Campground Spotlight: High Sierra RV & Mobile Park

Campground Spotlight: High Sierra RV & Mobile Park 1

The High Sierra RV & Mobile Park is a no-frills RV and tent campground located about 25 minutes outside of the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park in Oakhurst, California.

Not including the campgrounds inside the national park, High Sierra is the closet campground to Yosemite National Park's South Entrance. See photos, along with a full review, below.

RV Sites

High Sierra RV & Mobile Park is a small and humble campground with 29 RV sites and and 12 tent camping sites. Of the 29 RV sites, 13 are Deluxe Full Hook-Ups (30 amp), 9 are Premium Full Hook-Ups (50 amp), 3 are Riverside Partial Hook-Ups (Water & Electric), and 3 are Standard Partial Hook-Ups (Water & Electric). RV site fees include up to five people ($7 extra for the 6th person) and the maximum number of people in an RV site is six.

One of the best perks of staying at a campground outside of Yosemite National Park is that you may be able to get full or partial hook-ups, as evidence above. This means that you can take showers and wash dishes after a long day in the park.

The sites are all dirt, fairly level, and on the small side. You will likely be relatively close to your neighbors on either side. Expect to back-in for most sites. The two sites advertised as "pull-through" sites (#36 and #34) actually require some tricky maneuvering.

The RV sites appear to range in price from $40-$60/night, whereas tent sites are in the $20-$30/night range. Cabins currently rent for about $90-$150/night, depending on the time of year.

Tents and Cabins

High Sierra RV & Mobile Park has 12 tent camp sites that are near the Fresno River (which is more like a creek, to be fair). The tent sites are numbers 5-15 and they all offer water & electric.

High Sierra RV & Mobile Park also rents out small cabins that sleep 4 people. They have beds, a mini fridge, and a microwave - but do not have private restrooms or showers (you can use the shower house on-property).

Restrooms & Laundry

There are two restroom facilities. Laundry and showers are also available, if needed. We did not use any of these facilities because we were self-contained in our RV.

Playground, Swimming Pool, Dog Park

High Sierra RV & Mobile Park is more of a "place to hang your hat" rather than a destination campground. The park offers convenient access to Oakhurst and to area attractions, but you probably won't want to spend much time on-site. There is no playground, dog park, or swimming pool.

There is, however, a small swimming hole in the river. Young children may enjoy splashing and getting wet/muddy on warm summer days. Bring water shoes, hats, swimsuits, and sunscreen!


While there is no cafe or restaurant on-site, there are picnic tables at each RV and tent site for your convenience. Plus, High Sierra is plopped right in the middle of Oakhurst so there are plenty of restaurants within two miles - including Carl's Jr, China Delight, DiCicco's Italian, Judy's Donuts, Kyoto Kafe Japanese & Korean Cuisine, McDonald's, Pete's Place, Plazuelas Mexican, Round Table Pizza, Starbuck's, Subway, and Taco Bell.

As for grocery stores, you won't have to drive far! Von's or Raley's are both less than a mile away.

In fact, if you enjoy exploring new areas by foot, you can stroll to the above restaurants and grocery stores without getting in your car. Oakhurst also has a trolley, which runs seasonally, that will take you around town.

Front Office

Checking in? Need advice about area attractions? Stop by the front office and the ladies there will be happy to assist you. Check-in time is at 12:00pm noon for RV & tent sites; check-out time is at 11:00am.

Campground Activities

Campground Spotlight: High Sierra RV & Mobile Park 13

The map of this campground includes volleyball (pictured above - perhaps the net can be checked out at the front office?), horseshoes, and tetherball. Keep in mind, however, that you won't want to spend much time at the campground when Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest, and Bass Lake are in the vicinity.

Local Area

As mentioned previously, the High Sierra RV & Mobile Park is in Oakhurst, California – which is about 25 minutes south of the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park. Oakhurst is a charming town with an elevation of 2,274 feet and a population of about 12,000.

Here is an estimate of the number of minutes from the High Sierra RV Park to popular area attractions:

  • Bass Lake: 12 minutes
  • Mariposa Grove: 31 minutes
  • Reimer's Candies, Gifts, and Ice Cream: 5 minutes
  • Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad: 17 minutes


  • Follow the RV-friendly directions on the High Sierra website and in your reservation confirmation. If you follow google, you may end up in the upper portion of the park, which is for permanent residents and longterm stays.
  • High Sierra is a Good Sam campground, which means that you can receive 10% off on select nights if you are a member. Military and senior discounts are also available, but note that you cannot combine discounts.
  • Wi-Fi is available, but you only get one hour free. If internet service is important to you, you may want to tether your phone (we had a decent cell signal) or make alternate arrangements.
  • If you are a regular shopper at Von's (Safeway) and you have accumulated gas rewards, you may be able to get gas at the Von's gas station for ten cents off.
  • Looking for fun things to do with your children in and near Yosemite National Park? Read my comprehensive article, entitled Travel With Kids: Yosemite National Park, South Entrance.


  • ADDRESS: High Sierra RV & Mobile Park, 40389 Hwy 41, Oakhurst, CA 93644
  • PHONE: 559-683-7662
Travel With Kids: Yosemite National Park, South Entrance 17

Planning a family vacation to Yosemite National Park? Congratulations and cheers! You absolutely should move forward in planning a trip to this spectacular west coast national park destination. Known particularly for its waterfalls, Yosemite is a splendid location for hiking, biking, and wandering in the outdoors. Whether you have babies, elementary age children, teens, college students, or grandparents with you, you all are bound to find something to love at Yosemite National Park.


Before you begin, you should know that there are FIVE entrances into the park.

  • Arch Rock Entrance (west of the park)
  • Big Oak Flat Entrance (west of the park)
  • Hetch Hetchy Entrance (west of the park)
  • South Entrance (south of the park)
  • Tioga Pass (east of the park)

The Arch Rock entrance puts you closest to Yosemite Valley (the most popular destination with a variety of sights & trails), while the South entrance puts you closer to Mariposa Grove. Tioga Pass is a gateway to a more remote part of Yosemite and will bring you nearest to the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center (but far away from everything else).

Our family recently returned from a trip to Yosemite and used the South Entrance so our article will mainly focus on the amenities in and near that entrance.


Elevation varies widely within the park. You can stand at about 2,127 feet in the western foothills or at 13,120 feet at the top of Mount Lyell in the Cathedral Range. Needless to say, the weather can be different depending on your location so it is wise to be prepared for any kind of weather. That being said, temperature averages for Yosemite National Park are as follows:

  • Winter: 48-53 highs, 27-30 lows
  • Spring: 58-73 highs, 33-44 lows
  • Summer: 82-90 highs, 50-56 lows
  • Fall: 57-84 highs, 32-50 lows

The area directly south of the South Entrance of Yosemite is called Madera County and includes places like Bass Lake, Oakhurst, and Yosemite Lakes. The weather there is generally a bit warmer than inside the park, but not by much.

Be sure to check the forecast before you go so that you can pack for the expected weather.

BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK: For picture perfect weather, you will probably want to book your trip in April, May, September, or October. March and November can be lovely as well. According to the National Park service, Yosemite receives 95% of its precipitation between October and May (and over 75% between November and March). Note that most of Yosemite is blanketed in snow from about November through May.


Travel With Kids: Yosemite National Park, South Entrance 18

To find current and comprehensive information about where to stay INSIDE Yosemite National Park, please consult the Travel Yosemite website.

RV Parks, Resorts, and Campgrounds Near Yosemite's South Entrance

According to a representation from Visit Yosemite Madera County, the top three RV campgrounds OUTSIDE THE PARK near the South Entrance are (listed in alphabetical order):

For our most recent trip, our family brought our 24-foot travel trailer and stayed at High Sierra RV Park in Oakhurst, California. Click this link for a full Campground Spotlight, including photos.


Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is a unique and memorable way to experience the Sierra National Forest. Tucked inside a canopy of trees, the quaint train station is about 10 minutes from the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park off Highway 41.

We highly recommend the Moonlight Special, which includes dinner, dessert, live music, and a twilight train ride. Check in at 6:30pm and wander through the gift shop, take photos next to the train, explore the one-room museum, or try your hand at panning for gold (for an additional fee). Dinner is served at around 7:00pm in an adorable outdoor seating area, with red-and-white checked tablecloths and perfectly coordinated centerpieces. You'll watch as the chicken, steak, and hot dogs are prepared on a large grill. When the meal is served, you will go through the line buffet-style and will be served your choice of the meats (which you would have pre-selected), french bread, pinto beans, and corn salsa. Our dinner was surprisingly delicious (we all ordered New York steaks and were pleased with that selection). During dinner, expect to be entertained by a local, lively band of baby boomers with guitars, fiddles, puns, corny jokes, and an interactive style that will leave you clapping, swaying, and singing along. After the dinner plates are cleared, dessert is served. The custard coffee cake, topped with homemade whipped cream, was light and scrumptious. (It tasted somewhat like a pancake, not too sweet - but incredibly satisfying). After dessert, we all boarded the train. Seating is first-come, first-served and there are no reserved seats. All seats are open-air and you'll likely find yourself sitting side-by-side with a stranger.

You will then take a 20 to 30min ride on the train at 18mph. The train will stop at Lewis Creek Canyon, where you will disembark, sit on bleachers around a wooden platform stage, and enjoy entertainment by the aforementioned band. Fair warning: you will likely be asked to sway, sing, hoot, or holler along with the musicians. After 30-60 minutes, you will again board the steamer for your return ride in the dark.


  • Concerned about motion sickness? The train is open-air and puffs along rather slowly without sudden dips or turns. (I tend to get motion sickness and was totally fine the whole time). Some people do report getting motion sickness in the car from Oakhurst up Highway 41 so plan accordingly if you are prone to this.
  • Lemonade, ice water, and coffee (including decaf) are self-serve and included with your dinner. Other beverages (soda, beer, wine, cocktails) are available for purchase at an open-air bar. If you buy a drink, you may bring it with you for the ride.
  • If desired, bring cash for beverages or souvenirs from the on-site gift shop, which features Yosemite and railroad-themed souvenirs and an excellent collection of nostalgic toys & games.
  • Depending on the season of your visit, you may want to bring and/or wear bug spray. We took the Moonlight Special in early June and noted that most of the employees were spraying themselves rather robustly prior to the train ride in an attempt to keep the mosquitos at bay. We took note and did the same.
  • There are no tunnels on this train ride (much to out 4-year-old's disappointment), but the ride itself is wonderful for all ages. This attraction will be equally well-loved by preschoolers, grade-schoolers, teenagers, parents, and older adults. We saw several moms with small babies in carriers or on laps and the train seemed to be a great experience for them as well. Perfect for date night also!
  • Dogs are allowed on the trains if they are well-behaved and on a leash.
  • Even if visiting in the summer, bring light sweatshirts along with you as temperatures tend to drop when the sun sets.


  • COST: The Moonlight Special, which includes dinner, is $63 for adults, $36 for children (ages 7-12), and $29 for young children (ages 3-6). Alternatively, you can take a daytime ride ($28 for adults, $16 for children of all ages) and purchase a boxed lunch ($8-$12) to take along with you.

Bass Lake

Bass Lake is situated in the Sierra National Forest at 3,400 feet elevation and is approximately 14 mi from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. The sparkling lake, which is surrounded by pine trees, is almost five miles long and is a popular spot for water sports, swimming, fishing, and picnicking.

There are five campgrounds located on the south side of the lake with a combined total of over 200 campsites. There are also two group camping areas that provide plenty of room for large groups. To make reservations, contact the National Recreation Reservation System at 1-888-444-6777. Reservations can be made up to one day in advance of your arrival. * Note that Bass Lake is only about 30 minutes from the South Entrance of Yosemite so it can work as a "home base" for area explorations if you find that Yosemite is already booked for your preferred dates.


  • The two best ways to enjoy Bass Lake are: (A) to rent/bring a boat or (B) to visit during the off-season when crowds are thinner.
  • If you visit in the summer months (especially June, July, and August), arrive EARLY to find a parking spot and to "set up camp" for the day. It can be difficult to find parking on a midsummer day, especially since part of the lake is residential and is open to private owners only.
  • Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hats, and a swimsuit with a rashguard. As for footwear, water shos, sandals, or flip-flops will be best. Don't forget the sunscreen!
  • Bring water, other cold beverages, snacks, and/or a picnic lunch.
  • If you prefer to dine out, there are several restaurants around the lake (Ducey's on the Lake, Ducey's Bar & Grill, Marina Bar & Grill, The Forks).

Yosemite National Park With Kids

Yosemite National Park is an amazing outdoor wonderland that is well worth visiting. The sights are spectacular and you'll be in awe of the gushing waterfalls, towering sequoia trees, peaceful meadows, and beautiful landscapes.


  • Plan to spend at least two days at the park if you can. Three to five days would probably be perfect.
  • The park is HUGE - nearly 1,200 miles - and you can expect to spend some time in the car throughout your stay. Rest assured, however, that there are plenty of places to get out to hike, bike, and dine along the way.
  • Try your best to secure accommodations INSIDE the park. Staying at a resort or campground inside the park will grant you more time to hike, bike, and wander the trails. Best of all, you can begin each day early and stay ahead of the crowds of people who will drive in from nearby cities/towns outside the park.
  • If you are staying OUTSIDE the park, wake up early to beat the crowds! It will be worth it to get moving with an alarm clock and to enter the park before 8:00am. 6:00am or 7:00am is even better. Otherwise, you may end up in a long (single) line of vehicles, waiting to enter the park.
  • It is possible that cell phone reception may be spotty or non-existent within the park. If you are meeting up with friends or family, be sure to make specific plans in advance.
  • The National Park Service has an app, which you can download ahead of time, to help guide you around the park if you lose cell phone service.
  • It is best to be flexible about how much you can see when you visit the park with children. Instead of packing every major highlight into your itinerary, enjoy the ride (especially the bike ride if you go that route).
  • If you are a planner and would like to at least put a pin on a few places on the map, consider: Glacier Point, Tunnel View and Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Chapel, Sentinel Bride, Yosemite Falls, and Mariposa Grove.
  • Due to COVID-19 regulations, park entry of any kind requires reservations. This includes day-use, camping, and wilderness/half-dome permits.


  • Hiking boots or comfortable trail/tennis shoes with long socks
  • Athletic clothing - shorts, leggings, tshirts or tank tops.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen


  • HOURS: Yosemite National Park is open 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. You can drive to Yosemite year-round and enter via Highways 41, 140, and 120 from the west or south. Tioga Pass Entrance (via Highway 120 from the east) is closed from approximately November through late May or June. Hetch Hetchy is open all year, but may close intermittently due to snow.
  • COST: A vehicle entrance pass is $35. An "America the Beautiful Pass" (which grants you entrance to all national parks in the USA) is $80 for the entire year.

Mariposa Grove

Mariposa Grove is a grove of giant sequoia trees, located immediately inside the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park. It is the largest grove of giant sequoias in the park, with several hundred mature examples of the tree. Two of its trees are among the 30 largest giant sequoias in the world


  • Expect to hike around Mariposa Grove quite a bit. Currently, the shuttles are not running so you will likely find yourself hiking both up and downhill for a number of miles. The more miles you hike, the more trees you will see! Plan to spend several hours (possibly half of a day) at Mariposa Grove.
  • Parking is available (until full) at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. There are approximately 300 parking spaces, but it is sometimes full by mid-morning. Access to the entrance of the Mariposa Grove is via a two-mile hike (each way) on the Washburn Trail or the Mariposa Grove Road.
  • Restrooms are located at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza and Arrival Area, near the Mariposa Grove Cabin, and near the Grizzly Giant year-round. The restrooms at the Maricopa Grove Welcome Center are clean and well-maintained. Family restrooms are available as well.
  • Drinking water is available only at the welcome plaza (year-round) and arrival area (summer only), so plan accordingly. Be sure to bring plenty of water for each person in your party.
  • There are no restaurants at the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza or within the Mariposa Grove. Bring snacks!
  • Pets are not allowed on any trails in the Mariposa Grove.
  • There are usually "lines" of people waiting to take photos in or near the more famous trees (ex: The Grizzly Giant, The Faithful Couple, or The California Tunnel Tree). It is worth it to wait. If you leave the park without photos inside the trees, you will probably kick yourself.

Biking With Kids in Yosemite National Park

This is our #1 tip for exploring Yosemite National Park with kids: BRING OR RENT BIKES. Biking through Yosemite is enjoyable, peaceful, and invigorating. You'll cover more miles and see more sights than you will on foot - and with far less complaining! ;)

The Yosemite Valley has 12 miles of designated paths for biking (without cars!).


  • Bring as many bikes as you can fit in your car, truck, or RV. Rentals are pricey and you may be more comfortable on your own bike. Don't forget your helmets!
  • If you decide to rent bikes, know that all bicycles are first-come, first-served so you may want to arrive early. (You can't reserve bikes ahead of time). That being said, there are quite a few bikes at each rental location. On the day of our visit (in early June - a popular time!), there were plenty of bikes to rent - even in the afternoon.
  • There are three possible places to rent bikes: Curry Village, Yosemite Valley Lodge, and Yosemite Village. You are required to return your bike to the same location where you originally rented it. All three of the bike rental locations are open seasonally, typically from April to late October (call ahead to confirm), between the hours of 8:00am to 6:00pm. The day that we arrived at the Curry Village Stand, the attendant was on lunch break for an hour so it would probably be wise to pick up your bikes in the morning or late afternoon rather than midday.
  • There are a number of bike options available to rent: standard bikes, bikes with trailers, trail-a-bike/tag-along bikes, ADA bikes, and electric scooters. Strollers and wheelchairs can also be rented.
  • A trailer works well with toddlers up to age 5ish, depending on the biking ability and height of the child. Our 4-year-old was not quite tall enough to reach the peddles comfortably on our most recent visit so we settled on a trailer for him, which worked well.
  • If you have elementary-age children (ages 5 to 8) who may not be able to keep up on a long bike ride, a trail-a-bike is a terrific option. Your child can peddle along with you when they have the strength, but then can just hold on when they get tired as the parent does the work.



If you are staying in Oakhurst or Bass Lake (or anywhere near the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park), we have two excellent dining recommendations for you - and, ironically, they are right next door to each other!

El Cid Mexican Restaurant

After a long day of biking and hiking, El Cid Mexican Cuisine is just the ticket for your hearty appetite. Although the building is rather non-descript, we found the restaurant to be family-friendly with fast service, large portion sizes, and delicious entrees. Our girls (ages 9 & 12) ordered the Concha Tostada instead of opting for the kids meal fare - and it was a fabulous choice! Large enough to share too!

Reimer's Candy, Ice Cream, and Gifts

Whether you are from tiny town USA or a huge city with ice cream options galore, I dare you not to fall in love with Reimer's Candies, Gifts, and Ice Cream off Highway 41 in Oakhurst, California (right next door to El Cid). It's charming - inside and out. Meander around the store and then enjoy a freshly scooped ice cream cone on a bench outside.


For our next trip to Yosemite National Park, we might consider staying at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, which would put us closer to the park entrance. We hear they have new two-bedroom Explorer Cabins.

If we bring our RV again, we'd probably try for one of the campgrounds inside the park.

While we are in the area, we'd also love to visit Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park.


Watch this page for continued updates and top tips for planning your next trip to Yosemite National Park.

Father's Day Gift Guide 2021 97

Father’s Day 2021 is Sunday, June 20. Just around the corner!

Below you will find my top FIVE ideas and recommendations for practical gifts that your dad, brother, husband, or son will use all year long.

These gift picks will be perfect matches for almost any man - regardless of his line of work or his interests. Whether he enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, or golfing, you're bound to find a great idea below.


Whether or not your guy plays golf is beside the point. He will look sophisticated and at the height of style in almost anything Greg Norman has to offer. The premium materials and high-end designs will suit any gentleman's tastes. Not only will the pieces hang just right on his frame, they will also offer luxurious comfort since they are sumptuously soft, breathable, lightweight, and easy to pack.


If your dad, husband, or brother is a reader, it’s time he was introduced to The Folio Society. New books debut every quarter and they are a beauty to behold (and to hold).

Take, for instance, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. These books are even more gorgeous in-person than in photos. The gold swirls are mesmerizing and the accompanying illustrations add to the allure.

Fahrenheit 451 is another book that is flying off the shelves both here in the United States and in London. With haunting hand-painted illustrations, this classic dystopian novel remains evocative for today’s generation.


Extra sun protection is in order for the simmering summer months - and Outdoor Research has you covered!

The Astroman S/S Sun Shirt from Outdoor Research is as practical as it is stylish. Lightweight and quick-drying, it boasts a convenient snap pocket and excellent ventilation.

Take a look also at the NEW Zendo Shorts, which are silky soft and feature a comfortable elastic waist and stretchy material. Although they are designed with rock-climbers in mind, they work equally well for a day at the beach or for lounging around the house.


If the guy in your life works in law enforcement (police, fire, EMT, military, etc), he may already be a fan of 5.11 Tactical. If not, this is the time to introduce him. 5.11 Tactical is “purpose-built gear for the most demanding missions" to help people “always be ready” for any situation.

Needless to say, we are huge fans of the lightweight, well-designed, and super functional clothing pieces by 5.11 Tactical. The brand's military-inspired pieces offer more than meets the eye – invisible mag pockets, water repellent fabrics, and other useful features.

For Father's Day 2021, we especially want to draw your eye to the Defender-Flex jean series - which is 100% what you are looking for if your guy tends to feel stifled in jeans. The stretchy material ensures that he will feel just as good as he looks. Pair it with a great short-sleeve shirt and on-trend high-top sneakers for the ultimate gift.


You simply can’t go wrong with a classic Oxford Shirt for Father’s Day. This one from Original Penguin is made from a hardy and sophisticated material that will look equally well for the office or an evening out.

Happy Father's Day to all of the wonderful dads around the world!

* Some of the above products were sent to us for testing/review purposes. As always, I only feature items we truly love and you’re always welcome to contact me directly with any questions. 

Birthday Gift Guide for 12-Year-Old Girls 108

Twelve-year-old girls are beautiful, smart, and thoughtful. They are right on the brink of young womanhood, but they still retain a youthful awe about the world. They can converse with adults with maturity, but also dissolve in a fit of laughter with their friends.

If you have a 12-year-old girl in your life, I have some birthday gift ideas that will please most any personality. The key for girls in this age range is to not buy products that are too “young.” When in doubt, go with an item that a teen or an adult woman would enjoy.

Below you will find excellent gift ideas for tween girls (ages 10-13+).


Dick's Sporting Goods

Dick's is an excellent place to shop for athletic clothing for the whole family.

One thing that we particularly love is that Dick's offers a best price guarantee. If you find the same item cheaper on Amazon or another retailer, your local Dick's will match the price!

With over 850 stores across the USA, there's a good chance that you can find one near you. Walk in the doors and you will find a wide selection of clothing, shoes, and equipment for baseball, basketball, football, golf, running, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball, and more.

If you're looking for an affordable alternative to brand names like Adidas and Nike, consider Dick's proprietary label - DSG. Surprising quality for great prices!

Pictured Above: DSG Girls' Side Knot T-Shirt, Nike Girls' Pro Dri-FIT Solid Capris, DSG Girls' Plaid Print Sleeveless Golf Polo, Lucky in Love Women's Scallop Tennis Skirt, and DSG Girls' Printed Fleece Hoodie.

Columbia Sportswear

Columbia Sportswear has so much to offer active, outdoorsy girls! If your gift recipient enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, backpacking, or exploring, this brand is a strong pick for apparel that will take her on adventures in the woods, across the desert, or on the waves.

Pictured Above: Kids' Columbia Park™ French Terry Sweatshirt and Girls' Vedder Park™ Jacket.

Also - Look at the Girls' Columbia Lodge™ Leggings and Girls' PFG Backcast™ Shorts, but be sure to order a size down if your girl is trim as we found that these items ran big.


We are smitten by the quotation notecards by Princeton Architectural Press. They come in sturdy keepsake boxes and feature 12 notecards (4 quotes, repeating 3 times) and some of the most beautiful envelopes we’ve ever seen!

Current options include: Julia Child, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Thoreau, Buddha, Virginia Woolf, Einstein, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and William Morris. We especially recommend the Emily Dickinson box for tween girls.

I hope that Princeton Architectural Press expands this line to include boxes with quotes from Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Toelkin, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Mother Teresa, Charles Dickens, L.M. Montgomery, E.B. White, and Mary Oliver. We’re eagerly watching for new arrivals, especially ones that might be available for the holidays!

  • BUY Emily Dickinson notecards by Princeton Architectural Press.
  • FOLLOW Princeton Architectural Press on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Fancy pens are another terrific item to throw in a gift bag for tween girls! She’ll use them for sketching, letter writing, doodling, and homework.

Stabilo’s point 88 fineliner pens come in a set with an array of vibrant colors. They write smoothly and dry quickly (no smudging!). Ideal for bullet journaling too!


Journals are such a great gift for a 12-year-old girl - particularly if your girl is a writer, poet, artist, scholar, or to-do list maker. I've taken photos of some of our favorites and included them above.

BROWSE our favorites: ESV Illuminated Scripture Journals, Novel Journal: It is Easier To Be Good..., Leuchtturm 1917 Journals.


Birthday Gift Guide for 12-Year-Old Girls 124

Twelve is a great age for board games and card games of all kinds. Not sure which game to buy? Try TabooScattergories, or Apples to Apples.

Classic Bananagrams is another super fun (and inexpensive!) option for kids who love words. Super simple to play, this game is fast-paced and creates quite an energetic frenzy. Ages 7+.

What birthday gift ideas would you add for 12-year-old girls?

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9, 2021.

Mother’s Day is an ideal time to celebrate and appreciate the amazing women in our lives! This gift guide is dedicated to all of the mothers and grandmothers who love, encourage, and work hard every day for the people who they love.

If you are looking for a meaningful and memorable gift for your mother or grandmother, browse below for some excellent ideas!


If you know me well, you know my thoughts on gift-giving: books are the best gifts. Particularly beautiful hardcover books that double as decor.


Have you been watching as Barnes & Noble continues to release GORGEOUS *exclusive* hardcover classics for between $10 and $25? They are truly lovely to behold on the shelf. We think any of the above titles would make an excellent gift pick for Mother's Day. Pair with chocolates, a pound of coffee, or a My Weekend is All Booked Pouch.


For the true book connoisseur, browse the gorgeous collection of hardbound, collectible books by Folio Society. While they have elegantly detailed covers, what sets this company apart is the quality of the pages, the beauty of the illustrations, and the thoughtfulness of the typeface. No detail is neglected.

Pay particularly close attention to the brand new edition of Around The World in Eighty Days, which is a beauty to behold with a festoon of colors and an included full-color map. Absolutely gorgeous!

Poetry is an excellent pick for Mother's Day also. The hardest part will be selecting either the Folio Anthology of Poetry or Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems. She'll love either one!


A small crossbody bag is the ultimate in functionality and style. She can carry this bag to the park, to church, out to dinner, or to work. Although small, Baggalini's Take Two RFID Crossbody is thoughtfully designed with RFID-protected card slots, a quick-access phone pocket, and an adjustable strap that lets you quickly convert from a crossbody to a waistpack or a wristlet. It's also available at a great price-point - under $35 for a limited time!


Not sure if she already has a pair of sunglasses? No problem! If she's anything like me, she'll love having two or three pairs of sunglasses, especially as summer approaches - one in the house, one in the car, and one anywhere else (since they tend to get lost!). Serengeti's ROLLA specs offer a stylish cat-eye frame with excellent perks to help extend the life of the sunglasses. They're anti-scratch, anti-reflective, anti-glare, and super lightweight. Plus, the lenses filter up to 96% of blue light for optimal eye health.


With a name like Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, you know this is one brand that knows how to make clothes for moms! These clothes are cut for a woman’s frame and are thoughtfully-designed for both comfort and style.

Although NYDJ is most famous for jeans “that fit in all the right places,” they also offer shirts, tees, leggings, skirts, shorts, and professional attire. As a mom of 4 in my late 30s, I love almost every piece in the NYDJ collection and I am impressed that the sizing seems to be right-on, which makes shopping easier.


Moms so rarely spend money on quality pajamas for themselves so picking out soft sleepwear is the perfect pampering gift! As a mom of 4, I know this would be a gift I would genuinely appreciate (and be excited about!).

When I think of the kind of pajamas I want to slip on at the end of every day, I immediately think of Soma Intimates. Soma uses the softest, gentlest, loveliest materials. These are also great “recovery” pajamas for moms who are fitness-minded because they are sumptuously soft, breathable, and lightweight.


Shoes are one of the very best Mother’s Day gifts because they are sure to be used and appreciated, whether your mom has only two pairs of shoes or an entire closetful. Plus, it’s relatively simple to get the sizing exactly right. This year, I’m showcasing a number of different hand-picked shoes to suit a variety of activity levels, interests, occupations, and styles.


Mother's Day Gift Guide 2021 149

If your mom is more of a walker than a runner, she'll love the purposefully-designed Addiction Walker Suede shoes by Brooks. With great cushioning and arch support, these shoes are made to reduce impact on your joints and to be slip-resistant as well! These are a top pick for power-walking grandmothers!

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2021 150

For the more serious road runner, Brooks offers the Glycerin 19 - which is an excellent choice for active mothers! Their super soft, offering cushion and support to carry her mile after mile!


Ballet flats are among the most versatile shoes for moms. They're effortlessly stylish and can be paired with almost any outfit, while also being comfortable enough to wear almost anywhere. Whether jet-setting to a business conference or pushing a toddler in swings, these Audrey Hepburn-inspired Pure Ballet Light Pink Leather slip-on flats by Clarks are the perfect pick!


Mother's Day Gift Guide 2021 153

For performance trail running shoes, Merrell is always a strong pick. The new Women's Moab Flight offer superior support, stability, and traction for all of her outdoor adventures. Available in a gorgeous marine color with mint and pink accents [pictured].

Be sure to also check out Merrell's complete line-up of hiking accessories as they have trendy hats, bags, and socks that will delight any outdoorsy woman.

Koolaburra by UGG

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Say hello to this adorable below-the-knee suede boot! The amphora color is even more beautiful in-person (the photos can't completely do the color justice!) and they pair perfectly with skirts, swingy dresses, or jeans. The light, neutral color ensures that this is a stylish boot-for-all-seasons.

New Balance

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Call them what you want - lifestyle sneakers, mom sneakers, casual sneakers, or walking shoes - this style of shoe is highly coveted among moms. They're cute enough to wear with shorts, jeans, leggings, or a summery dress without being painful. She can push her toddler on the swings at the park or cheer at her high schooler's basketball game in comfort and style.


Breezy, lightweight, machine-washable running shorts with pockets and a built-in liner? Brooks Running has thought of everything you will need on your next run and introduced the Chaser Running Shorts. Available in 3-inch, 5-inch, and 7-inch options, you can choose the best length for your gift recipient.


Mother's Day Gift Guide 2021 159

A friend introduced me to the La Roche-Posay skincare and beauty line several summers ago and I have since fallen in love with their anti-aging and sunscreen products. These high-quality, dermatologist-recommended cosmetic items are just right for moms! Top pick for Mother's Day 2021? The Toleriane Mascara, which is waterproof and specifically formulated for sensitive eyes.


Miraclesuit is an incredible brands for moms (and grandmas!) of all ages. The company's mission is to help women "look 10 lbs lighter in 10 seconds." These suits are designed to be supportive, slimming, flattering, and stylish...without looking frumpy.


Emily Dickinson Deluxe Note Card Set Insight Editions

This collectible book box has twenty foliage-themed cards inside – each imprinted with a line from one of Emily Dickinson’s poems. The set also includes a small ruled pocket journal and twenty feather pen sticker seals. The sage-colored keepsake box is sturdy enough (and beautiful enough!) to put on your bookshelf.


Incredibly versatile and oh-so-beautiful, Emile Henry's petite pitcher serve so many purposes in the kitchen. For example, it can be used to elegantly serve water, iced tea, or lemonade on a warm summer's day. Alternatively, add a bunch of fresh flowers and use it as a vase...perfect for the woman who prefers farmhouse-style decor.


custom personalized self-inking address stamp

A handsome address stamp is such a time-saver. Consider all of the hours you’ve spent handwriting your return address on envelopes. The self-inking address stamps at PurpleTrail are a good way to go! Easily stamp your envelopes in the design of your choice.


What Mother’s Day gift ideas would you add?

Extracurricular Spotlight: Soccer 165

I played soccer for approximately seven years as a child. My husband played soccer in high school and then also attended college on a full soccer scholarship. Needless to say, we have a bit of experience with the sport.

Our oldest daughter played soccer for one season in 5th grade, but has since gravitated toward volleyball. Our second daughter also plays volleyball, but is looking forward to trying soccer at her school this fall as a 6th grader (here's hoping!). Our third daughter attended several soccer clinics last month and really enjoyed them so we are leisurely searching for an all-girls team (they are surprisingly hard to find). As for our littlest guy, he just turned four so we'll have to see what sports he gravitates to as he gets older.

One thing about soccer is sure: it's an EXCELLENT cardio workout. In fact, soccer players can be a bit smug about the amount of running they do. If you play soccer, you're guaranteed to get a great workout. It's a sport that requires strong fitness and finesse along with control, discipline, and teamwork.

If your child plays soccer or is considering playing soccer in the coming year, you'll want to keep an eye on the Umbro website.

Umbro has apparel, footwear, balls, and gear for soccer players of all ages.

For example, the Velocita IV Club FG Junior Cleat (pictured) is among the best available for young players. Sure, the shoes looks super sleek and professional in design - but they also also offers sock construction around the ankle along with stretch, support, and stability.

The Neo Futsal Pro Ball (also pictured) is a ball that you can be proud of and one that will last. It's hand-stitched and high-quality - ideal for dribbling, striking, attacking, and defending.

I'd love to hear from you! Do any of your kids play soccer? If so, where do you typically shop for apparel, cleats, and gear? Do you have any favorite brands?

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Puppies 174

Welcome to Metropolitan Mama’s Christmas Gift Guide for Puppies. Below you will find dog beds, toys, leashes, collars, training books, and other gear that puppies (and puppy owners!) are bound to love for Christmas 2020.

In case you missed the BIG NEWS, our family recently welcomed a golden retriever puppy (pictured above - isn't she darling?) into our home and we are thoroughly immersed in puppy life! To celebrate, I decided to compile some of our favorite puppy products. Feel free to tweet me with your own favorites!


Absolutely paw-fect for the holidays! Your dog will love chewing on this squeakable pumpkin pie plush toy by ZippyPaws. This 9 x 9 x 5 inch soft toy even features a lattice top and a playful dollop of whipped cream on top!


ZippyPaws is an excellent go-to dog shop for various toys, gear, and stocking stuffers for your pup. Pictured above are the ZippyTuff Squeakerz Dumbbell and Monkey RopeTugz (a favorite of our golden retriever puppy!).


ZippyPaw's luxe collection of premium top grain leather collars and leashes come in a lovely array of colors with gorgeous chic rose gold accessories. Ideal for the distinguished pet owner!


Brand new from National Geographic Kids in 2020, this glossy-page "how-to" manual is a super fun gift or stocking stuffer to any young dog owner. Best for ages 8-12, this small book includes full page photographs and an appealing design. Train your pup to sit, stay, play dead, and more.

  • BUY "Fetch: How to Speak Dog Training Guide."
  • FOLLOW National Geographic Kids on Facebook and Twitter.


Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Puppies 184

PetFusion dubbed this "The Ultimate Pet Bed" - and it certainly lives up to its name! Constructed with memory foam, It's luxuriously soft. In fact, you'll wish YOUR bed felt like this one. It's also thoughtfully designed for easy care - the removable cover is water-resistant, tear-resistant, and machine-washable.

* The bed pictured above is size LARGE in Slate Gray. Our golden retriever puppy is currently 3 1/2 months old, but we anticipate that the bed could fit her through adulthood.


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Traveling with your pup this year? Whether you're going to the vet, to grandma's house, or on a camping trip, it's great to protect your vehicle from dirty paws, dog hair, or other worse things (you know what they are). PetSafe's Happy Ride Bench Seat Cover provides peace of mind on the road. Plus, the entire cover is machine washable!


If you have a baby, you are probably familiar with the California Baby line of skincare products. What you may not know is that they ALSO have a fur baby puppy wash and conditioner (both scented and unscented varieties), which are free of allergens and specifically pH balanced for pets.

  • BUY the Calming Puppy + Dog Wash and Conditioner Set.
  • FOLLOW California Baby on Facebook and Instagram.


Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Puppies 188

If your dog is your running partner, take a look at the highly rated Hands Free Dog Leash by Tuff Mutt. This attractive grey & teal four-foot leash clips to an adjustable waist belt for a hands-free walking, running, or hiking experience.

Tuff Mutt also sells a handy Treat 'n Train Pouch, which clips to your belt. Always have poop bags, treats, and other essentials at the ready!


Some of the products in the list below were sent to us to try. Other products are ones that we purchased ourselves or were given by family members and friends. Know that I will always provide both the pros and cons of each featured product. You are welcome to send any follow-up questions to me via twitter (I’m @stephsheaffer).

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 189

Welcome to Metropolitan Mama’s Christmas Gift Guide for Men & Women Who Work Hard For A Living (and for fun!). Below you will find clothes, shoes, gear, decor, and organization products that professional men & women are bound to love for Christmas 2020.


Preppy Clothes from US Polo Assn

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US Polo Assn has excellent picks for gentlemen that will transition well from the board room to the airport to an evening out.

For dads, you'll also want to know that you can purchase matching button-down shirts for boys. Perfect for holiday photos!

Pictured Above: Slim Fit Canvas Shirt and Long Sleeve Stretch Oxford Shirt.

XPRT 3.0 Waterproof 6" Boot by 5.11 Tactical

These soft, stretchable boots offer strong and supportable vibram soles. If a man in your life is on his feet a lot, the XPRT 3.0 Waterproof 6" Boot is a super smart pick. The ortholite footbed will help reduce fatigue in his feet and knees. A perfect pick for law enforcement and military! They are lightweight enough to double as hiking boots also!

Tactical Apparel

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We are huge fans of the lightweight, well-designed, and super functional clothing pieces by 5.11 Tactical. These military-inspired pieces offer more than meets the eye - invisible pockets, water repellent fabrics, and other useful features. Plus, he'll look sophisticated and stylish no matter where he goes for work or play.

Pictured Above: Braxton Jacket and Fast-Tac Urban Pant.

Hubbard Flight by Samuel Hubbard

Is it a dress shoe or a sneaker? Answer: Both! We love this incredibly diverse dress sneaker by Samuel Hubbard. Constructed with premium materials and with luxury in mind, these lightweight and buttery soft shoes can transition seamlessly between a business setting, a park, or an evening downtown. Perfect for men of all ages, they invoke youth and wisdom at the same time. Indeed, the Flight Hubbard is both modern and classic with universal appeal.

Men's Timberland PRO Soft Toe Work Boots

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Working men can't have too many pairs of solid work boots. Timberland PRO's Boondock 6" Boot is an especially great pick for guys with a wider foot/toe box. They're roomy, waterproof, and anti-fatigue - while offering superior grip & traction.



Clothes are almost always a good gift for women and we have some excellent suggestions for 2020.

Democracy Clothing

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Democracy Clothing is a fabulous brand for working women. Although their specialty is denim, Democracy offers tops, jackets, dresses, skirts, shorts, and jumpsuits for "the multitasking woman with an ageless mindset."

Women - especially moms! - will particularly be fans of Democracy's "Ab"solution jeans, which are "constructed with smooth luxe touch premium denim for a fit that moves with your body and is soft to the touch; these jeans enhance and flatter your shape in all the right places."

KUT from the Kloth

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Kut from the Kloth also has super cute options that appeal to women across generations. Their Fab Ab line of jeans is slimming and "fabulously figure flattering" and their modern jackets, sweaters, and shirts are incredibly diverse.

Pictured above (left to right): Dawn Moto Jacket (Buff), Diana Fab Ab High Rise Relaxed Fit Skinny, and Hailee Knit Sweater.


Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 199

For sophisticated clothing that spans age groups, browse the Chico's website. Believe it or not, you'll find items that your college age daughter will love AND that your grandma will love. Beautiful fabrics, classic designs, and subtle sparkle make for lovely pieces that almost anyone will be glad to receive.

Pictured Above: Lurex Ribbed Coolmax Turtleneck Sweater (Gold), Cowl Neck Shine Ponch (Stiletto), and Ribbed Coolmax Turtleneck Sweater (Graphite Heather Gray).

Women's Plaid Blanket Scarf by Timberland

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 200

Accessories add so much to any outfit and we love the deep blues and rich turquoises of Timberland's cozy plaid blanket scarf (pictured above). It will be a welcome winter addition to any ensemble.

A New Pair of Spectacles from Glasses USA

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 201
Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 202

Most people wait way too long before buying a needed pair of glasses. Glasses USA makes the entire process seamless with a 100% money back guarantee, a 365 day warranty, and free shipping & returns. There are plentiful stylish frame designs from well-recognized brands (Tom Ford, Prada, Champion, etc) at affordable prices. Undecided about which pair to choose? Upload a picture of yourself and virtually "try on" your favorites. You can also live chat to a Glasses USA rep with any questions!

Pictured Above: Ottoto Andrea (Rose Gold) and Muse X Hilary Duff Helen (Rose Gold).

Silk Pillowcase & Eye Mask from MYK Silk

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 203

For a good night's sleep after a hard day's work, settle your head into a luxurious silk pillowcase. Silk pillowcases have long been recognized for their anti-aging properties because they help keep wrinkles at bay. They also offer great moisturizing benefits for your skin and help prevent tangles in your hair.

For a froufrou stocking stuffer that she'll actually use, consider a silk eyemask, which will block out light and protect the delicate skin around the eyes.


Wireless Charging Mat by ZAGG Brands

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 204

The techie in your family will be thrilled to receive a wireless charging mat for all his/her devices. Mophie's 4-in-1 Wireless Charging Mat will charge four devices simultaneously. Simply set up your mat, put your phones and airpods on it, and watch as your devices power up!

* Note that an included Apple Watch adapter lets you charge your Apple Watch with the mat too so this is a perfect gift for someone who is receiving an apple watch for Christmas.

Phone Case for the New iPhone 12 or 12 Pro

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 205

A new phone calls for a new phone case - and the professional person in your life will love the sophisticated, understated designs by Mujjo. The Full Leather Wallet Case for iPhone 12 and 12 Pro (pictured above) is elegant and available in four rich hues that will coordinate with almost every outfit. Plus, there is an exterior pocket for your driver's license or credit card.

Handheld Garment Steamer

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 206

I don't know about you, but we rarely get out an iron in our house. Instead, we try to shop for easy-to-care-for fabrics that wash and wear well. Sometimes, though, a dinner party dress or sleek blazer needs a quick de-wrinkle! Enter: Conair's ExtremeSteam Handheld Garment Steamer! Simply fill it with water, wait 40 seconds, hang your garment, and start steaming! For delicates, use the low setting. For heavier fabrics (like your sofa), go high. Voila!

Loungewear for Relaxation

Christmas Gift Guide 2020: Gifts for Professional Men & Women 207

2020 is the year of staying home and pajamas are the perfect gift pick for the hardworking men and women in our lives.

KicKee Pants' Pajamas are so soft they're like a yearend bonus! Each piece is crafted with premium materials for optimal comfort. These pajamas will inspire the wearer to grab a book or a mug of coffee and take an unhurried approach to the rest of the year.

Pictured Above: Print Collared Pajama Set in Crimson 2020 Holiday Plaid and Men's Long Sleeve Pajama Set in Crimson 2020 Holiday Plaid.

  • BUY KicKee Pants Pajamas (matching sets are available for the whole family...pets too!).
  • FOLLOW KicKee Pants on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.


Some of the products in the list below were sent to us to try. Other products are ones that we purchased ourselves or were given by family members and friends. Know that I will always provide both the pros and cons of each featured product. You are welcome to send any follow-up questions to me via twitter (I’m @stephsheaffer).

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