – once on the weekend in May with decent weather. Lots of shops were open and the public bathrooms were open. The seals were also swimming around very actively.

The second time I went was in April on a cloudy day with some misting rain. We went during the week, so it was near empty. However, one thing I didn’t realize was the public bathrooms aren’t open, and it’s VERY hard to find a shop that will let you use their bathroom (understandably, but still, something to think about). The seals were much less active, but, regardless, it’s always nice to sit on the sand and listen to the waves.

We went to Chatham Lighthouse Beach. Parking is a bit difficulty, but if you just want to stop and visit the beach, there’s short term parking available right at the beach for a maximum of 30 minutes.

You can learn more about Chatham here.

Chatham Cape Cod Beach
Pale green plant with rain drops
foot prints on the sand in Cape Cod
Cape Cod sand and shore line
Chatham Beach and Danger Sign
Sea gull at Chatham Beach in Cape Cod
Bathroom graffiti of stick figure riding a shark
wooden fence, green field and barren trees

Cool Things to do in New England in Summer: Heritage Museum & Gardens (Sandwich, MA)

Yes, there’s actually a town called Sandwich. And it’s home to this super cute garden that makes for a great day trip.

There are lots of trails and lots of really interesting gardens, including a hydrangea test garden, a rhododendron garden and a cute play area geared toward kids. We went on a Saturday in May, en route to Chatham, and it wasn’t overly crowded, which made it even more enjoyable to explore.

For more on Heritage Museum & Gardens, see their website.

lake in Massachusetts
flowers in heritage gardens
turtles at the pond

Rhode Island Day Trip from Boston: Block Island

We did Block Island as more of a weekend trip on our way home from Boston back to Philadelphia, but it’s totally doable as a day trip, as long as you don’t mind driving in addition to the ferry ride (30 minutes during high season, one hour during the off-season). It took us about an hour and a half to get from Boston to Narragansett, which is where the ferry port is located.

Block Island has so many cool things to see and do. We visited the Mohegan Bluffs, but you can also see the Clay Heads Bluffs, which is part of the Nature Conservancy on the other end of the island. Learn more about that here.

You can read more about our experience visiting Block Island, including all the logistics on my post dedicated to our trip to the Mohegan Bluffs.

block island beach
Mohegan Bluffs
Mohegan Bluffs
Mohegan Bluffs

Boston Winter Activities: Fun Things To Do in Boston With Kids

Boston Winter Activities - Fun Things to do in Boston with Kids

Boston is a great city for kids with lots of really cool things to do. It’s a great pass-through destination if you’re traveling up the east coast toward Maine or Vermont any of the other great places to visit in New England.

sailboats in Boston Harbor
View of the Harbor, outside the New England Aquarium
mural art in Downtown Boston
We spotted this on the streets of Boston.

My son and I have done a couple of trips together to explore Boston. Here are some of our favorite spots to explore.

Things to do in Boston with Kids: Boston Children’s Museum

This is hands-down my son’s favorite. He STILL talks about it! If your kids are PBS fans, they have an extensive Arthur and an interactive Peep and the Big Wide World play area.

They also have a great science exhibit where kids can play with bubbles. (add more about our experience)

Another cool thing to check out when you’re there is the interactive theater. They put on various shows and actually bring kids from the audience up on stage to participate. We did it both times – and my son was called up front! – and he loved it.

The Boston Children’s Museum is located near the Boston Tea Party Museum, if you’re looking to see two museums in one day. It’s also got a great view of the harbor.

For more on the Boston Children’s Museum, visit their website.

skyscrapers overlooking Boston harbor

Indoor Activities in Boston: Museum of Science

This Museum was HUGE and very crowded. But it has some amazing exhibits. One of the most memorable was the dinosaur exhibit (because what kid doesn’t love giant dinosaur bones?!).

Our other FAVORITE, that we ended up spending the majority of our time at, was an exhibit on Boston’s Charles River and how it’s affected by the city. They had some sewer tunnels to crawl through (which my son loved because it’s just like the ninja turtles!) and an interactive water play exhibit where he could build a bridge and see how the structure affected the current.

For more on the Museum of Science in Boston, visit their website.

giant dinosaur outside Boston Museum of Science

Boston Winter Activities with Kids: New England Aquarium

This aquarium reminded me of the Baltimore Aquarium in its size. They had some great exhibits, including seals in a tank outside that you could see before going into the aquarium. They also had a cool touch tank – we were luck enough to see a giant manta ray swim through while we were there.

My son LOVES aquariums, so this was definitely a must-see for us.

For more on the New England Aquarium, visit their website.

Seal in the tank outside the New England aquarium
Octopus at the New England Aquarium
Jelly fish at the New England Aquarium
giant manta ray in touch tank at the New England Aquarium
sailboats in Boston harbor

Fun Things to do in Boston with Kids: Arnold Arboretum (or any of Boston’s parks)

This is Harvard’s Arboretum and it’s free to the public. There’s a visitor center with bathrooms and a water fountain to refill your water bottle as well as some exhibits that kids (and adults!) can check out.

There are numerous trails and different areas to walk through. Because it’s an arboretum, some of the plants are labeled, so you if you’re interested you can learn about what you’re looking at.

This is a great way to get out in nature, even during the colder months!

For more details on events and trails, see the Arnold Arboretum website.

landscape at Arnold arboretum
Arnold arboretum lanscape
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Arnold Arboretum trail

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sunset in Jamaica Plain
Sunset in Jamaica Plain, on the southern end of Boston.

Philadelphia with Kids in the Winter: 7 Fun Things to Do

philadelphia with kids winter things to do

I’ve lived in and around Philly for the last 15 years, so I’ve had many opportunities to explore the city over the years, with and without kids! There’s a lot to do in Philadelphia for kids in the winter, both indoors and outdoors. Here are my favorites:

Fun Things to do in Philadelphia: Go Hiking in Wissahickon Valley Park

Philadelphia actually has a ton of trails, and they’re great to explore on a winter day (bundled up, of course). You can escape to the woods at the Wissahickon Valley Park, visit the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge or climb like a squirrel at Morris Arboretum. I wrote up a full post on my favorite places to hike in the winter in Philly – you can see it here.

red covered bridge in wissahickon valley park
trail in wissahickon valley park
stone bridge in wissahickon valley park

Fun Things to do in Philadelphia with Kids: Visit the Philadelphia Zoo

Honestly, I love the zoo in the winter. It’s practically empty. And even if it’s cold, there are enough indoor exhibits to warm up before you get some fresh air on your walk to the next exhibit.

The only downside is that you won’t get to see some animals, like the giraffes, who are usually inside during the colder months. But there are plenty of other things to see, such as the Aviary House (birds), the Reptile house, the Small Mammal House, the penguin exhibit, the monkeys and more.

For more on the Philadelphia Zoo, visit their website.

jungle gym at Philadelphia zoo
penguins at the philadelphia zoo
flamingos at the philadelphia zoo
giant ant at kid zoo u at the Philly zoo
petting goats at philadelphia zoo

Philadelphia with Kids in the Winter: Go Ice Skating

We did our first open skate this year and it was a lot of fun. We actually went to a local skating club, but there are a couple of places downtown that have more flexible hours.

Dilworth Park, which is located next to City Hall smack dab in the middle of Center City Philadelphia, has an ice skating rink that’s open from November to February. You have a beautiful view of City Hall while you skate and you’re close to a lot of the great restaurants in Center City. You can learn more about rates and hours here.

You can also ice skate down at Penns Landing at the ice skating rink at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. You can attend Winterfest for free (which includes vendors and more), but there’s a cost to skate. You can learn more about ice skating at Winterfest here.

Fun Things to do in Philly: The Franklin Institute

The Franklin Institute is a really cool museum for kids (and adults). Highlights for us include the:

  • Brain Exhibit, which has some really interesting displays that demonstrates how your brain works and processes information, and the
  • the Giant Heart, which is literally a giant heart that you can walk through.

For more, visit the Franklin Institute’s website.

Note: I’d recommend this for older kids, say 5 and up. My son didn’t start enjoying it really until he was five. But every kid is different!

Franklin Institute Philly
giant heart in the Franklin institute

Philadelphia with Kids: Visit Philly’s Dinosaur Museum AKA The Academy of Natural Sciences

The Academy of Natural Sciences is really close to the Franklin Institute. One of the things I like about this museum over the Franklin Institute is that it gets much less crowded, so you can take more time to look at the various displays without feeling overwhelmed (disclosure: I don’t like crowds).

This is also a great museum for kids who are interested in dinosaurs. There are model dinosaur bones on display and a mock dig site, where kids can dig for dinosaur bones. There are lots of other really cool exhibits, that you can learn about here.

We first tried this museum when my son was four, and it was a huge hit, just from seeing the dinosaur bones alone.

dinosaur bones at the academy of natural sciences
dinosaur bones at the academy of natural sciences

As a bonus, this is SUPER close to the beautiful Logan Square and its iconic fountain. It’s a nice place to stop before you leave and snap a picture!

Logan square fountain in the winter

Visit Philadelphia’s Children’s Museum: The Please Touch Museum

I’d recommend this for younger kids. We went to the Please Touch Museum at least once a month (sometimes more!) when my son was ages one to four. If you can arrange your visit during the week, I’d recommend that because weekends get crazy. However, it’s still worth braving the crowds!

Some of our favorite exhibits include:

  • a life-size SEPTA bus (SEPTA is Philly’s public transit)
  • giant blue building blocks
  • an Alice in Wonderland section with the option to paint the roses
  • a grocery store, complete with carts and check out lines
  • a gigantic water play area, with plenty of boats and rubber ducks

There are a few designated areas for younger kids up to age three.

For more, see the Please Touch Museum’s website.

magnetic wall at the please touch museum

Philly with Kids: Smith Memorial Playhouse and Playground

Smith Playground is a HUGE playground and playhouse that is in an old mansion. Right now, the play house is closed for renovations (through August 2020 according to the website at this writing), but the playground is open all winter, weather permitting.

There’s a giant wooden slide that kids (and their parents) can slide down on burlap sacks, which is crazy fun.

The park is closed on Mondays and has limited hours in the winter. There’s a small donation for entrance, which supports the park. Check the website for more information.

smith playhouse and playground in Philly

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