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? 

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?

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.

DC Itinerary Planning: 5 Days in Washington DC with Young Kids

DC Itinerary Planning: 5 Days in DC with Kids

One of the aspect of vacation planning for our family is hours I spent reading, researching and agonizing over our itinerary planning. Just because we have a list of things to do in the destination doesn’t mean we can just sit back and relax. It’s even more important to have a good planning for a trip to Washington DC with kids. So I realized that my time that I have spent on our itinerary planning can be given back to you, our readers. I hope it will help you in your own planning for your next family vacation to Washington DC.

DC Itinerary Planning: Five Days in DC with Kids

 

Children ages at the time of travel: 7 and 5 years old

Time visited: Spring 2009

DC Itinerary:

Day 1: Travel day and DC by Night

 

DC Itinerary with Kids Tidal Basin

 

To save on our trip to Washington DC with kids, we loaded up the car and head north on the 10 hours road trip from Georgia. We arrived in DC late afternoon and after we checked-in, grabbed our dinner, we didn’t waste anytime to explore Washington DC. A quick metro ride from our hotel in Chrystal City transported us to the Tidal Basin area just in time to enjoy the night time stroll during the Cherry Blossom festival week.

Day 2: Museums and Clock Tower

 

DC Itinerary with Kids: Smithsonian Castle

 

In the morning, we started out early and planned to spend the day in the National mall area. So the first stop was the Smithsonian Castle, where we had some to enjoy coffee, grab a map to plan out the rest of the day and shopped for our souvenir. Most museums open at 10 AM but make sure to check about the admission requirement especially if you plan to visit DC during the peak season like spring break or holidays. Many museums will require tickets. Those tickets will be free but you still need to reserve or wait in line to get your tickets.

The museums we planned for today was the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of American History with a lunch break in between. Since the Natural Museum of Natural History is right across the lawn from the Castle, we strolled across the Mall to the museum right when it opened.

 

DC Itinerary with Kids: National Museum of Natural History

 

Arriving early allowed us to enjoy the museum before it gets too crowd. We spent a good couple hours in there. The National Museum of Natural History is truly a great place for toddlers and young kids. With so many exhibits for them to touch and explore, we had to literally drag them out of the museum.

 

DC Itinerary with Kids: National Museum of Natural History

 

Our next stop was the Old Post Office building. Since we didn’t want to wait in line to go up the Washington Monument, we opted for the other best place to have the view of Washington DC. If I had the crystal ball to see into the future and knew that the Washington Monument will be closed due to earthquake damage, we might suck it up and wait for the chance to go up the Washington monument.

But that’s not to say that our experience at the Old Post Office tower is anything but awesome! We took the elevator up to the top of the tower and enjoyed amazing clear view on the bright blue sky day of Washington DC. It was also fun for kids to see the tower clock up close.

By then, it was lunch time and the Old Post Office food court at the ground floor was perfect place for us to enjoy lunch on a budget. The food was good and the people watching was fun.

 

Washington DC with Kids American History-3

 

With energy from lunch and ice cream, we trekked our way to the National Museum of American History. But by now, the kids had been up since 8 AM and been walking around since then. So we knew their limit were near. We checked with the visitor center desk for the family guide and how to maximize our time at this huge museum. The family guide to America on the Move is perfect for family with limited time. The guide provided fun and interactive ways for kids to both enjoy and appreciate the exhibit. It turned out Mr. Z chose National Museum of American History as one of his favorite during our family trip to DC. Go figure! Boy with wheels.

Then it was time to head back to the hotel. I had purchased restaurant.com certificate to Ted Montana Grill for this trip. A little bit of planning will help save on our vacation budget. We knew we will have to eat out so why not save on those dinner. Plus, we have always loved dining at Ted Montana Grill so it was a familiar dinner to end a full first day in DC with kids.

Day 3: The Capitol and DC by Foot Tour

 

DC with Kids- Capitol Tour-1

 

After a quick break from the Capitol, we were back at it for a full day of fun. The day started early and we had high hope for a fun tour of the Capitol and DC by Foot tour of the memorial and monument later in the evening for our fourth day in DC.

But thing didn’t go according to plan and there was nothing we could do about it when we missed our Capitol tour by 5 minutes and after waiting in line to get the walk-in tickets, the fire alarm set  off and everyone had to evacuate the building. So there it went out morning of Capitol tour ended up with evacuation. We just took the opportunity to check out the Union Station nearby and had lunch at the food court. There are several food courts within the downtown DC area that are perfect for family on a budget. These budget friendly food options in DC were not only great way to save on our vacation but also great for providing different options for picky eaters.

 

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But the day was saved by the evening of fun and educational tour from DC by Foot a free, tip based walking tour in DC. The tour lasted about 2 hours and we started from the Washington monument all the way to the Lincoln Memorial.

It was a long day for us but the kids did extremely well. We walked back to the metro station and headed back to our hotel for a great night of sleep.

Day 4: The National Zoo

 

DC with Kids Itinerary Planning: The National Zoo

 

Another break from the National Mall and all the museums in DC but still part of the Smithsonian. The National Zoo is a great destination for family with kids of all ages. Who doesn’t love to see animal especially the Panda, the star attraction in the National Zoo. We originally planned for 2 stops today – the National Zoo and the National Air and Space Museum. However, after a longer than planned day at the Zoo, we pushed a visit to the National Air and Space museum to the next day.

It was a great decision to relax and take it easy the rest of the day after a fun filled at the National Zoo with kids.

Day 5: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and White House

 

DC with Kids- Air and Space Museum-1

 

On our last full day in Washington DC with kids, we saved the best for last. With young kids, the National Air and Space museum is a world of fascination for them. The museum is huge and can be crowd especially during the peak season. However, things were moving along and there were so many staffs on site to help answer any questions.

If you haven’t check out their website before heading there, you can still check the visitor information center to find out about family friendly guide to help navigate the Air and Space museum for kids. Read more on our day at National Air and Space museum with kids.

 

Washington DC with Kids - The White House

 

Then after we had enough of the air crafts, space objects and various science exhibit, our brain was so full that we needed a break. So we decided to walk to the White House visitor center. Even though we didn’t secure the passes from your congressmen or representative, a visit to the White House visitor center was still fun and worthwhile. Plus we couldn’t leave Washington DC without taking the obligatory picture in front of gate of the White House.

 

Bonus Day: Day Trip to Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore

 

Baltimore with Kids_Port Discovery-3

 

We took a day trip out of DC to Baltimore for a fun day of Children’s museum at the Port Discovery Children’s museum. It might seem weird to decide to take a trip to Baltimore with kids when we still have so many things to do in DC with kids. First reason was we didn’t want the kids to get museum overloaded and wanted to break the trip to add a different flavor to the trip.

Secondly, we had an annual membership to our local children’s museum that had the reciprocal membership with the Port Discovery Children’s museum for free admission so there was no additional cost except the gas to go to Baltimore.

Lastly, Port Discovery Children’s Museum is considered one of the best children’s museum and is deserving so. Kids truly enjoyed every minute of our time in Baltimore.

Resources for family vacation planning to DC with kids

 

 

Have you been to DC with kids? Share with us your family itinerary or tips.

 

Fun Things to Do in DC for School-age Kids

Things to do in DC with kids

Finding family friendly things to do in DC with kids is easy. But choosing what your family can fit into your schedule and limited vacation time is extremely hard. We have been to Washington DC with kids a few years ago and we knew that we want to go back there again. Even with a proper planning on finding things to do with kids on our last trip, we still have a long list of things we haven’t done in DC.

So now, I’m back at it again, searching, reading, listing and planning our next family vacation to Washington DC. This time, the kids are older. They are in elementary school and they have learned a lot more about US history and all other things kids learn in school. So our list has changed from things that will entertain toddler and young kids to things that will interest tweens and school-age children. Here are our list of top things to do in DC for school-age kids.

The Library of Congress

Not that Library of Congress is not worthy of a visit if it doesn’t have the title of the world’s largest library. But with a parent of kid who obsesses with anything that holds the world title, we couldn’t miss out on visiting the world’s largest collection of knowledge. With various activities suitable for families and kids like a free guided tour of the Thomas Jefferson Building or an interactive self-guided Passport of Knowledge, who said visiting library has to be boring.

Tour of the Capitol

Kids will love to see how their government works if we are lucky and the Congress is in session. Last visit to DC, we missed our tour by 5 minutes because we miscalculated on how long it would take to go through the security check. And to make matter worse, we couldn’t get the stand by tickets because there was a false fire alarm that day. But this time, we hope we could finally get to tour the Capitol.

Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air & Space Museum

We have been to the National Air and Space Museum at the National Mall location. It was huge and kids enjoyed every minute of it. We spent almost a couple hours there touring and checking out almost every exhibits. So this visting to DC with kids, we would love to change it up and check out the biggest aircrafts and space object especially the Discovery Space Shuttle. With the location in Chantilly, the visit to Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air & Space Museum will be a bit drive so we will probably plan to explore things outside DC that day.

International Spy Museum

With so any free museums to visit in Washington DC, it might seem odd that we will want to shell out admission fee to another museum. But as we mention, the kids are older and their interests have changed. The Spy Museum will be a big hit not only for them but for us as well. Luckily, we found a deal online from GoldStar so that will help on our budget.

National Building Museum

Ok, we haven’t heard about this museum before until we read the post from local blogger in DC. And after checking out the website for more information, we know this will be another great non-traditional museum that kids will enjoy. There are free tours for historic building tour and family-friendly wonderous pension building tour. We also can’t wait to check out the family tool kit to help us learn and explore the museum in a more fun way.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Now that kids are older and know that value of money, what could be more exciting than seeing the money being printed. To tour BEP, if you go during the peak season like us, you will need to get free ticket at the Visitor Center or via your congressional office. The free 40-minute experience includes an introductory film and gallery tour of the production process.  The visitor center includes exhibits and currency products for sale.

United State Holocaust Memorial Museum

We don’t know what to expect but the kids have been learning about war history and Miss J has been reading Ann Frank book since 4th grade. So she knows that this is one museum she would like to visit. After checking out the museum website, there are several good information on how to visit the museum with kids. Make sure to pick up or download family guide before you go.

National Parks in DC

We bought National Park passport book for our kids a few years ago but after our first trip to Washington DC. So this revisit trip is a great opportunity for us to collect passport cancellation stamp from various national parks in Washington DC. At least we know we will visit The White House, Vietnam Veteran Memorial, Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, and many more. We might not be able to get all the stamps but we will try to visit the ones that are close to each other.

So that’s it. Our list of things to do with kids in DC for our 4 days visit. As usual, we will use this as a guide but will also play it by ears and be flexible on the program.

Check out our list of things to do in DC with young kids from our previous visit here.