Family Guide to National Park Week 2015

March 29th, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

National Park Week is an annual celebration that takes place in April to honor the United States’ national heritage. The National Park Service partners with the National Park Foundation for a week-long event that spans the entire country. This year, families should mark their calendars for free park admission days, special activities for kids and charity events and projects that all ages can get involved in. Here’s what your family needs to know about National Park Week 2015.

Entrance to Zion National Park

When Is It?
National Park Week 2015 runs April 18 through April 26, 2015.

Where Is It Being Celebrated?
Every national park in the United States participates in this annual event. Families all across the country, from Alaska to Tennessee, can get involved and enjoy the outdoor fun. Find a national park near you.

What Are the Special Events Taking Place?
Opening weekend – April 18 and 19 – kicks off with free admission for all visitors at all national parks across the United States. Additional free national park admission days throughout the year include August 25, the National Park Service’s Birthday; September 26, National Public Lands Day; and November 11, Veterans Day.

Also during opening weekend, Saturday April 18 is National Junior Ranger Day, where kids can explore, learn, protect and be sworn in as junior rangers during their visit. Geared toward children ages 5 to 13 (though all ages can join in on the fun!), Junior Ranger Programs are offered at every national park and require children to complete a series of activities throughout the park before submitting the assignments to a ranger. Upon completion, kids receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate. For more information on Junior Ranger Programs, visit the National Park Service website.

April 22 is Earth Day and all are invited to dig in and help preserve and protect our national parks. Families can get involved in a number of ways before, during and after their visit to a national park. Sign up to be a volunteer, join a park Friends Group or simply make a donation. Visit the National Park Service website for more ways to help out.

A few other notable events at specific parks throughout the U.S. include:

For more information on National Park Week, visit the National Park Week website. For information on planning your family’s national park vacation, see our National Park Family Vacations section.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

New Afternoon Tea at the Langham Place New York

March 28th, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

After sightseeing all day long in New York City, stop by the Langham Place New York with your family for its new Afternoon Tea and Cultured Kids’ Afternoon Tea time. The new experiences kick off today and will be held every Saturday in the Measure Lounge, complete with sandwiches, decadent desserts and, of course, tea. Inspired by the Langham London, which started serving afternoon tea in 1865, the New York hotel decided to start the experience for its own guests, but with a modern twist.

Entrance to the Langham Place New York

The adult Afternoon Tea offers a prix-fixe menu for $35 per person, and includes two courses, plus a side dish. Three tea sandwiches, three desserts and one scone are served in hand-crafted wood and slate boxes. Sandwiches include a mini king crab roll, a warm scotch egg made of chopped pork and chorizo, and hummus gougers with vegetable provencale. Desserts include a passion fruit and chocolate macaron, a cookie and cream profiterole, and a chocolate-dipped, cheesecake-filled strawberry.

The Cultured Kids’ Afternoon Tea is served at the same time, and includes the same three courses with kid-friendly twists for $20 per child, ages 3 to 12. Children receive mini PB&J sandwiches, a deviled egg, cheese and toast, cupcakes, cookies and vanilla ice cream puffs, as well as a scone on the side.

Reservations are recommended for the Afternoon Tea and Cultured Kids’ Afternoon Tea experiences. The Langham Place New York is located on Fifth Avenue in the heart of Manhattan and offers families luxurious accommodations, a full service spa (for guests ages 16 and older) and onsite dining.

Family Getaway Package
Book the Family Getaway package at the Langham Place New York now and enjoy deluxe accommodations, one free rollaway bed, one $100 hotel credit each day of your stay and two VIP tickets to the top of the Empire State Building. Free Wi-Fi, free laundry service and access to one of the hotel’s personal assistants are also included. Rates start from about $750 per night. Package is available year-round, though blackout dates may apply. Offer is subject to availability.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Summer at the Sands at Grace Bay

March 27th, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Spend your summer vacation in the Caribbean this year and save by staying at the Sands at Grace Bay on the Turks and Caicos Islands. The resort was named a 2014 Family Vacation Critic Favorite and Grace Bay Beach, which the resort fronts, was named number one on TripAdvisor’s 2015 Traveler Choice Awards list of the 25 best beaches in the Caribbean.

Pool area at the Sands at Grace Bay

Besides its idyllic location and family-friendly features, the Sands at Grace Bay is also helping families save during their stay at the resort this year. The Every Fourth Night Free special offers guests one free night for every three nights they book. Plus, the special is valid May 1 through Dec. 19, 2015, allowing families time to plan and book a vacation that works for them. And it gets even better with the resort’s low summer rates starting from just $195 per night.

The resort is home to comfortable, yet luxurious accommodations that are also family-friendly. Enjoy condo-style units with full kitchens, separate bedrooms, free Wi-Fi and large balconies. Plus, all guests receive complimentary access to resort amenities and activities like water sports, bicycles, three swimming pools, tennis and basketball courts, and a weekly manager’s reception with snacks and cocktails on Tuesday evenings. Book your summer vacation at the Sands at Grace Bay for all of this and more.

For more information on Caribbean family vacations, download our guide.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Kid-Friendly Fare at U.S. Hot Dog Festivals

March 26th, 2015 by Guest Blogger No comments »

It’s always fun when we can coordinate our travels with a fun festival in the destination we’re visiting. My family has been making a point lately to seek out local favorite hot dog joints, so the next logical step is to seek out hot dog festivals!

I thought I would share my research with you, in case your kids are hot dog fanatics like mine, and you have any plans to visit these cities this summer. Here are some of the top 2015 hot dog festivals in the U.S.

Guests dressed like hot dogs pose for photo at the Heart of America Hot Dog Festival

Hot Dog Harry Stevens Day, Niles, Ohio
June 28, 2015
Named after the famous local resident who was the first to introduce hot dog concession stands at sporting events in the late 1890’s, this fun day includes Hot Diggity Dog wiener dog races, hot dog eating competitions, live music, craft and food vendors, and a cornhole tournament.

West Virginia Hot Dog Festival, Huntington, W. Va.
July 25, 2015
In addition to the onsite activities like the hot dog eating and root beer chugging contests, there are ancillary events like the 5K and 10K Bun Runs, wiener dog races, a pooch parade and dog costume parade, and a Buns on Bikes tour.

Heart of America Hot Dog Festival, Kansas City, Mo.
Aug. 1, 2015
Produced as a benefit for and by the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, the day includes music and entertainers, kids’ activities, and a beer tent. Last year, the festival created the signature Monarch Dog just for the event: a hot dog topped with pulled pork, red onions, cheese, bacon and jalapeños.

Chicago Hot Dog Fest, Chicago, Ill.
Aug. 7-9, 2015
Held in Lincoln Park and benefiting the Chicago History Museum, this event features live music, a kids’ activity area and multiple food vendors, each offering their own specialty hot dogs with various ethnic influences.

Otisville Hot Dog Festival, Otisville, Mich.
Sept. 18-19, 2015
This community event features a 5K Bun Run and Walk, hot dog toss and bun stacking contests for kids, a hot dog eating contest, parade, live music, and craft and car shows.

And while it’s not technically a festival, the pinnacle of hot dog events takes place every 4th of July on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, with the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, which attracts tens of thousands of fans to see which competitor can down the most dogs in 10 minutes. Perennial favorite Joey Chestnut won in 2014, consuming 61 hot dogs, down from his record-breaking win in 2007 of 66 dogs.

– 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.