10 Ways to Have Fun at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science in Quechee, VT

The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) in Quechee, Vermont is a 47 acre complex that includes indoor and outdoor exhibits, the Forest Canopy Walk, three hiking trails, a Meadow Walk, a Center for Wild Bird Rehabilitation, adventure playscape, and plenty of classrooms and exhibition spaces. Opened in 1972, the programs featured at VINS focus on conservation, preservation, and rehabilitation of wildlife. The center is the perfect, family friendly way to explore nature and learn about the local wildlife.

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inside entrance to Kirby Science Discovery Center

15 Ways to Explore the Kirby Science Center in Sioux Falls, SD

This summer, we spent an unexpected few days in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We were supposed to stay overnight as a layover on our way to Wisconsin, but when we saw all of the family friendly activities, we decided to extend our visit. We had a wonderful 3+ days exploring the area. One of our favorite spots was the  Kirby Science Discovery Center, located in the Washington Pavilion. 

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10 Marriott Hotels We Love

Our family has been fans of Marriott hotel properties for over 20 years. At first, we started staying at Marriott hotels because of their location; virtually every trip we planned, there was a Marriott hotel nearby (and that still holds true today). Over time, we started to notice the numerous amenities, cleanliness of the rooms, and the friendliness of the staff no matter the property we visited. We joined the Marriott Bonvoy rewards program (in its first iteration) years ago and have accrued many bonuses, perks, and free hotel stays over the years.  While we have stayed at literally dozens of Marriott properties from Las Vegas, Nevada to Toronto, Ontario, we typically choose the Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Renaissance, and traditional Marriott brand of hotels. Residence Inns are ideal for families as they offer more space, a full kitchen with a full size refrigerator, full morning breakfast and evening snacks during the week, and pool and laundry facilities on site. Renaissance and traditional Marriott brand hotels usually have full service restaurants, concierge lounges, and other amenities desirable for the business class. This week, we’re sharing 10 Marriott properties throughout America we especially enjoyed and some of our favorite nearby attractions. And check back in the future, we’re hoping to add additional locations.

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Playing ‘I Spy’ at the Wyoming State Capitol

Built in 1888, two years before Wyoming became the 44th state, the Wyoming State Capitol building sits at one end of 24th Street in Cheyenne and is the centerpiece of the Capitol Square. Wyoming is called the “Equality State” because it is home to the first female governor (Nellie Taylor Ross in 1925-1927) and the first female Justice of the Peace  (Esther Hobart Morris in 1870). The Capitol building, one of 20 state Capitols designated as a National Historic Landmark, expanded in 1890 and 1917, and went through an extensive four-year restoration process from 2015-2019. The restoration included a tunnel that connects the Capitol Building to the Herschler Building, home to many of the state agency offices. On our massive summer 2021 road trip through Utah, Colorado, and South Dakota, we passed through Cheyenne on our way to South Dakota. We were sad that we had not made plans to stay more than just the morning (#returnvisit coming ASAP!), but we are grateful we had the chance to explore the Capitol building.

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Year in Review: Highlights of 2021

Even though 2021 was the second year impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic, we feel blessed to still have had many amazing adventures. We spent most of the winter in Connecticut exploring many local spots; the summer road tripping across Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (did we mention the number 4300 miles?!?!); and the spring and fall revisiting some of our tried and true favorite spots for new activities. This post is always one of our favorites each year, as it’s fun to go back down “memory lane” and reflect on the best parts of each adventure. So here is a recap of our (documented, publicly shared) 2021 adventures:

Playing “I Spy” at the Colorado State Capitol

Visiting about a state’s history is one of our favorite activities and whenever we’re in a capital city, we make time to tour the state Capitol complex. The buildings are architecturally beautiful and the guides are usually enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and engaging. To date, we have toured capitol buildings in Massachusetts, Rhode Island (#5), New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Arkansas (#6). On our summer 2021 road trip, we spent the day in Denver (we were in town primarily to see the Rockies) and made time for a tour of the Capitol.

At one time, Denver was the second largest city in the West (behind San Francisco) and was part of the Gold Rush of the 1860s. Originally, what is now considered the state of Colorado was part of the Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and New Mexico territories. In 1861 Colorado was declared a territory and became the 38th state in America. At first, Colorado City and then Golden were declared state capitals until 1867 when Denver became the permanent state capital. Construction on the Capitol building started in 1886, was completed enough for the building to be occupied in 1893, and then fully operational in the early 1900s. The building was designed on an axis in the form of a Corinthian Cross and closely resembles the design of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.