I have to admit, I’m not the traveling type. It intimidates me as we’re very strict when it comes to bedtimes and routine. However, sometimes we need to step away from all the rush of life and enjoy a weekend as the small family we are. This past weekend that meant a weekend trip to Dallas, Texas.
We lived in Dallas for about 4 years and like most of my revisited experiences we had yet to truly explore Dallas as parents. This past weekend was filled with a roller coaster of emotions, like most days, when you’re a parent to a two year old. We had moments of sheer relaxed bliss in our hotel room or at the museum but then there were the not so calm and anxious moments on the side of the road with a toddler pouting on a travel potty. I feel like The Dad and I dealt with all that quite well and I really think it’s because I made sure to prepare by doing 3 things. The first was to make sure we had a few things we might need that we could rent from The Traveling Bundle, second, I checked Traveling Mom for any Dallas, Texas posts and sure enough Heidi Gollub from Free Fun In Austin had an article on fun stuff to do with kiddos in Dallas. Lastly, I made sure I had a list of all the things we would definitely need to survive a 3 hour drive with a recently potty trained 2 and a half year old.
Travel With a Toddler (from potty training to bed time needs)
- a travel potty
- potty liners/bags (you’d be surprised how often a toddler needs to poop in the middle of nowhere)
- disposable bed liners
- 2 or 3 water wow activity books (best ever)
- a buckle toy
- a tablet travel wedge
- a sound machine if you use one at home
- double the underwear you’d normally use on a day at home
- wash or toss snack cups
Before leaving I made sure to have everything easily accessible so all of the snacks we took were in a cooler that we rented from The Traveling Bundle. It’s easy to fall back on junk snacks but take an extra 15 minutes to pack up some sliced fruit like strawberries and apples for your kiddo. Try and avoid grapes or other fruit that typically pose a choking hazard. Cheerios and crackers are also great to fill snack cups with. It’s best to keep a tub filled with one change of clothes, your travel potty, Lysol mini spray, and a first aid kit on the floor of your vehicle, and underneath their car seat. That way when your tot needs to stop and go you can pull it out while you pull him/her out as well. The toys we picked have lasted through many long and frustrating challenges and Jack continues to play and use them. They’re also portable and aren’t messy.
If you’re taking a car trip in which you are in control of your departure time I highly recommend leaving when their nap will be starting. Jack slept through half of the trip there and 3/4 back. It was pretty great. Don’t forget your own time killers and bring a book or small craft to work on! (I finally got to read for an entire hour – it was bliss)
While in Dallas we opted to stay at Le Meridien, a hotel that looks like it’s out of the 1940’s. It’s a really cool hotel and the staff was super welcoming. I really love the rooms there and how the sunlight comes in through the large scenic windows. It was a great photo opportunity that lead to a lot of pictures of Jack jumping on the bed!
While there is so much to do in Dallas we decided to take Heidi’s advice and visit Klyde Warren Park in the heart of downtown Dallas. The promise of a shady lush lawn, a playground, and a splash pad was enough for us to spend 3 hours letting the boys, Jack and his buddy Lincoln, run around and use up some energy. It’s dog friendly, and if you get thirsty or hungry a row of food trucks are lined up along the side of the park waiting for weary and thirsty parents and children. There is also a bathroom that’s potty friendly and a ton of tables and chair for anyone to relax in. It’s also easily accessible to strollers and wagons!
If the heat gets to be too much, which it eventually was, you can head across the street to the Dallas Museum of Art. If you have little ones you’re probably thinking that a museum is not the best choice but the DMA has quite the impressive children’s area and the best part is that it’s free to everyone! Because we had the large wagon from The Traveling Bundle we were concerned that entering would be a problem but all I did was collapse the wagon and check it into their coat check area and we were ready to explore! It really is for all ages. The boys got to play in the kids area until the almost dropped. By then we just loaded them up into the car and they immediately fell asleep. Our first day of fun was almost over!
We couldn’t leave Dallas without exploring the food it had to offer so after a little research we discovered that we were actually going to take a short trip outside of Dallas to Garland, Texas and try Intrinsic BBQ and Brewery. Two must haves when you are traveling Texas; beer and bbq. Intrinsic is centered along one side of what seems to be an old town square in Garland. The buildings are old warehouses and businesses and it really just adds to the atmosphere. The food was amazing, but what really impressed me was their barley wine. I only had a sip before we had to leave but I tried the barley wine and it was so good! I’m hoping we get the chance to visit again soon – maybe without kids.
My favorite part of the evening was actually at a coffee house across the street fron Intrinsic. Jack loves music and after a ton of running in the empty town square (yup a legit town square) we steered the boys towards the coffee shop for a cool drink, some AC, and unbeknownst to us, a small band! The band consisted of two older gentleman playing good old country music. They were enamored with Jack and his head bobbing and wiggling to the music. As we were leaving the best thing happened, that I hope never to forget. The singer asked Jack what his favorite song was and he said, “You Are My Sunshine” and they sang it to him!!! It was the sweetest thing ever and you could tell Jack was surprised that they knew HIS song.
Definitely check out this part of Garland because it felt like something out of a movie.
The next day took us to The Children’s Aquarium in Fair Park. Kids under 2 and under are free. Older children are $6 and adults are $8. Not a bad price for what I felt was an amazing experience. The boys got to check out and touch starfish and sting rays. They also got to touch a baby alligator and explore everything from jellyfish to eels and sharks! It was just such a great aquarium for them to run around and explore. The best part was the cool air! Avoiding this Texas heat is key right now so we were really grateful for both the DMA and the Aquarium.
The kids got to get a lot of energy out while staying hydrated and cool. It was a pretty great experience!
We were there such a short time but with toddlers and babies- any trip can be really time consuming if you don’t have somewhat of a plan to go by. Be prepared, be ready for anything, and above all else – relax, they’re little and it’s your vacation too. Enjoying it together is so much more important than how much you actually get to do.
Happy Summer everyone!