I always psych myself out before vacations, mostly because thats what I do. I stress about forgetting something or not packing enough diapers. And this trip was no different.
I was so nervous to go on our vacation to the Upper Peninsula. The long car ride, packing for the week, the unpredictable Michigan weather, activities that mostly involved hiking…I could go on.
I searched extensively about traveling to the UP with toddlers, and found basically nothing. I even joined random Facebook groups the week before in hopes that someone would give me tips. No one responded. So I contacted the Department of Natural Resources and actually heard back from one person, a lady from Tahquamenon Falls. She told me where to park and that people do it all the time with toddlers. That made me feel a little better about our first day’s adventure.
In case you are searching for tips on bringing your wild 3 and a half year old and 19 month old toddlers on a trip that is primarily hiking adventures, here are some tips for Tahquamenon Falls:
–Everyone needs to wear comfortable shoes. Even though you only end up doing about a mile total at the Upper Falls, then another 2/3 of a mile if you do the Lower Falls too, I wouldn’t wear flip flops. You do 94 steps at the Upper Falls, and I know that my feet and back would hurt even worse if I wasn’t wearing my sneakers. I put sort-of-sneakers on Emmy, even though she was in the Ergo primarily, but she did get out and run around.
-Bring an Ergo. or a stroller if you’re not big on baby wearing. I used the Ergo every single day on our trip, and I even borrowed one from my friend so we had one for Elijah too. Walking down 94 steps to see the Upper Falls with a 30 pound toddler in an Ergo is a serious work out. And then walking back up sucked even more. It made me wish I worked out or ran flights of stairs in preparation. There are a whole lot of steps if you’re going to the UP. So if you are carrying toddlers, you will either be thankful you’re in such great shape, or, like me, remember how you used to run cross country no problem and then feel inferior to your college self because a mile hike with a 3 year old on your back makes you feel like you need a nap. and a massage.
But, definitely have an Ergo so you can easily carry your toddler, and keep them away from dangerous areas where a 19 month old could just slip right through and escape.
-Take your time. If both kids were in a stroller, I’m sure we could’ve made it to the viewing areas way faster, but part of an adventure like this is letting your little ones explore. Emmy was in and out of the Ergo on the trails and Elijah walked on his own most of the way. There were a lot of stops along the way, and that made it more fun for the tiny humans. I like to let them discover the cool things themselves and talk about what they are looking at.
-Pack snacks. Even though we were planning on getting lunch at the brewery right in the park, I brought us pb&js, apples, and various snacks. And I am so glad we did, we didn’t end up eating lunch until after 3 because of long waits and the rain that made every single person at the park go into the restaurant. If I made my kids wait that long to have lunch, there would have been a tiny mutiny on my hands and I probably would’ve been pretty darn crabby too.
-Be prepared. The day we went to the Falls was actually the warmest day of our trip and the only day we actually wore shorts. There was a 40% chance of rain in the afternoon, so I stuck some rain ponchos in our bag. And it poured. We still got pretty wet; Emaline was not the biggest fan of sharing a poncho with me while being in the Ergo, so she tore herself a larger hole. Then I abandoned RJ before he could get his poncho on so he had his head through an arm hole…luckily I packed us all extra clothes and socks in the car. So bring ponchos, or umbrellas. And extra clothes for the tiny ones and the grown ups. You won’t regret it.
Doing anything with toddlers is more complicated, especially a day trip with an activity like hiking, that is so out of the norm for my kids. It was fun and now Elijah gets upset when we see a body of water without a waterfall nearby. I guess being in the beauty of the Upper Peninsula really spoiled my boy.
Have any questions about going to Tahquamenon Falls with tiny humans? Leave it in the comments and I’d be happy to try my best to help.