10 Unexpected Life Lessons From My 11 Year Old on the John Muir Trail

Last summer, I hiked 180 miles of the 211+ mile John Muir Trail (JMT) with my 11 year old son. The JMT runs through the Eastern Sierra mountains in California, starting from Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous US. For many this isn’t a huge outdoor accomplishment, … Read more

Rebun And Rishiri Islands: Japan’s Unbelievably Unique Northernmost Islands

Do busy intersections, white faced geishas and red torii gates flood your mind when you think of a trip to Japan? That is the common thought of the country, however, there is so much more to discover in Japan when you get off the beaten path a little. In the far northwest of Japan lie two islands that are waiting to be discovered.

Rebun and Rishiri Islands are well known to many Japanese as being beautiful nature escapes, but even yet, many locals have not made the journey up this way. Visiting Rishiri and Rebun Islands in Japan is an experience like no other, and below I show why you should consider adding them to your adventure itinerary. I share our travels from a long weekend exploring these stunning islands with tips on where to stay, what to eat and what to do.

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Seeking Out the Beauty of Mammoth Lakes Fall Colors

Did you know that you can find fall colors in California? While New England wins hand down for the best fall colors, those of us on the west coast can also cash in on this fall favorite. Mammoth Lakes fall colors lures visitors from near and far for their yearly display of bright yellow aspen trees and beautiful fall colors in California’s eastern sierras. The best fall colors are typically popping around mid Sept to the end of October, making it the ideal destination for a fall leaf peeping trip.

For those of us in Southern California, sometimes it’s hard to imagine that the seasons are really changing elsewhere in the US. We have heat waves and fires all through the fall, often making the changing of temperatures further up north a distant thought. If you are like me and try to bring a little bit of fall foliage into your autumn, head up the 395 where you can experience the beauty of fall from Bishop to Mammoth Lakes and even further north to the South Lake Tahoe area.

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Club Med Québec Charlevoix: A Unique Nature Based All Inclusive

Are you interested in taking your family on a vacation that everyone will love?  Look no further than Club Med Quebéc Charlevoix. This nature based all-inclusive getaway has something for everyone. Opened in 2021, this property is the only Club Med in Canada and the only mountainside resort for the brand in North America. While … Read more

7 Surprising Reasons Iraq Should Be on Your Bucket List

Bits of conversions and names swirl in my head as I dizzily walk half asleep from one plane to the other. Abu Haider “Shall I follow you” Noor!! Pst pst pst It’s hard to imagine the fear I felt just 14 days ago. Of leaving my son, of going to a “war zone”.  Now, tears … Read more

13 Amazing Things to Do in La Fortuna Costa Rica (+ Arenal)

If you are going to Costa Rica it is my guess you will make a visit to the adventure capital and want to find out all the top things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica! With an abundance of outdoor activities, not to mention amazing access and views to one of the most perfectly formed volcanoes in the country, it’s no surprise that La Fortuna and Arenal are at the top of most Costa Rica itineraries. Well known as an outdoor adventurers playground, there are so many things to do in La Fortuna Costa Rica for all ages. As most visits to the area are short, it’s important to determine in advance just what you want to do while you are in town. To help guide your planning process here are the top activities in La Fortuna (and Arenal) we think all families should check out.

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15 Amazing Things to Do in Big Bear – Summer Edition

Often only thought of as Southern California’s place to play in the snow, there are a ton of great things to do in Big Bear throughout the year. As the heat of the summer sets in, Big Bear is the perfect escape. Nestled high in the San Bernardino mountains on the banks of a lake, … Read more

The Most Useful 3-5 Day Backpacking Packing List

Are you planning your first backpacking trip (or your 100th) and looking to get your backpacking packing list sorted? You have come to the right place. I am a super list maker and love sharing my lists with others! After tons of research and many hundreds of miles of backpacking under our belt, we wanted to share with you exactly what we take on our backpacking trips and what we leave behind. (See below to download a FREE printable backpacking checklist)

In this backpacking checklist, I share every item I bring on a 3-day backpacking trip in the late spring, summer, and fall seasons. I hope that this backpacking gear list will help simplify your planning, help you figure out what you need, and if you are just starting backpacking, give you some good recommendations for backpacking gear to invest in that will last you many years.

Don’t forget to check out our post on backpacking hacks and tips to help your packing go smoothly even on a first trip!

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Hiking & Backpacking the Epic Big Pine Lakes Trail in California

Big Pine Lakes Trail in California is one of the most beautiful hikes you can do in the United States. Whether you are day hiking or backpacking Big Pine Lakes, the view once you reach the glacial lakes will take your breath away.  Located in the John Muir Wilderness, in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas, this is a strenuous day hike that takes you deep into the forest to picturesque turquoise lakes.

This hike is one of the biggest bucket list hikes in California that must be done if you are an avid hiker and outdoor adventurer. From the first time I saw photos of these glimmering turquoise lakes, reminiscent of Lake Louise in Canada’s famous national park, I knew I had to go. For years I had planned to only hike to the lakes as a day trip because I was not into backpacking, but as luck would have it, I became a backpacker! (Check out other amazing overnight backpacking trips in California.)

Below I’m going to share how you can hike to one of the most beautiful places in California. Everything you need to know on how to visit the lakes and some detailed information on the trail that takes you there. And trust me, the watercolor is truly that turquoise – photoshop is not needed here!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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Introducing Merino Wool Clothing: The Best Travel Fabric

As you guys all know I am obsessed with merino wool clothing. For the past 2 years I have challenged myself to wear some article of merino wool clothing every single day. In this quest, I have ended up becoming quite a fan and aficionado of this natural fiber. In the process of learning more … Read more

20 Exciting Stops on a Miami To Key West Drive

One of our favorite vacations in recent years was a Florida Keys road trip. The Miami to Key West drive took us to 3 unique national parks and exploring the beauty up and down the Keys. This trip is filled with nature, adrenaline pumping activities and so much time on the water. Below we share … Read more

Bay Harbor Lodge Key Largo | Terrific Cottages That You Will Love

If you are looking for a unique place to stay on a Florida Keys road trip that is full of character and charm, then you must check out Bay Harbor Lodge Key Largo also known as Coconut Bay Resort Key Largo. This adorable family owned hotel sits right off the Overseas Highway and right on … Read more

15 Informative Tips for Planning a Florida Keys Trip You NEED to Know

A Florida Keys trip is the ultimate holiday for outdoor lovers, adventure seekers and road trip enthusiasts. Having just returned from our own road trip from Key Largo to Key West, we have compiled the best tips to help you plan and organize your trip from what to see and how to budget for all … Read more

Roadsurfer Camper Van: A Road Trip Companion Families Will Love

It has long been a dream of mine to hit the road and head off into the sunset in my very own campervan. Sadly, I still don’t own one. Instead, I am relegated to renting them when I can. One of the best rental companies Los Angeles has to offer in this realm is RoadSurfer … Read more

Ultimate Guide to Planning a Trip to Ireland in 2023

Are you planning a trip to Ireland? If so, you have come to the right place! For the last 20 years I have taken a family trip to Ireland almost on a yearly basis. Because of this, I often get emails asking for help in planning a trip to Ireland. “What should I do in … Read more

7 Unique Things to Do at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco

Heading to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco? If so, you have come to the right place. After years of touring friends and family around the city, I know all the hot spots and best things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf for all ages. 

San Francisco is one of the top destinations in the United States for tourists and is a wonderful city for families to visit. A visit to the magical city of San Francisco is never complete without some time at Fisherman’s Wharf. San francisco’s most popular destination is of course super touristy, but for a reason. There are some great things to do at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco that it always tops visitors to do lists.  Fisherman’s Wharf is roughly considered the area between Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square. It is easily walkable, however there are also vintage streetcars plying up and down the wharf in case you get tired of walking.

After spending so many years living in San Francisco playing tour guide to visitors and now visiting yearly with my son, I have come up with the perfect things to do at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco with or without children.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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13 Affordable But Spectacular Things To Do In Page Arizona

Are you heading to Arizona? If so you must visit the little town that has blown up in recent years. There are so many things to do in Page Arizona that you will need to plan a few days to really experience it all. From kayaking to canyon hiking and stunning vista points, there are … Read more

Ultimate Guide to the Best Hiking in Los Angeles (2023)

Would you ever have guessed that hiking in Los Angeles is *the* thing to do here? We were so surprised to learn this when we moved here 9 years ago. 

Traffic, yes.

Celebrities, of course. 

But hiking? Yes! it is really one of the most popular activities you will find Angelenos participating in all days of the week, and all times of the year. 

The truth is, there are a TON of amazing hikes in the Los Angeles area, that it can take years to experience them all. When we first moved to LA, my son was only 3 so we didn’t do a ton of difficult hikes at that time, focusing on the best hikes for toddlers, but as the years have progressed, we have added more and more to our arsenal.

In 2021, we started the year with a goal of hiking (and biking!) 100 miles for the month of January and 1000 for the year. For our own purposes to keep track of the hikes we have done and would recommend, we started this guide on all the hiking trails in Los Angeles that we have been on or have on our list!

We will cover the best hikes in LA (according to popular consensus), waterfall hikes in Los Angeles as well as some great hiking near Los Angeles. Read on for more information for each. Check back often for updates as well.

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Yosemite in Winter: Everything You Need to Know to Visit California’s Most Popular Park (2023)

Yosemite National Park is one of our favorite places in California to visit in spring and summer. However, visiting Yosemite in winter is even more magical if you are up for the adventure. After tons of visits to Yosemite throughout the year, we finally made the trek there during winter and share everything you need … Read more

Hiking the John Muir Trail: Everything You Need to Know for 2023

More than 1,500 people attempt to walk the entire John Muir Trail every year. A bit more than half of them succeed in a good year, with less than a third making it through in a year with natural challenges – high snow, monsoonal rains or wildfires. This guide from a JMT thru-hiker provides key … Read more