The Wallenberg and Keller families are right in the middle of developing our family vacation traditions. Really, we’re our own target market….except for that whole NO free time in the summer. So, what do you do when summer vacations are out? You head to Florida just when the cold temps and constant grey are starting to get you down. 


Dave and Mary Jane helped us start this tradition by heading south and inviting us along (because, seriously, how do you afford a vacation with 3 toddlers any other way?!?) And now, for the past three Februarys we have found ourselves on Siesta Key enjoying a week (or two!) of family relaxation. 


Although we try to work very little on our vacation, we can’t fight the urge to soak up any fresh, family-friendly vacation ideas we find and bring them back to Brookside. We spend our week taking notes in our condo about the good ideas (….kitchen shears), bad ideas (breakable decorations….), and everything in between. We scout out pools and beach areas and collect pictures of recycling ideas and check in/check out procedures. 


So, what did we learn this year? 


First, airplane trips with kids really make things tricky. Worrying about snacks and liquid amounts and escalators and security lines and bathroom breaks in an airport with three toddlers – all while trying not to lose one of them in a crowd MUCH bigger than we are used to at home – keeps us on our toes. However, being limited to winter vacations but loving the beach, we are stuck with the airport line. 


Second, the right condo makes all the difference. For our family, the right condo means a place where we don’t have to get back in the car – apart from a few trips to the grocery store – for the whole week. It also means a big beach where our three wild kids can run and chase birds and find shells without bothering everyone else and a pool that mom and dad don’t mind spending at least 2 hours at every day.


Third, a kid-friendly environment is a thing worth mentioning. The last thing we want to worry about on our family vacation is our kids bothering other people when they are doing cannonballs into the swimming pool or playing a rousing game of hide and seek at 7 am (seriously….we have been up for at least an hour by that point!) Side-eye glances from sunbathers who were looking for peace and quiet until WE showed up puts us somewhere between momma and poppa tiger and apologizing to everyone near us for our kids being kids. 


Fourth, we need some help navigating the area. The first time we visited Siesta Key, it was hard to fit exploring into our schedule between naps and dodging traffic with a stroller. So anything available to us in our condo with ideas on parks, restaurants and local activities was really helpful. And by year three, we have some regular spots figured out. 


And finally, it makes a big difference in our week whether or not the condo kitchen has the things that make eating and cooking with three kids convenient! For us, that means big coffee mugs, dishes that we didn’t have to worry about breaking, and kitchen shears (seriously, I think we used them 10 times every day!)


So, how would our list stack up against a Brookside vacation? 


Airplane ride? For most of you – not a problem. And for those of you who do take an airplane ride to your Brookside vacation – seriously, hats off! 


The right cabin? We like to think that Brookside has a little something for everyone in your family. Swimming, golfing, fishing, video games, bonfires, ice cream, waterskiing, paddle boarding, Bingo playing, book reading, and star gazing….just to name a few! And there is enough to do that – if you are anything like us – you won’t get back in the car until Saturday morning.


Kid-friendly environment? Check. And double-check. One thing we are mighty proud of at Brookside is that it’s basically Kid-World. Everything is kid-friendly, kid-welcoming, and kid-focused. No need to tell them to quiet down or stop doing cannonballs. There is not much they can break and not many places they can’t play. Feel comfortable sending your kids down to the lodge with only their charge account and instructions to come home for dinner? Good, because so do we. 


Help navigating the area? We love to tell you about all the fun things there are to do in the Park Rapids and Two Inlets area. And we have lived here for awhile, so there is a good chance we will have even more info than you want. Need a restaurant recommendation? Directions? Tips on the best shopping spots? Just head to the lodge – and someone will have an idea for you.


The kitchen? Well, let’s just say that upon returning home from vacation this year, I bought 29 pairs of kitchen shears.


Joanna is still considering herself a newbie at blogging, but not at resorting. After a childhood of playing at Brookside she is now learning how to own the place.