Mission Point Resort | Mackinac Island | Michigan

Mackinac Island, sitting off the coast of Upper Michigan in Lake Huron, is an absolutely beautiful place. It’s been Michigan’s summer vacation destination since the late 1800s. There are no cars on the island except for a few emergency vehicles, and the only way to get out to Mackinac Island is by boat or plane. It’s totally remote but close enough to the mainland that you can be there in 15 minutes! And if you’re looking to visit Mackinac Island next year with the kids, Mission Point Resort is where you want to stay!

Mission Point Resort pin image

This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Mission Point Resort for making this trip possible. We partnered with them to show why Mission Point Resort is the perfect place to stay when exploring Mackinac Island. As always, all opinions are honest and our own.

Mission Point Resort Mackinac Island

Mission Point Resort is located on the sunrise side of Mackinac Island. While it does take some time to get to the resort, it is TOTALLY worth the effort. Most people opt to take the ferry out to Mackinac Island, and you can do that from either Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula or St Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. We boarded a ferry in Mackinaw City; there are two options – Shepler’s and Starline, and I don’t think you can go wrong with either. Both take your luggage before you board the ferry, and it is delivered directly to your hotel, as long as you’re staying at Mission Point or The Grand.

Once you arrive on the island, since there are no cars, you either can walk to the resort or call for a horse-drawn taxi. It was a glorious fall day, so we opted to walk, and if we hadn’t stopped multiple times on the way to sample fudge(!) and have lunch, it would have only taken about 10 to 15 minutes to go from the ferry dock to Mission Point Resort.

Mission Point Resort Great Hall History

Isn’t this lobby gorgeous?! Construction on the Mission Point Great Hall began in the winter of 1955, and it was completed in 1956. Because Mission Point sits on an island in a lake that freezes every winter, 3000 tons of supplies and equipment were delivered before the Straits of Mackinac froze for the winter. Construction screeched to a halt when they ran out of lumber in the spring. Over a warm weekend, dynamite was used to break up the ice in the shipway, and a supply barge was finally able to break through and get much-needed supplies out to Mission Point to complete the Great Hall Complex.

Condé Nast recently named Mission Point Resort one of their Top Ten Resorts in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest for 2021. Mission Point also received the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Award for being one of the Top Ten Resort Hotels in the Midwest. A pretty impressive feat and completely well deserved, in our opinion!


There are quite a few different room combinations at Mission Point Resort, ranging from rooms for two to rooms for the whole family. Plus, there are several exquisite suites complete with seating areas and amazing views of Lake Huron.

Mission Point Resort Family Suite

We stayed in a Mission Point Family Suite in the Main Lodge. These rooms sleep six and feature one bedroom with a king bed and a second bedroom with two double beds. Each room has its own sink and vanity area, making it way easier to get ready in the morning, and the two rooms share a bathroom. It was plenty of room for the four of us on this trip and would have worked nicely as a family of six, as well.

The Straits Lodge is where you’ll stay if you’re bringing your pup along on vacation. The Straits Lodge at Mission Point is one of the only dog-friendly properties on the island. Like the Main Lodge, the Straits Lodge has a variety of room configurations ranging from rooms for 2 to family-style suites. Another plus to staying in the Straits Lodge is that it’s closer to downtown, so if you’re planning on walking, it’s a little easier on your feet.


Mission Point Resort Great Lawn Adirondack chairs

Mission Point Resort is well known for the Great Lawn. Situated in front of the hotel and overlooking Lake Huron and the Straits of Mackinac, the Great Lawn features 81 Adirondack chairs and is perfect for relaxation. We grabbed coffee from Boxwoods and honestly could have spent all day relaxing on the lawn. Throughout our stay at Mission Point, we spotted couples having picnics, families flying kites and people lounging.

Mission Point Resort on Mackinac Island

The Mission Point Resort Great Lawn IS open to the public, so even if you’re not staying at the resort, feel free to stop by and hang out! While you’re there, check out the guided history tours about Mission Point Resort and the eastern side of Mackinac Island on Thursdays at 10am. Leisurely garden tours are offered on Saturdays at 1030am and Wednesdays at 530pm. Or be like Ben and use the resort’s trails for cross country practice!!

Mission Point Resort Mackinac Island beaches Lake Huron

This was our first time visiting the Great Lakes region, and the kids were constantly in awe of how big the lakes actually are. Mackinac Island genuinely feels more like you’re out in the middle of the ocean than in a lake. While I lounged in an Adirondack chair on the Great Lawn with a latte, the kids had a fab time skipping rocks and looking for sea glass and fossils along the shore of Lake Huron.


Mission Point Resort has plenty to do without ever leaving the 18 acres of the resort grounds. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t get out and explore Mackinac Island because you totally should, but there is plenty to do if you don’t want to leave.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day (and weekends in September and October), a complimentary kids club is available at Mission Point. We stayed mid-week in October, so I did not have the chance to check out the kids club, but I’ve heard wonderful things!

Bike Rental

Mission Point Resort Bike Rental

Since there are no cars on the island, many people opt for a two-wheeled mode of transportation to get around and explore the island. Mission Point offers bike rentals by the hour or the day on a first come-first served basis. There are bicycle rental shops all over the island, but we found getting them at Mission Point was the most convenient.

Mission Point Resort best of the Mackinac Island hotels

The island has over 70 miles of natural and paved trails. One of the most popular routes is the 8.2 mile Highway M-185 (Lake Shore Boulevard) circling the island. There are no cars on the highway – it’s the only highway in the country where vehicles are prohibited! – so it’s used by bikers and pedestrians.

It takes about 3-4 hours to walk or about an hour to bike the whole loop without stopping for most people. But it’s definitely worth stopping to take in the views.

Mackinac Island bikes at Arch Rock

Arch Rock is one of the most popular stops on the east side of M-185 – and it’s only about a half-mile from Mission Point Resort. You can see the arch from the highway as you’re riding by or stop at the nearby pull-off to take in the view. But you really should climb the 207 steps to the top of Arch Rock and see it from above, with Lake Huron glistening behind.


Mackinac Island golf

Golfing at the Greens of Mackinac, the 18-hole putting course at Mission Point Resort, was a fun way for the kids to spend part of the afternoon.

Mission Point Resort best of the Mackinac Island hotels

The putt-putt course is right next to the water, so you can take in the fabulous views while you’re waiting for your turn. Plus, it’s next to the bar at Bistro on the Greens, where you can grab a to-go drink to enjoy while you golf.

Outdoor Swimming Pool

kids in hot tub at Mission Point Resort

If your kids are anything like mine, they think going to the pool is one of the best things you can do while staying at a hotel. We visited the pool EVERY day of our stay! They loved warming up in the hot tub since it was a bit chilly while we were in town.

Mission Point Resort pool outdoors at night

They also really enjoyed swimming at night. We had the pool to ourselves, and the girls had fun splashing around – until it started POURING! We quickly grabbed our towels and clothes and headed back into the resort to warm up and dry off!

We didn’t have a chance to visit the Mackinac Island Movie Theater this time around, but I will make time for it next time we’re in town. It’s a piece of Hollywood history and was the setting for Somewhere in Time starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. The Mackinac Island Arts Council sponsors movies from May – October.

  • Every Sunday 330pm – Mackinac: Our Famous Island
  • Every Sunday 430pm – This Time For Keeps (filmed at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island)
  • Every Tuesday 730pm – Somewhere in Time (filmed at Mission Point Resort and The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island)


While there are plenty of restaurants on Mackinac Island to choose from, Mission Point has several of their own on the property, and they’re definitely worth a try. Described as a culinary adventure, Chianti features a farm-to-ferry menu with a prix fixe dinner for $125/person. Located by the golf course, Bistro on the Greens features a Mediterranean menu. We didn’t have the chance to try either of those options, but I’ve heard rave reviews about both.


coffee at Mission Point Mackinac Island

If you’re looking for a cup of coffee, a scoop of ice cream, or a quick snack, Boxwood Coffeeshop & Cafe is where it’s at. We grabbed coffees and cones and headed out to the Great Lawn to relax. Plus, they have picnic provisions so you can create a basket and take it with you when you’re exploring the island.

Round Island Kitchen

smiling kids at Round Table Kitchen Mackinac Island

We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Round Island Kitchen. This restaurant showcases Michigan’s twist on classic comfort foods, and we loved every meal. We dined indoors and outdoors and much preferred the atmosphere outside – as long as you can keep the bees away. In all seriousness, there were a lot of bees depending on the time of day and wind speed, BUT they didn’t bother us at all. Ellie freaked out anytime one came near her, but that’s an Ellie thing, not something that would bother most people.

eggs benedict Mackinac Island

Classic Eggs Benedict – Poached eggs, Canadian bacon & baby spinach, on a toasted English muffin topped with hollandaise

Ben ordered the Eggs Benedict one morning and decided he really does like poached eggs – at least when covered in hollandaise sauce! The Whitefish Hash & Eggs, pancakes, and omelets were also faves for our crew.

lunch at Round Table Kitchen

Baked Smoked Whitefish Dip – Tomato jam & chives

Speaking of whitefish, we tried it for the first time on this trip, and it’s delicious! Ben, in particular, was pretty smitten with whitefish and ordered it in tacos, as a dip, panko breaded, and broiled.

outdoor dining Mackinac Island Mission Point Resort

Seared Salmon – Served with basmati rice, grilled broccolini, maggio carrots & charred lemon

Over the course of lunch and dinner, we tried almost half of the menu. The Seared Salmon and the Tarragon Chicken Salad Sandwich were two of the clear winners. We honestly really enjoyed every menu item that we ordered.

Cherry braised beef nachos at Round Island Kitchen

Cherry Braised Beef Nachos – Shaved cherry-marinated beef, wonton chips, purple cabbage, Monterey cheese sauce, fresh jalapeño, cilantro & sriracha-lime crema

Without a doubt, though, I can say that our absolute favorite thing on the menu was the cherry braised beef nachos. I’m kicking myself for not ordering them every single time we sat down. Oh my gosh, it was SO. GOOD. I would never have thought to use wonton chips for nachos, but they totally worked. Absolutely amazing.


We truly LOVED staying at Mission Point Resort and would stay there again in a heartbeat. The kids have not stopped talking about our time on Mackinac Island, and they’ve been begging to return. There are lots of options when it comes to Mackinac Island hotels, but do yourself a favor, and stay at Mission Point Resort, especially if you’re bringing the kids or a dog along. And make sure to order the Cherry Braised Beef Nachos if you eat at Round Island Kitchen – seriously, SO GOOD!!! Have you been to Mackinac Island?? Would you be more excited to bike around the island or hang out on the Great Lawn at Mission Point Resort??

Things to Do in Traverse City with Kids | Michigan

Northern Michigan is a picturesque place full of recreational and cultural adventures. And Traverse City, the largest city in Northern Michigan, is the perfect centralized location to explore all that Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Benzie Counties have to offer. With lighthouses, over 180 miles of beaches and sand dunes nearby, plus loads of small-town charm, there are so many things to do in Traverse City with kids – or without them!

This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Disclosure: A big thank you to Traverse City Tourism for making this trip possible. We partnered with them to highlight all of the family-friendly fun that the Traverse City area has to offer. We picked the destinations and restaurants that we wanted to showcase, and as always, all opinions are honest and our own.

Exploring Downtown Traverse City with Kids

Front Street downtown Traverse City

Downtown Traverse City is a walking and shopping paradise! There are tree-lined streets, cute boutiques and specialty shops, and dozens of restaurants. While it is totally family-friendly, it would also be the perfect place to go for a date night.

shopping in downtown Traverse City

We grabbed coffee (and hot chocolate!) from Espresso Bay, a Traverse City local, and hit the streets walking. It rained off and on, so we ducked into different shops to wait out the rain and check out what they had in store. Cherry Republic was a BIG hit with the kids – especially since they have samples of all things cherry!

Did you know that Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the World?! Traverse City produces over 75% of the world’s tart Montmorency cherries. And with cherry production of that magnitude, there are LOTS of cherry orchards!  I’d love to see them in May when cherry blossoms are covering the trees. Every July, Traverse City hosts the weeklong National Cherry Festival!!

Traverse City with kids in front of mural

Traverse City also has a great art scene – including murals throughout the city. The TC Postcard in the alley next to Kilwin’s on E Front St was a must-do for us! It features landmarks from the Traverse City area like the State Theater in the “A” as well as the beaches the area is known for, and of course, cherries!

There are many other murals to check out as you’re exploring Traverse City, with everything from hummingbirds to a cute fox! Traverse City Tourism has a great post about all of the murals downtown, including a map, so you can do it as a walking tour if you’re interested!

Lighthouses Near Traverse City

I was shocked to find out that Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state in the US (129!!). And six of them are easy to explore from Traverse City! Y’all know I love a good lighthouse, so we set out to explore as many as possible while visiting the TC area.

Mission Point Lighthouse

Built on the 45th parallel (halfway between the north pole and the equator!), the Mission Point Lighthouse opened in 1870 and was operational until 1933. This little lighthouse is a cute one! It was designed to warn ships of the rocky shoals off of the Old Mission Peninsula when entering Grand Traverse Bay.

It’s located at the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula and the drive to get there takes you along scenic M-37 through cherry orchards and vineyards. The 45th parallel is a popular winemaking region worldwide – Italy’s Piedmont region, the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux in France, as well as the Willamette Valley in Oregon, are all on the 45th parallel. And in Michigan, the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas, both sitting right at the 45th parallel, produce most of the state’s wine.

Mission Point Lighthouse with sunburst and American flag

Self-guided tours of Mission Point Lighthouse are available from May through November and are $5/adult and $2/child (ages 6-11). The opening hours and days of the week differ based on the season, so make sure to check their website before visiting. As part of the tour, you can climb to the top of the tower and enjoy breathtaking views of Grand Traverse Bay.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, the Grand Traverse Lighthouse is about 35 miles north of Traverse City, just off of scenic M-22. From 1858-1972, it helped guide ships sailing in the often fog-covered waters between the Manitou Passage and the Straits of Mackinac. Now fully restored, the lighthouse gives a glimpse into the life of a lighthouse keeper during the 1920s-1930s.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse with kids and Lake Michigan

Self-guided tours are available from May through November and are $5/adult and $2/child (ages 6-11). The hours differ based on the season, so please check their website before visiting. Because Grand Traverse Lighthouse is located within Leelanau State Park, there is an $11 entry fee or proof of a Michigan Recreation Passport.

Point Betsie Lighthouse

Built in 1858, the Point Betsie Lighthouse was the last manned light station on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It was fully automated in 1983 and still serves as an active navigation aid for ships passing through the Manitou Passage. Tours are available from mid-May through mid-October and are $5/adult and $2/child (ages 6-11).

Point Betsie Lighthouse with waves of Lake Michigan splashing kids on the shore

The last call for tickets is at 430pm for the final tour of the day. We didn’t get to Point Betsie until right after the final tour started, so we were only able to explore the outside of the lighthouse. We had a great time watching the waves of Lake Michigan crash onto the shore and even got a bit wet – some of us (me!) more than others!

Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse

North Frankfort lighthouse at sunset

This one doesn’t have a tour, but it is one of the most popular places for Lake Michigan sunsets in Benzie county. You can walk out to the lighthouse along the break wall, but the waves were crashing over it, so we opted not to. Instead, we hung out on the public beach, and the kids played on the playground and chatted with the fishermen (catching steelhead!) while we waited for the sun to set.

North and South Manitou Island Lighthouses

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit either of these lighthouses – which means it’s time to start planning a return trip to Traverse City! The North Manitou Shoal Light Station opened for tours this year, or you can get an up-close look at the light on the ferry that travels from Leland to the Manitou Islands. Built 150 years ago, the South Manitou Island Lighthouse was active until 1958. Now, it is part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and is open for tours during the summer. The South Lighthouse is accessible by ferry from Leland.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” by Good Morning America, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is packed with beautiful views, unique hikes, and a really cool scenic drive. The Dune Climb is one of the most popular hikes in the park. According to AllTrails, it’s rated as difficult, and it takes 2-3 hours to complete the roundtrip 3.6-mile hike due to the steep sand dunes as well as the up and down nature of the hike.

Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive

Somewhat short on time and unprepared to tackle the Dune Climb, we opted for the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. Like other parts of Sleeping Bear Dunes, it does cost $25 per vehicle (or a valid National Park annual pass) to enter the park.

Covered bridge in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive is a 7.4-mile loop through the forest and sand dunes with overlooks of the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Lake Michigan. While you can see a lot from the comfort of your car, many of these stops are better seen by getting out of the car and exploring on foot.

blue waters of Lake Michigan and sand dunes at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore

The Lake Michigan Overlook (#9 and #10) was one of our favorite stops. Here, after a short walk from the parking lot, you actually get out on the dunes, high above Lake Michigan. And when I say high, I mean high! The observation deck at this overlook (located to the right of the kids, just out of the frame) is about 450 feet above lake level. While going down the very steep bluff face to the lake is not prohibited, it’s definitely not recommended. And there is a $3000 charge if you need rescuing because you cannot make it back up the dunes.

kids hiking in dunes near Traverse City

The kids hiked around the dunes at the top of the bluff for a bit before we headed back to the car. As with any hike, always go with a buddy (or two!) and bring water!

Where to Eat in Traverse City with Kids

There are so many wonderful places to eat in the Traverse City area with kids. Before we arrived, we made an extensive list of places to try and barely scratched the surface. So like all things Traverse City, we still have more to see and do and can’t wait to visit again. I’ll do a separate blog post about all the delicious food in Traverse City, and for now, I’ll leave you with our faves!

Best Breakfast in Traverse City – Omelette Shoppe

There are two locations of the Omelette Shoppe in Traverse City, one on East Front Street and one on Cass Street. We started at the one on Cass because it’s in the more popular, trendy part of town, but the wait for a table was nearly two hours. At the recommendation of the hostess, we joined the waitlist for the Front Street location (less than 10 minutes away) and had a table in less than an hour.

amazing omelette from Omelette Shoppe in Traverse City

We ordered an assortment of items ranging from biscuits and gravy to breakfast burritos, but the New Mexican Omelette was the star of the show. Loaded up with beef barbacoa, jalapenos, onions, green chilies, black beans, jack & cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, salsa, and chipotle lime sauce, it was a HEARTY omelette and absolutely delicious.

Best Dinner in Traverse City – Sleder’s Family Tavern

girls standing in front of Sleder's Restaurant Traverse City

For almost 140 years, Sleder’s Family Tavern has been a Traverse City institution. It is Michigan’s oldest, continuously operated restaurant and is a great place to grab dinner with the whole family.

smiling kids at Sleder's

As we always do, we ordered a variety of items – a burrito, a buffalo burger, a club sandwich, cheese curds – and all were delicious! It’s a popular restaurant, so do expect a bit of a wait if you’re coming around peak meal times.

Best Ice Cream in Traverse City – Moomers

smiling kids at Moomers Creamery in Traverse City Michigan

Oh, Moomers!! I’m seriously still dreaming about this ice cream! Moomers is a small family-owned business, growing out of their life on the dairy farm. Can you envision a more picturesque location for a creamery?!

Moomers Ice Cream cone cherries moobilie

And the ice cream is AMAZING! Seriously, a whole lotta love goes into making this ice cream!! They make more than 160 flavors of premium ice cream (though they’re not all on the menu at the same time) and serve them at their store about five miles outside of downtown Traverse City.

Where to Stay in Traverse City with Kids

There are plenty of places to stay in Traverse City, ranging from waterfront resorts to more budget-friendly motels as well as campgrounds – and there’s even a Great Wolf Lodge if that’s your kind of place! We stayed at 539 Bay Street, a brand new luxury condo rental, and it was a fantastic fit for our family.

539 Bay Street luxury condo rental Traverse City

539 Bay Street is located right across the street from the gorgeous Grand Traverse Bay, and all of the units have spectacular views of the lake. It’s walkable to Sleder’s Family Tavern as well as many of the restaurants on Front Street.

539 Bay Street luxury condo rental kitchen and living

Every unit has a kitchen fully stocked with everything (besides food!) that you need in order to whip up a quick meal or even an elaborate feast if that’s how you’re spending your vacation. We often seek out vacation properties with full kitchens because, with a large family, it’s considerably cheaper to cook dinner – even if we use convenience foods like bagged salad kits – than to eat out every night. And breakfasts in the condo are quick and easy and save money for treats (like more Moomers ice cream!) later in the day.

539 Bay Street luxury condo rental master bedroom Traverse City with kids

The master bedroom has a king bed and a HUGE en suite bathroom, as well as a door out to the private balcony. With two other bedrooms (each with a queen bed), another full bathroom, and a laundry room with a full-size washer and dryer, the 3-bedroom unit was perfect for our family. The kids had plenty of room to spread out, but spaces like the living and dining rooms allowed us to spend time together. Do you like staying in vacation rentals/condo-type places when you travel, or do you prefer more traditional hotels?

There’s honestly so much for families to do, eat, and see in the Traverse City area. We were there for three days and still didn’t have time to see it all. Have you visited before?? Let me know your Traverse City faves and tips in the comments!!

Things to Do in Seattle with Kids | Washington

Are you planning a trip to Seattle with kids? Looking for the best things to do while you explore the city? Then look no further; we’re covering it all! We’re sharing our favorite indoor and outdoor attractions, restaurants, and views so that you can make planning your next trip to Seattle a breeze.

pin for planning Seattle trip

Thank you so much to the Seattle Aquarium and Argosy Cruises for hosting us – we received complimentary admissions, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Outdoor Things to Do Near Seattle with Kids

Seattle is an outdoor lover’s dream, and there are tons of options if you’re looking to stay outside.

Pike Place Market

Kids standing in front of Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is one of the first places people think of when you say Seattle. This giant farmers market is open to the public every day of the week. While hours vary a bit seasonally, most stands are open from 9am-5pm, and restaurants are open considerably later. Parking is available in two parking garages on Western Ave and Alaskan Way, and early bird and evening specials are available. Go early in the day for fewer crowds while shopping and later in the evening after the market closes if you want pictures with minimal people (this one was taken at 845pm).

Pike Place Fish Seattle with kids

Pike Place Fish is where you can normally catch them throwing fish all day long – they’ve suspended the fish throwing due to Covid, but hopefully, it’s back again soon. This is the perfect place to pick up fresh seafood to cook at your vacation rental or order and ship it home to enjoy when you get back from your trip.

Fruit stand at Pike Place Public Market Seattle

We loved walking along the highstalls to see what people were selling. These year-round produce stands sell the highest quality produce around and, in non-COVID times, often hand out samples. The produce looked absolutely amazing, and they had the best variety I have ever seen.

Seattle Underground Tour

Underground tour Seattle with kids

Did you know that Seattle has an underground history? We did an underground tour with Beneath the Streets and while parts of the tour were in the tunnels underground, the bulk of the tour is actually outside. This one-hour tour is a can’t miss for the whole family. With group size limited to 20 for a more intimate experience, this walking tour covers four city blocks of Pioneer Square – the first neighborhood in Seattle. The tour covers the birth of the city, the architecture of Pioneer Square, and the history of the underground tunnels.

Freemont Troll

We didn’t have a chance to visit the Fremont Troll when we were in Seattle this summer, but it looks like a fun stop if you have the time. The troll is nestled under the Aurora Bridge and has been entertaining visitors since 1990. He’s 18 feet tall, made of rebar steel and 2 tons of ferroconcrete, and has a shiny metal eye. TIP: Use Troll’s Knoll Park in your GPS to get to the right spot.

Seattle Spheres

Amazon Seattle spheres with kids

We really enjoyed just wandering around the city and seeing the sights. While visiting the Seattle Spheres is technically an indoor activity if you go inside, they were closed when we visited, so we walked around and enjoyed them from the outside. The spheres are part of the Amazon headquarters campus and serve as an employee lounge and workspace. Limited public access is available on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month, and reservations are available 15 days in advance here.

Waterfall Garden Park
UPS Waterfall park Seattle with kids

Did you know that there is a park with a waterfall hidden in the city? Our tour guide on the underground tour mentioned it, so we knew we had to go check it out. Waterfall Garden Park was built in honor of all the men and women of the United Parcel Service (UPS). It’s an excellent place for some tranquility in the middle of the bustling city. There are tables and chairs as well as a few benches, so it’s the perfect place to bring a cup of coffee and just enjoy the sound of the falling water.

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier things to do in Seattle with kids

There are three national parks close to Seattle: North Cascades, Olympic, and Mount Rainier but Mount Rainier is definitely the easiest to do on a day trip from the city. In fact, on a clear day, you can see the towering volcano from many places throughout the city. Mount Rainier National Park is about two hours from Seattle, so make sure to get an early start in the morning to beat the crowds if you’re only spending one day in the park.

Mount Rainier National Park Myrtle Falls Skyline Trail

We started at the Nisqually entrance – the most popular and only entrance that is open year-round. After doing a quick hike and eating an early lunch, we headed to the Paradise parking area and hopped onto the Skyline Trail. This 5.5-mile trail is one of the most popular in the park and is filled with views of waterfalls, glaciers, and flower-filled meadows (at least in July/August). We only did the half-mile trek to Myrtle Falls (and back, so 1 mile total) and it was a beautiful hike with amazing views!

Indoor Things to Do in Seattle with Kids

If you’re looking for indoor activities or for something to do on a rainy day, there’s plenty to do indoors in Seattle with kids.

Seattle Aquarium

visiting the Seattle aquarium with kids

The Seattle Aquarium is top-notch. We’ve visited many aquariums over the years, and this one is definitely towards the top of the list. Like many attractions nowadays, tickets are timed, and plan-ahead pricing is available, so make sure to book in advance. The aquarium is regularly open from 930am-6pm, but the last entry is at 5pm – and honestly, you need more than an hour to fully explore, so I recommend getting there no later than 3pm!

things to do in Seattle with kids

Ellie was completely fascinated by the Crashing Waves exhibit. Every 60 seconds, a wave comes through, and you can see how all of the fish and sea life that live in the intertidal zone react to the waves. It’s such a neat exhibit and one I’ve never seen before in another aquarium.

Seattle aquarium touch tanks

And the Life on the Edge touch tanks were phenomenal. So many different things to touch, and the naturalist staff was engaged and informative. We spent close to an hour learning about tide pool life and touching the anemones, sea urchins, and other tidepool inhabitants.

Seattle aquarium with kids underwater dome

But perhaps my favorite part of the Seattle Aquarium was the giant underwater dome. Lots of aquariums have tunnels that you can move through on a moving walkway, but this giant dome has benches on the perimeter so that you can just sit and take in the view of the Puget Sound sea life (including salmon, sharks, sturgeon, and rockfish) swimming all around you.

Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight is the largest independent, nonprofit air and space museum in the world and brings the history of flight to life. We didn’t have time to visit when we were in Seattle, but it is absolutely a worthwhile stop, from what I’ve heard. Tickets are available online or on a walk-up basis, and docent-led tours and premium experiences are available. Plus, they participate in the ASTC Travel Passport Program, so you can get free admission if you’re a member at your local science center.

Museum of Pop Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture definitely deserves a few hours when you’re exploring Seattle, especially if you’re visiting with teens. I will say that Ellie was a bit bored, and the exhibits didn’t hold her attention very well, but the older kids all really enjoyed this museum. Tickets are timed and there are discounts for buying in advance, so make sure to do that if you’re interested in checking out MoPOP. They also have special exhibitions that require an additional ticket. Currently, their special exhibit is “Heroes & Villains: The Art of the Disney Costume” and includes original costumes worn in many popular Disney features.

Wings Over Washington 4D Ride

Wings over Washington flying ride must-do in Seattle

Located on Pier 57, the Wings Over Washington 4D Ride is very similar to Soarin’ at Disney World/Disney’s California Adventure. The flying theater ride takes you all over the state of Washington on an incredible aerial journey, though the journey is relatively short. You can purchase tickets online or in-person, and it’s right next to the Seattle Great Wheel (the tallest Ferris wheel on the West coast!) so you could do them at the same time if you’re interested.

Space Needle

We didn’t have the chance to visit the Space Needle on this trip but for many people, visiting this Seattle icon is a must to do in the city. Standing 605 feet tall, the Space Needle was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair and offers unsurpassed views of Seattle and the Puget Sound through floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor observation deck. Tickets are timed so make sure to purchase in advance if you want your choice of times. And I highly recommend getting the combo Space Needle + Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit tickets so that you can see both while you’re in town.

Where to Eat in Seattle with Kids

Seattle is a foodie paradise, and while there are MANY places to choose from and MANY that we did not have time to try, these were our favorites.

The Crab Pot

Sourdough and clam chowder where to eat in Seattle

Located on Pier 57, The Crab Pot is an easy stop if you’re in the area visiting the Seattle Aquarium or the Seattle Great Wheel. We started with the sourdough loaf and clam chowder, and both were delicious.

where to eat in seattle crab

These two fellas opted to split a pound of crab legs + red potatoes and corn on the cob, along with crab-stuffed salmon. Let me tell you; it was allllll delightful! Honestly, everyone at our table thoroughly enjoyed what they ordered. Happy faces and full bellies all around!

First Starbucks

outside the first Starbucks Pike Place Market

If you’re a coffee lover you can’t miss the first Starbucks, located in Pike Place Market. We waited in line for over an hour(!) for the chance to go inside, buy some exclusive merchandise, and get drinks from the first Starbucks.

kids inside the first Starbucks Pike Place Market Seattle

These coffee lovers all agreed that visiting the first Starbucks was definitely worth the long line! This isn’t one of those things that I would do on EVERY trip to Seattle, but for first-timers that are Starbucks fans, it was a fun experience.

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese

Beecher's Handmade Cheese Seattle Pike Place Market

Another favorite from our trip and recommended by a local friend, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, was a delicious option for lunch. The line wraps around the block but once you get inside service is quick. It can be challenging to find somewhere to sit, but we lucked out and found a few seats along the side where we could watch them making cheese. And my grilled cheese, complete with grilled chicken, arugula, and Mama Lil’s pepper mayo, was to die for.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery

Starbucks Reserve Roastery Seattle

Continuing with the coffee love, the first Starbucks Reserve Roastery is located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Another place with a long line -though we found it to be shorter towards closing time – is a can’t miss if you’re a coffee lover. They have exclusive drinks, including whiskey barrel-aged cold brew – which was a little strong for my taste, but it is VERY popular.

Pike Place Chowder

Line and ordering at Pike Place Chowder Seattle

Waiting in long lines to try all of the popular spots seemed like how we spent a lot of our time in Seattle. However, Pike Place Chowder, with a line down the block, was totally worth the wait, and offered some of the best chowder we had on our trip.

where to eat in Seattle with kids Pike Place Chowder

We ordered a couple of clam chowder bread bowls plus a smoked salmon chowder bread bowl to share, and it was perfect for a light lunch. There is some seating inside and outside the restaurant, but do NOT get a table until you have your food and you are ready to eat. This one is a must-do in Seattle if you’re a chowder fan!!

Best Views in Seattle

Kerry Park (especially at sunset)

Kerry Park things to do in Seattle with kids

If you’re looking for one of the most iconic views of the Seattle skyline, often with Mount Rainier in the distance, then Kerry Park is where it’s at. This small park is located on the south slope of Queen Anne Hill on West Highland between 2nd and 3rd Avenue West. Photographers and families, tourists and locals all flock to the park, especially near sunset, to take in the breathtaking views. Because of the crowds, parking can be difficult. We drove around for about 15 minutes before finding a spot to parallel park on a neighborhood street about a block away.

Gorgeous Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier views from Kerry Park

But seriously, this view was wholly worth the parking headache!! And if you walk down the stairs, there’s a great playground on Prospect Street. Plus, Meredith Grey’s house from Grey’s Anatomy is located about a block away at 303 W Comstock St if you want to drive by – we passed it several times, and I didn’t even realize that’s where it was until we got home.

Ballard Locks Cruise – Argosy Cruises

Ballard Chittenden Locks Seattle

Sometimes, when two bodies of water are connected with a canal, a system of locks is needed to move between the different water levels. Locks are like an elevator for ships. They’re necessary for Seattle because it was important to connect Lake Washington/Lake Union that sits at 20-22 feet above sea level, with the Puget Sound, roughly 20 feet lower. Additionally, the locks help to prevent the mixing of seawater from Puget Sound with the freshwater lakes.

We did the Ballard Locks Cruise with Argosy Cruises and set sail from Lake Union, went down the Lake Washington Ship Canal, into Salmon Bay, and then through the Ballard Locks (above), where we were lowered about 20 feet into the Puget Sound.

Smiling kids sailing in Puget Sound

Once through the locks, we were out in the more open waters of the Puget Sound. There’s a full-service bar plus various snacks available onboard, so we enjoyed popcorn and sodas as we sailed along.

View of Mount Rainier across Puget Sound

As we rounded the corner into Elliot Bay and back towards Seattle, Mount Rainer was visible!

view of Seattle skyline from Puget Sound

For one of the best views of the Seattle skyline, you have to head out onto the water and look back towards the city. The Ballard Locks Cruise with Argosy Cruises was a great way to learn about the history of Seattle and the creation of the locks while also getting those great skyline views. It is important to note that the Ballard Locks cruise departs from the AGC Marina in Lake Union and arrives at the Seattle waterfront – you are responsible for getting back to your vehicle at Lake Union. It’s about a 1.6 mile (hilly!) walk north to Lake Union from the waterfront, but we did it with no problems.

There’s truly so much for families to do, eat, and see in the Seattle area. We were there for four days and still didn’t have time to see it all. Have you been before?? Let me know your Seattle tips in the comments!!

Whitewater Rafting with Kids in Idaho | The River Company

When I figured out our route this summer and realized we’d be driving through central Idaho, I knew I had to look into whitewater rafting because it is HUGE in Idaho. In fact, Idaho is the self-proclaimed whitewater state! MANY outfitters are running various stretches of the Salmon, Snake, and Payette Rivers, but as soon as I saw the website for The River Company, I knew they were the outfitter for us! If you’re looking for the absolute BEST trip for whitewater rafting with kids in Idaho, then look no further than The River Company.

Thank you so much to The River Company for hosting us – we received a complimentary excursion, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Gorgeous Sawtooth Mountains in Stanley, Idaho

Driving into Stanely, Idaho, from our hotel near Sun Valley, we were treated to amazing mountain views. My east coast kids repeatedly commented about how big the Sawtooth Range looks compared to our Blue Ridge Mountains back home.

Ready to go whitewater rafting in Stanley Idaho

The River Company prides itself on being perfect for first-timers and families with children. While the big kids have all gone whitewater rafting at the National Whitewater Center, and Christopher and Jacob tackled the Ocoee River in Tennessee a couple of years back, Ellie has never been rafting. Their website was so reassuring and honestly answered every question I had about the trip, plus offered a little extra humor. Highly recommend!! When we arrived and checked in, our guide got us set up with life jackets, and we waited for the rest of the guests to arrive.

Bus to the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

The River Company headquarters is located in the small town of Stanley, Idaho, and check-in begins 15 minutes before your scheduled departure. Stanley is about an hour north of the Sun Valley/Ketchum area and three hours from Boise. After a 15-minute bus ride to the drop-in point and a quick safety lesson, it’s time to get out on the river.

whitewater rafting with kids in Idaho

Oh my gosh, these five were SO EXCITED to go rafting – especially Ellie! She wanted to sit in the back as close as possible to our guide, Caleb, to ensure she didn’t fall in, but she LOVED every minute of the trip!

whitewater rafting with kids Middle Fork of Salmon River

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River transverses some of the most beautiful parts of Central Idaho.

whitewater rafting with kids in Idaho

The first set of rapids that we encountered is the class 3, Piece of Cake – a fairly standard class 3 with moderate waves and straightforward maneuvering.

Piece of Cake Class III rapids Middle Fork of Salmon River Idaho with kids

There are photographers from The River Company on hand to take pictures as your raft moves through the Piece of Cake rapids – you can view and/or purchase photos when you get back to the headquarters after making your way down the river.

whitewater rafting with kids in Idaho

Our guide knew that we were looking for adventure, so I think our raft got a bit wetter than others that day. Early in the season, the rapids are more intense due to the higher water levels, and you will get wetter – but that just adds to the fun!

Class 3 whitewater rapids in Stanley Idaho

Piece of Cake was a great introduction to rapids for Ellie – and the whole crew.

whitewater rafting with kids in Idaho

After making it through Piece of Cake, there’s a calm stretch if you want to get in the water and float for a little bit. There is also a jumping rock where the tours pull over, and you can jump from a 10-foot rock into a section of the river that’s about 20 feet deep. Ben was the only one brave enough to jump in!

Middle Fork of the Salmon River

After a quick break, the river picks up again as you make your way through The Narrows, the other class 3 section of the river that you encounter on the Family Trip with Lunch.

The River Company Family Trip with Lunch hot lunch

Speaking of lunch, The River Company is the only outfitter rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River that offers a hot lunch!

The River Company Family Trip with Lunch hot lunch

And let me tell you our lunch was absolutely amazing!! We enjoyed perfectly cooked teriyaki chicken and rice, a flavorful Asian salad, pickled cucumbers, unlimited coffee, tea, and lemonade, and homemade brownies for dessert on the banks of the Salmon River. The kids were excited because they could get seconds – whitewater rafting definitely makes you work up an appetite!

whitewater rafting in Idaho with kids

After lunch it’s back into the rafts for a float down a fairly calm stretch of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

whitewater rafting with kids Middle Fork of Salmon River

Ben and Lexie both decided to hop into the river and float alongside our raft for a while. Getting them back in the raft was hilarious since neither could get themselves back in and required assistance from their big brothers + our trusty guide, Caleb.

Whitewater rafting with kids Salmon River

While the class III rapids were definitely the highlight of the journey, the calmer parts allowed us to learn about the surrounding areas from our guide. We talked about everything from the rapidly dwindling Chinook salmon population to the history of the Salmon River.

Idaho Whitewater Rafting Experiences with the River Company

The River Company whitewater rafting with kids Salmon River

In addition to the Family Trip with Lunch that we enjoyed, The River Company also offers several other rafting experiences from their base in Stanely, Idaho.

  • Scenic Float Trips – These 2-hour trips float through Stanley Basin, and while they have small riffles, there is no whitewater. This trip is great for all ages and is offered from May – September.
  • Straight Shot – This one is basically the Family Trip with Lunch but without lunch. Like the Family Trip with Lunch, this one is great for ages 4+ and runs from late June – August.
  • Class IV Rafting Adventures – Offered for a brief time in May – June, this one is for the 14+ crowd. Neoprene wetsuits, booties, jackets and helmets are all included.

whitewater rafting with kids

We had an absolutely fantastic time rafting the Salmon with The River Company, and everyone was all smiles. As we wrapped up the end of our excursion, the kids were already asking when we can go whitewater rafting again.


Perhaps the most important thing to consider when going whitewater rafting, in Idaho or elsewhere, is what to wear. While I practically live in flip-flops, they are not ideal for whitewater rafting unless you’re OK losing your shoes on the trip. We opted to wear our Teva sandals which stayed snuggly on our feet but provided solid soles for walking around the slippery river banks.

Feet in Teva Sandals

It’s important to wear clothing that will protect you from the sun and will dry quickly. The boys all wore their swimsuits – board shorts and rash guards – and that was perfect. The girls wore their swimsuits with a pair of shorts over them, but since they were cotton shorts, they just got wet and stayed wet. Neither complained because it was hot outside, but they would have been chilly if it had been colder outside. Also, make sure to pack (and use!) sunscreen since the sun will reflect off the water and you can end up burning quicker than normal.

Have you been whitewater rafting before?? The kids are begging to go again; do you have any river recommendations??

Looking for more outdoor fun? Check out these posts:

Make a Splash at the BRAND NEW Cove Aquatic Center | Sunriver Resort | Oregon

Sunriver Resort, just south of Bend, Oregon, is one of the most popular resorts in Central Oregon – and for great reason! With plenty of guestrooms and suites, as well as condos and vacation homes, there’s something for families of every size AND budget. There’s plenty to do in and around Sunriver (and we’ll cover all of that in a future post) but one of the main draws at the resort is the brand new Cove Aquatic Center.

Cove Aquatic Center Sunriver Resort

Thank you so much to Sunriver Resort for hosting us – we received a complimentary stay, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Outdoor pool at the Cove Aquatic Center

Starting outside, the outdoor pool is GORGEOUS, especially the stonework! The pool was nice and warm which was great since the outdoor temps were a bit on the cool side when we visited!

Paulina Plunge waterfall slide at Sunriver

The outdoor waterslide was a favorite for our crew, but beware, the water in “The Plunge” is COLD, just like the natural waterfalls found in the Sunriver area!! As soon as we dropped our stuff on our chairs, the kids beelined for this slide – and then went on it over, and over, and over!

One of the best resort pools in Central Oregon

Can you think of a better place to relax on a sunny day in central Oregon?! While pool reservations were required when we visited, effective July 3, reservations are no longer required and the pool is available on a first-come, first-served basis for resort guests.

Smiling kids at Cove Aquatic Center Central Oregon

One of the most impressive features of the new Cove Aquatic Center are the roll-up doors on the indoor pool building (seen behind these two sweet kiddos!) allowing for an open-air concept in the warm summer months, and an indoor concept in the colder winter months.

Views of Mount Bachelor from Sunriver

Such an amazing view from the outdoor pool at the Cove Aquatic Center!! Sunriver Resort is located in SUCH a beautiful place!!

Cabana Rental at Cove Aquatic Center

There are three cabanas available to rent at the Cove Aquatic Center, in addition to plenty of lounge chairs surrounding the pool.

Kids in Cabana Sunriver Resort

We had a cabana rental one afternoon while we were staying at Sunriver Resort, and now that I’ve been spoiled, I don’t think I can go back to pre-cabana life! Comfortable chairs, shade, and enough room for all of us to spread out! If you’re planning to spend time at the outdoor pool on a hot day, especially as crowds increase, you absolutely cannot go wrong with a cabana rental!

Cabana snacks at Sunriver Resort Central Oregon

You can order food from The Spotted Frog and have it delivered to your cabana – and we did just that! In addition to an extensive drink menu, they had a great variety of appetizers and snacks that we created a happy hour type menu from. The kids enjoyed snacking throughout the afternoon and it was a nice change from a structured meal.

Indoor Pool Cove Aquatic Center

The indoor pool facility is all-new this year at Sunriver Resort. With a zero-entry heated pool and an awesome waterslide that goes outside of the building and then back inside, there is something for everyone! NOTE: the “Cinder Cone” slide (paying homage to the cinder cones located around Central Oregon) does have a height minimum of 48inches.

Brand New Cove Aquatic Center Sunriver Resort

Accessible from the main pool, there is a meandering “eddy“ to play in. Think small lazy river but no flotation devices are needed and there is a light current to help propel you through the “river”. This was smaller than I expected but the kids had fun going around and around and around – and not once did I hear them say anything about the size!

Water fun at Cove Aquatic Center

Also inside, and brand-new this season, you’ll find these bubblers at the zero-entry part of the pool. They’re sure to delight the little ones and even my big kids had fun playing and dancing around with Ellie in this area!

Underwater and Smiling Teen Cove Aquatic Center

Are you ready to splash into fun at Sunriver Resort’s new Cove Aquatic Center?? Remember, the Cove Aquatic Center is just for resort guests at Sunriver Resort, so book your stay today!

Lunch at ECHO | St Simons Island, GA

The only oceanfront dining on St Simons Island, ECHO at the King and Prince Resort, is fantastic for a meal with the whole family or for date night! With indoor and outdoor seating, ECHO St Simons Island offers something for every occasion and the food is unbeatable.

Thank you so much to ECHO for hosting us – we received a complimentary meal, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

Echo St Simons Island

We dined at ECHO when we stayed at the King and Prince Resort though you do not need to be staying at the resort to make a reservation. In fact, I’m considering taking a detour to St Simons Island just to eat at ECHO next time we’re making the drive from North Carolina to Florida!

Oceanfront dining St Simons Island

We opted to have lunch inside since it was kind of windy and were so excited to have a window table with a great view of the water. But I definitely want to sit outside next time we go!

Wild Georgia Peel and Eat Shrimp

If there’s shrimp on the menu, you can bet this guy plus at least one other kid will order it for an appetizer/entrée. And let me tell you, the peel and eat shrimp at ECHO was probably the best I’ve ever had!

ECHO Wild Georgia Peel and Eat Shrimp

Wild Georgia Peel & Eat Shrimp: Wild Georgia Shrimp, comeback sauce, spicy mayo, cocktail sauce

Grouper tacos ECHO St Simons Island

Grouper Tacos: Fried and Blackened, flour tortillas, southern slaw, red pepper chow chow, tartar sauce

First of all, these grouper tacos are considered an APPETIZER but you could totally make a meal out of them – especially if you added a side. We all gave a slight edge to the blacked grouper though the fried was still tasty.

Kids at ECHO

Happy faces, ready to enjoy a delicious lunch! The service at ECHO was absolutely phenomenal. In addition to checking on us and keeping drinks refilled, our waitress brought out a bunch of strawberries once she heard they were Ellie’s favorite. I swear, this girl could LIVE on strawberries!

Sandwiches from the ECHO St Simons Island lunch menu

Crab Cake BLT: crab cake, bacon, heirloom tomato, frisée, dill mayo
Salmon BLT: salmon, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo

Nick and Ben both loved their sandwiches! Nick said the crabcake was flavorful with not a lot of filler and Ben said the salmon was cooked perfectly. We also enjoyed the Grouper Sandwich, the Seafood Mac and Cheese, and the Island Sampler (shrimp salad, maple pecan chicken salad, fruit salad, crackers).

Dessert at ECHO St SImons Island

And of course, we finished up our lunch with dessert. We ordered several different things to split and the Fudge Brownie Cheesecake and St Louis Gooey Butter Cake were the overall winners.

I cannot recommend ECHO highly enough. Everything about our meal was perfection from the atmosphere, to the food, to the service. We will most definitely be visiting again – hopefully soon!


  • Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 912-268-5967
  • Located at the King and Prince Resort in St Simons Island
  • Parking is free in the main hotel parking lot

Follow ECHO on social media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

ICON Park Orlando | Florida

We were recently invited to come check out all the fun that ICON Park has to offer. With all the times that we’ve been to Orlando, can you believe that we’ve never visited before?! ICON Park Orlando is a HUGE entertainment complex with over 40 restaurants, bars, shops, attractions + some amazing amusement park rides.

pin image for ICON Park Orlando

Thank you so much to ICON Park for hosting us – we received complimentary admissions, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!

There are multiple ticket options at ICON Park. You can go the à la carte route and just pay admission for the activity (or activities) that you’re interested in but the absolute best deal is the ICON Park Play Pass.

ICON Park Play Pass

Offering over a 50% discount vs individual ticket prices, the ICON Park Play Pass is $69 and covers all 7 attractions for one low price + an arcade play card + shopping and dining discounts.

ICON Park Orlando 7-D Dark Ride

7D Dark Ride simulator at ICON Park

The kids wanted to start our day at ICON Park with the 7D theater. They let Ellie pick which movie/ride to do and she picked the “scariest” one and they all said it was great fun!


Madame Tussauds entrance Orlando

Have you ever been to a wax museum? We’ve walked past the Madame Tussauds in Hollywood a few times but never ventured inside and after visiting the one in Orlando, I’m kicking myself that we didn’t check it out sooner because Madame Tussauds Orlando was outstanding!

Teen and Walt Disney wax museum figure

While you’re not supposed to touch the wax figures, you can sit/stand next to them. The kids enjoyed seeing their favorite historical figures and celebrities and had a BLAST posing with them.

Kids helping Superman with helicopter at Madame Tussauds

Some of the exhibits are interactive like this one where you can help Superman lift a helicopter. Don’t worry, we used hand sanitizer before and after!! Madame Tussaud’s has gone the extra mile with their star-studded safety plan requiring masks, distancing, decreased capacity, and increased deep cleaning.


SeaLife Aquarium Orlando

Directly across the main building (the one with The Wheel) from Madame Tussauds, is the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium. Though on the small side, this aquarium packs in a lot of exhibits, and we had a great time.

watching rays at the Orlando aquarium

I think my kids could spend hours staring at tanks full of fish, especially when they have rays that seem to just glide through the water.

Touch tank at Sea Life Aquarium Orlando

The touch tank was a HUGE hit with our crew! We’ve done countless touch tanks before but this was the first time the kids were able to touch a sticky sea anemone. Did you know the tentacles will grab your finger and wrap around it?! We had no idea but did it over and over and over!


Museum of Illusions Orlando

Brand new to the Orlando scene in 2021, the Museum of Illusions Orlando is well worth a visit. In addition to learning how optical illusions work, there are also photographic illusions like the Ames Room. Ben was excited to be “taller” than Lexie for a change!

Climbing wall at Museum of Illusions Orlando

The climbing wall illusion was definitely the favorite for our group. They were shocked that you could get an image of them climbing a rock wall (above) when in reality, they were laying on their stomachs (below)!!

Museum of Illusions Orlando rock wall

The Museum of Illusions is the only place that we encountered at ICON Park that required a reservation. If you buy tickets online, you can set your timed entry up at that point. Since we had the ICON Park Play Pass, we made our reservation in-person and then had a quick snack while we waited for our time.


smiling kids on The Wheel ICON Park Orlando

The Wheel at ICON Park is probably the most recognizable aspect of the park itself. If you’ve ever driven down I-4 through Orlando, I’m sure you’ve seen it because there’s really, there’s no way that you could miss the giant 400-foot observation wheel – even from miles away!

Observation wheel in Orlando views

Every capsule on The Wheel has air-conditioning and stability control plus interactive informational displays so that you can find all the Central Florida landmarks like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Sea World! It takes about 20-minutes to go all the way around and right now, you can do it from the comfort of a private capsule.


StarFlyer spinning swing ride Orlando

Our last attraction of the day was the Orlando StarFlyer – standing 450-feet high, it’s the world’s tallest swing ride attraction. Nick, Lexie, and Ellie(!) were the only ones brave enough to try it out and they LOVED it!

View of StarFlyer from The Wheel ICON Park Orlando

Grab a partner for this double-seated attraction that sends you high in the sky and offers a one-of-a-kind view of Orlando below your feet as you spin in the breeze. It’s all lit up at night and the kids wished that they’d saved their tickets to ride in the dark so we’ll make sure to do that next time.

Smiling kids at ICON Park Orlando

Thank you so much for inviting us out, ICON Park – we had an amazing time and we’ll be back again soon!

Tips for Visiting ICON Park Orlando

  • FREE PARKING is available behind The Wheel and also in the parking garage near Star Flyer.
  • Buy your ticket online for the best deals – either the combo tickets or the Play Pass offer the most savings.
  • The Museum of Illusions currently requires a reservation time. We made ours for the next available spot (30 minutes later) which gave us time to get a snack!

Things to Do in Savannah with Kids | Georgia

Less than four hours from both Charlotte and Atlanta, Savannah, Georgia, is the perfect weekend getaway. Steeped in history and close to the beach (only half an hour to beautiful Tybee Island), there is something for everyone. We’re sharing our favorite things to do in Savannah with kids that are perfect if you have a couple of days to spend exploring the area.

Thank you so much to Old Town Trolley for hosting us as we toured Savannah- we received complimentary tours, but all opinions are honest and my own. This post may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!) if you choose to purchase when you click on the links. Thank you for supporting Love Dwells Here!!


Smiling kids at Old Town Trolley Tour Savannah

It should come as no surprise that we LOVE doing tours when we visit a new-to-us city, and the Hop On – Hop Off Trolley Tours from Old Town Trolley are one of our favorites. The open-air trolley tour allows you to get a great overview of the city. The tour is a 90-minute loop with fifteen different hop-on/hop-off stops. You can do the full loop without getting off, which gives you a quick tour of Savannah, hop off at any number of the stops, or do a combination of the two. We only had a few hours to explore, so we picked our top choices and only got off the trolley a few times.

Savannah park; tree with moss

Savannah is a GORGEOUS city, and it is best seen from the street. Tree-lined streets and small parks can be found around every turn, and beautiful Spanish moss hangs from the trees. Interesting fact – did you know that Spanish moss is not actually Spanish or moss but a flowering plant?! So cool!

Square in Savannah

On our trolley tour, we learned about the various squares within the city of Savannah – there are TWENTY-TWO! One of my favorites was Chippewa Square, where the famous scene with Forest Gump sitting on a bench was filmed.

Leopold's Ice Cream sign

Did you even visit Savannah if you didn’t stop at Leopold’s Ice Cream for a few scoops of their super-premium ice cream?! With a line stretching down the block (that looked longer than it was due to COVID distancing protocols), Leopold’s has been a Savannah institution for over a century. Stop 8 is the closest on the Old Town Trolley route, and then it’s just a couple of blocks away.

Girl staring excitedly at two scoops of ice cream

Ellie was excited that I let her order TWO scoops of ice cream! And she promptly devoured it all!

The hop-on/hop-off tour has 15 stops throughout Savannah so that you can explore all this wonderful city has to offer. One-day and two-day ticket options make the Old Town Trolley tour an easy way to immerse yourself in Savannah without dealing with traffic and parking. It’s the perfect choice for exploring Savannah with kids!


American Prohibition Museum

I’ve always been a history buff, and the kids are as well, so we take any chance we can to check out history museums. The American Prohibition Museum,  located right in the heart of Savannah (at Stop 7 on the trolley tour!), was excellent.

Over a century ago, the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919, and the sale, transportation, and consumption of alcohol was immediately prohibited. As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well. From rum runners to moonshine to flappers and gangsters, America has a storied history. We learned things at the American Prohibition Museum that we’ve not learned elsewhere. Did you know that over 10,000 people died from poisoned alcohol during the prohibition era?

American Prohibition Museum homemade hand sanitizer

The homemade sanitizer throughout the museum was a fun touch!

American Prohibition Museum video

At the end of the museum, there’s a quick video that we all really enjoyed. I often wonder if the kids like stopping for museum videos and they always do – it really helps to solidify what they learned in the museum. The American Prohibition Museum is open daily from 10am-5pm, and the last entry is at 415pm. We spent about 45-60 minutes in the museum, and that felt like the perfect amount of time to fully explore all of the exhibits.


Savannah Ghosts and Gravestones trolley tour

The kids have been begging to do a ghost tour in every city that we see them offered, and since we had a free evening in Savannah, I was happy to oblige.

Savannah ghost tour

The Ghosts and Gravestones Frightseeing tour is offered by Old Town Trolley – in fact; you can even purchase combo tickets for the daytime trolley tour + a ghost tour. Unlike the daytime tours, this one is PG-13, and no kids under 6 are allowed. For the bulk of the tour, you stay seated on the trolley while the Ghost Host introduces you to the darker side of Savannah. There are two opportunities to get off the trolley, the first at the Andrew Low House and the second at the Perkin’s & Son’s Ship Chandlery.

This is the Andrew Low House and what many consider to be the most “active” house in Savannah. As part of the Ghosts and Gravestones tour, you get to go inside the house – if you’re brave enough! In all seriousness, though, while the stories told about activity in the house may scare small children, none of mine were bothered at all (ages 7-17). As for encountering any spirits, I will say that we didn’t see any, but a couple of us noticed a strong cigar smell in the dining room… in a house where no one was smoking… and no one smelled like cigars…

The Low Bedroom, first occupied by Andrew Low and his second wife, Mary Stiles, and later by their son, William, and his wife, Juliette Gorden Low (the founder of the Girl Scouts), is reported to be haunted. Juliette died in this room, and many have claimed to see her sleeping on this bed.

After our Ghosts and Gravestones tour, we walked along the river for a while. There’s just something about being near the water that makes my heart happy, and it was the perfect way to end a busy trip! Have you visited Savannah before? Where should we make sure to check out next time we’re in town??



Paddlefish: The Best Kids’ Meals at Disney Springs

We’ve eaten at MANY restaurants at Disney Springs and I can easily say, without a doubt, that the kids’ meals at Paddlefish are the absolute BEST. The variety is unmatched, the quality is exceptional, and while slightly on the pricier side outside of Disney, they’re well worth every dollar.

Thank you so much to Paddlefish for hosting us- we received a complimentary meal, but as always, all opinions are honest and my own.

Exterior of boat restaurant Paddlefish Disney Springs

Paddlefish is conveniently docked at The Landing at Disney Springs – and given that it’s shaped like a modern steamboat, there’s no missing the restaurant.

Mask bags at Paddlefish Disney Springs

Like Terralina Crafted Italian, Paddlefish gives you these cute little bags to put your mask in while you eat. There are two floors of indoor dining space as well as a rooftop level. We definitely recommend sitting outside on the rooftop deck if you can.

Smiling family on rooftop deck at Paddlefish

One of my absolute FAVORITE parts of dining at Paddlefish is the view. I mean, where else can you get a view of Disney Springs like this?! In fact, it’s the only restaurant at Disney Springs to have rooftop waterfront seating and I bet it would be absolutely magical closer to sunset.

Paddlefish Menu

Like many restaurants, Paddlefish is still using single-use menus and is operating with slightly fewer offerings – but there’s still PLENTY to choose from.

Paddlefish Children's Menu with Wikki Stix

Now, since this post is highlighting the exceptional Children’s Menu at Paddlefish, let’s start right here. In addition to having a variety of entree choices ranging from typical chicken fingers and burgers to filet and crab, kids also get a pack of Wikki Stix to play with while they wait. We’ve never played with Wikki Stix before but oh my gosh, the kids LOVED them! The wax-covered yarn strips are bendable, twistable, and stick to each other allowing for hours of play – and they kept our table quiet so I could read the menu in peace.

Appetizers at Paddlefish Disney Springs

Bowl of Clam Chowder at Paddlefish Disney Springs

We often order a couple of appetizers for the table to split and this dinner was no different. We started with a bowl of the New England Clam Chowder and it was delicious. The big kids are more of a fan of seafood than Ellie but everyone said it was some of the best clam chowder around.

Crab guacamole and sangria at Paddlefish Disney Springs

Then we moved on to the Crab Guacamole. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I’m SUPER picky about my guac but this stuff was goooooood. Just the right combo of tomato, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime, and then covered in lump crab + the tortilla chips were covered in Tajin. Heart eyes all the way!

Executive Chef Steven Richard Paddlefish Disney Springs

Executive Chef Steven Richard stopped by the table to talk about the menu and help the kids finalize their entree selections. We chatted all things crab – like the difference between snow crab and king crab.

Paddlefish Entrees (Including Kids’ Meal Options)

Paddlefish Disney Springs Kids' Menu Salmon

Without further ado, let’s get to those kids’ meals! Lexie opted for the Fish of the Day (which was and is usually) salmon and said it was prepared perfectly. It was served with mashed potatoes and green beans and proved to be the perfect amount of food for her. While Disney kids’ meals are usually intended for the 9 and under crowd, Lexie (12) and Ben (13) had no problem ordering off of the children’s menu.

Paddlefish Disney Springs Kids' Menu Filet Skewers

The littlest kiddo ordered the Filet Skewers – what can I say, she has great taste! Perfectly medium, these skewers checked every one of her boxes: delicious, filling, and finger food!

Paddlefish Disney Springs Children's Menu Snow Crab

Rounding out the kids’ meal crew, Ben ordered the Snow Crab. It’s normally served with corn on the cob and red potatoes but he opted for fries instead of corn since braces make corn on the cob difficult to eat.

How to crack snow crab legs

Since Ben had never ordered crab before, he didn’t know how to crack the shells. Our phenomenal waitress gave him a quick lesson and then he was on his way to crab deliciousness.

Paddlefish Disney Springs Kids' Menu

These two were HAPPY campers with their menu choices. They opted for things that aren’t on a normal kids’ menu and got to pretend they were adults for the night PLUS they could eat with their hands!

Stuffed Cod at Paddlefish Disney Springs

At Chef Steven’s recommendation, I ordered the Stuffed Cod, a Paddlefish favorite. Featuring their famous shrimp and scallop cornbread stuffing, the Stuffed Cod was absolutely amazing. The flavors worked perfectly together and I’m still dreaming about the mustard cream sauce. SO GOOD!!

Nick ordered the Salmon with Miso Vinaigrette (what I was originally going to order!). With a veggie stirfry and wasabi mashed potatoes, this dish is an explosion of flavor and definitely on the spicy side. Nick and I both loved it but if you’re spice averse, I’d skip it or order regular mashed potatoes.

Dessert at Paddlefish

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae Paddlefish Disney Springs

Dessert is an important part of any vacation meal and the Paddlefish dessert options did not disappoint. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae was a fun treat. While it’s not award-worthy or anything, it was prepared well and a fine option.

Chocolate Layer Cake Paddlefish Disney Springs

The chocolate cake lovers in our group devoured the Chocolate Layer Cake with its varying chocolatey textures.

Brownie Sundae Paddlefish Disney Springs

And the Brownie Sundae was quickly gobbled up. While none of the desserts were particularly inventive, they were all solid options and a great end to a delicious meal. I’ve heard that there’s a flourless chocolate cake and key lime pie that are amazing, but they’re not back on the menu yet.

Kids' Menu Cookies and Milk Paddlefish Disney Springs

On the kids’ menu, there’s a Milk and Cookies dessert option and I honestly don’t know why this isn’t on the menu at more restaurants! Ellie LOVED her choice as well as the presentation. I mean, who doesn’t like drinking their milk out of a bottle?!

Paddlefish Physical Distancing marker

Like most restaurants we’ve encountered on Disney property, Paddlefish did a great job following the new COVID protocols. Guests were seated at tables that were spread out, physical distancing was enforced and masks were required when walking around.

View of Disney Springs from Paddlefish


  • Reservations are highly recommended- you can make them online through My Disney Experience or on OpenTable
  • Pricing is $15 to $34.99 per adult
  • Located at The Landing in Disney Springs
  • Parking is free at the Disney Springs parking garages (lime is the closest!); Resort busses and boats are available as well.

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