Great Wolf Lodge Opening Soon in So Cal

All I can say is WOW ! We got a sneak peek at the soon to be opening family friendly destination coming here in our So Cal back yard March 2016! The Great Wolf Lodge is a year round indoor water park resort and so much more. Serving up first class service, entertainment and variety of amenities the entire family will enjoy all under one roof. It's a destination that will have you on site the entire duration of your trip. Read all about what the Lodge has to offer and see why we are so excited about it, I bet you will be too.

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Enjoy your stay at Family Friendly Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel #HofsasHouse #CarmelByTheSea #SoCal2Carmel

Disclaimer:  We were invited to stay at Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel.  All opinions are my own.

Whenever I told anyone that I was going on a trip to Carmel they had this look of joy on their face as they were reminiscing the time they traveled to this small town next to the shore.  Oh they talked about the wine, the shops, the food, and the perfect little town that they have fallen in love with.  Most of the people I talked to prior to the visit said they visited with their significant other and how romantic the town was.  So I wondered is this a right place for our family?  I was happy to discover that the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel is a family friendly hotel.  Ready to take this trip with me?  Let's go!

The drive took a little over 5 hours for us with two kids who did a great job in the travel.  When we arrived at the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel we were greeted with a warm reception.  They asked how our travel was and asked what are plans were.  Prior to leaving of course I did a huge search on what to do in Carmel and made a list of what I thought we should do.  Talked to the hostess and she was filling me up with information.  She then said "Why don't you rest and tomorrow morning let's get together and I can help you out".  I was so thankful for the help. 

We went to the room and I was really pleased by the HUGE room we had.  It had a bedroom with a King Size Bed and bathroom.  The front room had two twin beds, fireplace, a kitchenette with fridge, microwave, sink, and dishes to use.   

The room came with a balcony that had a view of the ocean.  The kids loved this!  I loved....

The wine and cheese that was screaming my name.  Look I didn't wait to positioned them perfectly for a good picture I just started opening and uncorking and pouring!  Perfect way to get me to unwind after the trip.

That evening we went to Beach House Restaurant.  Which is 6 miles from the Hofsas House and if you want to take a scenic route you can take the 17 mile drive from Hofsas to Beach House Restaurant.  Just look at the food!  Meatloaf wrapped in BACON!  Need I say more?  With an ocean view the kids will be entertained watching the sunset as you dine.  The path behind the restaurant takes you to a little cove that your little ones enjoy watching the waves crash into the sand.  

To learn more about our evening at Beach House Restaurant - CLICK HERE

The next morning we had a wonderful Continental Breakfast.  The Hofsas House Hotel provides you with a tray and you it up with goodies.  It was nice for my husband to go down and pick up a tray for the whole family to enjoy in the room.  When searching for an hotel I am always looking for a place that has Continental Breakfast.  It really cuts the cost down for us. 

After breakfast I went to the lobby to discuss my plans for the day.  I am so happy I did!  The staff is filled with so much information.  Letting you what else you can see along the way.  From the prior day she discovered that we liked to hike a lot and so she talked to me about Point Lobos and the 17 mile drive and even handed me  binoculars to borrow for our day!  

We did the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is 5 miles from the Hofsas House Hotel.  AMAZING place!  We spent 4 hours there and we could of easily spent more time!  If your toddler can handle no stroller I really recommend leaving it in the car.  

To learn more about aquarium - CLICK HERE

We then went to the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary after the aquarium which was just 2 miles from there or 6 miles from the Hofsas House.  This is a quick stop with a easy parking and a short easy path that is perfect for little ones.  They will be amazed by all of the monarch butterflies that they see!

To learn more about Monarch Sactuary - CLICK HERE

We were so tired from the day that the rest of the evening we kept it low key and relaxed in the room.  The next day we stop at 5th Avenue Deli to pick up lunch to take with us to Point Lobos.  5th Avenue Deli is just 2 blocks from the Hofsas House Hotel and the selection of food will not only make your mouth water, but will make it hard to choose to narrow it down.

To learn more about 5th Avenue Deli - CLICK HERE

Now let me tell you have Point Lobos!  The Hofsas House Hotel had recommend that we go there for a taste of what Big Sur was about and boy they were not wrong!  Such beauty!  Point Lobos is less than 5 miles away from Hofsas House Hotel and with an entrance fee of $10 that you can use at any of the State Parks that day.  WOW what views!  The hiking trails are short and easy for kids.  Some of the ones next to the cliffs can make you nervous but just holding your little's hand you feel secure.  

To learn more about Point Lobos - CLICK HERE

It was hard saying goodbye to Carmel as there was so much we didn't do!  This is my wish list for next time:

  • 17 mile drive
  • Wine Walk
  • Window Shopping
  • Drinking wine on the beach
  • Fire and smores on the beach
  • Bike Ride
  • Visiting Pebble Beach
  • Visiting Garland Regional
  • Visiting Pacific Grove Natural History Museum

So many things to do!   

Preview Big Sur at Point Lobos Carmel #HofsasHouse #CarmelByTheSea #SoCal2Carmel

We were invited to stay at the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel which is 5 miles from Point Lobos.  The hostess at the hotel was right.  She said, "If you want a taste of Big Sur you have to go to Point Lobos".  AMAZING place!!!! 

If you would like to learn more about the Hofsas House Hotel >>> CLICK HERE

You pay $10 for entrance that you can use at other State Parks along the way.  There is plenty of parking near the shore and the views are unbelievable!  You will see people taking in the inspiration and painting.  My kids wished that they could see how the painting would finish.  I can't wait to try a mini project like this with my kids.

Most of the hiking trails were easy and wide.  Some parts we had to pick up my toddler or hold is hand cause it was really close to the cliffs.  You stop every couple of feet to admire the views! 

You will see seals resting on rocks.  There is a bench were you can sit and enjoy watching them climb up to the rock or swim around.  We could also hear sea lions, but they were really hard to see as they are far.  If you have binoculars bring them or borrow from the Hofsas House Hotel.  

Not much more to say the pictures say it all!  

Go under the sea at Monterey Bay Aquarium #HofsasHouse #CarmelByTheSea #SoCal2Carmel

Disclaimer:  I received a pass to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium all opinions are my own. 

WOW just WOW this aquarium is unbelievable!  We were staying at the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel and it is just 5 miles from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  There is a parking area just one block from the aquarium.  I suggest that you purchase your tickets in advance.  If you did you can bypass the line and head inside to will call or to the entrance.  Just tell the attendance you have purchased in advance.

To find out more information about the Hofsas House Hotel >>> CLICK HERE

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The views of the sea creatures is just amazing.  We spent hours there and we could of easily spent more.

Upstairs in the Flippers, Fluke, and Fun area parents can take a break as the kids explore and interact with drawing a seal or learning about whales.

If you get to do a feeding show you have to do the Open Sea Feeding were you watch as they feed tuna, sharks, sardines and others in their spectacular Open Sea exhibit.

You will awe out loud as you watch the sardines swim together to catch their food.  This is a must do!  So make the time and come early or late!

The Jellies Experience is super cool for both kids and adults!  The way the exhibit is it's like you are right there swimming next to them.  The glass is so clear and they are float around moving their tentacles so close of view.  Even toddlers don't have a hard time seeing the exhibit which is a huge plus for that I don't have to carry him!

The Kelp Forest is another great area for kids and toddlers.  They have a touch zone for kids to get up close to crabs, kelp, and sea slugs.  Go to the far end for the toddler area, a perfect height for them.  The kids can also crawl through their own viewing area made just for them.

The rocky shore area is another great area for kids to explore the touch pools.  They have rays that you can touch, my son had a hard time touching them as they didn't get close.  With my husband's he was able to gently touch them.  Explore the real shore as you find crabs and clams.

I wish we had more time to explore!  We will definitely be back!

Be part of the Monarch journey at Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary #HofsasHouse #CarmelByTheSea #SoCal2Carmel

We stayed at the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel when we visited the Pacific Grove Monarch Sanctuary.  It is just six miles from the Hofsas House Hotel and an easy in out if you are going to the Beach House Restaurant or Monterey Bay Aquarium.  We were so glad that the Hofsas House Hotel let us borrow the binoculars to get a better view of the monarchs.

To read about the Hofsas House Hotel >>> CLICK HERE

Parking is FREE and so is the entrance.  This is a quick stop on your trip (20 minutes maximum).  Easy, short, and wide trail for toddlers.  At first when you get there you don't really see all the monarch's.  You see a couple flying by here and there and then you notice them!

If you take another look you will realize that those things you thought were leaves on the tree are actually butterflies.  An amazing site and awe seeing them clustered together so closely.  You will see other monarchs arriving and leaving.  Bring binoculars for a better look!  The best time to go is between noon and 3pm when the sun shines through the trees for a better view plus there is a docent there.

Teach your kids about this amazing journey that they butterflies take.  Read books to your kids prior to the trip about the monarch's.  One of my favorites is:


Overlook the Ocean with a great meal at Beach House Restaurant #HofsasHouse #CarmelByTheSea #SoCal2Carmel

Disclaimer:  I received a gift certificate to Beach House Restaurant.  All opinions are my own.

The first night we arrived at the Hofsas House Hotel in Carmel we went out to dinner at the Beach House Restaurant.  The Beach House Restaurant is about six miles from the Hofsas House Hotel.  You can take a long drive through the 17 mile drive if you would like.  The restaurant is in a beautiful setting looking over the ocean.  If you could get there early to enjoy the sunset.

To read about the Hofsas House Hotel >>> CLICK HERE

We were nervous taking our two boys to a nice restaurant like this, but they did great and the staff was really attentive.  The meatloaf wrapped in bacon was really good, even the mashed potatoes and carrots that were underneath were the best I have ever had.  The King Salmon both my boys loved and the Steak was very delicious.  Even my husband that doesn't care for steak couldn't stop eating it.


Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf - glazed carrots, smashed potatoes, mushroom demi glace, frizzled onions

Grilled Creative King Salmon - butter-braised lentils, spinach, charred lemon
beurre blanc

Steak Frites au Poivre - 14 oz. rib eye, herbed fries, peppercorn reduction

Andrew Molera State Park Big Sur #HofsasHouse #CarmelByTheSea #SoCal2Carmel

Andrew Molera State Park is in Big Sur.  You pay $10 for the State Parks in which you can use all day throughout other State Parks.  We were staying at the Hofsas House in Carmel and decided to drive back trough Big Sur.  

We had stopped at 5th Avenue Deli to pick up lunch before our drive.


After you park there are two hiking trails you can take.  To the beach or to the river.  We knew we wanted to go to the beach.  You pass a small creek that the kids would love to cross.  The hike is one mile and it is a nice easy path.  Warning though there was tons of poison oak!  I was a little nervous making sure my kids didn't wonder into the leaves or fall.  Great views of turkey vulture and I think I saw a California Condor!

You will walk for a long time, remember it is a mile hike.  Then finally you hear the waves and get to the sand.  The beach wasn't exactly what I had pictured.  In my mind I pictured a sandy shore that as we got there the kids and I would run around in the sand and enjoy our lunch.  Well it is sandy, but not much of it.  Rocky and lots of flies and seagulls.  Still a great hike and a beautiful beach to discover and see nature just not for me.

Plan a picnic in Carmel with 5th Avenue Deli #HofsasHouse #CarmelByTheSea #SoCal2Carmel

Disclaimer:  I received a gift certificate to purchase items at 5th Avenue Deli.  All opinions are my own!

The 5th Avenue Deli is just 2 blocks from the Hofsas House in Carmel.  It a cute little store with all the fixings to have the perfect picnic lunch on the beach or park.


The deli is filled with lots of goodies from Main Dish, Salads, and Soups.  We wanted a picnic lunch box which came with a sandwich, an apple, a bag of chips, and a cookie in a box ready to eat.

Yes in Carmel you can have alcohol on the beach.  There is no alcohol allowed on the roadway, pathway, or after 10pm.  The 5th Avenue Deli has a wide assortment of wine for you take with you.

We came in early and picked up a picnic box for lunch down the coast.  We stopped at Andrew Molera State Park for lunch on Big Sur.



Click on any of the images for more on our trip to Carmel!


Exploring Kings Canyon National Park #JuicyFruitFunSide #CollectiveBias

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

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Have you ever explored Kings Canyon National Park?  It is a five hour drive from Southern California near Fresno.  The last hour of the drive is a windy road, I tend to get car sick, but having Juicy Fruit really helped.  

Walmart Check Out Lines is where you will find the Juicy Fruit Gum!

Walmart Check Out Lines is where you will find the Juicy Fruit Gum!

Before we left we headed to Walmart to get some supplies and snacks for the kids for the trip.

Walmart stores across the country will be having Juicy Fruit demos on:

 -  July 25-27, 11am - 4pm

-  August 1-3, 11am - 4pm on Friday/Saturday and 1pm-6pm on Sunday


We stayed at Sunset Campground which is close to the Giant Sequoias.  You can hike to the Grant Grove Village which has a restaurant, a small grocery store, and the visitor center.  The campground also has Ranger Programs during the summer.  The kids kept busy looking for bugs, playing with friends, and collecting sticks.  

The first day we hiked through the campground and saw this deer.  She was very close and the kids were in awe.  We crossed a meadow by walking on a giant log!  The kids were in heaven.  A couple of days later in the campground we saw the same deer near our campsite.  She was scared off by some kids who were running up to see her.  We later found her at the meadow eating her dinner.  The kids and I settled after dinner on a boulder overlooking the meadow and just watched.  She looked so peaceful in the setting.  

At the visitor center we picked up some Junior Ranger Packets and unfortunately cause the kids were bouncing from exhibit to exhibit I didn't get any great pictures.  The visitor center will help you schedule your day with maps, tour times, and a ten minute movie about the park.  The packets are designed for specific age groups and when your child is done you return the packet to the Visitor Center to become a Junior Ranger and receive a pin.  

Wait until you see the Giant Sequoias!  You can hike from your campground to Grants Grove, but I recommend if you have kids to save their energy and drive there so that you can explore even more.  I also recommend doing a Ranger Program there.  Your family gets to learn more than just reading the signs.  The tour is about an hour long.  I have done this twice now and both with different rangers and each experience has been slightly different with added stories.  My kids did great on this tour.  There were times that my toddler wanted to be carried, but most of the time he walked with the group.  The ranger passes out pictures as she/he tells stories about how we discovered these giants.  You get to see what a Giant Sequoia cone looks like and learn how natures forces help grow this giant beauty.

Take a drive to Road's End and your kids will thank you for the water play!  The drive is about an hour from the campground with lots of beautiful views, the road is very windy which I was thankful to have the Juicy Fruit gum with me as it helped get me through the car sickness and enjoy the ride.

You will need bathing suits, water shoes, and I recommend life vests in case they want to swim or jump off of rocks. 

When we arrived we hiked to Zumalt Meadow which is a 1.5 mile loop.  The hike is very easy and lots to see as you are crossing the river over a bridge, walk along side it and even go under some boulders that the kids loved.  If you want to go further than the loop you can continue to Roaring River Falls.  We didn't get far as the kids wanted to play in the water.

At the Kings River kids stayed busy with playing in the water and rocks.  The water is cold but the kids didn't mind at all.  We walked up and down river to explore some more and I was so proud of my kids when they wanted to jump off the rock!   

On the way to and from Roads End you can stop to stretch your legs and explore with short hikes to falls and views.

Roaring River Falls you hike a nice paved path about a quarter mile.  We stopped at a picnic area and saw this beautiful buck crossing the river!  Grizzly Falls is another easy hike, but you can also see it from your vehicle if your kids fall asleep.  The first time we went to Kings Canyon my toddler fell asleep when we stopped here so my hubby and I took turns hiking to get a closer look.

Do the Ranger Led Programs!  Your kids will learn so much!  We took this John Muir Ranger Led Hike in which the ranger dressed and acted as John Muir.  We hadn't even left the parking lot and the kids were filled with information.  As we hiked "John Muir" would talk to the kids about the different types for trees.  We saw a dragronfly pass us and he had the kids pretending they were dragonflies as he explained why they are so important and how they live.  Anything we walked into that the kids found interest he would stop and explain.  The hike is 1 1/2 hour long and however far he got during this time is where we stopped.  You can then continue on with the hike or turn around and go back to the car.  

The final day for us was time to unwind and relax.  About fifteen miles from the campground is Hume Lake.  After the busy days we had this was rewarding for both the kids and us.  With the sandy beaches the kids played and hubby was happy that he could escape for some fishing.  The parking lot gets full so get there early.  You can take a small hike and explore the rock slide area.

Our trip was four days, but we have done it in three days.  If you are not into camping or hiking stay outside the park and just drive through.  

Have you ever been to Kings Canyon?  What was your favorite place to explore there?  

All Aboard the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad

Disclaimer:  I received tickets for this ride.  All opinions are my own.  I was going to go anyways regardless!


This week we went to Yosemite!  This was our first time there as a family and I will be posting on our adventures, stay tuned!  First we went to visit the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad.  What a treat for the kids and lets face it for myself.  They have daily departures of Logger Steam Train which is what we did.


We arrived an hour early cause I am weird when it comes to being on time at places.  Especially places I have never been to.  We were so happy that we did!  They have a cute little museum that you can walk through and the kids favorite Gold Panning.  I was happy they were entertained.  Then they heard the train move, we rushed upstairs to see the train being set up.  


We grabbed our tickets and were ready to go!  You have a choice of sitting inside or outside.  My recommendation is this sit outside at the very last cart on the highway side.  This will provide you great views and the narrator is there so you can ask plenty of questions.  The trip is one hour with a stop were you can stretch your legs, look for bugs as my kids did, or ask questions.


As you can see the views are amazing!  Hearing the choo-choo and chugga chugga noises that the train does and seeing the release of water was a treat.  The train goes slow which I appreciated.  The narrator explains the history of logging and the different types of flowers and trees found there.


During the fifteen minute stop we explored and watch the engine being filled up with water.  We asked about how it all worked and my kids were so quiet listening to every word.  We then changed and moved up front per my kids request.


At the end of the trip if you want a snack they have a menu for everyone to choose from and picnic tables that were nice and clean to sit at.  I would recommend this for anybody going to Yosemite.