The London Eye with Kids: How to have a Successful Visit

A few years ago, BattleDad and I tried, and failed, to visit the London Eye. We arrived late to the Eye and saw the length of queues and decided to try again another day. Fast forward a few years and I was going to be in London with my sisters for a concert. We had two days to fill, so we settled on a few London attractions including the London Eye. I enjoyed my first ride in it but wondered whether you could enjoy a trip on the London Eye with kids.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

A short few months later, the Battle Family were in London for 36 hours before flying to America, and we decided to visit the London Eye as a family. I wasn’t too sure what BattleKid would make of it, but as it is only a 30-minute revolution, it should have been short enough for even him. I prebooked our tickets online to save any hassles and printed out our Flexi Fast Track before we left for London.

The Flexi Fast Track tickets meant we could visit at any time during the day on our chosen date and we would join the fast track queue. So, after a yummy breakfast in a café around the corner from the London Eye, we made our way around and joined the fast track queue with our printouts in hand.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

The London Eye, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a giant Ferris wheel on Southbank of the River Thames. It opened in 2000 as part of the millennium celebrations and stands 443ft (135m) tall, with a wheel diameter of 394ft (120m). It is the most popular paid attraction on the UK with over 3.75 million visitors a year. And that number is growing.

The Eye has 32 sealed, air-conditioned passenger capsules which can hold up to 25 people, although the two times I’ve been, there hasn’t been 25 people in the pod. It rotates at a speed of 26cm (10 inches) per second and one complete revolution takes 30 minutes.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

Despite visiting the London Eye with BattleKid at the end of the summer holidays, the fast track queue moved quite quickly. The same could not be said for the standard tickets queue. We entered our capsule, or pod, and we were off.

BattleKid was fascinated by the fact we were being chased by another pod and that we were getting higher. But the thing that grabbed his attention the most was the information tablets in the capsule. He loved switching between the day and night mode, much to my annoyance as I tried to spot various landmarks.LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

Although the revolution is only 30 minutes, I felt it was ample time for a toddler. And as we stepped off the capsule, BattleKid made noises about wanting to stay on. I don’t think he grasped the idea of one turn. All-in-all he enjoyed it as he was still talking about the big wheel for weeks to come.

Tips to ensure you have a successful trip to the London Eye with Kids

  • Plan when you want to go visit the London Eye and book your tickets in advance. This will not only save you time, but you can often save money too.
  • If you can afford to, book fast track tickets, especially if you plan to visit during school holidays. Both times I visited, the standard ticket queue was at least an hour long, possibly more. And no one wants to queue for that long with kids in the holidays.
  • Ensure you arrive well before your allotted time if you book Fast Track tickets. Flexi Fast Track tickets allow you to arrive at any time on your chosen date.
  • Ensure everyone in your party has visited the toilets before you queue as there are no toilets on or at the London Eye. The toilets are located in the Coco Cola London Eye ticket office, as well as a disabled toilet and baby changing facilities.
  • If you are bringing a buggy or stroller, it must be completed collapsible and kept folded throughout the duration of your visit. I’d suggest using a baby carrier or sling if visiting the London Eye with a baby.
  • No food and drink, apart from drinking water, is permitted inside the capsules.
  • There is one bench inside each capsule, and seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • While the London Eye is wheelchair accessible, only two wheelchairs are permitted in each pod, and only eight are allowed on the Eye at any one time. It is highly advisable to prebook tickets in advance if your party includes a wheelchair user.
LONDON EYE WITH KIDS
Big Ben and Westminster from the London Eye

Other information to note before visiting the London Eye with Kids

  • The London Eye is open every day of the year except Christmas Day from 11am until 6pm.
  • Standard entry London Eye ticket prices are as follows: Adults £26, Child £21 (3-15 years of age), Under 3’s are free.
  • Fast Track London Eye tickets cost £36 per adult and £31 per child, allowing entry to the London Eye at a specific time slot.
  • Flexi Fast Track tickets for the London Eye cost £40 per adult and £30 per child and are only available for purchase online. These allow you entry at any time on a specific date.
  • Capsules are available for private hire for 3-25 guests and there is also a champagne experience available if you fancy something special.
  • You can also purchase combination tickets which allow entry to the London Eye and certain other atttractions in London including Sea Life, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure, ideal if you’re making a day of it in London with the kids.
LONDON EYE WITH KIDS
Can you spot the iconic London Bus?

We visited the London Eye before heading into Sea Life and I was surprised that BattleKid enjoyed it as much as he did. He liked watching the boats going past on the river, and of course, the information tablets, and he didn’t complain once. Except when we were getting off, and he didn’t want to. So, yes, a visit to the London Eye is even suitable for toddlers. And, by taking into account some of the tips I’ve mentioned, you can have a successful visit to the London Eye with kids.

Cath x

*We were not asked to write this review. Prices are correct at the time of writing this post (February 2018).

LONDON EYE WITH KIDS

9 Awesome Things to Do in London with the Girls

So, you’re thinking of planning a girls weekend away and not sure where to go. Why not head for London? With so much to see and do, London has something for everyone. But how do you even begin to nail down what do with the girls during your ladies weekend away? Stop stressing. I’m going to share with you 9 awesome things to do in London with the girls which will easily fill 48 hours and having you leaving London with smiles on your faces.THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS

Last year my sisters and I were headed to London for a concert. We were going to see Take That in the O2, so we decided to make it a full-on girly weekend in London. The concert wasn’t until the Sunday night and we had all day Saturday and most of Sunday to do what we wanted. I started looking into girls weekend ideas and came up with a few things we could do. Once my sisters said yes, we had a plan and added to it as the weekend approached.

I was flying in from Portugal on Friday afternoon and they were arriving from Dublin on the Saturday morning. Here are the 9 things we did during our 48 hours in London.

9 Awesome Things to Do in London with the Girls

Saturday

Stay in a Greenwich AirBnB

First and foremost, you need to find somewhere to stay in London. I opted to book a two-bedroom AirBnB in Greenwich as it was close to the O2 where the concert was being held. It meant we wouldn’t be trying to squeeze onto a tube with thousands of other TT fans, nor worse still, trying to get a taxi back into town. By staying near the venue, we could back to our accommodation afterwards hassle-free.

What was even better was it was just a 20-minute tube ride to Waterloo where we could connect to other Tubes to get around Central London. It didn’t cost as much as a hotel, we could share the apartment and even cook there if we fancied it. It was conveniently located and cost-effective.

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
The roof-top garden of our Greenwich AirBnB apartment

Shopping on Oxford Street

No trip to London with the girls would be complete without a visit to Oxford Street. Once my sisters had arrived at our AirBnB and dropped off their luggage, we headed for Oxford Street and grabbed a Costa before hitting the shops. I have to say we were relatively good and didn’t spend a fortune, spending most of our time in the Disney shop for our kids!

That said I had visited Oxford Street the previous day and perused a few shops including Next and Pandora, buying myself my first ever Pandora bracelet. An addiction was started that day, I can tell you. There are hundreds of shops in and around Oxford Street, and I’m sure you can fit a little bit of shopping time into your girly weekend.

Enjoy the View from the Shard

While researching idea for our sisters’ weekend in London I read a few other blog posts in which visits to the Shard were mentioned. It hadn’t been on my radar before, but I thought it might be a good what to get a birds-eye view of London and would be a nice touristy thing to do in London. We didn’t just want to shop or drink coffee, so booked tickets for the three of us.

The View from the Shard is located in Western Europe’s tallest building and gives amazing views across the whole of London. We were lucky that the day we visited was sunny with good visibility and you really could see for miles. It reminded me somewhat of being on the Empire State Building looking over New York. One thing to note, book your tickets in advance as you’ll save £10 over the one-the-day ticket prices!* For full information on visiting the View from the Shard, visit their website.

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
One of the View’s from the Shard

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS

Enjoy dinner and cocktails at the ICE Bar

I had read a blog review of the ICE bar in London and knew we just had to include it in our girly weekend itinerary. I booked it and kept it a secret from one of my sisters as a surprise. After returning to our AirBnB and telling her she might want to bring a cardigan or jacket (despite it being a lovely summer’s day), she started to get suspicious about where we might be eating.

We made our way to the ICE bar which is located in a side street just off Regent Street and we were seated in the downstairs restaurant for our meal. I had opted to have our meal first and then drinks in the ICE bar itself afterwards. We had a lovely three course meal, and each of us thoroughly enjoyed our chosen dishes, before we were ushered back upstairs to get our cloaks and gloves, ready for our drinks in the ICE Bar.

And what an experience that is. The -5°C cold air hits you as soon as the doors open. You’re given an ice glass to drink from and there is a range of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails to choose from. One drink is included in your booking, but you are free to purchase more. Be aware that you only get 40 minutes in the ICE bar, but it is more than enough as the cold does start to get to you after a while. We enjoyed two drinks and a short dance before we’d had enough of the cold and ended our first night in London. To make a booking for the ICE bar, please visit their website.

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
Ice, Ice Bar Baby
THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
Freezing while taking a selfie at the Ice Bar in London

Sunday

Brunch at Le Pain Quotidien on Southbank

We stumbled upon Le Pain Quotidien by accident and it was an extremely pleasant surprise at that. This organic-range café is located at Southbank and serves dishes made from organic ingredients, along with an amazing array of breads. We hadn’t eaten breakfast before leaving our AirBnB, so we were famished once we arrived at Southbank. We were lucky enough to get a table outside, which was nice if not a little chilly due to being in the shadows.

Coffee, tea and brunch were ordered, and we were soon sipping our drinks and enjoying people watching from our table. Once our food arrived, myself and one sister tucked into delicious baked eggs with chorizo, while the other had a lovely chorizo and potato frittata. While this is not the cheapest breakfast or brunch you could have in London, it is certainly the tastiest. Each of us could have had our meal twice over. It was so good I returned with hubby and son in tow just a few months later. Make sure you include Le Pain Quotidien on your London weekend trip itinerary!THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS

Take a Ride on the London Eye

As we were being tourists in London, we decided to take a ride on the London Eye. Despite many weekends in London before, this London attraction had always eluded us. So, I booked Fast Track Flexi tickets online, allowing us to arrive whenever we wanted on our chosen day. So, after our delicious brunch, we walked around the corner and joined the Fast Track queue which was practically empty.

The London Eye is a huge ferris wheel on the south bank of the River Thames and one rotation only takes 30 minutes. The views when you reach the top are incredible and give you a different view of London compared to the View from the Shard. It’s not the cheapest of attractions but it’s worth it for the views you get. Each pod comes equipped with interactive tablets which point out the various landmarks of London which you can see from the Eye and I enjoyed it so much I made a return trip with my hubby and son a few months later. Details on visiting the London Eye can be found on the website.THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS

Sightsee London by land with Duck Tours

Now this tour used to be by both land and water but unfortunately, the slipway Duck Tours used to enter and exit the River Thames, has been bought to build a sewer. However, that said they may be operating their land tour route, but check their website for more up-to-date details.

This tour was a great alternative to the more traditional open-top sightseeing tour bus. We climbed aboard our distinctive yellow vehicle and had a land tour around London before entering the water beside the MI6 building, home to James Bond’s office. It was a great way to see London, albeit a little wet as the waters in the Thames were quite choppy. We had a lot of sun on our tour and it was a thoroughly enjoyable way to see some of the more famous landmarks of London.

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
The famous yellow Duck Tours vehicle
THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament from the River Thames

Grab an early dinner in Wagamamas

After an enjoyable day sightseeing in London we headed back to Greenwich to get ready for our concert. However, knowing restaurants around the O2 were going to be very busy immediately before and after the concert, we decided to get an early dinner and headed for Wagamamas in Greenwich.

I had never visited a Wagamamas before but was impressed by the quality and taste of the food. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that everyone’s dishes arrived at our table at different times. Two of us got our starters quite quickly but one of my sister’s starters arrived quite a while later and only minutes before her main arrived. Then, my other sister had to wait a while for her main, and three separate waiting staff brought the same dish to our table after she had gotten hers. It all seemed a bit chaotic but despite this, the food was amazing and very tasty and each of us came away pleasantly satisfied with our meals. So, if you don’t mind not getting all your party’s dishes at once, I’d recommend a meal in Wagamamas.

Catch your favourite artist in concert at the O2

Now as I’ve mentioned, two of my sisters and I were having a girls weekend in London to attend the Take That concert. We’d booked our tickets almost a year before and were really looking forward to attending a concert outside of Ireland. Where we stayed in London was dictated by location to the O2, but I found lots of AirBnB’s near Greenwich. And it was an ideal location for getting into Central London too.

Whether you are a pop fan, rock fan or R’n’B fan, you should always consider catching your favourite artist in the O2 (or other London event), so that you can have the best girls weekend away, combining music with shopping, eating and touristy things, like we did!

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS
Seeing our boys in Concert at the O2 – Take That

So, if you and your girl gang are investigating places to go for a weekend away, start investigating weekends in London! There is so much to see and do in London, and I hope you’ll consider putting one of the things I’ve suggested on your own London itinerary. As for my sisters and I, all four of us this time round, we are currently in the planning stages of our next sisters’ getaway weekend. This year we’ve settled on Edinburgh. Now to plan what we can get up to during our girly weekend away.THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS

Have you and your girlies had a girls weekend away recently, and if so, where did you go?

Cath x

*Information correct at the time of writing this post.

THINGS TO DO IN LONDON WITH THE GIRLS

A Dragon Hunting Adventure at Castro Marim

One of the very first castles we visited here in Portugal was at Castro Marim. Castro Marim lies in the East Algarve near a town called Vila Real de Santo Antonio and the castle sits on a hill overlooking the Guadiana River which forms the border between Portugal and Spain. It is only about 20 minutes’ drive from where we now live, and we visited early one Sunday morning in July, before the heat of the day set in with one things in mind – a dragon hunting adventure at Castro Marim.dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - blog graphic

As you know by now, our dragon hunting adventures started while we were living in Wales and when we left Wales for our new life in Portugal, I thought those days might be over. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there are quite a lot of castles in Portugal and that some are within easy access to us.

Portugal was never a country I associated with castles, but I was totally and utterly wrong with that thinking. We haven’t visited many, but our plans will be to work our way through them before and after the heat of the summer. It’s just too hot during July and August to be walking around castles hunting for dragons.

Our dragon hunting adventures in Portugal began in Castro Marim and as mentioned, we visited early one Sunday morning. We parked in the town, not realising there is a municipal car park hidden behind some building at the foot of the castle. We worked our way around the back of little houses until we found the walkway leading to the entrance of the castle.dragon hunting adventure at castro marim

dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - the walkway up to the castle

You enter the castle through a gateway and pay your entrance fee of just €1.50 at the ticket office that faces you as you enter. We paid up and then set off to find out if there was a dragon hiding in the grounds of Castro Marim castle.

The castle at Castro Marim is a medieval castle sitting on top a hill overlooking both the town of Castro Marim and the Guardiana River. It was once part of the defensive line controlled by the Knights Templar and was a stronghold during the Portuguese Reconquista. It dates back to the 13th century and fell into disrepair in the 17th century when it was replaced by the fort of São Sebastião, on the opposite hill above the town. Both are a formidable looking sight as you approach the town.

dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - looking out to the fort

We started our dragon hunt in what we believe were the stables of the castle grounds. What we noticed about this castle is it is very old, yet it is easily to imagine what life would have been like in the castle and grounds during medieval times.dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - The stables area of castro marim castle

The footpaths are dirt paths and quite uneven and we followed one from the stables towards one of the main buildings on the castle grounds, all the while searching in holes, around trees and behind walls for a dragon. So far we were having no luck!dragon hunting adventure at castro marim

The main building that remains standing in the grounds would have housed the Lord and Lady of the castle, so to speak. In here we found a small museum with information posters about Castro Marim Castle and artefacts of the castle. We then climbed the stairs to the battlements to enjoy the view across the River towards Ayamonte in Spain and down towards Vila Real. We did have to be careful as there were no guard rails around the battlements and the stairs were very steep and narrow. They must have had small feel in Medieval times!

my sunday photo
Just taking a break from dragon hunting

After we left this area, we continued our dragon hunt and we were starting to wonder whether there were ANY dragons in Portugal when we spotted a small one in a hole in a wall outside the main building of the castle. BattleKid was thrilled to find him.dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - finding the dragon hiding in a hole

We decided to explore a bit more of the castle and Mummy ended up in the stocks! I did get a kiss from my boy before being released. We continued past more ruined buildings, past what was the market and cooking area of the castle, back towards the entrance and the church within the castle grounds.dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - battlemum in the stocks, getting a kiss from battlekid dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - The market and cooking area of castro marim castle dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - ruined buildings

This building is very cool and was a welcome break from the sun which was starting to heat up. However, it is a strange building. While being a church and being lovely inside, it houses an exhibition of torture equipment and displays from the times of the Spanish Inquisition. I found this most odd, and we didn’t linger, especially as we had BattleKid with us.dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - The church inside Castro Marim Castle

A final visit to the gift shop within the ticket office to buy some Castro Marim rock salt and our first ever dragon hunting adventure in Portugal was at an end.

Things to note if you going on a dragon hunting adventure at Castro Marim Castle.

  • It costs just €1.50 per person to enter the castle. Both times we’ve visited we haven’t been charged for BattleKid, but I cannot find information about at what age children are charged from.
  • There are toilets in the main building towards the back of the castle, but these are the only ones at the castle.
  • The castle is not wheelchair accessible and those with a child’s buggy would find it difficult as well due to the rocky terrain within the castle.
  • The castle is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm.
  • A municipal car park can be found below the castle which is hidden from the main road through town and this gets very busy on a Saturday when there is a market held in this area of town.
  • There is a gift shop in the ticket office selling various souvenirs.
  • There is very little shade in this castle, so bear this in mind if you are planning a visit during the hot summer months.
  • The Fort of São Sebastião on the opposite hill is not open to the public, although you can walk around the outside of the fort walls.

If you happen to be visiting the area of Castro Marim, you could time your visit to coincide with the Medieval Festival held in the castle every year at the end of August. We missed it last year due to being on our two-week USA road trip, but we plan to visit it one year when we are not away. You can hire costumes, and if you arrive in medieval dress you may be given free entry to the festival.dragon hunting adventure at castro marim - Facebook graphic

Castro Marim castle is nice to visit but it won’t take you more than an hour or two to see everything. I think it’s a castle to visit along with a lunch break in the town, or if you are visiting Vila Real de Santo Antonio. We returned to Castro Marim with my parents for a second dragon hunt in November and it was a very pleasant day.

Have you been dragon hunting yet?

Cath x

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5 Things to Do in Missoula with a Toddler in Tow

Last year, as many of you know, we embarked on our biggest trip to date with BattleKid. It was a two-week USA road trip taking in the stunning Yellowstone National Park, smoky Missoula in Montana and the hip and vibrant city of Portland. Missoula is a place not many people will have heard of, us included before our trip, but is definitely worth a visit. And today I’m going to share with you 5 things to do in Missoula with a toddler in tow, should you be visiting yourself with a toddler or young kids.Missoula with a toddler - blog graphic

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Now, we chose Missoula, which is in the state of Montana, as it was roughly the halfway point between Yellowstone and Portland. Stopping there would enable us to break up the driving and have some down time with BattleKid during our road trip. We also chose it because there was a town called Lolo right beside it and also Lolo National Forest. Lolo is the nickname my Dad got from his first grandson and it stuck. So naturally we needed to visit the town that shares his name.

We also intended to visit Lolo National Forest but alas it was not to be. Montana was cloaked in smoke due to widespread forest fires, some of which had reached Lolo National Forest, causing it to be closed to the public for safety. But it gives us a reason to return. With the forest no longer an option, we needed to find things to do in Missoula with kids.

Our first port of call was Google. We searched for things to do with kids in Missoula. These had to include fun activities for kids as we had BattleKid with us. We were also fortunate that our AirBnB host had left a few magazines in the apartment one of which had articles about things to do in Montana with kids. The articles proved so useful to us. They not only showed what to do with kids in Missoula and the wider Montana area, they also gave some ideas of free things to do in Missoula.

Armed with as much information as possible, we set out to discover Missoula and other nearby things that we otherwise would have missed had the forest been open. And as a result, I am able to share with you 5 things to do in Missoula with a toddler in tow. All of these are fun things to do in Missoula and the slightly wider areas around it.

5 Things to Do in Missoula with a Toddler in Tow

Have a Picnic in Caras Park Missoula

Caras Park is located in Downtown Missoula along the Clark Fort River. It is a lovely area and the Park Pavilion plays host to a variety of events throughout the year including music concerts, festivals and even a type of Oktoberfest, which was being set up the day we had our picnic in the park.

We visited one day during our time in Missoula after being in the wider Montana area, and I had packed a picnic. We found some picnic benches near the Pavilion and enjoyed our lunch in the sun. Other families soon joined us on the adjacent benches for their own picnics. And if you don’t want to sit on the benches there are plenty of lovely grassy areas for picnic blankets too. Afterwards, you can enjoy one of the following two things.

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Picnic time in Missoula

Have a Ride on the Carousel for Missoula

Located in Caras Park, the Carousel for Missoula was opened in 1995 and was the culmination of the labour of many volunteers and over 100,000 construction hours. Featuring 38 hand-carved ponies, two chariots, 14 gargoyles, mirror frames and the largest band organ in continuous use in America, it is somewhere kids, young and old, can enjoy. You need a token per ride, which costs just 75c, and if you, as a parent, want to ride and share a pony with your child (as I did), it will cost you two tokens.

There is also a chance to win free rides by collecting rings from a chute as you pass by, but you need to be on an outside pony to try your luck. BattleKid and I enjoyed two rides together and he didn’t want to get off. The Carousel for Missoula is really one of the fun things to do in Missoula with kids that shouldn’t be missed. It is open 364 days of the year between 11 and 5.30.

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One the Carousel for Missoula

Let your toddler run wild in the Dragon Hollow Playground

Also located in Caras Park, right beside the Carousel for Missoula, the Dragon Hollow playground is a brilliant place to visit with toddlers and kids. It was designed by artists and consultants after getting advice and ideas from local school children. It is a very safe playground which is enclosed by a picket fence and has chip bark flooring. Featuring a huge Dragon themed play house with tunnels, stairs and slides, BattleKid had a great time weaving his way through to the biggest slide he could find!

There are also swings, musical play features and an area for smaller children. It is suitable for kids from 18 months to 12 years of age, is open all year round and is free to use. There are seats around the playground for parents to take a breather. One thing I will point out is that once your child enters the dragon, you cannot easily see them until they emerge from a slide. So just be cautious. But it is one of the best wooden playhouses I have ever come across and BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed himself here.things to do in missoula with a toddler in tow - visit dragon hollow playground

Visit the National Bison Range

Established in 1908 as a sanctuary for the American bison, the National Bison Range is located approximately an hour north of Missoula. It was one of the places featured in the magazines that our AirBnB host had left in the apartment and somewhere we might have missed. It is home to a herd of between 350 and 500 bison but is also home to other animals such as coyote, black bear, elk, bighorn sheep and pronghorn deer.

There are two routes you can drive at the Bison Range. The short Prairie Drive is open all-year round while the longer Red Sleep Mountain Drive is only open from mid-May to early October. We did the Red Sleep Mountain Drive and it was challenging. It has sharp switch-backs and steep declines and I’d recommend you do this in a 4×4 car due to the roughness of the road. Note, this drive is closed during the winter months.

Although we had seen bison in Yellowstone, we were hoping to see other animals and saw elk and pronghorn deer during our visit. A day pass costs just $5 (you can get an annual oass valid from your first visit for just $15), and the gates are generally open from 7am to 7pm. The visitor’s centre, where you pay, has plenty of information about the range and also has toilets too. Although we only spent a few hours there it was worth the drive from Missoula.

usa road trip day 8 holiday diaries
Visiting the National Bison Range, Montana

Visit Ewam Buddha Garden, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

This was one of the most surprising places we visited in Montana. Situated in Arlee, about 40 minutes north of Missoula, the Ewam Buddha Garden has to be one of the most peaceful and tranquil places we’ve ever visited.

In the centre of the garden lies a 24-foot tall statue of Yum Chenmo. One thousand Montana-made images of Buddha are arranged in the shape of an eight-spoked Dharma wheel, which encircle Yum Chenmo. 1000 additional stupas surmount the two exterior throne walls, creating the outer rim of the Dharma wheel. And it is a mesmorising sight to see.

5 things to do in missoula with a toddler in tow - visit the Ewam Buddha Garden
A view of the Ewam Buddha Garden from the hill of prayer flags. See how smokey it is!

The gardens also have a small lake hosting fish and surrounded by large Buddha statues. The garden is open all year round from dawn until dusk and is free to visit (with donation boxes at various points throughout the garden). It was designed for people to enjoy the space, flowers and serene surroundings. Guided tours are available and there is also a gift shop and ample parking.

Once we found out about the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas we knew we had to visit it. A dear friend of ours in Wales introduced us to Buddhism. BattleKid enjoyed our walk around the garden, stopping here and there to admire certain Buddha statues and to say hello to the fish. I’m just sorry we didn’t know there was a prayer flag mount there before we went, or we would have created our own to add. You wouldn’t think this is a place to visit with kids but BattleKid really enjoyed it, so I’m sure your kids would too. And as it is on the same route as the Bison Range you could visit both in one day.

5 things to do in missoula with a toddler in tow - visit the garden of one thousand buddhas
The central buddha in the Ewam Buddha Garden.

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I can hand-on-heart say we enjoyed each and every one of these activities in Missoula and Montana. And in hindsight the forest fires and resulting smoke were a blessing in disguise. We might not have visited any of these sights had it not been for the fact that Lolo National Forest, our original reason for visiting Missoula, was closed. Our sudden change of plans worked out for the best and we got to visit places even BattleKid enjoyed.

So, if you are wondering what to do in Missoula and Montana with toddlers and young children, I hope I’ve given you some ideas of both paid and free things to do with my 5 things to do in Missoula with a toddler in tow.

And if you are considering visiting the USA with kids and not sure what there is to do with them in certain cities, these posts might help decide for you!

20 Things to do  in Oklahoma City with kids (or without) – Parenthood and Passports

How to do a weekend trip to Sarasota, Florida with kids – Our Globetrotters

My perfect 24 hours in San Francisco with kids: itinerary – Learning Escapes

5 Things to do in New York with a Toddler in Tow – BattleMum

Cath x

Missoula with a toddler - pinterest graphic Missoula with a toddler - twitter graphic

Holiday Diaries 2018

This post is a little late being published this year but none-the-less, here it is. Now, 2017 was a fantastic year for holidays for the Battle Family. I have no idea how we are going to beat it. But, as wanderlusters we will strive to enjoy whatever holidays we have planned. And so far we have three booked.

As for last year, we started the year with a scouting mission to Portugal in readiness for our permanent move here. Then, after what felt like a very long wait, we were finally on our 2-week USA road trip. And what a trip that turned out to be. Only a few weeks after we returned from the States, we were back in the UK to experience a mid-week stay in Bluestone as part of their Bluestone Bloggers Programme. And we ended the year in style by visiting Disneyland Paris in December. BattleKid keeps asking to go back to the castle every time we watch a Disney film.Photo collage of holiday destinations visited by the Battle Family in 2017

So, what do we have planned so far for this year I hear you ask? Well, firstly, BattleKid and I are off to Ireland over Easter for a 10-day trip. We are starting with a 7-day road trip in the southern half of the country where we will take in places like the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle and Fota Wildlife Park. After our mini road trip, we’ll be heading up to Dublin to visit family and to also spend a day being a tourist in Dublin, thanks to an amazing collaboration with a tourism company (more on that to come). I’m really looking forward to our trip to Ireland, which is only a matter of a few weeks away now.

The next trip we have booked is a long weekend as a family in Barcelona at the beginning of July. BattleDad is going to see Guns and Roses in concert there. When I discovered we can get a direct flight from Faro to Barcelona, I asked could BattleKid and I tag along. We’re going for four and a half days, and I’m looking forward to visiting this famous Spanish city. 

And last but not least, we have an awesome trip mostly planned for December. We’re going to visit Santa in Lapland, and we’ll also spend a few days in Helsinki as well. And this is the trip that has me most excited. I am literally hopping with excitement. We have our flights to Helsinki booked, and are finalising our accommodation. We will also need to sort our transfers from the capital to Lapland nearer the time but I know it’s going to be amazing. There are a few final details we need to sort out with family we’ll be joining there, but for now, it’s shaping up nicely. 

The three trips we have planned so far are going to be wonderful, but I don’t think we’re done yet. We are weighing up options for another trip at the end of the summer and it’s between two options. Both will entail a road trip, as we’ve really been bitten by the road trip bug since our epic time in America last year. It will very much depend on BattleDad’s work commitments and whether we can take one or two weeks. I’m really hoping we can stretch to the two weeks as I have something in mind for that. But if not, we’ll plan the one week in the coming month or two. So watch this space for updates.

That’s our travel plans so far for 2018. I’ll update this post if we plan and book that road trip, and also if anything suddenly appears on the horizon.

Have you got any trips planned for this year, and if so, where are you going? Inspire me!

Cath x

Twitter graphic for Holiday dairies 2018 plan post by BattleMum