Family Travel to Sayulita, Mexico: A Pueblo Magico for Families!?!?

img_4021We wanted to get out of town – last minute! There was no snow in the mountains and my kids were about to be out of school for 2 1/2 weeks. What to do? Where to go? I started researching about three weeks out. I was sure it was possible to get away with our family of four using miles for travel and points for staying in an Airbnb, but not simple. I did a lot of research and finally landed on flying into Puerto Vallarta [PVR]. My whole family had spent time in Sayulita, Mexico over the years and it seemed like an easy trip that ticked off a lot of the most important travel points for my family:

  1. Travel mainly on miles/points
  2. Surf/beach/warm
  3. Easy non-stop travel

img_3948Having spent a lot of time in Mexico and Central America we knew we could make a quick trip to Sayulita and all get our needs met. Not a tough decision for my family!

Getting There

We flew to Puerto Vallarta on United for 17.5k points and back on Southwest for 9k points [per person]. We got cash in the airport [don’t forget to let your bank know you are traveling] from our ATM card [I recommend using your ATM as they give the best exchange rates]. We actually forgot to tell our bank and we ended up having to call our bank from the airport to get our account unfrozen – just plan ahead and it’s not a problem! We got the kids some snacks and drinks in the airport since we were about to take a cab for at least 45 minutes. We then easily caught a cab right outside the airport for $50 to Sayulita. Super easy! Most hosts can arrange a pick up at the PVR airport – but it will cost a little more.

Sayulita, Mexico

This amazing town has been designated as a Pueblo Magico by the Mexican Government.  It is an easy, non-stop flight from the USA and only 45 minutes from Puerto Vallarta. It is also a laid back, sweet spot, that offers lots of real Mexico with a lot of the comforts and ease you might expect from a tourist spot.

img_4039The town in small enough that you can stay almost anywhere and be in easy walking distance to the beach. Be aware that there are a lot of places to stay up steep hills just outside of town – okay for adults and teens, but tough on little ones. This time my family really enjoyed staying a little out of town – we stayed on the north end of town, right on the beach, and loved the peace and quiet. It was a flat 5 minute walk into town along the beach or roads just behind our Airbnb. Certainly there was still more than enough going on to keep us entertained – beach, pool, ceviche on the beach, great food, massages, surfing, etc… I did notice that a lot of Gringos rented golf carts – but I like to get my family walking.

img_3965Food: Sayulita has great food options! Check out garlic shrimp on the beach at any of the restaurants, fresh fish at Don Pedros [we indulged and eat at the fanciest Sayulita dining establishment and it was still under $20 for each of us including a delicious swordfish meal, drinks, etc…], and delicious food at almost any turn. Try Choco-Banana for yummy breakfast and deserts. Eat street tacos at Ivan’s in the evening. Tacos at Naty’s during the day is always a great, very inexpensive, meal. Indulge in churros on the street in the evening. The food scene is a feast for your bellies and eyes – kids love it! 

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography www.mariahtauger.com

Photo courtesy of Mariah Tauger Photography http://www.mariahtauger.com

Surf: You can rent surf boards of all varieties right on the beach. Look up and down the beach for the best options – prices and quality varied. You can also arrange lessons at many surf shops along the streets right off the beach or at the tents on the beach. One surf school option is Lunazul. The surf was very calm in December, but it can get big!

img_3943Beach: The beach runs along the crescent shaped bay that is Sayulita. It is beautiful, but the sand is a bit rough. In places the beach drops off steeply into the ocean. It’s okay for adults, but overhead for many kids and even teens. You will see people swimming, surfing and paddle boarding all day and into the evening. There is also a riptide that my own child has been saved from by a life guard on this very beach, so be aware. They do have life guards – a lot of beaches don’t! 

Housing: I love using Airbnb for housing – especially in small towns where I cannot use points or when I want a more local experience. Our options were limited because we were booking over the Christmas Break and we booked so last minute. But there were plenty of options on Airbnb. Also try VRBO and SayulitaLife for booking housing and all things Sayulita. With kids I always look for a pool in addition to the ocean since the surf can be exhausting to kids and sometimes it’s nice to get a break. It’s also nice to have air-conditioning in the bedrooms [even in December, but during warmer weather I think it’s essential!]. We booked with Airbnb for under $190/night, last minute, in high season and this included a pool and was steps from the beach. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but it had everything we needed! 

img_4018There are a few different options for housing in Sayulita:

  • In-town – convenient, but noisy and often cramped
  • North of town – quieter, 5+ minute walk to town [can easily rent a golf cart for young kids or grandparents]
  • Gringo Hill [or neighborhoods off the river] – these can be beautiful views, but a long walk, and very steep [double check this option for kids and grandparents]
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The Ally Cat

Explore: 

  • Take a quick trip to Punta Mita which offers beginner surf breaks that are long, long, long.
  • Sail to the Marietta Islands with the Ally Cat Sailing Adventures. This was a super fun, all day excursion that included lots of sailing, food, drinks, whale watching, snorkeling, paddle boarding, jumping from the ship into the ocean below.
  • Take a hike to Playa de Los Muertos – this is a hidden beach within walking distance to Sayulita even with kids. Walk out of town along the road that parallels the beach past Villa Amor. Head up over the hill past the cemetery on your left and down to a secluded beach – sometimes it doesn’t feel so secluded, but it’s certainly more private than the Sayulita beach.

The Good

  • Easy, direct flights to PVR and simple to transfer to Sayulita
  • Good food and easy to find
  • Reasonably priced – the flights, housing, and especially food!
  • The North side of Sayulita – we loved it! Good food, quiet beaches, peaceful evenings, etc…
  • It’s easy to get around without a lot of Spanish language skills. I also see this as a negative for those of us who want to practice our Spanish.

The Bad

  • It was packed! So many, many tourists. I would say you can expect an equal number gringos and Mexican tourists in December. The summers are relatively empty there, but humid.
  • The beach is okay, but it is so crowded that there are literally umbrellas touching one another for 100s of yards, and stacked 6 deep, in the main part of town
  • You have to say, “No, gracias” so many times when you are near the beach because so many people are walking around selling their wares.
  • Too easy to speak English in this town that is used to tourists.

 

I have a sweet spot in my heart for Sayulita, Mexico. I do agree that it is a Pueblo Magico!

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BVSD Open Enrollment Deadline Is Almost Here

Open Enrollment. These two words bring strong emotions to the parents of Boulder. For some who chose to enroll their kids in their neighborhood school, open enrollment in the Boulder Valley School District [BVSD] is not a big deal. Phew! For the 40% of Boulder families who do open enroll our children it can be stressful.

So what is open enrollment in BVSD? Any child can go to any school based on availability by entering their child into the lottery system called, Open Enrollment. All families in BVSD can look at all schools to see which one seems to meet their child[ren]’s needs best. There are many choices [charter schools, focus schools, and neighborhood schools] and each has it’s benefits and drawbacks. But ultimately many Boulderites choose to open enroll their children in an attempt to try and find the best fit. For more details on open enrollment click here.

BVSD Open Enrollment Dates:

November 7, 2016 through January 9, 2017

Finding the BVSD school that is the right fit – School Tours:

All BVSD schools offer school tours during the open enrollment process. To tour a school you need to go during their scheduled school tours. To find open enrollment school tours dates/times – BVSD Open Enrollment Tours

There are two main types of BVSD schools:

Neighborhood Schools: These are the schools that are designated for your neighborhood. Your child can always get into these schools if you live within the boundaries. You DO NOT need to open enroll to these schools if you are in the neighborhood, but you CAN if you want your child to go to the school, but you are NOT in the designated boundary.

Focus/Charter Schools: These are open enrollment schools that serve ALL of BVSD. There are NO designated neighborhood boundaries for Focus and Charter schools. You MUST open enroll to these schools. 

To help you visualize the open enrollment process here is the BVDS open enrollment flow chart [the one they have up is from last year, so the dates are incorrect, but the content is good otherwise]:

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Preschools: For Boulder Families with younger children there are a few schools that have open enrollment options for preschool, such as Community Montessori. For these schools, open enrolling at preschool age is the best way to secure a slot for your child. So even if your child is too young for elementary schools, taking a look at the open enrollment process can be really helpful.

Other Open Enrollment Considerations: Likewise, the award winning Peak to Peak Charter School has open enrollment policies that favor those who have applied many times. They are all a bit different, so it is best to do your research!

Open enrollment happens for a limited time. You MUST apply to open enroll your child by January 9, 2017 to get into the lottery. To get an open enrollment application head to the BVSD website. Good luck to everyone open enrolling a child this year!

I am always happy to answer questions from my personal experience with kids in #BVSD and the Open Enrollment process. Email me at amanda@boulderfamilies.com

Free [or practically free] Skiing/Snowboarding in Colorado for ALL 5th and 6th Graders

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Skiing/Snowboarding Is Free [or almost free] in Colorado! Calling all 5th and 6th graders – you can ski 60+ days this winter for free [or close to free] at 20 Colorado resorts! If you are thinking of skiing/snowboarding in Colorado AND you have a 5th or 6th grader, you are in luck!

The Colorado Passport program is for you – even if you don’t live in Colorado. Live in Massachusetts and want to ski/board in Colorado – your 5th grader skis free. Live in California and you want to ski/board in Colorado – your 6th grader skis almost free. As long as you can prove your child is a 5th or 6th grader they qualify for the 5th & 6th Grade Passport Program! 

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Here is how the 5th & 6th Grade Colorado Passport Program works:

5th GRADE PASSPORT

  1. Register your 5th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Ski up to 60 days. That’s right your 5th grader can ski 3 times at all of 20 resorts including: Winter Park, Copper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]!

6th GRADE PASSPORT

  1. Register your 6th grader at Colorado Passport for their pass. You need a photo and proof of grade that you can upload. They will mail you the pass once approved. You DON’T need to be a Colorado resident.
  2. Register by November 30, 2016 and pay $105 to ski 80 days. That’s right, your 6th grader can ski 4 times at all of the 20 resorts including: Winter ParkCopper Mountain, A Basin, Aspen, Eldora, Crested Butte, Loveland, Snowmass, and more [see below for full list]! You can still register through January 31, 2017, but the cost goes up to $125. This is still a screaming deal if your child qualifies!

PARENTS/ADULTS/KIDS [Not 5th & 6th graders]

The best way to get a deal on skiing in Colorado [if you aren’t a 5th or 6th grader] is to purchase a pass at any of the mountains at which you plan to ski. People in Colorado know, it makes sense to get a pass. The walk up prices at some of our amazing mountains can easily be over $150/day. I am not kidding! Here are some ideas of passes that might work in conjunction with the Colorado Passport:

Aspen/Snowmass/Buttermilk: Get a Classic Pass which give you 4-7 days at a serious discount with no blackouts from $199+

Winterpark: Get a Season Pass ahead of time for $429/adults and $249/kids. This also gives you 10 family/friend passes at $69 – $89/day, so maybe you just buy one pass and use the benefits to purchase cheap tickets for other adults skiing with you.

Copper Mountain: Try a Copper 4 Pack for $169/kids & adults. It’s a deal!

PASSPORT PROGRAM MOUNTAINS

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-10-40-38-amNeed more ideas for how to get your family skiing in Colorado for cheap? Give me a shout – I’m happy to help! -Amanda

Colorado Elementary School Kids: Get 16 free days of skiing at Vail Mountains with their Epic School Kids program

#Skiing #Free #Kids #Families #Colorado #Winter #Snowboarding

Family-Friendly Halloween Events – In and Around Boulder

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Halloween is around the corner! Can’t wait? Don’t know what kids do on Halloween around Boulder? Take a look at what’s brewing…

  • Munchkin Masquerade: Head to the Pearl Street Mall for safe & fun trick or treating! Each year, Downtown Boulder is invaded by thousands of tiny ghosts & goblins, dinosaurs & dragons, fairies & princes, super heroes and animals of every size trick-or-treating along Pearl Street.  Recommended for children ages 12 and under. More info here
  • Halloween Journey: Truly a magical, one-of-a-kind, halloween experience for kids! The Boulder Valley Waldorf School campus is transformed into a magical world through which children and parents may travel. The individual presentations touch hearts with messages of wisdom and humor, and images of light that will live on through the cold and dark season of the year. This enchanting experience is lovely alternative to the popular and often gory Halloween experience of modern culture. Purchase tickets ahead of time – they sell out! More info here
  • Longmont Halloween Parade and Trick or Treat Street: Fun parade for all ages! Dress up in your Halloween Costume, march on Main Street and visit Downtown participating merchants for Trick or Treat Street immediately following the parade. Kids of all ages can be a part of this costume foot parade. No registration is required!  Strollers or wagons are recommended for tiny feet. Dogs must be leashed. 9:30 am Line-up in front of the St. Vrain Memorial Building, 700 Longs Peak Ave. 10:00 am Foot Parade Start!  Come in costume! More info here
  • Louisville’s Monster Dash: A kids fun run, 5k and 10k
    Come enjoy 2 fast, trail courses out on the Coal Creek Trails of Louisville. The 5k Fun Run will have just a 175 foot elevation gain out East on the trail, and the 10k Trail Race will head West on the trail through 3 parks, a small pond and some single-track…..look out for the Witches. More info here
  • Louisville Halloween Festival and Trick-or-Treat: Trick or treating & activities for the whole family! The 6th Annual Halloween Festival will feature over 25 vendors, arts and crafts, pumpkin painting, Witch “Crafts” and games inside the Pinball Shoppe. Post event activities will include BBQ Hot Dogs, costume contests and post Party at Pinball Shoppe. Kids Trick-or-Treating is in Old Town from 5pm-6pm with more stores providing activities and treats this year. More info here

What else is out there for kids and families on Halloween? Where are you going? What are you doing? Let me know and I’ll make sure to help get the word out about all the great family-friendly Halloween events around town.

ALL Colorado K-5th Grade Kids Get 16 days of FREE Skiing! Find out how…

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Elementary kids in Colorado – It’s your lucky day! Colorado elementary school kids don’t have to wait until they are in 5th/6th grade to get their own ski pass – Vail Resorts’ Epic School Kids now offers FREE skiing to ALL elementary school children.

The catch? Get your kids registered by October 8, 2016!

Q: WHAT IS THE EPIC SCHOOL KIDS?

Epic School Kids is a FREE program for Kindergarten through 5th graders that provides skiing and riding at some of Colorado’s best areas – Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone. That means 4 days of FREE Skiing at each area or 16 days in all.

The pass also includes one FREE first-timer ski or ride lesson with equipment rental.

Q: ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS?

The following are blackout dates: 11/25/16-11/26/16, 12/26/16-12/31/16, 1/14/17 and 2/18/17-2/19/17

Q. HOW CAN PARENTS ENROLL THEIR CHILDREN IN EPIC SCHOOL KIDS?

Parents can take their children to a participating Front Range Colorado Ski & Golf, or Boulder Ski Deals location to register their child in person. In Boulder – just head to Boulder Ski Deals. Take a look at what you need to bring below.

Want more details? Epic School Kids

Family Travel: Paris over Christmas for under $500 on United

Want to go to Europe? United Airlines is offering fares for under $500 to Paris from Denver over the holidays. Paris for Christmas anyone? If you’ve been thinking about going to France this may be the time to make it happen.

Here is a search from December 19th to the 28th. You can find different dates around the same time that work. Go to the search on Momondo to find these deals. Click here for the Momondo site. Let it load fully to see the deal. Then you can change dates and times to get the flight you prefer.

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If you have an Epic ski pass [Vail Resorts] you can ski at some European ski areas for free this winter. This includes France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. Get the scoop on skiing Europe on your Epic pass here.

Will your family be heading to Europe this winter?

My Family Scored 4 Round Trip Tickets for Under $150!

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What summer isn’t complete [when you live in landlocked Colorado] without spending time in the ocean? So my family of four decided to head to San Diego for a week of surfing. And we are doing it for around $50 [total of fees paid for all tickets] plus a $95 annual fee, so a total cost of $145. How? We signed up for a credit card through Southwest Airlines, spent $2,000 on the card and viola – we are heading to surf this summer! My favorite part is that we have lots of flexibility in our itinerary – just in case something changes – and there aren’t tons of extra fees like we would pay with other low cost airlines. Flexibility and No Extra Fees = Awesome!

I value these tickets at around $200/piece so I would say we got approximately $800 of value out of one single credit card sign up. Is this the best credit card perk I have ever received? No. But it is up there. Southwest points are really valuable!

I decided to get the Southwest card after I flew to Phoenix for a soccer tournament and realized what a great option they are. Their prices were good. The points they charge are usually reasonable compared to the general market. And the most important part to me and my family – Southwest tickets are ultra flexible. As long as you cancel or change your ticket within 10 Minutes of departure time there are no fees involved on Southwest. No fees – they just redeposit your points or refund your dollars. On United we would pay a $150 change fee each or over $100 to put our points back in our account if we were not taking that same route in the future. Flexibility rocks for Family Travel! 

One trick on Southwest – book your tickets as early as possible. I’ve found tickets for as low 5,500 points to travel Denver to Seattle or 7,000 points Denver to San Diego. Round trip for under 15,000 points – I’m in – but reserve them early! 

Do you like flying Southwest? Any tips or tricks for getting the most out of flying Southwest?

Living With Kids: Design Mom Explores the Intersection of Modern Living and Raising a Family

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Photo Credit: Design Mom

I am inspired by Design Mom‘s series – Living With Kids. This is an ongoing series where Design Mom takes you on a photographic tour of different families with children, their homes, their design sense, their stories, and how all these aspects of life weave together to create each unique family situation. It is so simple and yet so compelling to read the Living With Kids series. You get to catch a glimpse of someone else’s complicate, beautiful, intense, awesome, family life. Sort of voyeuristic, butnot in a creepy way!

Take a minute out of your day and take a tour of families in the series Living With Kids: www.designmom.com/category/living-with-kids-house-tour/

What do you think of theseScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.54.58 AM photojournalistic tours of the world of raising our families? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

#Boulder #Design #Kids

Enjoy Family Fun – All Summer Long With Meadow Music

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Hey Boulder Families – Don’t miss out on live, educational, engaging music at Chautauqua this summer! Meadow Music is an award winning environmental education program offered for free in Boulder, Colorado. Join Jeff & Paige for FREE concerts and a hike throughout the summer at Chautauqua. Meadow Music happens most Monday evenings in the summer from June-August.

This event is free to the public thanks to the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Division!Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.24.25 AM

Meadow Music Details: Meet at 5:30pm to start a short hike that’s friendly to all ages – Map Here.  The hike takes about 30 minutes because of all the little legs that join it, but all ages should be able to accomplish the task. Along the way we’ll look for our color of the week and at the end our hike we’ll sing a song to bring out our animal of the week–Coyote Bob, Ranger Paula, or The Black Bear…

After the hike you will return to the Chautauqua Green for a concert full of Jeff & Paige’s original nature and science-based music. The concert starts around 6:00pm and ends by about 7:00. Bring a blanket to sit on, a picnic and some silliness.

Read more about Meadow Music here.

For a full concert calendar and to plan your next visit to Meadow Music visit the calendar.

#Boulder #Colorado #Getoutdoors

Why I Am Getting My Kids Outdoors This Summer!

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Boulder County is a mecca of outdoor activities. Why is it that we parents find ourselves begging our kids to get off technology on a regular basis? At least I do. I love getting my kids out the door and into the backyard, on a hike, on their mountain bikes, or anywhere other than indoors as often as possible!

The summer is a great time to get the kids outside and engaged in authentic learning opportunities – the kind that present themselves all the time in the outdoors. I get the brochures for STEM and engineering focused camps and these all look amazing, but I say summer is a time to get outside, leave the traditional classroom behind, and explore a more authentic and engaging “classroom” in the outdoors. This summer I’m getting my kids out the door and learning more about themselves through outdoor experiences! It is time to get our kids out the door and into the outdoors this summer!

Authentic outdoor education programs offer our kids incredible opportunities to push themselves and develop the whole person by allowing them to:

  • Be without technology and fully engage!
  • Build confidence and grit doing things things that are fun but tough!
  • Be bold and try new things! 
  • Engage in healthy risk taking – the activities have high perceived risk, but low real danger!

The outdoors is a seriously powerful tool for personal growth and empowerment for our kids! I want my kids to face challenges and learn that they can push through them. I want my kids to have to engage fully by leaving all the distractions of technology behind. I also know with two boys they need outlets for taking risks in a healthy environment. I believe these are all best accomplished through purposeful engagement in outdoor adventures. This is why I’m turning to some engaging outdoor opportunities for my kids this summer. Let the outdoors be their teacher!

There are so many ways to get our kids going – even at really young ages! Think of the options: Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Biking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Hiking, Mountaineering, and many many more! Get the kids out there however you do it – on your own or with a camp program this summer. Of course it depends on how old your kids are and their innate interests, but you can find so many opportunities for authentic learning in the outdoors around Boulder County!

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Photo Credit to Avid4 Adventure

I did some research and I found Avid4 Adventure. I knew they were around but I had not really looked at outdoor camps until now. This summer my 12 year old will be rock climbing with Avid 4 – scaling walls and meeting new friends. He will be scaling walls and pushing himself beyond the limits he currently perceives. He will be getting out of his comfort zone. He will be getting scraped up. He will be exhausted when he gets home after long hikes to climbing spots. I believe he will come back each day with his cup full of life and ready for more adventures. Here’s to summer outdoor adventures! 

More details about Avid4 Adventure in case you think your kids are ready for an outdoor challenge this summer. They offer really professional programs and believe in authentic education through outdoor adventures. Avid4 offers day and overnight programs for all outdoor enthusiast kids and those who just want to dip their toes in the water so to speak. I love Avid4’s philosophy and professionalism! Check out their great general [kids try a little of everything] and sport specific outdoor programs for kids pre-K through 11th grade at their two Boulder County bases of operation:

Avid4 Adventure offers camps out of two local locations that may be interesting for Boulder Families – Boulder Camps and Lafayette Camps @ Avid4 Adventure

Are your kids going to camp this summer? Any great outdoor learning experiences to share with the rest of us?

#Kids #SummerCamp #Summer #Boulder #GetOutdoors