18 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Carnival Cruise

18 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Carnival Cruise

From arriving at the terminal with our luggage – we were completely lost. From there, the three of us managed to survive our first cruise. With that being said, we learned A LOT! Here are 18 things I wish I knew before my first cruise.

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7 Must-Do's in Colorado Springs

This post has been this has been sponsored by VisitCOS.com or Colorado Springs CVB. All opinions are mine alone. #VisitCOS  #Adventure #ColoradoSprings

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It's no surprise that Andrew and I love to travel. In fact, one of our favorite things about traveling is discovering the best of each city we visit. One state that we keep wanting to explore more of is Colorado. Each season in Colorado offers a unique experience and vacation... this year, we decided to visit Colorado Springs in the summer!

Colorado Springs is one of the most ideal places for unique outdoor fun and surrounded by breathtaking scenery. It's the perfect escape for us to leave the hustle and bustle of Houston for a much needed weekend getaway. There is literally something for everyone to enjoy - no matter their age or abilities. I'm so excited to share with you 7 Must-Do's in Colorado Springs! 

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1. Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center is one of the most visited attractions in the Pikes Peak region! It offers FREE admission, iconic views, fun shopping, museum exhibits, guided tours and so many more fun activities! The park offers biking, hiking and rock climbing too! I love how family friendly the park is with its nice flat walking trails. There is also a  Trading Post where you can buy food and beverages...perfect for a picnic! The park isn't too big and the rock formations are just incredible. Our favorite highlight was the Balanced Rock. We seriously cannot believe it doesn't fall over! 

2. National Museum of World War II Aviation

For those of you who read my blog constantly, you know my husband Andrew is a huge history buff. He said the museum was "exceptional" compared to all of the other museums he has been to. The museum does a great job at making the history comes live with stories of heroic figures, famous battles, aviation technology and cool restoration stories about these planes and jets that can fly again. 

I must admit, the guided tour was much better than I expected it to be. The docent was funny yet serious depending on the story he was telling us. He had lots of stories about time and place where these planes were used and why; strategies, it was just really cool. We had all age groups and you could tell people were engaged. They also have a biennial airshow featuring these planes! Weather you love history or not, you must explore the museum! 

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3. Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak is named after the initial explorer who discovered the mountain in 1820, Zebulon Pike. The mountain has been identified by Spanish explorers earlier in the 1700s. The mountain is the highest peak in the southern Rockies at 14,115 ft. The admission fee of $15 per person is very reasonable to see this amazing mountain. You can drive up to mile marker 16, then you have to take a shuttle to the summit. If you have children in car seats, on a motorcycle or are handicapped you can drive directly to the summit as the shuttles are not equipped to handle these circumstances.

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Once you reach the summit, the view is absolutely SPECTACULAR!!! Truly a must-do in Colorado Springs. Make sure to walk slowly and take slow deep breaths at the air is only 60% oxygen compared to 100% at sea level. If you feel light headed, sit down and there is assistance at the gift shop that is at the summit. You MUST visit  Pikes Peak to see "America's Mountain" while your exploring the best of Colorado Springs. 

4. Penrose Heritage Museum

The Penrose Heritage Museum is truly a hidden gem in Colorado Springs. Not only is the museum free but it's full of local history! It has a great collection of transportation history, some with huge historical significance. We enjoyed the exhibits and car models that represent the cars that have completed the Race Up Pikes Peak. We also learned the history of how the road was built and how the race evolved over the years as more of the road to the top was converted from gravel to payment. It was well worth the hour or so we spent walking through the museum! 

4. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

I know what you are thinking... "Really? A zoo? We have those at home!" but I promise you, this zoo is one-of-a kind. We were impressed as soon as we entered the zoo. Take note of "mountain" in the name - literally everything is uphill. We paid the $2 fee to ride the shuttle to the top and then we worked our way down to the exit. There are so very cool exhibits that are designed for you to see the animals in the most natural way. The giraffe feeding was hands down my favorite part of the zoo! For just a few dollars, you can feed the giraffes. Andrew enjoyed watching the elephant training! There is literally something for everyone of all ages and interest to enjoy. Also, your admission ticket includes access to the Shrine of the Sun even higher up the mountain! So once you're done at the zoo, drive to the gate immediately next to the zoo entrance and just show your receipt. You will be then be allowed to drive all the way up the mountain! The views are gorgeous and you will see a full panorama view of the zoo below!

6. Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is a long, straight canyon that, amazingly enough, is surrounded by sheer walls of red rock. It is especially interesting that this canyon was originally a quarry. The park has a large variety of trails to walk or bike based on activity levels. The views are truly beautiful and you can even see views of Garden of the Gods! There were joggers, hikers, bikers, strollers, dogs, elderly, youngsters--yes, it's a place for everyone. We hiked a short loop into the park, near the canyon, around cool rock formations. Great views of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. Colorado Springs never looked prettier at these views. The lake is gorgeous as you watch the fish swim through the clear water! Red Rock Canyon is so easy to access and offers plenty of parking. It's a must-do while in Colorado Springs! 

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7. Seven Bridges Trail

This trail is one of the best trails in Colorado Springs. It's beautiful, fun and easy to follow.  This is a moderately difficult trail with seven bridges, just as the name suggests but totally worth it! Once you're past the seventh bridge, you can turn around and go back or continue onward up a pretty steep leg of the trail until you reach the top which offers great views! When you enter North Cheyenne Cañon Park, you will drive up a winding road until you reach the Helen Hunt Falls parking lot -- keep going! Shortly after the Helen Hunt Falls trail, you will see a big dirt parking lot (a sign for "Marker 18"). Park here and walk down the dirt road (closed to traffic) for about a mile until you reach the Cheyenne Creek sign on the right. Just past the creek is the entrance to trail 622 on the right hand side of the path. Definitely take the time to enjoy this beautiful trail while in Colorado Springs! 

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Your trip to Colorado Springs will be an unforgettable adventure for you and your family. I hope these 7 Must-Do’s in Colorado Springs will inspire you to discover the best of your Colorado outdoor adventure or add a few items to your Colorado bucket list!  Make sure you stop and soak up the beauty of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region!

3 Day Guide to Austin

3 Day Guide to Austin

We have this little tradition that we spend our Thanksgiving exploring a new city each year and this year we chose Austin. We ate some incredible food, saw the best street art, and listen to some Austin legends. Austin is weird and I hope it always stays that way.  I’m finally sharing with you guys our weekend guide and all of the awesome things we got to enjoy!

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15 Awesome Things to Do in Dallas

15 Awesome Things to Do in Dallas

While we are looking forward to moving again and escaping the weather, we are still trying to make the best out of our time here! With that being said, we have a Texas “bucket list” and Dallas was next on our list!

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The Quick Guide to Elizabeth City, North Carolina

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Elizabeth City is a wonderful community that has been named one of the “100 Best Small Towns in America” and is ranked by Money Magazine as "one of best places to live on the East Coast."

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