Reviews & Photos
July 21 2011
0 families found this helpful
Cape Loop Drive,
"Head to the edges of the earth!"
The hike to the edge of Cape Flattery is a very scenic hike suitable for all ages. I took my senior aunt and 4 year old twins on this hike which everyone enjoyed and nobody had issues with. There is a decline at the beginning of the trail (which does mean you have to come back up) but the incline was not very bad and my Aunt reported that is was much easier than she thought it would be. The trail heads through damp forest on a wide trail for about 1/3 of a mile before you reach a series of cedar boardwalks which traverse wetlands and protect the flora. This is where a stroller would be impossible to use. I saw one family ditch their stroller on the side of the trail so they could continue. My advice is to use a child carrier for infants and new walkers. Otherwise, I would say any child over the age of 2 1/2 should be able to walk this trail with no issue.
After about 3/4 of a mile on the trail, a glimpse of the water will be seen and a very short side trail veers to the left. take the trail and be taken aback by the views. There are no words that truly describe the beauty of this spot. Actually, I suggest taking any advantage of every viewpoint because they all offer something unique.
At the end of the trail you will come to a viewing platform which is accessed by a a short ladder (about 3 or 4 steps). I saw people of all ages (and even a dog) get up and down the platform with no issue. The views are sweeping and wildlife is frequently spotted. Evidently we missed a passing grey whale by about 5 minutes, but we did get to see a bald eagle and a couple puffins. Sea otters, seals, orcas, and humpbacks are seen off the cape as well.
Total time at the cape was less than 2 hours for us. People with older children can walk the trail out to the cape in about 20-30 minutes but those of us with young children need to give themselves about 40 minutes. We only stay at the end of the cape for 15 minutes due to antsy children but I could have easily spent an hour watching the waters and taking in the views.
July 19 2011
1 family found this helpful
LAKE QUINAULT LODGE
345 South Shore Road,
"Family friendly lakeside and rainforest fun in a grand National Park lodge. "
Olympic National Park is a massive park that dominates Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. It encompasses a variety of ecosystems from beaches to glaciers to rare temperate rainforests. If the idea of sleeping in the rainforest at the edge of a perfectly blue lake sounds like something your family would like to experience, then Lake Quinault Lodge is a great place to call home base.
We visited Lake Quinault Lodge on a warm sunny day in early July- not exactly the weather one would expect in a normally very cool, very damp place. Built in 1926, the lodge is built in the grand style that many national parks from that era were built in with rustic elegance and incredible scenery. My aunt commented on the fact that the place has a “Dirty Dancing” Catskills resort in the early 1960s vibe and I have to agree 100%. It definitely felt like the type of resort that brings families back year after year.
The only way to describe the expansive lawn which sits behind the main lodge and leads down the lakefront is grand. Pairs of Adirondack chairs dot the grass, inviting couples to sit down for a evening glass of wine while the children play horseshoes, run around a charming white gazebo, or skip rocks into the lake.
Down at the lake, families can rent kayaks or small fishing boats (word has it that the lake is filled with fish!), swim in a roped off beach area, or just enjoy the views form brightly colored chairs. The lodge offers boat tours of the lake which offer the opportunity to explore the lake and spot wildlife but the tours will be canceled if the wind kicks up and the water gets choppy. How do I know this? We had scheduled an evening boat tour which ended up being canceled. The water was not exactly my definition of choppy- more like slight waves, but I guess that’s all it takes to cancel a boat ride in what appeared to be a flat-bottomed patio boat. I was assured by the helpful resort employee that the morning boat cruise is almost never canceled because the water is like glass so if you would like to take a tour, morning might be the best time to take it.
There are several different lodging options at Lake Quinault Lodge, including Main Lodge rooms, contemporary Lakeside rooms, romantic Fireplace rooms, and pet-friendly Boathouse rooms. We stayed in the Boathouse (though our only pets were my two rambunctious four-year-olds) and found the rooms to be just fine- nothing fancy, but clean and comfortable with a charming wrap-around porch and idyllic views of the lake. There is no wifi in the rooms and tv’s are non-existent in the boathouse, but trust me, you won’t miss either. The only entertainment you need is surrounding the resort. Between the lake, wonderful hiking trails, indoor pool, game room, and a lawn perfect for stargazing on clear nights, your family will never find a moment of boredom.
There is a dining room at the lodge, the Roosevelt Dining Room, named for President Franklin Roosevelt who visited the lodge in 1937. It definitely has a historic atmosphere and the lunch that we ate there was tasty and reasonably priced considering the location. Adult lunch entrées run around $12.00 and children’s meals were $7.00 and included a drink and ice cream. FYI- the children’s menu is the same across the board at all Olympic National Park dining rooms at both lunch and dinner. During lunch I often had my preschoolers split the kid’s meal because of their inability to sit still long enough to eat the whole thing. I enjoyed the Northwest Po’Boy which was filled with fried oysters.
Bottomline: If you want to stay in a rainforest in Olympic National Park and aren’t up for camping in often unreliable weather, this is the place to stay. The setting is picture perfect and the rainforest is stunning.
Disclosure: I received a discounted media rate which was subsidized by the Olympic CVB. Neither the CVB nor the National Park Service requested that I express any particular opinion and all opinions are always my own.
July 15 2011
0 families found this helpful
Washington State Ferries
From Bremerton to Seattle,
"Definitely more fun than the long way around"
If you have never driven a car onto a ferry, I would say the experience is worth it. The views are nice form the viewing decks up top are tough to beat. My little ones were much more happy to take a quick glance outside and then go back to playing with their toys indoors where it was warmer but as someone who gets seasick easily, I am much more comfortable taking in the views of the ports and surrounding islands. Ferry wait times vary on season and time of day so be sure to inquire about suggested arrival times and whether or not reservations are necessary. FYI- the ferry between Port Townsend and Whidbey takes about a half hour and the ferry between Whidbey and the Seattle area is about 15 minutes.
July 14 2011
2 families found this helpful
Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa - A KSL Luxury Resort
41 000 Bob Hope Dr.,
Rancho Mirage, California
"The pool area blew my kids away!"
This year I have made it my quest to explore the desert and have made visits to the Palm Springs region in the fall, winter, and spring. In each visit, I had the opportunity to visit a different property in a different community. This time, my family decided to go the resort route and stay at Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage. Typically, I am not the sort of person who hunkers down at a resort and stays put. I like to get out and explore the surrounding area. However, my family had so much fun at Rancho Las Palmas that we only left for a couple meals and never felt like we missed out on a thing.
The first thing I loved about the resort was its classic Spanish meets California architecture. If I could build my dream home it would be in this style so any property that allows me to call this beautiful and romantic yet casual décor my own for a couple days is already on my good side. Rooms are grouped in many different small buildings scattered throughout the resort and range in size and view. Our room had a pool view (there is no better view in my kids’ eyes) and was the size of a typical hotel room, featuring two queens sized beds and a spacious bathroom. Our patio looked out at the pool and served as a great location for my family who spent most of the time running back in forth to the pool.
Speaking of pool, this hotel is a fantasyland for kids who love pools. The pool area (aka: Splashtopia) is separated into two adjacent sections. The first features a massive pool, perfect for swimming, floating, or watching a “Dive-In” movie, as well as a spa. There are several lounge chairs surrounding the pool area with wait staff ready to bring your drinks or meals from the poolside Splash Grill. The other half is ringed by a lazy river, and features two water slides, splash play area, as well as a sandy beach area perfect for tots. Trust me, you will never want to leave the pool, especially with the warm desert sun looming overhead. We spent hours at the pools each day and even while my kids and husband napped, I snuck so I could ride around the lazy river about 50 times. It was bliss.
There are a few different dining options on site and my family had dinner at bluEmber, the resort’s signature restaurant. At first glance, we thought dining may be a bit upscale for our preschoolers but our fears were quickly calmed by the plethora of children dining at the restaurant (the resort was filled with families) and the special kid themed buffet. Children could choose from a variety of typical kid-friendly options and eat as much or as little as they wanted. Since the weather was gorgeous and the umbrellas provided us with the necessary shade, my family opted to sit outside and gaze out at the golf course. I think my husband was secretly cursing me for not informing him Rancho Las Palmas was a golf resort. The menu at bluEmber was on the expensive side, with adult entrees averaging about $30. I would consider it to be a spot where families would dine for one special night and not a place to eat daily. The food was very good but I wasn’t blown away. Reservations are must on busy weekends but considering there is a huge shopping area (The River) across the street from the resort with several popular eating establishments, there are plenty of options nearby if you can’t get in.
There is a spa on site but I didn’t get the chance to sneak away and enjoy it. There is also a tranquility (aka: adult only) pool for those of you who have older children who are okay swimming alone in Splashtopia and are looking for an hour of peace and quiet. As I mentioned above, the resort is also home to a very nice 27 hole golf course which offers adult and junior golf instruction. The resort recently opened the Palms Café as well which features coffee, brick-oven pizzas, and light breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. I believe this opened after my visit but sounds like something my kids would have really enjoyed.
Bottomline: I loved Rancho Las Palmas and its amazing pool area. It was the first hotel that my kids truly begged for more time at and may have shed a few tears as we told them it was time to go. Keep an eye out for those off season deals because they are a great value. I have no doubt that we will be back.
Disclosure: My family received a complimentary stay at Rancho Las Palmas and $100 dining credit in order to complete this review. The hotel did not ask that we express any specific opinion and my opinions are always my honest thoughts.
June 16 2011
1 family found this helpful
500 W. Mesquite,
"Amazing palm oases and miles of hiking trails for outdoor loving families"
Prior to our visit to the Indian Canyons, I had never given much thought to the name "Palm Springs". I figured they decided to go with the desert theme ad run with it. After the time I spent in Palm Canyon, I have no doubt as to why the city got its name.
Indian Canyons is comprised of at least 4 canyons owned by the Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribe. There is an entry fee of $9.00 for adults and $5.00 for children 6 to 12 which goes to the tribe and allows you to spend all day at exploring the different canyons. My family opted to take the trail down into Palm Canyon, a fifteen mile deep canyon filled with palm trees feeding off a creek and various shallow springs. I have never seen so many palm trees in my life! Their shade was a welcome relief from the warming desert sun.
My kids loved playing by (and in) the stream, eating lunch under the cooling palm trees, watching squirrels dart out to bring some palm fruit back to their nests, and discovering lizards creeping around the trunks of the palms in search for a nice spot in the sun.
We had plans to explore this canyon and another one of the other canyons further but unfortunately, my son's belly had other plans and we had to cut things short. Disappointing, yes, but it also gives us something to look forward to on our next visit to Palm Springs!
Update: We went to Indian Canyons a second time with Desert Adventures (see my review of Desert Adventures for more info about these amazing tours) and got to know the area even more! Andreas Canyons is a great little 1 mile loop hike for families that follows a stream back into the canyon with plenty of fan palms to shade your walk. Murray Canyon is great for families with kids who can handle a hike that is about 2 miles each way. There are seven waterfalls with pools called the Seven Sacred Sisters and our guide said rocks make for great slides into the water! There is a seasonal waterfall on the right hand side of the Trade Post near Palm Canyon is a great little pit stop.
Bottomline: As long as it isn't too hot (I am thinking avoid this spot in the summer), the canyons are a great place to get outside and enjoy the beauty and miracle that water can provide in the desert. Families of all different hiking abilities will enjoy this unique spot so close to an urban area.
Disclosure: My family did receive complimentary admission to Indian Canyons as guests of the Palm Springs Visitors Center. The center did not ask that I express ay particular opinion and all of my reviews always reflect my honest opinion of an activity.