Disney World Photo Ideas for Your Family Vacation

Disney World Photo Ideas for Your Family Vacation

Besides the typical photos with characters, I’d love to share some suggestions for where to take beautiful and unique pictures at Disney. Whether you’re curating an Instagram account or simply filling the family photo albums, here are the best spots at Disney World for photos according to park.

Read More

Can't-Miss Things to Do in Rovaniemi, Finland for a Unique Family Vacation

WHAT TO DO IN ROVANIEMI, FINLAND WITH KIDS

Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, Finland may not be at the top of your bucket list yet, but it will be soon! This laid-back city in Finnish Lapland is a nature-lover’s paradise and a safe and welcoming place for families to visit.

While I visited Rovaniemi in summer, the entire time I could imagine the landscape covered in a thick blanket of snow. How magical it would be to visit during winter, despite the hassle of bringing extra layers, boots, and winter gear.

Even as an adult I learned so much about geography and nature during my time in Northern Finland. From the natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights to the midnight sky in summer and the endless nights of winter, you and your kids will be so fascinated you won’t even know you’re learning! Add to that the way the Finnish people live off the land and respect nature, and your curiosity about geography will be officially sparked.

It’s not just learning, though! You’ll find plenty of fun activities and delicious restaurants in Rovaniemi. Grab a steaming cup of coffee or hot cocoa and get cozy. I’ve got all the details to help you plan a trip to Rovaniemi, Finland.

Disclosure: My trip to Rovaniemi, Finland was hosted by Visit Finland and Visit Rovaniemi on a press trip in exchange for consideration in articles and blog posts. All opinions are my own.

This blog post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click my link and make a purchase I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

{FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTAGRAM FOR MORE GREAT TRAVEL CONTENT!}

WHERE IS ROVANIEMI, FINLAND?

Rovaniemi, Finland is a city in the Lapland region of Finland, just a few miles south of the Arctic Circle. It is located in the north-central area of the country. It is the capital of Finnish Lapland and a serene spot where visitors can take in the natural Arctic setting.

HOW TO GET TO ROVANIEMI, FINLAND

While there are multiple ways to get to Rovaniemi, Finland, the quickest and easiest method of transportation is flying. We took a connecting flight from Helsinki with Finnair to reach Rovaniemi.

The airport in this northern city is small, but still offers restaurants, souvenir shops, and plenty of seating. From the airport, you can take a bus or taxi to your destination.

If you’re spending time in Helsinki before heading north to Rovaniemi, you can also take a train. While this will take longer than flying, it’s a bit cheaper, and I would imagine the views as you approach Finnish Lapland are beautiful, especially in winter. You can book train tickets here.

Finally, you could take a bus or rent a car and drive yourself, but if you’re bringing children along those might be less desirable options.

If you’re used to renting a car abroad (and Finland does use the same side of the road as the United States), renting a car might not be a terrible option since it gives you more freedom, but it will definitely be a lot more work.

WHERE TO STAY IN ROVANIEMI, FINLAND

ARCTIC LIGHT HOTEL

If you’re looking for where to stay in Rovaniemi, Finland, look no further than the Arctic Light Hotel. Located in the downtown area, this family-owned property is at once chic and cozy with impeccable Finnish design.

DSC_0545.JPG

I stayed in the Arctic Room, which included a separate sitting area for relaxing or working. The headboard was dotted with stars that guests can turn on and off from a switch within reach of the bed. Perhaps most important of all were the curtains. The thick window treatments completely blacked out the midnight sun, ensuring a good night’s sleep during those summer nights when the sun never sets.

This hotel is perfect if you want to be in the heart of the action and within walking distance of restaurants, cafes, and shopping. The staff was incredibly friendly, and everyone we encountered spoke impeccable English.

fullsizeoutput_5d59.jpeg

Finally, I want to sing the praises of the on-site restaurant. We ate dinner there the first night, and were very pleased with our meals. The presentation was beautiful and the food was delicious. If you’re looking to try traditional Lapish dishes like reindeer and lingenberry you can order it there.

In addition, the complimentary breakfast spread was elaborate. Unfortunately, I was dealing with intense morning sickness since I was about 8 weeks pregnant during our visit, so all I could manage was some bread. For those who could enjoy the breakfast, though, there were small glasses of green juice, croissants, parfaits, eggs, meats, and more. I honestly wish I could go back again to properly enjoy it! I also wish I hadn’t been too sick to take a picture.

ARCTIC TREEHOUSE HOTEL

Another great option for accommodations in Rovaniemi is the Arctic Treehouse Hotel. This boutique property is made up of individual suits with beds that overlook a floor to ceiling window for viewing the Northern Lights or the midnight sun.

We didn’t get a chance to stay in the Arctic Treehouse Hotel, but we did get an extensive property tour and got to step inside each type of accommodation. I walked away from the treehouses with an intense desire to decorate my home in the Nordic style. Every item was simple, beautiful, and multipurpose in order to maximize space.

The views are incredible, and I can only imagine snuggling up in bed with my family watching the Northern Lights put on a show. It would be a dream to come back sometime in winter to see the natural phenomenon.

The property’s restaurant, called Rakas, is beautifully designed and focused on using local ingredients.

IMG_6072.jpg
Booking.com

WHAT TO DO IN ROVANIEMI, FINLAND

SANTA CLAUS VILLAGE

Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus, which means Christmas magic abounds year-round at Santa Claus Village.

The highlight of your time in the village will be meeting Santa Claus himself. He receives visitors every day of the year in Santa Claus Office where you’ll meet his cheerful elves and get a chance to talk with Santa and take a picture with him (and the pictures are available for purchase afterward).

I can say from experience that Santa is a great conversationalist. He asked our group of travel writers lots of questions about where we were from, our kids, and our work. We got a chance to share our kids’ Christmas wish lists with him, and I was kicking myself for not having my daughter write him a letter. He keeps all the letters kids send him.

Next, we made our way to Santa Claus Post Office where you can send someone a letter from Santa to be delivered right before Christmas. The building actually functions as a regular post office, so you can send normal mail and packages, too! I loved looking at the displays of letters from kids around the world. Some kids even mail special gifts for Santa!

Speaking of mailing packages, you can actually get some of your Christmas shopping (or just regular souvenir shopping) done at Santa Claus Village. There are cute little souvenir shops as well as factory outlet stores for popular Finnish designers like Marimekko and Iittala. This is your chance to get some chic Nordic sweaters or fun handicrafts.

At Santa Claus Village the Arctic Circle is clearly marked in the main plaza so you can easily get pictures of yourself inside the arctic circle.

Finally, guests can meet and even feed Santa’s reindeer. You have to book the Arctic Reindeer experience ahead of time, but it’s totally worth it to learn all about how they’re cared for and to get a chance to see these majestic creatures up close.

ARKTIKUM MUSEUM AND SCIENCE CENTER

IMG_5991.JPG

Have you ever wondered what the Northern Lights actually are or how they work? Are you curious about what life is like in the Arctic Circle? Do you know why the sun never sets in summer and it’s dark all day in winter in the Arctic Circle?

It’s always nice to visit a destination and get a feel for the life and culture there simply by observing, but I felt a much deeper understanding of life in Rovaniemi after just an hour at Arktikum Museum and Science Center. We learned so much about history, culture, geography, and the science behind the northern lights.

If you’re traveling to the area with kids, especially elementary-aged kids, I think your family will really appreciate a stop at this museum.

Also, not only is it incredibly informative, but the architecture is beautiful, too!

BUY LAPPISH HANDICRAFTS

fullsizeoutput_5d56.jpeg

It’s one thing to go to a market or souvenir store and buy some handicrafts and go on with your day. it’s another thing entirely to sit in the artist’s workship and have coffee and blueberry cake with them in their house.

Irene and Ari Kangasniemi run their workshop, Hornwork, near their home, and take visitors inside to get a closer look at the materials they use. They largely depend on nature to supply everything they need. Their main materials are antlers, and you’ll definitely learn a lot you didn’t know before about reindeer antlers!

Irene will walk you through how to make your own handicraft, too, so you won’t walk away empty-handed. I made a necklace for my daughter, with the main piece made from antlers.

Afterward, you’ll get to enjoy some traditional Lappish refreshments in their cozy cottage. It was so cool to hear from Irene how they live off the land and respect and enjoy the natural environment of northern Finland.

Make sure to call or email ahead of time to book your time with irene and Ari! Find more information here.

FLOAT IN A LAKE

IMG_0030.JPG

Safartica is a company that leads different types of safaris and adventures in Lapland. One of the most unique services they offer is the Floating experience. There are a few different versions of the floating activities. Since we were visiting in the height of summer, we got to do the Midnight Sun Floating. Those who visit in winter will get to do Ice Floating or Aurora Ice Floating.

Essentially, you put on a thick neoprene suit that covers you from head to toe. It keeps you warm and dry while in the water, and also helps keep your body afloat, so you don’t even need to be able to swim to participate.

It was one of the coolest sensations I’ve ever experienced, and it was so incredibly peaceful to be floating in a lake in the middle of nowhere. No noise. No buildings to block the view. Just me, the lake, and the midnight sun.

If you’re going in winter, I would imagine it would be breathtaking to see the Northern Lights while floating in an icy lake at night. Safartica even provides warm beverages afterward!

DOG SLEDDING

If you’re an animal lover, visiting the Alaskan huskies at Bearhill Husky is an awesome activity no matter what time of year you’re visiting.

In summer you can take a 2-hour tour of the kennel and learn all about the lives of the dogs and how they’re trained. Though there won’t be any snow for a sled ride, you can still take a short cart ride with the huskies to see how they train for the winter months.

Unfortunately, on the day we visited Bearhill, it was unusually hot in Rovaniemi, which meant it was too warm for the dogs to pull a cart. We didn’t get to take a ride, but we enjoyed a fun walk with the husky puppies in the forest!

In winter you can take a cozy husky safari through the nearby snowy forest, then warm up with hot berry juice afterward. This would be an awesome activity for families with young children!

SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

According to the Visit Rovaniemi website, the Northern Lights are typically visibly about 150 nights out of the year starting in August and going through April.

Of course, this is a natural phenomenon, so there’s never a guarantee that you’ll be able to see them during your visit.

Whether you book a stay at a place like the Arctic Treehouse Hotel to see the lights or arrange an experience like Aurora Ice Floating, there are lots of different ways to make this special experience even more amazing.

Check out more tips for catching the Aurora Borealis here!

TRY REINDEER, CLOUDBERRIES, AND MORE LOCAL CUISINE

When you’re visiting another country, trying the local cuisine is a great way to get a better feel for how people live and what the culture is like.

In Finnish Lapland, local produce and game are popular choices. The Finnish pride themselves on using local ingredients and living off the land.

They really do eat reindeer in Finnish Lapland! It’s typically served with lingonberry, but you can also try it as a burger! Berries are another common dish. Try cloudberries! They’re a little tart, but creamy. Blueberries are everywhere, too!

There’s so much to do on a family vacation to Rovaniemi, Finland.

While most think of northern Finland as a great winter destination, we really enjoyed it in summer, too! Everyone is outside and enjoying the sunshine since they know they have a long winter ahead of them. The area really comes to life, and people are happy to be outdoors.

If you’re still on the fence about traveling to Finland with kids, here are 10 reasons Finland is an awesome family-friendly destination.

HELPFUL TRIP-PLANNING POSTS:

The Best Types of Trips to Take with Toddlers

Tips for Flying with Little Kids and Toddlers without Losing Your Mind

How to Budget and Save for Your Dream Destination

50 Road Trip Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Organized Packing with Kids

DON’T FORGET IT! PIN IT!

Emily.png

Fun Things to Do in Nashville for Families

Fun Things to Do in Nashville for Families

If you’re planning to visit Nashville, TN with your kids, you might want to make sure you have multiple days to explore. There’s so much for families to do in the area, and I’m not even counting exploring and hiking through the natural surroundings.

The area has been growing in popularity in recent years. Though it’s a hotspot for bachelor and bachelorette parties and adult getaways, there’s still more than enough to do in this family-friendly city. It’s very walkable, which was a win in my book!

Read More