Texas Girls Trip

In the beginning of the year, I sat down and came up with a list of 19 things I wanted to do in 2019. I got this idea from the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. Last month, I got to check ‘girls trip to Dallas’ off my list. My mom, sister, and I took a weekend away to visit old friends, indulge in a little pampering, and take a day-trip to Waco to shop at Magnolia Market.

Girls weekend to Dallas, Texas

I decided to drive to Dallas from my home in Fayetteville, Arkansas which took about 5 hours. During the drive, I appreciated the rare alone time and listened to an audio book. The hours passed by quickly, and soon I was at the airport to pick up my mom and sister who flew in from Kansas City. This was my first time driving to the airport in Dallas, so figuring out the airport toll and which terminal to go to, was the most stressful part of the journey. Luckily, I arrived at the right place at the right time.

harbor district in rockwall, texas

We chose to stay at a hotel close to our friend’s home in Rockwall, Texas which is 25 miles away from Dallas. Our room had views of Lake Ray Hubbard – one of the largest lakes in north Texas. We also enjoyed the hotel’s proximity to restaurants along the Harbor.

Harbor District on Lake Ray Hubbard in Rockwall, Texas

Enjoying authentic Tex-Mex was a priority item on my Texas to-do list, so we ate a late lunch at Gloria’s Restaurant at the Harbor. We also went to Hollywood Nails & Spa to get a pedicure. It was nice to get pampered! We headed back to our room to freshen up before meeting our friends at their lovely home.

road trip to Waco, texas

Visiting Waco on a Saturday in September, we knew we had to get an early start to arrive before the Magnolia attractions got too crowded. We ate breakfast at our hotel and drove nearly 2 hours to Waco. The time went quickly as we chatted.

When we arrived in Waco, we found off-street parking a couple blocks away from the Magnolia Silos. On the walk there, we stopped in fun decor shops called The Findery and the Findery Marketplace.

Shopping in Waco, Texas

magnolia market

Once inside the Magnolia Market, it was difficult to decide what to look at first. How does Joanna Gaines design spaces that feel both crisp and cozy at the same time? I guess that is why so many people (including me) are drawn to visit the HGTV designer’s shops. Besides taking time to smell every type of scented candle, my favorite section was their beautiful garden. I’m inspired to plant daisies, lavender, and roses!

Magnolia Market & Silos in Waco, Texas
I love the sweet combination of Blackfoot Daisy and Fernleaf Lavender found in the Magnolia Garden.

Waxahachie, Texas

After a delightful morning in Waco, we headed back towards our hotel. On the way, we stopped for a late lunch in a quaint town called Waxahachie. On the town square we decided to try Farmluck. I wish we would have come with larger appetites. The ice cream desserts served from their old-fashioned soda fountain looked absolutely amazing. There is a vintage candy store in the back where I purchased kid-sized aprons for my two little girls.

Waxahachie, Texas

downtown rockwall, texas

Once back in Rockwall, we took some time to relax and change clothes before heading out to dinner with our friends in downtown Rockwall. We enjoyed eating at Zanata where we shared a flavorful house salad and a ‘Spiked Happy Hour’ pizza cooked on their wood burning oven. Downtown Rockwall was bustling with live music and families taking pictures of their kids all dressed up for homecoming.

Wine on the patio

We ended our girls weekend with a final stroll around the Harbor and a glass of wine at a restaurant that had an outdoor patio. Great food, nice views, fun pedicures, amazing shopping, a little wine, and the best companions made our Texas trip a perfect girls weekend.

the best of texas

I hope you enjoyed reading about our girls trip to Texas. From Dallas to Austin and San Antonio – there are a lot of big destinations to choose from when planning a trip to the Lone Star State. The smaller city of Rockwall surprised us with its charm and walkability. We fit in a lot to our weekend getaway, but I know there is more to experience in Texas. I’m excited to go back.

Eldora Ski Weekend

This week Estes Park, Colorado had its first snow of the season. Which means it’s time to start planning our winter trip(s) out to Colorado. There are a lot of fun things to do in Estes Park during the colder winter months. We’ve written about sledding, snow shoeing, winter hiking and shopping in downtown Estes Park.

For all that Estes Park has to offer, it does not have a traditional ski resort. However, there are day-trip destinations close by including Eldora which is located in Nederland, Colorado. Nederland is located an hour from Denver, an hour from Estes Park, and 35 minutes from Boulder, Colorado. There is a bus service from downtown Boulder to Eldora.

Ski lift at Eldora

Eldora is smaller in size compared to other popular skiing destinations in Colorado. We didn’t grow up going skiing, so we appreciate that there are slopes available for different skill levels. Lessons are offered for adults and children starting at age 4.

Eldora is scheduled to open for the season on November 15, 2019. You can find more information about ticket prices online at eldora.com.

My husband has enjoyed a couple winter ‘guy trips’ to Eldora and Estes Park. He helped me put together a sample itinerary based on his trips.

Itinerary for Estes Park and Eldora Winter Adventure Weekend

Winter Hike Rocky Mountain National Park

Thursday: Fly into Denver International Airport in the evening and rent car. Drive to Estes Park to stay in cabin. Stop by grocery store on the way into town to stock up on essentials.

Friday: Wake up and eat breakfast at the cabin before heading to Eldora for a day of skiing. Try to leave before 8am to beat the crowd. Parking is limited. Some in the group can take ski lessons, others might choose to immediately hit the slopes. After a full morning of skiing, take a break by eating lunch at one of Eldora’s restaurants.

Get in a couple more runs. After leaving Eldora, stop by Very Nice Brewing Company in Nederland, CO for a pint of beer. (Thank sober driver by promising to pick up his dinner tab.) Drive back to Estes Park and grab take-out pizza at Antonio’s Pizza, Poppy’s Pizza, or Sweet Basilico.

Saturday: Wake up and go to breakfast at Notchtop Café. Head to The Warming House which opens at 9am to rent gear such as snowshoes and hiking poles. Head into Rocky Mountain National Park to snowshoe or hike (depending on weather and trail conditions). It’s important to talk to national park rangers to check on conditions before heading out in the winter. Two hikes you can ask about are Bierstadt Lake and Mills Lake.

Frozen Mills Lake

After hiking, warm up at a local brewery. We enjoy Rockcut where you can play games in their laid back tasting room. Walk to nearby Café de Pho Thai for late lunch.

Downtown Estes Park has some great places to shop for a souvenir for kids or significant others. Trendz boutique and Mary Janes have a lot of great gift options.

Return to cabin to barbecue or make some chili. Stay up late playing ‘nerdy’ board games.

Sunday: Head back towards Denver. If there is time, stop at Snooze for brunch before dropping off the rental car and taking off at the airport.

Book Lovers Guide to Estes Park, Colorado

Reading is one of my favorite things to do on vacation. It’s a treat to dive into one of the books from my always growing to-be-read list. I’m excited to share some of my favorite book stores in Estes Park, Colorado and suggestions for ideal spots to sit back and enjoy a good book.

MacDonald Bookshop in Estes Park, Colorado

cliffhanger used books

I’m pretty obsessed with Cliffhanger Used Books. Shopping here feels like a treasure hunt for great books at bargain prices. This shop is run by volunteers and proceeds go to the Estes Valley Library Services. You can follow the store on facebook.

Reading Spot: Baldwin park

Baldwin Park is a quiet space located right by the Big Thompson River. When you step out of Cliffhanger Used Books, walk south towards Ivy Street. You will find several park benches and a playground.

macdonald bookshop

Macdonald Bookshop is family owned. They have been serving the Estes Park community with great literature for 90 years. The staff is welcoming and helpful with book suggestions. This is a good place to go if you are looking for regional material. They also have kids books and best sellers. If you are looking for a thoughtful souvenir, this is a great place to go.

Inkwell & Brew

Located behind MacDonald Bookshop, step into Inkwell & Brew where you can order a cup of coffee and shop for a new journal or the perfect fountain pen. I’m confident you will leave inspired to write, whether it’s your next novel or simply a hand-written note to a friend.

Reading Spot: George Hix Riverside Plaza

George Hix Riverside Plaza has flowers, benches, art, and a peaceful river running through. It is lined with restaurants and shops (including Inkwell & Brew). Don’t miss the new sensory garden.

The little free library

The Little Free Library is a community project led locally by the Estes Valley Library. There is a Little Free Library at the Glacier Basin Campground meant to serve the summer guests of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Reading spot: picnic spots in Rocky MOuntain National Park

I recently wrote a post about our favorite picnic spots in Rocky Mountain National Park. All of the places we mentioned would be wonderful spots to read a couple chapters. You could also bring a few children’s books along to read out in nature with your kids. Some of our favorite outdoor themed books include:

  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • Brown Bear Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr./Eric Carle
  • The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland
  • Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle

New! I tried to gather my suggestions for you on Google Maps as a resource for finding my book loving spots in Estes Park. If you have any additional suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Bentonville Bike Playground

Biking northwest arkansas

We moved to Northwest Arkansas last winter. One of the things we’ve enjoyed most about the move is taking advantage of the vast bike trail system in our new home state. My husband and I have been going on frequent ‘Bike and Brewery‘ dates on the Razorback Greenway. We’ve also enjoyed watching our girls gain confidence in riding their bikes by practicing around our neighborhood and on trails like the loop around Lake Atalanta in Rodgers. Our latest biking adventure was trying out the Bike Playground in Bentonville.

bentonville bike playground

The Bentonville Bike Playground is located off of the North Bentonville Trail (right by the Bark Park) in Bentonville, Arkansas.

North Bentonville Trail

I was curious if the playground would be age-appropriate for my girls who are 2.5 and approaching 5-years-old.

Bentonville Bike Playground

We found that the new surfaces like wooden bridges, tunnels, and dirt provided a fun challenge for them.

In the middle of the playground there is a concrete course that was too difficult, so we staid on the outside track. The playground looked similar to other bike parks I’ve seen, everything is just mini-sized for young riders.

Family friendly biking destination in Bentonville Arkansas

My younger daughter rides a balance bike. She was able to ride through several of the obstacles without much assistance.

Bentonville Bike Playground

My older daughter was determined to practice every ramp and slope. She had a couple of tough falls, but she landed in the grass and kept trying.

Bentonville Parks and Recreation Bike Playground

Despite a few crashes, my daughters told me that they want to go back soon. We left the park grassy, muddy, and smiling.

Bentonville Bike Playground

I appreciate that the Bike Playground has amenities like picnic tables, park benches, a bicycle repair station, abundant parking, and restrooms nearby.

Bentonville Bike Playground

The city of Bentonville offers a ton of great parks and bike riding trails to explore. Here is a map.

We made a fun little video with more pictures that you can watch here.