Unforgettable Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia With Kids

Unforgettable Things to do in Tbilisi, Georgia With Kids

First, let me tell you, Tbilisi is one of my favorite cities in the world. There are so many things to do in Tbilisi, so much culture at the Silk Road crossroads, it’s hard to narrow it down. I have many memories as a Peace Corps volunteer coming into the capital from my home site. Now, this was over 10 years ago I can barely believe, but around every corner, there are memories and smiles, and ahas!

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Granted, many things I used to get excited about are no longer as dramatic and appealing:

Ahh! A hot shower as long as I want! And then for good measure, I’ll go to the sulfur baths to get all the winter dirt and grime scrubbed off of me!

No way! They have an internet connection!?

The electricity doesn’t usually go off in the capital!

An English bookstore?! Let’s go!

(I love Prospero’s Books and Caliban’s Coffee House on Rustaveli Street. I’ve spent a LOT of time there, and even had an apartment just around the corner up the hill for a while.)

Tbilisi’s had many changes in the past ten years, and so many have made it an awesome destination for tourists. Of course, one of the main things I love about Georgia is the AMAZING hospitality of the people. So many people are incredibly friendly and ready to go out of their way to help you out. Obviously, be careful, but if you even attempt some basic Georgian phrases you will be a prized welcome guest in someone’s store, B&B, or home. You pretty much can’t miss those eager to share the history, culture, and joy of their country.

Georgian language basics

Therefore, before we get on with our unforgettable things to do in Tbilisi as a family and with kids, let’s practice together:

Say:

gamarjoba (gah-mar-joe-bah) This means hello!

me lareni var (may lahren-ee var) My name is Lauren.

Tip here: You’ll want to insert your name instead of mine. 😉 In Georgian, you add an ee (long e) sound to the end of your name if it ends in a consonant sound, in this case. I’ll not trouble you with a bunch of grammar right now.

sasiamovnoa (sah-see-ah-mohv-noh-ah) It’s nice to meet you. (I love saying this word so had to add it in.)

didi madloba (dee-dee mahd-loh-bah) Thank you very much.

kargat (kar-gaht) Good-bye! (informal)

nakhvamdis (nahkh-vahm-dees) Good-bye!

Now say each 5 times fast. Kidding. However, practice makes perfect!

Amazing things to do in Tbilisi with kids

Narikala Fortress view of Tbilisi, Georgia

This past summer we brought both our kids to Georgia, and while traveling with kids is always more stressful than on your own, it was an amazing journey. Do you look at travel as education? I certainly do. There’s a ginormous (yes, ginormous) difference between pointing to a small green blob on the map and label it Georgia on an exam and visiting the country, interacting with the rich culture.

Where to stay: Airbnb

Tbilisi Airbnb kitchen with light from glass door balconyFirst be aware there are certainly a wide variety of hotels in Tbilisi such as the Marriott, Radisson Blu, Holiday Inn, Rooms Hotel Tbilisi, Betsy’s Hotel, and others. You’ll want to decide what kind of experience you’re looking for. Do you want a traditional hotel, a B&B with an amazing Georgian breakfast, or maybe like we did, your own apartment through Airbnb.

I can’t say enough good things about our experience with Airbnb in Georgia. We booked one in Tbilisi and in the west in Batumi when we were there, and had excellent accommodations and hosts. Often, the Airbnb host will pick you up at the airport for no extra charge, give you a mini-tour of the city on the way, and even take you back to the airport for your return flight no matter the crazy time.

Another plus with Airbnb is, personally, I like to have my own kitchen when we travel, especially with the kids. That way they can get up and going slowly, eat breakfast, and enjoy ourselves without rushing off.

Also, as a mom with a kid with a food allergy, it is really nice to prepare some of our own meals and not have to ask about preparation and ingredients.

All that to say, an Airbnb apartment in Old Town within walking distance of many sites is a fabulous option when you’re with kids. You may not consider it one of our official “things to do in Tbilisi”, but where you stay is important. As an Airbnb tip, when you’re selecting your location be sure it had many positive reviews and a history of people staying there.

Tbilisi Airbnb living room with kids on the couch

1. Mtatsminda Amusement Park

Tbilisi Mtatsminda Park entrance with Georgian fairy tale statues

Tbilisi Mtatsminda Amusement Park leaning houses Mtatsminda. The amusement park here is new in the last few years and an awesome activity for kids if they’re tired of visiting beautiful churches and touring Georgian museums. It’s a very popular spot for locals with children, not only tourists. If you look up the mountain to the Georgian Eiffel Tower (the Tbilisi TV Tower), you may see the Ferris wheel next to it. Yes, that’s where the park is located, right up at the top.

Luckily, you can get there pretty easily by taking the funicular from Old Town up to the top for some fabulous views of the city. Or, if you have a child like mine who absolutely refuses to ride the funicular and has an attack of nerves and vertigo just looking at it, you can drive. Or rather, have a taxi or someone drive you up the winding road to the park entrance.

If you are lucky enough to take the funicular to the top you will experience some awesome views and find yourself at the top of the world. First, take awhile to enjoy the view of the city and pick out all the places you’ve visited with the kids. The love this!

View overlooking Tbilisi from Mtatsminda

Next, turn around to find the beautiful white building, the fairly recently remodeled Funicular Restaurant. The three-story building was built from 1936-1938, and a long-time architectural landmark in the city. Moreover, I have it on good authority from the random person we met outside that it was a favorite restaurant of Stalin’s, the KGB, and featured in every single Soviet movie from the 60s-80s with a scene in Tbilisi.

Tbilisi Funicular Restaurant with blue sky

2. The Peace Bridge

Tbilisi, Georgia Peace Bridge

The Peace Bridge is a modern piece of architecture with a great pedestrian walkway. It’s impressive to the kids and located near the Rike Park and Funicular entrance. On your checklist of things to do in Tbilisi, walk across and take a family photo!

 

 

Tbilisi Peace Bridge

3. Rike Park (park area with play area, swings, giant chess board)

Rike Park and view of the President's Palace Rike Park is a fun place to walk around in the late afternoon with kids. After you get your photo taken at the Peace Bridge, come on down to the park. There’s a nice playground area for kids with swings and a play structure and even a giant chessboard! Enjoy the early evening and play time before your evening Georgian meal.

4. Old Town

The orange colored roofs of Old Town Tbilisi

Our Airbnb was located in a nice part of Old Town Tbilisi, and so much restoration has been done in the area recently! You’ll have a home base in Old Town to explore the traditional Georgian architecture, tourist shops, cafes, and parks.

If you’d like, you can easily get a tour guide to take you around on a walking tour or by bus or car. There are so many things to do in Tbilisi. Ask your Airbnb host if they know of a local company or ask at a local hotel. If you don’t speak the language and don’t want to be miming most of your trip, this could be a good option. Although, more and more Georgians have been learning English and can help you out.

Want to see more of Old Tbilisi?

Tbilisi, Georgia doors and windows

5. Metekhi Church and gardens

Metekhi Church, Tbilisi

First and foremost, Metekhi Church holds a special place in my heart because it’s the church where I was married. It’s located picturesquely above the Mtkvari River with the great statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali on horseback just in front. The story is that King Vakhtang built a church and residence on the location originally, the buildings destroyed by the Mongols in the 1235 invasion. In the late 1200s, King Demitrius II built the church and over the years it was fortified and restored. It’s been a barracks, a jail, and in Soviet times when religion was banned, an attempt at a museum was made then a theater.

Thankfully it’s been restored back to a church and today is a magnificent symbol and site of Tbilisi.

Tbilisi Vakhtang statue, MetekhiFor kids, there’s a nice little cafe just next door where you can grab an ice cream or a drink then wander around the church gardens. Say gamarjoba to jolly Father Tarieli if you pass him in the garden. You’ll see some amazing views of Old Tbilisi, and have a place to pray and meditate as long as the kids allow. If you go in the church women are expected to cover their heads with a scarf, and there’s a box of shared scarves for guests in most churches (I much prefer my own!). Don’t be alarmed, but a kindly volunteer may chase you around with a scarf until you cover your head.

 

6. Narikala Fortress

From Metekhi you will be able to get a full view of Narikala Fortress in the distance. The kids will love exploring the old “castle” as you wander along the old wall and yard surrounding. The Church of St. Nicolas was rebuilt recently in 1996-97 after the original was destroyed in a fire. This is another fabulous high point to take breathtaking photos of the city. You can hike up to it, which I’ve done before, however, with kids, I’d recommend taking a cable car up.

Narikala Fortress, Tbilisi

If you’re super-lucky you may even get to see a local herd his flock of sheep through the fortress yard. Consequently, there may be squeals of delight, running about, and much discussion of the amazing sheep of the castle. Let me tell you they are some pretty sure-footed sheep climbing up and down questionable rocky paths. Adventure with the kids and act out a story at the castle!

7. Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral

Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral, Tbilisi Sameba Cathedral, or Holy Trinity Cathedral, is the third tallest Orthodox Church in the world and one of the largest religious buildings. A mixture of traditional Georgian architectural styles, compared to other well-known churches in Georgia it feels new and shiny. Probably because it was built relatively recently, from 1995-2004. It’s huge inside obviously, and the sheer space above and around is impressive.

There’s plenty of space outside to wander around, look at the unusual trees and flowers and let the kids run a bit. This is a must-see in Tbilisi and will be even more impressive to kids. Just imagine being half your height and your eyes going up and up and up!

8. Open Air Museum of Ethnography

The Open Air Museum of Ethnography is just about the only way to get an education in 14 ethnographic zones in one location: Kartli, Samegrelo, Adjara, Abkhazia, Svaneti, Khevsureti, Kakheti, Meskheti, Javakheti, Guria, Imereti, Racha, Lechkhumi and Ossetia. This is a fun place to take kids to explore the houses and artifacts from all the different regions of Georgia. The museum is a fabulous experience even on a regular day; however, they also have awesome festivals and special Georgian folk exhibits so look at their website here as you plan your trip.

History and culture buffs, this is the place for you!

9. Rustaveli Avenue 

Shota Rustaveli statue Tbilisi Rustaveli Avenue is one of the main streets of Tbilisi, and on it, you’ll pass by many Tbilisi sights. Just on this one street, you’ll go by the monument of St. George, the Parliament building, Tbilisi’s number 1 public school, Kashueti St. George Church (with a park behind), the Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts.

Parent tip: I know it sounds terrible and right now you adamantly claim you would never stop in such a place while traveling. However, after a day of walking and wandering around these amazing places, kids get tired. They refuse to do anything. You are tired and may wish to give in to the Georgian McDonald’s just next to the Rustaveli metro. Ahhhh! NEVER! You say – just wait.

Shota Rustaveli is arguably the most famous Georgian poet. There are universities named after him, almost every town in Georgia has a Rustaveli Street, and you’ll see this statue of him with a fountain in front on Rustaveli Street in Tbilisi. It’s conveniently located just next to the Rustaveli metro stop, and the Rustaveli McDonald’s. There are so many things to do in Tbilisi with Rustaveli in their name!

Shota Rustaveli was a medieval poet, the greatest of the Georgian Golden Age, and composed the epic poem The Knight in the Panther’s Skin. Born in 1166, he served during the time of “King” Tamar the Great (female) and is revered by all Georgians. You might even find a copy of the poem from one of the street vendors near the statue.

Tbilisi McDonald's menu

10. Dry Bridge

Man looking at displayed paintings at the Dry Bridge If you’re looking for a souvenir to take home, you’ll find paintings and souvenirs in Old Town shops (probably the most expensive place), outside souvenir and painting shops along Rustaveli Street just a bit north of the Rustaveli metro, or at the Dry Bridge.

The Dry Bridge is fun to visit and just look around at all the paintings, textiles, Georgian figures, anything you could want. I love to look at the paintings, but my daughter, of course, was on a mission to find the perfect Georgian hat, slippers, and doll. The four-year-old got tired after awhile, but it’s a great place to grab any necessary souvenirs. Also, I’d suggest taking a taxi there and back as it’s not the easiest place to walk to.

There’s a sort of a flea market area on top of the bridge where you’ll find people selling old dishes, Communist paraphernalia, binoculars, silverware, whathaveyou. If you have room in your bags and enjoy flea markets and garage sales, it’s a little paradise. Just be careful and haggle a bit as it’s expected.

Georgian dolls, Tbilisi

11. Eat Some Good Khinkali

Khinkali, meat dumplings, Tbilisi This is a do not miss! Definitely, seek out some traditional Georgian restaurants and try the local cuisine. It’s AWESOME. I love almost everything, but make sure to order some good khinkali. A true Georgian will tell you to pick it up the dumpling by the nib, carefully bite into the side, and drink the lovely warm broth out of the middle. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT spill the juice on your plate (you will 😉 ) Only a wimp uses a fork!

You order khinkali by the number, and they come out on a big plate family style in the center of the table. So if I say: Otsi khinkali gvinda, that means we want 20 khinkali. There are different kinds although most places will have pork or beef. Sometimes you can even get potato, mushroom, or cheese. Normally I don’t embrace carbs, but I LOVE khinkali!

12. Sample the Churchkhela

Churchkhela (stringed nuts dipped in grape juice and flour/corn flour mixture and dried) in various colors, Tbilisi Another food the kids will enjoy is called churchkhela. Basically, it’s hazelnuts or walnuts strung on a string. They’re then dipped in a grape juice, flour and corn flour boiled mixture, and set to dry. Traditionally, churchkhela was made as a treat in the home and would last and not go bad for a long time. In World War II and probably even before, men were sent off to war with churchkhela as a sort of travel food. The early Georgian fruit and nut bars that are amazing and addictive.

Allergy Warning: As we have a nut allergy in the family, we are always on guard at all times when traveling. In Georgia, you especially have to look out for walnuts because they are in sauces, salads, desserts, pretty much everything.

So are you planning a trip to Tbilisi?

Lately, I’ve seen Tbilisi on National Geographic’s top places to visit this year, as well as on many other lists. Georgians are open and hospitable, and it’s a culture-filled trip. There are so many more things to do in Tbilisi also. My kids absolutely loved exploring, as well as through the country to the Black Sea. All things considered, it’s an education and experience not to be missed. Your taste buds will thank you!

Must-Have Keto Kitchen Gadgets

Must-Have Keto Kitchen Gadgets

Must-Have Keto Kitchen Gadgets

Here we are January 16. How are your New Year’s Resolutions or goals coming along? I’m learning the necessity for me to write out my goals, mini-goals, short-term, long-term goals, and steps to accomplish those goals. Sometimes I have a brilliant idea in my head, and I say to myself I’m totally going to do that! However, if it doesn’t get written down with the anticipation of the satisfaction of crossing it off when accomplished, it rarely happens.

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Holiday health spiral

According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, only 8% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. Only 8%! Are they setting the wrong goals, unattainable goals, or what? In addition, many have already given up on their resolutions. Well, let me tell you, I’m determined not to be one of those giving up!

Before Christmas, I followed a ketogenic diet and was doing really well with it. There’s nothing like measurable progress, i.e. your weight on the scale, to motivate you to continue. I was feeling great and even in a good workout groove.

Christmas hit, and suddenly I was in a downward spiral. Well, maybe not completely, but it feels like it! 😉 After indulging in all our favorite Christmas goodies my sweet tooth came back with a vengeance. Truthfully, mid-way through January, I admit I’m having a lot of trouble rocking my ketogenic diet and workouts.

Keto zoodles with sauce

Keto goal for the year

So let’s start simple, I thought. This is a huge part of my life, and one of my major goals is for my family to eat healthier, simpler meals. What do I mean by simpler? Well, quite frankly, simpler for me so I’m not preparing something different for each member of the family. Yes, another admission! I often make a different meal for EACH MEMBER OF THE FAMILY.

Why in the world would you do that? You’re probably saying. First of all, my husband works nights, so his schedule is different than ours and generally eats his “dinner” late morning. Secondly, we have allergies and Crohn’s disease in the family, vegan fasting days in the Orthodox Church, and my desire to eat keto. Whoa! It’s a lot to organize when I write it all out.

This year I’m determined to prepare healthy, ketogenic meals with which I can win over the entire family. A lofty goal perhaps? I’m going to at least shoot for it, and share my successes along the way on the blog. Hopefully, I’ll be fusing a ketogenic lifestyle with a travel-loving family, and I’m excited!

Therefore, as a simple starter today, I’m going to share with you some must have keto kitchen gadgets. These make my life easier, and more importantly, help me to stay the course and keep on track to make it back into ketosis. Here we go!

Pin it for later here!

Must-have keto gadgets pin

Indispensable must-have keto kitchen gadgets

1. Spiralizer

I love my spiralizer! It’s great for making zoodles (zucchini noodles) and other noodles out of different veggies. It makes it that much easier to eat gluten-free and add those vegetables to your meals. Click here to see an example on Amazon.

 

 

 

2. High-power blender


Honestly, I use my Vitamix blender almost every day. I make smoothies for myself or the kids, salad dressing, soups, and more. It’s almost like the oven or dishwasher for me. If it broke today I would immediately order a new one (that is, if the 7-year warranty had expired!). See an example on Amazon here.

 

 

3. Immersion blender

An immersion blender is great to have on hand to partially blend soups or a quick smoothie. I don’t use this as often as the regular blender, but it’s good to have. Super-convenient! Click here for an example.

 

 

 

 

4. Ice cream maker

There are so many good keto ice cream recipes, and I love to experiment with my own. Unfortunately, I don’t have an ice cream maker of my own yet as I’ve been spoiled. I’ve been borrowing one from my father for lengthy periods of time, but it’s really time to get my own. It’s on the wish list! Click here to see an example.

 

5. Cast-iron cookware

Cast-iron cookware is great for going on top of the stove and into the oven. It’s classic cookware you can even pick up sometimes cheaply at a yard or estate sale or even a thrift store, so be on the lookout! Take a look at options here or here.

 

 

For fabulous cast-iron, but a bit out of my price range at the moment is pretty much anything from Le Creuset. I’ve been wanting this 9-quart Dutch oven it seems like forever. I stick it in my Amazon basket every time it’s on sale and end up removing it. Made by an amazing French company, who can resist cast-iron when it comes enameled and in the color “Marseille”?!? It always has great reviews. See the Le Creuset Dutch oven here.

 

6. Slow cooker


You can always use a slow cooker for those quick weeknight meals. Throw it together in the morning and voila! A perfect dinner. Click here to find one on Amazon.

 

 

Then, of course, there’s the Instant Pot. I’ve yet to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon; however, it’s probably inevitable. So many people have told me how amazing it is, and that it makes daily cooking so much easier and quicker. We all like that now don’t we? For now, it’s on my wish list. See on here on Amazon.

7. Good knives

Fairly self-explanatory. This is another tool to make your life easier. See options on Amazon here.

8. Glass storage containers


I like to put keto meals and snacks together beforehand in portions so they’re ready to go when I need on in a hurry. I love these glass containers. They stack well so as not to use up valuable fridge space, and are awesome to have on hand. I’ve seen similar ones on sale even at the grocery store. Check out an example on Amazon here.

 

9. Silicone lids


These are fabulous for sealing a bowl, half a can of tomato sauce, half an orange, or whatever you choose to preserve with them. They’re great to have around and oh, so useful. See them here on Amazon.

10. Silicone muffin cups

These are great, and I use them daily. Every morning at breakfast the family vitamins go into one for each person. I bake muffins and cupcakes in them. Also, I use them as molds for my peanut butter cups. Yum! There are many kinds to choose from, but check one out here.

Must-have keto kitchen gadgets, and a lot more

I hope you’ve gotten some good ideas today about some must-have keto kitchen gadgets and maybe a bit of motivation. Likewise, I’m excited about my new focus for 2018 and would love for you to join me on the journey. Let’s get those kitchens cleaned, organized, minimalized, and ready to cook! It’s time for a change.

Where does your meat come from?

Check out my article and video about my experience with ButcherBox.

ButcherBox unboxing feature

Top 10 Things To Do In Ruidoso, New Mexico With Kids

Top 10 Things To Do In Ruidoso, New Mexico With Kids

Picture your favorite Western movie. Do you see wide open spaces, dusty ground with cactus and yucca plants as far as the eye can see? But wait! What’s that in the distance? Is it a plateau, a mountain? Imagine the scene as Billy the Kid and his crew come at you in a cloud of dust. As they get closer you can make out figures on horseback in cowboy hats racing to guide the stampede of cattle. The rustlers just made off with the cattle from a nearby ranch, will get rid of them for a price, and for good measure may even rob a train in the evening. Who knows? Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico with kids.

What I know is that the scenery as you near Ruidoso, New Mexico inspires all my stereotypical western stories to come to life. Moreover, it’s truly another world you step into, at least another culture, as we travel from northern Colorado to mid-southern New Mexico. The area around Ruidoso may be the dry, cracked Western scene; however, go up the mountain and into Ruidoso, and you’ll find a charming mountain town perfect for family vacations.

But what are the top things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico with kids? What is it that draws us so often away from our beautiful Colorado mountains? To be perfectly honest, my grandparents lived there long ago, and now it’s where we meet up with our relatives from Texas for fun and family. We LOVE it.

So be inspired! Go pull up that western soundtracks playlist on Spotify, and plan your family vacation today.

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Top 10 things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico with kids

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico pin

1. Book a cabin with plenty of outdoor space to play

If at all possible I highly recommend booking a cabin or house with plenty of outdoor space for the kids to play. It’s true we usually go as a large group and so enjoy a larger area, but there are smaller cabins choices available too. Then, with your own cabin, you have a kitchen to do more of your own meal prep, and more space for the family to rest and relax. We loved our space this last summer with a fabulous outdoor seating area complete with grill and hot tub, our own little golf green, horseshoes and much more!

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico cabin Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico cabin yard

Website options for cabin rentals:

1. Airbnb – We’ve had good experiences with Airbnb in the past. My advice is to make sure you look for places with plenty of good reviews and use your best judgment. If you are new to Airbnb you can use my link here to sign up and get $40 off your first booking. Click here for the link to sign up.

2. VRBO – Click here for their website.

3. Ruidoso Reservations by Condotel – Click here to see the cabin availability on their site.

A lot of these cabins are available on multiple sights so you can do some searching to get the best deal.

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico horseshoes

2. Inn of the Mountain Gods

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico, IMG buildingThe Inn of the Mountains Gods is owned by the Mescalero Apache Tribe and boasts beautiful scenery, fabulous rooms, food, and a casino. It’s located a little over seven miles from Ruidoso and will take you about 20 minutes by car.

For kids, we like to make a day excursion out of it. First, we drive out to the hotel and look around the inside for a bit. When we’re ready we head down to the buffet and enjoy the variety and quantity of the breakfast or lunch buffet. After that, once sufficiently stuffed, we either continue to look around the inside of the hotel or wander down to the lake for the kids to play or walk around it on the convenient pathways.

What kid doesn’t love a walk around the lake with frequent stops to look for fish, study the plants, or throw rocks and twigs in the lake? You probably won’t make it all the way around, but it’s fun to explore!

3. Pillow’s Funtrackers, Family Fun Center

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico Funtrackers carFuntrackers is a great place for families to play and have a fun time together. First, you might play a round of miniature golf. Following that, race around the track on the goKarts (there are several tracks depending on ages). Then perhaps you’ll want to cool each other off with a giant splash from the bumper boats and then go get lost in the Mountain Maze.

For weeks after we visited this place my son’s favorite thing to call out was, “Grandpa’s lo-oost!” Yes, Grandpa got a bit mixed up in the maze, which was of endless amusement to the children.

There is just so much to do here you could literally hang out most of the day or until the kids get there fill and wear out. The goKarts were great. Lots of fun for all!

4. Kids Konnection Playground

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico playground

For a morning out to a playground, you won’t want to miss the Kids Konnection Playground (685 Hull Road, Ruidoso). First of all, the equipment is fun and original and actually covers a large space. Also, there are areas for kids 5 and under as well as 6 and up, fabulous!

We also like the fact it’s located right next to a big open grassy field where the kids can run, play soccer, play tag, or just burn off some energy. I’ve also been told there’s a good dog park nearby, and although we haven’t been in need of one, you may!

Ruidoso, New Mexico, best of 2017

 

5. The Hubbard Museum of the American West

26301 Hwy 70 West, Ruidoso Downs, NM

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico Saddle

All right now, tell me. Have you cranked up an American Western film soundtrack yet? You might try , or , my favorite , or if you have Amazon Prime .

Listening to a bit of this will get you in the mood to visit the Hubbard Museum of the American West. This is a fun museum for kids and adults alike, although with kids you may have to move a bit quicker than if you were on your own! Be sure to see the horse statues at the top of the hill.

A tour of this place is sure to bring out your inner cowboy, and if you’re like me you’ll start saying, “I’m your huckleberry” in a southern accent to all friends and family. Or to that random person who meets your eyes in the museum. 😉 Just kidding.

6. Horseback Riding, Grindstone Stables

523 Resort Dr, Ruidoso

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico, Horseback riding

It’s inevitable the kids will be dying to go on a horseback ride after a visit to the Hubbard Museum of the American West. Therefore, why not saunter on over to the Grindstone Stables and go on an hour-long guided horseback ride? Or if that’s not your thing, enjoy a carriage ride through mid-town Ruidoso with amazing views of Sierra Blanca in the distance.

 

 

7. Ruidoso Municipal Swimming Pool

515 Sudderth Drive, Ruidoso

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico, swimming poolIf it’s hot, and the kids need some exercise, we love to head over to the Ruidoso Municipal Swimming Pool for open swim. Be sure to check their website or give them a call (575-257-2795) to get open swim times before you drive over. The swimming pool is nice, and although definitely not brand new, a lot of fun. As a matter of fact, they have a huge, fabulous slide perfect for kids. While I stayed in the baby pool with my son the last time we were there, my eight-year-old daughter probably went down the thing 15-20 times. It’s a climb to get up to the top of the slide so it’s also great for ensuring an easy bedtime routine in the evening because they’ll be so worn out!

8. Wildlife Photo Scavenger Hunt

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico deer

Ruidoso is a beautiful mountain location with mountain views, a variety of flora, but also wonderful chances to see wildlife. Go on a wildlife photo scavenger hunt with the kids to get pictures of elk, deer, wild horses, hummingbirds, eagles, and so much more. However, I will advise if you happen to run into one of the bears, steer clear!

 

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico, Hummingbird

 

 

9. Gondola Ride at Ski Apache

1286 Ski Run Road, Alto, NM

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico, gondola

Is your family ready to see some stunning views? Make the drive to Ski Apache in summer to take the gondola ride to the top of the mountain. You won’t regret it a visit to this magical place, unless perhaps you have a child like mine who claims vertigo and refuses to step on all gondolas, funiculars, etc. But never mind that! Have an amazing ride up the mountain, eat at the snack bar, and enjoy yourself.

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico

 

Ski Apache view

10. Flying J Ranch

6 Flying J Road, 1028 State Hwy 48, Alto, NM

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico Flying JThe first time I visited Flying J Ranch was over 20 years ago (no need to be exact!), and I loved it just as much then as I do now! It’s my favorite attraction in Ruidoso, and kids love it.

Relax and find your inner New Mexico western cowboy, or cowgirl. At Flying J you’ll enter an old west town complete with Sheriff and a live gunfight. The kids can ride ponies, explore teepees, and even rope some cattle. Then the whole family will enjoy a chuck wagon dinner with beef, chicken, beans (of course!), biscuit, applesauce, and my daughter’s favorite spice cake!

After you eat be ready for James and Cindy Hobbs and friends to entertain with the Flying J Western Show. See their website here for more information. “The show is an action-packed show filled with World Champion yodeling, amazing harmonies, fancy fiddling, hilarious comedy, banjo playing and guitar picking! The show at the Flying J Ranch is simply fantastic!”

Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico Flying J, game Things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico horse Ski Apache view

What are your family vacation plans for this summer?

Are you planning to visit Ruidoso this summer? Take advantage of my kid-tested list of top things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico with kids. Then let me know how it works out for you! For us, it’s a family tradition and fabulous time.

Where else are you planning a family trip this summer? Or maybe where did you go recently? Give me your suggestions below!

Looking for an excursion from Ruidoso?

Carlsbad Caverns featureCarlsbad Caverns are a must-see and completely awe-inspiring. It’s such the perfect exploratory experience for kids. We love it!

 

 

Are you planning a fun family vacation to escape from the noise of the everyday? Perfect for family reunions and getaways, check out my top 10 things to do in Ruidoso, New Mexico with kids.

Best of 2017: My Favorite Things

Best of 2017: My Favorite Things

 This week I reflected back on 2017 and took the time to indulge in thinking about my favorite things from the year. It’s been a great year, and I’ve been super-involved in my kids’ lives, but sometimes it’s good to think about yourself too. While it may appear I should be a little old lady in a cottage in England, these are some of my favorites and what I consider my best of 2017.

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Best of 2017 pin

Best of 2017: Food

My Favorite Recipe

Low Carb Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

This is my most-used recipe this year, and it has gotten me through a lot! In case you didn’t know, I started following a keto diet/lifestyle this fall, and it has been amazing! However, I have a gigantic sweet tooth, which was a huge part of my problem and one of the main reasons for going keto. As a matter of fact, I’ve dropped the sugar but kept some of the sweet with this awesome recipe. Because who doesn’t like peanut butter cups?! I can’t recommend the blog All Day I Dream About Food enough. Truly, I’ve made a ton of the recipes on the blog and loved every single one of them. For example, the Low Carb Gluten-Free Brownie Cheesecake was an especially huge hit with the family.

My Favorite Food Box

ButcherBox unboxing ground beefButcherBox is an awesome mail order food box. It comes once a month (or less depending on what you select) frozen in dry ice, with great quality meats. Already, I’ve ordered the grass-fed beef, free-range organic chicken, heritage breed pork and loved the selections sent. My husband especially thought the rib-eye steak was amazing. You can read my blog post about it, and see my unboxing video, here.

Also, if you’d like to try ordering your own box you can use my affiliate link here to get $20 off and free bacon in your first box. 

Best of 2017: Travel

My Favorite Trips

Tbilisi, Georgi with Kids

Tbilisi, Georgia

This summer we took the kids to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia south of Russia on the Black Sea. My husband’s family lives there so it was an amazing opportunity to visit family, expose the kids to a different language and culture, and visit new places. We visited the Black Sea city of Batumi, family cities and villages in between, but for the kids, the capital of Tbilisi was a truly amazing experience. Read about Batumi here, doors and windows of Tbilisi here, and traditional Georgian bread making here.

 

Ruidoso, New Mexico, best of 2017Ruidoso, New Mexico

One of our favorite family destinations in summer is Ruidoso, New Mexico. Because we live in Northern Colorado we love our Colorado mountains, but traveling south to New Mexico is an entirely different mountain experience. It’s awesome to see the terrain change, the earth colors change from tans, to reds and browns, and explore a new area of the country. Ruidoso is up in the mountains and a fun place to get a cabin and hang out with family.

Look for the Top 10 things to do with kids in Ruidoso coming soon!

 

Grand Lake, Colorado best of 2017

Grand Lake, Colorado

Grand Lake moose, best of 2017

One of my favorite places on this earth is Grand Lake, Colorado. It’s the perfect place for families to enjoy the ideal Colorado mountain, hiking, fishing, etc. experience right on the lake. We usually stay at one of the cabins at Lemmon Lodge right on one of the beaches of Grand Lake. There’s a play area, the perfect fishing spot where the river enters the lake, and even a campfire spot for making s’mores.

Roundup River Ranch best of 2017

Roundup River Ranch

This year we had the most amazing experience to be a part of Roundup River Ranch near Gypsum, Colorado. Roundup River Ranch is a camp is for kids with chronic illnesses who otherwise would never be able to experience a true traditional summer camp. Doctors and nurses provide support along with many other amazing volunteers to make these kids feel like a “regular” kid, forget about their troubles for a week, and enjoy camp with their friends. I won’t go into detail, but my daughter was able to attend and had the most awesome time. These people and this place bring joy to others, and if you are looking for a cause to support this might possibly be the one. Check out the Roundup River Ranch website.

Roundup River Ranch best of 2017

Best of 2017: Learning

My Favorite Books

We Were The Lucky Ones

The book is set during World War II and told by the viewpoints of various members of a Polish Jewish family. It’s based on a true story making all the more amazing and a true picture into some of the horrors of our history yet the powerful love and strength of family. Read my review about it here or check it on Amazon here.

 

Arcanum Unbounded

Arcanum Unbounded comes as a book of short fiction in his Cosmere world by acclaimed author Brandon Sanderson. For me, the best part was the novella “The Eleventh Metal”, a part of the Mistborn Saga. If you’ve read the Mistborn Saga and then read “The Eleventh Metal”, a whole new dimension is opened up.  Amazingly, an entirely new story revolving around Kelsior is presented. Moreover, this story took place at the same time as the trilogy, yet you were unaware of it when first reading. It is mind-boggling and completely awesome the way Mr. Sanderson wove something he knew was there all the time but didn’t choose to tell his readers (except for clues here and there) until this novella. Loved it. See it on Amazon here.

A Gentleman In Moscow

I loved the history and characters involved in this book and how everything plays together until an ending I was not at all expecting. Great writing. See my review here or find it on Amazon here.

 

A Duty to the Dead

The Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd has been my go-to series this year for familiar characters and an engrossing mystery. Set in World War I, Bess Crawford is a British army nurse in France tending to the wounded and dying. In A Duty to the Dead, she’s injured when her ship is sunk crossing the Channel, and she must return to England to convalesce. Ultimately, I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read in this series. They’re sometimes a bit unbelievable, sometimes predictable, but always a great cozy mystery and a page-turner. Moreover, the characters you grow to love and see as a family in their world. Read more about it on Amazon here.

My Favorite Podcasts

Writing Excuses

Writing Excuses is like a class in writing genre fiction, hosted by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells. It’s a great motivational podcast for any aspiring or even published writers. Topics include world building, character development, character voice in the first person, switching genres, and so much more. Every season, different hosts pop in with their own expertise as well.  http://www.writingexcuses.com/

Simple Pin Podcast

“Kate Ahl is the owner and founder of Simple Pin Media, a Pinterest management company that specializes in managing Pinterest pages for businesses and bloggers. She is passionate about teaching simple, actionable Pinterest marketing strategies to help business owners and bloggers boost their business using Pinterest without wasting their time. In her podcast, The Simple Pin Podcast, she interviews people who are using Pinterest in creative ways to drive traffic to their website and increase revenue. She’s on a mission to rid the world of Pinterest myths, crazy hacks to ‘game’ the system and rabbit trails that waste valuable business-building time. She wants to give her audience solid Pinterest Marketing advice using data-driven results. Keep it simple, be authentic, and pin with purpose.” Check it out on iTunes here.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History

In college, I majored in History, French, and International Studies. I admit to being a complete history geek, and I LOVE this podcast. Hardcore History is just that, and I’ve listened to several of the series. Right now I’ve gone back to an older one and am listening to “Blueprint for Armageddon”, a series of episodes on World War I. Each podcast, or episode, is about four hours long brought to you by Dan Carlin, who sounds like a super-excited history professor, although he claims not to be a formal historian. His voice is great for the topics, he pulls references and drama from everywhere and just creates a fascinating study of history. History buffs, don’t miss this one! Click here for Hardcore History.

Best of 2017: Fun

My Favorite TV Shows

First of all, to be honest, I don’t watch a lot of TV except for a daily dose of Wild Kratts (highly recommended) with the 5-year-old. What I do watch is on Amazon Prime or Netflix, and these are some of the favorites discovered this past year.

The Dr. Blake Mysteries

“Dr. Lucien Blake left Ballarat (Australia) as a young man. But now he finds himself returning, to take over not only his dead father’s medical practice but also his on-call role as the town’s police surgeon.”

This is a fun mystery series with great characters, acting, and Australian point of view. The series becomes addictive after the first few, and I’m eagerly waiting for seasons 4 and 5 to come to Netflix.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Shetland

“Eight puzzling murder cases keep good-natured Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez busy – and keep you guessing – in the breathtakingly beautiful Shetland Islands. As Perez and the viewer quickly come to realize, not all is what it seems in this close-knit island community. Based on the best-selling Shetland novels by author Ann Cleeves (Vera).”

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Rebellion

“Ireland natives face emotional and physical turmoil as they decide to take up arms against the British.”

This was an intriguing version of the 1916 Easter Uprising with strong female points of view and great acting.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne

“From the creator of Downton Abbey. Dr. Thorne lives a quiet life with niece Mary in Greshambury, home of the wealthy Gresham family. Unbeknownst to others, the Greshams have lost their fortune and matriarch Lady Arabella has a scheme to regain it via an arranged marriage with her son and an American heiress. However, her son plans to elope with Mary, which complicates Lady Arabella’s plans.”

This was a fun series for those who love British period drama. While it was not Downton Abbey, it was well-acted with beautiful scenes of the big British houses and countryside. I enjoyed it very much.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

The Great British Baking Show

This is one of those shows that’s just relaxing to me. Even though I’ve pretty much gone gluten-free, I’ve always been a huge baker and love to see these traditional European recipes. The British just do everything better, don’t they? 😉

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Interested in Ireland?

Read about all my Irish favorites. What do you love about Ireland?

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Your Best of 2017

Do you love British drama? Where did you travel in 2017? Or maybe what was your favorite recipe? Take a second and let me know if you’ve liked my favorites or give me some ideas for 2018. What were your favorites? Write them out in the comments below!

Here’s to a great year!

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