Get Outdoors During National Park Week

April 18th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

This week, tomorrow through April 27, is National Park Week, a week to celebrate America’s national parks and monuments. On opening weekend, Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th, all national parks are offering free admission.

Throughout the week, parks will provide history talks, wildlife tours and special events. Tuesday, April 22 is Earth Day, so the parks are offering ways families can volunteer. Kids can also enjoy the special Ranger programming offered on April 26, National Junior Ranger Day. Visit the National Park Service’s website to find more information on events occurring in a park near you.

Disney is releasing its new nature film, Bears, today, and for every person who sees the film between April 18 and 24, Disneynature will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation.

For more on National Parks, read National Parks Family Vacations and see our slideshow of 10 Best National Parks for Families.

–Lissa Poirot

Three New Hudson Valley Events

April 17th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

The best time of year to visit the Hudson Valley is spring and summer. Well, fall and winter are pretty great, too. But when the weather is warm, there are a lot of family-friendly events taking place every weekend. We’ve marked these three upcoming outdoor happenings on our calendar:

A ticket to LIGHTSCAPES was my first request for Mother’s Day. This new event taking place on the grounds of the historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., is described as a walk-through, land-art experience. It’s produced by Historic Hudson Valley, a preservation organization which has had great success with a similar type of event, the “Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze,” for the past several years.

Held at night, LIGHTSCAPES will include displays of light, sound, special effects, and original sculpture designed and handmade on site, including fairies, butterflies, an enormous caterpillar, and giant birdhouse. LIGHTSCAPES takes place Friday and Saturday evenings in May and the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend: May 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-25, 30-31.

The Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, connects the Town of Highland to the City of Poughkeepsie. It’s an amazing linear public park, 1.25 miles long and 212 feet high at midpoint above the Hudson River. On Sunday, June 1st, the park is organizing an attempt to break the record for the World’s Longest Handshake Relay. The plan is to form a line more than a mile long. At least 1,239 participants will be needed to break the record. Each person will shake hands with the next person “down the line.”

For the past two years, world-record attempts have been made on the Walkway, and my family has participated in both. In 2012, we helped break the world record for the world’s longest “Hokey Pokey” dance line; an achievement my daughter is pretty proud of!

There are several events happening in Dutchess County over the Independence Day weekend. On July 5th, the first annual Dutchess Dragon Boat Race and Festival will bring a fleet of specialized, 40-foot canoes to the Hudson River for competitive racing. Dragon boat racing has a 2,000-year history, beginning in southern China. It’s also the fastest-growing international team water sport, and is seeking entry into the summer Olympic Games. Teams of 20 paddlers row together to the rhythmic beat of the onboard drummer, while someone steers in the back. The races start at HRRA Community Boathouse in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

–Traci L. Suppa

Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.

Skate with the Easter Bunny at Rockefeller Center

April 16th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

Spending Easter weekend in New York City? Visit Rockefeller Center and go ice skating with the Easter Bunny!

On Easter Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Easter Bunny will be on hand to skate with the kids at the iconic Rink at Rockefeller.

Before or after skating, enjoy a three-course prix-fixe brunch or dinner at the Rock Center Cafe or the Sea Grill. Both restaurants are offering special children’s menus, set at just $25. The Easter Bunny will also be posing for pictures at the Rock Center Cafe, for another chance to meet him during brunch.

While at Rock Center, be sure to check out the Faberge Easter Eggs designed by world-famous artists.

–Lissa Poirot

Freebies and Discounts for Tax Day!

April 15th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

To ease the pain of Tax Day, enjoy some of the freebies and deals being offered across the country today:

Great American Cookies: Free chocolate chip cookie
• Schlotzsky’s: Free small Original sandwich with purchase of chips and drink
• Hard Rock Cafe: Free dinner to anyone who gets up on stage and sings a full song
• Sonic: Half off of slushes and soft drinks
• Chili’s Bar & Grill: Free appetizer, dessert or kid’s meal with purchase of adult entry
• Arby’s: Free snack-sized curly fries (must visit Arby’s website for coupon)
• Boston Market: Two rotisserie chicken meals for $10.40
• Sonny’s BBQ: Half off of rib dinners (Sweet & Smokey or House Dry-Rubbed)
• Blimpie: Buy 1 Get 1 Free 6-inch sub with purchase of 22 ounce drink
• Outback Steakhouse: Free Bloomin Onion
• Papa John’s: 2 large pizza and a 2-liter of soda for $10.40 (with coupon code TAXSPC)
• Cinnabon: 2 free Cinnabon Bites
• Einstein Bros Bagels: 25 percent off entire purchase
• Pizza Hut: Large pizza and three signature sides for $10.99
• Bruegger’s Bagels: A bag of bakers dozen of bagels and two tubs of cream cheese for $10.40.
• Orange Leaf Yogurt: Fill your cup for $4.15
• California Tortilla: Free queso and chips if you say Taxes Schmaxes to the cashier
• On the Border: Free queso or $3 appetizer
• The Melting Pot: 15% off your order today

• Hotel Monaco Portland, Oregon:
Free chair massages during wine hour and drink specials at $4.15. (If you owe on your taxes, and prove it, you can have a free drink.)
• Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort, Florida: $10.40 spa services like trim, eyebrow wax or polish change at Aveda Seven Seas Spa & Salon
• Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Colorado: Free Red Rumrunner when show W2s, and 20 percent off any spa treatment at the Allegria Spa.
• Westin New York Grand Central, New York: Offering tax-free sale. Fifteen percent off rates through December 31 bookings when book by May 15. (Use TAXBRK code.)

• AMC Theatres:
Free popcorn
• Shutterfly: 25 percent off any order
• Regal Cinemas: Save $3 off popcorn
• Frontier Airlines: 15 percent off of domestic fares booked today through April 17, for flights through June 12, 2014

Top Tips for Surviving a Road Trip with an Infant

April 15th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

My little family has been on about two road trips a year along with countless daytrips involving multi-hour drives since my son was born almost two years ago. My husband and I go stir-crazy if we can’t hit the road every few months. So when we became a family of three, we knew that our baby would have to get used to traveling from a young age, and for the most part he’s done brilliantly. In fact, he started sleeping 10-hour stretches at night the week we got back from his second road trip, when he was about eight weeks old! So what are our tips for getting through a road trip with an infant unscathed, relaxed and rested even? Check them out below:

Be Realistic. Traveling with a baby will not be the same as traveling solo or as a couple. Before you even start planning, you should come to terms with that. But, you should try to be as laid-back as possible. A positive outlook can go a long way in the success of your trip.

Start Early. Don’t wait until your child is already deeply entrenched in an at-home routine before you start traveling. Hit the road early on in his life and with frequency. Traveling will become a part of the norm, and not have a significant effect on your baby’s behavior.

Be Consistent. Make sure your child is sleeping and eating at consistent and regular intervals at home 90 percent of the time. Travel can add to the cumulative effect of overstimulation and overtiredness that babies who don’t have a level of predictability at home may be dealing with.

Allow Extra Time. You will have to stop at least every three hours and maybe even more frequently during your drive in order to accommodate diaper changes and feedings. Plus, you want your baby to have a chance to expend some energy having fun so that he’ll be ready for a nice long nap in the car. This means it may take you twice as long to reach your destination than anticipated.

Be Prepared. If you have a newborn, make sure you have a nursing cover and/or a plentiful supply of formula in the car with you at all times. If your baby has started on solids, you should also have snacks in the car and at the ready. Small toys and books can also be useful if your baby wakes before you reach a good stopping point.

Pack Smart. Keep a bag of essentials and emergency supplies in the passenger seat with you. This will include the aforementioned snacks, milk and toys, but you should also have infant pain reliever, a few burp cloths, diapers, lots of wipes, a favorite blanket and your baby’s lovey. An empty plastic grocery bag is also a good idea in case of blowouts or motion sickness.

Get to a Grocery. Hit up a grocery store along the way to pick up a few necessities to keep in the hotel room for the duration of your trip. It’s always a good idea to offer your baby something to eat while you get ready for the day, but before you head out for breakfast since you will likely be eating later than usual. Plus, you will have to pack less formula or milk if you plan to go to a grocery store.

For more tips, see Traveling with Infants.

–Shayne Rodriguez Thompson

Shayne is an adventurous 20-something mom to a toddler, freelance travel writer and part-time mommy blogger at Mamas Latinas.

Destination Hotels & Resorts Launches Family Escapes

April 14th, 2014 by Lissa No comments »

More and more hotels and resorts are starting to cater to family travelers, and we love that Destination Hotels & Resorts recently launched its new Destination Family Escapes.

Families can select from a number of experiences, from Adventure to Celebrations and Art to even Culinary and see a number of the resort’s properties display with special family packages.

For example, Adventure seekers can find a Santa Fe Treasure Hunting Family Package at the Inn and Spa at Loretto, which promises to be an Indiana Jones-style adventure. The Mix Up Family Game Night Getaway Package at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa and Mini-Monet Family Vacation in Washington, D.C., at the Embassy Row Hotel are more clever packages kids will love.

Destination Hotels & Resorts can be found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North and South Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Washington, D.C.

Learn more about Destination Family Escapes.

–Lissa Poirot