Kansas City – Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend Trip

Kansas City:

When you’ve got a 9 to 5, travel may seem impossible. Let me tell you a little secret…

 

It’s not!

 

You can see the United States and explore other cities/states on little mini vacations or weekend getaways. A perfect city for this is KANSAS CITY!

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect WeekendBackground: KC is the 29th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and it straddles the border of Missouri and Kansas. There are all kinds of fun things you can do during your visit, but not enough to where you need to spend a whole week (or more) exploring. That’s what makes it perfect for a short trip, like the one I went on with my best friends!

 

To get the most out of your trip, here are some recommendations I have from personal experience and my bestie who lives in KC 🙂

 

KANSAS CITY – IF YOU WANT NIGHTLIFE

 

  • Power and Light District

 

So many restaurants. Bars. Entertainment. If you’re looking for the ultimate frat party, then it can likely be found in the Power and Light District of KC. The Sprint Center is known for hosting amazing concerts such as Drake Summer Sixteen Tour with Future.

 

Pro Tip: KC LIVE! and Main Street Garages have FREE 3-hour parking if you have validation from any merchant in the Power and Light District between 6am-4pm (Monday-Friday). Only $2 parking after 5pm and on the weekends though!

 

Address: 1320 Grand Boulevard Kansas City, MO 64106

 

  • Westport

 

For those of you who love nightlife but like to enjoy it ‘how the locals do’ then check out Westport. It’s KC’s oldest entertainment district. It may not be the rager that the Power and Light District is, but we had a lot of fun! There are so many bars to choose from, but I definitely recommend the Donut Lounge! They’ve also got several food trucks and yummy places to eat! (See below)

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend

Address: 400 Westport Road Kansas City, MO 64111

 

KANSAS CITY – IF YOU WANT FAMILY FUN

 

  • Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun

These parks are truly fun! Compared to other parks they may not seem as large or as thrilling, but there’s plenty of stuff for the whole family to enjoy! You buy one ticket and get access to an amusement park (Worlds) and a water park (Oceans). To find out more, read my post about it HERE!

 

the Boomerang

the Boomerang

 

 

 

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The streetcar is a fun (and FREE) way to explore the city. People of all ages were enjoying it and it’s a nice way not to have to deal with parking if you want to visit more than 1 stop.

 

Pro Tip: If you get on at Union Station (Pershing and Main) and have young children, take them inside Union Station. There are some crazy cool train sets that they can gawk at before heading outside to the streetcar stop!

 

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend

KANSAS CITY – IF YOU WANT SHOPPING

 

  • City Market

 

Such a great farmer’s market! It’s easily accessible with the free streetcar, and you don’t have to mess with parking! It’s basically a tour of restaurants from around the world as well as tons of vendors in the middle selling fresh produce, flowers, crafts, etc.

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend

 

Address: 20 E 5th Street #201 Kansas City, MO 64106

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This is the place to go if you love outlet shopping malls! It’s open from 10 am – 9 pm on Monday through Saturday and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday. There are a gazillion stores to choose from including Banana Republic Factory Store, Adidas, J Crew, Coach, Forever 21, Jcpenny, and Oshkosh B’gosh. There’s something for everyone!

 

Address: 1843 Village West Parkway Kansas City, MO 66111

 

 

This mall is 15 blocks of all your favorite stores. It has all kinds of beloved high-end stores including Burberry, Sephora, Anthropologie, lululemon, Michael Kors, kate spade new york, Kendra Scott, Tiffany and Co. and The North Face. It also has a wide variety of upscale restaurants to choose from if all that shopping makes you hungry!

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend

Address: 4750 Broadway St Kansas City, MO 64112

 

 

KANSAS CITY – IF YOU WANT YUMMY FOOD

 

Breakfast: First Watch

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend

Lunch: Food trucks at Westport, Blue Nile Cafe Restaurant

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend

Dinner: Beer Kitchen (Ben Rector’s favorite), Cheesecake Factory

 

Snacks/Desserts: Donut Lounge, Insomnia Cookies, Betty Rae’s Ice Cream, Beignet

Kansas City - Your Guide to the Perfect Weekend

Betty Rae's

Betty Rae’s

As you can see, there is a ton of fun stuff you can do in Kansas City, MO! Depending on the kind of trip you want to have, you can incorporate different activities mentioned above! It’s easy to mold this thriving metropolitan area into the little vacay of your dreams! 🙂

HAVE YOU EVER VISITED KANSAS CITY? WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THIS LIST? LET ME KNOW BELOW!

With love,

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Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun – Kansas City

Kansas City, MO is such a fun and lively city to explore! It’s the perfect place to take a little weekend trip, and it’s a great family friendly destination. One excellent example of this is its amusement park, Worlds of Fun, and connected water park, Oceans of Fun.

I recently visited Kansas City with my besties to visit our other bestie, and we had such a great time exploring the city! In fact, I’m going to write a post all about what I recommend doing. 🙂 We spent a full day at these parks though, and it was a blast! Do you want fun that the whole family can enjoy? Plan a trip to Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun today using these simple steps! 🙂

Worlds of Fun Oceans of Fun - Kansas City, MO

STep 1: Buy one ticket for both worlds of fun and oceans of fun

Using the link above, you can easily access a whole page dedicated to various tickets. If you’re traveling in a big group, (family reunion or band trip anyone?) then you can try for a group discounted rate. We purchased daily tickets. $39.99

This 1 ticket gives you access to both the amusement park and the water park. As you can see on the map, it’s easy to walk between the 2 parks. No extra security or ticket swipe needed.

If you buy your ticket online, then you don’t have to worry about printing it out. Just screenshot your ticket from your email on your phone, then you can show it to them when you get to the gate!

the Boomerang

the Boomerang

Step 2: Pack

No worries, you don’t need to break out the dusty suitcase. But here are a few things you might want to pack:

  • sunscreen (stay protected and don’t forget to reapply!)
  • sunglasses (don’t wear them on the roller coasters though!)
  • $$ (lockers for your stuff at Oceans of Fun cost $15 or more!)
  • swimsuit (we wore one under our clothes)
  • shoes that can get wet (for water raft rides, if desired)
  • cell phone (ticket, pictures, and of course you want to text people)

Optional: backpack or fanny pack to carry everything (my Disney fanny was so handy!)

What we brought but didn’t use: Towels

My friend carried 4 towels in her backpack and we didn’t even need them. 🙁 It was so hot that week in June that after the water rides we were wanting to stay a little wet for our last ride in WOF. Although it may be a good idea to bring them, just in case!

Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun - Kansas City

Lockers at Oceans of Fun

Step 3: Familiarize Yourself with the Rides

This can seem a little daunting if you’ve never been before. My KC friend was experienced and knew where to take us and what rides we should/shouldn’t go on. Lucky for you, I’ve done all the work already!

WORLDS OF FUN

*I put the ones my friends and I rode (and recommend!!)  in orange!

 STEEL HAWK
  • don’t go if super scared of heights
  • go if you love big swings, great views of the park, or thrills! *newest ride
  • height requirement: 52 inches
Riding Steel Hawk

Riding Steel Hawk

View from the top of Steel Hawk

View from the top of Steel Hawk

MAMBA
  • go if you love fast rollercoasters that don’t go upside down
  • even if you’re scared of rollercoasters, you can probably do this one! My friend did and fell in love with rollercoasters after it!
  • height requirement: 48 inches
Glimpse of Mamba

Glimpse of Mamba

BAMBOOZLER / zulu
  • go if you love these kind of spinning rides (often seen at fairs)
  • don’t go if you get sick easily/hate spinning
  • height requirement: 46 inches
Detonator
  • go if you like big drops and good views
  • don’t go if you hate rides like Tower of Terror in Disney World or Superman in Six Flags (this is a smaller version)
  • height requirement: 48 inches
Fury of the Nile
  • go if you like exciting water rides that involve rafts and not really getting wet
  • also go if you want a ride you can likely do with your whole group
  • don’t go if you absolutely don’t want to get wet
  • height requirement: 46 inches
PROWLER / TIMBER WOLF
  • go on these 2 rollercoasters if you like wooden rollercoasters and intense thrills
  • don’t go if you don’t like jerky/aggressive rides
  • height requirement: both 48 inches
Cyclone Sams
  • go on this if you like a thrill
  • don’t go if you hate spinning or flashing lights
  • height requirement: 48 inches
Spinning Dragons
  • go on this if you love thrilling coasters (it rotates freely on the tracks)
  • go if you want something your group can all ride together
  • don’t go if you hate spinning
  • height requirement: 43 inches accompanied or 48 inches alone
Boomerang / Patriot
  • go on these 2 rollercoasters if you like fast coasters that go upside down
  • don’t go if you don’t like going upside down
  • height requirement: 48 for Boomerang and 54 for Patriot
  • I personally thought these were so much fun and highly recommend them!
About to ride the Patriot

About to ride the Patriot

Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun - Kansas City

The Patriot

Have kids? There’s tons of family rides! Check them out here. Also check out Planet Snoopy for your little ones and Dinosaur’s Alive if you love dinos!

 

OCEANS OF FUN

There are SO many fun things to do! Here’s a complete list of everything.

But here’s some stuff you don’t want to miss:

  • the lazy river (Caribbean Cooler)
  • wave pool (Surf City Wave Pool)
  • Captain Kidd’s (if have little kids)
  • Hurricane Falls
  • Monsoon
  • Castaway Cove (adult only pool)

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I can’t wait for you to enjoy your day at Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun! Send me an email or leave a comment below if you’ve been and have more suggestions or if you’ve never gone and have some questions! I’m always happy to help my readers get the most out of their trip!

Don’t miss out on my upcoming Kansas City guide, sign up for the weekly newsletter below!

With love,

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Weekend in Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee is one fabulous city. It is affectionately known as Music City, U.S.A. and the Songwriting Capitol of the World. Country music has deep roots here (as evident in a beloved TV show of mine, Nashville) which is why it is considered the center of the country music industry. If you’re a huge country music fan, then I know why you’re planning a visit. If you’re not, (and I’m right there with you because I truly only like about 4 country songs) then I can promise that Nashville still has a ton of things to offer. Check out this weekend in Nashville itinerary so you don’t miss a thing!

 

Weekend in Nashville

 

On my most recent trip to Nashville, I was there for a Friday evening and all day/night of a Saturday. And I was able to do a lot! So read through the list and see what interests you the most and best fits in with your other plans. Then send me a quick email (emily@adventuresandkindness.com) to tell me about your plans or ask any questions that you may have! I know some incredible bloggers, like Greta Hollar, that are based in Nashville and could offer some advice. Ready to create your dream weekend getaway? Let’s get started!

Download the GPSMyCity app (see banner above) to get this post with the exact directions you need (offline, yay save your data!) to everything on this list!

 

MUSTs – Weekend in Nashville

 

  1. Walk Around the Grand Ole Opry Hotel (Gaylord Opryland Resort)

Weekend in Nashville

Why? It’s free. It’s beautiful. It’s crazy amazing that a hotel could contain huge waterfalls, ‘jumping’ fountains, boat rides, and multiple atriums of breathtaking indoor gardens. According to an article I found, there are 50,000 tropical plants, 215 species in the Garden Conservatory, and 449 species in the Cascades Atrium.

Weekend in Nashville

How to Make It Happen – Put it at the top of your list. You can easily swing by the Opry Mills shopping mall and the Grand Ole Opry before or after your visit. My friends and I ate lunch inside the hotel (it’s exhausting to walk through all of the atriums) at the Cascades restaurant. It’s a little pricey, but it was delicious! So you may want to go in the morning/early afternoon to allow yourself plenty of time and daylight to enjoy it!

 

  1. Enjoy the Nightlife

 

Why? Because it is CRAZY. Maybe it was just the specific weekend that we were there, but we were blown away with the amount of people who were on Broadway both Friday and Saturday night. The only time I’ve seen more people on 1 street is when I was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City (oh and Time Square year around). Every bar was jam-packed with people and there was so many bars of all sizes and themes. We finally found a somewhat calm piano bar upstairs with no cover charge for college students. It was a great place to ring in my best friend’s 21st birthday so I highly recommend it even if you don’t like/want to drink. (I didn’t!)

 

How to Make It Happen – Soak up Nashville and sleep in a bit so you can dedicate your nights to Broadway. Explore the streets on either side as well as Printer’s Alley for a bit if you want. We parked toward the upper end in a cheap parking lot and walked, but many people took taxis! The traffic on that street was terrible (just a warning) and never drink and drive! 🙂

 

SHOULDs – weekend in Nashville

 

  1. Go to a Museum/ Tour a Venue

 

Why? Nashville is famous for country music, so it has the best venues and museums for it! There’s the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Johnny Cash Museum, and many more. (There’s other non-music related museums too! Here’s a list of more) Venue tours are also popular, especially if you don’t want to pay (or not available) for a concert ticket. You can tour the Grand Ole Opry House and the Ryman Auditorium if you want an impressive, large-scale venue. There’s also the quaint songwriting haven, the Bluebird Cafe! I learned about it on the show Nashville and had to see the place where Garth Brooks and many other stars and famous songwriters were discovered.

Weekend in Nashville

How to Make It Happen – Pick what you want to visit and rank in order of importance. Then figure out times, cost and location for them all. For example, after visiting the Opry Mills mall, we hopped across the street to take pictures in front of the Grand Ole Opry House and check out the gift shop before walking down to the Opry hotel. On the way back to our own hotel we stopped by the Bluebird. Some friends went to the different museums during the day and had great experiences. Figure out what YOU want to do and set aside the time to make it happen. Your weekend in Nashville is worth it.

RELATED: What You Don’t Want to Miss in Chicago, Part 1

 

  1. Visit Marathon Motor Works Building (Marathon Village)

 

Weekend in Nashville

 

Weekend in NashvilleWhy? It’s free. And it has so much character and charm! It’s an old automobile manufacturer building that they have redone into a little shopping area. It has a lot of neat shops like Antique Archeology and The Soda Parlor. Antique Archeology is visible from the outside, and is best known from the TV show American Pickers. If you’re a fan of the show or like looking at cool antiques, then it’s definitely worth a visit! (Warning: I’ve heard the lines to get in the tiny store can be lengthy at times!) The Soda Parlor can be found inside the actual building, and is known because of its YouTube-famous creator, Olan Rogers. Also, there is a perfect-for-a-photo-op mural just around the corner of Antique Archeology on the other side of the building, so don’t miss it if you want a picture!

Weekend in Nashville

How to Make It Happen – Consider it a pit stop. Work the location into your other plans and you can see everything you want to see in 10-20 minutes.

 

  1. Eat at Butchertown Hall

 

Why? It’s delicious and has such a modern, chic, hipster vibe (yes it can be all of those adjectives, it’s hard to fully explain). This was seriously the hidden gem of our weekend in Nashville! We were all craving a really good brunch spot, and accidentally stumbled across this place after our first Google searched choice wasn’t open yet. We got a variety of dishes, and they are all so yummy! I could also spend days talking about how aesthetically pleasing this place was. The interior designer/architect did amazing work. It’s won countless awards so obviously people agree with me. (Check out the list here if you don’t believe me)

Weekend in Nashville

How to Make it Happen – Saturday brunch plans. Got them figured out for you. Your welcome 🙂

Weekend in Nashville

 

CANs – Weekend in Nashville

 

There is so much more to Nashville than what this one post can cover! For example, we had our formal at the Belmont Mansion! It’s a historic home that is beautiful and surely worth a tour. There is also the Parthenon (replica of the famous building in Athens, Greece) and the Adventure Science Center (great hands-on kids museum).

 

Don’t limit yourself! Nashville is a big city with lots of offer, so go exploring and have fun! Take pictures in front of the gazillion murals and eat lots of yummy food. A weekend in Nashville is likely one that you’ll never forget! Enjoy it!

Weekend in Nashville

Want more travel related posts for the U.S.?

Check out Chicago – What You Don’t Want to Miss and Exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim!

 

*I’m in no way sponsored for this post and all opinions/recommendations are my own from personal experience!

 

With love,

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Pinnacle Mountain – Hiking Arkansas

Pinnacle Mountain: Are you looking for the best places to go hiking in Arkansas? As an Arkansas native, I’ve decided to do a little side series over the next few summer months! I’ve gone on numerous hiking trips over the years, so it’s definitely time to share them!

 

First up on the list,

 

PINNACLE MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

Pinnacle Mountain - Hiking Arkansas

It seems only fitting to start in the heart of Arkansas with Pinnacle Mountain State Park. It’s located just west of Little Rock and is hard to miss due to the beauty of the 1,011 foot mountain. I’ve visited twice so far, but I plan on coming back quite often in the future! (It’s also my boyfriend’s stomping grounds so I’ve got an expert handy if you have any questions!)

Here’s some quick tips to help you get the most out of your hiking adventure!

 

  1. Be Careful About Using Your iPhone GPS

 

On our second visit, my friend decided that she wanted to search for Pinnacle Mountain on her iPhone’s GPS in order to track our progress and navigate through Little Rock. I noticed that it was taking us a different way than what I was used to, but we decided to trust it because there are probably multiple ways to get there, right? Uh, not exactly.

 

Our GPS did take us to the mountain, but it took us to the East Summit trail which was definitely the wrong side for us. We thought about doing this “harder” trail, but then decided to just go back and try again. We loved our “easier” trail and wanted to stick with our plan! Here’s the address of the Pinnacle Mountain State Park – 11901 Pinnacle Valley Rd, Roland, AR 72135. This will take you to all of the nice facilities (see point number 3) as well as multiple trailheads for you to choose from!

Pinnacle Mountain - Hiking Arkansas

 

  1. Take the West Summit Trail

 

So why do I recommend this one? Well from personal experience, it is truly a great hike. It’s a bit strenuous up closer to the top, but it is beautiful on the climb and breathtaking at the peak. It’s really popular among us college students, but I’ve seen a diverse population enjoy it as well. I’ve seen people in their late 60s as well as children as young as 4 (they were on their dads’ backs though). If you have any concerns on your ability to climb it, then please know that there are a lot of rocks and a steep incline the closer you get to the top. Every time that I’ve gone, there have been people complaining about how difficult it is. But there has also been people who literally run down it. Take your time, rest as often as you need to, and be careful to watch your step!

Distance: 1.5 miles

Pinnacle Mountain - Hiking Arkansas

a view from the top of the West Summit Trail

 

  1. Enjoy Newly Built Restrooms and a Playground for the Kids

 

On my most recent visit, my friend and I were so impressed by the nice bathroom facilities! They were extremely clean and obviously new. Many parks do not have such a luxury so definitely take advantage of it.

 

If you have children, there is also super fun playground equipment for them to enjoy. There always seems to be a lot of kids on it whenever I visit. If you want to eat lunch before or after your hike, then there are also plenty of tables and grills to use! My friend and I had a little picnic on one near the trailhead!

 

Pinnacle Mountain - Hiking Arkansas

This is what the West Summit Trail looks like toward the top!

 

  1. Wander Over to the East Summit’s Viewpoint

 

If you take the West Summit trail, then you will likely reach the peak and veer to the left. It is more obvious and usually more populated. It has gorgeous views of Lake Maumelle and the Arkansas River. It is definitely a must-see. However, the first time we visited we missed the additional viewpoint that is on the right. My friend was about to head back down the mountain but I could hear voices and see people taking pictures over there.

Pinnacle Mountain - Hiking Arkansas

Looking down the mountain with the West Summit Trail parallel with us on the right

Let me tell you, it is so worth it to check out the other spot! We explored that entire side of the mountain and I ended up getting my favorite pictures from it! Head down a bit on the rocks and then walk as far right as you can. You’ll end up being parallel with the hikers climbing down the West Summit trail. We hopped on over some rocks and just continued down the mountain whenever we got tired of soaking up the magnificent view! (Well we just got thirsty; let’s be real, you can’t get tired of such a view!)

Pinnacle Mountain - Hiking Arkansas

 

  1. Stay Hydrated

Above all, it is so important that you keep yourself hydrated! Bring a water bottle or use the water fountains near the trailhead and bathrooms. Either way, make sure you drink some H2O before and after your hike! (Also, wear sunscreen! 🙂 It’s important!)

 

Don’t feel like you know enough? Click here for more official information about the park!

Have you ever visited Pinnacle Mountain State Park? What did you think? I’d love to hear your stories and let me know what other Arkansas hiking trails you’d like to read about!

RELATED:  Exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim | 12 Reasons Why You Should Travel More

With love,

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Chicago – Don’t Want to Miss PART 2

What You Don't Want to Miss in ChicagoPART 2 of What You Don’t Want to Miss in Chicago

Woah there! What you are about to read is part TWO of a super fun series on what you don’t want to miss when you visit Chicago. Haven’t read part one yet? No worries! Start there, then at the end you can follow the link back to read part 2 🙂 (Don’t want you missing anything!)

Read it? Great! Let’s continue…

 

  1. Catch a Ball Game at Wrigley Field

Chicago Wrigley Field

Before you sports enthusiasts get ahead of me, you don’t have to be a cubs fan to visit Wrigley Field! The ballpark was built in 1914 and it is the SECOND-OLDEST in the majors (after Fenway of course). Remember Babe Ruth’s “called shot” before his homer? (Yeah me either…) And all of the other great moments with famous athletes? The point is that there is tons of history here and even the original scoreboard remains intact! A baseball game is also just great fun for the whole family, so (grab your peanuts and crackerjacks) then try to catch a foul ball for a souvenir! 

Cost: See website for ticket info

Location: 1060 West Addison

Day/Night: Day-Night

 

  1. Reach New Heights at the Navy Pier

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

The Navy Pier is a 3,300-foot-long icon for Chicago. It’s a great place to take children due to the carousel, swings, and other kid friendly attractions. There is also shopping, restaurants, and the famous giant ferris wheel. The wheel is actually being reconstructed as a new and improved model set to open this summer. Each gondola will be temperature controlled and able to hold up to 10 people! Perfect for a large family or friend group. My favorite thing about the wheel is the view that you get at the top! It’s a beautiful view of Chicago’s skyline, so don’t forget your camera!

Cost: See website for ticket info

Location: 600 East Grand Avenue

Day/Night: Day

Chicago Navy Pier ferris wheel

 

  1. Learn Something New at the Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of Science and Industry chicago

Let me start by saying, this is NOT just a kid’s museum. Our research prior to the trip showed that this museum is a crowd favorite. Not surprising! There are so many fun things to see and learn that you could easily spend your entire day there. We watched a baby chick hatch, (I got a video!) and saw amazing technology/creations. There were exhibits on transportation, nature, the human body, and much more. My favorite part was the weather section. It was extremely interactive and had the craziest, yet most brilliant demonstrations for different storms/weather phenomena. However, making it down to the basement to be surprised by a real submarine (the massive U-505) was definitely a highlight of the visit. There are a lot of special exhibits that you can purchase in a package with your ticket such as an on-board tour of the submarine or a visit to the coal mines. We decided not to purchase any extras, but I would recommend it if you have the time/money! This museum, and all of its exhibits, is definitely a must-see.

Cost: $11-child (3-11) $18-adults (not including discounts or the price of packages)

Location: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive

Day/Night: Day

Museum of Science and Industry- U-505 chicago

 

  1. Scream While on a Six Flags Rollercoaster

Six Flags is pure fun. Yes, there are others around the U.S., but sometimes your vacation needs less sightseeing and more entertainment. I think that we get so caught up in all of the famous landmarks that we forget how important it is to just relax and have fun! If you’re an adrenaline junkie, Six Flags offers a lot of big rollercoasters. (My personal favorite was X Flight!) But if you have little kids, it’s still packed full of rides that are family and kid friendly. Plus there’s always the Looney Toon characters to take pictures with! If this is something your family would enjoy, then it may be worth the money and short drive! It’s definitely a blast!

Cost: Full price general admission $68.99, but check here for discounts/passes/kid prices

Location: 1 Great America Parkway, Gurnee, IL

Day/Night: Day-Night

chicago X Flight at Six Flags

 

Whew! You did it! You now know 9 incredible things to do while you’re in the Windy City. I’m sure there’s other great things that we can add to the list, so what do you recommend? Let me know in the comments! Enjoy your visit to Chicago! 🙂
With love,

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***all photos were taken by me; due to copyright issues I can’t use the (much better) work of others! Sorry! 🙂

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Chicago – What You Don’t Want to Miss (Part 1)

What You Don't Want to Miss in ChicagoShould we start off with a nice pun? “When I visited Chicago, it really blew me away!” (get it…because it’s called the windy city…I thought of it myself 🙂 ) Sorry for the lame joke, but it is actually so true. (Literally, it’s like crazy windy there.) It was also tons of fun, and it really impressed me with all of the great things that it had to offer. My family and I did a lot of research on Chicago before we went back recently, and I have to say that there are certain things that you do NOT want to miss! Take a look, most of them are FREE! 🙂

 

 

  1. Take a Picture With the Bean

Bean/Cloud GateHave you ever heard of a giant mirror shaped like a bean? If so, then you might be confused about its name. Technically, it’s called Cloud Gate but I like to refer to it by its nickname, the Bean! Located on the edge of Millennial Park, even the walk can be fun as you enjoy the park’s modern art and fountains. The Bean is a classic icon of Chicago, and it’s a lot of fun to take pictures in its giant mirror. Sometimes it gets really busy during the day, but if you go at night your selfie might be a little harder to see. To get the full experience of this amazing piece of art, I recommend going during the day. Walk underneath it, take some pictures, and then keep exploring the city!

◊ Cost: FREE!

◊ Location: Millennial Park on Michigan Avenue

◊ Day/Night: Day (but do night too if you have time)

 

  1. Scare Yourself With a Trip to the Top of Willis Tower

Skydeck Chicago

The ledge of Skydeck Chicago, 103 stories up

The Skydeck Chicago on top of the Willis Tower is such an unforgettable experience! It’s pricey and a bit of a tourist trap, but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I highly recommend. Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower, is the second highest building in the United States. Because the skydeck is on the 103rd floor, you might get a little anxious if you’re afraid of heights. Personally, I found it thrilling! There are only a few spots where you can walk out on the ledge to snap a picture, so you might have to wait in line. The good news is that the tower offers an incredible view of the city and Lake Michigan. Enjoy the beautiful view by walking all the way around the floor, and then enjoy a laugh and a thrill as you step out onto the glass ledge!

◊ Cost: $22 (adults) $14 (children)

◊ Location: 233 S Wacker Drive

◊ Day/Night: Day

Chicago Skyline

View from the top of Willis Tower

 

  1. Watch the Water and Light Show at the Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham FountainGrant Park is a delightful place to take a stroll, but if you don’t have the time, then you should park your car near the Buckingham Fountain and watch one of the 20 minute water shows. Beginning at dusk, the water show is accompanied with lights and music. This makes it a great thing to do at night, especially since it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time.

The shows begin on the hour every hour, and the last one goes off at 10:35pm. There’s some convenient parking spaces across the street from the fountain on Columbus Drive. It’s also a perfect activity to do with people of all ages! (I mean who doesn’t love a good show?)

◊ Cost: FREE!

◊ Location: in Grant Park on Columbus Drive

◊ Day/Night: Night

 

  1. Taste Authentic Chicago Pizza

pizza

Chicago pizza is famous. And for a good reason! It is DELICIOUS and different from anywhere else (even NYC). Having the sauce on top of my pepperoni and cheese kind of wigged me out at first, but give it a try and you (hopefully) won’t be disappointed! There are a lot of pizza places in the area; my only request is that you go somewhere that you know is definitely authentic! Giordano’s is where we went!

◊ Cost: Varies

◊ Location: Varies

◊ Day/Night: Either

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  1. Treat Yourself to the Art Institute of Chicago

 

Art Institute of Chicago

A Sunday Afternoon by Georges Seurat

I love museums, whether or not other people consider them to be boring. Even if you aren’t a fan of art museums, there is SO much to appreciate at the Art Institute of Chicago! Popular artwork such as A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, American Gothic by Grant Wood, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso, and The bedroom (the second one) by Vincent Van Gogh. It’s an amazing opportunity to see such famous work!

◊ Cost: $25 general admission, but discounts are given to Chicago residents, Illinois residents, students, and seniors. Children under 14 are free!

◊ Location: South Michigan Avenue

◊ Day/Night: Day (closes at 5:00pm)

These are just a few of the awesome places and activities that the Windy City has to offer. Want more? CONTINUE TO PART 2!!!

Have you ever been to Chicago before? What would say is something that you just can’t miss?

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Let me know in the comments and I’ll reply! 🙂 And join the weekly newsletter below so that you don’t miss other travel posts!

With love,

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P.S. Did you read part 2??

 

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Exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim

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Exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim

Exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim | adventuresandkindness.com The Grand Canyon is arguably one of the most breathtaking natural wonders that this world has to offer. It is a popular destination for both national and international tourists, with an average of 5 million visitors each year. Beautiful and massive, the grand canyon south rim is a must-see for any family, couple, friend group, or solo traveler.

There are numerous spectacular views to see, so it is likely that you won’t be able to see everything. It is easy to adjust a Grand Canyon trip into any time frame. In fact, my family and I were able to conquer much of the South Rim in just ONE day! We drove a rental car from Las Vegas down to the canyon, and while it isn’t for everyone, I highly recommend it. (For more information on how to plan a one day trip from Las Vegas, just shoot me an email!)

Because there are so many viewpoints, you will want to prioritize where you go first.

So why do I recommend starting with the Grand Canyon South Rim?

  • it’s easy to get to from multiple big cities (aka where the commercial airlines are) such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff
  • it’s open all year
  • it’s a great way to pack a lot of different spots into one simple drive (hello Desert Drive!)
  • it makes for BEAUTIFUL pictures, especially at sunset

So how do you get to the Grand Canyon South Rim? There are plenty of options out there, so please don’t think that you can’t travel a different way. Another route may be more suited to your individual needs or preferences!

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon? Don't miss the beautiful photography opportunities at the South Rim! | adventuresandkindness.com

Yavapi Point

How to Get to the South Rim

  • Fly- There is limited service into Grand Canyon Airport (7 miles from the park) or you can fly into the bigger cities mentioned above.
  • Rent a Car- A huge benefit to renting a vehicle is that you have a lot control over where and when you travel. My family and I rented one from the Las Vegas airport, but unfortunately we had to wait hours before we finally got a car. Make sure you do plenty of research beforehand so that you choose a rental company that you trust!
  • Take a Bus- Before you can ride the shuttle directly to the canyon, you need something to get you a bit closer. Greyhound offers bus services to Flagstaff and Phoenix.
  • Ride the Shuttle- You can get from Phoenix to Flagstaff or Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Village by riding Arizona Shuttle. If you need to get to the park from Flagstaff, Sedona, Phoenix or Las Vegas, then you may want to try Grand Canyon Shuttle Service. They also offer rim to rim services, if traveling in a large group. Trans Canyon Shuttle runs between the rims each day, with a limited schedule in October. It takes about 4 1/2 hours each way, costs $90 per person, and they require reservations.

 

Day Hiking the South Rim

Wanting to go on a day hike during your visit? Here are some of the trails you can use, and I’ve included links to offer you all the information you may need on them! The Grand Canyon South Rim is so beautiful, you definitely don’t want to miss out on opportunity to hike! Personally, I went on a small trail that was less official, so just do what works best for you!

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon? Don't miss the beautiful photography opportunities at the South Rim! | adventuresandkindness.com

Grandview Point

 

 

Easy: Rim Trail (most of it is paved)

Steep: Bright Angel Trail • South Kaibab Trail •  Hermit Trail

Very Steep: Grandview Trail

Viewpoints That I Recommend

Because I knew that my family and I would obviously have limited time at the canyon, I wanted to make sure we were using it wisely and visiting as many viewpoints as possible. I did a little research on Pinterest, and one post really inspired me to consider Desert View Drive. The photos of it were GORGEOUS and I was so impressed with the variety of views that it offered. It also seemed like the perfect way to conquer a lot of viewpoints in one simple drive.

Exploring the Grand Canyon South Rim

 

In reality, it was all of those things and more! I highly recommend it. We came in through the South Entrance and first stopped at the visitor center. (And you should too!) It was full of great information, had a spectacular view, and it offered restrooms and places to refill your water bottle. From there we drove to Yavapai Point, backtracked to Mather Point, then continued on that road toward Desert View Drive. We stopped at Grandview Point, Moran Point, and Desert View.

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon? Don't miss the beautiful photography opportunities at the South Rim! | adventuresandkindness.com

Desert View

There are a lot of other possible viewpoints, but some required extensive hiking or offered basically the same view. Even though we did cover a lot of ground, it was nice to enjoy each viewpoint and really take in the canyon’s beauty. We spent the most time at Desert View where we watched the sunset with a lot of other visitors. There was also a gift shop, small restaurant, general store, and restrooms. It’s a great place to get some hot chocolate, and you can even climb to the top of the watchtower!

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon? Don't miss the beautiful photography opportunities at the South Rim! | adventuresandkindness.com

And Don’t Forget…

WATER. I can’t stress this enough. If you plan on hiking, then you really need a refillable water bottle. You can scout out all of the refill stations at the grand canyon south rim, and definitely replenish as often as needed.

CAMERA. I just used my iPhone for all of the pictures you see in this post, but if you want a higher quality then definitely don’t forget your camera! (And if you’re using your phone, invest in a car charger just in case the battery dies on you!)

MONEY. This may seem unnecessary, but once you are there you may really want to get a souvenir t-shirt or magnet. You also might get hungry, and want a snack or drink. When we left the canyon we found a yummy restaurant, We Cook Pizza and Pasta, that I recommend if you’re looking for some dinner after the sun sets!

Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon? Don't miss the beautiful photography opportunities at the South Rim! | adventuresandkindness.com

There are so many things to see and do in the Grand Canyon South Rim area, you probably can’t go wrong. Just remember to really take your time and soak up the canyon’s majestic beauty! (Thankfully you probably won’t have cell service so you’ll be forced to :)) Seeing it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am so thankful for it! Want to go? Let me help you make it happen!

What do you think about visiting the Grand Canyon? Is it something that you would like to do one day? Or if you have already done it, what advice would you share? Let me know in the comments!

 

With love,

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Select a list:


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