In November, we took an extra long weekend trip to New York, and even though we have been there a few times already with Caleb, this was the first time that he was really aware of what was going on and the fact that we were in a new city. We planned a lot of activities based off of things we thought he would like, and decided to visit some major landmarks, even though we had already done a lot of them, because we knew he would enjoy them.
We spent a few weeks leading up to the trip talking about how we were going to go visit New York City, and talking about some of the sights we were going to be seeing. We watched a few movies that took place in New York and made sure to point out the landmarks, and he was more than excited once the day of the trip finally rolled around.
We flew out of Miami into LaGuardia, and because Caleb is over the age of two, he needs his own seat now. Let me tell you, purchasing a seat might be more expensive, but oh my goodness was it so much more comfortable! While Caleb does watch TV at home, I don't usually let him handle devices unless it's a real necessity, but trips are a different story. I made sure to download a few of his favorite movies onto an iPad and we got him headphones. We also brought along a few snacks and some of his favorite toys. Since the flight wasn't a long one I wasn't really concerned with much else.
Once we arrived, we picked up our bags and took a car into the city.
The Statue of Liberty
One of the landmarks we talked about a LOT was the Statue of Liberty. We figured she is so iconic that he would always recognize her. I booked the tickets online ahead of time with the service that the National Park Service recommends, so we wouldn't have to wait in line. We went on a Thursday at noon and the lines weren't bad at all anyway.
Caleb absolutely LOVED the ferry ride there. He kept looking around, and looking at the water. Once we got to Liberty Island, we walked all the way around, stopped in front of the Statue of Liberty, and then kept strolling. His attention wouldn't have held for much longer than that.
Make a stop at DO, Cookie Dough Confections if you've ever enjoyed a piece of raw cookie dough in your life (and who hasn't?). Don't go overboard, it's super rich. But Caleb loved this stop for sure.
Okay, so we typically avoid Times Square, unless we are going to see a show or something. But we knew that it would have a major draw for Caleb, and boy, were we right! He loved looking at all the lights and buildings. He even took a picture with Spider-Man (albeit a little wonky-looking Spider Man), and he is still talking about Times Square a few weeks after the trip. We popped into the Renaissance Hotel, which has some amazing views from the lobby, and then we walked around a bit. We also strolled through the Disney Store, because why not?
We walked over a couple blocks to Bryant Park, too and he really enjoyed watching the ice skaters. If you're there during the holidays, they have the cutest holiday village set up so you can go shopping for Christmas gifts from local artisans.
Books of Wonder
After reading about the most whimsical children's book store, Books of Wonder, I knew we had to make this a stop. We all enjoyed perusing the vast number of children's titles, and they have an adorable little area where you can read books with your kids. It's definitely worth a stop if you're in the area.
Central Park & Tavern on the Green
There is just so much to see in Central Park. From the views of the city, to the ponds, to people watching. We were there so I could take maternity photos of my brother-in-law and his wife, but Caleb liked being pushed around through the little pathways and looking at all the big trees around him.
We made a reservation for brunch at Tavern on the Green, which is right on the edge of the park. The food was delicious, and they had a great selection for children, as well.
New York City Subway
Go for just one subway ride. The sights, the smells, the sounds - kids will be enthralled. We headed to Brooklyn on our last day there, and we decided to take the subway. Caleb liked going on the "fast train" and asked all kinds of questions about it.
We got off the subway and stepped right into DUMBO (short for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It's a really beautiful area filled with families and beautiful views of Manhattan. We walked over to the Brooklyn Bridge Park and took a ride on Jane's Carousel. It was built in 1922 for a park in Youngstown, Ohio, and was moved to Brooklyn in 1984 for restoration. It was opened to the public in 2011. It is enclosed in a glass "jewel box," and you get the most gorgeous views of the city while you are on it.
Either we talked about the bridge a lot, or Caleb latched onto it when we did talk about it, because the entire trip, he talked about how he wanted to see the Brooklyn Bridge. So when we finally made it there, he was so excited to see it. We walked across it (it was a Sunday afternoon when the weather was glorious and it was packed), and now he knows he was on the Brooklyn Bridge.
There were a few other places we stopped in at, mostly food places, that I wouldn't necessarily say are great for kids, but that we really enjoyed. Here's the short list.
When I first started this blog, this was one of the things I most wanted to do with my readers... share places I love and have enjoyed with Caleb. I can't believe now is when I'm finally getting around to it! I haven't been to every single place on this list with Caleb, but I did get a lot of suggestions from other toddler mamas in one of my mommy groups. So if we are recommending it, you can bet that they are places we have taken our kids!
If you're from Miami, most of these places probably won't come as a surprise to you, but you might not have been to all of them. If you're not from Miami, but have been considering making a trip down here with your kids, know that South Beach isn't the only part of Miami that you can visit with kids (nor should it be the only place you visit!).This list isn't totally comprehensive, and I didn't include areas like Little Havana or Wynwood, which have their own attractions, some appropriate for kids and others not necessarily. I focused on places that really are entertaining and captivating for kids.
Without further ado, here's MY-ami!
1. The Beach
You can't mention Miami and not think of the beach. So that's why it's first on the list. Kids love the beach and can be entertained there for hours at a time. There is always the miles of beach on Miami Beach, although during peak tourist season parts of the beach can be particularly packed. South Pointe Park is a great option - there is a splash pad area that is great and some lush green areas as well. The biggest downfall here is that parking can get pricey and the walk to the beach from parking is a long one. If you've ever been to the beach with kids you know how much stuff a day at the beach requires, so this might not be the absolute best option.
One of our favorites because it is far away from all the hustle and bustle of Miami Beach is Matheson Hammock Park. Tucked away in the back of the park is a man made lagoon which is fed by the bay. It's lined with palm trees, has lifeguards, and parking is easy and close to the sand (and cheap!).
South Point Park
1 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
Admission: Free (Parking fee varies, however)
Matheson Hammock Park
9610 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL
Admission: Parking Fee About $5.00
If your kid loves trains - take them to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum! They have old trains that are no longer in use. Caleb loves climbing into the cars and running through them. At Christmastime they do a really cute Polar Express activity (we haven't done it yet but will probably do it this Christmas). They also have special activities throughout the year and Thomas comes to visit, too!
Gold Coast Railroad Museum
12450 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177
Admission: Adults $8.00, Kids (ages 2-12) $6.00
3. The Zoo
Once your kids are old enough to recognize animals, Zoo Miami is the place to go. The zoo is huge and has some beautiful areas. Get ready for some walking! They have family bikes you can rent as well and tour the zoo that way. There are two splash pads and tons of cool animal exhibits. One of our favorite things to do when we go there is to feed the giraffes. It's $3 and you get lettuce leaves to feed to them.
The zoo and Gold Coast Railroad Museum are actually located on the same property. The zoo is massive but the railroad museum isn't, so you might be able to squeeze both in on the same day, but I wouldn't recommend it.
12400 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177
Admission: Adult $21.95, Children (ages 3-12) $17.95
4. Miami Children's Museum
We haven't been to the Miami Children's Museum in a while, but this is an awesome place to go anytime, but even more so when the weather is crummy because it's indoors! They have tons of exhibits, where they focus on dress up, on careers and occupations, and loads of sensory activities. They have seasonal exhibits which are always filled with activities as well.
Miami Children's Museum
980 MacArthur Causeway, Miami, FL 33132
Admission: General Admission $20, Florida Residents (Must present I.D.) $15
5. Fairchild Tropical Gardens
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a beautiful botanical garden filled with lush vegetation and greenery. I actually haven't been here with Caleb but I was there last week for a photo shoot and all I could think while I was there was that it would be the perfect place for Caleb to run around. There are wide open spaces and plenty of interesting things for them to look at. It also has so many incredible photo opportunities!
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables, FL 33156
Admission: Non-member adults $25, Children: 5 & under FREE, 6-17 $12
6. Pinecrest Gardens
Another place with lush greenery, Pinecrest Gardens has a lot more areas geared towards kids. They have a playground, a petting zoo, and a splash pad. Its much smaller than Fairchild and comes with a smaller price tag. We have only been for a birthday party and haven't really experienced all that the Gardens have to offer, but it is certainly somewhere we will be going back to!
11000 Red Rd, Pinecrest, FL 33156
Admission: General Admission $5
7. Knaus Berry Farm
Knaus Berry Farm is open seasonally from November - mid-April. When they are open, they make these incredible cinnamon buns and outrageous milkshakes. Lines can get pretty long, but when you taste one of those buns you will know that your wait was worth it. Take a bunch to go. You can also go strawberry picking here. I actually remember going here when I was younger - it has been around since the 50s and remains family owned and operated. If you can make it out here before they close for the season, definitely do!
Knaus Berry Farm
15980 SW 248th Street, Homestead, FL 33031
8. Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
We haven't been to the Perez Art Museum Miami with Caleb. I'm not sure that the museum itself would entertain him for too long. But the draw of PAMM is that they have lots of family friendly events. The park outside is also so inviting for kids, and has amazing views of the bay, along with this incredible breeze. If you can swing it, enjoy lunch at their cafe, the food is delicious and it's such a relaxing environment.
1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
Admission: Adults $16, Children (under 6) FREE, (7-18) $12
9. Robert is Here Fruit Stand
Similar to Knaus Berry Farm, Robert is Here is only closed in September and October. They specialize in rare and exotic fruits, but also have milkshakes and produce. They also have a petting zoo and a splash pad, as well as picnic tables. They have grown so much that they now have live music on certain days of the week as well!
Robert is Here Fruit Stand
19200 SW 344th St, Homestead, FL 33034
Admission: Free, Prices vary
10. History Miami
Truthfully, the last time I came to History Miami I was probably in elementary school! But it is a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum, and it has all kinds of exhibits that are meant to preserve the history of none other than, MIAMI! It's actually somewhere I would probably take Caleb when he is a little bit older, but it's still a cool option and an awesome way to learn about Miami's history! I'm actually really intrigued by some of their upcoming exhibits and may try and convince the hubs to do a date night there. ;)
101 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33130
Admission: Adults $10, Children (6-12) $5, (6 & Under FREE)
A few bonus spots:
For those of you who live closer to or north of the Dade/Broward County line, I had some amazing suggestions as well. I'll just list them below along with links to their home pages.
And there you have it! A list of all things Miami for kids. Pin it, save it, let me know what you get to! I can't wait to hear all about your Miami adventures! Go ahead, make it YOUR-AMI!
P.S. I have to give a special thanks to my mommy group, who supplied me with a lot of the ideas you read about in this post! You girls rock!
The end of a year always brings on reflection of the past 365 days. This was a year filled with adventure and growth. We traveled more than I ever thought we would - it felt like every month I was packing for something or other. I wouldn't trade the adventures we have had as a couple or as a family for anything in the world.
It was also a year of growth in many ways. We grew in wisdom as parents. I no longer feel like I am so reliant upon the opinions of others. I know my son and we as his parents know what is best for him. This also means we grew in confidence when it comes to Caleb and our parenting decisions.
I grew my photography business, even though I didn't have plans to do so. It ended the year on a really high note.
Finally, I started this little labor of love and it has been a far greater and more fulfilling endeavor than I ever thought. I started it thinking that not very many people would be reading it, but knowing that I wanted to write about motherhood and life in general. I never imagined the feedback I would get and the number of people who would tell me that they loved reading my blog. I have had moms of toddlers, women younger than me who don't have kids yet, and women of my mom's generation alike tell me that they love reading what I'm writing. It's been so much fun and it's been incredible to hear that kind of praise for something that truly comes from the heart. So thank you, dear reader. Thank you for your shares, your likes, your comments, and for sticking around and hearing about my journey through motherhood!
My goal in the new year is to post more consistently, but also to maintain great content. It's important to me to keep this blog true to how I started it, maintaining authenticity and quality content and writing.
I'm looking forward to all the incredible things 2017 will bring our way. May the next year be filled with peace, love, and prosperity for each and every one of you!
I haven't been very good about posting, but it has been a little bit crazy over here. A quick recap for those of you who don't follow me on Instagram.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, Caleb wound up sick with croup, two days before we were leaving to LA. We got him treated for it and went off to Hollywood and its neighboring areas (which you will read/see more about below). We returned to Miami the day before Thanksgiving, only to wake up that night to a screaming, feverish Caleb. Treated him for the fever, and spent Thanksgiving Day (which was also my hubby's birthday) lounging around and trying to keep Caleb comfortable until it was time to go to dinner. He spent the next five or so days battling a virus and it was awful. The Monday after Thanksgiving, my grandmother passed away. She was 99 years old and lived an incredibly full life, but it was a sad, emotionally draining event nonetheless. We are finally all better and deep in the throes of Christmas preparations and also getting ready for a whirlwind Christmas trip, and planning a birthday party for Caleb, but those are good things!
Anyway, I though I'd share with you a visual diary of our trip!
Top spots: Urth Cafe, Manhattan Beach, Malibu Farm, Nobu Malibu, In-N-Out.
Where we stayed: Mondrian Beverly Hills
Enjoy some photos below!
Until next time, friends!
I've given you my packing lists (here and here) and my tips for travel. In honor of upcoming weekend trips and for the sake of planning ahead like I know many of us like to do, I'm sharing my top 5 travel essentials for ANY trip. These are things that aren't included in any of my packing lists, but they are essentials for me no matter where I am going. These work for weekend trips as well as longer trips!
Sorry for the hiatus! It's been so busy around here and there are no signs of letting up. I've got a few posts in the works but none of them has been finished so I decided to hunker down for an hour this morning and get this post out to you.
iPhones are amazing. Their cameras have grown in leaps and bounds and we can really capture amazing things on our phone. They are convenient and they are always with us. I probably have nearly 8,000 photos in my camera roll (yes, seriously!). But since I have started to realize how quickly time passes, I decided that I would start using my camera more often to capture some everyday moments of Caleb. I have made it a point to pull it out once a day and capture just a few snapshots of whatever is going on at the moment.
I get asked all the time about my kiddos photos. How do I get such good photos? What camera do I use (little secret: the camera can improve your photos but it has very little to do with how you actually capture things)? The truth is, I'm a photographer sometimes and yes I know how to work a camera, but there are certainly things you can do to capture some great photos yourself! I won't be getting into technical aspects of a camera here, but I will be sharing some tips and tricks you can use yourself with either a point and shoot, a cell phone, or a digital SLR (what many people like to refer to as a "professional camera"). Many of the photos here were taken with my camera, but some were taken with my iPhone - in a pinch it can produce some great results!
1. Find the light
Direct sunlight is the worst. Squinty eyes and every line and imperfection visible. You want diffused light - so put the sun behind them, or stand in open shade or near a window. I have found that my covered front porch works great or near my French doors leading out to the backyard.
2. Turn off your flash.
Flash creates harsh shadows and ruins the natural feel of a photo. If you're using your iPhone, turn off your flash and use your finger to select the part of the photo you want the camera to expose for. On a digital SLR, switch your camera from Auto mode to almost any other mode. When I first started shooting, AV (Aperture Priority) on my Canon was my favorite setting to use. I set the aperture I wanted to use and the camera figured out the rest of the settings for me. No flash necessary. You want shadows and light - that gives your photos a really natural feel.
Sometimes you have no choice but to use flash (dark rooms, nighttime), in which case, do it, but do so sparingly.
3. Let them be.
Don't try and make them look at you. Kids naturally do the most adorable things. Let them be themselves. Give them bubbles. Let them play with the dog. Let them get dirty. And just snap away. Eventually you'll get a look in your direction, but it won't feel staged or posed.
4. Take multiple shots.
Don't just try to take one photo and say you can never get a good one. I usually take about 10 photos and out of every 10, I may have 3 that are sharp, clear, in focus, and where he isn't a total blur. Switch positions, change perspectives.
Capture those little feet, the little hands, the amazing eyelashes. You will miss those when they are bigger. Even the cranky, crying faces. They'll grow and change, and you want to etch that in your memory. But your memory fails, and photos are the only way to remember that cranky face.
6. Get in the picture.
Every once in a while, get in front of the camera too. Forget what you look like, that your makeup isn't done, that you want to lose 15 pounds. Your kids won't care about any of those things. They will care that they have photos with their parents.
7. Filter that!
To improve my iPhone shots, I use ColorStory or Afterlight, two photo editing apps that are pretty easy to use. I don't do heavy filtering, but a little can really add to the mood of your photo. I usually sharpen my photos and add a filter at about 10%-15%.
8. Get in the moment.
Take a few photos, but leave the full on photo sessions to professionals. Enjoy your kids and be in the moment - you'll never have it back. Take a couple of quick shots and then put the phone or the camera down. I promise you won't regret it.
Last week I highlighted how I always have certain things ready to go for a trip so that I am always ready for travel. Today I'm going to just get right to it and share with you a couple of packing lists. Obviously things on my lists will differ from yours based on your child's age, needs, and your personal preferences. However, I think these lists should be a good starting point!
When we travel via plane, I have three lists: one for a carry-on bag (usually my purse), one for the baby's diaper bag, and one for suitcases or checked luggage. For my bag I like to use a carryall so I can fit as many things as possible in there. We use this diaper backpack - we really like it because it holds so much. It has plenty of compartments, including two insulated ones. As far as the suitcases go, it depends on the trip!
We also take our stroller to the gate and check it there. We traveled with a car seat once and were able to take it on the plane with us because there were empty seats in our row. I also take the carrier and usually wear baby onto the plane because it makes it easier to have my hands a little more free.
So here we go!
SPECIFICALLY FOR BABY!
*If a trip is longer than a weekend, I usually buy diapers when I arrive at my destination. And recently, I decided I am going to try shipping diapers and wipes from Amazon to my hotel. Diapers occupy so much valuable packing space.
I hope this helps! Happy travels!
I know I already wrote about traveling with a baby, and I recommend it for anyone who can. With summer upon us, and family vacations on the horizon, I figured now would be as good a time as any to talk about packing for your littlest family member. I'm splitting this post into several parts because it makes sense to me to do so, that way you aren't overloaded with information. Just lookin' out.
I'm a list maker. I make lists for to-do's, for groceries, for events, and more than anything, for packing. Before I was married, I used to go on trips with my girlfriends, and all of our significant others made fun of us because we prepared "trip folders" with lists, schedules, itineraries, and printouts of anything and everything we thought we would need. And at the front of every folder I've ever made for myself? You guessed it. Packing lists.
Lists just make me feel like I'm in control of a situation, when honestly, for the most part, I'm not. I find, especially for longer trips, that lists made well in advance of my trip make for a much smoother experience.
For our big Paris trip, I had a stack of lists (pictured above). It helped me insanely to divide my lists into specific bags: diaper bag, carry-on, checked luggage. Within the list there were additional lists: toiletry bag, accessories, medications, etc.
I do have a few items that are always packed and ready for a trip. When we return from any vacation, I replace whatever was used and leave it ready to go for the next one. It makes it much easier to just grab that and toss it in the bag, especially since packing medications can be so tedious. The biggest thing for me to have packed always is a medicine bag, especially when you are traveling to remote areas or foreign countries. For travel within the US, I don't usually stress about having every little thing, because most places will have some variation of what I need. I don't usually carry an entire packet of the medication, but I do make sure to have enough on hand where if we need it, we have it. I don't keep prescriptions in there for obvious reasons, but that is something I usually throw in my purse or carry-on to make sure it's on hand at all times.
In our medicine bag we keep the following (I use individually wrapped as much as possible - if they come in blister packs I just slip one sleeve into my medicine bag):
For Mom & Dad:
I find that these can kind of get us through most ailments, at least until we have time to be seen or get to a pharmacy. I am also a user of essential oils, and I usually carry those with me as well, so they do not stay in my pre-packed bag.
Another thing that I keep ready to go, also because it can be tedious work to pack, is a toiletry bag. This one is pretty simple, and the older Caleb gets, the less I feel like I need to take, but it's still easier to have it ready to grab than it is to repack everything each time we go somewhere.
Each time I come back from a trip, I refill whatever needs to be refilled, replace what needs replacing, and leave it ready to go for the next one. It really makes life easier.
So there is the first part of my advice on packing for a trip with a little one! I hope it is helpful to you in preparing for your own travels!
When our little guy was 3 months old, we took a little road trip to Orlando. My mom was being presented with an award and we surprised her by showing up. Some people looked at me as if I had four eyes when I said I was taking the baby with me. Obviously I had to pack a little differently, but it was doable, and we absolutely did it.
When he was 6 months, he flew for the first time. We went to Toronto and St. Catharine's in Canada for a long weekend. Again, the looks as if I was insane. We loved every moment of our trip and would relive it in a heartbeat.
At just about 8 months, we packed him up and took off to Paris for 10 days. Was it easy? Not particularly. Was it impossible? Definitely not. Would I do it again? A thousand times, yes.
People ask me all the time about international travel, and my recommendation is always the same... if you can, don't hesitate to do it. My husband and I always said that when we had a baby, we wouldn't let it stop us from doing the things we really wanted to do. At under 9 months, I wasn't ready to leave him behind for 10 days (nor do I think I will ever be ready to leave him behind for that long). So we brought him along.
I believe in exposing children to different cultures and surroundings as much as possible. It makes them more adaptable, and even if they don't have the words to remember their experiences, they do have the experiences. Here are my four biggest tips for surviving travel (international or otherwise) with a baby.
1. Be prepared.
If there is ever a time in your life to overpack, it's now. I felt like I was taking half the house with me, but I felt better about myself in doing that. I took products that I knew I (and he) were partial to for whatever reason. I also took medications, thermometer, and baby food (he was just starting on solids and there were still a few things he hadn't tried, so I figured I was better off taking what I was sure about). With each trip I have decreased the amount of "stuff" I take, but there are some things I always feel better about having. I still take a lot with me, especially things that would be harder to pick up in an emergency situation. I took more clothes than I thought I would need, extra blankets, toys, pacifiers, etc. I was still nursing, so that made one aspect way easier, but if you are formula feeding, make sure you take more than what you think you will need.
2. Be flexible.
Babies are people. Sometimes they wake up not feeling 100%. Sometimes they are cranky. A cranky baby would probably not do well somewhere like, say the Louvre. We planned to accomplish one major thing each day, and if we were able to fit in more, we called that a win. We also had backup plans in case something didn't work out.
3. Do your research.
Find out what exactly your airline will allow you to carry on and what they will allow you to check. Choose a hotel close to where you will be spending the most amount of time. Public transportation with a stroller sucks, and cabs can be expensive. Realize you will walk a lot more than you will do anything else. Check local stores for products that take up a lot of space. We knew we would need a lot of diapers and wipes over 10 days, but those are super bulky items. We were able to ascertain that the stores carried Pampers and Huggies, so I just took enough for our first 24-48 hours of the trip. Find out if your hotel carries cribs... you don't want to lug a Pack n Play overseas only to find out your hotel had them available (and I have NEVER stayed in a hotel that doesn't have them). If you're planning on renting a car, weigh out the pros and cons of taking your car seat vs. renting one from the rental agency.
4. HAVE FUN!
Sure, it can be stressful. Sure, it's daunting to think about all the crap you need to take. But it's so worth every experience. Just enjoy yourselves. There are babies everywhere, and we have found that people are surprisingly accommodating to babies ALL OVER THE WORLD. Spare yourself the FOMO and just go!
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.