Things to Do With Toddlers at Great Wolf Lodge

Is Great Wolf Lodge a good place to stay when you have a toddler? Check out these things to do with toddlers at Great Wolf Lodge! 

The day after the big kids got out of school for the summer we surprised them with a fun staycation to kick off the beginning of summer. Over the 4 day getaway, we spent two days at Great Wolf Lodge Southern California. We’d never stayed at a Great Wolf Lodge and have been dying to try out the closest one to our house. So when I saw the opportunity to purchase a Groupon again (we missed the first opportunity), I jumped on it and booked a night. 

As we did a bit more research on our upcoming stay, one thing was clear: there is a TON to do for all age groups. Including toddlers. And once we got there, we found this to be 100% accurate. Not only were there fun things for the big kids, but for the small kids and adults as well. 

If you’ve planned a night at the Great Wolf Lodge, here’s what you should put on your list to do with your toddler: 

Things to Do With Toddlers at Great Wolf Lodge

1. Grab a puddle jumper or bring your own – 

While there are quite a few places your toddler can go at Great Wolf Lodge, safety is first. Make sure you either bring your own life jacket (or favorite puddle jumper) or use one that’s provided for you at the various life jacket stations. We preferred our own because sometimes they’re out of life jackets at certain times of days or locations and it’s easier to just grab our own. 

2. Park yourself somewhere close to the Cub Paw Pool – 

After enjoying an afternoon at the water park on our first day there (you can enjoy the park starting at 1pm on your check-in day even though check in is at 4pm) and exploring everything for the first time, we knew that as soon as we arrived at the water park on our full day at the park, we needed to snag a spot near our toddler’s favorite area: Cub Paw Pool. 

Now not only does this area have a zero-depth entry that makes it easier for toddlers and infants alike to explore at their own pace, it only goes to 24″ deep in the deepest area. There are age appropriate slides, water funnels, and fun splash areas that are sure to excite any little one. And parents can just relax (as much as one can when they’re in the water with kids) while their littles play around them and have fun. My husband literally sat at the bottom of a small slide as he watched our daughter go up the stairs and down the slide 100s of times as I took the other two to the “big kid” areas of the park. She seriously did not want to leave to go anywhere else once she found Cub Paw Pool. 

3. Enjoy a fun splash area that older siblings can have fun at too at Fort Mackenzie – 

While Cub Paw Pool was perfect for the toddlers and infants, if your toddler is a bit more adventurous, let them splash and explore around Fort Mackenzie. The older kids can enjoy the medium size slides while the younger kids take turns trying to shoot water at passersby or stomp around in the big puddles. But watch out! That bucket on top of Fort Mackenzie does fill with water and tips to empty every few minutes. 

You may be surprised to find that after your toddler tries out the small slides in Cub Paw Pool that they ask to try the medium sized slides over at Fort Mackenzie! Maybe. If they’re daredevil 2-year-olds like mine…

4. With life jackets on, enjoy the waves of Slap Tail Pond’s wave pool.

There are lulls in between the waves (pictured above) but once the wave machine starts going, the littles LOVE trying to jump over the waves closer to the shore as the big kids swim in deeper. This pool also has a zero-depth entry that makes it easy for all to enjoy. And your little one might surprise you by asking to be taken further into the waves. Just make sure to hold on a bit tighter as you go in deeper. 

5. Looking for some sun? Enjoy the rays (with sunscreen lathered on, of course) at Raccoon Lagoon. 

Another zero-depth entry pool that gets to about 4 feet deep, this pool has two entrances on either side that offer fun play areas for toddlers to explore. The big kids will take over the center of the pool where the basketball hoops are but that’s ok, the edge is closer to the restaurant and drinks! 

In between splashing in the water and played with the water funnels, our 2-year-old munched on a delicious corn on the cobb snack from the Grizzly Jack’s Bar and Grill. I couldn’t pull all of the kids out of here but sadly had to as our day was coming to a close. You can stay the full day on the day you check out but we were ready to dry off and head to our next adventure by then. 

6. Staying a second night? Make sure to head down for storytime. 

Some littles may be in bed by the time this starts (I believe it was 8 or 8:15pm) but both of our girls headed down with dad to check out The Forest Friends Show followed by Great Wolf Lodge bedtime stories as told by one of their Ambassadors of Fun. Don’t forget your camera because after Story Time, meeting Wiley, Violet or one of the Great Wolf Kids characters is an unforgettable memory you won’t want to miss – and a pretty cute one too! High paws are always welcome and definitely encouraged.

As you can see, there is plenty to do at Great Wolf Lodge when you have a toddler. And some things we didn’t even get a chance to do! Good thing the whole family was in agreement that we’d have to come back soon! 

A few highlights I didn’t mention above but the toddler loved: Pizza from Hungry Like a Wolf for dinner, Donuts from Dunkin Donuts for breakfast, brownies and fudge at Bear Paw Eats & Sweets, the mini carousel and candy claw at the Northern Lights Arcade, and ending our trip with a souvenir wolf from the Buckhorn Exchange Gift Shop. 

Don’t forget to book a Wolf Den room if you have more than one cub! The bunk beds were a huge hit with our kids. While one night may be great for a lot of families, we’ll be booking two nights next time we head up so we can enjoy more of the amenities offered. 

Have you been to Great Wolf Lodge? What was your favorite part? 

Exploring Santa Fe With Kids: Meow Wolf

explore santa fe meow wolf

A few weeks ago our family set out on their first summer adventure. We hit the road in a Kia Sorrento that Kia so graciously lent us and traveled across two states to arrive at our destination – Santa Fe, New Mexico – for a few days. I was there for a conference and the family came along for the adventure. 

While there, we wanted to find fun, new things for the kids to explore so the first thing we did was spark up a conversation with a few parents we ran into and asked what they did with their kids for fun. And while we got some great suggestions for various things to do around town, the one suggestion that was the same from everyone was to visit Meow Wolf. 

Meow Wolf? What could that possibly be? Well let me tell you. If you are anywhere around Santa Fe, you NEED to check out this exhibit. It is absolutely amazing. And the perfect experience for adults and children alike. 

explore santa fe meow wolf house of eternal return

explore santa fe meow wolf house

Meow Wolf: The House Of Eternal Return Exhibit

When we first stepped inside The House Of Eternal Return exhibit at Meow Wolf all we saw was what appeared to be the yard of a large house. There was a mailbox, a porch, and we entered into the front door. Inside we walked around the house and saw the various rooms inside. Kitchen, dining room, living room downstairs, and bedrooms upstairs. 

After exploring each room downstairs, we headed up to the bedrooms. And from within the bedrooms we found our way into what appeared to be a different dimension. We walked around the exhibit allowing the kids to lead. Around every bend was another crazy, amazing room after another filled with various sites and sounds.

explore santa fe meow wolf kitchen explore santa fe meow wolf fridge opened

What was most enjoyable about Meow Wolf was the hands on feel. Our kids could explore this exhibit with every sense and really experience each new finding. We didn’t have to worry about standing back and watching, or keeping our voices quiet. Although the sites we explored did leave the kids quiet as they busily walked (and ran) around to find the next new thing. 

About Meow Wolf

With the help of George R.R. Martin, who recently purchased a vacant former bowling alley, Meow Wolf has converted the building into a multi-use Art Complex. The Meow Wolf Art Complex stands as a beacon of creativity and community in Santa Fe’s emerging Midtown Innovation District, welcoming locals and tourists alike to take part in fun, enriching art experiences, workshops, and community activities.

The building is home to the JoAnn and Bob Balzer Creative Maker Studio hosted by Make Santa Fe, The David Loughridge Learning Center inhabited by Meow Wolf’s non-profit educational outreach program Chimera, and the 20,000 square foot interactive art experience “House of Eternal Return.”

explore santa fe meow wolf statue

What Else To Do At Meow Wolf

Meow Wolf does not just house The House of Eternal Return exhibit. You can also participate hands-on in some of the artist’s projects in the Maker Studio as well as various workshops held. But make sure to check out the website before visiting so you can sign up in advance for the workshops you or your kids are most interested in. 

When we visited, after exploring the exhibit, we headed to the Learning Center where, after a small donation, the kids could paint, build, and create various pieces of artwork. They were able to meet other children and have a bit more fun before we returned to our hotel. If we had thought about it ahead of time we would have looked into the workshops they also held to sign the kids up. But that’ll be for next time…

explore santa fe meow wolf treehouse lights explore santa fe meow wolf plasma plex

If you’re in Santa Fe and haven’t been to Meow Wolf, go! 

Give yourself about 2 hours to explore (maybe a little longer if you want to spend some time in the Learning Center). Tickets are $18 for adults, $12 for children 12 and under, and $16 for seniors (cheaper for New Mexico residents). You can purchase tickets online in advance here

And make sure to bring your camera! 

Have you been to New Mexico with kids? What was your favorite part? 

Looking for a new family car? Check out the Kia Sorrento. Roomy, smart, and so comfortable. 

My family of 5 was able to get 3 carseats in the back (2 Britax Frontiers forward facing and 1 Diono Radian rear facing) and while it was a tight squeeze, it worked. There’s an option for a third row for larger families or those who don’t want 3 carseats across. Our favorite features? USB plug ins + 110 volt power inverter to keep all of our tech charged and ready to go, advanced smart cruise control, and superb navigation! 

Thanks again to Kia for loaning us a Kia Sorrento for our family road trip. Stay tuned for more adventure updates from our trip! 

Kia Sorrento In New Mexico

Road Trip Tips: Traveling with Baby

This shop featuring road trip tips and Huggies has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SkinCareForBaby #CollectiveBias

Road Trip Tips- Traveling with Baby

At the end of April, Norah and I will pack up the car, swing by to pick up my mother-in-law, and head up to Laguna Niguel for Mom 2.0. Then a few months after that, the whole family will be taking a road trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico for Type A West.

With all that driving, I wanted to make sure I had all of the essentials needed when taking a road trip with a baby. These road trip tips (and essentials) will make these long journeys with baby easier. And since I’m prepping ahead of time, there won’t be a rush to grab everything we need at the last minute. But if you are running around trying to grab what you need for your next road trip with baby, I have a great check list just for you!

Road Trip Tips Traveling with Baby - keep an entertaining kit handy

Road Trip Tips: Traveling with Baby

Road Trip Tips Traveling with Baby - pack the essentials for baby

Pack the Essentials

I don’t like hauling a large diaper bag with me anywhere. So I keep the important things in the car and then the car serves as home base for our needs. The same goes for when we’re on the road. Instead of keeping everything in a huge bag all jumbled up, I put the essentials in a nice tray container that we can keep in the trunk.

Road Trip Checklist For Baby - resized

Road Trip Tips Traveling with Baby - diaper changing stationHuggies Little Snugglers ready to go road trip

 

Restock The Diaper Changing Station

As I’ve shared before, we have a diaper changing station in the trunk of the car. Not only does it make life easier when we’re running from one thing to another during the week, it also helps to have a changing station on road trips as well. No changing table in the bathroom at the rest stop? No problem! And when the kids get older, I even take a little potty in the trunk too!

I keep a good stock of Huggies® Little Snugglers in there (about double what I’d normally have) and a new package of Huggies® Natural Care Wipes. And next to the diapers is a first aid kit, a trash can, and a changing pad. Super easy to throw together and keep stocked before we leave on any trips. 

And, of course, I pack a full bag of diapers and wipes for our destination. 

 

Road Trip Tips Traveling with Baby - pull out cloth wipesRoad Trip Tips Traveling with Baby - wipes container with cloth wipes

Make A Fun Entertainment Kit

This entertainment kit is not only easy to make, it probably contains things that you can find in your house right now!

Here’s what you need:

  • empty Huggies® Natural Care Wipes container
  • soft new-to-baby toys
  • cloth squares (can use old cloth wipes, wash cloths, or an old t-shirt cut into squares)

Add the soft toys to the bottom of the wipes container. Then take the cloth squares and fold them onto one another. Put the cloth squares on top of the toys and put the first square through the hole at the top then close the lid.

This not only keeps my baby entertained (she can pull OUT the cloth squares and then try and get her toys) but also provides some toys for her to play with when we get to our destination also. And the toys also serve as fun entertainment when we have to stop and stretch our legs or eat a meal.

Road Trip Tips Traveling with Baby - hidden soft toys

What are your tips for taking road trips with baby?

We’ve been a Huggies® family since we started using disposable diapers. And the Huggies® Little Snugglers are awesomely designed to help keep baby’s skin clean & healthy. The Wetness Indicator in Sizes N-3 is a color-changing indicator that lets you know when your baby’s diaper is ready to be changed. Super convenient when on the road or on vacation. 

You can find both Huggies® Little Snugglers and Huggies® Natural Care Wipes at Walmart in the baby aisle and they’re super budget friendly – the lowest price diaper pack is $8.97. 

Huggies at Walmart

Top 10 Essentials When Traveling with Dogs

Traveling with the family dog doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s just as easy as traveling with kids. Maybe even easier! We’re sharing our must have essentials when traveling with dogs including a few products from The Nutro™ Company as part of a sponsored series with Socialstars. #HonestToDog

Top 10 Essentials When Traveling with Dogs

I still remember the first day we brought Scout home from the pound. We had just met him the day before and as soon as I got to his cage he put his paw up as if saying hello. I played with him a bit through the fence while my husband Joseph (who was only my boyfriend at the time) went to go see if he was available. They said he was a coonhound beagle mix so we assumed we were getting a medium sized dog. But those paws. Those paws said something else! They were HUGE.

Joseph had to work that day and couldn’t get off early so I had the pleasure of heading down to pick him up after he got the snip snip. He was only 3 months old at the time and came out from behind the corner with a cone of shame around him. I didn’t even bring a collar or a leash. I was so new to this whole pet owner thing. He would be living at Joseph’s house since I lived with my dad and did not have room for another dog. But that didn’t stop me from loving on him and staying with him that first night. Staying up and sleeping on the couch to make sure he was ok and all his needs were met.

Needless to say, Scout was a very important part of my life. He was my first real big responsibility outside of chinchillas, rats, and hampsters. And he depended on me and Joseph to take care of him. We took him just about everywhere. Road trips, the beach, hiking, walks around the neighborhood, etc. Wherever we went, he went. And as we got married, added to our family – gained 3 kids, gained and lost a dog, and added many more pets after that, and as Scout got older, the trips have slowed down. But we still get out and about for a little fun. And over the years we’ve figured out the essentials when traveling with dogs.

Top 10 Essentials When Traveling with Dogs - walking the dog

Now depending on the size and personality of your dog, some of these may vary a bit. However the basics are all there! And sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re going on a cross country trip with your pooch or simply taking a day trip to the beach. First above all, though, is to get your dog used to the car at a young(er) age. We’d take Scout on trips to the hardware store with us, to the pet store to grab food, and even to a few dog-friendly restaurants to not only get him socialized but to get him used to the car. One dog I had growing up, Simba, would get car sick every car ride and did NOT like to be in the car. I don’t think I’d attempt a long car ride with him if it could be avoided.

Top 10 Essentials When Traveling with Dogs - packing for your pooch

Top 10 Essentials When Traveling with Dogs

  1. Water – You always need to bring water with you when you’re traveling with Fido. Whether it’s a 20 minute drive to the park, a walk around the neighborhood, or a longer trip, water is essential to have with you when you have your pooch at your side.
  2. Poop Bags – Even if your dog is a once a day pooper in the same spot every day (don’t laugh… some dogs are very, er, regular) it’s good to have poop bags on hand (or even attached to their leash) at all times.
  3. Leashes – And that leads me to the next important essential, your dog’s leash. I would suggest keeping the leash attached to their collar even when in the car. It not only is convinient for getting out of the car, but should someone else need to go into your car, they can quickly secure your dog by grabbing the leash.
  4. Car Harness – Just like securing your children in a carseat, a car harness or crate is important to keep your dog safe in case of an accident or emergency. It can also act as a calm place for your dog to retreat to (the crate) if they’re feeling nervous on the trip when you reach your destination. Always keep your dog in the crate when the car is in motion OR harnessed.
  5. Towel/Bedding – if your pooch is sitting in the back seat, putting a towel down underneath them can act as some padding for them, protection for the seat, and an easy way to dry them off if you have an accident or are coming home from the beach. We’ve also found this to be an easy way to make them feel more comfortable if the car seat has an awkward angle. It also comes in handy in the back of the car as it acts like a makeshift bed.
  6. Food – Sometimes bringing food for your dog isn’t needed. But when you’re on a long road trip, or even a day trip to the beach, remembering your dog’s food is important. A food like NUTRO™ Rotations™ dog food can add a bit of variety to their diet and you can even pair it with what you’ve brought for the family to eat so your pooch can enjoy the same meal.  
  7. Food/Water Containers – Even though this is kind of a given, having a few food/water containers with you can help out in a pinch. We like the soft, collapsable containers that will fit in a purse or diaper bag. I keep one in my trunk at all times along with a small tupperware container that holds the collapsable dish, extra leash, poop bags, and a water bottle. Just in case.
  8. Toys – Not only are toys great for your destination to keep your dog happy and entertained, but a favorite toy, blanket, or chew toy can help calm your dog while you’re on your adventure. Something that reminds them of home and security. 
  9. Medications – Not all dogs are on medication however if your dog does need his daily meds, don’t forget to bring them along. I like to bring the whole bottle that includes the prescription information instead of a pill saver just in case. That way I have all of my dog’s info with me. You could also write out a list of medications to keep with you just as you would for yourself when traveling. 
  10. Treats – Keeping a little stash of treats you know your dog likes can be handy when you want to get their attention, have them respond to your commands in new situations, or simply praise them for being good on your trip.

STAINMASTER PetProtect running at the beach

This old boy has definitely left an impact on my life and I’m so happy to have his companionship. We might not be doing cross country trip anytime soon but our beach days are far from over.

Top 10 Essentials When Traveling with Dogs - Scout at 12 years old

Do you travel with your dog?

Find more great travel tips by liking The Nutro Company on Facebook or following on twitter.

®/™Trademarks of © The Nutro Company 2015

10 Vacation Tips With Kids

10 Vacation Tips with Kids

Recently I read on Facebook from a friend that vacations with kids are simply trips, not vacations. Because as a mom, or a parent, there’s no relaxing as one would expect on a vacation. And while I see where this friend is coming from, I don’t know if I buy it. Maybe that’s because the larger vacations we’ve taken with the kids usually end up being with one set of grandparents coming along as well (which I HIGHLY recommend for those who get along with their parents/in-laws). Or maybe it’s because I put myself into the vacation mentality and try to balance rest/relaxation with exploration.

I guess it all depends on the mindset of the parents, right? And the planning. As a family of 5, our next vacation is going to take a bit of planning. Luckily I’ve found some great tips for vacationing with the kids… and planning the vacations. So starting now means I’ll be ahead of the game when our next vacation gets closer, right? Because planning a vacation for a family of four seems a lot easier than planning for the five of us. And I have no idea why! 

Vacation Tips with Kids

1. 7 Tips for Surviving Family Vacations with Teens & Tweens | Shaken Together

2. Staying Sane While Traveling with Kids | Turning the Clock Back

3. Taking a Road Trip to Disney World with Kids | My Mommy World

4. 12 Tips to Traveling with Kids (Without Losing Your Mind) | That Bald Chick

5. How to Stay Happy When Traveling with Toddlers | Smarty Pants Mama

6. Baby Air Travel Essentials | Meet Kristy

7. Surviving Road Trips with Children | More Than A Mom of Three

8. How Do You Potty Train When On-The-Go? ~Sunshine and Sippy Cups

9. Your Ultimate Family Road Trip Resource Guide ~Carrie Elle

10. Tips for Traveling with Children on the Auto Train ~A TIPical Day

 

Need more help with planning your next vacation? Planning a road trip with the kids? You might find this article helpful!

Road Trip with Kids Survival Gear

Exploring the Boston Museum of Science {Boston Trip Day 2}

exploring boston 2013 day 2

On day 2 in Boston we decided to explore the city a bit more and took advantage of our City Passes. First stop was the Boston Museum of Science where we explored the various exhibits they had on display, played in the kids Discovery Center, and watched an electrifying lightning show.

The kids absolutely loved the experience and asked to go again almost every other day we were in Boston. This is a must visit museum if you have kids. From gears to dinosaurs to bugs and more, there’s something for everyone. [Read more…]

Our Search for the Perfect Lobster Roll in Maine {Boston Trip 2013 Day 1}

Our Search for the Perfect Lobster Roll in Maine

While in New England the one thing my mother in law and I knew we wanted to do was to find the perfect lobster roll. Now I knew  nothing of lobster rolls before but the one thing I did know is that you can probably find the best lobster roll in Maine.

So on our first full day in Boston after exploring Concord we hit the road and headed north.

To get to Maine from Massachusetts we drove a short while in New Hampshire. I didn’t notice a big difference between the scenery in Boston and the scenery in our short drive through New Hampshire but my mother in law remembers a lot more concrete vs. greenery in New Hampshire.

I’ll take her word for it! [Read more…]

Exploring Concord {Boston Trip 2013 Day 1}

exploring new england

Ah… New England! I had never been to New England and was excited to experience it in the fall. This past week we headed out together with the kids and my mother in law to Boston. To see the colors of the leaves change before our eyes and feel that crispness in the air was absolutely amazing.

The first full day we spent in Boston was quite the experience. And half the time we weren’t even in Boston! We left early in the morning for a quick drive and a little exploration.

The plan was to see if Minuteman Park was open. But with the government shutdown we knew there’d be a chance that we weren’t going to do that. And… we were right. We were greeted with signs at every parking lot entrance letting us know what was going on. [Read more…]

5 Must-Have Tools for Traveling

5 must have tools for traveling square

When you have the right tools for traveling a trip can be much easier. By taking the time to research what you might need and finding the perfect products for your trip you can save time, money, and hassle while on the road or in the air.

We recently took a trip to South Dakota to visit friends and found that our trip was made much easier with the help of a few essential tools. Read below to find out exactly how these five must have’s made our lives much easier! [Read more…]

Hiking with Toddlers and the @Boba Air Baby Carrier

One thing I’ve come to realize more and more with two children is the necessity of baby wearing. Not only does it allow me to do more activities with my kids, it also allows my family the opportunity to explore and create new memories in places that a stroller just can’t go. Including hiking with toddlers.

This Summer my family and I made the trek up to Mammoth Mountain for a mini vacation with just the 4 of us. Not only is Mammoth gorgeous this time of year, there are so many things to do out there! We took this opportunity to take the kids camping in Yosemite this time around. And while our camping trip was definitely memorable, it isn’t one I’d like to repeat any time soon.

Not only did I end up needed emergency dental work due to the altitude pushing up a crown of mine (abscess under the crown), but the mountain air was just too cold during the night for little ones.

But we did get to take advantage of some great hiking and exploring while we were in Yosemite and Mammoth! So ignore my puffy face and enjoy the gorgeous views we were able to take in. I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy all that we did without the help of our Boba Air.



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