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The Best of San Fran for Kids: California Academy of Science

California Academy of Science via christineknight.me

The California Academy of Sciences is a natural history museum in San Francisco, and is one the the largest museums of natural history in the world. The museum is home to over 26 million specimens, .

Just one ticket allows you to explore an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, rainforest, 40,000 live animals, and more—all under one living roof.

California Academy of Science via christineknight.me

The Academy is a family-friendly museum with lots of exhibits, programs, and activities designed with kids in mind. Strollers are allowed everywhere in the museum – the only exception being the Shake House section of the Earthquake exhibit (you can park your stroller outside the exhibit).

California Academy of Science via christineknight.me

Eating at the Academy
We found decent kid-friendly food options at the Academy Cafe. You’re also welcome to bring your own food and drinks and use the indoor and outdoor seating available.

California Academy of Science via christineknight.me

Top Picks for Kids:

California Academy of Science via christineknight.me

Osher Rainforest
Over 1,600 live animals live in the four-story rainforest. Housed inside a 90-food-diameter glass dome, this is the largest rainforest exhibit of its kind in the world. From 250 free-flying birds to exotic reptiles, amphibians, golden silk orb-weaver spiders,jewel-like poison-dart frogs and stunning blue morpho butterflies that glide overhead, this is an exhibit that will create awe in kids and adults alike.

Note from the Cal Academy website: The rainforest is suitable for all ages, but because it is a hot, humid, and one-way exhibit, we recommend dressing in layers. Please note that there are no restrooms inside the rainforest dome, but you’ll find one immediately after exiting through the Amazon Flooded Forest tunnel.

Early Explorers Cove
Especially designed for kids aged 0-5, the Early Explorers Cave is a space where families can take a bit of a timeout in a smaller space with plenty of interactive activities. A miniature garden, books, toys, puzzles, live animals and dress up costumes await.

Discovery Tidepool
Kids of all ages are invited to gently touch a variety of tide pool creatures.

Earthquake Shake House
Visitors over the age of three can see, hear, and feel two earthquakes in the “Shake House”. This immersive experience can be a bit scary for littlies. Cheese was a bit scared while the house was shaking, but she also found it exciting and wanted to do it again.

Planetarium shows
The world’s largest all-digital planetarium with shows every 45 to 60 minutes. Planetarium shows are recommended for kids aged 7 and older, with kids under 4 not permitted.

Daily Programs
Check the daily schedule for story times, crafts, penguin feedings and other programs designed with young visitors in mind.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Steinhart Aquarium
One of our favourite sections of the academy. The aquarium is home to nearly 40,000 live animals including Claude the albino alligator, tortoises, lizards, and African penguins.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Changing tables are available in all restrooms on the museum floor, and a family-specific restroom is located next to the Swamp.

California Academy of Science
55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA
Prices: Adult $34.95, kids 4-11 $24.95

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

The Best of San Francisco For Kids: Children’s Creativity Museum

 

Children's Creative Museum via chistineknight.me

Children’s Creativity Museum is a hands-on, multimedia arts and technology museum for kids of all ages. It’s the kind of place that kids never want to leave as it’s full of open ended play opportunities that will literally keep them occupied for the entire day. The biggest challenge you’ll have is removing the kids to grab lunch when you’re desperate for a snack yourself.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

The museum is broken up into several different levels and labs. Some of the areas, such as the Animation Studio, were best suited to older kids than our preschoolers, but we were still able to find more than enough to entertain two three year olds for an entire day.

  • Animation Studio
    Geared towards older kids, children will learn the basics of stop motion animation by creating their own clay characters and bringing them to life on screen.
  • Community Lab
    Until Jan 3 the Community Lab will feature Brain Teasers 2, an interactive exhibit featuring 21 hands-on puzzles. Children's Creative Museum via chistineknight.me
  • Imagination Lab
    The area where we spent the majority of our time at the museum, the Imagination Lab is a hands-on environment encouraging building and creating with materials like blocks, Magna Tiles and craft. The dress up and puppet theatre was particularly popular with the preschoolers. 
  • Innovation Lab
    Kids are given the Mystery Box Challenge – a box filled with materials and a brief to create an object using only those materials. It was a lot of fun for the kids to think about basic design concepts as well as letting their creativity reign. Children's Creative Museum via chistineknight.me
  • Music Studio
    The girls’ favourite part of museum, no surprise. Pick a song from a selection of over 2,000 to sing in front of a green screen. The girls chose “Let It Go” (no surprises there) and sang it against an icy background reminiscent of Arendelle. They were in heaven.
  • Tech Lab
    A fun way to introduce kids to coding. A bit too old for our kids, I’d love to return another time to try this lab.

Children's Creative Museum via chistineknight.me

Before leaving the museum, take a spin on the hand-carved wooden carousel out the front. It’s the oldest operating carousel in San Francisco with a whimsical menagerie of animals to ride on. Be warned, it’s extremely fast!

Children's Creative Museum via chistineknight.me

Children’s Creativity Museum
221 Fourth St. San Francisco, CA
Price: General admission $12. Kids under 2 free.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Travel Guide: San Francisco with Kids

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

San Francisco is a great place to take kids. We’ve been several times with Cheese, from baby to preschooler, and each time we find new things to do together. Here are a few ways to spend your family holiday in San Fran so everyone has a great time.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Children’s Creativity Museum
Children’s Creativity Museum is a hands-on, multimedia arts and technology museum for kids of all ages. Take a ride on the hand-carved carousel, sing your heart out in the recording studio or build a masterpiece. Kids will never want to leave. Cheese particularly enjoyed the dress ups, puppet theatre, magna tiles and singing studio. She belted out “Let It Go” into a microphone and was filmed singing against a blue screen that transported her into an icy Arendelle. Priceless! Read more about our experience here.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me Children’s Creativity Museum
221 Fourth St. San Francisco, CA
Price: General admission $12. Kids under 2 free.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Aquarium of the Bay
This little aquarium has over 20,000 marine animals to visit. With a focus on conservation, kids will learn a lot about taking care of our water and the animals within, while getting up close to exotic and local aquatic life. Highlights include 300 feet of crystal clear tunnels with marine animals from San Francisco Bay and nearby waters and Touch the Bay, featuring touchpools with sharks, rays and sea stars.
Aquarium of the Bay
2 Beach St, San Francisco, CA
Prices: Adult $22.95, kids 3-12 $13.95

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Alcatraz Island
A very popular day trip, Alcatraz Island is located 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco. A visit to Alcatraz offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast as well as the infamous federal jail.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

As well as being steeped in history, the Rock is also home to tide pools, bird colonies and stunning views of San Francisco Bay. Wear very comfortable shoes, bring a light jacket no matter how warm the day begins, and be sure to book your tickets well in advance.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Alcatraz
Buy tickets for the cruise across to Alcatraz online.
Ferries depart from Alcatraz Landing at Pier 33.
Prices: Adult $31, kids 5-11 $19

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Golden Gate Park
You could easily spend a week just exploring everything Golden Gate Park has to offer. This 1,017 acre urban park is open to the public for free (however there is an entrance cost for some of the attractions). Be sure to check out the American bison who have happily lived in the park since the 1890s.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me Other attractions of note include Golden Gate Park Aquarium, Strawberry Hill (where you’ll find a waterfall and gorgeous views), Koret Children’s Quarter with its new and improved playground, Japanese Tea Garden, Carousel, windmill and tulips and the California Academy of Science.
More info at Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Fisherman’s Wharf
This is considered the “touristy” part of town, but I think it’s worth a visit as it’s right next to the aquarium and has a few fun things for kids to see.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me
Visit the California sea lions at Pier 39, where several hundred sea lions like to doze in the sun (be warned, they smell and are very loud!).

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me Eat at Boudin’s Bakery, home of the most delicious sourdough bread. This is their flagship location.
More ideas and info: Fisherman’s Wharf

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

San Francisco Cable Cars
An absolute must when you visit San Francisco. Check out the route and jump aboard an historic cable car to see San Francisco from a unique point of view. We like to catch the Powell-Mason from Powell/ Market streets up and over Nob Hill and down to Bay Street at Fisherman’s Wharf.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Tickets are $5 each way for ages 5 and up and can be bought at turnabouts (the beginning points) or from the conductor as you board.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Lombard Street
This topsy-turvey street is like something out of Dr Seuss book. Lombard Street is famous for a steep, one-block section with eight hairpin turns past beautiful Victorian mansions. Be warned, kids will want to bolt down at high speed.
More info on Lombard Street.

cal-academy-science-1

California Academy of Science
One of the highlights of our time in San Francisco, the California Academy of Sciences is a natural history museum in that is among the largest museums of natural history in the world, housing over 26 million specimens – 40,000 of them live. Inside the one building is an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and rainforest – all under one living roof (literally – the roof is alive!). The Academy has plenty of hands-on exhibits and activities for kids to explore. Our favourites were the Shake House section of the Earthquake exhibit where kids can experience what it would feel like to be on top of an earthquake, the aquarium with its immersive glass tunnels, the dinosaur in the foyer, and the rainforest with live butterflies and birds. Read more about our experience here.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me California Academy of Science
55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA
Prices: Adult $34.95, kids 4-11 $24.95

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Cupid’s Span
Kids absolutely love this sculpture by artist Coosje van Bruggen on the Embarcadero along San Francisco Bay. The art work was inspired by San Francisco’s reputation as the home port of Eros.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Palace of Fine Arts
While the Palace of Fine Arts is actually home to art exhibitions, visitors also go to enjoy the beautiful structure (originally built in 1915), walkways and lagoon. The palace is iconic in San Francisco, and is a popular destination for family and wedding photos. Kids will particularly enjoy spotting the swans who live in the lagoons.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Palace of Fine Arts
3301 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA
Prices: It’s free to walk around the grounds.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Golden Gate Bridge
And lastly … don’t forget to check out Golden Gate Bridge. While the bridge can be seen from Alcatraz and various points on around San Francisco Bay, my favourite place to photograph it is Battery Spencer, on the Marin Headland just north of the bridge.

San Francisco with Kids via christineknight.me

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland

9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me

I often see people asking in forums about the right age to take their kids to Disneyland. I honestly don’t think there is a “right” age. There are easier ages than some, but never a “right” age. Disneyland is one of those amazing places that has something for everyone from babies to oldies (as long as they’re the type that love Disney, that is!).

I’ve been to Disneyland with my toddler, and next year will go back to Disneyland with my preschooler, so I’m right in this age bracket right now. If you’re weighing up whether or not to take a Disney trip, here is my 2 cents worth on why taking your toddler or preschooler to Disneyland is the best idea ever.

9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me

  1. It’s magical!
    Anyone who says otherwise is a grinch. With young kids, Disneyland is all about the magic. Their favourite characters come to life, music playing seemingly out of nowhere, castles and fireworks. See? Magical! 9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me
  2. Princesses abound
    Princess-haters, I don’t want to hear about it. Little girls outgrow their love of princesses very fast, so there is a small window of time that they are desperate to meet Aurora and Cinderella and co, and when they do, it’s the sweetest moment ever.
  3. You share every moment together
    Little kids are still at the age where they want to do everything with you, such as sit on your lap when you’re watching the parade, or hold your hand when you’re walking down Main Street. You really experience Disneyland together when your kids want to do everything with you. 9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me
  4. The kiddie rides are more fun than you’d expect
    Some of the best rides are for littlies, and you can happily ride the tea cups till you feel ill when you have a little one with you. I love riding the carousel or Dumbo the Flying Elephant with my daughter perched on my lap – I’ll be sad next time we go and she’ll want to ride them solo.
  5. Relieving your own childhood
    If you went to Disneyland as a child, or a similar amusement park, this will bring back memories of a carefree time of childhood before you were worried about if something was too daggy or uncool to be seen doing.
  6. It’s the childhood you never had
    If your childhood was spent yearning for Disneyland like mine was, it’s a chance to experience the Disney magic at all ages, starting from the very beginning. 9 Reasons To Take Little Kids To Disneyland via christineknight.me
  7. They still want to be in photos with you
    As my child gets older, the less she wants to be in photos I take, particularly with us. It’s so great going somewhere as photogenic as Disneyland with a kid who is either happy to smile or doesn’t notice the camera yet so you can capture their joy.
  8. Nap time = parent time
    When I went with my two-year-old, she fell asleep in the stroller at nap time and we wheeled her around Disneyland looking at things we were interested in that she was too young for, and also had a long lunch while she napped next to the table. Winning!
  9. They rock a pair of Mickey ears like a boss
    One of the best things about tiny kids is that you can dress them in anything and they don’t care. Pick out the crazy cutest disney-inspired outfit and matching headband and there’s your family Christmas card, done!

If you’re weighing up if your kids are too young for Disneyland or not, my advice is to just go!

Have you taken your kids to Disneyland or Walt Disney World? If so, how old were they?

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

How To Survive (And Enjoy) Disneyland With A Toddler

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

We recently did the unthinkable — Disneyland with our 2.5 year old. And you know what? It was awesome. Hectic, crazy and overwhelming, but also totally magical. We had the benefit of the amazing Gina of In The Mouse House to book and organise the trip for us, and help us enjoy an easy and fun family vacation. We had so much fun that I wanted to share my top tips (a lot of these are thanks to Gina!) for getting the most out of Disneyland with a toddler.

1. Book a hotel near Disneyland. It does NOT have to be a Disney hotel. They are a lot pricier, and there are so many other budget but good quality hotels literally right across the road from the hotel entrance. We stayed at the Carousel Inn and Suites for a fraction of the cost and could not have been happier with our decision. Note: We did not use the pool, only because we didn’t have time in our schedule. If you’re traveling with older kids, choose a hotel like the Howard Johnson, which is a budget hotel with an amazing pirate ship playground in their pool.

2. Have a Disney vacation planner like Gina book the trip for you. Gina, as an authorised Disneyland travel agent, booked our hotel, park tickets, character dining (and could have booked more, like flights, if we’d needed it) at no cost to us. She also wrote us a day-by-day itinerary of how to best manage Disneyland with a toddler. For people who haven’t been before and have no knowledge of which rides are suitable and popular for different ages, this is an absolute must to take the stress out of each day.

3. Plan your time of year wisely. We went just before peak season, and every day the parks were absolutely jam packed with people by midday. Do not, unless you are totally insane, go during high season. Disneyland has a page on their site with details on the best times of year to go.

4. Plan each day. Our itinerary took the work out of it for me, and meant that we already knew which rides were suitable for our toddler, and in which order we should hit them up before the crows got too bad. E’s favorites were Cars Land in California Adventure Park (particularly the life-sized and moving Lightening McQueen and Mater) and Fantasyland in Disneyland. Her absolute favorite rides were the spinning tea cups and flying Dumbo. She wasn’t a fan of any ride that went through tunnels as she thought they were scary. High and fast spinning things, no problem.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

5. Alternate lining up and riding with your partner. As the day went on and the crowds grew, there were huge lines for every ride. If your toddler is like mine, you’ll want to have one person lining up for the next ride while the other person is taking the child on the previous ride.

6. Arrive super early. You’ll enjoy the park the most even though it might be hard to fathom getting up that early for a theme park. How early? If you buy a three-day park pass, you get one “magic morning” included, where you get to enter the park an hour before the rest of the general public. The days we went, opening time was 8am, and magic hour was 7am. Before entering the park you need to go through security and line up in front of the turn styles, so arrive even earlier – at least 15 minutes if not half an hour earlier, especially for your magic morning hour. Seeing the park with almost no-one in it is eerie and peaceful at the same time. And yes, the only time in your parenting life you will refer to 7am as the “magical hour”.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

7. Want to meet Anna and Elsa? They’re the current hot ticket, and we used our magic morning hour to arrive at the park at 6:30am and line up at the turn styles so that at 7am when the gates opened, were were able to walk (ok, run) to their “house” in Fantasyland and be first in line to meet them. Anna and Elsa were thankfully punctual and greeted guests from 7:05am, which meant that by 7:10am, we had met them and were on to the rides, while the queue behind us was already massive. Without a strategy like this, you will wait around two hours to meet Anna and Elsa.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

8. Book character dining if your kid absolutely HAS to meet certain characters. We had dinner at Ariel’s Grotto and met all of the Disney princesses. We also breakfasted with Minnie and friends. It was such a wonderful experience for little E to meet her favorite characters in a setting like this — no lining up, just casual chatting and playing with the characters. It’s worth noting here that the character interactions were beyond my expectations. You expect the staff to be good with kids, but they were not just good, they were exceptional. E froze up each tim she saw one of her favorites come to life, and every single character took the time to chat with her and draw her out of her shell by asking her cute questions about her outfit, or a toy she was holding. It was the best three days of her life thus far.

9. Eat early or late. The best times to eat at a Disney restaurant are before 11am or after 2pm. During the middle of the day they get quite busy. The food at all the restaurants is pretty average, so I would also suggest bringing your own food if possible.

10. Take a break during the day. After your early morning, get your hand stamped and leave for a break or nap during the middle of the day.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

11. Make time for the parade. It’s magical for kids to see (Gina advised us that near the It’s A Small World ride was a great vantage point for the parade, and she was totally right!). Disney has just added a Frozen float to the parade, so if you didn’t get a chance to meet Anna and Elsa (or didn’t fancy the line/early morning) you can still see them in the parade.

12.  Use the “ride swap” for any rides you want to do that your kid is too small for. This means getting a fast pass when you get to the park (which tells you what time to return so you don’t have to line up), then, after you return during your time slot, one of you collects a ride swap from the attendants at the front of the queue and has the ride, while the other watches the child (our favorite was the Indiana Jones ride). Afterwards, the person who rides gives the ride swap pass to the other adult, who can then jump the queue. Yippee! Note: We tried to do to do this for the Star Tours ride, but when Alec got to the front and asked for the pass, they’d run out, so this is not a fool-proof plan.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

13. Plan to spend one day at California Adventure Park and at least one at Disneyland. We didn’t do the park hopper tickets as we thought E was too little (and we were right! One park was enough per day for her.), but we did allow for two days in Disneyland so we could watch all the shows, take breaks, meet the characters, and not feel rushed. This was a great plan as we felt like we were able to see everything without rushing around like crazy.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

14. Watch the shows! The calibre of the Disney performers is so high. Even the short musical performances are performed by extremely talented staff. Our particular favorites were the Aladdin mini show and the new Mickey and the Magical map show which featured several of the Disney princesses.

Tips For Surviving #Disneyland with a Toddler via brunchwithmybaby.com

14. Get a PhotoPass when you enter a park. There are photographers all over the park who will take your photo with characters or in front of scenic points like the castle. Each time you’re getting a photo taken by one of the Disney photographers, if you give them your pass, all of your photos will be collected in the one place to buy at the end of your trip. They’re expensive, but if you use them a lot it’s worth the money to get your whole family in every picture.

15. Bring or hire a stroller. There’s a lot of walking and having the stroller gives kids a resting place throughout the day. You can park strollers out the front of the rides so no need to worry about where to leave it.

16. Feel the magic. The only way to really enjoy Disneyland is to ditch your usual cynicism and enjoy the best showmanship on the planet. Disney puts on a performance like absolutely no other — something even non-Disney-lovers like my husband can appreciate if they want to.

PS: Want help planning your Disneyland or Disneyworld adventure? Contact Gina via her website.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

A Day Trip To The Cloisters, New York

Day trip to the Cloisters #newyork with kids via christineknight.me

During the warmer months, a perfect family day trip is just north of the city at The Cloisters.

The Cloisters museum and gardens is the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to medieval European art and architecture. The building and its gardens are located in Fort Tryon Park, in north Manhattan, just a hop, skip and a jump away on the A train.

The architecture and artistic works at the Cloisters are largely from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Four reconstructed cloisters, sourced from French monasteries and abbeys, are surrounded by early medieval gardens and a series of indoor chapels and rooms.

Walking inside the Cloisters feels very much like stroll through Medieval European monastic life. This is by very intentional and clever architectural design combined with the five thousand medieval works of art on display from the Mediterranean and Europe, mostly from the 12th to 15th centuries.

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

To get to the Cloisters, take the subway to 190th Street station at the base of Fort Tryon and walk from there. The walk to the Cloisters takes visitors through an herb and flower garden. It’s a beautiful place to wander through, especially with the Hudson River as a backdrop.

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

The aren’t a lot of food options in the area. Your easiest options are: 1. Bring a picnic lunch; 2. Buy a pre-made sandwich or salad from the Cloisters cafe; or 3. A sit-down brunch or lunch at New Leaf Restaurant.

We chose New Leaf Restaurant & Bar. Housed in a 1930s cottage, the restaurant serves modern American cuisine. On weekends, brunch is served from 11am-3pm. We were given a table on the bright, airy patio, surrounded by trees. Tres tranquil.

While the restaurant is large, it fills quickly, and by 12:30pm it was at capacity. As New Leaf does not take reservations for brunch, get there early.

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

The brunch menu is a pre-fixe at $19.95 for an entree, juice and tea or coffee. We ordered a croissant ($5) for missy E while we looked at the menu in more detail. Oddly, the croissant came with chutney. The croissant was absolutely delicious, while on the small side (kid-sized, one might say, except E demanded another, making it the most expensive croissants we had ever ordered). Our group ordered New Leaf Scrambled Eggs (goat cheese, scallions, roasted potatoes, field greens), the Market Omelette (tomatoes, peppers, onions and your choice of cheese, with herbed-roasted potatoes, field greens) and the Hanger Steak Sandwich (with salad and potatoes). The portions for the most part were large by New York standards, and we all struggled to finish our meals.
New Leaf Restaurant, 1 Margaret Corbin Dr, New York, NY, Phone: (212) 568-5323

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

A short stroll through beautiful Fort Tryon Park takes you to The Cloisters.

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com #nyc

Cloisters, New York, USA

My favourite part of the Cloisters was the Unicorn Tapestry collection. These seven individual pieces are among the most beautiful and complex works of art from the late Middle Ages that survive today, woven from fine wool and silk with silver and gilded threads.

Cloisters, New York, USA

Spring is the best time to visit The Cloisters as the gardens are in full bloom. The famous garden you see in all the photographs is filled with bright flowers and a fountain centerpiece.

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

The lower-level garden is home to plants one would have found in a garden in the middle ages, like herbs and vegetables. Take the time to explore the garden and the different plants on display – many of which you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

Cloisters, New York, USA
The purpose of the plants is explained throughout the garden: medicinal (like St. John’s-Wort, Hollyhock, MarshMallow, Meadow Clary, Liquorice, Comfrey, and Feverfew), magical (such as Bear’s Foot, Ragged-Robin, English Ivy, Cornelian Cherry, and Herb Robert) or for use in the kitchen (herbs like Winter Savory, Leek, Cardoon, Samphire, Chive, Small-Leaved Basil, and Red Valerian). As it was an herb garden and all the plants had such unique scents, we got down close to the gardens and smelled the aromatic plants such as spearmint and lavender.

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

Cloisters, New York, USA Cloisters, New York, USA Cloisters, New York, USA Cloisters, New York, USA Cloisters, New York, USA Cloisters, New York, USA

Tips for taking kids:
We timed our visit so Cheese would nap in the stroller after lunch, so we were able to see most of The Cloisters before she woke up. Which was a good thing, as the museum is not so friendly for smaller kids. Babies in carriers and older children are the ideal candidates for this cultural experience.

There are lots of tiny stairwells and no ramps or elevators. You can’t leave strollers unattended. No food/water anywhere except in the cafe (including the gardens). Within the gallery rooms, keep children close as there are lots of fragile objects around.

To get to the Cloisters, take the subway to 190th Street station at the base of Fort Tryon. Directly outside of the station entrance is the Jacob K. Javits Playground, where we let Cheese run off steam before brunch. It’s a nice playground with swings, several climbing structures for children of all ages, and also space for scooting or basketball.

A Day Trip To The #Cloisters via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Dr,
New York, NY
Hours: Daily, 10am-5:15pm
Prices: Recommended $25 per adult

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

DUMBO Dreaming

One of my absolutely favourite things to do is to just walk the streets of DUMBO. I did it a lot during winter with the Cheese to get her to nap, which wasn’t ideal, but it was still an amazing experience (even in the snow and sleet). DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, and is a little old industrial neighborhood full of cobblestones, soaring bridges and, of course, stunning water views.

DUMBO was originally a manufacturing district, home to warehouses and factories that made machinery, paper boxes and Brillo soap pads. Interestingly, the cardboard box was invented in the Robert Gair building on Washington Street, which is now the home of Etsy.

Nowadays, DUMBO is home to a lot of expensive condos, tech startups, little cafes and restaurants, like my faves One Girl Cookie and Jacques Torres, and the beautiful Jane’s Carousel.

DUMBO Dreaming via akissgoodnight.co

 

#DUMBO Dreaming via akissgoodnight.co

#Dumbo Dreaming via akissgoodnight.co

#DUMBO Dreaming via akissgoodnight.co

#DUMBO Dreaming via akissgoodnight.co

#DUMBO Dreaming via akissgoodnight.co

Downtown #Brooklyn via akissgoodnight.co

OK so this last one is actually in nearby Downtown Brooklyn, but I wanted to throw it in because I love it.

 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Where To Play With Kids In NOLA: A Cheat Sheet

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

The Big Easy is a decadent party town for adults. For families, on the surface NOLA looks pretty un-friendly. Unlike New York, there aren’t playgrounds on every corner. There are however a lot of fun and creative ways to entertain kids of all ages — we’ve done the research so you can take it easy.

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Jackson Square
This square is located in the French Quarter, with gorgeous architecture on all sides. It’s ideally located near the famous Cafe Du Monde (for beinegts) and the waterfront for strolling. It’s an oasis in the city with grassed areas for kids to run around, and musicians and artists edged around the square for additional entertainment. St Louis Cathedral looms over the square, creating a picturesque photo op.
700 Decatur St, New Orleans

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Audubon Nature Institute
The Audubon Institute is home to numerous nature attractions in New Orleans. The best value is to buy an all inclusive experience ticket.
$39.50 Adult, $27.50, Child (2 -12), $27.50 Senior (65+)

Audubon Zoo
As well as being home to animals from all around the world, the zoo houses a unique Louisiana Swamp Exhibit to give visitors a taste of local wildlife.
Re-opening in March 2014.  $17.50 Adult, $12 Child (2 -12), $13 Senior (65+)

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
See endangered African Blackfoot penguins and check out the new interactive Geaux Fish! exhibit, showcaseing Louisiana’s fishing industry.
$22.50 Adult, $16 Child (2 -12), $17 Senior (65+)

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com
Entergy IMAX Theater
Watch 3D movies on a day when it’s too hot for anything else.
$10.50 Adult, $8 Child (2 -12), $9.50 Senior (65+)

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
Hundreds of live butterflies await!
$16.50 Adult, $12 Child (2 -12), $13 Senior (65+)

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com
Louisiana Children’s Museum
Enjoy the museum’s interactive exhibits like a room devoted to blowing bubbles. With 30,000 square feet of exhibits and programs kids of all ages will enjoy themselves.
420 Julia Street, New Orleans. $8.50 per person, adults and children. LCM members and children under the age of one are admitted FREE.

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

New Orleans City Park
This 1,300 acre public park in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a short tram ride from the center of NOLA (which is a fun activity to do in itself). It’s the 6th-largest and 7th-most-visited urban public park in the United States, and jam-packed with fun for kids and adults.
1 Palm Dr, New Orleans, LA 70124

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpure Gardens
The five-acre  Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden holds more than 60 sculptures and is free to enter and wander around. The sculptures lie nestled among winding paths and a scenic lagoon.

Places to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Morning Call
This little cafe serving beignets and chocolate milk (plus cafe au lait for adults) is right next to a large playground and open 24 hours. Cash only.

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Playgrounds
City Park features three playgrounds for kid of all ages.

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park
The amusement park features 16 rides including the park’s 100-year-old namesake wooden carousel. The Carousel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
$3/person. Kids 36” & under get admission free. Check website for seasonal opening days and times.

City Putt
City Putt is a 36-hole mini golf complex that’s open all year-round.
Open Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 10am to 10pm (last rental at 9pm). Ages 13+ $8; Children (4-12) $6; Second round in same visit $4; Children (0-3) Free.

PLaces to Play in NOLA via brunchwithmybaby.com

Storyland
Featuring 25 larger-than-life charcters right out of popular children’s fairytales such as Peter Pan, Snow White and Cinderella. Kids can climb aboard Captain Hook’s pirate ship or Cinderlla’s pumpkin carriage.
Open Saturday-Sunday, 11am-5pm; Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm. $3/person.

Train Garden
Kids and adults alike will marvel at the model of New Orleans in the early 19th Century  with replicas of streetcars and trains winding around it. 1300 feet of track carrying streetcars and trains like those that traveled the city in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, at 1/22 of their actual size. Open Saturday-Sunday, 10am-4:30pm. Adults (over 12) $6 Children (5-12) $3

Coming in 2015 to City Park: Splash Park

Extra photography thanks to yelp.com: ALDoug O, Eileen ZTina M

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving 2013

A very happy Thanksgiving this year, surrounded by loved ones and friends, old and new. Thanks to our friends Dan and Sue for hosting and inviting us to their amazing expat Thanksgiving feast.

This year I am very thankful to our community of friends,  for my family, and for how lucky I really am. I like to whine and complain a lot about things that aren’t perfect, but the reality is I’m so lucky. A supportive, loving husband, a healthy, beautiful little girl, living in New York City, and really enjoying an amazing life. So many blessings, so very thankful.

#Thanksgiving 2013

#Thanksgiving

#Thanksgiving

After lunch was some dancing. Cheese really loves dancing lately and was loving it.


What’s Thanksgiving without pie?!

#Thanksgiving

 

 

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!

Christmas in Hawaii

We decided to fly to Hawaii for Christmas and meet my family there instead of flying back to Australia. I booked us a three-bedroom suite at a resort in Ko Olina, right on the waterfront.

The flight was brutal – 10 hours straight. Eloise napped just once and then was awake for 12 hours straight.

It’s a miracle, she’s asleep!

The resort and beach were so beautiful. Ko Olina was a little piece of paradise. We spent most days walking around the beaches, swimming in the ocean and pools.

Checking out the beach for the first time since she was four months old in Sydney.
Pure joy.
Ocean!
Walking by the beach with Daddy.
Beach with my Cheese.
Decided she loves the beach.
Hey beach baby!

We also did the toddler dolphin experience at Dolphin Quest. It was wonderful to meet dolphins with Eloise. It totally blew her mind. She was fascinated by them, and has been saying “dolph!” and pointing to pictures of them since.

Dolphins!
View from the balcony.
Sunset.

One thing I really wanted to do was the Disney character breakfast at Aulani. It was so much fun! A decent buffet breakfast with a great omelet station, Minnie Mouse and Goofy wandering around to the tables for meet and greets and photo ops. Every so often, “Auntie” would strike up music and sing cute Hawaiian-y songs, handing out instruments and leading the kids in a parade around the restaurant. Eloise was in absolute heaven.

Disney breakfast at Aulani resort.

Alec and I had a few hours to ourselves one day so went for a drive to Mokule’ia Beach, where Lost was filmed. It was stunning – a pure white sand beach with almost no one in site for miles.

Mokule’ia Beach, Oahu

We also went on an easy hike one day with Tim and Michele up to Diamond Head. It had an amazing view of Honolulu.

View from Diamond Head.

I also got up super early one morning to see Pearl Harbour with Michele. It was a sobering experience to be there and see the sunken Arizona ship.

Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour.

Even though I get really sea sick pretty much just by looking at boats, I thought it would be a fun idea to get on a boat and go snorkelling and whale watching. True to form, I felt ill the entire time, but we did see about 10 Humpback whales.

Humpback whales spotting.

We went for a stroll through Waimea Valley. It was really beautiful – a little too manicured, but some amazing plants.

Crazy antics.
Waimea Valley.

We also went on the Ranch and Movie tour at Kualoa Ranch, where a lot of movies and TV shows have been filmed. I loved the tour – especially seeing where Jurassic Park was filmed for the famous scene with the log below.

Jurassic Park filming location, Kualoa Ranch.

It was really strange being somewhere other than in Warwick Farm for Christmas morning. It was really lovely, but also really strange! My first Christmas not in Warwick Farm in my life so far. We had breakfast at the neighbouring Marriott resort, followed by present opening and relaxing.

Christmas morning with my baby.
Christmas palm tree.
Family shot, Christmas Day.

What a wonderful trip! It was so great to see my family all together. Hawaii is paradise – can’t wait to go back again.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby! She loves cake, her tolerant husband and her busy preschooler.