Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

Five Family-Friendly Weekend Events in New England

August 1st, 2014

Looking for something fun to do with the kids? Here are five family-friendly festivals, fairs and events taking place across the New England region this weekend.

Maine Lobster Festival
July 30 to August 3, 2014
See the art show, eat the pancake breakfast, laugh and play at Smokey’s Greatest Shows Carnival, watch a children’s parade and so much more at the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine. Be sure to visit (and watch your child compete!) on August 3 for the Children’s Cod Fish Carry and the Children’s Lobster Eating Contest! Admission is $8 for adults and $2 for children between 6 and 12; children 5 and under are free. Admission is free for everyone on Sunday, August 3.

For more information, visit the Maine Lobster Festival website.

Newport Jazz Festival
August 1 to August 3, 2014
Enjoy smooth, sultry music in Newport, Rhode Island all weekend long at the Newport Jazz Festival. During the festival, food and craft vendors from around the region will offer interesting bites and souvenirs to take home. Admission starts from $40 per adult and from $15 per child or student. Gates open at 10 a.m. daily, with performances beginning at 11:30 a.m. on August 1 and at 10:30 a.m. on August 2 and 3, 2014.

For more information, see the Newport Jazz Festival website.

Vermont Festival of the Arts
August 1 to September 1, 2014
Check out art from around Vermont and the region at the annual Vermont Festival of Arts in the Mad River Valley all month long. Kids will love painting their own creations and dancing to the live music. Family workshops will take place and live music and food vendors will keep everyone entertained.

Call 802-496-6682 for information on tickets and visit the Vermont Festival of Arts website for a schedule of events.

Gore Mountain Craft Fair
August 2 and 3, 2014
The free Gore Mountain Craft Fair offers families live entertainment and a plethora of artists from the Adirondacks and beyond. Enjoy food, shopping, hiking, biking, mini golf and more around the area, as well. The fair is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily and is free for all guests.

For more information, visit the Gore Mountain Craft Fair website.

Lyman Orchards Sunflower Maze
August 2 to August 24, 2014
See if you can find your way out of the 350,000 red and yellow sunflowers at the Lyman Orchards Sunflower Maze in Middlefield, Conn., which opens August 2 and runs through August 24. The $1 admission is donated to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. And if you can, visit again on August 16 for the Peach Fest, where live music, food and outdoor activities for every age will keep kids smiling. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit the Lyman Orchards website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Four Pet-Friendly Hotels for the Dog Days of Summer

July 31st, 2014

We’ve almost made it through the Dog Days of Summer, or the steamiest part of the season traditionally recognized as July 3 to August 11, but it’s not over yet. In honor of the Dog Days, here are four pet-friendly hotels for your family and your furry friend to enjoy.

Waldorf Astoria Chicago
Cool off in Chicago, otherwise known as the Windy City, and book a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Chicago. The hotel’s newest Waldorf Woof program is perfect for your four-legged friend. Your dog will enjoy a bed, bowl, doggie bags and a toy. Plus, they can order from a gourmet, dog-food menu. After enjoying the hotel’s amenities for your pooch, head to Tails in the City — a luxury pet boutique and enjoy 15 percent off your purchase. Rock out during the entire trip to a special “dog pod” playlist, with pet-friendly songs like Hound Dog and Who Let the Dogs Out.

Rates start from $395 per night. A $45, non-refundable deposit is required per pet. Maximum weight per pet is 30 pounds.

TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort
With 48 pet-friendly suites offering gulf front views along St. Petersburg, the TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort is a great place to escape for the entire family. The Pet Play Zone offers an area for owners to relax while their pets do the same with 4 Paw massage treatments. The Doggie Accessory Center is also available for all guests (via a room key) and contains toys, leashes and doggie bowls so your pet is truly comfortable on vacation. Pets must not exceed 80 pounds and there is a two-pet maximum per room. A nonrefundable $30 per night fee will be charged to the suite.

Rates start from just $200 per night with the Family Package.

The Cloister Sea Island
Enjoy a seaside getaway in Savannah & Golden Isles and bring your pet along! Stay at The Cloister Sea Island and your pet will receive the proper treatment, with “Happy Dog” shampoo, a gourmet food menu, doggie bowls, treats and a bed. The resort requires guests to keep pets on a leash at all times outside of the room or suite. A $175, nonrefundable pet fee per room is required and pets may not exceed 35 pounds.

Rates start from $505 per night, but take advantage of the resort’s current Beach Club Package for even more savings!

The Muse Hotel New York – A Kimpton Hotel
Let your animal friend feel like a VIP (Very Important Pet) at the Muse Hotel New York. Part of the pet-friendly Kimpton Hotels brand, this New York City property, located in the heart of Times Square, offers complimentary accommodations for pets. And when your pet accompanies you to the hotel, they’ll enjoy a comfortable bed, a VIP amenity delivered to your room, food and water bowls, a leash and plastic bags for pups and pet-sitting, walking, massage and acupuncture services can be arranged for a fee. Rates start from $339 per night.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Cultural Adventures in Maui: Outrigger Canoeing

July 30th, 2014

On a recent trip to Maui, I had the pleasure of experiencing the Jean-Michel Cousteau Ambassadors of the Environment program while I was staying at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua. The programs have been developed to provide cultural and environmental excursions led by naturalists to help guests develop a deeper appreciation for the environment they are visiting. At the Ritz, programs include Coastal Walk and Tide Pool Exploration, Cities Under the Sea, Maunalei Magic, Sea Kayak Coastal Tours, and my chosen adventure, Outrigger Canoeing.

I elected for the outrigger canoe adventure to truly immerse myself into Hawaiian culture. I, along with a family of four and our guide, learned from the very start that to work a 45-foot-long outrigger canoe, you have to work as a team. As a team, we were not coddled; we had to help prepare the canoe and move it from the shore to the water, and then had to learn how to paddle together. Unlike traditional paddling using our arms, we learned outrigger canoe paddling requires the use of all body parts, from our legs to our torsos to our shoulders. (I felt it the next day!) Before setting off, our guide, Tim Lara, completed the traditional prayer to the ocean and the environment to allow for a safe journey.

Setting off on our three-hour journey into the morning rain, we encountered a pod of dolphins (roughly 50) and although we took a moment to watch them swim and play, we had to keep paddling on to our shore destination. Coming ashore, Tim showed us natural spring pools near the tide that bubbled water from underground and was cool and safe to drink. He showed us how to make rope from coconuts we found on the shore, and even had a drink of coconut water from a young coconut. Tim explained to us how Maui was once divided to support and sustain themselves with the water from the rain forests at the top of the volcano right down to the shore, again with everyone working as a team.

Getting back into the canoe, we spotted sea turtles and crystal clear waters and decided it was the best place to stop to snorkel. Tim had a guide book of the local fish we would see, and as we swam, pointed out urchins and fish to us. Then we returned to the hotel shore, and once again, our team pulled the canoe in, cleaned it and put its protective covers on it. Any trash we had seen in the ocean had come back with us to dispose of properly. The excursion had been a lot of fun, but also taught us so much.

I learned from Tim that he works with the Ambassadors of the Environment program, but also operates a tour group that does this for those who are not staying at the Ritz. Maui Kayak Adventures leads groups on trips to Molokini, Turtle Town and Honolua Marine Preserve, and his commitment to the environment is evident. (It’s the reason he joined the Ambassadors of the Environment programs.)

As I later walked along the shores of Wailea’s and Ka’anapali’s beaches during my stay on the island, I saw many outriggers set up for early morning adventures with groups of guests unsure about what they were doing, helping move the canoes to the ocean and paddling into the ocean. Maui is proud of its culture and works hard to keep it alive, and it appears most resorts on the island are happy to help guests experience adventures that give them a taste of Old Hawaii. I enjoyed my tour with the Ritz’s Ambassadors of the Environment (and have enjoyed its programs in California and the Caribbean). I highly recommend families take the time to experience the island through this program, or with similar programs at other resorts or independent tour groups.

(Note: The family I toured with had 13- and 15-year-old sons, and the boys loved swimming with sea turtles, paddling close to dolphins and making rope from coconut. If these teens could be happy for three straight hours, just think how much the rest of the family will also enjoy it!)

– Lissa Poirot



Four Resort Restaurants That Will Cook What You Catch

July 28th, 2014

If your family loves to fish, then these are the resorts for you. Resorts along the Southwest Gulf Coast of Florida and the Gulf Shores of Alabama are encouraging guests to reel in their own dinner. Whether you have your own boat and bait, or you tag along on a fishing trip for a day, stay at one of these four resorts and let the onsite restaurant cook what you catch on your next vacation.

The Hyatt Regency Sarasota’s You Catch ‘Em, We’ll Cook ‘Em program allows families a chance to fish for the day before enjoy their catch for dinner at night. The Sarasota resort’s onsite eatery, Currents Restaurant, has a new Fresh Catch program, which offers guests the chance to relax while the team of chefs prepares the fish to their liking.

Enjoy surf fishing on the beach at The Beach Club and see what you can catch. Bring your fish to the Village Hideaway — the onsite restaurant at the Gulf Shores, Ala. Resort — and allow them to prepare it any way you like.

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village offers its Hook N’ Cook program for families and fishermen alike. See what you can catch off the Southwest Gulf Coast and have one of the chefs at one of the two, onsite restaurants — Marker 92 Waterfront Bar & Bistro or the Nauti Mermaid Dockside Bar & Grill — cook it for you.

Cruise through the water of the Gulf Shores of Alabama on a fishing trip or catamaran and try to catch a fish! The Café Palm Breeze at the Perdido Beach Resort will cook it for you. Enjoy your fresh fish for lunch or an early dinner.

Cook what you catch program process vary per resort, but average around $17 each.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

The Roosevelt New Orleans Celebrates 120 Years with Special Rates and More

July 27th, 2014

The Roosevelt New Orleans kicked off its 120th anniversary celebration on May 1 and the special events, treats and rates are lasting through the end of the year. The New Orleans hotel originally opened its doors in 1894 and has hosted famous celebrities over the years, such as Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. After a large restoration is 2009, the Roosevelt is better than ever and going strong. Here are a few special ways for you and your family to celebrate with the hotel this year:

For the Kids
Now through Dec. 31, enjoy a special dessert in Teddy’s Café. The Apple Charlotte is a legendary treat made with ladyfingers, caramelized apples and vanilla bean custard. And in honor of the five-year anniversary of the hotel’s restoration, it will only cost $5 to enjoy!

For the Adults
The Grunewald cocktail is the hotel’s signature cocktail now through the end of the year. Be sure to try the spirit named for the founder of the hotel, Louis Grunewald. And before or after, take advantage of the special Happy Hour in the Fountain Lounge, which offers $6 snacks and $6 drinks from 4 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, now through Dec. 31.

For Everyone
If you’re planning a vacation to New Orleans, stay at the Roosevelt between Aug. 21 and 28 for special rates. In honor of its 120th anniversary, guestroom rates will start from just $120 per night.

For more information, read about The Roosevelt New Orleans.

Dream Next to Dinosaurs in New Jersey

July 26th, 2014

The new Field Station: Dinosaurs opened on July 1 in Secaucus, N.J., and with it 32 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs for kids and families to interact with. Located just nine minutes from New York City, the attraction offers game shows, a dig site, 3D movies, hands-on workshops and more, including the special Dozin’ with Dinos sleepover event.

On August 2 and 23, families can spend almost 12 hours learning, interacting and sleeping with the 32 animatronic dinosaurs. Beginning at 7 p.m. and ending at 8 a.m. the next day, with activities taking place from 8 p.m. to midnight, guests can explore dinosaur trails, watch the Dinosaurs Alive! 3D film and snack on S’mores before bed, which consists of army-style tents and cots.

Limited space is available. Admission for the Dozin’ with Dinos event is $75 per person and $65 per person in groups of 20 or more. Price includes an evening snack and light breakfast, sleeping arrangements and admission to the 3D movie. Guests are encouraged to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight, comfortable clothing and other necessities. Children under 5 are not permitted and one adult must be present.

For more information, visit the Field Station: Dinosaurs website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz