Best Places to See Nature Outside NYC

Best Places to See Nature Outside NYC



New York City is filled with the sounds of the city from the honking of taxis, to people talking on their phones, and sirens at all hours of the night. Sometimes though, you just want to escape out into nature and hear the sounds of a stream running or birds chirping. Here are some of the best places to see nature outside NYC.

Best Places to See Nature Outside NYC

In less than a 1.5 hours from NYC is Bear Mountain State Park along the west side of the Hudson River. You can see wildlife like raccoons, wild turkey, deer, foxes, and even black bears. Don’t forget to stop in and check out the Trailside Museum and Zoo while you are there. The lake is the perfect spot for a summertime picnic or lace up your ice skates in the winter as it turns into the picture-perfect skating rink. This park has it all and is a great day trip to escape the city.

Head over to Yonkers, which is just 35 minutes north of NYC, and spend the day at Sprain Ridge Park. If you are a flower and plant lover, you have to check out their arboretum. They also have a lake and two picnic areas for you to enjoy a bite to eat with your family. Bring a blanket and spend some time soaking in the sun’s rays and listening to the calming sounds of nature.

Less than an hour north of the city, you can spend some time seeing bald eagles at George’s Island Park. This waterfront park along the Hudson River has tidal wetlands, boat access, and some great trails for hiking or a trail run. Hard to imagine this little oasis is so close to the city!

These are just a few great places to see nature outside of NYC in just a couple hours. Grab the kids or that someone special and head out for a day filled with bird watching, swimming in a lake, or just relaxing and taking in the scenery.

Where to Pitch a Tent in New York

                       Are you a camper? Find out where to pitch a tent in New York!

Where to Pitch a Tent in New York

New York State is filled with amazing places to pitch a tent. Whether you like to hike up mountains, fish in a crystal blue lake, or just read a book in a good camp chair, New York has you covered. There are many federal and state run campgrounds throughout New York ranging from $15-55 per night. Typically the higher the price the more you can expect in amenities such as hot showers and flush toilets. Federal campgrounds usually do not have showers or laundry and are thus much cheaper. If you have kids, look for the campgrounds that have ranger stations as they often will have camp programs for kids. Here are a few suggestions on where to pitch a tent in New York.

Where to Pitch a Tent in New York

Where to Pitch a Tent in New York


Allegany State Park

At 65,000 square feet, Allegany State Park is the largest park in New York. Here you can camp, fish, hike, and even take in the beautiful waterfalls of Bridal Falls. There are Red House and Science Lake for you to put your boat in or do a little swimming. This park is handicapped accessible and has electric hookups as well as shower facilities for campers. It is an amazing place to spend a weekend! Bird watching and wildlife viewing is pretty awesome here. There are so many activities to do for the whole family, that you can’t go wrong with choosing Allegany State Park for a weekend getaway into nature.

Beaverkill Campground

Calling all trout fisherman to Beaverkill River, which is right next to Beaverkill Campground. This park is incredibly beautiful and Beaverkill River is great place to have a picnic next to and awesome fishing abounds. Pull up a chair, a good book, and get lost in the sounds of nature by the river. This is the campground where you go if you want a true camping experience. It can fill up quickly, but it isn’t overly large so it doesn’t feel like you are camping with the whole neighborhood. There is a 150-year old wooden bridge that is the perfect place for a picnic and to capture a great family photo.

Meacham Lake Campground

If you like hearing the sound of loons calling out over a pristine lake, head over to Meacham Lake Campground. They have daily organized activities for the kids, and a great place for the fisherman in the family to have fun too. This is one of the most scenic and beautiful campgrounds in New York and should be on your short list of where to go this weekend.


Where have you pitched a tent?

Family vacations in Maine

Maine Travel- Discover the Serenity of Family Vacations in Maine

The state of Maine offers lots of fun things to see and do for those looking for a down east family vacation. Summer vacation in this state means lots of fresh lobster, rowboat rides, wild blueberries, and pristine sandy beaches.


The southernmost part of Maine is extremely popular for family fun and relaxation.  It lies between New Hampshire and Kennebunkport, and has a luscious and lively beachside boardwalk with an abundance of sandy beaches.  This is one of the places that those living in Maine love to visit during the summer.

A common scenario found in this neck of the woods is a mix old and new. Small children really enjoy touring the Civil War forts and learning about the past. Other places that children like to visit in Maine, is the wild bird sanctuaries. Here you will find native species of birds as well as plant life.


You and your family can feast on seafood snacks and various sides from the seaside snack bars.  As you chow down on some homemade Maine chowder, you can stroll around gazing at the homemade goods or the fresh fruit and vegetables being offered by local farmers at roadside stands.

While in the southern coast of Maine you can also step back in time and visit the local arcades which will bring back some fond memories of games that you perhaps once played. If you happen to be vacationing with your kids, you can bet that they will also be thrilled and amused by the honky-tonk style of the arcade games. Plan to spend a couple of hours playing the games.

You will encounter many locals who enjoy wading through the tidal waters or lining up for a lobster roll as they walk hand in hand with their children with buckets and shovels swinging to and fro.


Other Maine attractions that both adults and children can enjoy include Acadia National Park, National Scenic Byways, Maine Art Museum Trail, Maritime Museums, windjammers and lighthouses. As for accommodations, there are many bed & breakfasts, hotels, motels, and inns. Call your travel agent or the accommodation resource yourself for updated pricing and availability.

Maine in known as the pine tree state and is the largest of all of the New England states. The scenic beauty of this state never ceases to amaze both locals and travelers. A spectacular display of endless white pine trees, rocky coastline, rugged mountains, wilderness, and white sandy beaches await you.

Have you been to Maine? What was your favorite part?

Mother’s Day at Hammonasset Beach State Park #SiennaDiaries

After a delicious breakfast made by my family on Mother’s Day, I realized we had no plans for the day, and decided since it was due to be absolutely gorgeous out, we needed to head down to the Connecticut shore and spend a day unplugged together.  AWESOME choice, I have to tell you.  


If only I’d remembered to pack myself a sweatshirt.. but oh well. Thankfully, we have the use of a 2014 Toyota Sienna for a few months as part of the Sienna Diaries program and were able to ride in comfort AND luxury down to the shore.  It was nice to have so much space to throw in all of our gear we might need (and some we’d probably never need…I’m good at overpacking). 


Yes, this is almost all stuff packed for one “quick trip” for our family to the beach.  Can you imagine what we’d pack if it was to be hot and we needed extra drinks? We didn’t have swim suits but I did have a bag with a change of clothes for all of us. I knew at least one kid was going to go into the water no matter how cold it was (I was right).

The kids were super excited to go to the ocean.  We’ve actually not really been very much (twice for the littler two).


There are no members of my family who will just take a normal picture.  My oldest thinks we’re all crazy so she tends to hide for car pics lately (see her hand?)

Once we got to the beach I was so happy we decided to do this day trip. We went to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT.  Tons of beach space, and lots of different areas to explore.  We headed way down by Miegs Point so we could do some exploring on the point to start our day around the Salt Marsh.



As you can see, I didn’t plan their footwear (or my own) well at all for anything but sandy beaches. Live and learn.  We had a blast. We’ve never gone to the ocean much, and never on a day that was chilly like this, so it was a lot of fun to explore and see a lot more of what Hammonasset had to offer besides sandy beach and cool ocean water :)


There were treasures to be found, tons of snails, scallops, and other fun creatures around.  We found all kinds of cool rocks and shells to check out. I was pretty amazed there was not a boo-boo for anyone since we were (almost) all in flip flops.


My oldest was always far ahead and loved climbing the rocks.  I kind of think she may be part monkey at this point. She’s quite obsessed with climbing trees but none near the beach seemed to be tall enough for her climbing preferences.



Everyone liked this area with the logs.  Fun for photos. (I wish I’d brought my camera not just my phone!)


Once we were all kind of ready to be done climbing on rocks, we thought we’d head back to the Sienna, grab a snack, and then off to spend some time with our toes in the sand.

I did grab this shot of all 3 kids and I think it was the best Mother’s Day gift I could get- a shot with all three kids and it so totally “grabs” their personalities. My oldest is being a mother hen, my youngest is a total goofball (like her mama) and my son is acting all “cool.”  I love this photo for tons of reasons!


This is the entirety of my time in the water.  It was about 78 inland on Mother’s Day, and probably 68 at the shore. Too cold even for me.



Not, however, too cold for the kids.  Or at least, for my oldest.  I wish I’d grabbed a picture of her “falling” into the water.  She thought it was great.  Until the wind picked up an hour later and she got cold anyway!


The little kids were quite happy to settle in and play in the sand away from the water and I was happy to just sit back and enjoy the day.  It was awesome.


I have to say, I think this was one of the best beach days my family has had.  NOT having hot temps meant we were all more comfortable and able to enjoy ourselves longer.  We had so much fun at Hammonasset and are actually talking about possibly renting one of the campsites later in the summer and camping out in the tent!  There’s so much more we need to explore and do at this beautiful State Park!! When we do, we’ll be glad to have the Sienna- so much room for all of the gear that we can’t seem to pare down!



Thank you to Toyota for inviting us to take part in this semester of the Sienna Diaries program.  We’ll be sharing more of our adventures with the Sienna over the next few months!


Where have your adventures taken you lately?


Unlimited-Luxury Getaways with Dreams Resorts & Spas #ResortEscape

This post brought to you by Dreams Resorts & Spas. All opinions are 100% mine.

It’s 3 degrees this morning.  Again.  Winter, I’m kind of over you.  Which would be great and all but it’s still January and I’m in New England so I have at least 2 full more months of this cold before spring even starts to consider making an appearance. So, naturally, I’m dreaming about a beachy getaway for the hubby and myself. Specifically, I’m thinking about a kid free getaway at the Dreams Resorts & Spas– 9 award-winning, luxurious ambiance for adults and couples with children in tropical beachfront settings throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Why Dreams Resorts & Spas? There are many reasons, but when I see things like  Unlimited-Luxury® I get kind of giddy.

dreams resorts spas tulum

We did all inclusive on our honeymoon and fell in love with it! We were able to get the most bang for our buck going to an All-inclusive luxury resort, and it meant we didn’t have to budget our food and drink money for the week.  We did bring money for souvienirs and extra excursions we went on, but mostly? We needed nothing.  It was marvelous. Carefree for sure.

Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta


I'd really, really like to have a getaway to Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa in the Dominican Republic. They have beaches, fun dance classes, and even a mechanical bull (bucket list, shhh).  Dreams La Romana Resort & Spa is located on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic and known for its pristine beaches and lush tropical jungle. We can enjoy some rest and relaxation on the beach and then head out to explore the jungle. Sounds pretty marvelous to me!


There's also Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa in Riviera Maya, Mexico,

  • Get your daily catch by going deep sea fishing (additional costs may apply)

  • Become a culinary wiz with cocktail and cooking lessons (additional costs may apply)

  • Go on our guided hiking tour for adults and children through the beach and garden areas

  • The whole family can join in and compete with fellow guests in our Beach Olympics

  • Explore the ocean with non-motorized water activities, like kayaking and catamarans

Dreams Villamagna Nuevo Vallarta in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico

  • Enjoy a complimentary bike tour of Nuevo Vallarta

  • Zip across the ocean with our wave runners and water skiing for free

  • Scuba diving center and introductory diving lessons in pool (additional costs may apply)

  • Soar high with our on-site


What signature features/amenities guests can expect at all Dreams Resorts & Spas?

– Spacious suites with standout amenities like 24-hour room service and daily restocked mini bars

– Average of 5 gourmet a la carte dining options ranging from Mexican cuisine to Italian, French and more – no wristbands or reservations required

– Lively bars serving unlimited premium brand beverages

– Explorer's Kids Club (ages 3-12) and Core Zone Teens Club (ages 13-17) with supervised activities by specially trained staff at no extra cost – great for Family travel

– Unlimited Connectivity, a suite of interactive apps allowing guests to call send and receive international calls without incurring roaming charges, create personalized profiles to contact staff directly, receive up-to-date daily activity calendars and more

– Dreams Spa by Pevonia offers a la carte treatment options ranging from face and body to massage and salon, and even treatments for teens and kids.

Dreams Resorts spas LaRomana

What can guests expect of the Dreams Resorts & Spas brand?

– Classic, wholesome, relaxing, entertaining, beachfront ambiance with great service and entertainment focus

– Something for every age

– In easy to access/desirable destinations with of flight options year round at affordable prices

– Luxury vacation at a great price

– Award-winning (ex. AAA Four Diamond)

Who stays at Dreams Resorts & Spas?

– Couples and couples with kids

– Families

– Travelers that appreciate/seek great value for money

What is YOUR Dreams Resorts & Spas dream vacation like? I want to know!  

The winning blogger who has the most shares from their post about #ResortEscape will win a trip for 2 to the resort promoted by them.  The bonus? The winning blogger gets to pick one of their readers a free trip for 2 as well!  So… tell me which resort you’d like to visit! Share the post- pin it, Facebook it, Tweet, share on Google plus, wherever you want – just use the post link so we can maybe both win!

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5 Things You Must do When Visiting Puerto Rico

This post brought to you by Puerto Rico, The All-Star Island. All opinions are 100% mine.

Puerto Rico is a 5-star vacation destination filled with world-class attractions. Whether you’re a golfer, foodie, the adventure type, or a beach (rum) bum, Puerto Rico has everything that you want in a nice relaxing vacation – and who doesn’t need a nice relaxing vacation? Especially right after the holidays…
Puerto Rico Tourism recently partnered with popular travel review site Trip Advisor to transform real traveler 5-star reviews into stunningly beautiful short films narrated by Puerto Rican stars. These reviews will make you want to See Puerto Rico and Live your own 5-star vacation story in Puerto Rico.
5 Things you Must do When Visiting Puerto Rico:
1. Glow like an angel in the water in the Bioluminescent bays. Puerto Rico has 270 miles of coastline and featured in the Top 10 beaches from Travel Channel — including Flamenco Beach in Culebra, often cited as one of the best beaches in the world.
2. Visit the only rainforest under US national park service, El Yunque, and climb to the clouds. What an awesome photo opp that will be!
3. Enjoy horse back riding or the magnificent Camuy caverns that runs through the 3rd largest subterranean river in the world.
4. Experience the delicacies of Puerto Rican gastronomy and its famous Rums.
5. Leave your passport at home! Just hop on a plane and go – no foreign money or passports are required to visit Puerto Rico!
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Internet Safety While Traveling Abroad

Many people travel to faraway lands for business or pleasure trips. Chances are they also have some electronic device in which they can connect to the internet in their carry-on or luggage. Most countries offer some sort of internet access, and connecting to the internet to read/send email or for other matters is the norm, no matter if you are a tourist or a local. This makes internet safety while traveling abroad a huge issue and we need to protect ourselves!



Image via Wikipedia

Locals in a foreign country may know how to protect themselves on the internet. However, many tourists are not aware of things they should or should not do in order to protect their internet privacy and their internet accessible equipment from hackers.

Tips to Keep You Safe on the Internet While Overseas

  1. Avoid Public Internet Access- When traveling overseas; avoid using public computers for internet access. This means do not use public computers that are in libraries, coffee shops, or internet cafes. There is no guarantee that the network is secure. Those who may be looking at what you are doing could easily intercept your personal information. There could also be a device monitoring every keystroke that you make.
  2. Have a Good Firewall Installed- If you should happen to take your laptop with you on your trip, make sure that you have a good firewall program installed. This will help to ensure that your computer is safe from viruses and spyware.
  3. Do Banking on Your Own Computer at Home- Make sure all your internet banking is done at home. There is no need to do your internet-banking while in a foreign country. There is no way to make sure that the internet is secure.
  4. Use a VPN Connection- When on your laptop overseas; make sure you connect via a Virtual Private Network. This will help to ensure that your internet connection is secure and cannot be intercepted. With a VPN connection, your internet traffic is routed through that server.

Be internet savvy when you are overseas by utilizing the above tips to keep your personal information secure.


You may want to consider using Hotspot Shield- a VPN service. Hotspot Shield secures browsing sessions, detects and blocks malware, hides IP addresses, and allows you to access blocked websites (e.g. Netflix from certain countries). It’s a free download and can protect your kids while they are online.


Futures at Fenway with Kidz Bop

A few weeks ago we were invited to visit Fenway Park in Boston for a fun day of watching Baseball and Kidz Bop for the Futures at Fenway program.   We got to see Boston’s Double A affiliate, the Portland Seadogs play against the Harrisburg Senators.  The Seadogs won with a final score of 5-2.

Futures at Feway park


We had great seats behind home plate and loaded up on hot dogs, peanuts, pretzels and cotton candy.  It was a gorgeous day at a historic and cool ball field.  This was the first time in the history of Fenway Park that they allowed dogs in the park, we even saw one man carrying his cat.

Fenway Park Seadogs

The game was followed by a Kidz Bop concert and then we spent a couple of hours walking up Newbury Street and at Faneuil Hall.  It was really a great family day.


kidz bop at fenway

Keep your eye out for more Futures at Fenway days.  It was a really great experience for us and we would go again.  Futures at Fenway gives families a really affordable way to visit the park– ticket prices are just $5-30 for the event and all concessions are half off.  That’s a huge savings!  It also lets the Double A affiliate teams have a chance to play in the park as well.  This year, dogs were invited (with a signed release/waiver at the entrance) to enjoy the event as well.  We’ll be going next summer as a group with friends- won’t you join us?



7 Travel Tips for Expectant Mothers

When you are an expectant mother, everything will be a little more difficult. You will need to plan for trips so that you can enjoy yourself more. Several things can make your trip more enjoyable. This post about travel tips for expectant mothers is brought to you by our friends at


Photo Credit: Jennifer Mirock Photography

1. Try Not to Stress

Traveling brings out the stress in everyone. There is the stress of trying to remember everything you need, and the keeping the family corralled. When making the itinerary, you will want to make sure you add in time cushions for bathroom breaks, traffic, and getting lost. The more time you give yourself, the less likely you will be stressed about the trip. You will also want to plan to perform prenatal yoga in the morning and carry out breathing exercises as you get stressed.

2. Stay Active

When you travel, blood clots in the legs are very common. This is more so when you are pregnant. Plan for extra bathroom trips and take the time to get up and walk whenever possible. Road trips are easier to stop and get out to stretch. Airlines are cooperative with pregnant mothers who need to be able to walk the aisles occasionally.

3. Take Extra Snacks

Snacks are an important part of a pregnant woman’s diet. When you are traveling, you will want to make sure you have snacks packed so you can eat when you are hungry. It is best to pack some healthy choice items, such as carrot sticks or celery with peanut butter. Protein, fruits, and vegetables are all good choices when it comes to snacks.

4. Drink Water

Dehydration is a common problem for pregnant women, and dehydration leads to contractions. Regardless of the time of year, you should always pack water to drink throughout the trip. You will also want to consider this when you plan bathroom breaks.

5. Dress Comfortably

You will want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible on the trip. This means wearing yoga pants or maxi dresses that offer non-restrictive properties. You will also want to wear comfortable shoes that have insoles if possible. Maternity leggings are always a great item to have on hand as well to help reduce any pregnancy related swelling and discomfort that may arise. You may also go from hot to cold, so bring jackets just in case.

6. Bring Emergency Pack

Your emergency pack should have your medical records, insurance card, and doctor’s recommendations. You will also want to bring any medications and vitamins that you need. Finally, you should look at including hand sanitizer, lotion, and charging cables for your electronics in your pack.

7. Keep it Simple

When you are expecting, it is okay to have a simple suitcase. Wear simple clothing that is comfortable and lightweight. You want to relax on your trip so watch the weather and pack accordingly. In addition to wanting to stay comfortable, the lighter suitcase will be easier for you to transport to your room.

With these steps, you will find that traveling while pregnant will not be as difficult as it could be. You always want to keep your comfort in mind and plan for the unexpected. Traveling will be limited after the 32 week of pregnancy, so make sure you talk to your physician before leaving. They will inform you on whether it is safe for you to travel or not.


Family Vacation Plans in Missouri #VisitM

This post brought to you by Missouri Division of Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

I realized the other day that I’ve never been to Missouri.  You might be thinking “well, that’s not so strange” but it kind of is, since one of my sisters lived there and was married there.  I also have friends there- some “real life” and some blogging friends, and I’d love to visit with them and connect in person.  Missouri also seems to be a very family friendly place to visit.  I was quite pleasantly surprised at just how much there is to do, even on a tight budget!

We love to explore when we travel.  We are not sit on the beach and sun ourselves kind of people, although anyone who knows me knows I did my fair share in high school and college.  We like to get out and explore, see and do what there is to find.  Hiking famous trails?  Yes, please.  Water activities?  Absolutely.  Animals? Of course! My husband and kids would be happy to just go fishing in a new spot daily- I’m fine with fishing, and I do enjoy it, I just don’t like to touch the worms.  Or the fish.  I guess I like to cast and reel the line in.  There’s apparently thousands of great hunting and fishing spots in Missouri.  Who knew? (Probably people in Missouri knew, I do realize that).

If we were to make a trip out to Missouri, I think we’d probably spend a week- a few days to chill and visit friends…and a few days just exploring.

Exploring Day 1:

Ever heard of a float trip? Me either.  Or rather, I hadn’t until today. I Bing’ed it and I want to go tomorrow. it. We’d do this on day 1.

Visit Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home.  My kids love the books and they love the show.  It would be a “must do” for us.

Exploring Day 2:

Visit St. Louis Zoo (it’s FREE!)

Visit Grant’s Farm

Exploring Day 3: See where the “Wild West Began;”  visit St. Joseph and Independence, Mo.

Exploring Day 4: Professional Sports Game (season dependent) and kid museum visit!

Definitely see “the Arch” and enjoy some barbecue!!

Be sure to like VisitMO on Facebook and follow VisitMO on Twitter for news and events!  

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