Archive for the ‘Family-Friendly Destinations’ category

Activities at Hunter Mountain

December 16th, 2015

Hunter Mountain, located in the Catskills of New York and offering 57 trails, is home to an abundance of family-friendly activities for the whole family. From skiing and snowboarding in the winter to hiking and zip-lining in the spring, summer and fall (and even in the winter if you dare), there is something to ignite everyone’s inner thrill-seeker.

Ziplining in the Catskills

Mid-Mountain Tour

On a recent trip, our tour guides, Mike and Dabo, suited us up and walked us to a little stopping point about halfway up the mountain to inform us of the necessary safety precautions. From there, we climbed a swinging bridge and took off down our first zip-line! Before we zoomed down every zip-line and journeyed across every swinging bridge after that, they thoroughly checked us to make sure we were secure in our harnesses and completely safe, all the while cracking jokes and making sure we were having a good time. At the end of the tour, feeling like experts at that point, we traversed down a pole to the ground.

Another, more relaxing, activity families are sure to enjoy is the Skyride. This six-person Kaatskill Flyer detachable chairlift takes guests to the 3,200-foot summit of Hunter Mountain. Along the way, take in the magnificent views of the northern Catskills, plus the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts and Green Mountains of Vermont on a clear day. The ride takes about 11 minutes each way. Admission is $12 for adults ages 13 and up, $8 for juniors ages 7 to 12, $10 for seniors ages 65 and up, and free for children ages 6 and under (with a paying adult). Hours vary depending on the season. Note: The Skyride is available weather permitting.

The Hunter Mountain area provides the perfect starting point for families looking to hike the northern Catskills, which also offers cozy accommodations.. There are trails and terrain for all skill levels. Elevations range from 600 to 4,200 feet, and trails are marked with red, blue, or yellow circular markers to help keep you on your desired course. Note: Come equipped with comfortable shoes, water, and bug spray.

Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels flock to Hunter Mountain every year for some good old-fashioned outdoor fun. Lessons are available, and include the Beginner Try-Pak ($119) for those ages 13 and up, with three non-holiday visits to the mountain, Lower Mountain lift tickets, group lessons, and equipment rentals. The Beginner Single-Pak ($79) includes one visit to the mountain, a Lower Mountain lift ticket, group lesson, and equipment rental. And finally, the Beginner Private Lesson Package ($125) includes one visit to the mountain, a one-hour private lesson, a Lower Mountain lift ticket, and equipment rental. Look for other deals during Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month in January. Childcare services are provided for little ones who aren’t ready for the slopes.

Restaurants, Shopping & Spa
After or in between all of the fun, relax and unwind at one of the onsite restaurants. The Island Bar at The Copper Tree features spectacular views of the mountain, while Andre’s Slopeside Barbecue will fill your tummy with burgers, hot dogs, or chicken (summer only). There is also some serious shopping available at Hunter Mountain Expeditions & Sports Center, where families will find well-known brands such as Obermyer, Helly Hansen, and Nordica. Last but not least, there’s also a spa at the Katskill Mountain Club, which also offers cozy accommodations.

–Morgan Agesen

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Fishing Excursions in Disney World

November 30th, 2015

Fishing at Disney World

You don’t have to know that fishing is an activity buoyed by self-imposed excise taxes and annual license fees. You don’t have to contemplate Harry Truman’s progressive policy ideas or the conservation work made possible by the income from those taxes and fees. I learned about those tidbits and they are rather interesting, but you need only know that every time you and your kids cast a fishing line into the water from a pier or off a boat, or simply drop down a wiggly worm whilst standing in the marshy wet grasses at the edge of your local stream, you are helping to ensure the future of America’s waterways and aquatic resources. And that’s pretty darn cool. This is the very noble goal of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (the people behind the popular “Take Me Fishing” campaign) in the farthest reaches of Alaska, all the way down at Walt Disney World, and everywhere in between.

I know what you might be thinking — you have some reservations about going fishing with your kids. I TOTALLY get that! Launching your kid’s angling career may seem daunting for a parent not versed in the language of lines and lures, and then there’s the whole issue of actually touching the fish… and the bait needed to catch the fish! I’m 39 years old and only just baited my first hook (with a very lively worm!) recently. Obviously, I’ve yet to take my two daughters fishing. Frankly, I wouldn’t know how to go about going fishing on my own or with my kids, but thankfully non-anglers like me are not alone anymore. (and have countless resources aimed at helping families have easy, fun and successful days on the water. Doing exactly that from the most Magical Place on Earth is now even easier than baiting a hook! And if you think about it, is there a better, more picturesque and memorable spot in America for a child to experience the quiet anticipation of catching their first (or 50th) fish than Disney World?

Fishing by Boat at Disney World

There’s no shortage of memory-making family activities on offer in Orlando, but fishing (and boating excursions at Disney) is one you may not have known exists! There are guided catch and release outings departing from 10 different Disney World Resort Hotels, meaning you and your kids can launch into a fun search for large mouth bass in the lakes out in front of Cinderella’s famous castle and Space Mountain from nearly everywhere at Disney! Rates are $270 for a two-hour excursion for up to five people. All equipment, rods, reels, bait and lures are included, as are sodas and bottled water. And your odds of catching fish are very good!

Bass Fishing at Disney World

Your captain and fishing guide is capable of teaching you and your kids how to cast and reel in your catch once hooked, and if you’d like (yes, please!), he or she will also handle all of the ‘messy’ business — baiting your hooks with little shiners and removing the fish after you reel ‘em to the boat. Of course, you should take at least one posed picture with your first catch, remembering to hold the fish far away from you to make your catch look bigger in the photo than it actually is — after all, exaggerating the size of your catch is a fishing tradition! Look at that HUGE monster I caught!

Bass Fishing at Disney World

If you struggle with boats and motion sickness or would simply enjoy a more stable (and inexpensive) family fishing experience during your Disney vacation, head to Port Orleans – Riverside in the morning for a Tom Sawyer-esque dockside fishing adventure.

Cane Pole Fishing at Disney World

For just $16, you’ll get 4 to 6 cane poles, bait (worms and/or hot dog pieces) and 30 minutes to drop your line in to try and pull out a fish. Using Huck Finn-style cane poles, families visiting Disney World can enjoy the old-fashioned serenity of fishing amid the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom.

— Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle is an at-home dad of two pre-tween daughters. He writes about parenthood, family travel and all things childhood on his site He considers himself one of the luckiest guys in the world. Jeff also writes for PBS.

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Boating Fun at Disney World

November 16th, 2015

For most of my adult life, I thought of central Florida as not much more than acres upon acres of swampland — the exclusive domain of crocodiles, frightening bugs the size of a toddler’s fist, and of course, a certain big-eared Mouse with a dainty little laugh. While all of those are indeed longtime residents of central Florida, there’s also vast natural and manmade lakes, some of which serve as a watery frame around the most magical place on earth.

Fireworks at Epcot in Disney World

For many who visit Disney World, boarding and disembarking a boat is very much part of the experience. Ferries run guests from resort to resort and also to the front gates of the Magic Kingdom, but the boating options via Take me Fishing at Disney World are endless.

Disney World Pontoon Boats

Every evening, the sky above Epcot’s World Showcase becomes aglow with breathtaking fireworks. You can certainly try to elbow your way to the front of the crowd so your kids can watch the show or, better yet, your family can climb aboard a boat from the dock outside of Disney’s Yacht Club to watch the stunning IllumiNations firework show. Experiencing this nightly event from the cushioned comfort of a 10-person pontoon boat is as first class as it gets at Disney. You can even rent an entire boat for your family and have it decorated to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary! Free beverages and snacks on board add to the occasion.

SeaRaycer in Disney World

During the day, you can rent one of the pontoons used for the bass fishing excursions (and fireworks cruises) from nearly every resort that touches water — including The Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian Village — to scoot around as a family, have a picnic on the water or just feel the warm wind in your hair as you cruise in front of Space Mountain and the Magic Kingdom.

The most exhilarating boating experience at Disney for kids is hopping in a two-person SeaRaycer from one of six locations (Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts Marina, The Captain’s Shipyard, Seven Seas Marina, The Boat Nook, Teton Boat & Bike Rental and Fort Wilderness Marina), and zooming around the many waterways of Disney World. At less than $50 per hour (for two people), this boating adventure is extremely affordable, and because kids as young as 12 are allowed to captain the cute little SeaRaycers, it is a family activity your tweens and teens will remember forever.

Boating in Disney World

— Jeff Bogle

Jeff Bogle is an at-home dad of two pre-tween daughters. He writes about parenthood, family travel and all things childhood on his site He considers himself one of the luckiest guys in the world. Jeff also writes for PBS.

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2015 Lancaster County Christmas

November 13th, 2015

You can celebrate the holiday season just about anywhere, but Lancaster, Pennsylvania is especially charming this time of year. Plan a visit to Amish Country and enjoy an authentic Lancaster County Christmas.

National Christmas Center in Lancaster

National Christmas Center
The National Christmas Center is open year-round, but is especially festive during the winter holidays. Exhibits include Vintage Christmas, Christmas Around the World and Toyland Train Mountain. Visit between Nov. 27 and Dec. 20, 2015 for a chance to meet Santa!

Country Christmas Village
Hosted at Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum, this event allows families to experience holiday traditions both old and new. Activities include cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts and a chance to write to Santa. You’ll also meet “der Belsnickel” — another version (German and Pennsylvania Dutch) of Santa.

Holidays at Dutch Wonderland

Dutch Winter Wonderland
Bundle up and head to Dutch Wonderland, otherwise known as Dutch “Winter” Wonderland during the holiday season. The kids will enioy themed rides, holiday lights and treats — hot chocolate included!

Magic Lantern Show
The Amish Experience and the American Magic Lantern Theater are excited to present this fantastical slide show, new in 2015. The show includes presentations of popular stories — including “The Night Before Christmas” — told with special effects and music. For more information, visit the official website for the Magic Lantern Show.

Strasburg Railroad

Christmas Trains at Strasburg Railroad
Experience a real-life version of The Polar Express via the holiday train rides at Strasburg Railroad. Options include The Night Before Christmas Train, Christmas Tree Train, Santa’s Paradise Express and Christmas Feast. Pajamas are recommended!

–Amanda Geronikos

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