Free Stuff, Kid Approved, Travel

Garden of the Gods

We made our way to the Garden of the Gods after our visit to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and Helen Hunt Falls.  Garden of the Gods is Beauty 360 degrees!  The red mountains and with the green trees and grass was stunning!  Garden of the Gods is also perfect for the budget because it is free!

 Visitors Center

 We stopped by the visitors center before we entered the park (that’s where my featured image was taken).  There is a great view of the park from there and you can get a map of the Garden of the Gods fromt there.  Of course there’s a gift shop too for all the fun memorbilia to take home with you.

The Drive

The drive alone is worth a visit!  There are winding roads throughout, so you can drive and see the beautiful sights without even getting out of your car.  

Hiking and More

Of cours we wanted to go for a short hike, that turned into a long hike.  The path was paved, and very easy to hike with an 18 month old. We were lucky there was nice cloud cover, which made for a cooler hike in the early evening. There were quite a few other people hiking and taking photos, but it was not too crowded.  There were a few rock climbers high up with their ropes and equipment.  They are pretty impresive, nothing that I’m willing to do. 

There is so much to see, so you should really make a good amount of time to explore the park especially if you like to hike.  We were pretty tired from our busy day, or we might have stayed longer.  We were also anxious to get back to our retreat and relax in the hot tub.

Where’s your favorite place to hike or explore in Colorado?

Kid Approved, Travel

North Pole – Santa’s Workshop

While we were in Colorado Springs (July 2014) we visited the North Pole – Santa’s Workshop at Pike’s Peak.  I visited as I child, I think I was about 7 or 8-years-old.  I remember having a lot of fun as a youngster.  I was excited to take my kids, and hoped it was still as neat as I remembered.  

Go on a Weekday

Santa’s Workshop did not let us down!   It was great because the park was not crowded, no wait in line for rides, food or bathrooms.  We went on a Thursday, so I’m sure that helped to make it less crowded.  

What to Expect

The entire place is so quaint, friendly and clean. We really loved it! Our oldest (13-years-old) said this was her favorite place we visited in Colorado Springs.  There are rides for young and old.  You pay an entrance fee which covers all of the rides, then they give you a card and you charge everything else on it.  When you leave the park they total up your expences, and then you pay.  This can be a little dangerous!  We kind of lost track on what we were spending.  There are lots of good eats, and many cute little shops.  Everything is Christmas themed.  If you are a Christmas lover you must visit Santa’s Workshop.  They have a palethra of Christmas ornaments.  We ended up getting several custom ornaments.  There is a shop that will paint names on any ornament you want.  I got one for each of the girls, they picked their’s out.  I also got one for my Mom and put all of her grandkids names on it. 

 We headed to Meade, Colorado after we left to go visit and stay with friends.  Our plan was to visit Rocky Mountain National Park at least one of the next 2 days.

Have You been to Santa’a Workshop?  What did you enjoy most?

Kid Approved, Tutorials

Staying in Colorado Springs at the Base of Pikes Peak with Air B&B

In July 2014 we took our girls to Colorado for vacation.  Our first stop was Colorado Springs, CO.  I wanted to stay somewhere besides a hotel.  I researched several cabins, but the prices were a little higher than I wanted to pay for 2 nights.

About Air B&B

I discovered Air B&B.  One of the great things about Air B&B are the reviews on each apartment, home, and room.  We were looking for an entire home, and you can filter your search to find only entire homes in a certain area.  There are several other filters, such as price range, bedrooms, bathrooms, hot tub, pool, elevator, pets allowed, etc.  I scoured through several houses, finally filtering it down to 3.  I actually played this searching and deciding game for several days before I made my final decision.  We ended up renting a garage apartment at the base of Pikes Peak, Mountain Retreat in Cascade, CO.  Every single review was fabulous.

About Our Stay

We loved staying there, and our hosts were very friendly.  Everything we needed was provided in our little apartment.  There was a security gate with a keypad to enter.  They even provided a bottle of wine and fruit.  The peaches were our favorite!  Juicy and sweet, we devoured them.  The first evening we sat on their lovely deck, visited and sipped ice cold local beer with our hosts, Ingrid and Robert.  They had a shared hot tub and a towel warmer for heated towels when you got out of the hot tub. My oldest and I enjoyed the hot tub both evenings we were there.  The evenings were so cool and beautiful.  All the fresh mountain air and no wind or mosquitos.   I wish we had stayed longer!  We had meant to relax on our 2nd day in the evening after our daytime venture out to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Helen Hunt Falls and The Garden of the Gods, but we just packed too much into that day so there was not much time for relaxing when we made it back.  Of course, my oldest and I managed to spend some time in the hot tub, to relax our achy muscles from walking all day.

After our stay at the retreat, we visited The North Pole, then headed to Meade, CO to spend the rest of the trip with friends.  Luckily they have a big house with extra rooms, and we stayed with them for 3 nights.

I would stay here again and recommend it to anyone with a small family or to couples!  It was a beautiful place to stay!

Where’s your favorite place to stay in the Colorado Springs area?

Kid Approved, Travel

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

On our vacation to Colorado Springs, we decided to visit Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.  I have a cousin who lives in Denver and she and her family met us there in the morning.  We wanted to get an early start before it got too hot outside.  Even though we were in Colorado, it can still get very hot in the summer.  Especially if you’re not way up in the mountains.     Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is actually on a Mountain, so there was a lot of hiking up and down hills on our visit.  We rented a stroller for our youngest, but she was just getting feet mobile and wanted to do lots of walking herself.

Animal Encounters

One of the first things we did was the giraffe feeding, they are pretty close to the entrance.  They are super friendly and it’s fun to watch their long tongues reach out for food.  Both girls enjoyed feeding the giraffes.   My cousin’s two girls are a little older and they both had fun too.  We also fed several birds in the bird sanctuary they have.  That is always neat for kids to do, and I enjoy it myself along with my husband.  If you go to the zoo’s website you will find several “animal feeding experiences” listed.   You have to pay extra for all of the animal feedings.

Rides

My cousin’s husband, her girls and my oldest road the Mountian Sky Ride.  It is a like a ski lift that goes high over the zoo.  It looked pretty cool, but I’m not sure how I would have handled the height!  I was never scared of heights until I got older.  I think I was in my late 30s that heights started making me a bit dizzy.  You do have to pay extra to ride.  My youngest had to ride the carousel while we were there.  Always a good ride for the younger kids and even the bigger kids enjoy it.

Visit the Zoo’s website for current pricing on all of the extras.  The food at the zoo was pretty good.  Your standard zoo food.  We had some delicious ice cream.  It may have tasted so good because we were all hot, sweaty and tired when we ate. The views were fantastic!  Everywhere your turned were beautiful views of the mountains.  My biggest negative for me was the zoo set up is not user-friendly.  You go into one section, then have to circle back out before you can move on to the next section. We still had a very good time.

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a fun little zoo to visit with family.  Be prepared for a lot of up and down hill hiking!

Have you been to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo?  What was your favorite part?

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Sharing ice cream
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Feeding the giraffes
Kid Approved, Oklahoma, Travel

Medicine Park, OK

We decided to take a short weekend vacation when my daughter was still under a year old to Medicine Park, Oklahoma, the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge and the Tiger Safari in Tuttle, OK.  We also did not have a lot of money to spend, so we wanted to go somewhere close.  I lived in Chickasha for several years before I was married and it is close to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.  It is a fantastic hiking and rock climbing area.  One of my very favorite places to go hiking!  I miss being less than an hour from the Wichita Mountains.  I decided it would be great to stay in Medicine Park, a very quaint little town just a few minutes from the Refuge and the first tourist resort in Oklahoma.  I wanted to share this area with my family.  I knew my oldest would love all the rocks, the cobblestone building in the town of Medicine Park and the rock mountains in the Wichita Mountains!  She has always been a fan of rocks.

I did some research, as usual!  And found a cabin in Medicine Park I liked and that we could afford.  Also, we were only staying one night, and not all cabins/houses would let you reserve for just one night.  I had a doctors appointment in OKC that Friday.  After the appointment, we went to Meers to have a meersburger.  Meers Store & Restaurant is a hole in the wall kind of place.  In the middle of nowhere and nothing fancy, but they have the best burgers and cobbler. Their menu has lots of tasty selections, and BBQ to go.  We ordered 2 longhorn burgers, and I ordered their fries.  My oldest and I shared a burger because they are huge! The meal was great, as always.  For dessert we all shared peach cobbler over homemade ice cream, it is beyond words.    After lunch, we headed to Medicine park and checked into Margie’s Cabin and it was perfect!  There were drinks, snacks, and a Keurig coffee maker.  There were also beach towels in one of the bedrooms.  It was set off from other houses and had a cute patio area.  We absolutely loved it, and I wished we had booked two nights instead of just one.

 


Just across the street, there is a walk way that leads to the center of Medicine Park.  The girls got in their bathing suits and we headed down the path and to the swimming area.  My oldest made friends quick and had someone to play with.  My husband, youngest and I just explored the area and watched the ducks, geese, fish and turtles.

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We drove to the Wichita Mountains and to the top of Mount Scott later in the day.  Such a great view from the top of the mountain.  It’s alway a little bit windier and cooler at the top.  The next morning we sat on the patio and just enjoyed nature and the quiet.  We walked to the town center after we all got around in the morning.  There was a little bakery with pastries and donuts, so we stopped there and had breakfast at a table outside.  Later that morning we went to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

Mount Scott
Mount Scott

Kid Approved, Travel

Dixie Stampede in Branson, MO

We decided to see the Dixie Stampede while we were in Branson.  My husband mostly does not have much of an opinion on what we do.  He usually says, “Whatever you want honey.”.  I knew that all of us would enjoy the show and the food, so I was pretty excited.  After we Rode the Ducks, visited the Titanic Museum and ate lunch we went by Dixie Stampede to pick up tickets for the show that evening.  Luckily there was no line!  I had a coupon from Ride the Ducks but did not end up using it, because I paid extra for preferred seating.  I will tell you, all the seats are great, and if you want to save money, you can purchase regular seats and see everything just fine.

 

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At the Dixie Stampede.  Really, we all had fun!

When we got there, there was a huge line!  I’m so glad I got my tickets early.  We went into the preshow area and sat down, this is a separate room from the arena.  We were confused at first, but a waitress explained that we would be seated in the arena after the pre-show.  They had a juggler.  Her was really good and funny.  After that, we all went into the arena and found our seats.  We were on the 2nd row and had great seats.  The way the seats are set up is perfect because no one’s head would block your view.  We got seated, and they asked us what we wanted to drink.  The seating is a bit crowded, but luckily none of us were next to any large people.  Before the show started, our waitress asked if my youngest could participate in the show.  She said she would let me know when she needed her to come down, and where she needed to be.  I said sure.  The food was great, and our waitress was too.  We had no silverware, so we had to eat everything by hand, which wasn’t that bad.  We had biscuits, a small roasted chicken, a strip of pork loin, corn on the cob, and an apple turnover for dessert.  The show was excellent and kept us entertained.  When it was time for Ragan to go down (we just went to the first level of the audience area), she did great.  She had to swing a little lasso, and the waitress helped her. It was adorable and made the visit even more worth it.  I think they pick newbies to participate.

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Swinging the laso.