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Northern New Mexico (May 2024)

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Palm Springs and Joshua Tree (January 2024)

 About this Trip We took this trip to see our California cousins over the winter break. We flew out early on New Year's Day and caught a direct flight on Southwest Airlines. Palm Springs has a TON of AirBnb and Boutique hotel options. Ours was really cute and included a pool + hot tub, a popcorn machine, a cotton candy maker, and a pool table. The kids loved it. We didn't plan very much in advance, but we should have bought our tickets to the Palm Springs tram in advance. During peak times, they sell only a limited number of tickets in advance and it was fully sold out when we went. Palm Springs Aerial Tram We were excited to ride the Palm Spring Aerial Tram . We drove up to the parking area and then took a shuttle bus up to the ticketing office. The line was out the door and, after asking a few questions, we determined that it would probably take about three hours of waiting to (maybe) get on a tram and probably another two hour wait to get back down. We didn't have that k

Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, and Guadelupe Mountains National Park (March 2024)

About this Trip We took this road trip for Spring Break 2024 with our kids 12 and 8. Our focus was to see three national parks: Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, and Guadelupe Mountains. This was a lot of fun, and did not require advance planning outside of general logistics except: 1. Get the Carlsbad reservations in advance. 2. If you want to do the peak or Devil's Summit at Guadelupe Mountains on Spring Break, start very early in the day or there will be nowhere to park.

Wisconsin and West Coast of Lake Michigan (July 2023)

  About This Trip This trip involved us and our friends (4 adults, 4 kids) flying on Southwest Airlines into Milwaukee and out of Chicago. We rented a van to to accomodate our ambitious itinerary. We stayed in Door County for two nights (very nice AirBnb), Milwaukee for two nights (a really crowded Embassy Suites), and Chicago for one night. Hindsight: I would have really liked another day in Door County and could have skipped Chicago (since that's a trip all on its own, it's no place for a van, and we didn't allow enough time there). We had a great time driving along the coast of Lake Michigan though and visited places we wouldn't have otherwise.  Day 1  We arrived in MKE and drove directly to Door County. This made for a long travel day, but we wanted to be at the northernmost point of our journey and then make our way back down. Since the first day was so long, we didn't do very much in Door County on our first day except check into our  amazing AirBnb  and spend

San Jose and Bay Area (October 2023)

  About this Trip We found a cheap flight on Southwest Airlines from Dallas to San Jose over a four-day school holiday with the kids. Dallas had a "heat dome summer" which is about as fun as it sounds and lasted what felt like an eternity. We thought that going to Northern California in October would be nice and cool. Ironically, it was one of the hottest weekends on record in California at 91 degrees and Dallas cooled down to a beautiful 70 degrees. All fine of course; Texans can handle heat. Our big motivator to go to San Jose was to tour the Winchester Mystery House, but San Jose is also a great home base if you want to travel into Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Francisco, or other popular surrounding areas.  We rented a Tesla for two of our 5 days on this trip and took Ubers on the days we stayed in San Jose. In hindsight, I would have liked a car the whole time. Not many places in San Jose were walkable and parking wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  We stayed at the

Chicago (2011 and 2019)

  About This Trip These are combined notes from two trips to Chicago, both in the May/June timeframe in different years. One trip was with my husband while I was pregnant, the other a girl's trip. I did a few repeat activities and found the city experience pretty consistent. Lucked out with the weather both times. I think Chicago is the prettiest downtown in America and one of my favorite places to be in the summer.  Prettiest Downtown in America Architecture Boat Tour, Cloud Gate (Bean), Millenium Park One of my favorite things to do in Chicago is the  architecture boat tour . This is a fun "first" activity because it helps you get the lay of the land; the tour guides are really knowledgable too. Millenium Park, "the Bean," and Navy Pier are all fun first time (and repeat!) stops too. Eric and I enjoyed the Agora art installation as well;  it is comprised of 106 nine-foot tall headless torsos made of cast iron, the artwork derives it name from the Greek word fo

Las Vegas and Surrounding Area (June 2023)

  About This Trip This was a summer trip with our kids, ages 8 and 11. We chose Vegas because the flights were cheap on Southwest Airlines, and our originally planned vacation to South Dakota was suddenly forecasting thunderstorms. We stayed at the  Hilton Grand Vacation on the Las Vegas Strip . This is a non-smoking, family friendly hotel that does not have a casino; however, I will add that it is on the extreme north end of the strip and a bit far from most of the activities we did. We usually started each day with a 10-15 minute uber ride. The hotel itself was perfect, comfortable, chock full of family friendly amenities, and quiet at night. They also let you grab two water bottles per/day, per reservation which was amazing. Only knock on this place, they had part of the building by the pool under construction which was noisy and ugly, but I'm sure that will be nice when they are done. The pool was also very crowded most days. Would still recommend the hotel 100% with kids! Bell