How Memories Are Made: Family Travel Through Nicaragua and Costa Rica

“There is a great hotel in San Jose!”, was my son’s response to our friend’s request for suggestions of what to do in Costa Rica.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.04.27 PM

For almost three weeks we traveled throughout Nicaragua and Costa Rica – all eight of us – two families traveling together. We intended to have an adventure so we spent our days on volcanoes, zipping through the jungle canopy of Costa Rica, surfing in San Juan del Sur, hiking through the heat and humidity of a remote volcanic island, and riding horses. It was all adventure, but not all of it as positive as others; during the course of the trip the kids’  backpacks had been stollen and the kids managed to puke all over at least two hotels. It was an amazing [multi] family adventure! It really was. Honest.

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.44.33 PM

San Jose Marriott

When I think back on our trip I remember watching the sun set on the Pacific Ocean while drinking smoothies along the coast in Nicaragua, my husband remembers “Tyler’s Place” where we stayed to surf and explore Nicaragua. BUT if you ask my kids they will tell you that there is a great Marriott in San Jose!

They did just that the other day. We have friends who scored last minute United Airlines mileage tickets to Costa Rica and knowing we had been there, asked for recommendations. I offered up mine in a detailed email. In the soccer carpool this friend asked my son this question and he offered what was most vivid in his mind – The Costa Rica Marriott Hotel in San Jose. This friend sent me an email to confirm this was his response. We both laughed. Then I started thinking about how it could possibly be that my son’s best memory of our extended family trip was of a hotel?

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 9.34.27 PM

The white sheets!

Until the other day I hadn’t thought about the moment when we got to San Jose, after a long drive and our stollen backpack fiasco, for a long time. It reminded me that you cannot always predict what memories will be indelibly etched in your children’s minds. What will make the biggest impact. You just never know! In this case I believe it was the contrast of the relatively rustic way we traveled for close to three weeks, the stollen backpacks, being sick, then the safety of this simply luxurious hotel.

When we walked into the hotel it felt cloistered. It felt safe. It felt welcoming. The sheets were so white. The beds so tall. The restaurant had the most amazing buffet any of us had ever seen. They prepared anything the kids requested. My kids noticed ALL these details. All of them. We had not left Costa Rica but the Marriott made us feel like we had been swept up into the best of all worlds – local culture and amenities galore. This experience is indelibly woven into the fabric of my children’s beings. They may forget the other amazing things we did on our trip, but they will not forget this simple luxury.

Kids, Museums, and Trying Something New

Exploring all around the Smithsonian Museums

Okay, I am not a big museum fan. Usually I head in, spend the requisite hour or so and then I am out again. Not these past few days! My kids and I have been in Washington, DC and we have hit the Smithsonian Museums hard. I am impressed with how much resilience they have [they are 8 & 10]. We have hit the Air and Space Museum, American Indian Museum [lunch], Natural History Museum, and the American History Museum all in ONE day. Then today we went to the museum where they have the Discovery space shuttle and so much about aviation history including every type of plane imaginable and flight simulators [my kids did them twice and would have stayed on forever!] It was magical! I cannot believe how amped up we ALL feel planning for, during, and after exploring something new!So in Boulder we don’t have the Smithsonian, but here are some ideas of a few places to go to stretch your kiddo’s [and our] minds:

Don’t forget to watch for FREE DAYS at the Denver Art Museum, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Children’s Museum. I list them each week as they arise. Also, a great hint for keeping the kids engaged during  a visit to an art museum is to stop by the gift shop FIRST & let your kids each pick out a postcard of a piece of art that they like. Then engage them in finding that piece of art. Could work for other types of museums too. Go. Explore. Don’t worry how far you have to drive. Get out there. Have fun!