Top 14 Places to Visit Before Your Kids Leave for College

Pacific Ocean, top places to visit before your kids leave for college.
Grab a sunset along the Pacific Ocean. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Years ago I promised myself my kids would see their country from tip to tip. It took nine years but I drove my three kids from coast to coast, one summer vacation at a time.

Not everyone is crazy like me, though think about hitting some of the iconic U.S. destinations. Got a list of the top places to visit before your kids leave for college.

Top Places to Visit Before Your Kids Leave for College

  1. Yosemite National Park
  2. Yellowstone National Park
  3. Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  4. Grand Canyon National Park
  5. Redwood National Park
  6. New York City
  7. San Francisco
  8. Boston
  9. Washington DC
  10. Disney
  11. Florida Beaches
  12. Los Angeles
  13. San Diego
  14. The Mountains

Start with a National Park

The U.S. is blessed with epic landscapes that need to be seen to appreciate. Load up the kids for a road trip to remember and explore the nation’s treasures.

Kids grow up and move on so before they head off to college visit some of the best U.S. destinations. Got the top 14 places to explore across the U.S. for your family's next trip.

Yosemite National Park

Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range Yosemite National Park is where the naturalist, John Muir coined the phrase, the mountains are calling and I must go. Since it’s 200 miles east of San Francisco, it offers a convenient location and epic landscapes. The mountains and meadows along the waterfalls are the draw here.

Yellowstone National Park

Located in northwest Wyoming and 320 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, Yellowstone National Park offers another top destination for families. Old Faithful Geyser and Old Faithful Inn top my list for must-sees.

Kids love animals so drive through the Hayden or Lamar Valley for bison, bear, elk and even wolves. Give Yellowstone at least four days and I prefer a week. Be prepared to picnic for lunch since the food service isn’t conveniently located next to iconic sights or hikes.

But what’s the difference between the two top national parks?

Yellowstone is about the mighty mammals, like the bear and bison and the geothermal features, geysers and mud pots. Yosemite offers an epic mountain landscape that even amateur photographers can capture. The Yosemite Valley offers waterfalls, wildflower meadows and mountain top vistas that inspire everyone, including Ansel Adams.

Things to do in South Dakota with kids, Mount Rushmore, Black Hills with kids,
Mount Rushmore is the most visited national memorial outside of New York City or Washington, D.C. Photo Credit: South Dakota Department of Tourism

Mount Rushmore National Memorial 

About 380 miles north of Denver, Colorado, South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial is an icon that most Americans know. To experience the magnitude of the sculpture, you have to stand in front of it. Don’t think of Mt. Rushmore as a quick road trip stop, the Black Hills of South Dakota, where Mt. Rushmore is located, offers several days of western adventure for families.

What to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.
Like a western landscape painting, the Grand Canyon is more impressive in person. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Grand Canyon National Park

About 215 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park offers another bucket list destination for families. During the summer, the south rim seems like the international terminal at New York City’s JFK airport with visitors from around the globe. Stay for a few hours or stay for a few days, the Grand Canyon offers hikes and views for everyone is your SUV.

Though drive around to the North Rim in the summertime, the only time it’s accessible by car, to see a different perspective. As a bonus, you’ll find fewer people on this side of the rim.

Hike a trail as one of the things to do in the Redwoods with kids.
A redwood grove offers family-friendly hikes in Redwoods National Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park offers trees so big everything in its shadow seems small, even teen drama.

Some of the most convenient locations are just north of San Francisco though Redwood National and State Parks, close to the border of California and Oregon, offers the best location. Redwoods grow in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks as well.

Visit the Statue of Liberty during your 4 day NYC itinerary.
Explore the Statue of Liberty with your kids when visiting NYC. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

New York City

Switch gears and explore the city, New York City. Since it packs an energy that falls flat for younger kids I suggest NYC for older kids with the stamina. They need to be out of strollers and walk for days without whining.

In a city that never sleeps, travel lessons abound. Use the subway to get around, a must-have skill for teens who will be exploring on their own in a few years. The skills I learned in NYC helped me navigate any urban city around the globe. From parks to museums and shopping to snacking, New York City offers a week of family fun.

Alcatraz with Kids
On a clear day, Alcatraz doesn’t look that bad but of course looks can be deceiving. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

San Francisco

San Francisco offers an urban center with vibrant culture and postcard landscapes with its mellower West Coast vibe. It’s easy to navigate by public transportation, like the famous street cars.

It offers American icons too, like Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, a favorite for teens. Explore San Francisco by foot to see all the unique neighborhoods.

See Ben Franklin. See Boston With kids in One day.
The best way to learn history is to walk through history. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Boston

Boston offers a maze of American History that has to be walked. Start at the Boston Common, the park in the center of the city, and find the red line painted on the sidewalk. The Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile urban trail, will walk kids and teens through the American Revolution.

Washington D.C.

Washington, DC, offers another destination packed with history, culture and some of the best museums in the country, many of which are free.

If the kids haven’t been then a trip to Disney is a must. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Disney

Disney, if your kids haven’t been. Take them. It’s an American institution. If your family isn’t crazy about all things Mickey and Minnie, limit your time at the park to a day or two.

Disneyland in California offers better weather year-round and other family friendly destinations besides theme parks, like the beach. Walt Disney World, in Florida, is really a city dedicated to Disney.

How to enjoy the hotel del Coronado for kids, S'mores for Luxe Moms, Things to do in Coronado with kids,
The legendary Hotel del Coronado stands as an icon on the San Diego beach. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Southern California

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is still a mecca for the young at heart since the dawn of TV. The beaches of SoCal created a culture that teens crave.

Be the cool mom and sign up your teens for surfing lessons. Check out the piers and broad walks, packed with fun. Your teens might even decide that Los Angeles tops their college wish list too.

San Diego

San Diego offers lots of family fun with beaches, parks and museums to discover in Southern California. Start at Cabrillo National Monument and its tide pools then move on Balboa Park.

With perfect year-round weather, explore San Diego any time of the year. Remember to pack the swimsuit, even in the winter, since the sun is still shining and the air is warm.

Florida 

The Florida Beaches along scenic Highway 30A tops my list for amazing places to relax. Teens will appreciate the beach even if they don’t build sandcastles in a ruffle-bottomed swimsuits anymore.

I love the bike paths for teens to explore beach towns packed with hang-outs like ice cream shops and juice stands. Along with water so blue you think it was the Caribbean.

Enjoy Squaw Valley with kids where to take kids skiing in Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe offers families the place to ski big with lots of family friendly runs and terrain parks. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Mountains

Winter offers world-class sports, like snowboarding and skiing. Keep the kids having fun with the old Mom and Dad longer by planning a family ski getaway.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, straddling the border of California and Nevada, offers Olympic snow as the host to the 1960 Olympics. I love Tahoe for its mellow California yibe that attracts moguls and boarders alike.

Can’t make it in during the winter then explore the mountains in the summer. Lake Tahoe offers a crystal clear lake for water sports, yoga retreats and the epic hiking trails, the Tahoe Rim Trail and part of the Pacific Coast Trail.

Colorado

The Mountains, real mountains, are best appreciated in the western U.S. Colorado tops the continent with over 50 peaks over 14,000 feet.

Climbing a Fourteener might be more than your kids can conquer. Though Colorado offers an array of outdoor sports for families, like hiking, mountain biking, river rafts and hot springs. The mild summer temperatures offer a respite when most of the U.S. is sweating through their shirts.


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This post contains affiliate links.

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20+ Places to Discover in San Diego with Kids

Cabrillo National Monument. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Learn about the explorer Cabrillo and when he landed in San Diego. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to go in San Diego with Kids

San Diego offers families lots of family fun with beaches, parks and museums to discover in Southern California. I’ve pulled together a list 20+ places of where to go in San Diego with kids.

Cabrillo National Monument
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Whale Overlook
Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools
Balboa Park
San Diego Museum of Man
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Natural History Museum 
Japanese Friendship Garden
Botanical Building
Balboa Park Carousel
Balboa Park Miniature Train
Belmont Park
San Diego Zoo
Mission Beach
Coronado Beach
Silver Strand State Beach
USS Midway Museum
Embracing Peace Statue
Waterfront Park
Gaslamp Quarter
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
San Diego Santa Fe Depot
Cabrillo National Monument. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Earn a Junior Ranger Badge while visiting Cabrillo National Monument. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Cabrillo National Monument

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr.

Learn about Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to land on the West Coast in 1542. Walk through the Age of Exploration display to learn about the journey. Don’t miss the statue of Juan Cabrillo outside and earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse. Where to go in San Diego with Kids.
Old Point Loma Lighthouse teaches families about the importance of West Coast Lights. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

While at Cabrillo stop by the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, restored to its 1880s appearance. Learn the role of lighthouses along the West Coast. Walk through the house too see the life of the Light Keepers and their families.

Next head to the Whale Overlook to savor the view. Or scan the Pacific for whales during their winter migration.

Tide Pools. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Walk around the tide pools at Cabrillo National Monument with the kids. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools

Bring the water shoes and look up the low tide time. Cabrillo is one of the top places to tide pool in San Diego.

The tide pool area closes at 4:30 p.m. Limited parking at the tide pool and it closes periodically during weekends when the lot is full.

Since Cabrillo National Monument doesn’t sell food, pack a picnic to enjoy overlooking to the water.

Cabrillo National Monument is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $15 per vehicle or use an annual pass.

Visit Balboa Park. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Enjoy a day at Balboa Park with lots of museums for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Plan a Balboa Park Day

Load up the kids and head to Balboa Park in Central San Diego. With 1,200 acres to explore it’s the home to San Diego’s cultural and recreational family fun.

With 16 different museums, 17 different gardens along with the San Diego Zoo and the Balboa Park carousel and miniature train, you could spend a week exploring. So hit the highlights according to your family’s interests. 

Play in Balboa Park. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Take a moment and climb on the play sculptures in Balboa Park. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Top Museums for Families

  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Natural History Museum 

Top Gardens to Explore

  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Botanical Building
  • Moreton Bay Fig

Family Fun

  • Balboa Park Carousel
  • Balboa Park Miniature Train
  • San Diego Zoo

Free Parking available though arrive early in the day for the best selection.

Don’t forget the San Diego Zoo.

San Antonio Zoo. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Known as a premier zoo in the U.S. it’s a must for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

San Diego Zoo

2920 Zoo Dr.

Tour the zoo that pioneered the open air habitats with a collection of 3,700 rare and endangered specimens of over 600 different species of animals. Start with the 35-minute guided bus tour, then walk around the 100-acre facility.

See the Giant Panda, the Koalas and the Tasmanian Devil during your visit. Take a ride on the Skyfari Gondola for amazing views above the zoo.

Explore San Diego with your family with 20+ places to discover all the best food, parks, museums and more. Use this guide to plan your next getaway.

San Diego Beaches

I love the San Diego beaches for family fun. Find several wide beaches perfect for families to park a beach chair and umbrella for the day. Or experience a California classic and enjoy an amusement park steps from the sand.

Belmont Park. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
An amusement park next to the beach is where your kids want to go in San Diego. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Belmont Park

3146 Mission Blvd.

With free parking and free admission, spend at least an hour walking through the retro amusement park and arcade. It’s got all the standards, pulled salt water taffy, a roller coaster, shooting arcade along with carnival eats.

Mission Beach

Mission Blvd and Venture Place

The quintessential SoCal beach experience. Rent an umbrella, a beach chair or a cruiser and watch the sun crawl to the horizon.

S'mores on the beach. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Visit Coronado Beach and arrange for Hotel del Coronado to make s’mores on the beach. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Coronado Beach

919 Ocean Blvd.

In the shadow of the Hotel del Coronado, the wide beach is open to all, not just hotel guests. Let the kids chase waves, fly a kite or arrange a special treat. Hotel del Coronado will arrange s’mores at the beach for your family.

Silver Strand State Beach. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Explore Silver Strand State Beach on Coronado Island. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Silver Strand State Beach

5000 Highway 75

With access to the Pacific Ocean along with the San Diego Bay via pedestrian tunnels, get the best of both. Along with tradition beach fun, Silver Strand State Beach offers a seasonal café and ranger programs.

In collaboration with the Coronado Surfing Academy, arrange a surfing lesson for the kids or even yourself.

Downtown San Diego with Kids 

If you staying on Coronado Island, take the Coronado Ferry to Broadway Pier and explore Downtown San Diego on foot.

USS Midway Museum

910 N. Harbor Dr.

Tour the longest serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Explore the decks and see several different types of aircraft, many that were manufactured in California.

Embracing Peace. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Walk by the Embracing Peace statue next to the USS Midway. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Embracing Peace Statue 

55 Tuna Lane

Next to the USS Midway, find the Embracing Peace statue.

Waterfront Park

1600 Pacific Highway

As you explore the waterfront give the kids a few minutes to run off some energy. At the Waterfront Park find a complex that blends playgrounds, splash pads and grassy areas.

Gaslamp Quarter

Though known for its nightlife, the Gaslamp offers families a solid choice for restaurants. Walk though the district and peruse the menus posted outside each restaurant to find a perfect place for the family.

Old Town San Diego. where to go in San Diego with kids.
Old Town San Diego blends history and fun in the busiest state park in California. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

4002 Wallace St.

Walk through San Diego’s history from the 1820s to the 1870s with original abodes and living history demonstrations. After learing some history, find a place to eat as restaurants flank this popular area.

The Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is the most visited state park in California.

San Diego Santa Fe Depot. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Walk through downtown San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

San Diego Santa Fe Depot

1050 Kettner Blvd.

Walk through the San Diego Santa Fe Depot regardless of how you arrived. Built in 1887 the Spanish Colonial Revival style depot features rich details, including the tile work.

The building also houses the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

Old Trolley Tour. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Kids will love the Old Trolleys to get around with hop-on and hop-off convenience for adults. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

How to Get Around SoCal and San Diego

Old Town Trolley—Use this hop-on, hop-off trolley to get around for a day packed with attractions. With stops like Old Town Market and the Gaslamp Quarter, leave the car at home or your hotel and use the trolley to navigate San Diego. Tickets required.

Coronado Ferry. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
The Coronado Ferry doubles as a scenic cruise. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Coronado Ferry—Take the 15-minute ride across the San Diego Bay from Coronado to the Broadway Pier. At $4.75 each way, it’s a relaxing alternative to crossing the Coronado Bridge.

Amtrak Train—If you’re traveling from Los Angeles or further north, consider Amtrak. I’ve traveled on the Pacific Surfliner that serves San Diego.

Where to Eat around San Diego

Loma Bonita. Where to go in San Diego with Kids.
Share a plate of tacos at Loma Bonita. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Loma Bonita—near Cabrillo National Monument

1155 Scott St.

A funky place for tacos with outdoor seating. Authentic SoCal Mexican food that attracts a local crowd.

Casa Guadalajara. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
With an outdoor patio and festive plates of Mexican food, Casa Guadalajara is family friendly. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Casa Guadalajara—In Old Town

4105 Taylor St.

After exploring Old Town, step into a brightly decorated patio for a combo plate of Mexican standards. Great option for families with kid-pleasing tacos and margaritas for Mom and Dad.

Carnitas Snack Shack. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Grab a pork carnita taco and sit overlooking the San Diego Bay for a perfect evening. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Carnita’s Snack Shack—next to the Broadway Pier

1004 N. Harbor Dr.

Steps from the Coronado Ferry, take a minute and chomp on some pork. Grab a table and let the kids run around while Mom and Dad grab drink from the bar.

Have crepes. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Sample savory and sweet crepes at Chocolat Creamerie in the Gaslight Quarter. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Chocolat Creamerie—in the Gaslamp Quarter

509 Fifth Ave. 

A one stop for European indulgences, like gelato, espresso and crepes, both savory and sweet. It offers a few tables outside and more inside, tops for people watching at night.

Beach House Grill—next to Belmont Park

3125 Ocean Front Walk.

For solid beach eats with an extensive bar list with local craft beers and tropical cocktails dine at the Beach House Grill. The outdoor seating is worth the wait.

Goerge's at the Cove. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Ditch the kids and have a date night at George’s at the Cove in La Jolla. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Georges at the Cove—in La Jolla

1250 Prospect St. La Jolla

Where the entrees compete against the sunset for attention. Featuring inventive Californian Modern cuisine with deconstructed fish tacos, featuring yellow fin tuna and local avocado. Grab a sitter, Georges is a date night must.

Places to Stay with Kids

How to enjoy the hotel del Coronado for kids, S'mores for Luxe Moms, Things to do in Coronado with kids,
The legendary Hotel del Coronado offers exceptional service to its overnight guests. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Hotel del Coronado

1500 Orange Ave.

As the beloved icon of Coronado Island, this Victorian red-roofed resort boasts century-old charm that meshes modern day luxury. Enjoy the best beach on Coronado with a book in a lounger or a bucket and a kite.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort. Where to go in San Diego with kids.
Kids will enjoy the resort style pool and easy access to Silver Strand Beach. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

4000 Loews Coronado Bay Road

Located 15 miles from the San Diego International Airport on Coronado Island, the Loews Coronado Bay Resort sits on a 15-acre peninsula. The resort is surrounded by the San Diego Bay and the Silver Strand State Beach is across the street.

With a resort style pool and a kids club, families love this resort. Shuttle service to the beach or downtown Coronado available.

Kona Kai Resort. where to go in San Diego with kids.
Kona Kai Resort offers another family friendly resort. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Kona Kai Resort

1551 Shelter Island Dr.

Enjoy the secluded location at the tip of Shelter Island though 15 minutes from the Downtown or the airport. With a private beach and resort style pool, kids can enjoy the best of both. Since the beach overlooks the marina, no water play at the beach.

Need More Info?


Disclosure: 

Consideration for brands mentioned. This post contains affiliate ads.

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Find a New Love at the DFW Auto Show

DFW Auto Show
Find a new car crush at the DFW Auto Show this year. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Cupid’s arrow pointed me to the DFW Auto Show to find a new love for 2018. Spend Valentine’s Weekend finding a new car crush.

Browse  half-million square feet of new cars, trucks and SUVs. Talk with the manufacturer’s representatives, slide behind the driver’s seat or take one out for a spin at the DFW Auto Show Ride and Drive Event.

DFW Auto Show Details

DFW Auto Show
Kay Baily Hutchison Convention Center
650 S. Griffin

Dates

Wednesday through Sunday, February 14  to 18, 2018

Times

Wednesday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Thursday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Ticket Prices

  • $14 for adults
  • $7 for senior citizens 65 and older
  • $7 for children 6 to 12 years old; children 5 and under admitted free
  • $10 for active and retired Military members (ID is required)

Getting to the Show

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center is located at 650 S. Griffin in downtown Dallas. Parking is available in the Convention Center parking garage ($15) and surrounding lots. Please note that C Hall Parking Lot between Griffin and Lamar will be closed for the Ride & Drive event.

Parking Reservations

The DFW Auto Show has partnered with Spot Hero, the nationwide leader in online parking reservations, to allow visitors to purchase guaranteed parking at many convenient locations near the convention center for the DFW Auto Show.

Once purchased, parking passes are emailed instantly and guarantee you access to your selected location. Parking is very limited and locations fill up, so we strongly recommend that you reserve your 100% guaranteed parking space now.

Get Free Tickets to the DFW Auto Show

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DFW Auto Show
Take a spin at the DFW Drive or Ride Event. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

DFW Auto Show Ride and Drive Event

Take a car out for a spin. It’s my favorite part of attending an Auto Show.

This year the DFW Auto Show offers the following manufacturers.

Toyota

Mazda

Kia

Ford

Nissan

FCA–Fiat, Chrysler, Ram

Honda

Acura

Chevy

DFW Auto Show
See the Redesigned 2018 Toyota Camry at the DFW Auto Show. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

DFW Auto Show VIP Experience

Ticket price: $50

Limited to the first 100 guests. VIP Experience tickets may be purchased online only. Tickets only may be used on the day for which they are purchased.  Saturday or Sunday admission only.

  • Enter early to the Show on Saturday, February 17 or Sunday, February 18, at 9 a.m.
  • Guided Tour*
  • Photo behind the wheel of a featured high-end vehicle. Guests must use their own cameras.*
  • DFW Auto Show Swag Bag
  • VIP Experience Badge

*Please note that the guided tour will begin at 9 a.m. sharp. Photos may only be taken behind the wheel of the featured high-end vehicle from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. for the day you purchase your ticket(s).

Why attend an Auto Show

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, the local Auto Show should be your first stop. And here’s why:

  • Get an overview what’s the new in the industry-from safety to style.
  • Shop brands efficiently and effectively without the pressure of sales people.
  • Have some fun. I test drove a stick shift convertible just because.
  • Sit in all types of vehicles. Try on that convertible, slide into the luxury SUV.
  • Find a new car crush. A totally out-of-your-league dream. That’s until you win the lotto the same day as the kids get full-ride scholarships.

What’s New at Toyota

While I’m exploring the DFW Auto Show Toyota will find its way to the top of my must see list. Since I’ve driven a Toyota for over 20 years, it’s proven its value and reliability to me.

Toyota have roots in Texas. With a new Toyota headquarters in Dallas/Fort Worth, the design team isn’t far from one of its assembly plants. Toyota trucks are manufactured just south of San Antonio.

DFW Auto show
With a redesign for 2018, the best selling Toyota Camry offers aggressive styling. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Redesigned Toyota Camry

Not ever family needs an SUV some desire the efficiency and style of a sedan. Toyota Camry offers a total redesign for 2018, including its hybrid model.

  • Best-Selling Car in America for the last 16 years
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense-P
  • New Emotionally-Charged Design and Performance Experience
  • Aggressive Exterior Character Lines and Low Center of Gravity
DFW Auto Show
The All New 2018 Toyota CHR offers a new generation of functionality. Courtesy Photo

The All New 2018 C-HR

As a new crossover to the Toyota line-up, the C-HR offers a more compact option to the popular Rav4 and Highlander crossovers.

  • Bold Style Signals New Direction in Toyota Design
  • Sharp Handling
  • Includes Two Toyota-First Features: Driver Distraction Secure Audio and Brake Hold Function
  • Only Vehicle in Its Segment with Standard Pre-Collision System with Active Braking
  • Standard 18-in. Alloy Wheels, Dual-Zone Climate Control, Bucket Seating and 7-in. Audio Display

Disclosure:

This post was sponsored by Toyota and the DFW Auto Show.

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12 Places to Explore in the Grand Canyon with Kids

What to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.
Add Grand Canyon to your bucket list, as a top destination in the US see visitors from around the world. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

One of the top destinations in the U.S., the Grand Canyon should be on your road trip itinerary through the Desert Southwest. Mingle with visitors from around the globe as all stand on the edge of this majestic landscape. Load up the family and see what to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.

What To Do on Your First Trip to the Grand Canyon

  • Stop by the Grand Canyon Visitors Center
  • Grab a Junior Ranger Booklet for Kids
  • Watch the Grand Canyon movie at the Visitor Center
  • Walk along the Rim Trail
  • Or rent bikes to explore
  • See sunset or sunrise at Yaki or Mather Point
  • Tour the Historic Grand Canyon Village
  • Walk through El Tovar Hotel
  • Shop for crafts at the Hopi House
  • Walk through Kolb Studio
  • Look over the Grand Canyon edge’s at the Lookout Studio
  • Find the Bright Angel Trailhead, it heads to the bottom of the canyon

Around the Grand Canyon Visitors Center

Hike the rim Trail. What to do at Grand Canyon with kids.
Take a hike along the Rim Trail for epic vistas of the Grand Canyon. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

When you have just a few hours to explore, park near the Grand Canyon Visitors Center (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). After grabbing the Junior Ranger booklets for the kids, watch the Grand Canyon introductory movie. Take a moment to look over the Junior Ranger booklet to see what’s required to earn a patch.

After exploring the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, walk outside and head to the edge of the Grand Canyon. This where to pick up the Rim Trail to Mather Point, both must-dos.

Kids want tour the Grand Canyon on a bike? Rent bikes next to the Visitor Center, all bike sizes and helmets are available. Pack a cooler and picnic. I found several picnic tables throughout the Mather Point area.

Pack a picnic. Where to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.
Be prepared and pack a picnic along the rim near Mather Point. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Grand Canyon National Park offers amazing sunsets, or sunrises for the early risers. The best spot to witness a symphony of nature, stop at Yaki or Mather Point. I’ve seen visitors moved to tears at the beauty of this experience.

If time allows, tour the Historic Grand Canyon Village. Save time and take the shuttle bus or walk along the Rim Trail.

Historic Grand Canyon Village 

Load up the station wagon and relive a episode of "Brady Brunch", almost no one is getting lost! There's the 12 places your family needs to see when explore the Grand Canyon's South Rim.

Take a walking tour of the Historic Grand Canyon Village. Check in at Verkamp’s Visitor Center if you missed the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Stop by the Log Train Depot to see how visitors visited the Grand Canyon 100 years ago and still do. The Grand Canyon Railroad (GCRR) offers daily departures from Williams, Arizona, along Interstate 40.

Walk up the stairs to El Tovar and see the rustic elegance of historic landmark. If the kids are up for it, take a walk through the lobby or sit in the rocking chairs on the front porch.

Walk through the Hopi House, a building that resembles a traditional Hopi structure. Designed by Mary Colter, buy traditional arts-and-crafts from the Hopi People inside.

Explore Grand Canyon in winter with your family. What to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.
With a blanket of snow, the Kolb Studio along the south rim glistens in the morning sun.

The Lookout Studio is made of rock and Colter designed it to blend in with the environment. The Kolb Studio used to be a photography studio. Both studios offer unique vantage points for looking over the rim.

The Bright Angel Lodge features brightly painted details and walk through the lobby to appreciate. Inside find the Geologic Fireplace that displays the layers of rock as they are found in the Grand Canyon.

Pass the Kolb Studio to find the Bright Angel Trailhead. A well-maintained trail the famous mule train uses to get to Phantom Ranch on the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Take a hike. What to do at Grand Canyon with kids.
When my son was 12, he hiked to Plateau Point along the Bright Angel Trail with Park Rangers as a part of the Leave No Trace camp for kids. Courtesy Photo

Not a day hike for most families since it’s 12 miles roundtrip to Plateau Point or 9 miles roundtrip to Indian Garden. Though hike to the first tunnel is .36 miles roundtrip or the first switchback that’s .9 miles roundtrip.

TIP: Wear appropriate clothes and shoes then pack water and snacks no matter how the length of the hike.

Other Places to Explore

Visit Desert View Watchtower. What to do at the Grand Canyon with Kids.
Head towards the eastern entrance to explore the Desert View Watchtower to see Mary Colter’s architectural masterpiece. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Desert View Watchtower

Each time I visit the Grand Canyon with my family, I see a new feature of the canyon, a new viewpoint. During my last trip, I explored the Desert View area and climbed Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower, her Grand Canyon masterpiece.

Looking through the tiny square windows that dot the exterior, I saw the Colorado River at the bottom, a ribbon of green water. I envision that Colter framed each view to enjoy, like a painting.

When I emerged from the tower, I took a moment and absorb the surroundings. To my delight, I smelled the desert perfume of pinyon pine and sage after an afternoon rain.

Phantom Ranch

A mule trip to the bottom of Grand Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, taking about five hours each way. Lodging and meals can be reserved at the Phantom Ranch and reservations are required.

Market Plaza

The Market Plaza features a general store, ATM, post office, amphitheater, laundry and pay showers.

Yavapai Lodge and Mather campground are located near the Market Plaza. Find the camper services in the Market Plaza too.

What to do at the Grand Canyon with Kids

The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the patches that the Park Rangers present them after completing their booklet.

The Grand Canyon Junior Ranger Program hands out a booklet specially designed for each age group. To earn the Junior Ranger badge, families are required to attend a Ranger Program and I found a program list at the visitors centers.

Hike along the Rim Trail. What to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.
A hike along the rim is a must for kids at the Grand Canyon. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Raven Award–kids aged 4 to 7, though I’ve been helping my youngest since he was 3

Coyote Award–kids 8 to 10

Scorpion Award–kids 11 and older

For night owls, the Grand Canyon offers the Night Explorer Junior Ranger Patch for kids who attend a special Night Skies Ranger Program and complete the booklet that’s available at visitor centers.

If a trip to the bottom of the canyon is in your itinerary, a special Junior Ranger Program, Phantom Rattler Junior Ranger Patch, is awarded at Phantom Ranch, a 10-mile journey, one-way.

Grand Canyon National Park History

The first human artifacts found in Grand Canyon National Park date back 12,000 years. Though the Colorado River started carving the Grand Canyon long before that. To date, it measures 18 miles wide, one-mile deep and 277 river miles long.

First protected in 1893 the Grand Canyon was proclaimed a national park in 1919. The Fred Harvey Company, a NPS concessionaire, defined the look of this park, along with others in the area.

Explore Grand Canyon in winter with your family.
The premier hotel along the south rim, The El Tovar Hotel offers antiques individually decorated accommodations. Photo Credit: National Park Service

One of the most notable buildings is the El Tovar Hotel (1905). Built with local limestone and Oregon timber giving the hotel a rustic elegance. As I walked through the doorway, my eyes glanced up to the rough-hewn logs that surround me in the lobby. I can only imagine the relief of a well-heeled, dusty traveler would have felt finding this oasis of luxury in a land of harsh extremes a century ago

Mary Colter, the head architect at the Fred Harvey Co., designed buildings that blended seamlessly into the environment by using local materials and motifs of the Southwest. She designed the Bright Angel Lodge, the Phantom Ranch, the Hopi House, Hermits Rest and Desert View Watchtower, all registered National Historic Landmarks.

The Civilian Conservation Corps worked in the Grand Canyon during the 1930s to make it more hospitable to visitors. They worked on improving the Rim Trail and the trails to the bottom of the canyon.

Spending the Night at the Grand Canyon

Explore Grand Canyon in winter with your family. What to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.
The original Bright Angel cabins offer a cozy nights sleep along the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

If you are spending the night, park your car near your lodge and use the shuttle bus to get around. Since the majority of the lodging is located around the Historic Village, check in at Verkamp’s Visitor Center (open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

For our adventure at the Grand Canyon, I choose the Bright Angel Lodge (1935) located steps from the El Tovar on the south rim. A historic property that’s the perfect backdrop for my kids to conjure up a western adventure.

From the brightly painted, hand-carved doors of the lodge to the log and stone cabins sprinkled along the rim, the kids love rambling through this property. In the Bright Angel History Room, I find the Geologic Fireplace to show the kids the rock layers of the Grand Canyon as they are found on the canyon wall.

Explore Grand Canyon in winter with your family.
The interior of the Bright Angel cabin offers updated bathrooms and in-room coffee along with vintage touches. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The cabins feature modern bathrooms and furnishings though it’s a tight fit for most families. Most Bright Angel cabins have one queen bed with room for a pack-n-pack or rollaway. At the Bright Angel Lodge, we enjoy breakfast featuring Southwest-inspired items along with traditional items and kids’ menu.

El Tovar Hotel is the premier historic property on the South Rim. Each room or suite is individually decorated, a great choice for adults.

One day I hope to take the famous mule train to the Phantom Ranch (1922) on the Grand Canyon floor. For this once-in-a-lifetime adventure, the trip takes about five hours each way. Lodging and meals are provided and reservations are required.

Or stay at one of the four modern lodges built in the 1960s. The Kachina Lodge and the Thunderbird Lodge are on the rim. The Maswik Lodge and the Yavapai Lodge are not. A good option for families who need more space.

Where’s the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is divided by the North Rim (open seasonally) and the South Rim. I’ve visited both and recommend the South Rim for your first visit.

The Grand Canyon South Rim is located 59 miles north of Williams, on Highway 64. The South Entrance is the most popular gateway taking visitors through Tusayan, a tourist town full of food and lodging.

What to do at the Grand Canyon with kids.
Like a western landscape painting, the Grand Canyon is more impressive in person. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

For the East Entrance, drive north from Flagstaff on U.S. Route 89 to Highway 64. This route is a great alternative to the South Entrance and provides a scenic drive along the rim from Desert View Watchtower to the Grand Canyon Village.

Make it a National Park Vacation. Grand Canyon National Park is 250 miles from Zion National Park, 280 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park and 200 miles from Petrified Forest National Park.

Williams (WMA) is an Amtrak destination and a stop for a regional bus service. The closest airport with commercial flights is Flagstaff, Arizona (FLG), 80 miles away.

For a unique experience, visitors can take a historic train into the park with the Grand Canyon Railroad (GCRR). The GCRR offers daily departures from Williams, with several packages. You arrive at the historic Grand Canyon Train Depot, located across from the El Tovar Hotel. The Grand Canyon Train Depot is a log building train station, the only one in the U.S. still in operation.

Getting Around Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park remains open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. Admission is $30 per vehicle for a 7-day pass or you can use an America the Beautiful annual pass or other park pass ($80).

I found the most parking at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Depending on the season, Grand Canyon runs several free shuttle buses that run along the south rim. Please check with GCNP for all current routes and times.

Need More Information

I own several National Park Guides. I use a combination of Moon Travel Guides and National Geographic Maps. Both offer more information if you need plan an extended trip. Or course, the National Park Service website is another source of information, especially for current conditions and closures.

Visiting during the Winter so have I.



Know Before You Go

  • Make reservations for lodging and tours as soon as possible. Lodging reservations can be made 13 months in advance.
  • The cabins are cozy in the winter though they don’t feature air conditioning for summer guests.
  • The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed from October 15 to May 15 due to seasonal road closures.
  • Be prepared for winter weather including several inches of snow.
  • The roads in Grand Canyon National Park are not plowed as frequently as the highway leading into the park.
  • There are year-round campgrounds for those prepared for winter camping and a full-service RV park.
  • I found restaurants at El Tovar Hotel and Bright Angel Lodge. Or try the snack bars at Maswik Lodge, Desert View and Hermits Rest.
  • For the Phantom Ranch Mule ride, riders must be 4’7” and weigh less than 200 lbs.

Disclosure

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the Carful Of Kids website.

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11 Must Dos in Santa Barbara with Kids

Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara
The view of Santa Barbara from its courthouse is not to be missed. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Pack up the family and explore Santa Barbara for your next weekend getaway. The kids would love to hop aboard an Amtrak train for a stress-free way to arrive from Los Angeles. Or make it a longer trip and discover the Danish hamlet, Solvang, just a few miles away. Regardless how much time you spend, here’s where to go with kids in Santa Barbara.

Where to Go with Kids in Santa Barbara 

City Tour with Santa Barbara Trolley Company

Stearns Wharf

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara County Courthouse and Sunken Gardens

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Santa Barbara Zoo

Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market

Moxi—The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

Chase Palm Park Carousel

Beach

Funk Zone

Santa Barbara Trolley Company City Tour

During my visit, I walked from my hotel, Hotel Santa Barbara, located along State Street to the Santa Barbara Visitors Center. Located at 1 Garden Street at Cabrillo Street, it’s the main trolley stop for the Santa Barbara Trolley Company.

Since the tickets are good for two days, I used it to get around. Or you can just see Santa Barbara’s highlights on the standard 90-minute tour. Best of all, friendly and knowledgeable drivers shared all the local’s places.

Sterns Wharf. Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara.
Since Santa Barbara faces the south, the sun sets behind the mountains. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Stearns Wharf

On a local’s tip, I headed to Stearns Wharf in the late afternoon. In 1929 when it was built, it was the longest deep water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Now home to souvenir shops and ice cream cones, visitors are surprised to see the sun set behind the mountains instead of over the water. Remember Santa Barbara’s beach faces south.

Stearns Wharf is located at the intersection of State St. and Cabrillo Blvd. Free

Old Mission Santa Barbara. Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara.
Set atop a hill the Old Mission Santa Barbara offers ocean views and a lesson in early California history. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Old Mission Santa Barbara

Originally built in 1786 by the Spanish, Old Mission Santa Barbara is commonly called the Queen of the Missions. With views in all directions, including the Pacific Ocean, it’s a must for architecture and history buffs.

The Spanish Mission architecture along with the art are tops. The self-guided tour walks through the courtyard that features a lush garden.

Santa Barbara Mission is located at 2201 Laguna St. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Admission.

Santa Barbara County courthouse. Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara
More than a courthouse, tour the Santa Barbara Courthouse for amazing views along and to see the murals.

Santa Barbara County Courthouse and Sunken Gardens

When my trolley driver told me I should check out the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, I thought he was kidding. But to my surprise one of the best views in the city is from its clock tower.

To add to my delight, the Spanish Mission style building offered a richly painted court room as well, a must for architecture nuts like myself. If traveling with kids, head to the top of the clock tower and skip the interiors.

The Santa Barbara County Courthouse is located at 1100 Anacapa St. Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free

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Santa Barbara Museum of Art

What a surprise when I walked up the steps of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Inside the regal building I found a well-curated collection. It even offered some big city surprises, like Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Located at 1130 State St. the Santa Barbara Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission, though Thursdays offer free admission from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Santa Barbara Zoo

Take the kids to the Santa Barbara Zoo to explore a smaller zoo with 146 species with a total of 500 animals in open naturalistic habitats. Don’t miss the zoo train that circles the perimeter.

Located at 500 Ninos Dr. The Santa Barbara Zoo is open every day from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Admission and train ticket extra.

Santa Barbara Farmers Market. Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara.
Walk through the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market to see the bounty of the region. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market

As one of Santa Barbara’s major roads, State Street, offers visitors wide sidewalks shaded in trees and flanked with flower beds. Walking up and down State Street is pleasant year-round.

Though bustling with shops and restaurants, State Street closes to vehicular traffic one day a week for the popular Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market. On State Street vendors sell everything from hand-tied bouquets to organic produce.

The Moxi. Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara.
A visit to the Moxi is a must for families. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Moxi—The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation 

The Moxi offers a place for families to learn and discover while exploring. Since it’s opening in early 2017, the Moxi is the Santa Barbara destination for families.

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., admission based on age. The Moxi is located at 125 State St.

Chase Palm Carousel. Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara.
Take a ride around the Chase Palm Carousel with views of the beach. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Chase Palm Park Carousel

Located across from the Santa Barbara’s Visitor Center, I found the Chase Palm Park Carousel. As a lover of carousels, I hopped on a hand-carved horse. Built by the Allan Herschell Company in 1916, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places and operated in Santa Barbara since 1999.

The carousel is located at 323 E Cabrillo Blvd. in the Chase Palm Park. Admission charged.

Explore Santa Barbara with your kids. With amazing year-round weather, no reason to wait. Got 11 places to explore, perfect for families and as a bonus you can take the train to get to Santa Barbara. All the details for your next getaway.

Santa Barbara Beaches

California beaches offers some of the U.S. top beaches though notoriously don’t offer much parking. I recommend West Beach or East Beach since both are on either side of Stearn’s Wharf along Cabrillo St.

Funk Zone

Steps from the beach, Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone offers visitors a chunk of the Urban Wine Trail. A self-guided tasting room tour features wine from across the region. Shop vintage shops along with art galleries in Maker’s Mecca of Santa Barbara.

Where to Stay

Hotel Santa Barbara
Centrally located the Hotel Santa Barbara is steps away from all the sites. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

During my visit I stayed at the Hotel Santa Barbara. A historic property with cozy rooms and I loved the mix of traditional interiors with modern touches.

Built after the devastating earthquake, Hotel Santa Barbara opened its doors in 1926. Almost immediately, Hollywood’s stars, like Clark Gable, walked through the lobby doors. To this day, Hotel Santa Barbara hosts stars and movie makers as the official hospitality hub for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

After an extensive renovation, Hotel Santa Barbara offers its guests all the rich details of a historic property. In addition, I found all the modern conveniences that travelers need. As a train traveler, this is where to stay in Santa Barbara without a car.

Where to Eat

Eat at Enterprise Seafood Company. Where to go with kids in Santa Barbara.
For dinner I sampled the best at Enterprise Seafood Company, like the Ahi Tuna and the lobster bisque. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Since it’s located in the center of downtown Santa Barbara, I walked to dinner. Since 1977, Enterprise Fish Company offers a casual nautical-themed dining room serving sustainably sourced seafood.

I recommend the Lobster Bisque. With a combination of heavy cream, butter, lobster and flaky pastry, it’s heaven in a spoon. The Blackened Ahi Sashimi Tuna is another stand-out.

Enterprise Fish Company is located at 225 State St, next to the train station. Open seven days a week from lunch to dinner.

Where to Relax

Float Spa Santa Barbara.
Take a moment to float away from your stress with a spa treatment. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Getting away with a spa treatment tops my list for vacation musts. During my visit to Santa Barbara I enjoyed a massage at Float Luxury Spa, in the heart of Santa Barbara.

Float Luxury Spa features individual treatment rooms and several areas for longing before and after services. I enjoyed the outdoor courtyard with a fountain and loungers during my visit. Additionally, I used the locker room outfitted with a shower and complimentary toiletries.

Located at 18 E. Canon Perdido St. and steps from State Street, Float Luxury Spa is open everyday.

How to Get to Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Car Free

I arrived at the 1902 Santa Barbara Train Station after a spectacular train ride abroad Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. One of the best scenic routes in North America, I rolled through untouched coastal scenery.

The train offers a moment to shine when I got a glimpse of the vintage 1950s parlor car. Featuring wood-grain interiors, the parlor car reminds me of a glamorous hotel bar where women wore gloves and hats while men smoked cigars.

Even the train station offers a destination, as an example of Mission Revival architecture. The Santa Barbara Train Station underwent a complete restoration in 2000. It’s listed on the National Historic List of Historic Places. Walk through the waiting room even if you arrived to Santa Barbara via U.S. 101 or the airport.

Disclosure

Consideration for brands mentioned.

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See Why a Former Flight Attendant Likes the Ricardo Roxbury 2.0

roxbury 2.0 luggage review
Take the Ricardo Elite Roxbury 2.0 for a spin. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Time flies and so do I. As a former flight attendant, I know luggage and I’m not easy to impress. So I’m here to pass on my opinions of my 21-inch Ricardo Roxbury 2.0 luggage review.

What I love about the Roxbury 2.0

  • Heavy Duty Zippers
  • Durable Polycarbonate Exterior
  • 4 Wheels

What I wanted from the Roxbury 2.0

  • Nothing, it’s a keeper

Ricardo Roxbury 2.0 Luggage Review

I’ll admit I was a skeptic with the Built-in Suiter, the compartment that eliminates the need for a garment bag for short trips. I read the directions included inside my bag and loaded it up.

I packed one dress, one dress shirt and two blazers. Then left all of it in my luggage until right before my event, eight hours later. Pleased to report, no wrinkle issues.

roxbury 2.0 luggage review
The Roxbury 2.0 features a built-in TSA compliant lock, four wheels and a polycarbonate exterior. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

I like and use the built-in adjustable tie-down straps. It keeps my clothes and cubes in place.

The heavy-duty zippers are a selling point with me. Along with the expander zipper that allows for extra room in a pinch. Though the Roxbury isn’t carry on compliant with the expander zipper unzipped. It’s too wide for the overhead compartments in the aircraft.

I use Eagle Creek’s Packing Cubes to keep my luggage organized. I pack up one with underwear and a nightie and another one with socks. Then when my luggage gets searched I don’t feel my underwear is on display.

I appreciate the built-in mesh organizing pockets. Then I can stow small accessories and stay organized. Especially helpful when I am repacking before leaving my room in the morning.

Looking for a roll aboard for your next getaway. See what a flight attendant has to say about the Ricardo Elite Roxbury 2.0 after owning and using two for over two years.

My Relationship with Ricardo

I received a 19-inch Ricardo Roxbury 2.0 with the Foldout Mobile Office in 2016, read the review. I used the heck out of that piece of luggage.

My thoughts, the mobile office was unused space. While I liked the idea of stashing my laptop in there, I just didn’t.

roxbury 2.0 luggage review
Packed with clothes for a quick trip for work. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Since then, I purchased a set of Ricardo Carillon in silver with a 21-inch roll aboard and a 28-inch checked piece. The larger piece was for an international trip to Jordan. Then I used it on a 14-day cruise.

Though the Carillon lacks the features I love in the Roxbury, like the add-a-bag strap and built-in TSA compliant lock. It keeps the clothes safe with its hard sides. Though I had an issue with it the bottom of the 28-inch dragging on the streets of New York City.

Note: The Carillon only carries a three-year warranty.

Ricardo Roxbury luggage includes a 10-year limited lifetime warranty.

How I travel

I travel a lot and have for years. Spending at least a three months away from my home a year, I use my luggage extensively.

My luggage might be rolled aboard a cruise ship. Drug through a camp site. And frequently checked by me or at the gate.

I’ve tried several brands throughout the years. When I was a flight attendant, my airline issued TravelPro to crew members. Which mostly held up to the crew member abuse. Then I tried some of other major brands and didn’t rebuy. Ricardo is now my go-to supplier for luggage.

Items I recommend



Disclosure

I received this suitcase from Ricardo for review purposes. Though I have purchased Ricardo luggage for my personal use in the last two years. This post contains affiliate links.

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The Ultimate List of Fun Danish Style in Solvang California

What to do in Solvang with kids.
Escape to a Danish hamlet in Central California, a train ride from LA. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Hop abroad Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train for a Royal European vacation a train ride away from Southern California in the Santa Ynez Valley. Minutes from the Pacific Ocean, I found traditional foods and festivals, paired with the best of the Central California wine region. Enjoy a world away from the constant brake lights of LA in this quiet Danish hamlet.

Explore a Danish Village in California

In 1911, a group of Danes living in the Midwest wanted to move away the brutal winters. After purchasing 9,000 acres from the Old Mission Santa Inez, they established a Danish village in Central California.

It all started with farming and traditional farm-style buildings, like the old country. For 40 years they quietly lived until a reporter from the Saturday Evening Post discovered the Danish hamlet in 1947. Soon Solvang, Danish for “sunny field”, enticed travelers from Los Angeles and beyond.

What to do in Solvang with Kids

Solvang offers a vibrant community steeped in the Danish culture with royal ties to Denmark. With festivals celebrating their Danish roots, girls wearing red pinafores dance merrily in their clogs to folk music.

During my visit, I found some of Copenhagen’s most famous landmarks scattered throughout Solvang. Like the 1/3 replica of the famous Rundetaarn, or round tower, originally built in the 17th century for astronomy by Christian IV.

See the Rundetaarn in Solvang. What to do in Solvang with kids.
A replica of the Rundetaarn in Copenhagen anchors the middle of Solvang. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Then located on the main throughfare, I found the Little Mermaid. Not the cartoon character, but a replica of Denmark’s national symbol. The original sits along the water in Copenhagen.

As the Danish Capital of America, the Danish Royal Family makes official royal visits. For Solvang’s centennial in 2011, HRH The Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark celebrated the historical, cultural and business ties between his country and Solvang.

Danish Inspired Shopping

As I walked the tree-lined streets, I peered into the shops windows of the traditional half-timbered buildings. Under thatched roofs, I found shops stocked with traditional Danish costumes, Danish-made red clogs and authentic Danish Christmas ornaments.

Scroll down the charming streets of Solvang to find traditional bakeries and monuments from the old country. Browse for clogs or taste the richness of the local wine, with or without kids on your next getaway.

Don’t think it’s all windmills and wooden clogs, Solvang keeps an eye to the future. With boutiques featuring modern Danish design, buy Danish-made products like House of Amber jewelry, modern home goods and LEGOs for the kids at the Copenhagen House.

Santa Ynez Valley’s Wine and Beer

Enjoying a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon makes my list must dos. Take the time to savor the richness of the Santa Ynez Valley wine. With close to 20 tasting rooms in Solvang within walking distance, I sampled the wines from across the region.

Cooled by sea breezes and nestled among the mountain ranges, wine grapes are the top crop in the area. To tour the wineries, hop in a car and head minutes out of Solvang in any direction.

Beer connoisseurs fear not, Solvang brews up craft beers, pairing them with traditional Danish sausage to transport travelers to the Old World. Imagine sitting outside on the patio sipping a pint and savoring the perfect California weather.

Traditional Danish Food in Solvang

Eat Danishes in Solvang. What to do in Solvang with kids.
A traditional pastry, the Danish Waffle combines flakey, buttery pastry with sweet cream sandwiched it between. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Windmills lead the way to bakeries, tempting me with sugar-glazed pastries with layer-after-layer of buttery goodness. With five traditional bakeries in town, I sampled my way across Solvang.

Topping my list of faves, I loved the Danish waffle at the Solvang Bakery. With a pair of flaky cookie-like layers filled with sweet cream and raspberries, I still fanaticize about it.

Try an aebleskiver. What to do in Solvang with kids.
Another tasty treat, the aebleskiver is a traditional Danish pancake. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Another must try, the Danish aebleskiver at the Solvang Restaurant. I loved the traditional Danish pancake balls sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied with raspberry jam.

Looking for more temptations, I found my go-to indulgence, chocolate. At Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates, their chocolatier makes traditional treats with marzipan along with truffles.

Enjoy Solvang’s Arts and Culture

In an effort to walk off my foodie sampling, I strolled through Solvang’s museums dedicated to Danish art, history and culture, like the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art. A venue dedicated to illustrating the Viking’s influence on Scandinavia as well as Solvang’s forefathers.

Another museum for kids and their families, The Wildling Museum of Art and Nature (1511 Mission Dr.) features kids craft area. I found local art and the museum features traveling nature installations.

Next head to another charming space tucked in the loft of the independent bookstore, The Book Loft. At the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, I found a space dedicated to the patriarch of children’s literature. Visitors learn about the author while browsing his collections.

Visit Old Mission Santa Ines. What to do in Solvang with kids.
Visit Old Mission Santa Ines on the edge of Solvang to tour one of the original California mission. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

As I made a pilgrimage to the Old Mission Santa Inés, I took a moment to reflect in its outdoor gardens. Overlooking a valley with swaying amber grass on the edge of Solvang, the 1804 historic mission settled this area. Part of the original Catholic missions that dotted the coast from San Diego to San Francisco.

Finally the sky burned like an ember before fading to indigo. Not ready to return to my hotel, I stumbled upon the Solvang Festival Theater. As the seasonal home of the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, the outdoor venue is a beacon for theater lovers. In a half-timbered theatre reminiscent of London’s Globe Theatre, I snuggled under a plaid blanket and enjoyed their production.

Celebrate the Season with a Festival

With festivals sprinkled throughout the year, Solvang celebrates its rich culture along with its agricultural bounty. With mild weather year-round, the perfect time to visit is just a weekend away.

As spring blooms, sample the richness of Santa Ynez Valley at the Taste of Solvang in March. To a foodie’s delight, sample farm-to-table delights or traditional Danish cuisine.

As the summer season fades, the golden light of Autumn shines and Solvang celebrates Danish Days. As a festival dedicated to its heritage, the celebration features parades, artisans, and folk dancing.

With the year drawing to a close, Solvang sprinkles tiny white lights and green garlands all over town. Transforming the hamlet into one of the most Christmassy towns in the U.S. Enjoy the season at the month-long festival, Julefest, with traditional Danish food and a tree lighting.

Where to Stay in Solvang

The Landsby. what to do in Solvang with kids.
The Landsby in Solvang oozes old World Danish Charm and welcomes guests with homey interiors. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

During my visit to Solvang I discovered a boutique hotel ripped from the pages of an exclusive travel magazine. The Landsby (1576 Mission Dr.) offers guests a traditional Danish boutique hotel on a tree-lined street stocked with locally-owned shops.

In a 50-room boutique property, the traditional Danish exterior pays homage to its Danish roots with divided-light windows, exposed timbers and stucco exterior. Behind the front door, I entered a world where the Danish modern aesthetic gets cozy with a mix of rich textures and a palette of pleasing neutrals.

In a room that showcases modern Danish design, the textiles create a cozy home base to explore Little Denmark. With modern furniture pieces, like the bench at the foot of the bed and the pair of chairs with an accompanying table, the wood grain makes a design statement.

The wooden wingback headboard dominates the room and the white cotton linens keeps it fresh. The yellow accent pillow along with a knitted throw, add pops of color. Though my favorite detail, a tiny lavender sachet printed with “good night” sat in the middle of the mound of pillows.

Where to Eat in Solvang

Solvang Bakery (438 Alisal Rd.) is a ladies’ delight with a charming place to sit and enjoy a coffee with a Danish waffle.

Solvang Resturant (1671 Copenhagen Dr.) features Danish favorites, like Aebleskiver and Danish sausage. Walk up to the to-go window for an afternoon snack.

Eat local food. What to do in Solvang with kids.
A locals favorite, the happy hour at The Landsby offers small places plus signature craft cocktails. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Mad and Vin (1576 Mission Dr. inside The Landsby) boasts a popular happy hour where locals mingle with hotel guests to sample small plates along with the Santa Ynez Valley wines.

Fresco Valley Café (422 Atterdag Dr.) offers outdoor dining with a menu of breakfast and lunch favorites.

Chomp (1693 Mission Dr.) calls out to families and burger-lovers alike. Blends up top-notch shakes as well.

Ingeborg’s Danish Chocolates (1679 Copenhagen Dr.) makes their chocolates in house with a dizzying selection.

Where to Shop in Solvang

Jule Hus-The Christmas Shop (1580 Copenhagen Dr.) offers Christmas ornaments year round with a large selection of Danish-inspired ornaments.

The Copenhagen House (1660 Copenhagen Dr.) sells products made in Denmark, like LEGOs, amber jewelry and clogs.

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Explore Claremont California while College Shopping

Pomona College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Stroll through the Claremont College campuses while visiting Claremont, California, like Pomona College. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

College tours with your teen don’t have to be a trudge from one campus to another in a mad rush to find the right school. On a recent weekend getaway to Los Angeles, my teen daughter and I decided to make it a girls weekend. Starting with a morning campus tour we followed it up with lunch and an afternoon of exploring. It was the ideal way to see several campuses. For your trip, I’ve pulled together a list of what to do in Claremont California with teens.

The Claremont Colleges

Got a bright kid? Find the highly ranked Claremont Colleges about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. I toured several of the campuses for college recruiting tours recently and got all the details.

Pomona College

Claremont-McKenna College

Harvey Mudd College

Pitzer College

Scripps College

Forming a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate liberal arts colleges, the Claremont College campuses adjoin and cover approximately one square mile in central Claremont, an Los Angeles suburb. Students can easily walk in-between campuses and we did during our campus tours.

Claremont-McKenna College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Claremont-McKenna attracts students studying economics and government affairs. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

With 2,000 courses offered across all the colleges, students can take classes at any of the five campuses. In total, there are 7,700 undergraduate students and 3,600 faculty and staff.

Most undergraduate students live on campus all four years with 2/3 of the students from outside of California. The students can also use any of the seven dining halls located across the five campuses and most do.

Several clubs are open to all Claremont College students and the intermural teams enjoy a good-natured rivalry. The Claremont Colleges don’t offer Greek Life organizations though host lots of organizations and school-led outings.

The Claremont Colleges also pooled their resources for a central library and bookstore. The schedules for each college are aligned and their systems connected.

Claremont Village

To get a real feel for Claremont, we headed to Claremont Village, a charming shopping and dining district in the center of town. I found lots of parking along the streets so we strolled by foot.

Located in the Claremont Depot, I found the Claremont Museum of Art. Located at 200 W. 1st St, it offers $5 admission for adults and free for kids under 18.

Take the Teen to tour the Claremont Colleges in Southern California and discover a charming community 30 miles east of Los Angeles. With a walkable downtown and mountain recreation just minutes away, see what it's a top college for students.

Near the intersection of W. First St. and N. College Ave, I found Claremont’s MetroLink station, southern California’s commuter rail system.

My daughter and I window shopped in the Claremont Village as well. Finding lots of locally-owned shops, we browsed through The Hens’ Kitchen Shoppe and The Claremont Forum for used books.

The Claremont Village even hosts a farmers market on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Along with lots of seasonal festivities, like Halloween fun and a Holiday tree lighting, find fun off-campus too.

Claremont’s Chamber of Commerce offers gift cards, honored at local restaurants and retail shops across Claremont Village.

Cruise down Route 66. Best Colleges in Southern California.
A drive down Route 66 is a must while visiting Claremont. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Cruise down Route 66

After pulling into Claremont, I saw the familiar sign. Route 66, or the Main Street of America, runs through Claremont on its way to its terminus in Santa Monica. Since Route 66 is also known as Foothill Blvd., a major thoroughfare in Claremont, it’s hard not to cruise down Route 66 at least once.

Visit Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. Best Colleges in Southern California.
A walk through the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden showcases plants that thrive in Southern California. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden

Next to the San Gabriel foothills, I explored one of the best gardens for California. Known for their collection of California native plants, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden offers 86 acres to stroll along with an events area and a gift shop.

Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is located at 1500 N. College Ave. and open everyday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adults admission is $9, students and kids over 3 $4.

Mt. Baldy

During one the college tours, the student tour guide mentioned how students head up to Mt. Baldy to relax during weekend breaks. As she pointed to the mountain in the background, she mentioned it’s just 15 miles from the Claremont Colleges.

Mt. Baldy, the highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains, offers year-round fun. With wintertime skiing at a 10,000-foot peak and summertime camping and hiking, outdoor enthusiasts are minutes from the recreation area. Mt. Baldy is located at 8401 Mt. Baldy Rd.

Walk down the downtown streets of Claremont and stop for a burger at Eureka. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Where to Eat in Claremont

Looking to sample some local restaurants, we tried several during our visit.

Eureka Burger, located at 580 W. First St, features burgers, salads and craft cocktails. Eureka Burger boasts lots of outdoor seating as well.

Some Crust Bakery, located at 119 Yale Ave, is a must for cookie lovers. We stopped for an afternoon snack and a coffee to-go.

I like Pie Bake Shop, located at 175 N. Indian Hill Blvd, for pie lovers. I got a mini pie, just the right size to pop into my mouth. Yum.

Saca’s Mediterranean Restaurant, located at 248 Second St, serves up a massive salad and features outdoor seating.

The Village Grille, located at 148 Yale Ave, serving up diner classics since 1949. Offers an original diner with friendly waitresses and counter service.

Where to Stay in Claremont

For my stay in Claremont, I enjoyed a large room overlooking the pool, outfitted with two double beds dressed in white cotton linens at the DoubleTree Claremont Hotel. My room featured a work desk with a charging station along with task lighting and an ergonomic chair. In the corner of the room, an upholstered chair with an ottoman and a reading lamp provided a place to read.

During my stay, I dined at The Orchard each morning for the full breakfast buffet. With an omelette bar, assorted French pastries, Belgium waffle bar, and hot breakfast staples like French toast, scrambled eggs, along with sausage and applewood bacon, I can’t imagine anyone leaving hungry.

Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit Claremont during my stay. Though I attended general information sessions at the colleges and took the standard college tours.

Know Before You Go:

  • If touring the colleges during the school year, a parking pass will be required. Though during the summer, the colleges are empty.
  • I found the signage at the colleges lacking and the admissions buildings hard to find so give yourself extra time.

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Southern California College Shopping 101

Pomona College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Stroll through the Pomona College Campus while visiting Claremont, California. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My teen will be headed out to college soon so we need to tour some perspective colleges. She loves the sun of the Southern California, especially around Los Angeles. With the weather and the beaches, SoCal is a hit with teens. Then add to it close by mountains with some of the top ski resorts in North America and she’s sold. So I’m here to pass on my notes on college shopping in Southern California.

The Claremont Colleges

With a consortium of five undergraduate and two graduate liberal arts colleges, the Claremont College campuses connect and cover approximately one square mile in central Claremont, an Los Angeles suburb. Students can easily walk in-between campuses and we did during our campus tours.

With 2,000 courses offered across all the campuses, students can take classes at any of the five colleges. In total, there are 7,700 undergraduate students and 3,600 members of faculty and staff.

Make the most of your time and visit a handful of top colleges in Southern California with your teen. Got all the information you need to visit Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California.

Most undergraduate students live on campus all four years and 2/3 of the students come from outside of California. The students can dine at any of the seven dining halls located across the five colleges and most do.

The Claremont Colleges don’t offer Greek Life organizations though boasts lots of organizations and school-led outings. Several clubs are open to all Claremont College students and the intermural teams enjoy a good-natured rivalry.

The Claremont Colleges also pooled their resources for a central library and bookstore. The schedules for each college are aligned and their systems connected.

Pomona College Gates. College Shopping in Southern California.
The gateway to top liberal arts education. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Pomona College

As the founding member of the Claremont Consortium, Pomona College was established in 1887. Modeled after the small colleges of New England, Pomona accepts about 1,600 students a year.

Pomona College tops the list of best liberal arts colleges according to several publications. Offering the largest range of courses of the Claremont Colleges, Pomona boasts a high student retention rate and professors teach all courses.

Pomona College features mature trees and landscaping throughout the campus along with Spanish Colonial architecture. Though the newest building, Studio Arts Hall is thoroughly modern.

Claremont-McKenna College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Claremont-McKenna attracts students studying economics and government affairs. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Claremont-McKenna College

Next to Pomona College, Claremont-McKenna College began as men’s college in 1946, switching to co-ed in 1976. Claremont-McKenna specializes in government, economic and public affairs classes and also considered a top liberal arts college in the U.S.

Located just north of Pomona College, it’s the second largest school in the Claremont Colleges. It accepts about 1,300 students a year that live on campus. Most students spend a semester or summer abroad or at a school-sponsored internship.

Harvey Mudd College, College Shopping in Southern California,
Harvey Mudd College is a leader in Math, Science and Engineering. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Harvey Mudd College

Opening its doors in 1955, Harvey Mudd College specializes in engineering, science and mathematics. Considered by most to be one of the top colleges for science and math.

The campus sits at the northern boundary of the Claremont Colleges. It accepted just over 500 students for the 2016-2017 school year.

Since Harvey Mudd specializes in engineering, science and mathematics, its student population stays on the Mudd campus. Most of the buildings on the Harvey Mudd College are interconnected via their basements.

Pitzer College. College Shopping in Southern California.
Pitzer College has chickens on campus, I know my alma mater didn’t. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Pitzer College

Just north of Claremont-McKenna College, Pitzer College began in 1963 as a women’s college and switched to co-ed in 1970. Pitzer College specializes in environmental studies, social sciences and media studies.

The contemporary architecture sets Pitzer College apart along with its xeriscaping and citrus trees. Pitzer College offers a community garden and students tend a flock of chickens located in the middle of campus.

Pitzer College boasts the newest collection of dorms among the Claremont Colleges that feature Dutch doors. This feature impressed my teen daughter.

Scripps College. College Shopping in Sothern California.
The Scripps College campus is a National Register of Historic Places location. of Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Scripps College

In the center of the Claremont Colleges, Scripps College began in 1926 as a women’s college and remains that way today. The campus is on the National Register of Historic Places and built in the Spanish Colonial Revival Style.

Most students major in the arts, biology or English. The hallmark of this campus is the beautiful landscaping including a rose garden along with citrus and olive trees.

Know Before You Go

If touring the colleges during the school year, a parking pass will be required. Though during the summer, the colleges are empty.

I found the signage at all the colleges lacking and the admissions buildings hard to find so give yourself extra time.

Disclosure: 

I was hosted as a part of a press trip.

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New Year New Toyota at Houston Auto Show

Shop an auto show for convenient vehicle shopping
An auto show is the ideal place for vehicle shopping with all the major manufacturers steps away.

It’s that time of year again, Auto Show Season! So I’m headed to check out the local auto shows. First up, Houston Auto Show and my go to manufacturer Toyota. For 30 years I’ve been a Toyota Driver so I’m interested in what’s new and what’s been redesigned. As a bonus I’ve got a chance for free tickets to Houston Auto Show at the bottom of this post from this post’s sponsor.

Why attend an Auto Show

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, the local Auto Show should be your first stop. And here’s why:

  • Get an overview what’s the new in the industry-from safety to style.
  • Shop brands efficiently and effectively without the pressure of salespeople.
  • Have some fun. I test drove a stick shift convertible just because.
  • Sit in all types of vehicles. Try on that convertible, slide into the luxury SUV.
  • Find a new car crush. A totally out-of-your-league dream. That’s until you win the lotto  the same day as the kids get full-ride scholarships.

I’m headed to this year’s Houston Auto Show to see what’s new with my go-to manufacturer, Toyota. I’ve got a newly minted teen driver behind the wheel coupled with an aging (sniff, sniff) family SUV. So Mom needs a new car.

This is how I pack my Toyota RAV4 for a road trip. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

My Toyota History

My relationship with Toyota began in 1990 with a light blue Corolla 4-door with a manual transmission and air-conditioning. It didn’t even have intermittent wipers or a rear window defroster. But hey, I was a kid and who needed that stuff anyway.

Next I moved on to my current Toyota, a 2002 4Runner 4WD. A hard-working member of the family that’s hard to replace.

Then a red 2007 Toyota Matrix nicknamed Britni. My husband (and the primary driver) said it was a girl car. She broke up with him and moved on to another owner.

Then came the first crossover, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 allegedly stolen by the Russians and shipped to West Africa by an international car theft ring in Montreal, Canada. After our insurance check came through, a 2013 Toyota RAV4 AWD replaced the stolen one. True Story.

Finding a New Toyota

Finding a new SUV is like shopping for a new pair of jeans, a new swimsuit and a new pair of shoes you will wear everyday rolled into one. I will drive this vehicle everywhere and own it for at least a decade. It’s a big and expensive decision.

I’m an active Mom that’s not afraid to get dirty but loves the city. Since I take road trips in the summer and winter ski trips, I need at least AWD.

I have three kids, 10, 13 and 15 so a third row might be nice. I like having a trailer hitch though I don’t own a boat.

As a Mom and the primarily road trip driver, safety is always important. So I look over the safety features during my research too.

Toyota CHR is a new cross over
The 2018 Toyota C-HR is a compact crossover new to the Toyota line up. Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo

The New 2018 C-HR

As a new crossover to the Toyota line-up, the C-HR offers a more compact option to the popular Rav4 and Highlander crossovers.

  • Bold Style signals New Direction in Toyota Design
  • Sharp Handling
  • Includes Two Toyota-First Features: Driver Distraction Secure Audio and Brake Hold Function
  • Only Vehicle in Its Segment with Standard Pre-Collision System with Active Braking
  • Standard 18-in. Alloy Wheels, Dual-Zone Climate Control, Bucket Seating and 7-in. Audio Display

The estimated MPG is an impressive 27/31. The cargo space is 36.4 cubic feet with folded-down seats and 19.0 cubic feet behind the second row.

With ground clearance coming in at 5.9” along with the lack of AWD, keeps this crossover on the paved roads. A consideration for me and drivers in rugged locales or snow prone areas that need more control and traction. The seating for five accommodates my three kids.

I love the styling but the C-HR doesn’t fit my needs for AWD or cargo space. A sporty option for the younger, less parental driver. I’ve got too many things to haul in my life and my SUV.

The Toyota RAV4 hauls 73.4 cubic feet of gear.
After five years of ownership, I’m still amazed by how much the RAV4 hauls. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The RAV4

The RAV4 offers proven performance and versatility that I’ve come to rely on for the last five years. I drive our RAV4 on road trips throughout the seasons. I’m especially interested in the Toyota RAV4 Adventure.

RAV4 Adventure

  • Dirt-Inspired Styling and Higher Ride Height
  • Active lifestyle inspired

The optional AWD adds stability and security when driving to the ski resort. The seating for five, accommodates my three kids. The ground clearance is a bit easier on the knees than the C-HR.

I need to test drive the RAV4 Adventure to see how it handles compared to my older model. So it adding to my list.

Other Toyota Options for Families

Not a SUV fan, then consider a sedan. The Toyota Camry gets a total redesign for 2018.

The Toyota Camry

  • Best-Selling Car in America for the last 16 years
  • Standard Toyota Safety Sense-P
  • New Emotionally-Charged Design and Performance Experience
  • Aggressive Exterior Character Lines and Low Center of Gravity

The Toyota Pick-Ups

I know some Toyota Pick-Up fans out there, like my Dad. Both the Tacoma and the Tundra are manufactured at Toyota’s San Antonio facility.

Free Tickets to Houston Auto Show

Yep, enter to win free tickets to the Houston Auto Show.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest Rules:

Contest rules: Entries must be completed by midnight January 23, 2018. No purchase necessary; contest open only to US residents and subject to the laws of Texas. Winners will be notified by email by January 24, 2018. Winners MUST pick up tickets in person at the Houston Auto Show, NRG Center, 1 NRG Park, Houston, TX 77054, between January 24, 2018 and January 28, 2018. Winners may be asked to provide identification to receive their prize. Prize value $24 per prize, not exchangeable for cash or other items. Grand prize value is $124. A total of 10 pairs of tickets will be awarded and a total of 1 grand prize will be awarded.

Houston Auto Show Details

NRG Center
One NRG Park
8400 Kirby Drive
Houston, TX 77054

Dates

Wednesday through Sunday, Jan. 24 to 28, 2018

Times

Wed. thru Fri. Noon – 9:30 p.m.

Sat. 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Sun. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Tickets

$12 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and of course we love money saving tips like this coupon!

Ride and Drives

Twenty different car manufacturers will be on site with cars to test drive.

With more than 800 of the newest model imports and domestic, see everything from concept to classic along an amazing after market expo.

Disclosure

This post was sponsored by the Houston Auto Show and Toyota.

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