Super Busy at Home

Family blog about homeschooling, autism, saving money, mom blog, travel, vacation, budgeting.

California Day 1


California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

You guys!!! We are in Cali! I cannot believe that I can even type that.

Y’all know we’re trying to get the kids to all 50 states. The kids also had never been on an airplane. We always knew we would get them on a plane but had no idea when we were going to do that.

Thankfully (Thank you, Jesus!) this all came together seamlessly so we could all go to Cali with Nick for work.

How amazing is God that He gives us the desires of our heart? I am in so awe of that.

So Day 1 was incredible. I was so worried that traveling with the kids would be stressful or something would go wrong but it all went really well.

We drove to Chicago to take a non-stop flight from O’Hare to LAX. So right there I said it…we were traveling in 2 of the biggest and craziest airports in the world.

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

We also packed everything in basically carry-ons. We had one bag that we checked but other than that we all had one carry-on and one personal item.

We did have a tiny delay when Calvin’s backpack got detained for security to look through further. We learned that nothing freaks out a Calvin faster than detaining his Hobbes for inspection. Thankfully we were on our way in just a jif with Calvin and Hobbes safely reunited.

When we got on the airplane we discovered the free movies that were offered. Nick sat with Emma and I sat with Cal so the kids could each have a window seat for their first flight ever! It was wonderful and so delightful to see his little face when we took off and when we got above the clouds. It was a very bumpy flight. So much so that the pilot got on at one point to assure us there was nothing wrong with the plane, ha. Even with that Calvin randomly said to me “I really like flying”. Little did I know that Emma was two rows behind us not having such a great time. She was one of those flyers that had to puke into a bag. Poor little thing. But other than that we all did great.

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

When we arrived in LA we retrieved our luggage, got our rental car (Hertz is amazing BTW!) and we were off! It was so great to be in LA after the dreariness of Indiana…even if it was raining when we arrived in Cali.

We quickly found a place for lunch…where else but In-N-Out? It was so yummy and the kids loved it! It was just what the doctor ordered after a long morning of driving and flying. We did have to eat in the car because 1) it was pouring out and 2) there were a kajillion people in the restaurant, so we decided eating in the car was the way to go.

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.
California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

That was Calvin’s burger by the way. We’ve entered that stage where boys can eat you out of house and home. Where Emma, Nick and I order at a restaurant and then we just tell them to double everything and bring it for Calvin. How one teeny little boy can eat so much food is beyond me.

And then we were off to Fresno! We were able to make some stops along the way to break up the 5 hour drive.

First we stopped in Bakersfield to get groceries at Trader Joes. The kids were so cute looking through planters at the shopping plaza. “Look Mom, a roly-poly! Ants!” You can tell we definitely were in the dolldrums of winter back at home for us to be amazed by bugs!

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

Then we stopped along the side of the road to check out the amazing almond trees in blossom. It was so lovely to see that we just had to stop and get some photos. You have no idea how much I wanted to make Emma change into her Matilda Jane dress but I fought the urge to not be a spazz mom and didn’t make her change. Y’all should be proud of me.

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.
California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

After that it was back on the road for the rest of our trip. We made it to Fresno just in time for dinner. And where did the kids want to eat? Sweet Tomato’s. Have you ever been there? It’s a soup and salad buffet. We used to have two or three of them by us but they’ve gone out of business. The kids were like, spastic, when we told them there was one nearby. So of all the cool places to eat we landed on…Sweet Tomato’s. It was good though and we had a good time. It’s always fun to try new things and to see what varieties of soup they have or specialty salads.

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and guess what? We went to bed. Yep, it was 8:00 and we all went to bed. But back home it was 11:00 so we were all tired since we had woken up at 5!

And we all decided it was a good idea to get a good night’s sleep since the next day we are headed for…Yosemite!

Can’t wait! Day 1 was fun and fairly stress free except for the fact that the children bickered and argued the entire day. To the point that Nick was using adages like “don’t make me pull this car over” We should earn some type of award for successfully traveling with preteen children who don’t like the others tone. Oh Lord. As you can see below, we look a bit frazzled.

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

Oh and last but not least we found where Halos come from! You can share with your kids that we found Halo Heaven! Isn’t it just the cutest?

California!  Our Wonder Collective is on a mission to travel to all 50 states as a family.  Follow along as they take on Cali with the kids.

And that was Day 1! I don’t think you can’t ask for much more out of a first day!

Now…onto Yosemite!

Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville

One of my friends was going to Nashville with her friends and asked if I could give some recommendations.

Nashville Promo.png

Having gone to Nashville a few times with our kiddos, boy oh boy could I make some recommendations!

I was able to quickly make her a list of fun places to go and thought I would share it with you.

These are fun places to check out and offer things to see, things to do with littles. for the most part they are free or relatively inexpensive. We also have only ever gone for a few days at a time so we never are involved in anything heavy or time consuming.

Here are some of our recommendations:

Five Daughters Bakery

Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit Nashville like Five Daughters Bakery

These donuts are like anything we’ve ever had before and they are so scrumptious! A mix of a donut and a croissant, these cronuts are divine. Some of them though are about $6 and they are huge so if you have kids I highly recommend making them share. It is hard for an adult to finish one, they are so rich and filling, so to save money our family gets a couple to share and then some of their really good coffee to enjoy them with.

Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville for the Best Doughnuts at Five Daughters Bakery Nashville TN

The only location we’ve ever been to is the one by Draper James. It has a great outdoor eating area and a little playground which is adorable! It’s a nice place to take a break and get some fresh air.

Draper James

Great Kid Friendly places to Visit in Nashville,  there is no end to the cuteness of everything at Draper James in Nashville TN

This is Reese Witherspoon’s store in case you didn’t know!  Super cute, super girly, and super southern, you’ll be greated with the cutest little cups of sweet tea in their signature cups with their own little straws.  There’s a super cute wall outside to get your picture in front of and our kids loved the little drink treat while I shopped. 

Lifeway Christian Store

Housed in the ground floor of the bookstore’s headquarters, this store was so nice to browse through.  We were pleasantly surprised to find lots of hard to find items, tons of steals, and activities to do in the back of the store while parents shop.  Be sure to use the space age type bathrooms and don’t miss the stained glass on the way!

Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville like this LifeWay Christian Bookstore

Antiques Archaeology

We have been to this store twice and amazingly it is never as busy as I always thought it to be.  While most of the “picked” items were way, WAY out of our price range, it was fun to purchase shirts, coffee cups, and the iconic bumper sticker that was on our flex when we sold it  (every mother wants their daughter to pick them out a bumper sticker that says “Junk in the Trunk” and have no idea why this is not appropriate, right, lol).  Also, if you watch the show at any type of frequency you are sure to see items in the shop that were found on a show you’ve watched. 

Great Kid Firendly Places to Visit in Nashville, Fake smiles or real smiles?  We love Antiques Archaeology in Nashville TN
Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville you can find cool tools and artifacts in the Marathon building with Antique Archaeology

*Side note, be sure to go IN the building that houses the store. An old factory, it houses loads of old machinery that our kids love tinkering with, turning the knobs, pushing the buttons, basically being able to mess with. This type of hands on history is our fave! There are also several other shops to check out,

Gaylord Retreat Center

The Most amazing Hotel at Gaylord Retreat Center in Nashville TN

Waterfalls, photo opportunities, flowers, foliage, multi levels with walking paths to wander around and explore…the Gaylord Convention and Retreat Center is something you have to see to believe. With multiple atriums to explore full of shopping and restaurants (they even have indoor boat rides, seriously, huge!) this is something that will be fun for your family to explore even if you aren’t staying there.

Tip, parking can become salty (I can’t remember for sure but I believe parking was by the amount of time you were there). I recently read on Trip Advisor that you can park in the Opry Mills parking lot and there is a nice walking path that takes you to Gaylord so you don’t have to pay for parking. Just an idea if you are trying to save some money.

Aquarium restaurant

Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville The Aquarium Restaurant,  so many fish.

Okay this is one of those T Rex, Rainforest type restaurants where the food is terrible but really you’re paying for the experience to sit next to a massive aquarium and eat. If you have kids who love fish and sharks then this is perfect for you. If you want to save money, find a free appetizer rack card at basically any hotel in the area. The nachos were massive so I got the nacho appetizer as my entree which at least saved us some money. Nick and I have even shared the nachos as our meal before and just paid for the kids meals. Win, win!

Grand Ole Opry

So the weirdest thing to me is that the Grand Ole Opry is now right across from a mall but it’s the mall with the Aquarium restaurant, Opry Mills. Even if you don’t take in a show it is a cool place to visit and they have a really comprehensive gift shop. It’s nice to snap photos and say you’ve been there. At any given time there could be singers, performers, and various types (country and western) of dance troups and shows in the courtyard of the Opry.

Nashville Zoo

I sometimes say this to you about certain attractions so here it goes…we have been to a boat load of zoos. The National Zoo, the iconic Fort Wayne Childrens Zoo, the Chicago zoos, zoos on the east coast, zoos out west…there have been a lot of zoo experiences.

All that to say, the Nashville zoo is the second best zoo we’ve ever been to, second only to the Indianapolis Zoo but they have the huge Dolphin show so there’s that. The Nashville Zoo houses the most amazing playground. Appropriately named “Jungle Gym” ha! It is a massive structure with so much to do. We enjoyed that there was something to do there aside from look at animals as it really helped to break up the day and gave the kids something to do on their own.

Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville the eagle zip line at the Nashville Zoo

There are extra things you can pay for…we let the kids go on the Eagle Zip Line and it was so much fun! The kids were scared at first but then they were excited to go on it and then really happy they had the chance to go. It is a massive zip line experience and it is a fun ride down.

If you have a reciprocal membership from another AZA zoo then this zoo is half off for you, friend!

Adventure Science Center

Great Kid Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville, Being weightless in the Adventure Science Center

This Science Center was a lot of fun. Our kids enjoyed the space exhibit the most, with their anti gravity experience, Test Bed. I really, really appreciate when the kids can experience things like this and it is included in the price of admission. On the flip side of the coin I hate when places nickel and dime you for every cotton picking thing they offer…it gets confusing and expensive. This place however did not do that and it was great.

Just a tip though, this place was a bit out of the way and was hard to find but be patient…if it seems like you are going the wrong way you are probably almost there, ha.

Other things there that the kids loved were the gigantic light bright exploring the physics of light, the indoor playground, Adventure Tower, that is multi-level structure and at the top has a Willy Wonka type experience where you can poke your head up and look over the whole city…very cool.

So there you have it, some fun things to do in the Nashville area. I know that most people think Country Music right off the bat when they think of Nashville but if you’ll notice, hardly any of my recommendations had to do with music. It is a bustling, fun city that is up and coming.

If you are interested in country music you can find a lot of hotspots on Broadway which is fondly called “Honky Tonk Row”. We’ve driven through the area but each time we decided there were too many people to get out and walk around so we just drove through. If you are going with kids just be forewarned that this is a huge party area…think bachelorette parties and large groups of people. Everyone seemed to be pretty chill and it didn’t smell of urine like Beale Street in Memphis but still, it can get crazy. I’ve included the picture below for you to catch a glimpse of the people.

Great Friendly Places to Visit in Nashville, but not all the time, Broadway

Oh and really quick, 2 more places! Brentwood is a cool area south of Nashville and Biscuit Love is an amazing place to grab a bite to eat! Be sure to check those out too!

Do you have any suggestions of other places to visit? Or any questions I can help you with? Make sure to comment below! Happy Traveling!