Monday, January 23, 2012

Explore: Whidbey Island!

Here is the last of our summer trips from 2011. . . a weekend with the family on Whidbey Island!  I had been wanting to go see it since we moved here, so we packed up the car and the kids and off we went! 

There are two ways to get to Whidbey Island. . . take the ferry from Mukilteo to Clinton, or drive north to Anacortes and then over the Deception Pass bridge to the island.  I recommend doing both, since Deception Pass is gorgeous and you won't want to miss that!  We decided to drive over the bridge on our way there, and then take the ferry on our way back.

Definitely bring your camera and stop and get out at the Scenic Overlook just before the Deception Pass Bridge.  The views are stunning!


Brooke got to ride in the baby backpack.  :)

You can also walk out on the bridge, which is pretty cool!  Keep a close watch on young kids, since cars are whizzing by and it's usually windy up there too. 

 This was the view from the bridge!

After we crossed over the bridge, we drove down into Deception Island State Park and spent some time at the beach!  It was a gorgeous, sunny day and the kids even got to go swimming in the shallow lagoon we found!  Here are some shots of the girls having fun in the sand. . .

Brooke was so happy!  She loves crawling around in the sand and trying to get to the water!

Haha, love this one!!!

Kirsten and Natalie loved playing with their water floats in the shallow water!

Kirsten LOVES the beach!

Natalie loves the beach too!

Pretty, pretty, pretty!

And our view of the bridge from the beach!

After the beach we headed to the tiny little town of Coupeville.  It's so cute, it actually has false-front wooden buildings! 

Nice views of the water!

We ate at Mosquito Fleet Chili, and the grilled cheese sandwiches there were delicious!

We stayed on Whidbey Island for two nights, at Oak Town Cottages in the town of Oak Harbor.  It was such a great place for a family to stay!  It had two separate bedrooms, a main living area with a TV, a good-sized kitchen with a microwave and everything you need for cooking, and a bathroom.  The town of Oak Harbor isn't very charming, but it's a really good jumping off point to go explore the rest of the island.  The town also has plenty of grocery stores and fast food restaurants.  It was so nice that the kids got to sleep in their own bedroom so we could stay up later and watch TV and read after they went to bed.  High-speed internet and cable was included too!     

After a good night's sleep, we headed to the Whidbey Island Kite Festival!  We didn't stay there long, but it was fun to see all the kites!

Next we headed out to explore Fort Casey!  This was a seriously cool place, and I never would have known it was there.  It's huge, over 400 acres, and filled with old barracks and concrete buildings that are abandoned, but you can walk around and explore them as much as you want.  The buildings are full of tunnels, old artillery, ammunition storage rooms, seriously cool stuff!

The girls wanted to play hide and seek!

Aren't those tunnels awesome?  Ready to explore!

I can just imagine how much fun little boys would have at this place.

And there's also a charming lighthouse!  It wasn't open when we were there, but I read that you can go inside and climb the spiral staircase to the lighthouse.

We ate dinner at our cottage that night, walked into town for some ice cream, and then got some sleep before driving down to the south part of the island on our last day there.  South Whidbey Island is beautiful!  A lot more forested than the northern part!  We also got some strange weather that day, with rain and lots of wind, so I was glad we got our beach day in while we could.

We stopped at such an awesome place for lunch. . . Greenbank Farm!  It was such an adorable place.  They didn't have any animals for the kids to pet, but the Whidbey Pies Cafe is there and the food was so yummy!

They had such a cute pond with ducks, and the landscape was beautiful!

If the weather had been sunny, we would have gotten out to explore Useless Bay.  It's a great beach for exploring, at the southern tip of the island, and I'd love to take the ferry over there on a warm Saturday sometime and play at the beach with the kids!

I'm lucky to live in a city surrounded by so many beautiful places to explore!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Explore: Butchart Gardens!

 Everyone needs to go see Butchart Gardens!  Add it to your bucket list, right now.  It's on Vancouver Island, BC, outside the city of Victoria, and completely stunning!  Take your kids and your camera and enjoy a beautiful day there!

And make sure you go on a Saturday in the summer!  All summer long, they do a fireworks show at night and it is spectacular!  I didn't know what to expect, but it was much cooler than pretty much any fireworks show I've seen in the USA on the 4'th of July.  It was a long fireworks show, over a half hour long, and all set to music and themed with awesome fireworks designs.  It was SO cool, and included with your admission to the gardens!

Now feast your eyes on all the beautiful flowers and beautiful little girls I took pictures of!  :)

The gardens are huge, so give yourself plenty of time to explore them!  You don't want to miss any sections!

The girls loved the carousel!  They had this statue, perfect for photos, and then a real old-fashioned carousel too.

They had tons of different animals in the carousel.  I thought the giraffe was the coolest!

Some of my favorite things there were all the different fountains!  Some were timed to music, and they add lights to them for nighttime and for the holidays.

Acres and acres of gorgeousness!!!

And my beautiful Kirsten in the flowers!  :)

We laid out blankets on the grass, and Brooke got to practice her crawling and the kids got to run and play.  It was a relaxing, wonderful afternoon!

LOVE this shot I got of cute little Brooke at 10 months old!

Where do my girls get such blue eyes?

More fountains! 

There were so many unexpected, gorgeous things around every corner.  I never thought spending a day at a garden could be so much fun!

Are you convinced yet?  GO to Butchart Gardens with your family!