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Heading to our nation’s national parks with children often creates a dilemma: Stick to the highlights of the park, which are often kid-friendly and easily accessible yet overrun with other tourists, or head to less popular areas which are often less accommodating for children?

If you look hard enough, there are a few spots in and/or near every park that will take you away from the crowds for a family-friendly adventure.


tip #1

Rise early or come late

Parks gates often remain open even when the park is officially closed. Buy a day pass online ahead of time and enter the park while other visitors are busy with breakfast or dinner – you’ll be rewarded with more wildlife, great lighting, striking stars, and few people.





Learn some history – The Fox Hollow Trail is an easy, 1.2-mile self-guided hike located near the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center. While it’s not known for it’s views, the trail passes by the cemetery and homesite of farmers who lived in the region.

Explore underground – One of the largest series of caverns in the east, Luray caverns will fascinate any young explorer who has wondered what goes on beneath her feet. The stalactites and stalagmites are sure to impress. Because this activity is completely underground, a guided tour is a perfect outing if the weather for your trip turns out to be less than hoped for. Strollers are usable on the paved walkway, but must be carried in sections.

Spy some wildlife – Shenandoah is home to black bears, bunnies, woodpeckers, deer, and more. The completely stroller-friendly Limberlost trail is a 1.3-mile chance to catch a view of some of Shenandoah’s year-round residents. Head out in the early morning or dusk for your best chance at viewing wildlife.

Find a waterfall – If you have older children with you, the Doyles River Trail offers a pleasant out and back hike with two waterfalls to encourage your kids down the trail. The hike is 2.7 miles round trip, 3.2 if you head down to the second falls. With just over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, this trail is more difficult than others, but should be doable for older children or experienced hikers.

Have a snack – The Route 11 Potato Chip Company factory cooks up some of Virginia’s most iconic snacks. With unique flavors ranging from Chesapeake Crab to Mama Zuma’s Revenge, everyone will find something to enjoy. The factory offers plenty of chips to sample and large windows in the retail store that allow you to see the entire chip making process.


Parent Co. partnered with Safari LTD because they believe preserving the environment is second nature to kids who grow up surrounded by its beauty.

tip #2


Some national parks with limited road access, like Glacier, have a predictable traffic pattern. Talk to a ranger ahead of time to find out which direction people usually view the park, then do the opposite.


Wyoming | Montana


See geysers as they erupt  – The boardwalk by Old Faithful is far from a secret. But joining a ranger walk is the often overlooked secret to getting the best views of geysers erupting. Ranger walks are offered daily in the summer and fall. If you head to the park in the off season, look for members of the “Geyser Gazer Club” standing by with clipboards. They will be happy to share their information with you.

Swim in a hot spring – The Boiling River, in Montana’s small claim to the park, is a perfect swimming hole for anyone who has been tempted to test the waters in Yellowstone. From the parking lot, there is a short, flat three-quarters-of-a-mile hike to the swimming hole. Hop in where river meets the significantly colder waters of the Gardner River. Park officials recommend avoiding going under water.

Find Paradise – Yellowstone’s famous thermal waters extend pass the park. Paradise Valley, Montana, is home to one of the state’s most loved resorts, Chico Hot Springs. The restaurant offers finer dining than you will expect to find in this rural locale. On the drive there, play John Mayer’s album “Paradise Valley,” named after the time he spent there. Consider going in winter; nothing beats swimming in warm water as snow falls around you, and Chico offers a fantastic winter getaway package.

See real dinosaur fossils – If your vacation is taking you to Glacier National Park as well, don’t overlook a stop at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. The museum features rotating exhibits and a large collection of T-Rex and Triceratops fossils. The second floor hosts an excellent Yellowstone-themed playspace for young kids. In the summer, be sure to check out the living farm to get a taste of what life was like for early settlers. If you are a member at your local science museum, you may get in free.

Take a bike ride – If you’ve packed your bike trailer or have enthusiastic cyclists in your family, check out the trail to the Lone Star Geyser. The geyser erupts about every three hours, so pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the area for a while. Before you leave, ask at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center if they can estimate the timing of the next eruption.

tip #3

Try to visit parks during the shoulder seasons

Spring, winter, and fall are the least busy times for the parks. If the summer is your only window, try visiting parks during the first or last week of the summer holiday.




Catch a waterfall unlike any other – The Two Medicine area of the park used to be one of the most popular sites, until the Going to the Sun road was completed. Now it’s one of the least visited. It is home to Running Eagle Falls or “Trick Falls,” named so because the waterfall appears to come directly out of the rock in summer. In spring, two waterfalls appear to join together. The trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Eat a huckleberry macaroon – Montana is known for its huckleberries, and while you can try them anywhere in and near the park, Polebridge, known for its bakery, features the most iconic. From there, head to Bowman Lake in the northern end of the park.

Take a boat ride  – Most visitors to the park stay to the western side, but families should not miss St. Mary Lake on Glacier’s eastern side. The western end of the lake hosts several family-friendly trails, including Baring Falls (0.6 miles) and many picnic spots. Book a spot on a lake cruise for an unforgettable view of the park.

Find a wild horse – If you head south after your trip to Glacier, stop by Wildhorse Island State Park, the largest island in Flathead Lake. Salish-Kootenai Indians historically used the island to pasture horses. It is now famous for its wildlife viewing, including five wild horses. Accessing the park requires a boat.

Take it easy – Many of the hikes in Glacier require backcountry courage or a willingness to put up with a crush of crowds. The Rocky Point Trail along Lake MacDonald is an easy trail that takes you away from other sightseers. Just under two miles, the trail offers views of the lake, and in the spring, plenty of wildflowers.

tip #4

Learn about the parks before you go

The National Parks Foundation website has a great directory of all the parks to help your family get excited about your visit – their various guides offer additional in-depth resources.




Go exploring – The short, 0.3-mile Sand Dune Arch trail provides a completely different experience for kids than for adults. While adults may be tempted to view the arch and finish the trail in under 20 minutes, children will enjoy exploring all the nooks and crannies along this sandy playground.

Take a drive – If kids need a break from hiking and exploring, let them rest in the car while you check out the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway. With petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks along the road, there are plenty of places to pull off that will entertain curious adventurers.

Go off the beaten trail – While the initial portion of the Windows Primitive Trail is quite popular, the less traveled backside of the loop provides even better views. A 1.2 mile loop is doable with children, and allows for easy views of the arches that many consider to be the heart of the park.

Go stargazing – The crowds in Arches are hard to avoid during the day, but the park offers some of the darkest skies in Utah for stargazing at night. Roads are currently closed at night from Sunday through Thursday until November 30th, but if you visit on a weekend, head to a picnic area or viewpoint. Bring blankets and hot chocolate for an unforgettable night.

Head to a museum – If you have any dinosaur enthusiasts in the family, be sure to check out this prehistoric paradise at Moab Giants. Complete with a museum, aquarium, outdoor dinosaur trail, and dinosaur themed play area, kids will not forget this piece of Moab.




Pick blueberries – If you head to Maine in July or August, be sure to pick blueberries for the ultimate “Blueberries for Sal” experience. Numerous trails in the park offer places to pick fresh blueberries, so bring a bucket and some hungry mouths. Because it’s a popular activity, park officials ask that people be aware of their impact on the land and be careful to stay on rock to minimize trampling.

Take a bike ride – Acadia is home to 45 miles of carriage roads that are closed to motor vehicle traffic. Witch Hole Pond is not the most trafficked of these roads, but it was made famous when the Obamas biked around in 2014. The 3.3 mile trail has an initial steep ascent, but then levels off after a quarter of a mile.

Learn about lobsters – Take a cruise on the Lulu Lobster Boat to learn firsthand about lobstering in Maine. This small lobster boat can also provide better views of seals along the coastline than larger boats can.

Enjoy a bite to eat – You can bribe kids to finish nearly any hike with the promise of food at the end. The Jordan Pond House is known for it’s popovers and lemonade. To work up an appetite, check out the less busy Jordan Stream Trail nearby.

Surf and turf – The Ship Harbor Nature Trail  offers forest and water views on a 1.3-mile walk. This trail is shaped like a figure eight, with the first loop wheelchair and stroller accessible. The hike winds through a spruce and fir forest before coming out at a rocky coastline. If you visit in the winter, bring your snowshoes.

Everglades National Park


See seashells by the seashore – If you have a shell enthusiast in the family, be sure to check out the Bailey Matthews National Shell Museum north of the park on Florida’s gulf coast. The museum hosts numerous exhibits, daily beach walks, and family arts and crafts. The children’s learning lab features interactive displays, games, and a live tank.

Take a guided birding walk – The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary north of Everglades park is owned by the Audubon society and offers a variety of family friendly activities including guided walks. The sanctuary provides a 2.25-mile boardwalk from which to view wood storks, and even the rare blooming ghost orchid.

Find hidden treasure – If coastal explorations have put your children in a pirate mood, try your hand at looking for hidden treasure while geocaching. The Park Employee for a Day Geocache Trail is a series of hidden case studies to find and weigh in on. If you are already an avid geogacher, note that only park employees are allowed to place caches in the park.

Get on a boat – Hop on a boat for a chance to see manatees, bald eagles, ospreys, alligators, and more. The Everglades National Park Boat Tour company offers two tours: the Ten Thousand Island Cruise and the Mangrove Wilderness Tour. Both offer unique views of the area, but the Ten Thousand Island Cruise is free for kids four and under.

Go for a ride – Take the 15-mile loop through the Everglades and you might have a chance to see alligators, herons, snakes, and other wildlife. You have two options for getting around on this road – either a tram ride with Shark Valley Tram Tours, or by bike. Either way, you and your family can enjoy the road less traveled.


Parent Co. partnered with Safari LTD because they believe preserving the environment is second nature to kids who grow up surrounded by its beauty.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99


2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

Price: $24.98


3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

"When I was breastfeeding, it was important to me to feel like a part of things, to be around people, entertain guests, etc. Especially since so much of being a new mom can feel isolating. So having the ability to cover up but still breastfeed out in the open, instead of disappearing into a room somewhere for long stretches alone to feed, made me feel better."—Renata

Price: $11.99


4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

"I suffered from extreme engorgement during the first weeks after delivery with both of my children. I wouldn't have survived had it not been for these packs that provided cold therapy for engorgement and hot therapy for clogged milk ducts." —Deena

Price: $10.25


5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

"Being a working and pumping mama, these quick clean wipes made pumping at the office so much easier, and quicker. I could give everything a quick wipe down between pumping sessions. And did not need a set of spare parts for the office." —Ashley

Price: $19.99


6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

"This nipple butter is everything, you don't need to wash it off before baby feeds/you pump. I even put some on my lips at the hospital and it saved me from chapped lips and nips." —Conz

Price: $12.95


7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

Price: $199.99 Receive a $50 gift card with purchase at walmart.com


8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

"I overproduced in the first couple weeks (and my milk would come in pretty much every time my baby LOOKED at my boobs), so Lansinoh disposable nursing pads saved me from many awkward leak situations!" —Justine

Price: $9.79


9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

"This has been a huge help in saving the extra milk from the letdown during breastfeeding and preventing leaks on my clothes!" —Rachel

Price: $12.99


10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

"Because I didn't plan to breastfeed I didn't buy a pump before birth. When I decided to try, I needed a pump so my husband ran out and bought this. It was easy to use, easy to wash and more convenient than our borrowed electric pump." —Heather

Price: $26.99


11. Milkies Fenugreek

"I struggled with supply for my first and adding this to my regimen really helped with increasing milk." —Mary N.

Price: $14.95


12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

"I exclusively pumped for a year with my first and these are hands down the best storage bags. All others always managed to crack eventually. These can hold a great amount and I haven't had a leak! And I have used over 300-400 of these!" —Carla

Price: $13.19


13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

"The Kiinde system made pumping and storing breastmilk so easy. It was awesome to be able pump directly into the storage bags, and then use the same bags in the bottle to feed my baby." —Diana

Price: $21.99


This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Orange Is the New Black star Danielle Brooks is pregnant and frustrated. The actress took to Instagram this week to lament the lack of plus-sized options for pregnant people.

"It's so hard to find some clothes to wear today....Although I get to pregnant I still can't find no clothes. It's so hard to find some clothes when you're pregnant," she sings in a lighthearted yet serious video.

"It's so hard to find cute plus size maternity fashion while pregnant, but ima push through," she captioned the clip.

Brooks has been talking a lot this week about the issues people who wear plus size clothing face not just when trying to find clothes but in simply moving through a world that does not support them.

"I feel like the world has built these invisible bullets to bully us in telling us who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to look like. And I've always had this desire to prove people wrong—to say that this body that I'm in is enough," she told SHAPE (she's on the new cover).

"Now that I'm about to be a mother, it means even more—to make sure that this human being I'm going to bring into the world knows that they are enough," she said.

Danielle Brooks is the body-positive hero we need right now. Now can someone make her some cute maternity clothes, please?

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In prior decades, body image issues usually didn't hit the scene until kids reached adolescence. But thanks to social media, and our culture's relentless pursuit of thinness, we now have to find creative ways to teach young children how to develop healthy body images.

Before I dive into some practical tips to help kids improve body image, I want to first diminish any shame that you might be feeling if you have body issues of your own. It's so important to remember that you downloaded every internal message from somewhere else. Of course, it's critical to work on your own issues, but it's also important to know it is not your fault that you developed them in the first place!

So, whether you are struggling with your own body image, or you love your body, here are some tools to help your child feel better about the precious body he or she lives in:

1. Break the spell

How do you know if your child has a bad body image? Perhaps they've begun making negative comments about their size or shape. Maybe they are comparing their body to others. Maybe they are avoiding foods or activities they once enjoyed because they feel uncomfortable about their body.

Often the most common response a parent has is to reassure their child that they are “fine," or “beautiful" or “perfect." And while there is certainly nothing wrong with some reassurance, it simply may not be enough to overpower the cultural messages kids are surrounded by. Reassure them that they are perfect just the way they are.

2. Unkind mind, kind mind and quiet mind

This little menu of options encourages kids to identify and differentiate between three different thinking states within themselves. I refer to them as “mind moods." Try teaching your child about these three states of mind and brainstorming examples of each. For example, unkind mind = “I hate my thighs." Kind mind = “I love singing." Quiet mind = Peacefully resting or playing.

This will raise their awareness of their thoughts and help them to choose their mind moods more consciously. As they learn to turn up the volume of their kind minds and spend more time in their quiet minds, they begin to feel more present and peaceful.

Once you have helped your child identify their unkind mind as a distinct voice, they can then try on some different responses and see which ones help bring them some relief. Try asking them to write or say all the messages their unkind mind is saying and practicing using strong, soft, silly or silent responses. Kids can learn that their unkind mind is not all of who they are, and that it doesn't have to run the show.

3. Get to the root

This concept helps kids discover what triggers their body dissatisfaction. You can help your child by asking questions or taking guesses about what might have started their bad body image. For example, I helped one 7-year old get to the root of her body obsession by noticing it started when there was a death in her family. Right around that time, her best friend started talking about dieting, so she latched onto food obsession as a distracting coping tool.

Once we uncovered this, she was able to learn about healthy grieving and truly healthy eating (as opposed to what the diet culture deems as healthy—which can actually be unhealthy).

4. Mind movies vs. really real

Try asking your child to show you some things around them that are real (i.e. things they can see, touch or hear). Then ask them if they can show you one single thought in their minds. You can playfully challenge them to take a thought out of their head and show it to you or fold it up and put it in their pocket. This tool teaches kids how to be more present.

Of course, they might use their imagination to do this, but with some finesse, you can teach your child to distinguish between the mind movies that cause them stress and the really real things around them. This is an immensely helpful tool that will not only help them with body image (since body image is one long mind movie) but will also improve the quality of their lives in general.

5. Dog talk and cat chat

Many kids cannot relate to the concept of being kind to themselves but ask a child how they feel about their favorite pet, and a doorway to their compassion, kindness and unconditional acceptance opens. For non-pet lovers, you can ask your child to imagine how they would speak to a baby or their best friend.

Dog talk and cat chat can help teach youngsters how to take the loving words and tones they use toward a beloved pet, and direct these sentiments toward themselves and their bodies.

6. Do an internal upgrade

In addition to helping your child combat the messages they receive out in the world, you can also work on the messages they get in your home. Again, if you struggle with body image, it is not your fault, but you can work on healing—and not only will you feel more peace, but your child will benefit as well.

To the best of your ability, refrain from talking about foods as “good" or “bad." Refrain from making negative comments about your (or anyone else's) weight or looks. Refrain from praising someone (or yourself) for weight loss.

Practice welcoming your child's tears and anger without trying to change their feelings before they are ready. Practice eating all food groups in moderation. Foster a positive, grateful attitude about your body.

May you and your child feel comfortable in your bodies, eat all foods in moderation, move and rest in ways that feel good, and find abundant sweetness and fulfillment in life.

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Learn + Play

After a long day of doing seemingly everything, when our partners get home it kind of becomes a habit to ask, "How was your day?" In between prepping dinner, handing off the kids, finishing your own work, we don't exactly get much value from this question. Sure, it may open up the opportunity to complain about that awful thing that happened or excitedly share that presentation you killed at work—but it usually stops there.

I could do a better job of really talking in my relationship. After 12 years and two kids, sometimes all we can come up with post bedtime routine is, "You good? I'm good. Fire up the Netflix."

Here are 21 questions to dig deeper into your marriage after a long day—see where they take you!

  1. Did you listen to anything interesting today?
  2. If you could do any part of today over again, what would it be?
  3. How much coffee did you drink today?
  4. Will you remember any specific part of today a year from now? Five years?
  5. Did you take any photos today? What did you photograph?
  6. What app did you open most today?
  7. How can I make your day easier in five minutes?
  8. If we were leaving for vacation tonight, where do you wish we would be heading?
  9. If you won $500 and had to spend it on yourself today, what would you buy?
  10. If your day was turned into a movie, who would you cast?
  11. What did you say today that you could have never expected to come out of your mouth?
  12. What did you do to take care of yourself today?
  13. When did you feel appreciated today?
  14. If you could guarantee one thing for tomorrow what would it be?
  15. If we traded places tomorrow what advice would you give me for the day?
  16. What made you laugh today?
  17. Imagine committing the next year to learning one thing in your spare time. What would it be?
  18. Did you give anyone side-eye today? Why?
  19. What do you wish you did more of today?
  20. What do you wish you did less of today?
  21. Are you even listening to me right now?

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Love + Village

Alexis Ohanian has made a lot of important decisions in his life. The decision to co-found Reddit is a pretty big one. So was marrying Serena Williams. But right up there with changing internet culture and making a commitment to his partner, the venture capitalist lists taking time off after his daughter's birth as a significant, life-changing choice.

"Before Olympia was born, I had never thought much about paternity leave and, to be honest, Reddit's company policy was not my idea. Our vice president of people and culture, Katelin Holloway, brought it up to me in a meeting and it sounded O.K., so why not?" Ohanian writes in an op-ed for New York Times Parenting.

He continues: "Then came Olympia, after near-fatal complications forced my wife, Serena, to undergo an emergency C-section. Serena spent days in recovery fighting for her life against pulmonary embolisms. When we came home with our baby girl, Serena had a hole in her abdomen that needed bandage changes daily. She was on medication. She couldn't walk."

The experience changed the way Ohanian viewed paternity leave. It was no longer something that just sounded like a good thing, it was a necessary thing for his family. It was crucial that he take it and now he is advocating for more fathers to be able to. In his piece for the NYT Ohanian points out something that Motherly has previously reported on: It is hard for fathers to take paternity leave even when their government or employer offers it.

A report from Dove Men+Care and Promundo (a global organization dedicated to gender equality) found 85% of dads surveyed in the United States, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Japan and the Netherlands would do anything to be very involved in the early weeks and months after their child's birth or adoption, but less than 50% of fathers take as much time as they are entitled to.

Dads need paid leave, but even when they have it social pressures and unrealistic cultural expectations keep them from taking it and they choose not to take all the time they can. Ohanian wants lawmakers and business leaders to make sure that dads can take leave and he wants to help fathers choose to actually take it.

"I was able to take 16 weeks of paid leave from Reddit, and it was one of the most important decisions I've made," Ohanian previously wrote in an essay for Glamour.

Ohanian recognizes that he is privileged in a way most parents aren't.

"It helped that I was a founder and didn't have to worry about what people might say about my 'commitment' to the company, but it was incredible to be able to spend quality time with Olympia. And it was perhaps even more meaningful to be there for my wife and to adjust to this new life we created together—especially after all the complications she had during and after the birth," he wrote for Glamour.

In his NYT piece, Ohanian goes further: "I get that not every father has the flexibility to take leave without the fear that doing so could negatively impact his career. But my message to these guys is simple: Taking leave pays off, and it's continued to pay dividends for me two years later. It should be no surprise that I also encourage all of our employees to take their full leave at Initialized Capital, where I am managing partner; we recently had three dads on paid paternity leave at the same time."

The GOAT's husband is making the same points that we at Motherly make all the time. Research supports paid leave for all parents. It benefits the baby and the parents and that benefits society.

By first taking his leave and then speaking out about the ways in which it benefited his family, Ohanian is using his privileged position to de-stigmatize fathers taking leave, and advocate for more robust parental leave policies for all parents, and his influence doesn't end there. He's trying to show the world that parents shouldn't have to cut off the parent part of themselves in order to be successful in their careers.

He says that when his parental leave finished he transitioned from being a full-time dad to a "business dad."

"I'm fortunate to be my own boss, which comes with the freedoms of doing things like bringing my daughter into the office, or working remotely from virtually anywhere Serena competes. My partners at Initialized are used to seeing Olympia jump on camera—along with her doll Qai Qai—or hearing her babbling on a call. I tell them with pride, 'Olympia's at work today!' And I'll post some photos on Instagram or Twitter so my followers can see it too," Ohanian explains.

"The more we normalize this, on social media and in real life, the better, because I know this kind of dynamic makes a lot of men uncomfortable (and selfishly I want Olympia to hear me talking about start-ups!)," he says.

This is the future of family-friendly work culture. Take it from a guy who created an entire internet culture.

[A version of this post was originally published February 19, 2019. It has been updated.]

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