Family Montana Vacation

Thinking of vacationing in Montana?  Here is a recap of our family trip.

My fondest memories of our family time spent together are most often in nature.  The forced separation from media is always good for connection and conversation.

We traveled in July (2nd-7th actually).  We flew from Atlanta to Bozeman, Montana on Tuesday and returned on Sunday. 

This is the Big Sky Montana townhouse we stayed in.  It was a little snug for our family of six, but totally worth it for the budget-friendly price and the views/convenience.

Day 1:

We arrived in Bozeman at 2p. We drove into Big Sky and checked into our townhouse.  Then we ate a delicious meal at Olive B’s.

Then we drove straight to West Yellowstone to look around. We shopped and visited the tourism center. Good thing we did because the park ranger gave us the most important tip of all: 

Pack a cooler full of drinks and food in your car BEFORE heading inside Yellowstone!  This is a super important detail because there are just not many gas stations/restaurants inside the park. When you get hungry, you can’t just head to a near restaurant.  The few restaurants I did see looked like a Golden Corral (not very enticing).  We ended up eating many picnics while inside.

After the tourism center, we shopped West Yellowstone (think Gatlinburg type trinket stores) and headed back to Big Sky for the night.  It’s a beautiful 45-minute drive away.

We downloaded the Travelstory’s app for our own personal tour guide. I thought I purchased a tour that included the North and South-like a bundle option. However, today I do not see that choice.

Day 2:

We woke up super early (5am) and headed to Yellowstone National Park (west entrance). Ideally, you want to get in the park early to avoid crowds and the animals are moving more early morning and late afternoon.

For lunch, we had a picnic at Yellowstone. We saw a lot of Buffalo and geysers including Old Faithful! 

For dinner, we had pizza at Wild West Pizzeria.  We hiked an insane amount this day and were all ready for a hot meal. Pizza did not disappoint.     

Day 3:

Today is the 4th of July! 

Today we drove back to Yellowstone for Day 2 in the park.  Another picnic lunch AND dinner. We stayed in the park late because we wanted to watch the animals in Lamar Valley.

Day 4:

We spent today in Big Sky.  No early wake-ups, woohoo!  We had a slow breakfast in the townhouse, coffee and cinnamon rolls.  Then horseback riding at 9:00. Followed by white water rafting in the afternoon. We booked both activities through Geyser Whitewater. Highly recommend them! We had stellar guides both trips 🙂

For dinner, we ate at Gallatin River house in Big Sky.  They have outdoor fire pits and games for the kids. Really long wait because we didn’t have a reservation but a super night with a good atmosphere, food, and amazing views.

Day 5:

Last day. We slept in and then had brunch at Blue Moon Cafe.

Today we went on a ski lift to the top of Big Sky mountain.  We wanted to ride a van to the top but the tickets were sold out.  I didn’t know that would be something we needed to advance purchase.  However, the ski lift was super scary to me without seatbelts and no snow beneath us, yikes!!  The rest of the family LOVED this.

We also shopped around this village. and grabbed coffees.

Then we went on an easy hike to Ousel Falls.

For Dinner, we walked from our townhouse to eat at Michelangelo’s.   Pricey but the food was amazing! I especially loved being able to walk to dinner 🙂                                             

Day 6:

Fly home.

New York City Family Summer Vacation

We serendipitously ended up traveling to NYC in the summer, never “planning” to go as a whole fam.

I had some sky-miles and randomly heard about Google Flights. You just type in your preferred dates and preferred departure airport. Leave the destination blank. Hit search, now you can scroll for the least expensive flight. That is what I did! The least expensive flight from Atlanta was to NYC (and again today it is :).

Heading there with virtually no expectations, we were so pleasantly surprised! It far exceeded our imaginations. All six of us Loved our vacay! Maybe its was the sensory overload (sights, smells and noise galore) or the contrasting culture? There was something to see and absorb on every corner. We walked around 8 miles daily and my 5 year old rarely complained. He did notice, however.  Now that we are home, Gaines will say “let’s go back to NYC, but not walk this time.”


Day 1

Arrive via Uber 11:30 am

  • Made by Melissa cupcakes
  • Stowed luggage
  • Grand central station
  • Shake Shack 
  • Subway to battery park
  • Staten Island ferry- We didn’t get off at either stop. I heard Ellis island is really boring. The ferry ride was fun. We also didn’t actually go to the Statue of Liberty- I had heard it is difficult to get through security and it’s crazy hot. We were able to see it great from Brookfield Place and all were happy with just seeing it 🙂
  • Sea glass carousel
  • Trinity cathedral
  • Wall Street saw the bull
  • Kids bought $10 snow globe 
  • Back to hotel
  • Snack supper with our amazon prime delivery and “mandatory” Hyatt market credit – our hotel rate included money towards this little market … thumbs down. I hated to waste the money so we often ate from here even when we didn’t want to.
  • Walked down 42nd to FDR to watch fireworks (It was the fourth of July 🙂 unfortunately there were No food trucks or bathrooms anywhere near us)
Family New York City Vacation

Day 2

  • Plaza hotel downstairs food hall – adorable but didn’t see anything Kids’s would actually eat
  • 10:45 Moved to Sara Beth’s got the lemon ricotta pancakes enough to split w child
  • 12:15 Central Park official carriage ride so hot best and fastest way to see it all
  • 1:30 American Girl store
  • 3p St Regis tea for girls (This was super expensive and the food is definitely over priced, underwhelming. However, it was definitely one of the Most memorable parts for my girls)… Lego store, FDNY fire station (Gaines got the cutest T-shirt here) and Nintendo for guys
  • M&M store
  • Sat across Fox in a plaza snacked on smoothie and pretzel
  • 5:30 Top of the Rock Times Square 
  • Then Stardust Diner – there was an 1.5 hr standing outside wait. We all enjoyed it. The waiters and waitresses are also the entertainment -they take turns singing Broadway songs and they are REALLY GOOD! It was so fun- Definitely something great to experience if you can. Oh And… the food is great! We all split the Chocolate chip lava cookie w vanilla ice cream for dessert- amazing, as well as the French onion soup (we didn’t split the soup, ha! I ate all of mine)
  • Times Square again late, bought fake purses and quick family pics and walked back to hotel.


St Regis Tea New York City

Day 3

  • Breakfast in hotel.
  • Creme brûlée Doughnuts from doughnut plant.
  • The Museum of Natural History (used app to find way) I’ve heard of friends kids being bored here but we watched the movie prior to our trip and all kids thoroughly enjoyed the museum. I also bought this book in advance to read with Gaines. I recommend you buy your tickets in advance. We did not and had to wait in line a long time outside in the rain.
  • Patsy’s pizza -meh
  • Back to museum -G devastated no real tablet of akmenerah
  • 9/11 Memorial Brookfield Place- Beautiful views over water.  Upscale shopping center near the World Trade Center. There are some sit-down restaurants that look out on the river too. There are basically two parks out back and a marina all with an awesome view of the Statue of Liberty. Great for nightly stroll and makes beautiful pictures.
  • Ate at Mighty Quinn’s in Brookfield Place – bbq brisket, wings, sp casserole, corn nuggets 
  • Sprinkles cupcakes chocolate marshmallow 

Day 4

  • Breakfast in room
  • Bryant Park for an early lunch 
  • Walked down 42nd Shopped a bit
  • New Amsterdam theater for Alladin
  • More shopping near Times Square Rock center cafe
  • Dylan’s candy store
  • Long walk back to hotel… collapse, ha!


Other Random thoughts:

  • My friend ate food from their Amazon delivery in their hotel room each night, but that didn’t work for us bc we stayed out so late.
  • To save money, we only ate two real-meals per day. Brunch and Dinner – with snacks along the way, splitting a street pretzel or something out of backpack.  Worth mentioning, my favorite meal of the trip was the Wafels and Dinges food truck (Belgian waffles).
  • I carried my Longchamp bag with a lightweight raincoat (which doubles as sweater for colder buildings) and my wallet w strap. I kept thinking I would get rid of the large tote but actually carried the whole time even though Keith had a backpack. Gaines’ transformer dinosaur from the museum and his rain jacket, room key, medicine, phone, snacks were all in my tote.
  • We traveled using the Metro and wished we had bought the unlimited Metro card. If your family is smaller you can get away with just grabbing a cab.
  • Lectrofan micro -this sound machine was saving us in our hotel room. Many of the NYC hotels can be super noisy.
  • I took my list and opened up Iphone Maps app. Search each item and then make it a favorite. Once you’re done with your list those appear on your map and you can see it better because you for sure wanna stay in same area as much as you can. Then they are saved on your map in 5 years when you go again and cant remember. 
  • I ordered amazon prime now to have delivered when we arrived. Bottled water, cheese, turkey, peanut butter and jelly, paper plates, milk, etc.

What I Packed for a Week in Montana/Yellowstone


Packing for Yellowstone can be tricky since the weather fluctuates drastically throughout the day.

We vacationed in the first week of July when mornings are in the low 40s and the daily high is around 70-75.

My shorts didn’t actually get worn.  Mostly windy, I wore my jeans or leggings with a tank and then I could layer with my pullover and rain jacket as needed.

One of the nice things about the culture in the West is no fancy attire required -with outdoor wear you fit right in.  Remember, from this post HERE, I only travel with my rolling carry-on so I got strategic with the items I packed to maximize space 🙂

  • 2 Jeans
  • 4 Leggings
  • 2 Shorts
  • 1 Tee-shirt
  • 4 Tanks (think gym/exercise type)
  • 1 Dressier Top
  • 1 Half Zip Fleece North Face Pullover
  • 1 Swimsuit
  • 1 Pajama Set
  • 7 Undies/Socks
  • 1 Merrell Hiking Shoe (similar to mine) & 1 Flip Flop
  • 2 Baseball Hats
  • 1 Lightweight Rain Jacket (here is the exact one I wore, love that it’s 4oz, easy to toss in a backpack)
  • 1 Crossbody Bag (here is the link to mine)
  • Toiletries

More of my travel essentials here.

And, if you are curious How I get all the kids packed, all the deets here.