My Favorite Photos from Rio De Janeiro

Ipanema Beach in Rio Brazil

The past two weeks have been crazy. The Coronavirus has brought travel and travel planning to a standstill. With all travel plans cancelled until at least the summer, I started going through some of my past travel photos. For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite throwback travel photography.

This post will focus on my travels to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.

I went to Rio in 2008 with a group of friends. It was an amazing experience. I wanted to go to see the Christ Redeemer State, which was on my bucket list and just experience Brazilian culture in general.

Rio De Janeiro Favorites: Visiting the Favelas

One of the most interesting things about Rio was the favelas. The favelas are essentially make-shift houses built super close together on the mountainsides.

We did a tour of one of the favelas, which was a REALLY interesting experience. it’s important to note that you should only go into a favela on an official tour.

favelas in Brazil
Favelas on the mountainside.

Things to do in Rio: Christ Redeemer State

This was my must-see item for the trip. One thing that I didn’t take into account is that if it’s cloudy, clouds can gather around the mountain that the Christ Redeemer Statue is on and make it almost impossible to see. We actually had to go twice, because it was so cloudy the first time! So, before you head out, make sure you have nice weather.

Christ Redeemer Statue in Fog
Christ Redeemer State in Rio in Fog

The second time, we left early in the morning and lucked out with a really sunny day! We went during the shoulder season in November, so we ended up with a few days of bad weather.

Christ Redeemer Statue Silhouette
This is one of my favorite pictures of the Christ Redeemer Statue.
Christ Redeemer Statue Rio De Janeiro

Rio De Janeiro: Sugar Loaf Mountain

Sugar Loaf mountain is an iconic part of Rio De Janeiro.
You can take a cable car up to the top of the mountain (which is a cool experience on its own) and get AMAZING views of the city.

Cable Car Ride to Sugar Loaf
Looking down on Rio De Janeiro from the Cable Car Ride to Sugar Loaf
Sugar Loaf Rio
Cable Car ride to Sugar Loaf Mountain
Sugar Loaf and Rio Cityscape
View of Sugar Loaf Mountain from the Christ Redeemer Statue
Boats in the Harbor in Rio de Janeiro
View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

Things to do in Rio: Santa Teresa Neighborhood

This was not on my list of things to do, but it ended up being one of my favorite points on our trip. We had a free rainy/overcast day, so we decided to take a ride up to the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Rio and walk around. Here are some of my favorite shots from our excursion.

santa teresa rio de janeiro
Tile Patterns in Rio Brazil
VW Bus with VW bug painted on it
Stairs and Doorway in Santa Teresa Neighborhood

My Favorite Rio Beaches

We picked a hotel set right near the iconic Ipanema Beach. I think my motivation for wanting to stay here (besides it being beautiful) was that famous song, The Girl From Ipanema. It was beautiful though. There were vendors on the beach where they sold EVERYTHING from shrimp to açaí bowls.

Ipanema Beach Rio De Janeiro
Ipanema Beach in Rio De Janeiro
Ipanema Beach in Rio Brazil
Black and white sidewalk pattern brazil

The Copacabana Beach is right next to Ipanema Beach. We ended up mainly staying in Ipanema, but it’s a beautiful beach as well if you opt to stay in the Copacabana neighborhood.

Copacabanna Beach Rio de Janeiro

Where are your favorites spots to travel in Brazil or South America in general?

Share in the comments 🙂

Photos to Inspire you to Visit Zion National Park

zion national park

I went to Zion National Park about 10 years ago (before I had a kid) and it was one of my favorite national park experiences to date. I traveled with my friend from Henderson, Nevada, where she lives. We came for an overnight trip and stayed at a local bed and breakfast. We spent two full days exploring the park.

One of the awesome things I remember most about our experience was the bus system that runs through Zion. It was so nice to just be able to hop on and off the bus, rather than worrying about finding parking at each stop.

southwestern desert
Desert landscape en route to Zion from Nevada.

The landscape at Zion is absolutely beautiful. We did a couple of the smaller trails and scenic points on our first day, and then did the hike to the Emerald Pools before heading back to Nevada.

zion nation park entrance sign

Zion National Park Hikes: Weeping Rock Trail

Weeping Rock is just as it sounds – water is coming out from the sides of the rock. This is because the rock is made up of sandstone and shale. The sandstone is more porous and absorbs snow/rain, but the shale is not, so the water goes out to the side when it reaches the shale.

water dripping at weeping rock zion national park
Water dripping at Weeping Rock.
wall at weeping rock zion national park
Weeping Rock at Zion National Park
weeping rock zion national park 2
Weeping Rock at Zion National Park
close up of rock colors at zion national park
weeping rock
weeping rock at zion national park 3

Unfortunately, at this writing, Weeping Rock Trail is closed due to a rock fall (read more here). There’s no estimated dates to reopen.

Zion National Park Hikes: Emerald Pools Trail

The other trail we did was the Emerald Pools trail. This took a little longer and we opted to start first thing in the morning. This trail was more challenging, but gave us some beautiful views.

Right now, the trail to the lower Emerald Pools is closed for repair, but it’s scheduled to reopen Spring 2020. See more here and make sure you check the park website for updates.

Trees and cliffs at zion national park
Hike to the Emerald Pools at Zion National Park
red rock cliffs and blue sky at zion
Red Rock cliffs and blue skies at Zion National Park
Rock Detail at Zion National Park
Cliffs at Zion National Park
Dramatic cliffs at Zion National Park
Red Rock Cliffs at Zion National Park
Cliffs at the Emerald Pools at Zion National Park.
Stream at Zion National Park
Stream at Zion
zion national park landscape
stream and mountains
Stream and mountain landscape at Zion National Park

More Things to See at Zion National Park

We rode the bus for a few more stops during our trip to Zion National Park. We visited Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Lodge, the Grotto and Canyon Junction. The pictures below are from our wanderings around these area and are in no particular order. I’m hoping to share just the overall vibe of the park. It’s so beautiful and the landscape is so breathtaking. It’s definitely worth a visit.

rocks and water at zion
rock wall at zion
stream and cliffs at zion
stream and rock at zion national park
zion national park trails
water on the rocks at zion
zion landscape
damselfly at zion national park

Planning your Trip to Zion National Park

Always check the national park website before you go to see current conditions and any trail closures.

If you can swing it, try to check the park out during the shoulder season. We went toward the end of September, and it was still busy but much less crowded than the summer months.

utah desert

Want more Southwestern travel tips?

Coming soon: see my post on my outdoor guide to Las Vegas.

Things to Do Around Philly with Kids: Best Day Trips for 2020

john heinz wildlife refuge

There are lots of really fun things to do outside of Philadelphia city limits. If you’re visiting Philly with kids, it can be nice to get out of the city limits and see some of the cool things Pennsylvania has to offer. Here are some of my favorites:

Philly Day Trips for Kids: Tyler Arboretum (Media, PA)

Tyler Arboretum is located within Ridley Creek State Park. There’s admission to get into Tyler Arboretum, but it’s well worth it, especially if you’re visiting with kids.

Tyler has a lot of cool ways for kids to interact with nature. One of the things I really enjoyed about Tyler Arboretum was their network of tree houses throughout the arboretum. Looking for the tree house helped make walking the paths around the arboretum feel more exciting for my son, especially when he was younger!

There are a lot of interesting tree houses/play spaces, including a music-themed one, an area to put on a play with props and many others. Depending on the season, they have a butterfly house and an edible garden.

One thing to note, there are no restaurants within the arboretum, so plan accordingly.

For more on Tyler Arboretum, including hours, admission and to see what’s in bloom right now, see the website.

Treehouse at Tyler Arboretum
goats grazing at tyler arboretum
Goats Grazing at Tyler
Child Playing on Giant Caterpillar at Tyler Arboretum
Giant Caterpillar
Yellow Aster Flowers
Fall Trees at Tyler Arboretum

Day Trips in PA for Families: Longwood Gardens

Longwood is a BEAUTIFUL and MASSIVE garden. They have everything from tree houses, to meadows to manicured gardens. It’s fun to walk the grounds and enjoy the scenery, but there are also specific areas geared toward kids.

Kids can play in and around the tree houses. There is also an indoor and outdoor children’s garden that you can pick and choose depending on the weather.

For more on Longwood admission, hours and current events, see their website.

Topiary Garden at Longwood
heuchera at longwood gardens
Solenostemon 'Watermelon Coleus Watermelon
Fountains at Longwood Gardens
Tulip Leaf at Longwood
Purple and Green Plants at Longwood
yellow marigold
garden quote at longwood

Day Trips from Philadelphia with Kids: Valley Forge National Historic Park

There’s a lot of different ways to experience Valley Forge National Historic Park. If you have school-age kids who have started learning about US history in school, this can be an educational event. However, even if your kids aren’t old enough to take in the history, they can still enjoy many of the trails and the beautiful landscape.

In terms of trails, there is a paved loop trail that’s great for bikes or scooters as well as many trails through the forest.

For more on Valley Forge National Historic Park, see the website.

Field at Valley Forge National Historic Park

Things to Do Around Philly: John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge

I wrote about this in my post on my favorite hikes in Philly, because TECHNICALLY it is in Philadelphia city limits. However, I’m including this in because it’s a bit out-of-the-way if you’re staying in downtown Philadelphia, so it would work well as a day trip.

John Heinz has an interactive visitor center where you can learn about the ecosystem of the wetlands that the refuge protects. There’s a short trail to the marsh, that you can cross via a boardwalk trail. From the boardwalk, you can spot all kinds of birds and little turtles in the water.

For more on John Heinz and visitor center hours, see the website.

marsh at john heinz national wildlife refuge
Symphyotrichum ericoides White Aster Flower
marsh at john heinz
duckweed in the marsh
heuchera growing in john heinz

Fun Things for Kids: Delaware Children’s Museum in Wilmington

Even though it’s technically in a different state, Wilmington, Delaware is actually only about 45 minutes from Philly. The Delaware Children’s Museum has a similar vibe as the Please Touch Museum (which I discuss more in this post), with completely different exhibits.

Some highlights include the Stratosphere, which is a giant indoor climbing structure, a banking exhibit, where kids can design their own money and The Power of Me, which test physical fitness and shoes kids how their bodies work.

It’s smaller than Philly’s Please Touch Museum, but it’s also a little cheaper and generally less crowded. There’s free parking in the lot and restaurants nearby (none on site). It’s also CLOSED on Mondays, so plan accordingly!

For more, see the Delaware Children’s Museum website.

Day Trips from Philly for Families: Adventure Aquarium (Camden, NJ)

Adventure Aquarium is just across the river from Philadelphia. It’s a short 20-30 minute drive over the Ben Franklin Bridge, depending on wherever you’re staying (Note: There’s a $5 return toll, cash only, if you don’t have EZ-Pass).

There’s a lot of cool things to see at Adventure Aquarium. They have a Kid Zone with some more interactive exhibits for kids. There are also touch tanks, a shark bridge and a penguin exhibit, to name a few.

For more on Adventure Aquarium hours and rates, see their website.

Jellyfish Adventure Aquarium
Penguins at Adventure Aquarium

Fun Day Trips for Kids: Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens

Jenkins Arboretum is located about 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia in Devon, Pennsylvania. It’s a small garden and a little quieter than Longwood Gardens. It’s small and manageable for smaller kids and a nice place to take a walk and see some beautiful flowers!

As a bonus, on their website, they have detailed pictures of many of the plants in bloom organized by the season. It’s really helpful if you or your kids are interested in learning more about flowers and plants.

For more on Jenkins Arboretum, see their website.

wood fern
Magenta Azalea Rhododendron dauricum
White and Pink Azalea Rhododendron x White Swan
azaleas in jenkins arboretum
Kalmia latifolia 'Carol'

Want more things to do in Philly for Kids?

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