Get out there! 6 ways to stay active as a family

As you all know from our about page, we’re a family of nature lovers, wanderers and adventure seekers. We snowboard, scuba dive, snowshoe, kayak, bike, raft, climb and hike, and have done so all over this great world. We believe that staying active as a family is extremely important for health purposes and for general life purposes. Who would not want to have the opportunity to see the world while flying down a mountain on a snowboard, paddleboarding in the crystal clear ocean, or even just walking through new towns as we city hop. It’s a true blessing to have the opportunity to do what you love and staying active is one of those things. To instill this in our children, we make sure that we show them how to stay healthy, stay active, and adventure through life on a daily basis. If you are just starting out on your journey and want to start being active with your children, here are a few things you can start with:

 

Ride a bike

Riding a bike, or cycling is a fantastic workout and you can cover a lot of ground by doing so. Take Amsterdam, for instance, it is the city of bikes. If you travel there, pick up a bike and you will be able to see more of the city faster than you would compared to just walking. Riding a bike is an aerobic workout, so your heart, blood vessels and lungs are all working and you are improving your all-around health.

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Go to a new city

I don’t know about you, but when I go to a new city, I always get more exercise compared to when I am just around the house. Our family loves to adventure and see everything there is to see, so we go, go, go on vacation and never slow down until our heads hits our pillows at night. When you go to a new city, think of fun ways that you can add activity into your day. From hiking to see the entire city to renting skates and skating through the city, there are many ways that you can see everything while staying active.

 

Walk the dog

If you are just hanging around the house, take time out of your day to go on a family walk with the dog. This is not only good for you, but also good for the dog in many different ways. If you are working, break your day up by taking breaks to go on a walk with or without the dog.

 

Do yard work

I know, I know. Who thinks yard work is fun? Probably nobody. But, make it a family activity! This will get much-needed work done around the house, it will add activity into the day, and it will also teach your kids the skill of hard work, which is always important to learn from a young age. According to Dave Ramsey, “You should view teaching your children to work in the same way you view teaching them to bathe and brush their teeth—as a necessary skill for life. An adult who has no clue how to tackle a job and finish it with vigor is as debilitated as an adult with green teeth and body odor. If your child graduates from high school and his only skill set consists of playing video games, whining, copping an attitude of entitlement, and eating junk food, you have set him up to fail.”

 

Paddleboard

Paddleboarding is one of our favorite things to do when we are by the water. It is so much fun that you do not even know you are getting a workout, but balancing on a board works muscles that you do not even know you have. Of course, please keep in mind that your child has to be comfortable with water for this one. We recommend always wearing life jackets and playing it safe. If you are a beginner when it comes to paddleboarding, I recommend starting in calm water. Don’t worry about falling – that is part of the fun!

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Go camping

We love camping! There are so many great adventurous things to do while you camp and you can even include most of the ideas that I have listed above in your camping itinerary! Bring a paddleboard, canoe, or kayak, if you will be close to water. Fish, hunt, play capture the flag, or take a walk. Anything you do will be great.

 

Staying active with your family is a great way to bond, stay healthy, and have fun, but as you age, it can become harder on your body, depending on the state of your body and what you are doing. One way to make sure your body is ready to stay (or become) active is by seeing a professional. In New Jersey, there is a company called AllCure Spine & Sports Medicine. They focus on helping you achieve the quality of life you deserve by providing services like pain management, acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, and massage. If you are experiencing pain with an active lifestyle, please do not try to push past the pain. Instead, seek help to fix the issues so that you can continue living your lifestyle, without pain. Located in Monroe, NJ, AllCure Spine & Sports Medicine is family-owned and uses emerging, non-surgical treatments to provide long lasting relief.

 

 

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An ode to my mountain man…and why I choose to let you go.

Traveling to new locations is a pretty regular occurrence in our family. We are always planning, scheming, adventuring to a new location, and if we are idle for too long, we get antsy.

So, I understand the wanderlust. I embrace it and encourage it to everyone I know. But still, something happens to me when my husband goes off on an adventure without us. The days before he leaves for a trip, I get nervous, anxious, and even a bit weepy because I know that the adventures that he embarks on alone are a bit more risky than our family jaunts. Although he always errs on the side of caution and is a real pro at risk assesment, I know that the danger of the elements and the outdoors can be a match for the most seasoned outdoorsman. And, I know that shit happens to the safest people. People get hurt out there. And, when the person about to head out into the wilderness is the person that means the most to you in this world…well, it can make your stomach a bit queasy.

I get the question pretty often from my friends and family…why do you LET him go so often? Why do you let him go on these trips, when they are dangerous/you have to stay home with the kids/they cost money etc. etc. etc….

The answer to every single one of those questions is; because I know that this is what fulfills him. Sure, he is the most incredible husband, father, friend (Jack Pearson ain’t got nothin’ on my Matthew) and all of these things are what are the most important to him. But, when he summits that new mountain, when he pushes himself to train for a more difficult expedition, when he rides that fresh powder, it adds a light to his eyes that only those that are adventure chasers might understand. He speaks of the mountains with reverence, and I know that experiencing new ones makes him truly happy. And, his happiness is one of my own priorities (as I know that mine is one of his).

So, I let him go.

I kiss him deeply before he leaves and wish him love, safety and fun. The entire time he’s gone, I wait for the occasional “it’s all good” call or a message from his In Reach Satellite to put my heart at ease. I throw some good vibes up to the universe and hope that the mountain is kind to him until he returns to us. And, shortly after he unpacks his bags and give the kids their souvenirs, the maps come back out, more plane tickets are booked and a new adventure will soon begin…

xo Elisa Rispoli

The beginnings of stocking your gear closet- Some thoughts, do’s and don’ts.

 

Written by: Josh Ryan

  I have always been into the great outdoors, I grew up in a small town in Vermont and try to do things outside as much as I can. A couple of years ago I decided to get into hiking in the Adirondacks and ultimately, hike the Long Trail in Vermont. I knew I was going to have to find and buy gear that will last and perform the way I hoped it would. If you haven’t found the site yet, you should check it out, OutdoorGearLab.com, they review a lot of gear and its a good place to start. I started with OGL (Outdoor Gear Lab) for most of my gear except a handful of items.

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I also don’t like to pay retail for gear. When I first started hiking, I bought used gear from replay sports and Craigslist. I had a pair of Keen boots I used for work and an old Kelty bag I had from high school. I like to think that you get what you pay for, and most of the time I feel like it’s true, but not always. I am by no means telling anyone to go out and spend tons of money on brand name gear, I just want people to enjoy the outdoors and find stuff they’ll like. I am slowly upgrading gear and finding what works and doesn’t work for me. I have found some great gear and some that just wasn’t worth the time of day. My big thing is, I read a lot…gear reviews, gear tests, gear this and gear that, I just like to know what works for others that used it in the same way I intend on using it. When I was planning my Long Trail hike, I started following AT hikers on Instagram and talking to them to see what worked for them on their 2000+ mile adventure. Everyone I talked to seemed to be happy to help and I learned some good things. All of that is easy, when you talk about it, but when it comes down to using everything, that’s when you see what actually works. Please do not go buy gear and never use it before you go into the wilderness. I can’t say it enough, use your gear before going out, just do it. Go to the park, go to your best friends, go anywhere you can and try it out and get to know it and how it works before you go out and actually need to use it. I bought a WBBB (warbonnet black bird xlc hammock and mamajamba tarp) for hiking the Long Trail and overnights in the ADK. I only used it a couple of times outside of hiking in the park but I am glad I used it beforehand. I had to set it up a few times in the dark, thank god for headlamps and patience.

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I find myself rambling on about things but I do hope someone can take something away from this blog. I will be writing more and the more I write the better my info will be, and I will try to touch on a bunch of different subjects. Feel free to hit me up on my IG as well and maybe I can answer some direct questions on there.

Josh is 35, resides in Vermont, The Green Mountain State, and home of The Long Trail. He likes to spend as much time outdoors as he can, be it snowmobiling, working on becoming an Adirondack 46er(12 of 46) or just walking a back road. He has a Redbone Coonhound, named Cooper and is a Visual Merchandising Specialist at Hubbardton Forge, in Castleton, VT. Follow Josh’s adventures on Instagram. 

Risk managers: Taking calculated risks to live a life of adventure. Written by MK McDonald

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Mountains inspire opposing feelings. Feelings of being tall and small simultaneously. Ego can reveal itself while mountaineering and in my experience, any extreme sport for that matter.  In contrast, there are also opportunities to become vulnerable, trekking on the outside of our comfort zone.  How do you find balance when there is so much going on externally and internally when attempting an unknown summit (Direction, safety, maslow’s hierarchy of needs, beauty and nature, photos, meeting like-minded folks,etc)?

In the last 10 years, I’ve finally started to realize while summiting and not summiting, I’ve become a risk manager. Although my parents describe my brother (we go on a lot of hikes together) and I as risk takers.  We are aware of the risks, but we push ourselves anyway. The stories about having to bail out on a hike, I believe are my favorite stories. The last time this happened that I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face because it was blizzarding so hard.(Last year, December 22nd on Pikes peak). My brother is born on the winter solstice and he always plans a “death march” as he calls it. This year we just went camping and stayed up to watch the meteor shower! Everyone thought we were nuts when packing up the car and it being snowing and freezing outside. We got to Penitente Canyon, presently a beautiful popular climbing spot with American Indian petroglyphs and Virgin of Guadalupe painted high on a canyon wall left there by Los Hermanos Penitentes, a Spanish religious sect that favored Penitente Canyon for its solace in the 1880s. This is how the canyon got its name.  Anyway, it was like the heavens opened up, the sky was clear, and it really wasn’t that cold (-4 degrees).

The last major trekking trip I went on was to hike two 14ers in the same weekend… Wetterhorn (class 3) and Handies (class 1) with my best friend Nikki.  Needless to say we rocked it on Wetterhorn, on the top it got sketchy. In fact a gentlemen, thank goodness for him, caught us going up the class 4 route. He said “where are you guys going.” And I was like” uh, to the top!” On the right trail we approached the top by climbing up a steep wall, definitely stepping/crawling outside our comfort zone.  At the top we took real selfies of our bare butts.

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The next day we had planned to do our first sunrise summit on Handies peak, a considerably shorter hike than Wetterhorn.  We got lost in the dark, took a wrong turn and felt pretty dumb.  We couldn’t bag an easy class one … whoops!  The sunrise was gorgeous, we were safe and we were still very high up.  You never know exactly what will happen in life as mountaineers and risk managers but we are aware of the outcomes. Keep pushing your comfort zone but know when to bail. Also, learn how to read a map, bring one, know where you’re going!  Understanding your ability and what your level of acceptable risk is, is an important first step before heading out on your next adventure.

MK is an Art Educator, Yogi, Colorado Native, Snowboard Instructor in the winter and Raft Guide in the summer. On her free days she is often travelling, trekking, camping, backpacking, taking a walk with hippopotamus (a special brown dog) hot springing, and all the outdoor things.  In the summer months you’ll find her in a foreign country or living in her 1970 red VW van down by the river! 

Follow MK’s adventures on Instagram!

Happy 2018 Wanderers!

Bidding 2017 adieu wasn’t a difficult task for the general population, and we are stoked about the possibilities of awesomeness that 2018 will hopefully bring. Our family has some amazing (A.Maz.Ing.) adventures already planned this year that we are excited to share with you and we have some fun stuff coming to Live and Let Wander as well!

We’ve enlisted the help of some fellow wanderers, adventurers, photographers, travelers, and all around cool folks from all around North America to contribute to the blog and share their general badassery with us all. We’ve either enjoyed following their stories via the interwebs, adventured with them IRL, or admired them from afar, so we are thrilled and appreciative that they are going to be sharing their outdoor love with Live and Let Wander.

Here’s to many new adventures, good memories, and a lot of love in 2018!

Happy Trails!

Elisa & Matt (& the crew…)

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Making backpacking fun for toddlers!

Some people find backpacking gear a logistical nightmare. When you first start backpacking you try to pack for unexpected weather, and every situations under the sun or storm clouds. After backpacking for a few years you begin to trim down the gear you thought you needed when you started because you released you can get through so many situations without every piece of gear.  That works great until you decide to bring along a 5 year old and a 3 year old and your dog. With kids you have to keep them comfortable and good gear can go a long way to help with that. The only problem is that all of that gear has to be carried.

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Our carry situation included a 5 year old who can only carry only 4 lbs.  Mom who had to carry the majority of the gear and dad who had to carry a 3 year old and the tent.

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We had just enough room for all of the gear and and everyone was excited to get on the trail.  We reminded ourselves that kids don’t particularly want to walk for miles on end but instead play and adventure.  On our trip we stopped often. We stopped at the first river crossing about 30 minutes in to drop packs and throw some rocks.  We soaked our hats to keep cool and our pup jumped into the river. We snacked and headed out.  Short breaks will help raise their spirits and keep them excited. We kept that order going and let the boys set the pace and decided the length of our breaks.  Keeping them involved in the decision making process helps to keep them interested.

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If you cared enough to read this then you probably have not taken your children backpacking before which means you are probably in need of gear.  Here is what we did for some gear. Weight was the single most important factor, followed closely by cost. We went to our local family owned outdoor store (Ramsey Outdoor store for those in NJ) for some new gear for us and picked up a few cheap no namers off Amazon for the kids because let’s face it they don’t know the difference. You can get the kids lightweight summer sleeping bags and inflatable sleeping pads(essentially pool rafts) off Amazon on the cheap.  To be honest we opted for thermarest pro-light sleeping pads not as cheap but much better quality and they come in kids sizes.  For a hiking family it was a worthy investment.

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Car camping would have been much easier but we decided to give our boys the real experience of going deep into the wilderness and spending the night with no one around.  They got a taste of backpacking and they can’t wait to get back on the trail!

What’s on your adventure bucket list for 2018?

I really like to consider myself as someone who lives in the now. I try to cherish the precious moments in the present, not dwell on the past, and just take things as they come. But, I also can’t deny that I am a bit of a type A planner when it comes to our adventuring schedule. It’s not uncommon for me to start planning our next trip while a few days into the one we are on. I am always thinking about places I want to see and things I want to experience! And, as each year comes to an end, I tend to revisit and add on to my bucket list. My long list is, well…long. But, here are a few on my short list that I thought I’d share. Maybe you’ll get some ideas for adventures to put on your own list in 2018!

 

  1. Iceland
  2. Hike Mt. Etna
  3. Get my scuba certification
  4. Vacation in Europe for an entire month
  5. Hike to Havasupai Falls
  6. Vacation on a houseboat
  7. Go skydiving…again
  8. Hike a 14’er
  9. Go on a road trip from San Diego to Yosemite National Park in an RV
  10. Stay in one of those over water bungalows on an island
  11. Eat octopus in Greece
  12. Go rafting in Grand Canyon
  13. Drink a pina colada on every US Virgin Island
  14. Spend a month in Hawaii
  15. Hike Macchu Picchu

 

Xo Elisa

 

I heart the PNW.

Every year we try to venture out to new mountains. That being said, some mountains keep calling us back.  One of our tricks to venturing out every year on a budget is flying into different hubs which usually drops the cost of airfare dramatically. That works well for us because we are able to fly out of NYC. We fly into different hubs and then drive and drive to hit up different mountains.

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2017 brought on copious amounts of snow in the north west and luck was on our side.  We flew into Seattle for about $330, hopped in the car and drove 4 hours north to hit up Whistler. We stayed at the hostel and enjoyed feet (yes feet) of fresh powder. The hostel in Whistler is about $30 a night and one of the best I’ve been to.  The powder in the PNW is not the powder I’ve come to love in Colorado, but it’s still fun. It has the name ‘cascade concrete’ for a reason. Our first day of riding the back bowl was still closed and we lucked out on day two when we hiked up to earn some turns in virgin snow.  After two days of bliss, our luck only continued.

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We drove 4 hours south to ride at Mt. Baker. Mt. Baker had just been closed for 5 days because a killer storm came thru and devastated the roadway up to the mountain. Baker is truly a boarder’s Mecca and our luck was unprecedented. The mountain was steep, the powder was deep, and the food/lift tickets were cheap. This was my first visit and Baker definitely made its way into my heart. I don’t normally repeat visit a mountain, but I definitely plan to go back to stay for several days in the future.
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We finished off the trip by meeting up with fellow Deuter ambassador, John Soltys, to do some snowshoeing around Mt. Rainier in an area named Paradise. He hooked us up with Tubbs snowshoes and the full guide experience. Our luck still did not run out and we had a bluebird day, which is a stranger to the PNW.  Since we had to catch a plane back to NYC that night, the trip was relatively short but amazingly beautiful. John is out in the PNW weekly and he is no stranger to Mt. Rainier and the area around it. He took us out for a few hours and turned it into a lifetime of memories and information. Snowshoeing in Paradise quickly added Mt Rainier and the Wonderland trail to my bucket list.

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We were sad to leave, but the PNW did not disappoint and there is so much exploring to be had.

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Till next time PNW…I will be back.

A note to my younger self on my 35th birthday: A quick moment of reflection

The week of my 35th year on this planet is here and it’s kind of tripping me out.

It’s not because I feel “old”, but more because I can vividly remember my own parents when they were this very age. I can so clearly remember warm days with my Dad mowing the lawn, and watching his beloved Mets, and my mom always ready with a Pop-Ice and calling us from the front door to come in once our street lights went on around 8:30. And, the crazy part to me is, that it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. Yet, here I am, turning that same age, and calling my own kids onto the deck for a Pop-Ice (organic, of course. Yay for 2017.).

From that time in the early 90’s until now, I’ve learned a few things. Seriously, just a few…I am still far from a wise adult offering sage advice and I often wonder how I am as adulty (a bit of neologism for ya) as I am (and expected to be).

But, alas, here are a few things I’ve learned, and would note to my younger self… if I could go all Marty McFly on myself, of course:

  1. What is old will always be new again. I kick myself for not saving my black velvet choker collection from 1992, and I am forever peeved that my mom didn’t save her sunglasses from the 80’s.
  2. Travel while you are young and don’t have as many responsibilities. Take a few years after high school, sleep on some couches, eat ramen noodles and see the world. Sure, you can travel after you have a job. Sure, you can travel after you have a house and kids. It’s just much harder, logistically. Don’t rush into adulthood so quickly.
  3. Do not dye your hair blond. You will cringe looking at those photos when you turn 35.
  4. Having regrets is ok! I know we now live in the world of YOLO, NO REGRETS and FOMO (ok, now I sound old), but I think having a few helps you grow as a person. Every mistake made is an opportunity to change for the better.
  5. Spend more time with your Grandparents. Ask them more questions. Listen to their story.  Because when they are gone, you will miss them profoundly.
  6. You don’t need stuff ←– Also, still telling myself this presently and daily. House, cars, shoes…that stuff doesn’t make you happy, so stop spending your money on it. Go walk up a mountain. Go lay on the beach. Go cuddle your babies. Those things make your heart happy. Spend more time…spend less money.
  7. You will never make friends like the ones you made in elementary school. Yours are the greatest, and they know all the stupid shit you’ve done. They will turn into family. Cherish them always!
  8. Remember how you ate hostess cupcakes everyday for lunch and Chunky Monkey ice cream every afternoon during high school? Enjoy it! Eat more of it! It’s all kale smoothies, and portioning desserts once you hit your thirties.
  9. Don’t be so hard on yourself. ←– Also something I am still telling myself daily. Try your best, always be kind, be a good person who is true to yourself and don’t stress about the rest. It’ll all work out and you are doing okay.
  10. You only get to do this life thing once, so live it. Do what makes you happy.

Also, drink more bellinis. They are your bliss.

CHEERS to 35!

xo Elisa

Trip Memory: A throwback to 2013- Our first family trip to our nation’s capitol

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In the midst of the political chaos that our great nation is facing, I am (for some reason) yearning for a trip back to D.C. I have such fond memories of our last trip there with the boys, and look forward to taking them back there soon. Below is an article I wrote back in 2013 about a weekend trip there…when we were only a family of 3! Included are some great tips for heading there with the family!
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, like I did!

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ROAD TRIP!!!

For my husband and I, traveling was a major part of our life before baby, and we vowed that we wouldn’t change that after our family grew! But, as we were to find out, traveling with a family can be expensive. Add in a destination that requires a flight, and you could have yourself a costly vacation.

A few weeks ago, we took our first Macaroni Kid West Morris Road Trip to the Washington, D.C. area. We spent a long weekend having fun at museums, eating at delish family friendly (but mommy & daddy approved) restaurants, swimming and just relaxing. Holy smokes, did we have a great time! The easy 4 hour drive took us to Alexandria, VA, a suburb right outside of the D.C. area. Alexandria has a Hoboken or Princeton-like feel, with adorable shops, tons of restaurants, and more strollers and dogs on leashes than I have ever seen in a small city.  After settling in, we took a drive to the National Waterfront. We lucked out and had a beautiful day to walk around the water front, do a little window shopping and visit the National Children’s Museum. Admission to the museum is $10 for children & adults ages 1 year and up. We spent a full 3 hours at the museum exploring, playing and learning. Older children will have a wonderful (& educational) experience exploring the foods, clothing (dress up!), and even transportation of other countries. And the “Our Town” exhibit replicates a small local town, and allows children hands on experience in a mock Fire Engine, Pizza Parlor, and even a shipping dock! And of course, it wouldn’t be Washington, D.C. without a little politics! Children can participate in choosing a “candidate” by listening to platforms that may be of interest to them (i.e. why or why not soda should be allowed in schools). National Children’s Museum has a unique partnership with Sesame Workshop, which means their under 3 area (under 3 ft. tall, or under 3 years old) is adorned with every toddlers favorite Sesame Street characters. Elmo, Abby, Big Bird and more are photographed on the walls, and Cookie Monster’s food truck can be driven to places that only a toddler’s imagination can take them. My son (15 months) loved this area! The small area to climb on was a big hit (like a small obstacle course), as well as the toys, felt and magnet boards, and puzzles. If you continue through the Under 3 area, you will find classrooms that have at least 2 different crafts being offered on a daily basis. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy, there are also mini productions and story times in the theater! We truly cannot wait to get back there and enjoy it again!

Our last day was spent exploring Washington, D.C. The National Mall and most of the museums were just a short 15 minute drive from our hotel (including a bit of normal traffic). The majority of the museums in D.C. are free of charge to get in. So fantastic for a family, because we all know how bored kids can get. You can visit the parts of each museum that your find interested, and then head to the next one! My son was pretty excited about the Museum of National History (if your kids have seen Night at the Museum, they will be even more excited!). The elephant in the lobby, animals, dinosaurs and the ocean exhibit were all big hits. This mommy liked the Harry Winston exhibit (Valentine’s Day ideas, anyone?!).  For older children, the Air & Space Museum will be incredibly exciting. The IMAX theater programs and the giant airplanes hanging from the ceiling are always crowd pleasers. The Spy Museum would also be a lot of fun for an older child. Of course, with the various monuments, Capitol Building, White House, etc… there are so many things to do in D.C. that one trip is not enough! We visited many, but will be back to finish soon!

Other than the in museum café’s, there is not much in the way of restaurants by the National Mall. Luckily we parked right by the popular Food Truck scene. Good food trucks beat a casual restaurant for me any day. This is the link that has the popular Food Trucks in D.C.; we ate at the Crepes Parfait food truck in the link. Amazing.

The Washington D.C./Alexandria, VA area was a fantastic 3 day weekend trip. We look forward to returning soon!