Seattle with Kids: Quacky Wacky Ride on the Ducks Tour

Seattle with Kids - Ride the Duck Tour-3

One of the fun thing to do while visiting Seattle with kids was riding on this fun, quirky and entertaining Ride the Ducks of Seattle tour. Yes, it looks cheesy and touristy but it is also a fun and great way to enjoy a leisure day around Seattle.

What is Ride the Ducks tour

You might have seen some of this bus with noisy tourists roaming around many popular tourist places. In Seattle, Ride the Ducks tour provides a quick and fun way to explore Seattle with entertaining guide. The unique thing about this ducks tour is it can be both a bus and a boat. So you will get the best of both world in touring Seattle on land and in the lake.

Convenient Location

 

Seattle with Kids - Ride the Duck Tour-1

Ride the ducks tour has two locations where you can start your fun journey to explore Seattle. One is located by Seattle Center (where the Space Needle and EMP located) and another is at Westlake center by the convention center. The location at Seattle Center opens year around while the Westlake center opens from April to December.

We chose to hop on board the duck tour at Seattle Center since we were already in the area. You won’t be able to miss it if you just look for the big Duck on top of the building.

Entertainment on board

 

Seattle with Kids - Ride the Duck Tour-2

The fun part about the ducks tour for kids is probably the Quackers, a noisemaker in the shape of duck bill. OK, it was fun for the first few minutes but after the tour we had to ban them and kept it safe from little hands for a while. My ears were ringing even hours after the tour.

The Quacker is not the only entertainment on board. The guide aka the driver or the captain is the one who makes or breaks your trip. A good guide is fun, engaging as well as knowledgeable. We learned a whole lot about Seattle history as well as different neighborhood.

Boat tour on the Lake

 

Seattle with Kids - Ride the Duck Tour-6

The best part about this tour for me was when the bus transformed to the boat and took us on the Lake Union. It was a gorgeous day which we were so thankful to experience. The ride was giving us a glimpse to the other part of Seattle that we could only dream of. Living on the lake or by the lake is the kind of privilege that only we can dream of when we win the lotto. Some of these lake houses are worth in the millions.

Seattle with Kids - Ride the Duck Tour-4

We had a great view of Seattle skyline as well as the Space Needle and I could totally see why so many people choose to call Seattle home.

Seattle with Kids - Ride the Duck Tour-5
The Gas works park front lawn was filled with people who came out in full force to enjoy the sunny day in Seattle. I guess when you have more cloudy days than sunny days, you will take advantage of every opportunity to enjoy the Sun.

The whole tour took about one and a half hour. So it was a quick tour to get you oriented with the city and learn a little bit more about the city. We truly enjoyed our experience.

If you are visiting Seattle with kids, put this on your list and you won’t be disappointed. Kids will love to be able to wave to pedestrians along the way.

 

Have you ridden in one of this duck tour?

What do you thing of your experience? 

Seattle With Kids: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

When we visited Seattle with kids a few summer ago, we couldn’t plan our trip without adding a day trip to Mount Rainier nation park to our itinerary. As a national park passport holder, we always looks for national park wherever we go to add to our stamp collection. Not that Mount Rainier is something we can skip on our visit to Seattle.

Seattle with Kids - Mt Rainier-2

On a clear day, we can see Mount Rainier enticing visitors to Seattle to visit. A lot of locals plan their weekend trip to the park. But we only had so much time in Seattle that we decided to just rent a car and drove to Mount Rainier for a day trip. If we go back to Seattle again, we would probably plan a longer trip to truly enjoy the many outdoor activities we can do there.

Easy Day Trip from Seattle

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier national park is about three hours drive from downtown Seattle so we started our day bright and early after picking up our rental car. We chose to visit Paradise visitor center for year round opening as well as easily accessible from Seattle. After a couple pit stops along the way, you know, kids needed to go to the bathroom, Mr. Rojo needed to refill on his coffee, we entered the Mount Rainier national park and all our attention was directed to the beauty of nature along the way.

View Points and Photo Ops

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

If you plan to go to Mount Rainier, one advice I can give you is to take it easy and stop to take in the majestic view. There are several stops along the way that you can enjoy different views of Mount Rainier before arriving at Paradise visitor center. Take advantage of that. It will help kids to stretch their legs and spend some energy after riding in the car for almost three hours.

Paradise Visitor Center

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

We are by no mean the expert in national park but we have been to plenty of national parks in the past and I have to say the Paradise Visitor Center is high on the top of our list on both size and design.

Seattle with Kids - Mt Rainier-10

The two-story lobby surrounded by wooded columns and wooden beams really make you feel closer to nature just like you are in a fancy hotel on the mountain. The big windows all around the building allows nature light and mountains to be part of the inside. And not to mention, Mr. Rojo’s favorite, Starbucks coffee is available on site.

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

Coming from Atlanta, we didn’t think we will be able to still see snow in summer. So it was a nice surprise to be able to just walk outside the visitor center and played in snow for a while.

We enjoyed our lunch at the visitor center food court. Then it’s time to explore the park. There are literally so many things to do in the park. Many trails you can choose from. So take time to check out and see which one is best fit for your family.

Grove of the Patriarchs Trail

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

As we headed back to town, we opted for a stop at Grove of the Patriarchs trail for a quick hike. The hike is relatively easy for kids but might be a bit tougher for younger kids in stroller. Check out at the visitor center to get the advice on what trail is suitable for your family as well as along the path of your trip.

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

There is section where we cross the river on the suspension bridge. The kids loved it! It was the introduction for them to the suspension bridge before our visit to Capilano suspension bridge in Vancouver.

Seattle with Kids Mount Rainier National Park

Along the trail, we learned about the ancient forest. The trees are huge! The pictures don’t do its justice for capturing how majestic those trees are.

All in all, we had a great day trip to Mount Rainier and I highly recommended adding to your itinerary.

 

Indy with Kids: Guide to Indy 500 with Kids for First-Timer

Guide to Indy 500 with kids

So you have heard about Indy 500 even though you are not a race fan but have you ever thought about attending the world’s single-day spectator sporting event?

You might think that you are not a race fan for why bother. We have the same thought. But we can say that you won’t be disappointed and heck you might even be addicted to this world’s famous auto race event.

The roaring of the engine was deafening as well as charging all your sense in your body that you can feel the adrenaline pumping through your body as the drivers start their engine and ready to zoom out for the 250 laps race in this Indy 500.

We didn’t think it will be so accelerating and exciting. So now we knew why there are so many people making the trip to Indy 500 or even other race events every year. It was so addictive to be there in person.

As a first-timer to the Indianapolis 500, we did have a lot of questions and made a few mistakes as a newbie. So we want to share our own experience and some lessons learned so you can truly enjoy this spectacle experience.

Guide to Attend Indy 500 with Kids

Guide to Indy 500 with kids

Get There Early

When they said, get there early, they really meant it. The race typically starts at noon. But the gate opens at 6 AM. 6 AM?? Why do you need to wake up in this ghastly early hour, you ask. Well, if you hate waiting in line for the next 2 hours with kids, we suggest you do that. You might not have to be there exactly at 6AM. But plan to at least arrive there at 7AM to avoid traffic getting to the race track as well as through the gate.

We didn’t heed the advice and arrived at 9 AM. Even with more than 3 hours before the race started, we spent almost TWO hours waiting in line to go through security and barely made it for the start of the race. The plan to walk around and enjoy the pre-game was all gone.

Yes, You Really Can Park on The Lawn

One of the most popular advice about parking is to just look for houses that have the parking sign up and park on their front lawns. As an out of towner and first-timer, we didn’t know what to expect and didn’t really believe that we can do so.

We drove past several hand-made card board for parking until we were too late to turn for parking and ended up in the line to go through race track parking. But without pre-paid parking ticket, we were turned down and were advice that we looked for the next lawn we could.

So we ended up on the other side of the track, which in turn was a good thing because it was closer to walk and in a bit of a better neighborhood. And yes, we did park on someone’s front lawn. Literally on their lawn!

Bring Your Cooler

Even if you are traveling to Indy 500, it’s easy to pack a few snack and drinks with you. It will be cheaper and less hassle to munch on something while watching the race.

Guide to Indy 500 with kids

Buy the newspaper

You can purchase that day newspaper special edition with all the scoop and detail of the racers for Indy 500. It’s a fun way to cheer on the driver or team even though you don’t really know them. Kids had fun trying to figure out which place their team was during the race.

Guide to Indy 500 with kids

Explore the race track

This might seem like counter intuitive to advice you to not watch the whole race. But there are more to explore in the race track during race day or even a day before. We walked under the tunnel to go into the inside of the track where there are lot of activities going on. Certain section might be best left for when they are much much older. The lawn in the middle is a great place to also view the race as well as let the kids run wild.

For more information on things to do in Indy with kids, check out local resource at Indy with Kids.

Have you been to Indianapolis 500 with your kids? What other tips do you have?

Postcard from the Road: Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

After two month trips to Thailand last year, this year we decided to stay closer to home (for various reason including financially). So our summer road trip 2013 was born.

Summer Road Trip 2013

Our road trip will take us from Georgia to Indianapolis, Niagara Falls, Toronto, New York City, Philadelphia and home. This two plus weeks will be the most we have ever done. So I decided to do a quick post like a postcard from the road to keep you up to date on our adventure.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Leaving early from our home in northern suburb in Atlanta, we passed through Tennessee and Kentucky on our way to Indiana where we planned to stop.

A Detour at Mammoth Cave National Park

But along the way, as an avid national park passport holder, we looked for opportunity to add a cancellation stamp to our passport book. And as we drove along I-65, I spot the sign for Mammoth Cave National Park right off the exit. Seeing that we still have plenty of time to arrive in Indianapolis later that day, we decided to take a quick detour of our route.

And what a pleasantly surprise to have found a great national park. We had no idea what to expect with Mammoth Cave National Park. I didn’t even know what’s the park is known for.

Mammoth Cave National Park Visitor Center

But as we stopped at the visitor center, we soon learned that we would be visiting not just one of the world longest cave system but also the world heritage site. What a great combo! This made me want to tag my friend, Traci from Go Big or Go Home whose site features her family quest to conquer all biggest, longest, tallest sites all around the world.

Since we didn’t plan the trip, we didn’t anticipate the activities that we could do at the park. The best way to truly explore the Mammoth Cave National Park is to join one of various tours provided by the park ranger. So we settled for the next best thing and explore the visitor center where there are plenty of interactive information for us to learn about the world largest labyrinth underground.

We already talk about planning a trip back so we can truly enjoy visiting Mammoth Cave National Park.

Family Tips:

  • There are various types of accommodation within Mammoth Cave National Park ranging from tent camping, cabin and hotel. So any types of travelers will be sure to find something to suit them.
  • Plan at least one tour to explore the world underground of the cave system that still have yet to be explored fully. The tickets for the tour can be sold out during high season so plan in advance.

 

Disney with Kids: Visiting the New Fantasyland in Disney’s Magic Kingdom

 Disney With Kids Fantasyland

If you haven’t noticed already, you will pretty soon realize that we love to visit Disney with kids. It’s such a magical place to visit and every time we always discover something new.

What I love most about Disney company is how the company never stop improving and introducing new things. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is one of the most popular theme parks in the world and yet Disney doesn’t sit back and cash in from visitors from all around the world. They truly do work on improving the customer experience in their parks. Every year, we will hear about something new from Disney from Carland in Disneyland California to the new Fantasyland in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

As we visited Walt Disney World again this year during the Disney Social Media Moms event which sponsored in part by Disney, we made it our first priority to check out the new Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.

So what’s new in the Fantasyland you asked. Here are a few things we have experienced and a couple things we wish we have experienced.

Disney with Kids See What’s New in Fantasyland

 

Double the Fun with Dumbo

 

Disney with Kids- Fantasyland-2

Dumbo is probably one of the most popular ride in Magic Kingdom for the young kids and we all know how long the wait on the line can be. Well, now the wait time has improved with two dumbo rides side-by-side. Better yet, instead of waiting in line in a hot Florida heat, parents will be able to wait in the air-conditioned play area while their kids can enjoy the fun at Dumbo themed playground. I admitted we didn’t do this ride. My kids are way past the age of riding the Dumbo so they opted for the more adventure ride next door at the Barnstormer.

Cool down at Casey Jr. Splash ‘N Soak Station

 

Disney with Kids- Fantasyland-1

 

Put kids in their bathing suits and let them run wild at this splash and soak station. They will enjoy the fun while cool down from the heat during a hot summer day. The nice thing about this Casey Jr. Splash ‘N Soak station is it’s located right in front of the rest room. So after they have enough fun in the water, you can just whisk them to the restroom to change.

Take a Ride Under the Sea with Ariel

 

Disney with Kids- Fantasyland-3

 

In the new section of Fantasyland where the expansion include stories from Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, we took a leisure ride under the sea to Journey of the Little Mermaid. The ride brought the story of the Little Mermaid to life with music and animated characters. It’s perfect to do after enjoying other outdoor attractions to give you a quick retreat. Plus this ride is the Fastpass ride so you can plan it by getting your Fastpass tickets first. The Fastpass distribution for the ride however is located by Mickey’s PhilharMagic so plan your day accordingly so you don’t have to trek back and forth. You know how you want to save your steps as much as you can when visiting Walt Disney World’s parks.

Have a Healthy Snack at Gaston’s Tavern

 

Disney with Kids- Fantasyland-10

One of the newest dining option in the new Fantasyland is Gaston’s Tavern. This is a quick service dining option that offers snacks and drinks to give you a quick break. Don’t miss LeFou’s Brew, the kid-friendly refreshing apple juice with all-natural passion-fruit and mango foam. It looks yummy and it tastes equally delicious. However, the drink is not the only thing on the menu. I love to see that there are other few options for healthy snacks like fresh fruit cups, mix vegetable cup with dip, sliced apple with caramel sauce and hummus and chips. It’s good to know that you can have a healthy snack while enjoy a fun day in the theme park. Of course, no one will blame you if you will opt for the warm cinnamon roll or chocolate croissant like us.

 

Experience Fine Dining at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Ok. My friend suggested me to book Be Our Guest as soon as I told her that we would be going to Disney. But I didn’t take her advice seriously and by the time I tried to make the reservation for a meal, there is none left. So as much as I would love to be able to give you the detail on what’s good and what’s the buzz is all about the Be Our Guest restaurant, it’ll have to wait until next visit. So here are a few reviews from other bloggers that I can find for you to check out – lunch review and dinner review.

 

Have you visited the new Fantasyland? What do you think?

 

Thank you Walt Disney World for inviting our family to attend Disney Social Media Mom Celebration by Walt Disney World. We received discount rate for accommodation, tickets and meals. But as always, all opinion and what I wrote are my own.