Skip to content

Visit Snoqualmie Falls!

A very real waterfall close to Seattle?! Yes, please!

 

Snoqualmie Falls falling into the Snoqualmie River.

 

If you look for the standard “Things to Do” in Seattle, you will come across Snoqualmie Falls. A mere 45 minutes from Seattle, these 268 ft. falls are the real deal! We have already been to the Falls twice, once in January and then again in March and on both occasions the waterfall was dense with a lot of spray, which makes me think these are year-around falls that neither dry out nor freeze during the year!

 

 

Getting to the falls

The easiest way to get to the falls is through your own car. The GPS directions are easy to follow and the roads are in a great condition. There is a small parking lot, all too small for the amount of tourist traffic that this place gets, but on both occasions we were able to park on the shoulder of an adjoining road. If driving is not your thing, a number of day trips are offered to the Falls by a variety of operators. Once you leave the car, a small footbridge and a few more steps would get you straight to the different viewing platforms for the falls.

 

The footbridge leading up to the viewing platforms

 

The Snoqualmie River in the Cascades Mountain Range

 

 

The hidden gem

Don’t just head back after enjoying the lovely waterfalls. The best part of Snoqualmie falls is the easy access to Snoqualmie river. A short, shaded and absolutely lovely trail leads all the way down to the river. Here you can sit on the rocks and be really close to nature, making the hike well worth it. There are a number of picnic tables near the “lower” falls region which are ideal for enjoying a lovely picnic lunch. If a relaxing day in your mind does not include hiking, you can drive straight to the parking lot by the river.

 

On the banks of Snoqualmie River

 

The easy and shaded hike to the River

Hope you enjoy these lovely falls and the Snoqualmie River when you are in Seattle area.

 

Leavenworth – A slice of Bavaria in Washington, US

Last Christmas, we ventured on our first road trip in the Pacific Northwest, first of the many I hope will follow. We drove about 2.5 hours from our home in suburban Seattle to the town of Leavenworth.

Leavenworth is nestled between the Cascade mountains. When you come to Leavenworth, you are amazingly transported to an alpine town in Germany – not only because Leavenworth is on the foothills of tall peaks, but because it is a little slice of Bavaria, right in the middle of Washington, USA, complete with shops selling bratwurst, store fronts bearing names such as “Kris Kringl“, biergartens and all manner of cuckoo clock souveniors.

img_6668img_6795-1

And this town really comes alive during Christmas, with the whole main street decorated with fairy lights, a large Christmas tree, a Christmas market fashioned after the Christmas markets of Europe, and the crowds to rival any Christmas market in Europe.

img_6709

Here are some tips for visiting Leavenworth:

  • The drive to Leavenworth passes through the Cascade mountains and it stunning, especially around the Snoqualmie pass.

img_6789While Christmas time is magical, do not visit during Christmas holiday weekends. The decorations are lit up close to Thanksgiving and stay on well until February. The more the time gap between your trip and Christmas/ New Year, the less crowds you will encounter. The crowds take away from Leavenworth’s natural beauty and give the appearance of an overcrowded theme park.

img_6701

  • If you do visit in winter, definitely take a horse carriage ride in the snowy fields. The horses, decorated with bells and red ribbons, will make you feel you are on a reindeer sleigh ride in this beautiful winter wonderland.

img_6735

img_6761

  • The more widely known hotel chains do not have a presence in Leavenworth. Most accommodations are of the charming bed and breakfast variety, tend to sell out quickly and could be outrageously priced. If you do not plan to spend too much time in the hotel, Hampton Inn & Suites is a good option for a decent no-frills night’s sleep and a surprisingly good free breakfast the next morning.

If you are planning to explore the beauty of Washington, US and the Cascades, definitely consider stopping at Leavenworth for its quaint Bavarian charm and gorgeous scenery.

 

 

More beauty in Acadia National Park, Maine

Even with little planning and research, Acadia National Park in Maine, U.S. left us enthralled. A trip to Acadia National Park would require some amount of driving to get there and depending on where are you are starting from, this could be between a few hours to a very long drive. Thus parents with young kids might wonder, “It it worth it?” And take my word for it.. the answer is a big resounding yes. Even with a toddler who was terribly car sick in the drive from New York to Portland, Maine, the beauty of Acadia was so worth the trouble to get there.

Acadia National Park is vast and can be a little overwhelming. I previously wrote about Cadillac Mountain. Here are some other stops in the National Park that can help you plan a trip. Hopefully the pictures can convey the beauty where the words may have failed.

1. Sand Beach:

img_4378

While its name is clearly unpretentious and a bit lacking in flair, the Sand Beach is nothing short of lovely. I have seen beaches with softer-white-powder-sand and beaches with more-turquoise-waters but I had never seen a beach in a cove with so much greenery surrounding it. Bordering the beach on all three sides are the ubiquitous forests of birch and Pine. The Sand Beach is not too far from the entrance to Acadia National Park and since we made our way there at 6:30 am on a Monday morning, we were rewarded with having the entire cove to ourselves. The beauty of the beach is accentuated with rocks and pebble formations, and Siena had a great time hopping on the pebbles and splashing in the gentle waves. If anyone is asking me, I would gladly rename this beach Emerald Cove.

img_4363

img_4399

img_4372

2. Park Loop Road:

This road which runs against the rocky coast of a large portion of Acadia has many lookout points to take in the waves crashing the rocky outposts. A lot of these lookout points are also the starting point of hikes and trails which are very popular with families.

img_4498

img_4443

img_4467

img_4471

3. Jordan Pond:

This lake surrounded by mountains is known for its very clear water. A lush green and wooded walking trail meanders around the whole perimeter of the lake. We were easily able to walk sections of this trail with our toddler. We stopped at one point and dipped our toes in the calm waters, and saw schools of fish swimming around our feet.

img_4520

Before walking the Jordan Pond path, we stopped at the Jordan Pond House restaurant for lunch. Their specialty is a puffy soft pastry called pop-overs.  Even if you do not have time for a full meal, do try to snag a table and enjoy the pop-overs with a view of the lovely pond.

4. The Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse:

This iconic lighthouse perched on a cliff is often the image that appears when you google Acadia National Park. This was our last stop in Acadia before driving back to Portland and the lighthouse did not disappoint.  After walking down a mud path and climbing over rocks, we were rewarded with expansive views of the Atlantic and the lighthouse. However, as much as I tried to go into a corner and take a picture, I could not get a good picture of the lighthouse and the cliff. A good picture would most certainly have to taken from a boat. Below you would only see my sad attempt at capturing the lighthouse.

img_4684

IMG_4524

IMG_4526

If these posts have piqued your interest in Acadia National Park, consider staying at the Holiday Inn, Bar Harbor. Its location is great for exploring Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. With its heated outdoor swimming pool and restaurants overlooking the ocean, it packs a lots of Maine-coastal charm.

p.s. – Now that we have moved to the Seattle area, Acadia National Park and Maine are an entire breadth of a continent away from us. Hopefully, we would get a chance to visit this beautiful, rocky, rugged place again!

Images from Carlsbad, California

Recently, I had a chance to visit Carlsbad, a city about 45 minutes away from San Diego in southern California.

As this was a work trip, I was only able to use a few hours on the last morning there to capture images of the beach and the Pacific Ocean. Once I reached Carlsbad I figured that the city is very popular with family travelers as it is the location of Legoland California, and so there were a lot of families on the beach and a lot of young people learning to surf.

The images do not show the busy highway that was behind me and the loud roar from the  highway’s traffic but nonetheless, seeing the Pacific Ocean with its calm waves on this beach after almost 5 years did make me think, Can I please move here? I will even learn to surf! But, anyway, I did return back to New York with a resolve to explore the California coast more with my travel buddies, Siena and Sachin.

Cadillac Mountain, and our first National Park visit with a toddler.

08641B76-EE6A-4E59-BD9C-7D20E1B43674

The view of the Atlantic Ocean from atop the Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine.

We climbed a mountain! We actually climbed a mountain, with our three year old! Okay, in the spirit of full disclosure, we drove to a mountain summit with our three year old properly harnessed in her car seat, but still, as any parent would attest, the fact that we toured a bonafide US National Park and managed to see the views from Cadillac Mountain with our little one makes me very proud and happy!

Cadillac Mountain is one of the tallest peaks on the east coast of the United States and is a part of Acadia National Park in Maine. If you have a small child or children and are wondering if a national park holiday is worth your time, and money, and sanity, there is good news! Acadia National Park is very drivable, and you can soak in a lot of scenic beauty by driving and through small and easily doable hikes.

0380DF81-B63A-46AA-9148-64EF0BCFAC61

The many viewing points at the summit.

Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Acadia National Park gave me the feeling of having left the United States, even though we were very much in it or at least at the very east of it. With sweeping views of waves crashing over a rugged coastline dense with forests of pine, fir and birch trees, Acadia National Park felt remote and a perfect antidote to the busyness of New York.

One of the stops on our road trip in this National Park was the Cadillac Mountain.  While we did not investigate into this, there appeared to be hiking trails that can get you to the summit of the mountain. We took the scenic Summit road though, up to the parking lot at the top, and then explored by foot.  There a 3 or 4 stopping points along the way too, so that if you absolutely cannot resist the urge to take pictures, you can park the car safety and let the camera shutters go wild.

E0ECB239-1788-438A-945D-9593959B5AC1

Enjoying family time at Acadia National Park

Once we reached the top of Cadillac, there was little else to do but just enjoy the beauty surrounding us. On the pink granite dotted with shrubs and wild flowers, there is a well marked and long gravel path which let Siena, our little one, also explore the summit safely and easily. The view in front of us was of the vast Atlantic, dotted with numerous Maine islands, including the most popular one, Bar Harbor.

610FA919-9129-43C4-ABE9-9F8964261221

A quite moment to enjoy the beauty of the moment

Stay tuned for more on what we saw and did in Acadia National Park.

Practically speaking:

  • Wear good hiking shoes and carry drinking water (and snacks if you are travelling with little kids). Also carry sunscreen and a sun-hat if you travelling in summer like we did.
  • The daily weather is a tad unpredictable. It might be cloudy in the morning but could get very sunny later in the day.
  • Most definitely carry and apply bug spray when you are out and about in this thickly wooded National Park!
  • Acadia is a very popular tourist destination (as we came to realize), so if you are visiting during a public holiday, expect a lot of crowds and wait times for available spots in parking lots.

 

Why you should visit Bermuda in December

“This is going to be great”, I thought with giddy relief as we stepped out of the airport into the beautiful Bermuda sunshine, on December 24. The sunny weather, hovering around 75F/ 24C, was nothing short of glorious and a perfect escape from the blistering cold of New York. There had been was a good chance that in late December, we would have encountered cold, rainy and “unbeachy” weather. But it was looking like our roll of the dice would pay off. We were in for a perfect Bermuda Christmas.

img_1001

The sherbet – colored bungalows of Bermuda add to its charm.

If you live in or near the East Coast of the U.S. and have wondered whether Bermuda in the winter is a good idea, let me put your mind to ease – with less crowds, great deals on airfare and resort stays, and Christmas cheer everywhere, there is no better time to visit Bermuda than Christmas.

Bermuda is a prosperous island in the Atlantic Ocean, and a British Overseas Territory. It is only a 2-hour flight from New York but it is a world apart. Northern than the Caribbean islands, it is surprisingly lush-green. The shimmering Atlantic Ocean peeks through the sherbet colored, almost color-coordinated bungalows, which are surrounded by manicured gardens.

IMG_4185

Lush greenery overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The weather was a sunny mid-seventies which in my book is perfection – not cold but not scorching hot either, and thus we could spend most of our days outdoors. Our grand resort, the Fairmont Southampton was beautifully decorated for the festive season and had an entire roster of festive activities and celebrations for the guests. There would be few more things that would lift your spirits more than the sight of the large Christmas Tree next to the ocean. And since we were outside of the peak tourist season of June through August, everything was more easy, from reservations in the restaurants to loungers on the beach.

img_1049

A Christmas Tree with a view.

IMG_4209

How would you like a beach all to yourself?

On the subject of beach, the famed Horseshoe Beach did not disappoint. The quite beaches, the soft sand and the teal-blue waters were a treat for sore eyes and a sore spirit.

img_1313

The soft sand and the clear waters of Horseshoe beach.

img_0797

A happy Christmas morning.

Bermuda has made a fan out of me, and I hope to visit this island once again, in different seasons, but maybe at Christmas time again.

img_1299

 

The best sunset I have ever seen.

The islands of Hawaii have stunning coastlines, beautiful beaches, lush green mountains,  volcanoes and craters, but a place of pride belongs to the sunsets.

img_2280

Sunset on Kaanapali beach, Maui, Hawaii

Enjoying sunsets is a bit of a ritualistic community activity in Hawaii, where everyone stops what they are doing and head to the beach or the lanai (Hawaiian for balcony)  or the edge of their infinity pool to see the sun melt in the horizon.

img_2281

Where have you seen your favorite sunset or sunrise?

Reviewed: Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

IMG_1806

The stars of Very Hungry Caterpillar pausing for pictures and applause.

From the notoriously hungry caterpillar to the lit up firefly, from the ten itinerant rubber duckies to the large brown bear – watch these characters, immortalized by Eric Carle in his much loved toddler books, come to life in Very Hungry Caterpillar Show.

The show, which is currently running in New York, is the narration of 4 Eric Carle’s books with the help of large animal puppets which can only be described as magical.

Published between 1969 and 2005, these books with their simple stories and colorful collage style illustrations, hold timeless appeal for little inquisitive minds. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? makes a journey through the colorful animal kingdom. 10 Little Rubber Ducks recounts the different adventures of ten rubber ducks who  fall overboard a cargo ship. The Very Lonely Firefly has a firefly looking for and finally succeeding in finding its firefly friends. The star of the show is clearly the caterpillar from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which is the delightful tale of a caterpillar eating his way through a whole range of foods before becoming a mighty butterfly.

unnamed

The stage displaying Eric Carle’s book as we wait for the performance to begin.

The show is playing in a cozy theater near Union Square. As we entered the foyer with our 3 year old girl, we were comforted to see that the audience was largely made of 3 – 6 year olds and their parents. The foyer area also has a small table and chairs with coloring sheets (illustrated with the Hungry Caterpillar of course) and crayons, for some pre-show coloring tail-gate. You would think that with such a large toddler crowd watching a 55-minute long show, there would invariably be sounds of tantrums, but we only heard laughter, squeals of delight and children guessing out loud which puppet was going to make an appearance next.

IMG_1776

Siena getting ready for the show to begin

The stories were narrated by three very talented narrators cum puppeteers. All the animal puppets and other props are crafted beautifully, and maneuvered brilliantly. The uplifting sound track accompanying the stories and the light effects add to the wonder. While the stories are for kids, there are plenty of spell-binding moments for adults too. The large brown bear entering the stage in the beginning of the show, a grand whale serenading a rubber duck with its whale sounds, a group of lit up fireflies, the simulated lights and sounds of fireworks, a moon smiling in the backdrop of the night and the caterpillar covering itself in a cocoon are just a few of them.

IMG_1791

All smiles at Very Hungry Caterpillar Show

The only thing not great was that you need to pay for premium seats to get a picture of your child with monsieur caterpillar and other puppets. Oh well.

If you live in New York, or are visiting, CHECK out this show! This would be the perfect introduction to theater for your budding theater lover.

Some tips before you go:

  • There are plenty of promo codes on the internet where you can get $ 49.5 tickets for $ 34.5. While the seats were not in the first 4 – 5 rows from the stage, they still provided our 3 year old with a good view of the performance.
  • Carry some snacks and water for small fidgety hands. Food and drinks are not sold at the venue.
  • If you haven’t read the books, borrow them from the library and read them to your kids a couple of times before the show. They will enjoy the show more as a result!

Sharing some New York moments

As if I don’t do this enough already but this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge – Tour Guide, specially calls for it – show what you love about where you live.

Even though I yearn for more greenery, I love this melting pot called New York. Here are some of my much loved moments in New York in 2017.

Have you been to New York? What did you like most about the Big Apple?

The Christmas Tree at the Rockefeller Center:

img_0636

The American Art wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:

img_0051

The Pulitzer Fountain outside the Plaza Hotel:

img_0532

The Ramble at Central Park:

img_9860

Downtown Manhattan as seen from Governors Island:

img_0157

St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

img_0193

The fairytale garden at Tavern On the Green:

img_9634

Colorful in Copenhagen

kaoG_uSUOVtlIbjVv4ccTlCJA9C-BbvFuDIZxYhPRyUpX92IB

Colorful townhouses line the canal in Nyhavn in the scandinavian city of Copenhagen.

For more “variations on a theme”, click here.

%d bloggers like this: