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:

City Guide: 15 Kid Friendly Activities in Boston, Massachusetts

I’ll disclose that Boston is my hometown, so this post will be “wicked” biased. But even the biggest Yankees fan will admit that the birthplace of the American Revolution, the home of winning sports teams, waterfront activities, world class arts and culture, and curator of foods like Fenway franks, bakes beans, chowdah, and Boston Cream Pie, is one of the most special places in the world. There are SO many family friendly activities you’ll need weeks years to see and do it all, but for our latest City Guide we’ll start with these 15 places the whole family is sure to love.

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National Park Guide: Badlands National Park in South Dakota

Badlands National Park, located in Interior South Dakota, is the location of the world’s largest fossil beds. The 244,000 acre park is home to sedimentary rock layers deposited over 70 million years ago, as well as mixed grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and ferrets live. There are over 60 species of grass throughout the prairies inside the park. Named by the early French trappers and the Lakota Native American tribe that founded the area, the Badlands are known for extremes: extreme weather, extreme vastness of the plains, and extreme fossil beds. Learn more about the formation of the Badlands Buttes here.

Badlands became a National Monument in 1939 and then a National Park in 1978; the southern half of the park is located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is co-managed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Over one million people visit Badlands National Park each year.

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National Park Guide: Arches National Park in Utah

Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, one of the most popular National Parks in America with two million visitors each year, is home to over 2,000 cataloged arches formed by erosion and weathering over the past 65 million years. Learn more about how the arches were formed here. Today, the park covers over 76, 000 acres and, in addition to the arches, is home to almost 500 species of plants, almost 200 species of birds, 50 species of mammals, 21 species of reptiles, and 6 species of fish (yes- fish!)

We visited in June of 2021, during the still on going COVID pandemic, and there were some restrictions, mainly with the Visitor’s Center and programs. We highly recommend visiting early in the morning (being inside the park by 6am early), spending the morning hiking, and then leaving the park for lunch and a rest during peak afternoon sun. Later afternoon and evening will provide cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. Be careful to stay away from cactus and yucca plants, both of which are prevalent throughout the park. Both plants have sharp tips that can poke and easily puncture skin.

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National Park Guide: Canyonlands National Park in Utah

The entire Canyonlands National Park, located in the eastern part of Utah, covers over 337,000 acres of canyons, mesas, buttes, arches, and spires. The geology of the park includes over a dozen layers of various sandstones, ranging from Navajo Sandstone down to Cedar Mesa Sandstone. CanyonLands is home to several archeological sites with structures one thousand years ago and amazing star gazing, including the Milky Way. Canyonlands is a designated International Dark Sky Park for its impressive attention to preservation.

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National Park Guide: Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, located in Surrey, Utah, opened as a National Monument in 1937 and officially became a National Park in 1971. The entire state of Utah was once a sand dune (200 million years ago) and overtime, various geological feats created the park. The geology of the park is quite complex (attend a ranger talk to learn more!), but the headline involves various rock layers that, through tectonic plate activity, raised the Colorado Rocky Mountains and Colorado Plateau, which caused a fault line running through the area to develop into the park. Over time, the western part of the park raised over 7,000 feet higher than the eastern part of the park. Today, the Visitor Center sits 5,500 feet above sea level.

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