Tip & Tee: Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is known for its unusual and colorful rock formations. It is also teeming with wildlife including bison and big horn sheep. With miles of hiking trails and scenic drives to explore, you can spend countless hours roaming this rugged landscape.

Badlands Rattlesnake

Badlands National Park Trip Tip

Throughout the park, you will see signs warning of rattlesnakes. This is no joke! As you hike in the Badlands, keep a sharp eye out for these venomous creatures! While hiking the Notch Trail, I inadvertently stepped over rattlesnake resting in the middle of the trail!

Badlands National Park Trip Tee

When it comes to shopping on a trip, I am a total tourist! My favorite souvenirs are travel tee shirts! Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection. In Tip & Tee, I share some of my treasures and a Trip Tip for that destination!

7 Tips for a Sensational Day at the San Diego Zoo

If you’re traveling to San Diego, you MUST explore the world famous San Diego Zoo! It is a remarkable place that certainly lives up to the hype. But be forewarned: There is so much to see and do that it is impossible to experience everything in one day!

As you plan your visit, consider these 7 tips to to make the most of your time at the unforgettable San Diego Zoo.

  1. Arrive early.  The San Diego Zoo is popular, so you may encounter crowds. Arriving early will give you some time to enjoy exhibits with less congestion. In the summer, morning is a great time to explore the zoo when the temperature is more moderate.San Diego Zoo Flamingo
  2. Don’t rush. Don’t make the mistake of creating a rigid itinerary for the day. Focus on quality, not quantity.  Being flexible allows you to enjoy the unexpected. During our recent visit, the leopards were active, and a volunteer was on hand to answer questions. We lingered longer at this exhibit just gazing at these magnificent creatures.  I never knew I could be so mesmerized by leopards!San Diego Zoo Leopard
  3. Wear appropriate footwear. Covering 100 acres, this animal wonderland is massive! You’ll have no trouble getting in your steps for the day when you tour the San Diego Zoo! Also, this acreage isn’t flat! Expect to trek up and down inclines throughout the day. I recommend wearing tennis shoes, hiking shoes, or a hearty adventure-style sandal. I’d avoid anything with thin soles or delicate straps. And, if you decide to wear a heel… well… don’t say I didn’t warn you!San Diego Zoo Koala
  4. Don’t stress about food. I found in my online research that several people suggested bringing a picnic to avoid the high cost and not-so-awesome food at the zoo. To save prep time, we opted to eat at the park. While it wasn’t the best food on our trip, the food was fine and prices weren’t outrageous. For us, this was just easier.San Diego Zoo Opaki
  5. Don’t wait too long to ride the Skyfari. The San Diego Zoo has a great old-school gondola that runs from the front of the park to the back. (Does anyone else besides me think it is a shame how many parks no longer have this type of ride?) Riding the Skyfari offers great views of the park. It can help you get your bearings while you rest your feet. But, lines can be long. We rode the gondola early in the day from the back of the park to the front. There was no line at the back station, but it was quite long at the front station. I would not wait more than 10 minutes to ride it even if it means skipping it all together.San Diego Zoo Skyfari
  6. Stay hydrated. As I mentioned, the San Diego Zoo is vast and can also be hot in the summer. A visit to this zoo means a lot of walking in the sun. Making sure everyone in your group drinks plenty of water will make for a more enjoyable day! Don’t worry, the bathrooms are fine!San Diego Zoo Turtle
  7. Consider a special experience. The San Diego Zoo offers a variety of different special experience tours for an additional fee. These tours aren’t cheap, so I debated whether or not it was worth the extra cost. We chose one of the Inside Look tours and absolutely loved it! It was a highlight of our visit. I would highly recommend it if you can make it work in your budget.San Diego Zoo Panda

Whether it is your first visit or your 10th, chances are you’ll experience something new and delightful at the San Diego Zoo. With 3,500 animals to see, you’re likely to want to go back again and again to this San Diego landmark!San Diego Zoo Giraffe

Tip & Tee: Glacier National Park

When it comes to shopping on a trip, I am a total tourist! My favorite souvenirs are travel tee shirts! Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection. In Tip & Tee, I share some of my treasures and a Trip Tip for that destination!

I could not pass up this trip tee at the Logan Pass Visitor Center in Glacier National Park. The design was available in several colors, but the turquoise reminded me of the park’s glacial lakes.

Glacier National Park is often referred to as the Crown of the Continent.  One visit, and it is easy to see that this nickname is well deserved.  The Going to the Sun Road is the main highway in Glacier National Park which traverses the Rocky Mountains at Logan Pass. This road is a marvel particularly when considering the terrain crews had to conquer during its construction between 1921 and 1932.

Glacier National Park Trip Tip

Be sure to allow plenty of time to enjoy exploring the Going to the Sun Road in BOTH directions. The views are amazing regardless of whether you’re traveling east or west, but the change in perspective offers a different experience which should not be rushed.Glacier National Park Trip Tee

5 Must-See Sights in Sunny San Diego

There is no shortage of activities and sights to see in San Diego.  In fact, you’ll likely have trouble narrowing down all the great options! Few destinations offer so many choices for family fun!

During our recent trip, our time was limited.  We only had 3 days! I’m not sure 2 weeks would be enough time to experience everything this city has to offer. I did quite a bit of research before the trip to decide the best way to use our time.  Fortunately, we were able to squeeze a lot into this relatively short trip.

Here are what I consider to be 5 must-see sights in sunny San Diego:

  1. The San Diego Zoo:  The San Diego Zoo is amazing, so it is no surprise that this world famous zoo is one of the top rated attractions in San Diego. Of course, the pandas are a highlight, but the polar bear exhibit is probably my favorite! This zoo is massive, so I’d suggest allowing at minimum 6 or 7 hours for your visit.Polar Bear at the San Diego Zoo
  2. Coronado Island: The Coronado Island community is a great place to relax and play. It is a quick car trip or ferry ride from downtown San Diego, yet it feels like it is worlds away. Enjoy the beautiful beach or a bike or surrey ride around the island. As you might expect, there are plenty of local restaurants where one can grab a tasty meal. Spending a half or whole day on this island is time well spent!Coronado Island
  3. San Diego Bay:  San Diego Bay is the heart of this city.  Of course, various water craft rentals are available in the bay as well as shopping and dining bay side.  One of the best ways to experience San Diego Bay is to take a bay cruise which is offered by several tour companies.  A 1 or 2 hour bay cruise provides a great perspective on this city and a view of its many military installations.View of San Diego Bay from Point Loma
  4. The USS Midway: The USS Midway Museum is also ranked as one of the top attractions in San Diego.  The reason for this is clear – it provides a fascinating look into life on an aircraft carrier.  This museum also highlights the important role these floating cities play in the freedom of our nation.  Be prepared – this museum is one in which you’ll wish you had more time.  We were there for about 3 hours, and it was not enough!USS MidwaySan Diego USS Midway-3 trip
  5. Cabrillo National Monument:  Cabrillo National Monument is located on Point Loma, and I can’t imagine a more spectacular view of San Diego Bay.  This National Monument offers family friendly hiking trails as well as a historic lighthouse to explore. In certain times of the year, this is a great destination for tide pooling and whale watching.  Regardless of when you visit, you won’t be disappointed.Cabrillo Monument

Whatever you decide to do during your trip to San Diego, its likely that you’ll find more to do than time allows.  Of course, that just means you’ll have to plan another trip to this Southern California vacation wonderland!

Tip & Tee: Border Crossing near Waterton, Alberta

When it comes to shopping on a trip, I am a total tourist! My favorite souvenirs are travel tee shirts! Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection. In Tip & Tee, I share some of my treasures and a Trip Tip for that destination!

This tee is from the Village of Waterton in Alberta, Canada. This quaint village is a great base for exploring Waterton Lakes National Park.

Since this is the Canadian portion of the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, you may want to explore both Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park on the same trip. If you’re crossing the US-Canadian border driving between the 2 parks, make note of this important Trip Tip!

Waterton Trip Tip

The US-Canadian Border Crossing has specific hours of operation! Be sure to check those hours during the season of your trip, so you don’t arrive when the border is CLOSED!

Travel Tee from Waterton in Alberta, Canada

 

Breathtaking Drive to the Needles in Canyonlands National Park

Time always flies on vacation! On most trips, there are more things to do than time allows.  It can be really hard to narrow down the to-do list!

In Moab, Utah, you can’t help but face this dilemma! Nestled near 2 National Parks, the Colorado River, and some of the best rock terrain in the nation, it is tough to decide what to include on the itinerary and what to save for another trip!

On our first trip to Moab, we spent time in Canyonlands National Park Islands in the Sky District.  We wanted to visit the Needles District, but there just wasn’t time to make that drive.

On our most recent trip, we debated whether or not it was worth the 1 hour and 45 minutes drive one way to see the Needles.  We decided to go for it and quickly found out that the answer is YES!Indian Creek Scenic Drive Utah

To reach the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park from Moab, head south on Hwy 191. Turn right (west) on SR 211.  This is where the drive starts to get really interesting.

SR 211 is also known as the Indian Creek Scenic Byway. It joins highway US Hwy 191 about 40 miles south of Moab. This Scenic Byway is 18 miles each way and ends at the entrance to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.  The highway winds among spectacular buttes and rock formations!

As you enjoy this scenic drive, don’t miss Newspaper Rock, one of the country’s largest collections of petroglyphs which is also a Utah State Historic Site. This amazing rock art is about 15 miles west of Hwy 191.

Once you arrive at the entrance to the Needles District, the possibilities are endless! And, there are far fewer people in this district than in Islands in the Sky. I think you’ll find a Moab day trip to the Needles along the Indian Creek Scenic Byway to be vacation time well spent!Needles District of Canyonlands National Park

9 Awesome Experiences in Colorado Springs 

Colorado Springs is a great summer vacation destination, and you need not be a hiker or outdoor enthusiast to enjoy what Colorado Springs has to offer. There is such a variety of available activities that literally, there is something for everyone.

If you’re considering a trip to Colorado Springs, here are 9 awesome experiences to add to your itinerary:

  1. Raft the Arkansas River. I’ll have to admit I was a bit apprehensive about my first river rafting experience.  Fortunately, there are several levels of raft trips from which to choose, so whether you’re looking for a big thrill or a more relaxing trip, there are tour companies that can accommodate your needs.River Rafting on the Arkansas River

    River rafting
    We floated with Echo Canyon River Expeditions.
  2. Visit the Royal Gorge. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is about an hour from Colorado Springs.  This attraction offers an opportunity to walk across the worlds highest suspension bridge which was constructed in 1929. The bridge spans this 1200 foot deep canyon and provides a bird’s eye view of the Arkansas River which continues to carve away at the rock below.  We rode the gondolas over the gorge and then crossed back via the bridge.  The scenery is spectacular.  There is a playground and train ride for children as well as thrill rides for big kids and adults. For more information on visiting the Royal Gorge: Colorado Springs Day Trip: The Royal GorgeRoyal Gorge Park in Coloradoroyal gorge 1-3 trip
  3. Hike Garden of the Gods. Garden of the Gods is an oasis in the city of Colorado Springs.  This public park was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971 because of its dramatic landscape and sandstone rock formations.  This park boasts a fabulous visitor center with a museum and a restaurant.  Garden of the Gods offers several easy hiking trails from which to view these magnificent formations. Not surprisingly, this Park is quite popular, so you may want to visit in the morning to avoid some of the crowds.Colorado Spring Garden of the Gods TripGarden of the Gods Colorado Springs Trip
  4. Tour the Olympic Training Center. I have always loved the Olympics, so the opportunity to tour an actual Olympic training facility was one I just couldn’t pass up. And let me tell you, it was WAY cool!  The facility reminded me of a college campus but rather than attend classes, the athletes train! We saw several Olympians training during our tour! This attraction can be quite popular in the summer and tour times do sell out, so plan accordingly. Have I mentioned the Olympic Training Center was REALLY cool!?!? For more information on visiting the Olympic Training Center:  Colorado Springs: Olympic Training Center

    Olympic Training Center Campus
    View of the Olympic Training Center campus from atop the Visitor Center.
  5. Tour Cave of the Winds.  The main attraction at Cave of the Winds is, of course, a cave. It offers a fun tour of this cave which has an interesting back story.  This cave has been entertaining visitors continuously since 1881 making it one of Colorado’s oldest tourist attractions.  But, you’ll find more than just a cave here. The ropes course and gemstone panning were just a couple of the other opportunities for fun! For more information on visiting Cave of the Winds:  Colorado Springs: Cave of the WindsCave of the Winds Colorado Springs
  6. Visit the US Air Force Academy.  Wow! This is one of those proud to be an American experiences.  Don’t miss the movie in the visitor center which provides a glimpse into the daily life of these brave men and women.  And the chapel? It is simply spectacular! For more information on visiting the US Air Force Academy:  The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs

    The Cadet Chapel at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
    The Cadet Chapel
  7. Ride the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is just plain fun.  The views are outstanding as the train climbs to over 14,000 feet far above the treeline.  You might even get to see some bighorn sheep. This train ride is a really neat experience! At the top you are given time to walk around and take photos.
  8. Explore the Western Museum of Mining and Industry.  Colorado has a rich mining history, and the  Western Museum of Mining and Industry provides a glimpse into this history with several interactive exhibits and gives you the opportunity to see industrial machinery from the past  in action.  There is also a panning station to practice your gold panning. And while we didn’t find gold, we had a blast trying!Western Museum of Mining and Industry

    Colorado Springs Travel-29
    Unfortunately, we found only fool’s gold!
  9. Hike Red Rock Canyon Open Space. This is a neat recreational area in Colorado Springs which makes for a great picnic spot.  You can also go hiking or biking while you’re there. It’s a nice place to enjoy the outdoors without leaving town! Red Rock Canyon Open SpaceColorado Springs Travel-5

Did I leave something out? I know I did! I’ll just have to check out more of the incredible adventures in and around Colorado Springs on my next visit!