Wow! This struggle is so real getting back into the swing of things after our big vacation. Normally, we bounce back pretty well. We got home on Sunday evening and had all the laundry washed by Monday morning, but the progress ended there. I went back to work on Monday and had back to back meetings for the next several days, including a couple of overnights. The following week I had another overnight for work. #workingmomlife We have spent so much time day dreaming of our road trip and wishing we were still on it! I can’t believe all the ground we covered! Today, on the blog, I am taking you on the trip with us. Here’s a look at what we saw in 10 days on the road from Florida to Utah and back.
We left work a little early, so we could get on the road by 4pm. It was a stretch, but we wanted to wake up in Nashville on Friday morning. It’s about 8 hours from our home near Jacksonville, FL, but the road trip excitement helped us make the trip fun despite the late arrival.
We woke up early in Nashville, and made our way to The Parthenon. I had forgotten about it until we arrived, but I had visited with my family as a child. It was so neat to take our kids there. They were having a kids event, so we got into the museum for free and enjoyed story time with Athena. The kids loved running around on the lawn before we hit the road and headed to St. Louis. We absolutely loved St. Louis! We spent about four hours there checking out The Gateway Arch and trying a super yummy bbq place called Sugarfire that my friend Mariah from Like Honey Blog recommended. We really enjoyed it! Don’t be intimidated by the long line! It moves fast! From there we drove to Kansas City, Kansas and checked in at The Great Wolf Lodge.
We woke up at The Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City and spent some time enjoying their indoor water park. We have been wanting to stay at a Great Wolf Lodge for a while, so when we had the chance to stop at this one we jumped on it! From there we drove across the entire state of Kansas to end our day in Denver, Colorado. Along the way we saw endless fields of corn. We even got out so Bryan could snap a selfie in the corn. Around sundown we made a detour to these beautiful salt rocks called Monument Rocks off the highway in the middle of a farm. They were absolutely amazing! On the way back we saw even saw an antelope wandering through the fields on the way back!
We started the day off at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. I wasn’t sure what to expect there, but it was really cool! Bryan’s favorite albums is Dave Matthews Band Live at Red Rocks, so we decided to check it out. The kids loved climbing on the rocks and watching the people run the stairs. From there we drove around Denver and just checked out the city. I had no idea there was a theme park there! We happened to see it on our way to check out the stadium. I wish we would have had enough time to check it out. From there we drive to Estes Park thanks to recommendations from Bryan’s co-worker I thought it was an actual park, because Bryan said it had a great view. It definitely had a great view, but it turned out to be this darling mountain village with all these cute little shops. As it turns out we missed one of the best parts! Apparently if you go past the village you can look out over The Great Divide. Maybe next time… from there we spent the afternoon driving through the mountains to Utah. What a drive! It was absolutely stunning! I have never seen anything like it!
This is the day we had been waiting for! We made it to our destination, Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. We started a little late, because we arrived so late the evening before. My best tip for visiting Arches is to arrive early! We waited about 20 minutes just to get in the park and there were a lot of people at each stop. It really is spectacular. We were able to see a lot of the park from the car, and there are some great viewing areas that made it easy to see with kids. Hayden loved the adventure of it all, and Brylee loved playing in the dirt. From Arches we drove to the Mill Canyon Dinosaur Bone Trail where we were able to see dino bones still incased in rock! There are little panels along the path to help you along your self guided tour.
Pro Tips for visiting Moab:
- Wear athletic shoes or boots for all the hiking (I wore flip flops, because… Florida life)
- Wear sunblock and bug spray
- Arrive early
- There is more to Moab than the Arches
- Visit with kids of any age
- Bring water
After we left Moab we headed out to Sedona, Arizona, but before we left Utah we stopped to check out Monument Valley. If you have time during your road trip this a great opportunity to see The Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, AZ. The Grand Canyon is a short detour off the highway. It’s definitely worth the trip, but we skipped it this time since we just saw it last March. We also saw the Arizona Snow Bowl when we were in the area last year. It was pretty exciting to introduce our kids to snow for the first time! #thingsfloridiansdo
We arrived late in Sedona, but the beautiful Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock was kind enough to offer us a late check out. We used our time to enjoy the sunshine and their quiet pools. I have to say I really loved this hotel. There is a nice breakfast buffet, and the grounds are absolutely gorgeous. The kids really loved the pool, and I think I will remember Brylee’s little purple bikini forever! We enjoyed some yummy Mexican food before we hit the road to El Paso.
Pro Tip: The best part is that we stayed there for free with our Hilton Honors points! That’s definitely one of the best bits of advice I can share about road tripping… If you are going to need a hotel every night try to stay with the same hotel family, so you can start earning free nights.
This is where we had to make an adjustment to our itinerary. Our original plans were to visit White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, but in order to stay on track for some of the places we wanted to hit closer to home we decided to skip this. Next time…
El Paso was really just an overnight stop for us on one of our longest travel days. We were on the road for about 8.5 hours total that day just to get to El Paso. We went through Phoenix just to make the drive a little more interesting. The drive from Sedona to Phoenix is filled with beautiful gigantic cacti! While we were passing through we made one of our many stops at Target to replenish our snacks.These kids are everything to us, and spending this time as a family always helps build on those deep connections.… Click To Tweet
This day was all road! It’s 9 hours from El Paso to Waco. We used this day to catch up on some sleep. We slept in at the hotel and took turns taking naps. Thank goodness for iPad and iPhones! The kids were great on this stretch! We made a stop for dinner in Midland, TX. If you saw my insta stories you know it was crazy hot that day. We really enjoyed just hanging out as a family that day. There was so much “I Spy” that day!
We woke up in Waco, TX on this day, and YES, we definitely went to the Magnolia Market at the Silos! We actually rearranged our entire trip for this stop. We were planning on starting the trip off with a beach day in Gulf Shores, AL, but this would have meant we made it to Waco on a Sunday. The Magnolia Market is not open on Sunday, so we ended up reversing the order of our trip. It it totally worth the hype! Not only is it gorgeous, but there is a lively atmosphere filled with food trucks, families, and lots of pretty things to buy! Again, it was super hot, but the kids still loved being outside and running around in their huge grassy area. They even have some swings for the kids to play on.
Pro Tip: Arrive Early! I wish we would have listened to the tip to get there early. It was super crowded when we were there.
From there we drove on to Houston where we stopped to visit Space Center Houston. We live about three hours from the space center in Florida and we have never taken the kids. We will definitely visit now! I wish we would have arrived in Houston a little sooner. We didn’t get to see the entire space center, but we did get to go on a tour and see an actual Saturn V rocket on the tram tour! I was pretty obsessed with Astronaut Wives last summer, so this was definitely a highlight of the trip!
We made a quick run through Whataburger while we were there, and then we hit the road again. #becausetexas We spent the evening on the road arriving in New Orleans, LA pretty late.
This was the place I think Bryan was most looking forward to seeing. We stayed in a really cool Hampton Inn near the convention center. It felt very historic with high ceilings and a really cool brick courtyard. Definitely not your typical Hampton. We spent the day walking around the city trying some yummy food recommendations. We went to Cafe Du Monde and had delicious warm beignets! We went to Dragos for a late lunch, and by this point the heat and long days of travel were really starting to get to us. At just the right moment, another customer came over and told us what great parents we were after watching us with our kids. This was just what we needed to hear. We spent just a few more moments in New Orleans enjoying the Riverwalk and taking it all in before we headed out for the final stop on our journey.
Pro Tip: Check out my Cafe Du Monde tip over on Instagram to skip the long line at Cafe Du Monde!
We arrived in Pensacola Beach, FL around 6:00pm. This was the first night of the entire trip we arrived at our hotel in time to enjoy the evening at the hotel. We spent time sitting on the patio of our beautiful ocean view room just taking it all in and we ate dinner at the hotel.
The trip was finally ending with the beach day we had originally planned to be one of the first stops on the trip. Pensacola Beach has beautiful fluffy white sand, and warm gulf waters. I have been there in previous years when the water was crystal clear, but this time of year the water is filled with June Grass. We dipped our feet in the water, but didn’t really go in. June Grass is a algae that can be found in the Florida Panhandle beaches int he warm months. It’s actually sort of gross, but it didn’t take away from the beauty of the beach. The hotel has a really nice pool, and the kids had an absolute bast. We picked up some beautiful shells to add to Hayden’s collection.
Pro Tip: Head down to the pool early and put your towels and pool toys and a chair close to the kiddie pool, so you can enjoy watching your kids from the shade of the umbrella!
We finally made it home around 8:00pm on Sunday night. We were all exhausted and so happy to be home. The week we spent on the road was amazing, but there really is no place like home. I hope my kids always remember the places they went with us and the things they saw. I know I will never forget all the smiles and miles spent together. These kids are everything to us, and spending this time as a family always helps build on those deep connections. If there is any advice I can give you it’s don’t be afraid to travel with kids. People think we are crazy, but these road trips are building amazing memories we will never forget. I’d love to hear about your favorite road trip destinations and memories!