Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

7 Banned Books Week Events for Families

September 21st, 2014

Three young boys read books outside in the grassToday kicks off the 32nd Annual Banned Books Week and events for the young and old will be held throughout the country, with readings and storytime for babies to celebrations in honor of Lord of the Rings with costumed characters for teens. Here’s a list of family-friendly events taking place in large cities around the U.S. this week in honor of all those banned books!

Chicago
Banned Books Week

Sept. 21-27, 2014
Glen Ellyn Public Library

All week long kids in grades four through eight can stop by the Glen Ellyn Public Library in Chicago and have their picture taken with their favorite banned book, which will also be featured in the library’s special Facebook album. Readings will also take place daily.

Providence, R.I.
Free Tattoo with Checkout of Banned Book

Sept. 21-27, 2014
Providence Community Library

Families who check out a banned book this week in Providence will get a free temporary tattoo!

Nashville
Hobbit Day Celebration

Sept. 22, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Coffee County Lannom Library

Located about an hour from Nashville, the Coffee County Lannom Library in Tullahoma, Tennessee, is hosting a celebration in honor of Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth’s very own Bilbo and Frodo! Families can enjoy costume contests, scavenger hunts, riddles, trivia and hobbit snacks.

Portland, OR
Celebrate Banned Books at Wild Lilac

Sept. 24, 2014 at 11 a.m.
Wild Lilac Child Development Community

Listen to parents and teachers as they read from their favorite banned children’s books in Portland this Wednesday.

Charleston, S.C.
Banned Books Week DIY Festival

Sept. 25, 2014
College of Charleston – Addlestone Library

Families can make their own buttons, magazines and more at this DIY Festival in Charleston this week. A photobooth will be available all week long for photos with your banned book, too.

San Francisco
Baby’s First Banned Book Club Meeting

Sept. 25, 2014 at 3 p.m.
Books Inc. in the Marina

Sing songs, clap your hands and read books that have actually been banned for the little ones in San Francisco this week! Who knew storytime for baby would or could be banned?

Book Bites Banned Books Storytime
Sept. 25, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
Books Inc. Laurel Village

Bring kids ages 6 and up to this event, which offers little ones who are just learning to read a storytime of banned books.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

9 Pirate Ship Adventures for Kids

September 19th, 2014

Kids play limbo aboard a pirate ship cruiseAhoy, mateys! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and mateys everywhere should don their eye patches and wooden peg legs all day long while speaking with their best swashbuckling accents. Don’t let the fun stop tomorrow, though. Board one of these nine pirate ship cruises with the family for an adventure on the high seas in search of buried treasure. Argh!

Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise
Join Captain Fearless Phil and his crew onboard the Sea Dragon in Panama City Beach, Florida, this year for a voyage to remember. Sing along to pirate songs while sword fighting, swabbing the deck, hunting for buried treasure and more. Tours last about two hours. Prices start from $24 for adults ages 15 and older, $14 for kids 14 and under, and $12 for infants and babies between 1 and 2 years; infants under 1 year are free.

Pirate Ship Tour Puerto Vallarta
Set sail on an authentic Spanish galleon in Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll take part in a pirate show before reaching Majahuitas Beach, where families can try water sports, beach games and more. Food is served and parents can enjoy an open bar on the ship. Afternoon and evening tours are available. Tickets start from $42 for children 3 to 12, and from $84 for adults and teens 12 years and older.

The Pirate Ship Royal Conquest
Set sail in Tampa Bay, Florida, for a true Royal Conquest. The two-level, 56-foot pirate ship offers music, water gun battles, treasure hunts, limbo, face painting and more. The cruises last about two hours and are offered in the morning, afternoon and at night. Prices start from $35 for adults between 21 and 64, $25 for kids between 2 and 20, and $10 for toddlers and infants under 2 years.

Capt. Jack’s Pirate Ship Adventures
Board the Lost Pearl in Virginia Beach and set sail on an authentic Spanish galleon ship. All hands will be on deck during this adventure. Enjoy a pirate show while snacking on seafaring food, and see who wins the sword fight. Tours run for approximately 1.5 hours and prices start from $26 for adults and $22 for children between 3 and 15; the cruise is free for kids 2 and under.

Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise
Buccaneers are invited to board Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise in Clearwater Beach, Florida, for an afternoon of food and drinks while searching for treasure. Face painting, water gun games, stories, dancing and more are offered onboard. Prices start from $36 for adults, $31 for teens 13 to 17, $26 for kids 3 to 12 and $11 for babies and infants 2 and under.

Big Bear’s Pirate Ship
The Time Bandit Pirate Ship is modeled after a Spanish galleon and brings families around Big Bear Lake, California. Tours educate families about the lake and last about 90 minutes. Morning and afternoon tours are available. Prices start from $22 for adults and $14 for kids 12 and under.

Buccaneer Pirate Cruise
Join a voyage with other pirates through the waters of the Emerald Coast of Destin, Florida, on the Buccaneer Pirate Cruise. Enjoy singing, dancing, water gun battles, a sword fight, treasure hunts and more. Prices start from $34 for adults, $19.50 for kids 4 to 14, and children under 3 are free.

Boomerang Pirate Ship
Navigate the Potomac River on the Boomerang Pirate Ship in Washington, D.C., and help protect the Nation’s Capital while on board. Enjoy treasure hunts, face painting, pirate games, dancing, water cannons, limbo and more. Prices start from $20 per person and advance reservations are required.

Black Raven Pirate Ship
Blackbeard will visit your family while on board the Black Raven in St. Augustine, Florida. Kids must be ready for battle, with water cannons, sword fights and more. When it’s over, enjoy tasty booty with the other mateys while celebrating. Prices start from $35 for adults and $25 for kids 3 to 12; children under 3 are free.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

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