Thursday, June 30, 2016

7 Beautiful Tourist Hotspots in New Mexico

I was so excited to have the opportunity to showcase the amazing state that I live in, New Mexico. Having family that live on both coast lines, I can't tell you how often I hear them ask me these questions: Do you have to pay extra to make phone calls to us? What is there to do in New Mexico? Contrary to popular belief, New Mexico is part of the United States; at least it says so on my New Mexico license plate (Are we the only state that actually has to put on our license plate: U.S.A.)? I had a friend visit me a few years ago and it was the first time he had ever seen mountains or a speed limit sign of 75mph... oh you deprived human being! So let me tell you about my home state with my favorite 7 beautiful tourist hotspots in New Mexico!


1. Loretto Chapel - Santa Fe, New Mexico 

This chapel is located in the heart of Santa Fe and houses the famous miraculous staircase. Besides the obvious, beautiful structure of this staircase, it is built without the use of nails. This staircase has two 360 degree turns and it was originally built without railings! Maybe it was the fact that I am not a fan of heights but seeing this in person was a bit freaky. Plus, my dad tried to convince the cashier that he should get in free because his middle name was Loretto (Oh Dad...).

2. Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta - Albuquerque, New Mexico

ABQ International Balloon Fiesta 

New Mexico is a international hot spot (for one week out of the entire year)! Albuquerque hosts this amazing week-long event in October that should be on everyone's bucket list! This event is the most photographed event in the world and for good reason. It is the perfect family-friendly event that everyone will enjoy. I love waking up and looking outside and seeing hundreds of colorful balloons in the sky of all shapes and sizes!

3. Sandia Peak Tramway - Albuquerque, New Mexico

 Sandia Peak Tram 

The Sandia Peak Tramway is the longest aerial tram in the United States and the third longest single span in the world! If you love the outdoors, you can take the tramway up the mountain where they have the ski lifts, restaurant, and numerous hiking trails or you can even hike up the mountain and take the tram down. A full day of fun outdoor activities for any family and it's open year-round!

4. The Frontier Restaurant - Albuquerque, New Mexico

I spent many college days in this restaurant as it sits directly across from the University of New Mexico. This might be the most famous restaurant in all of New Mexico. This building spans an entire block, as it should because it's always busy! Taste New Mexican style food here and you won't be disappointed! The Frontier has also appeared in books and the restaurant walls are covered in fun historical art work!

5. City of Roswell - Roswell, New Mexico

This is a well-known tourist spot that basically landed New Mexico back on the map as part of the United States. This city has really taken the alien sightings and turned itself into a sight-seeing destination! I've been there many times and I've always enjoyed taking family and friends through the town and checking out the Alien Museum. There's something fun about a place whose lamp posts are green alien heads!

6. White Sands National Monument, White Sands, New Mexico

White Sands 

I love advertising about White Sands to my friends and family who ask me if it snows in New Mexico. Actually, it really does snow in New Mexico but I always tell them we always have snow here because of White Sands. This place is kiddy heaven! Bring your kids, sunglasses, and your sled and spend the day riding down giant dunes of white sand! It's a snow day every single day there. Check out the trinity site where they tested the atomic bomb and don't worry it's safe!

7. Carlsbad Caverns - Carlsbad, New Mexico

By far my favorite sight-seeing destination I have ever been to. The Carlsbad Caverns is the fifth largest chamber in North America and the 28th largest in the world! I love going down the natural entrance to the caves (careful of the bats!) and making it down to the huge chamber at the bottom but for those that can't hike, you can take the elevator directly to the bottom and still enjoy the caverns! They are open year-round except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

It is called the Land of Enchantment for a reason, New Mexico is beautiful. I love raising my family here and we have had many opportunities to live elsewhere but New Mexico is always going to be our home. 

Let me know what you think! Have you been to New Mexico before and toured any of these seven beautiful locations? I'd love to hear from you!

About Katriza Luna 
Founder of Mommy Engineering. Family and friends call me Kaye but my personal favorite is Mommy. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to be at home with my two baby boys. As an engineer by career, and stay-at-home mom by choice, I write about how to “Invent. Innovate. Design.” After all, isn't that what mommyhood is all about? 

You can find Katriza here:
Twitter >> >> @mommy_engineer

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tips for Your Trip to Colorado

So you want to visit Colorado. I’m guessing you’re drawn to the state for a variety of reasons: world-class skiing, unbeatable beers, gorgeous vistas from the tops of 14ers, unending outdoor activities and 300-plus days of sunshine. Or you got orders and you had no choice but to “visit” for a couple years.  

Whatever your situation I realize I probably sound a little biased. Is Colorado really that awesome? But the thing is, you’re going to visit Colorado and suddenly find that you totally agree with me.  

Sure, you’ve heard of Denver and you’ve probably heard of Colorado Springs, since so many military bases are in those areas.  

But there’s so much more to the state than just Denver and the Springs. Are you ready to explore the state like a local and discover some hidden gems in the REAL sunshine state? Then check out some of these Colorado must-dos and must-sees.

World-Class Skiing 

If you’re going to ski for the first time in Colorado then you can’t miss Steamboat Springs. Their ski resort is one of the best because of the variety of terrain and the amount of snow they receive every year. From green runs to tree skiing to double blacks, there’s something for everyone at this resort. 

And you better believe you’ll have the best ski day of your life when they get a fresh dumping of snow. 

It’s typically less crowded than Breckenridge or Aspen and it’s the type of mountain town that will make you think, “You know, I could see myself living here.” Their downtown has a variety of restaurants serving locally sourced food, and there are several hot springs to relax in after a long day on the slopes. 

$$ Savings Tip $$ Visit one of the ITT offices at one of the many bases in Colorado to get discounted military lift tickets. If you’re looking to stay at a budget hotel, The Steamboat Lodge cannot be beat (look for them on or Travelocity to get the best deal!). It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a cheap and safe place to rest your head at the end of a long day of ripping sick lines...or pizza-ing your way down a blue run.

Honorable Mentions: If you can't make Steamboat work, you can also find great skiing in Keystone, Breckenridge and Telluride. Check ITT for lift tickets to these resorts as well. 

Soothing Hot Springs 

Colorado is known for its many hot springs. From Radium Springs to Colorado Springs to Steamboat Springs, there’s hot water coming out of the ground all over the state.  

If you’re looking to soak in some natural spring water, then the hot springs in Pagosa Springs cannot be beat. There are a few different areas to get your relaxation on, but the best place to go is The Springs Resort & Spa. They have 23 therapeutic pools at varying temperatures, so there’s a pool for everyone at this relaxing retreat. 

Stay at the hotel for 24-hour access to the soaking pools, or stay somewhere more affordable and buy a day or week pass. Once you’re soaking in the warm water, enjoy the view of the river running right through the middle of town.

And if you’re in the pools toward the end of the day, stick around for the sunset -- you won’t be disappointed.  

** Native Tip** It’s easy to spend all day in the pools, but watch out for the sun! You’re at a higher altitude in Colorado, which means you’re literally closer to the sun. Make sure to put on plenty of sunscreen throughout the day, and don’t forget to drink lots of water! 

Honorable Mentions: While Pagosa Springs is hard to beat, the hot springs at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and Strawberry Park Hot Springs won’t disappoint. Both are more rustic, but no less relaxing.

Delicious Places to Eat 

This one is tough because I LOVE food. So I broke this one down into a mini-list, differentiating between genres of amazing food in Colorado.  

Mexican - There’s a lot of debate in my family about the best Mexican food in Colorado. But if I had to choose I’d go to Las Delicias in downtown Denver. Their food is definitely authentic and you’ll be begging for their green chili recipe by the end of your visit! 

Burgers - Drifter’s Hamburgers in Colorado Springs, hands down, has the best burger. Ever. Their uncomplicated recipe makes for a burger that you’ll just have to have again. And don’t forget a side of their delicious shoestring fries.  

Wild Game - The Fort located outside of Golden is known for their food and drink of the old west. But don’t assume this restaurant is gimmicky. All of their foods are based on recipes and ingredients available in the 1830s and their menu offers unique entrees like buffalo steaks, elk chops, quail and Colorado territory beef. If you’re looking for authentic “Colorado” food then this is the place to go.  

Fondue - Der Fondue Chessel at the top of Keystone’s North Peak Mountain cannot be beat. Close your eyes and imagine a large Nordic-style wooden hall with long wooden tables, an impossibly tall ceiling and a massive roaring fireplace. Then imagine artisanal cheeses with meats like elk and buffalo for dinner. Just try to tell me you don’t want to go! 

Pub Grub - If you’re looking for a place that has a little bit of everything then head over Wazee Lounge & Supper Club in downtown Denver. Pretty much everything on the menu is delectable, but their pizza will really hit the spot. And if you’re interested in trying some local beers then you need look no further than Wazee’s. 

Awesome 14ers - To Visit and To Hike 

Of course if you visit Colorado you’re probably interested in visiting a mountain, if not hiking one! Known for the 53 fourteeners(mountains with a minimum height of 14,000 feet) spread out across the state, people from around the world flock to Colorado to take on one of these beautiful peaks.  

To Hike - If you’re looking to hike a 14er, then I definitely recommend starting with Mt. Bierstadt. It’s one of the more accessible mountains in the state and it’s a great beginners peak. Even if you’re a seasoned hiker, the vistas you’ll take in throughout the hike are definitely worth a visit. 

This hike starts at a higher elevation (around 10,000 feet) but you only gain about 2,800 feet during the hike, making it manageable for hikers of varying levels. Keep your eyes peeled as moose love to graze in the marshy valley you walk through on your way to the summit! I saw four bull moose the last time I hiked that peak!  

**Native Tip** This hike can take between two and six hours, so start early in the morning to avoid getting caught on the summit during typical Colorado afternoon thunderstorms. And don’t forget to lather on the sunscreen and bring lots of water!  

To Visit - So maybe hiking an entire mountain isn’t for you. No worries! Head to Manitou Springs to visit Pikes Peak. One of the better-known mountains in the state, Pikes Peak is great for those not interested in hiking to the top. 

Drive the Pikes Peak Highway to the summit or better yet, take the Cog Railroad and enjoy the scenery without worrying about staying on the road. Drink in the gorgeous views of Colorado Springs from the top as well as the mountain range on the “backside” of the mountain. It’s breathtaking! And don’t forget to grab yourself a piping hot donut from the gift shop.  

**Native Tip** Parking is very limited at the base of the peak. If you plan on taking the cog, park in Manitou Springs and take one of the free shuttles that’ll deliver you right to the start of the Cog Railway. 

Outstanding Breweries 

If you didn’t already know, beer is kind of a big deal in Colorado. Home to over 2,800 breweries and four of the top 50 brewing companies in the nation, this is the place to try some amazing beer. An admirer of beer myself, I had to break this category down into sub-categories since there are so many great places to grab an excellent beer.  

**Native Tip** Remember you’re at a higher altitude which means it takes less alcohol to become more intoxicated. Make sure to drink plenty of water while enjoying some of Colorado’s finest beers.  

Colorado Springs - Housed in a former elementary-school-turned-nightlife-hotspot, Bristol Brewing Company is the brewery to check out in the Springs. Definitely give their flagship beer, Beehive, a try (it’s my favorite beer) and enjoy your pint their rustic-modern taproom.  

Denver - There’s a good chance you’ll get overwhelmed with the brewery options in Denver. So I’ll narrow it down for you. Visit Prost for the best German-style beers in Denver. Stop by Denver Beer Co. for beers with crazy flavors like their Graham Cracker Porter or Princess Yum Yum (it’s right across the river from Prost so you might as well visit both!) 

And last but not least, visit my all-time favorite brewery, Great Divide Brewing Co., to find out what it’s like to love every beer on tap. But if you’re only going to try one, then let your mind be blown by their divine imperial stout they call “Yeti.”  

Boulder - Okay, so you might get a bit overwhelmed by the brewery options in Boulder as well. So here are the must-visits while you’re in the CU city: Avery Brewing Co., Upslope Brewing Company, and Colorado’s first craft brewery,Boulder Beer. I could spend hours talking about the amazing beers these breweries. But since I don’t have that much time, I’m just going to tell you to visit at least one of them and see for yourself what the brouhaha is all about.  

Fort Collins - All within a mile loop of one another, New Belgium, Odells Brewing Co. and Fort Collins Brewery are must-visits. You’re probably familiar with New Belgium but their taproom is eclectic and they’ve always got something interesting on tap. As for Odells and FCB, they have beers you’ll wish you could get in stores across the country.  

**Native Tip** Blend in with the locals by renting a bike in Fort Collins and biking between all three breweries! They’re less than a mile apart. But make sure not to ride drunk. 

Place To Buy Art Like The Locals 

 A wise woman once told me that when you travel it’s always a good idea to buy a piece of local art from wherever you visit. That way when you come home, you have a memento that’ll remind you of your trip and will serve as a beautiful decoration in your home. That woman happened to be my mother, but that doesn’t diminish the wisdom of this advice. 

If you’re looking for western art (think picturesque landscapes, colorful western animals, one-of-a-kind airplane paintings, portraits of cowboys and Indians, and unique animal sculptures), then the Tracy Miller Gallery is the place to go. There’s something for everyone in this gallery and I dare you to try to walk away without buying something!  

But if photography is more your style, then don’t miss John Fielder’s Colorado in Denver. He’s the Colorado photographer who’s spent over 40 years capturing every inch of Colorado, from its scenery to its wildlife. His gallery photos may not fit in your home, but his famous Colorado 1870-2000 book is the perfect Colorado souvenir. 

No matter where you go or what you do in Colorado, you’re bound to have a great time. I hope you get the chance to check out some of these must-see spots in the state that gets 300-plus days of sunshine a year! Happy trails! 

What’re some of your favorite spots in Colorado? Where would you recommend a friend or family member visit? 

About the Author
Alexis Rose is the founder of Wife in the Wild Blue Yonder, a blog dedicated to providing advice and resources to military spouses. She's determined to help others by sharing personal stories and useful information that other military spouses can learn from and apply to their own lives. She's a passionate writer and photographer, a Harry Potter fanatic, a lover of dogs, a swimmer and a yogi. She's always up for an adventure and she loves to travel. You can find out more about her blog at You can also stay up to date with Alexis on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Three Colorado Springs Outdoor Adventures and Gluten-free Eats

As a state, Colorado is known for many things. Its many rivers, for instance, or that its capital of Denver claims to have invented the cheeseburger. When this college celiac first visited Colorado Springs, it made sense that I fell in love with these two traits: Colorado’s outside beauty and its plentiful gluten free eats. As I prepare to move to Colorado in a few months, though, I’m particularly dreaming of three Colorado Springs sights and three gluten free restaurants to refuel at afterward!

1. The Colorado Springs Zoo and Boriello Brothers Pizza

Don’t walk into the Colorado Springs Zoo expecting a huge park, but it makes up for its small size with quality and natural beauty. I knew it was going to be a memorable trip when we saw giraffes eagerly eating lettuce out of visitors' open hands. While my home zoo wraps giraffe feeding in miles of red tape, all we had to do was pay $2 for lettuce and wash up after. Can you say, Score? Then we rode the lift to the top section of the zoo. The beauty of Colorado never ceases to amaze me and as I sat hundreds of feet up in the air, the view of the mountains, lakes and houses down the valley seemed like a gorgeous mirage. 

After wearing the rubber off our shoes from hours of walking, we were starving and decided on Boriello Brothers Pizza for lunch. A local had recommended the restaurant and I was ecstatic to read on their website that they offer gluten free pizza with separate toppings and cooked in a separate oven. Color me impressed. 

Because we hit the restaurant past lunch hour, it wasn't busy and we ordered immediately. The cashier knew about celiac disease and cross contamination and guided us through the menu to ensure we only ordered gluten free toppings. Fifteen minutes later, our gluten free pies appeared. My favorite parts of the pizza were definitely the crunchy crust and abundant toppings. Overall, Mom and I agreed that it was the best pizza we've had eating out. Even better, it was also decent leftovers, too.

2. Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Red Robin

If you’re a fan of history, museums or overpriced souvenirs, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings (home to the ancient Anasazi) is the outside adventure for you! The small park/museum allows visitors to explore the homes carved directly into the mountainside. As we walked through the rooms, I gawked at the food storage containers (blocks of rock carved next to the wall), meticulous windows and fire pits. Even more amazing, as we climbed deeper into the caves, the heat that forced Mom and I to hide under sun hats (comfort > fashion), disappeared. My favorite part, though, was a tree that the Anasazi used for cooking: it smelled exactly like vanilla! 

After a few hours of exploring, heat and hunger drove us back into the car and toward a nearby Red Robin. Despite the pack of parked cars surrounding the restaurant, we were quickly seated at a corner booth. Like usual, I spelled out my celiac autobiography to the waitress, who directed me to the gluten free menu via the Red Robin app. I also confirmed that there was a dedicated fryer for the steak fries since this can vary by location.

In the end, I ended up ordering a turkey burger with lettuce on their gluten free bun with steak fries. When our food arrived only a short time later, all of our jaws dropped at the size. My first bite of my turkey burger skyrocketed me to heaven. It tasted light and juicy, but charred on the edges. The bun surprised me the most by being fluffy, solid enough to not fall apart and perfectly crisp. As for the steak fries, I never wanted them to end – and, at Red Robins, this “bottomless” side never does! Although Red Robins appear in several states, the one in Colorado Springs proved especially celiac-safe and delicious.

3. Starsmore Park and Coquette’s Bistro

For a low-key (but beautiful) hike free from the tourist crowd, lace-up your sneakers and head to Starsmore Park. Featuring many different trails to run, hike or bike, Starsmore Park also includes a lake – often enjoyed by plenty of dogs (no human swimmers allowed). If you’re feeling extremely adventurous, you can try to take a shortcut like my dad and I did...climb up the mountainside...and end of discovering a car graveyard underneath a roadside cliff. I suggest, however, that you instead stick to main trail and enjoy the plentiful waterfalls, rock formations and huge trees! If you need a gorgeous new Facebook photo, this is your backdrop!

As for food, I saved the best for last: if you are ever in Colorado Springs, you need to go to Coquette’s Bistro – whether you eat gluten free or not! Located in Downtown Colorado Springs, Coquette’s is an entirely gluten free bistro, bar and bakery that offers anything from fried chicken and waffles to savory crepes to their infamous cheesecake. 

Despite being overwhelmed by the choices, my family and I decided on the BBQ bacon burger, cider battered fish n’ chips, and chicken pot pie served with a side salad and truffle fries. When our dishes arrived thirty minutes later, I was literally in shock. I couldn’t believe I could safely eat everything – even the croutons in my salad – and my family couldn’t believe how delicious everything tasted. As for dessert, we ordered several cupcakes, cookies and slices of cake to-go. Our favorites? The flaky and soft chocolate chip cookie and (huge) slice of moist carrot cake with tangy cream cheese icing. A post-hike feast never tasted so good!

Although I’ve been living in California for four years now, this girl is ready to become an official “Coloradan.” If you’re craving a breath of fresh air – or a bite of delicious, gluten free food – Colorado Springs is the perfect town to stop by...or stay awhile!

Author Bio: 
Casey Cromwell is the blogger behind “Casey the College Celiac”. She began her blog a few weeks after being diagnosed with celiac disease and now uses it to share her experiences as a gluten free girl in college. Her blog features personal stories, gluten free (and often vegan) recipes, restaurant reviews, college tips and everything in between! You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter (collegeceliackc) and Pinterest and Facebook (Casey the College Celiac). 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Life Lately

You may have noticed us missing from the blog lately.  You may have also noticed that the Virtual Tour suddenly took an unexpected pit stop. We're okay and the tour is still happening. Life just through us a few unexpected roadblocks recently that moved things around on the to do list.

We've known for quite some time that we're supposed to be moving this summer, but we weren't sure of exactly where or when. Two weeks ago, we finally got confirmation of when and where and life suddenly went into hyper drive. We'll be moving to Port Huron, MI (which you may have seen on our Instagram). We'll be leaving California on July 6 or 7 (yes, that's a little over a week away).

Finally knowing details made us excited, but it also added quite a few things to our to do list (I'll share our moving to do list in a future post). I wasn't as far ahead on Virtual Tour posts as I wanted to be, so things on the blog slowed down considerably. While there's still things to be done for the move, most of the major decisions have been made. This means we'll be able to focus on scheduling posts for the tour this week! We have several waiting in our inbox ready to be shared!

There were a few states left unfilled on our tour schedule. Originally I was going to compensate by researching these states and sharing my research, but that just won't do them justice. So, instead, I'm making two minor changes to the tour.

1. Posts won't be going up in a specific order anymore. We'll be sharing the ones we have first and then as more come in, we'll share them as well. We'll be making a page here on the blog that will work as a tour directory. You'll be able to see all of the state posts easily on this page. There will be a new post every weekday this summer.

2. We're extending the Virtual Tour beyond the summer. We'll be accepting posts about different states throughout the year. You can contact for details about submitting posts. Posts will go up on an agreed upon date and then all state posts (including ours) will be listed on the Virtual Tour directory.

There's been a few other surprises this month that we can't mention quite yet, but I wanted to give you a heads up about our sudden pit stop. We hope you'll check back tomorrow to see which state we're featuring next!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Things to do in Las Vegas

When people think of Las Vegas, their immediate thoughts are the Las Vegas strip, partying, and how great it is that your vacations are paying our state tax. Well okay, you probably aren't thinking about paying our state tax- but you are!
But seriously, Las Vegas is likely one of the first places in the state-side you'd think to go for a party weekend. And for good reason. Vegas is notorious for its cheap and easy reputation, but did you know that this desert oasis is home to over 2 million people? And a good chunk of us rarely make it to the strip, other than to oblige the visiting friend or family member. So what do we do here then? Let me break it down for you from a local's perspective.

Best Place to Party: While tourists flock to the strip, locals know Fremont St. is the best place to head if we want to party. Sure the hotels and attractions pull in some tourists, but with so many things to do in Downtown Las Vegas you're less likely to run into the annoying crowds that hang out on the Strip. Plus Fremont is home to some new and awesome attractions as the younger generation moves in to clean up and renovate the neighborhood into a trendier place to hang out. You can hit the container park, check out a record store (our fav!), and then head up the street just in time for the party.

Best Place to Cool Off: We know the hotel pools rock. But in the summer they're jammed with boozy out-of-towners looking for fun. Local's hit either Wet and Wild or Cowabunga Bay for a day of fun. I should also add that most of us have our own pools. A coping mechanism for the 115 degree weather from May-October. 

Best Ways to Eat: (bold title please!) Let me tell you a secret: we love to eat! We have some of the best food here too from In n Out to the crazy delicious restaurants on the Strip. But us local's all know two things: 1) local casinos have the best buffets and 2) local casinos have the best breakfasts. Yep! Vegas local's love to hit up our local neighborhood casinos for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! And here in our 24 hour town, you can even stop by for midnight breakfasts! Yum!

Best Quick Trip Out of Town: In most states there are little towns scattered not too far from the main city. Unfortunately in Nevada our biggest cities are not only 500 miles apart but in different climates! That's right, the distance from Reno to Vegas in over 500 miles. But local's know another fun escape when we want to get out of town and explore. Just outside of Henderson, south of Las Vegas Blvd, we have Boulder City. BC is a quaint little town that was founded with the building of the Hoover Dam. It's home to fun places like Pit Stop for burgers, A&W where you can get a glass of root beer "on tap" and a ton of cute little antique shops. 

Best Places to Live: I don't know why we get asked this so often, but the majority of your "typical families" live at least 15 minutes from the Strip. We live in either Henderson (a small city that's basically blended into the Vegas area) , Green Valley (a suburb in Henderson), Boulder City, North Las Vegas, or Summerlin. Nobody lives down by the Strip. Nobody wants to live down there! We're content in our nice stucco homes with a view of the city, and we wouldn't have it any other way. 

Las Vegas is one of the most unique places in the world. It's home to both some of the most interesting people, and some of the most normal. We love to have a good time, and we love when tourists enjoy our city! We hope to see you soon here in the fabulous Las Vegas.

About the Author

Morgan is a 20 year old wanna-be 4th grade teacher,  a leggings as pants advocate, a Friends enthusiast, and a lover of God. She loves country music, Dr. Pepper, and Bath & Body Works candles. You can find her blogging at Blessed Messes. You can also follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Things to Love in Idaho

Hi, my name is Sarah! I grew up in the Appalachians – a city called Bristol on the border of Tennessee and Virginia, a place known for country music, sweet tea, and homecookin’. My husband, Zac, grew up in Seattle – surrounded by the beauty of the Olympics and Cascades, the Puget Sound, and amidst a plethora of cultures.

I was almost 4 months pregnant when we arrived in Idaho and, even a week before my husband and I made the decision to move, the state was not even a blip on my radar. What I knew of Idaho consisted of potatoes and football yet, somehow, in the blink of an eye we had decided to leave our home in the Pacific Northwest and start our family in Boise. But that’s another story.

- - -

Our love affair with Idaho didn’t start out very promising. Like most transplants, finding yourself in a new place is always an adjustment – and I’d be lying if I said we didn’t kick and scream a bit. It was the most landlocked place either of us had ever lived and appeared much more conservative and “small-town” than we were used to.

We have been living in the capital city of Boise for a year and a half now and are considering buying a home here within the next year. So why the complete 180?

Here’s a few of the reasons why we’ve come to love Boise, Idaho:
  • The cost of living is considerably less expensive than many of the other cities we love. (4% lower than the national average and 20% lower than my husband’s hometown of Seattle.) 
  • It’s small, but it’s not THAT small. Boise has the conveniences of a big city without the traffic jams and long airport lines. 
  • It’s incredibly family friendly. With tons of festivals, indoor play areas, a greenbelt, dozens of parks, and even a zoo that boasts $4.50 Thursday admission, we never run out of things to do with our son. 
  • The climate is amazing! Winter is mild – for the most part. Fall and spring exist and summers are long, but not too hot. 

Are you considering visiting Idaho? Some things you might want to check out include:
  • A daytrip to Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls or Mesa Falls in Ashton 
  • Hiking in Craters of the Moon National Monument in Arco 
  • Camping at Redfish Lake in Stanley with stunning views of the Sawtooth Mountains 
  • Skiing in Sun Valley or right here in Boise at Bogus Basin 
  • Floating the Boise River or whitewater rafting on the Payette Biking the Hiawatha mountain bike trail 
  • Visiting Silverwood Amusement Park and Coeur d’Alene Lake 

…And in Boise? Here’s what we would suggest:
1. Eat your potatoes. Can you really come to the potato state and not try them? Boise Fry Company has our favorite selection of potatoes in town in fry form! Grab a bison burger (as a side) and a local brew and you’ll finally understand what all the fuss is about. The downtown location even has a lending library and kids’ storytime.

2. Ride a hot air balloon at the Boise Balloon Classic. If you’re coming to Boise, the Classic is something you cannot miss. Usually occurring at the end of August or early September, this 5 day event boasts dozens of hot air balloons from all over the country and features a family day and “night glow” event. And it’s free!

3. Catch a Table Rock Sunset. The views of the Treasure Valley and downtown area from Table Rock are simply stunning. Not up for the hike? Feel free to drive the top!

4. Spend a Tuesday night at the Village in Meridian. Movies are $5 at their state-of-the-art theater and the 21+ balcony seats offer in-theater dining (and drinks). Shops and restaurants in the Village also offer deals on Tuesday nights.

5. Explore Hyde Park. Grab a cup of coffee on 13th Street and spend your afternoon exploring the shops, restaurants, and quaint streets of this Boise neighborhood. If you’re up for a challenge, take your coffee to the top of Camel’s Back Park for a great view.

Honestly, there are just too many great things about our city. For a bigger list our family’s favorite things to see and do in Boise, check out my post here.
Happy Travels,
Sarah Warren

About the Author

Sarah, author of, is a bartender, runner, cancer survivor, and adventure lover. Wanderlust runs in her veins. She has been traveling the US her entire life and has been moving around the country for the past six years meeting new people, sharing stories, and finding some truly beautiful places along the way. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Zac, and their one-year-old son, Miles. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.