DISNEYLAND CALIFORNIA

Four weeks ago our family were lucky to visit and spend five days creating memories in Disneyland in California! We have been to the parks before with our two big kids about 8 years ago, but only for one day (no way near long enough!) so this visit was really exciting for us taking our biggest Disney enthusiast Ruby for her first time! Staying for four nights so we could fully explore both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park was an absolute treat. We have always loved all things Disney I unashamedly have always been caught up in the magic, but this trip has converted our whole family, my husband set off expecting to check this off our bucket list, and has returned admitting that we will definitely go again! a Disney fam for life. So excited to share our experience, pics and a few tips for planning your own family Disney adventure!

Getting there

We travelled with Air Canada because we included a trip to Vancouver. The flights were super easy to manage and we arrived feeling pretty fresh considering we travelled all the way from Australia!

First up! Disney California Adventure Park

Home to Cars Land, Pixar Pier, Pacific Warf, Hollywood Land, A bugs Land, and Grizzly Park, we LOVE California Adventure Park. Because of our base on both visits to Disney being the Disney Grand Californian Hotel, this park is always the first we explore. It’s not always possible but for the most part we found it was best to spend majority, if not all of each day, in just one of the two parks. The travel time between the two, even though super easy and pretty quick, can chew up time especially if you have little ones with sore legs or cop a line up on entry to the alternate park, so planning your days predominantly focused on one park at a time will help you get maximum out of your stay. Speaking of planning….

PLAN PLAN PLAN!

I can’t stress this enough and as a fly by the seat of her pants kind of girl it does not come naturally to me but – it is SO worth it. The Disney FastPass system when we visited years ago involved physically visiting each ride you wanted a FastPass for, grabbing a ticket, and then returning at your scheduled time. Enter Disney MaxPass! The whole system has since gone digital. It’s as easy as downloading the Disneyland App before or when you arrive, and from there you can easily plan out every hour of every day!

More on Disney MaxPass (the supercharged Fast Pass)

This is kind of like house keeping but trust me, so important if you are planning a trip to any Disney venue! They will save you so much time! Digital fastPass are free and included with every ticket but I would highly recommend the Disney MaxPass. These cost an extra $15 per ticket per day, but you can pick and choose which days you need them for, or could even just allocate them to some members of the family if you are planning to split up and the passes aren’t needed for all. For us it was well worth it for all family members and we would never do Disney without splurging a little extra on a MaxPass! Using FastPass via MaxPass you can schedule all your rides, shows and parades all via your smart phone. It also includes a photopass which means if any photos are taken of your family around the park they will appear within the app ready for you to download at the end of the day at no extra cost!

There are a few quirks to the system you’ll get used to and you’ll work this out quickly once you arrive. FastPass via MaxPass can only be booked in (always via your app on your smart phone) once you are physically in the park and you can only schedule one ride per person at any given time. So, you book into a ride at a scheduled time and you can’t book any more fastpasses until you have checked into that initial booking. This is all pretty straight forward but the trick is that the more popular rides have much longer wait times (even using fast pass) so, don’t waste your fastpasses on rides with shorter waits. You’ll get a feel for which rides are super popular and you can book into them and then plan your day around it. It seems organisation heavy but by doing so you will save yourself hours of waiting and it will mean you can then zip around to the rides with shorter wait times (plenty of these!) while you wait for the ones you’ve scheduled! Luckily for us the rides Ruby wanted to spend her time on didn’t have large wait times so we struck a really good balance and didn’t miss out on anything we wanted to do OR get stuck in a single long line the whole time we were there. I’ve found a really helpful article explaining the fastpass / maxpass system and differences and have linked it here.

Some really popular rides that we wanted to visit included Cars, Indiana Jones Adventure, Pirates of the Caribbean, Guardians of the Galaxy, Incredicoaster, Midway Mania, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain and Star Tours. While waiting for these in Disney Land California Adventure we would jump on family friendly rides, Soaring – wow just wow you won’t go on this just once it was one of our absolute faves and barely any wait time at all!, Ariel’s Beginning (Ruby’s favourite of course!) Goofy’s Flight School, Pixar Pal-A-Round are just a few we loved as a family. We also used the scheduled MaxPass rides as an opportunity to do other things around the park. One thing I’ve really worked out about Disney in our years of visiting – it’s not just about rides!!! With our Disneyland App we could then build our day around our rides leaving plenty of time for things like character autographs (ruby lived for these!!) shows (street and theatre) workshops (our fave was the Animation Academy at Disney California Adventure Park! so much fun learning to draw Mickey and something we could enjoy as a family with broad age range and interests!)

Food and drink in Disneyland were abundant! Such a surprise, so many diverse options. One of our favourite spots for a sundowner was the Lamplight Lounge looking over Pixar Pier. Essential break out spot for a bite to eat and refreshing drink for the adults!

Frozen at the Hyperion

Our favourite theatre show in Disney California Adventure Park would have to be Frozen at the Hyperion. For an included show at no extra cost (the ticket price to get into the entire park where I live would equal just this one show in value!!!) was astounding. It was the perfect break from walking and hustling to sit in a dark theatre and watch this awesome interpretation of this musical unfold. Ruby absolutely adored it but honestly so did I! If you loved the movie and your kids are fans, you’ll love Frozen at the Hyperion! If we are lucky enough to get back to Disneyland we will definitely see it again! Other shows we really enjoyed were of course World of Colour (unmissable!) the fireworks and the epic street parades held daily. Hard to miss these and trust me you don’t want to 😍.

Elsa on a sugar high at Pixar Pier
with her idols!

Visiting Elsa & Anna

Elsa and Anna are currently located in Hollywood Land within the Disney California Adventure Park. The set up in the waiting area is awesome, huge screens on the walls with Frozen playing and other movies and activities to keep the kids occupied while they wait to meet the princesses. That said the first afternoon we popped in to check the line – it was two hours long. This is not uncommon as, let’s be fair, these are major celebs we are talking about here😜but with several days ahead of us in the parks we were in no rush to see them so went up and asked the Cast Member at the entrance when the best time to come was to reduce wait time. They told us first thing in the morning or last thing at night! So that is what we did! The next morning we had a character breakfast scheduled at 7am. We were running a tad late leaving that so got to the Elsa & Anna meet and greet at about 8:20 (20 mins after they opened). we were first there! Literally walked straight in, no line at all. Was so fast it almost threw us I wasn’t prepared and was grovelling in my bag for my camera ha ha! It was so awesome though and ten minutes later we were wandering off to our next activity! Once again planning was so important to making this a smooth and efficient activity. Managing wait times as much as we could really did make the trip that extra bit special. Handling it this way meant we did not have one single 5 year old melt down the entire time we were in the park. I would have forgiven many given all the excitement but nope, not one!

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That face 😍

Prepare yourself for the most adorable tear jerking memory making moment with your little prince or princess ever!! This experience is so close to our hearts. Those of you following our journey on social media may have seen this on my instagram stories. If not it’s saved to my highlights under “Disneyland” I have linked my instagram page here. If you think your little boy or girl would love this don’t hesitate! Again, plan ahead and book it into one of your days and work around it so that you can make the most of your time. We didn’t plan ours super well because Ruby was so tired that day and we had a night show planned so she went straight to bed in the resort afterwards ha ha! But it didn’t matter, I would honestly take her back just for this. The fairy god mothers make such a fuss, the photoshoot afterwards is just adorable. And included in our package was express entry to visit all the princesses in their castle! No line up! Worth the money for that alone in my eyes lol! We walked straight out of the boutique and into the arms of cinderella, Ariel and Snow White ready for hugs and autograph signings. If you can’t tell from my crazy rambling – we LOVED THIS! xx

…and this is the moment I burst into tears. She was having the best time! Special moment I will treasure forever. 😭

Character Autographs

This was a massive highlight for Rubes. Throughout our entire stay her autograph book was never far from her reach and the excitement on her face when we ran into one of her favourites was worth the trip alone. When we visited Disney Aulani 18 months ago she was a little tentative around characters. This time, a little older – aged 5, she was super confident (albeit still a teeny bit shy which is her nature) in running up and hugging talking and holding out her book to add signatures to her collection. Since returning home i’ve printed her photos and stuck them in next to each autograph and it has become one of her most treasured possessions.

Ruby’s first character breakfast. We did this a few times. It can never hurt to book in advance but we had no problems getting into this whenever we wanted to. Storytellers is part of the Grand Californian Hotel so super easy if you’re staying there.
Ruby’s very first character encounter on night one, her face says it all!
Meeting Minnie outside her house! xx
Never too old for a photo with chewy!
Highly recommend the Goofy’s Kitchen character dinner. A huge highlight for all of us but especially Ruby. She is still talking about this!

You can easily book into character dinners, breakfasts, and other restaurants via the Disneyland app when in the park, or if you want to plan ahead then via the website before you leave home.

Disneyland Park

Lily gets carried away in Main Street Disneyland! 😜

A short walk from Disney California Adventure Park is Disneyland Park. We didn’t get here until day 2 and because of our itinerary we did do a bit of back and forth across the parks. To be honest because we had the four nights it didn’t matter losing a bit of time walking to and fro for particular shows etc that we wanted to see. But if you are on a shorter time frame I would definitely recommend sticking to just one park per day so that you don’t waste any time walking between. It’s worth noting too that for $15 a day you can hire a pram. We actually did this one afternoon for Ruby when she was needing a break and it was an absolute life saver. A good option for people with kids too old for a pram so not worth packing one, but who may end up needing one for a rest when things get a bit much.

Ruby LOVED DL park. Both the girls did. Home to Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, New Orleans Square, Critter County, Frontierland, Tomorrowland and Main street there is soooo much to do in Disneyland! Ruby loved it because she’s really still quite little at heart and her favourite rides were the teacup and carousel 🤣! She also loved Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan’s Flight (absolute magic!). And exploring Minnie and Mickey’s houses and Goofy’s Gardens were also a hit. I LOVED the pop up Mary poppins show. And like Disney California Adventure Park, loads of awesome restaurants to stop and revitalise.

Map of Disneyland Park and attractions
In her element! 😍

Mickey’s Magical Map

This was awesome!!! An essential addition to your Disneyland Park itinerary no matter what age . I was so impressed with the quality of both the street and stage shows in Disneyland. Such a great way to break the day up and experience things other than rides. We packed a lot in but believe it or not there are still things on our list we want to go back and do! The entertainment is non stop. I can’t believe we attempted to do the parks in one day all those years ago. There really is enough to fill five amazing days and more!

Breakfast 😅
Epic wall in Toon Town next to Minnie Mouse House! 😍
Casual with my floss at It’s A Small World 🤪😂
And we are off! That’s a wrap. Cannot wait to visit again, feeling so grateful to have had this time making memories with our girls xx

Our Video Highlights…

We took so much video on the trip and I’ve attempted to compile some of them into this clip linked below. I think I probably had more success using my instagram story highlights and next trip I will def be purchasing a go pro to make this easier! I’m inspired now! But I’m glad to have these phone memories to treasure all the same.

To book your own trip visit the Disneyland, talk to your local travel agent in Australia – they have all the info available that you will need. xx

*Our visit was hosted by Disneyland and AirCanada. All images videos and thoughts on the trip are my own. x


Hong Kong Disney Land

My Hong Kong photo diary is getting pretty massive so to prevent one humungo post I decided to split it up. First up, the happiest place on earth! I’ve been receiving loads of questions on my Instagram about this one. Worlds smallest Disney so I believe? We’ve been to the Anaheim Disney Park before with the big kids and WOAH. We were there 2 days and it wasn’t nearly long enough, that said, the line ups (one hour per ride! atleast!) were so draining and although we LOVED it, and will most definitely go back (and attempt a quieter time of year if that’s even possible) I found it pretty draining.

Hong Kong Disney on the other hand was smaller, and more focused towards the littles, which was perfect for us as we were travelling only with Ruby this time around. That said, our older kids (10 and 13) would have definitely been able to entertain themselves MORE than happily. And the beauty of its size meant it was easier to get around. We were cursed (blessed?) with monsoonal rainfall while we were there. The upside being, literally NO LINE UPS. for anything. Still enough people there to create atmosphere but the ability to walk straight onto rides with a nearly 3-year-old was pretty much well and truly worth walking around for 2 hours in squelching shoes and a see through wet clothing LOL. The upside, it was warm the whole time, and eventually, the sun came out! So we got the best of both worlds. My conclusion, definitely worth the visit. It’s easy to get to via the MTR (jump on at Hong Kong Central) and you can do the whole park in a day, but could definitely enjoy it over a couple. Andy travels to HK for work often, so on return trips I wouldn’t hesitate to take the kids back on my own for a quick half day outing either.

Ruby’s favourite rides were basically anything residing in Fantasy Land. Weeks later she’s still gushing over the Winnie the Pooh, Sleeping Beauty Castle, Dumbo The Flying Elephant, the teacups, It’s a small world (awesome a/c on this one – if your husbands getting restless pop him on this a few times to calm down, a welcome break from the humidity) , and Mickey’s Philar Magic show was so much fun. Here are a few pics from our day. If you look closely you can see how drenched we were!! Thankfully the sun came out in the end and our memories are only good. We will definitely be back with the whole fam in the near future. 

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A Colourful Singapore adventure

Finally I have rescued my photos from our trip to Singapore late last year from my rapidly fading laptop so I can share them with you, for those who have been waiting, so sorry for the delay! This was SUCH a wonderful trip. My husband and I are still talking about it. It was completely impromptu, a conference came up for Andy’s work, the big kids were due to be with their Dad that week, so we decided why not extend his stay and Ruby and I hop along for the journey.

I am SO glad we did. Ruby was the perfect age for this adventure. All my kids have generally travelled really well over the years. But I particularly loved this age (22 months at the time) for travel. I know it’s a big call, some would say travelling with a nearly 2 year old is a recipe for a whole lot of stress. The secret? I think the fact that she still needed sleeps, but would happily have them in her pram on the go, meant that she was well rested the whole time, and we didn’t miss out on a single thing we wanted to do.

At home her normal routine is probably that of most toddlers her age, a long sleep in the middle of the day, bed around 7/8. So we found by the time we got up, took her to hotel breakfast (where she could eat all the healthy, filling, nourishing food she wanted – for free!) and then set off she was already getting weary. By the time we arrived at the days first location she would be getting tired already. SO, if we had stuck to her routine at home we literally would have spent the entire holiday in our hotel room.

Instead, by lunch time we would lay her back in her pram, and she would fall asleep on the go. The result? Child free lunch! She would sleep through lunch every day while we relaxed, refuel and re boost energy for the afternoons activities. She would generally only sleep for an hour, so once up we would carry on with that days itinerary until we were done, then head back to the hotel. We were staying at the Marina Bay Sands so would then hit the EPIC roof top infinity pool (if you haven’t visited or looked into this hotel, it’s a MUST, just try not to think about how high in the air you are, if you can get past the height factor, you will just LOVE this resort, we adored it!) for a swim (cocktail for Mum and Dad) and then back to our room where we would put her to bed around 4:30pm. She would then sleep until 6:30 while we relaxed, had a drink, read, worked, showered, got ready for dinner. By the time Ruby was up she was fully refreshed and we were able to take her out to dinner with us until 9/10pm each night. I was beyond thrilled with how easy this was. I’ve always followed a loose routine for the kids. Most days I generally stick to a similar sleep structure and meal pattern. But I also love to teach the kids that holidays can be different to home, as are weekends, or special occasions. The others are older now, and I love that we can take Ruby out to enjoy evening activities when we are away (or even at home for that matter) one night, and the next night she’ll happily go back to her usual routine of 7 ish bedtime. With a big family, and older kids (10 & 12) this flexibility is super important to us.

So here’s a collection of photos from our colourful journey, and some links and information below to our favourite places to go, some were touristy, others were more along the cultural trail, all super enjoyable. I was lucky enough thanks to Instagram connections to have a bunch of activity recommendations prior to leaving from my friend Joanne. We visited all her recommendations (included below) and also added some more discoveries of our own. Singapore was so lush and clean and it was really easy to get around on the underground transport system. The people were so happy, polite and welcoming, and Ruby was completely adored everywhere we went. We will definitely be going back with the whole family to see more of what Singapore has to offer.  xC 

Getting there:

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Singapore Airlines

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Singapore Airlines

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Where we stayed:

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Marina Bay Sands (looking up at sky park – pool/restaurants- on top)

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Marina Bay Sands

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Marina Bay Sands

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Marina Bay Sands Sky Park

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Marina Bay Sands Sky Park

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Marina Bay Sands Sky Park

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Marina Bay Sands Sky Park

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Marina Bay Sands Sky Park

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Marina Bay Sands Sky Park

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Marina Bay Sands – shopping

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Marina Bay Sands – shopping

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Marina Bay Sands – shopping

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Gardens by The Bay

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Gardens by the Bay

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Gardens by The Bay

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Gardens by The Bay

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Gardens by the Bay (wearing Kachel)

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Gardens By the Bay (Children by the Bay wearing Molo)

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Gardens By the Bay (Children by the Bay)

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Gardens By the Bay (Children by the Bay)

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Duxton Hill (wearing Coco & Ginger)

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Lucha Lola, Duxton Hill

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Lucha Lola, Duxton Hill

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Lucha Lola, Duxton Hill

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Lucha Lola, Duxton Hill

The Colour Trail

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Arab Street area (wearing Peggy Clothing & Bohemian Traders)

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Arab Street area (wearing Peggy Clothing & Bohemian Traders)

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Arab Street area

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Arab Street area (wearing Peggy Clothing)

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Arab Street area (wearing Peggy Clothing)

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Arab Street area

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Arab Street area (wearing Bohemian Traders)

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China Town

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China Town

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China Town (wearing Coco & Ginger)

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China Town

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Little India (wearing Kachel)

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Little India

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Little India

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Little India

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Little India

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Little India

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Little India

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Clarke Quay (wearing Coco & Ginger and Bohemian Traders)

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Clarke Quay

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Clarke Quay (wearing Feather Drum)

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Clarke Quay

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Boat Quay (wearing Feather Drum)

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Joo Chiat Shop Houses

Tourist Attractions

  1. Gardens by the Bay Just spectacular. You could easily visit more than once. Lucky for us this was at the base of the Marina Bay Sands hotel where we were staying, we visited the gardens regularly, the indoor atriums provide welcome escape from the heat and humidity, and the outdoor water play area and playground are a must for the kids. Clean, bright, shady, lush, Ruby could have happily visited every day. Between that and the infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands she was in her element.

  2. Sea Aquarium at Sentosa From Marina Bay Sands Sentosa was only a 15 minute taxi drive, very easy to get to. I took Ruby over to the Aquarium (saving Universal Studios for another trip with the big kids) It was a great set up, worth the visit, however if you’re used to the aquariums in Australia (Sydney/Melbourne) there’s probably nothing particularly new here. Don’t get me wrong, we loved it, but for me I generally prefer to do things overseas that I can’t do in my own country, so I wouldn’t bother visiting again next time. Universal studios on the other hand will definitely get a look in, perhaps we will even stay a few nights on Sentosa island itself. Less traffic, lots of wildlife, so lush and green, I hear it’s fantastic.

  3. Universal Studio Singapore at Sentosa

  4. Singapore Zoo (Book in advance and have breakfast with the Orang Utans, highly HIGHLY recommend!) I have no photos of this unfortunately! I was craving a camera free outing so we literally just went along and soaked it up. Such a beautiful experience. You need to book in advance but it’s well worth the effort.

  5. The Singapore Flyer a great view of Singapore!

Outdoor leisure/adventure

  1. Botanical Garden (recently listed as UNESCO heritage site) is an absolute must https://www.sbg.org.sg/  There’s a small waterpark at Jacob Ballas Childrens Garden so pack bathers if you are taking kids.

  2. Forest Adventure Treetop Course at Bedok Reservoir Park http://forestadventure.com.sg/?utm_expid=22567813-2._zOP5p_cT52MMsDyUUM7kw.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.littledayout.com%2Flisting%2Fforest-adventure.html We didn’t get here, it’s on the list for next time, call up to make an appointment as they limit the number of people who may go on the treetops

  3. Skyline Luge at Sentosa http://www.sentosa.com.sg/en/attractions/imbiah-lookout/sentosa-luge-skyride/

Heritage/Cultural/Colour

Because we were away for my husbands work (conference) I had quite a few days exploring just Ruby and I. We didn’t take the big kids on this trip as they were still in school. So without their enthusiasm to attend every tourist park (Universal Studios etc I will save for when they are travelling with me) I spent most of my time on the Singapore culture trail. Ruby was more than happy to sit in her stroller and watch the world go by. Tasting new food, talking to people, exploring new places was enough for her, which was perfect for me as we could happily do all the things I wanted to do and both get value out of the outings. Here’s where we went:

  1. Little India http://littleindia.com.sg/ Think food, markets, stalls, temples and colour colour colour. I was on my own with Ruby this day so just wandered around on my own, ended up meeting up with another tourist and we explored together taking photos for one another! If I had my time again I think I would possibly book into the tour, I feel like Little India had hidden treasures and history lessons that I would have loved to have learnt more about. Expect lots of stalls, food, cafes, take your camera.

  2. Chinatown http://www.chinatown.sg/ Definitely worth a look. Great shopping and food of course. We explored the surrounding streets, hidden bursts of colour at every turn. I will definitely go back to explore further when we visit next. Id love to see it at night time with the lanterns all lit up.

  3. Arab Street area: I loved this walk. Basically for the photography. Colour at every turn, lots of cute shop houses. Unfortunately the day we went was bin day, but it wasn’t too hard to avoid them in my shots. The shops themselves are more so craft and fabric based. I would have loved to have looked further but not that useful to me whilst on holidays, probably more a shopping area for locals. That said the colour and interesting architecture, temples, well worth the visit if you have an interest in photography, I will definitely go back again next time.

  4. Joo Chiat Shop Houses: This for me was totally off the beaten track. I googled it literally using that title. I found it tricky to get to BUT once we were there it was really fun to wander around all the colourful homes and shop houses. Again, I got away with it because I was travelling with a toddler who was happy kicking back in her pram with a watermelon juice (readily available) while I strolled, I’m not sure my older children would have been quite as tolerant to travel so far out of our way to visit a street of colourful homes. But if you’re travelling with a baby or on your own, it’s a fun colourful spot to take photos.

  5. Boat/Clarke Quay: Easy to get to and more mainstream, this is where I stumbled on that GIANT colourful building. The MICA (Ministry of Information, Communication, and the Arts), which is virtually impossible to walk by without stopping to take a photo. Nearby to here is the waterfront. More of a tourist trail, rides, ice-creams, lots of restaurants, but also lots of colour. If you’re after a convenient family friendly wander where you can take great photos and everyone is happy, Clarke and Boat Quays are definitely for you.

A few of our favourite places to eat:

Lucha Lola in Duxton Hill. Possibly the best Mexican and cocktails EVER.

Absinthe in Boat Quay. If you love French food, this is a must. Not quite as family friendly, more of a date night for Mum and Dad. We took Ruby having had a late afternoon sleep. Sitting out watching the boats go by she was perfectly behaved. Not sure I’d brave it with all three. Probably would though but I love a challenge like that in the name of a tasty meal!

We also stumbled on this cute cafe near Little India called AEIOU. Avocado lattes and vintage treasures galore, a super cute stop over. Lots of whole-foods and eclectic delights to look over. So worth a look if you’re in the area.

If you’re staying at the Marina Bay Sands we found it very convenient to eat at the restaurants in the attached shopping precinct . Great Pizza and Seafood Bars, very handy after a big day of tourist activities to have a range of restaurants so close by to where we were staying. You can check out the range of restaurants at Marina Bay Sands: HERE.