Las Vegas Day Trip with Kids- Valley of Fire

Las Vegas Day Trip with Kids- Valley of Fire

About 12 years ago, my husband and I forgo-ed a traditional wedding (and all the stress that goes with it!), grabbed some family and a few friends and headed out for a destination wedding in Las Vegas!

Did we get married by Elvis in a drive through chapel?  Did we get married in one of the famous Vegas hotels?  Did we waltz the streets in our wedding attire relishing all the “Congratulations”, “Woop Woops!” and looks our way?

No, No, and Maybe.  (ok, that last one is a yes!…but in our case some people were congratulating us on prom??!  Come on, I had on a big wedding dress and 4 other girls wearing the same exact dress?  What high school girls would wear the same dress to prom on purpose??  But that’s a story for another day!)

So we didn’t get married by Elvis or in a hotel….or even on the strip.  Instead, we got married here:

This beautiful place is about an hour off the strip in Overton, Nevada in the Mojave Desert.  Valley of Fire State Park is a wonderful place to take the kids when you’re ready to give their senses a break from the lights and sounds (and sights?) of the strip.

It gives the kids a chance to…

Run around,

look at all that wide open space!

climb on rock formations (only some of them!! some areas don’t allow you to climb on them since they may break and not be there for future visitors to enjoy),

kids (okay and me!) love playing hide and seek in these holes
Beautiful Arch Rock…this is one you can’t climb on!

See petroglyphs that were made by people 4,000 years ago,

Use their imagination, build rock sculptures (that will totally stay there forever and have people oooing and ahhhing over your talent for stacking so many rocks on top of each other without them falling for years to come…..or at least that’s what my son had fun doing 😉 )

and maybe even see a desert tortoise or a big horned sheep (we didn’t though)!

*Fun fact- The sandstone formations were created during dinosaur times- 150 million years ago!  So if your kids are into dinosaurs at all, you can tell them these rocks might have been around to see or touch them!

Not to mention you’ll come away with some awesome pictures!

We took the opportunity to do a couple re-makes of our wedding day!

They even have a small “museum” and gift shop in the visitor center.  If your kids like creepy crawlies, there was even a snake and lizard on display in the visitor center too (behind a glass case).

Tips For Visiting:

– Bring food or snacks, they don’t really have any there.
– This is the desert- bring water!  Especially if you’re there during warmer weather.  Summer gets well       over 100 degrees!
– Try visiting during the week in the morning when there will be less people.
– You most likely won’t have cell service starting about 20 mins away from the site.  Make sure you           have your GPS going before then if you think you’ll need it.  (But there are signs and like one road,       but hey, if you’re like me, you could still probably find a way to get lost)

You can check out their website for more information.

Have you ever been to the Valley of Fire?  I’d love to hear what you liked about the area as well!!

London- 3 Days on a Budget!

London- 3 Days on a Budget!

London is notoriously known as one of the most expensive cities in the world.  Well, guess where my husband and I are headed for our 10 year wedding anniversary??  Yup, you guessed it…London (and Scotland!!).  But if you know me at all, you know I plan to make this trip one that’s filled with interesting things to see and do without spending much money.  It can be done, even in London!!

Here’s a sneak peek at what I’m planning for our itinerary and the costs of each.

We already purchased our plane tickets.  After looking around for a while, we got a pretty good deal on Delta during Black Friday.  Less than $400 round trip per person!  That will be leaving the US going to London, then flying out of Edinburgh, Scotland back to the US.  (tip: It’s almost always better to do a “multi city” trip when flying, rather than buying two separate one way tickets.)

Accomodation:  I’m still working on this.  I’ve been scouring my normal discount lodging sites for decent prices in London.  We’ll be there the end of April.  Now, I know a lot of budget travel blogs tell you to stay in hostels, or couchsurf, etc.  And that can be some great advice…for some people.  But for me??  I’m in my early 30s, and an introvert…and this is going to be an anniversary trip with my husband…I don’t usually stay in hostels or couch surf.  Airbnb could be a good option, but I usually use them for longer stays of a week or more.  I’m only spending 2 nights/ 3 days in London….I’m going the regular budget hotel route.  I’m hoping for something under $100 night.
We are saving money and time on one night of accomodation by taking a sleeper bus to Edinburgh on our last night in London.  That way, we still have the full day in London, don’t have to pay for another hotel, and can sleep while we get driven to Scotland!  Plus, I’ve never been on a sleeper bus, so bonus points for a cool new experience!

Day 1

Our plane is supposed to arrive in Heathrow around 9am.  We’re just bringing carry ons (!!), so we’ll head straight to find the National Express.  This bus is looking to be the best option of around 6 pounds per person (cheapest in a reasonable amount of time) compared to a taxi or train. It should be about a 40 minute bus ride.

We’ll probably find a place to grab a coffee and bite to eat until…

11am  Sandeman’s New Europe free tour.  18 different cities right now.  2.5 hr rain or shine.  good way to get the lay of the land and all these popular sites.  Be sure to tip as this is where the guides make their  money since the tour is free.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about the guides and the tours themselves.  Meet in front of the Apple Store in Covent Garden.
           big ben
           red phone booths
           covent garden
           trafalgar square
           buckingham palace
           westminster abbey
           lots more

Now it’ll probably be around 12:30ish and our hotel won’t be ready yet, so we’ll probably grab lunch and have a picnic in St James park (Hyde and Regents are also great park options) across from Buckingham Palace if nice weather.

We’ll definitely go for walk over Tower Bridge for some great pictures.  I fell in love with this bridge when I first came to London and can’t wait to go back and see it again.  I could literally sit across from it sipping a coffee, (sorry London, I’m not a tea drinker!) people watching, and staring at it in all its majesty for hours.

Then check into hotel and chill for a bit.  If I remember correctly, jet lag will probably be hitting hard, lol.  But I do remember that we shouldn’t try to take a nap or go to sleep.  It’s definitely better to just hold out and sleep at a normal local time.

4pm- see natural history museum? free

630pm- grab a drink at Icebar London–   They have these spots in a few different big cities around the world, but I haven’t been to one of them.  It’s a bit of a splurge at 16.50 pound/pp, but it’s the experience that sells me.  The whole place is made out of ice.  (bar top, stools, your cup, etc).  They give you a cape and gloves when you go in.

730pm- grab premade dinner from grocery store (Stainsburys is good for cheap premade food)

evening….wander around soho, take it easy, I’m sure we’ll be exhausted and ready to sleep!

Day 2

10am tower of london 18.90 pound/pp at

noonish- grab snack in armoury cafe in the tower, eat overlooking the thames

2pm- 4pm Do a Harry Potter Walk from London Walks- 10 pounds each (Sat or Sun) (or self guided tour for free whenever we want….or M, W, F…i wont be there then)

lunch- fish and chips?

british museum- free

on a sunday 730pm- 930pm Jack the Ripper tour with Donald (be sure it’s Donald) from london walks 10 pounds. 2 hrs

Day 3

Camden or Bourough Markets- supposedly, they have some of the best food markets around!-  free, just cost of food we buy

3pm- Evensong at Westminster Abbey- This is an amazing way to see the Abbey for free and get to watch a service.- free  (visiting is 20 pounds..worshipping is free!  and a cool experience)

Indian street food- I’ve had many people tell me that I definitely need to try some of this!

Greenwich- stand in 2 different time ones at once!!! (eastern and western hemispheres, one foot in each half of the earth in the courtyard of the royal observatory) Not many places you can do this! – Meridian Line, National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark.  Land a jumbo jet simulation!!!  Chris will love this, 60 pounds for 30 mins, up to 4 ppl,  1 exhibit entrance ticket- 5 pounds for more (10am- last entrance 6:15pm Emirates Aviation Experience)  Anniversary present!!

Gordon’s Wine Bar- who doesn’t want to drink wine and eat cheese plates in a cave???  This place looks like something you would normally pass by without noticing too much.  Go in the door and down the stairs and you  get rewarded with an atmospheric cave and local hangout with decent priced wine and food.

Take the Megabus Gold overnight to Edinburgh.  It currently is priced at 45 pounds for 2 people total  ($56).  The bus leaves London at 10pm and will arrive at the Edinburgh bus station at 6am.  You can only book a maximum of  3 months out on Megabus Gold.  It’s a relatively new service that they’re offering.  An actual sleeper bus.  I thought of taking the Caledonian sleeper train as a cool experience, since we haven’t done it before, but it is much more expensive.  The bus does not give you the option of having your own private (tiny) room, like the train, but it does give you a lay flat bed with sheets and a pillow.  You can either choose the single bed option would be like bunks, or a shared option if you are traveling as a couple, family, or friends.  This is  more like two small beds pushed together with a tiny divider at the head.

Other things I’d like to check out if we have time and money:

We’ll definitely check out an afternoon tea somewhere.  I mean, when in London…..

Sketches- literally, for the bathrooms.  Really.  Google it.

Cahoots- Old train converted into a restaurant

The London Eye-  it is expensive and touristy…but will probably give some awesome views.