Archive for the ‘Family-Friendly Destinations’ category

6 Activities for Kids in Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge

September 17th, 2014

Little boy pets a black goat at the zooIf you haven’t been to Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge yet, then fall is the perfect time to visit with your family. The mild weather, sunny skies and fall foliage make it a beautiful sight to see. Plus, there is so much to do both indoors and out. Here are just six of the fun activities that you can do with kids this fall in Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge:

Adventure Park at Five Oaks
Children of all ages can zip line at the Adventure Park at Five Oaks in Sevierville, Tennessee, just outside of Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge. Zip lines range from 450 to 2,000 feet in length and offer beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Five Oaks Riding Stables
After zip lining through the fall foliage, ride your own horse down a trail at the Stables at Five Oaks. You and the kids can walk, trot and gallop through the Smoky Mountain area. Rides last between 30 minutes and one hour and little ones can be paired with mom or dad. Packages are available, which can save the family money on zip lining, too.

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
Kids will get a kick out of seeing octopuses, jellyfish, crabs, sharks and other sea creatures at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. There’s a Penguin Playhouse, too, where visitors can crawl through tunnels to see the colony of penguins up close. Hands-on activities are also offered, such as a stingray touch tank and a Discovery Center where kids can hold horseshoe crabs.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum
Located just a few minutes from the aquarium, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum is another sight to see when in Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge. Check out more than 500 unique exhibits, which include a two-headed cow and a shrunken human head. Combination tickets can be purchased for other attractions, too, including the Ripley’s Aquarium.

Lazerport Fun Center
If the weather isn’t exactly fit for an outdoor adventure, head to Lazerport Fun Center for indoor fun. Play an afternoon round of black-light mini golf; get the adrenaline flowing with a game of laser tag; or show off your NASCAR skills on the go-kart track. An arcade also offers games for kids of every age.

Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo
Have you ever seen a zonky? Well you can at the Smoky Mountain Deer Farm and Exotic Petting Zoo (it’s a mix of a donkey and a zebra, by the way). Kids will love petting the deer, goats, camels, sheep and other soft animals, as well as seeing the pot-bellied pigs and reindeer. Pony rides are offered and horseback riding is available at the Deer Farm Riding Stable across the way.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

5 Apple Orchards in the Northeast

September 16th, 2014

Mother and young son picking apples in an orchardThere is nothing more fun on the weekends than apple picking in the fall. The orchards are great places to enjoy the last of sunny days and experience the best of fall. When you’re done scouring the orchards for the best apples, you can bring the kids home to make apple cobbler, pies, cakes and cookies.

Here is a list of five orchards in the Northeast region to visit this fall with your family for fun apple picking festivities:

Silverman’s Farm
Founded in 1920, Silverman’s Farm in Easton, Connecticut, has a hayride that takes you up the hill to an orchard where you can find a wide variety of apples, a gourmet food market, pumpkin patch, cider mill and a petting zoo that kids will love. It’s a fun day out for the whole family.

Outhouse Orchards
Outhouse Orchards, located in Croton Falls, New York, is a family-operated apple farm that happens to be open year-round. But a visit to the orchard in the autumn is very special. Aside from perfect apple picking (they have a great selection), they also have an animal farm, a corn maze, a duck pond, a playground and hayrides. They also feature vendors with homemade ice cream and doughnuts, which the kids will go wild over.

Stuart’s Farm
Stuart’s Farm in Granite Springs, New York, is another good choice for family apple-picking outings. The farm has smaller trees so the kids can pick the apples themselves, and you can take a hayride around the orchard — pick a few pumpkins or have a picnic. If there’s any corn left in their store, be sure to get some and the homemade popcorn – it’s delicious.

Wightman’s Farms
If you’re not interested in long lines and crowds, Wightman’s Farms in Morristown, New Jersey, is a good choice. You and your kids can pick apples and pumpkins, ride hayrides and run around a cornfield puzzle maze. Kids will have a ball here and will want to return next year, for sure.

Masker Orchards
Masker Orchards has been around for more than 100 years and has remained a New York institution ever since. Now open for the season, experts at this Warwick orchard suggest getting there early to beat the crowds. The orchard also sells a great amount of honey, which is great for hot tea on a chilly fall evening.

– Holly Fink

Holly Rosen Fink is a mother, marketing consultant, writer and blogger for a number of sites, as well as her own, The Holly Chronicles.

4 Family Pkgs. at The Peabody Memphis

September 15th, 2014

Exterior view of The Peabody Memphis hotel at nightIf you missed The Peabody Memphis hotel’s 145th anniversary celebration on September 4, don’t worry. The historic Memphis hotel was recently named to our 2014 Favorite Hotels list and it has four great family packages just waiting for you to book this year.

Peabody Bed & Breakfast Package
Enjoy an overnight stay in a deluxe guestroom, breakfast in the Capriccio Grill in the morning and complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle. Rates start from $230 per night.

It’s a Zoo Out There
Families can stay at the Peabody while visiting the Memphis Zoo this year. Package includes four tickets to the zoo; breakfast for two adults and two children 12 and under in the Capriccio Grill; complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle; and free W-Fi access during your stay. Rates start from $269 per night.

Family Fun-cation Package
Kids will stay and eat free at the Peabody with this package. Enjoy a 30 minute carriage ride through Memphis; a kids’ welcome amenity; free Wi-Fi access; complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle; and breakfast for two adults in the Capriccio Grill. During your stay, kids 12 and under will always eat free from the kids’ menu with the purchase of an adult entrée. Rates start from $289 per night.

Ducky Day Family Package
Enjoy an overnight stay at the Peabody with your family and bring home a few special souvenirs. Package includes an official brass-head Duckmaster Cane; a Peabody Duckmaster Celebriduck collectible rubber duck toy; Peabody Duck Cookies; and complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle. And kids will love the last part of the package: kids can be honorary Duckmasters during the daily duck march in the lobby. They will help the Duckmaster guide the Peabody Ducks to and from the lobby fountain at either 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. during your stay. Rates start from $340 per night.

For more information, read our review of The Peabody Memphis.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

October is Kids Free Month in San Diego

September 14th, 2014

Kids Free San Diego October logoDuring the entire month of October this year, kids are free in San Diego. Yes, free. Kids can stay, play, eat, ride, go, and more for free at more than 100 hotels, attractions and restaurants in the San Diego area between October 1 and 31, 2014. Want to know where to go and what to do? Here’s a list of our favorite family hotels, attractions and restaurants that are participating in the month-long event.

Kids Travel Free
Looking for a fun way to get to San Diego to take advantage of these great deals during the month of October? Kids 12 and under will ride the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner for free between October 1 and 31, 2014, with the purchase of at least one adult ticket.

Kids Eat, Stay or Play Free
Kids 12 and under will eat select meals for free when staying at one of these family-friendly hotels in San Diego. Plus, they may even receive free bicycle rentals, welcome amenities and more!

  • Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa
  • DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Mission Valley
  • Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Del Mar
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego/Del Mar
  • Hotel del Coronado
  • Bahia Resort Hotel
  • Bay Club & Marina
  • Embassy Suites San Diego – La Jolla
  • Sheraton Mission Valley San Diego Hotel
  • Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
  • Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
  • Paradise Point Resort & Spa
  • Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
  • Embassy Suites San Diego – Downtown
  • Hyatt Regency Mission Bay
  • La Valencia Hotel
  • Loews Coronado Bay Resort
  • Hilton San Diego Bayfront
  • The Dana on Mission Bay

For more family-friendly properties, see all of our San Diego hotels.

Free Admission for Kids
More than 35 museums and 20 attractions are offering free admission for kids ages 12 and under during the month of October. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • USS Midway Museum
  • Museum of Making Music
  • San Diego Botanic Garden
  • Stephen Birch Aquarium-Museum
  • California Surf Museum
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • Belmont Park
  • LEGOLAND California
  • SEA LIFE Aquarium
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park

For more kid-friendly activities, see all of our San Diego attractions.

Kids Eat Free
Currently nine restaurants in the San Diego are offering free meals for kids 12 and under. Here’s the list of participating eateries:

  • Casa Guadalajara
  • Cosmopolitan Restaurant
  • Croce’s Park West
  • Barra Barra at Fiesta de Reyes
  • Chi Chocolat Liberty Station
  • Pinzimini
  • Rei do Gado Brazilian Steak House
  • Vigilucci’s Coronado
  • Wave House San Diego

For more family-friendly eateries, see all of our San Diego restaurants.

Rules and restrictions may apply. Deals vary based on availability. For more information, visit the San Diego website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

A Weekend in Nashville With Kids

September 13th, 2014

Nashville is not only the capitol of Tennessee. It is also a vibrant town packed full of culture, art and a deep appreciation of music. It’s a great place to spend a weekend with the kids, too. If you have a few days to spend in Music City, check out these attractions; grab a bite at these restaurants; and stay at this hotel:

What to See

Dressing room at the Grand Ole OpryOpryland is possibly the most famous spot for all of Nashville, and it is an area that families will truly enjoy and find something for everyone. Of course a visit to the Grand Ole Opry is most necessary. Tickets to shows, which are scheduled several times a week, are affordable and will leave families with a new appreciation of country music. But if seeing a show is not possible or those visiting with small children are nervous about committing to a show, a backstage tour is a must. Children and adults will both enjoy seeing behind the scenes, peeking in dressing rooms, and standing in the famed circle on stage where hundreds of legends have performed over the years.

There are plenty of other attractions in this area, as well. A large mall and movie theater will keep teenagers happy and families should also stroll through the famed Gaylord Opryland Resort to check out the waterfalls, gardens and river.

Cheekwood Botanical Garden
Cheekwood Botanical Garden offers trails through plants and flowersCheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is a beautiful, unique respite from the typical scene of Nashville. Beautiful lush and winding paths allow visitors to take a leisurely stroll through the gardens on the 55-acre estate while enjoying beautiful plants and flowers with art and sculptures sprinkled in effortlessly. Children will love climbing over the treehouse and watching the trains while running to and from the various displays.

After touring the gardens, make sure to head to the Museum of Art (included in your ticket), which is the former residence of the prestigious Cheek family of Nashville. Throughout the museum, there is British and American decorative art, as well as a few contemporary exhibits. Families will enjoy the journey through time as they tour rooms of the mansion and view decorative artifacts and newer pieces.

Where to Grab a Bite

Loveless Cafe
This well-known restaurant is about 30 minutes from downtown Nashville and worth the drive. There is usually a fair wait, but the food is melt-in-your-mouth tasty. Kids will especially love the old-fashioned mac and cheese and adults will enjoy all the other Southern favorites on the menu.

The Cupcake Collection
The Cupcake Collection, located in historic Germantown, is a must-stop for anyone with a sweet tooth visiting Nashville — stop and pick out a couple treats for the road, too! Favorite cupcake flavors include Lemonade, Sweet Potato with cream cheese frosting and, of course, Chocolate.

Where to Stay

Residence Inn Nashville Brentwood
Exterior view of the Residence Inn Nashville BrentwoodResidence Inn Nashville Brentwood is a great budget option for families looking for a bit more space, as well as a few comforts from home at a good price. The hotel is located about eight miles from downtown. Families will enjoy the complimentary breakfast and manager receptions, as well as a pool, sports court, and gas grills available for guest use. A partial kitchen in guestrooms also allows for cooking on your vacation. The hotel provides travel cribs with washable covers for extra piece of mind, and even hands out bath toys to small children free of charge.

– Hilarye Fuller

Hilarye Fuller is a mama to three little girls, children’s book author and travel and lifestyle blogger at Dotting the Map.

Boardwalk Bunk-Down on Morey’s Piers

September 12th, 2014

View of Morey's Piers in Wildwood, N.J., with rides, games and activitiesWant to sleep under the stars and next to the ocean? Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, N.J., are hosting a brand new family-friendly camping event: Boardwalk Bunk-Down. This year on Saturday October 4, 2014, families can sleep in a tent while dozing off to the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach.

Boardwalk Bunk-Down offers families admission to the amusement rides on Mariner’s Pier between noon and 10 p.m. on Saturday October 4, as well as nightly accommodations in a tent on Adventure Pier, a morning breakfast at Rendezvous Beach and more.

Check-in at noon and set up camp upon arrival before riding the rides on Mariner’s Pier all afternoon and evening. Enjoy a complimentary movie on Adventure Pier at 9 p.m. (complete with popcorn!) and then play as many games as you can on Adventure Pier until midnight. A S’mores bar will also be open for campfire treats from 9 p.m. to midnight (make-your-own kits are $2.50 each).

After a restful night’s sleep from midnight to 6:30 a.m., parents can wake and enjoy a coffee station until 7:30 a.m. on Adventure Pier. Get your morning workout in with the Beach Fitness Walk from 7:30 to 8 a.m., and then enjoy a family breakfast at Rendezvous Beach until 9:30 a.m. The event ends at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 5.

Rates start from $49 per person, if purchased by this Sunday, September 14, and from $55 per person, if purchased by October 1. Season pass holders receive discounted rates from $35 per person. The Boardwalk Bunk-Down is for families and kids of all ages, but Morey’s Piers does not recommend this event for children under 3. To register and purchase tickets, visit the Morey’s Piers website or call 609-522-3900, ex. 1195.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz