Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

IlluminOcean Creates Waves in Orange County

November 26th, 2014

Families look at the Dana Point IlluminOcean attraction filled with lightsEnjoy 40 nights of holiday lights in Ocean County, California, with the new IlluminOcean attraction, premiering in Dana Point, California, tonight through Jan. 4, 2015. The harbor becomes the hub for the new holiday event, with thousands of twinkling lights sculpted into the wonders of the sea, including a 50-foot GlowMotion tree and 100-plus-foot lighted tunnels.

Debuting tonight, the nightly event illuminates Dana Point Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Resorts in Dana Point are also participating in the illumination, with their own IlluminOcean lights, such as a surfboard at The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel and an entranceway of lighted palm trees leading up to the resort’s oversized Christmas tree.

Throughout the event, Dana Point will be hosting a number of holiday-themed events, including Winter Wine Cruises from the harbor on a catamaran; boat rides with Santa on Dec. 6 and 7; and the FantaSEA Holiday Boat Parade of Lights from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 5, 6, 12 and 13, where hundreds of boats show their holiday flair in a parade visible from anywhere along the harbor.

Resorts also host holiday events, including the 7th annual Holiday Surfboard Display and Auction, with dozens of surfboards on display throughout the Ritz-Carlton lobby and an auction benefitting Surfers Healing. At the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa, families can enjoy S’mores and Stories Under the Stars on Friday and Saturday nights. The St. Regis, Monarch Beach is hosting a Gingerbread Academy, Dec. 6 to 21, where families can decorate holiday houses with the pastry chef and team.

– Lissa Poirot

Snow Days, Winter Nights & New Year’s Eve at LEGOLAND California

November 25th, 2014

Entrance to LEGOLAND CaliforniaThe holiday season is warm in California, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t snowy days or wintery nights. LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad hosts its annual Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights from November to January and this year the special event includes a new ice skating rink on top of all the other festive fun!

Snow Days
LEGOLAND’s Snow Days are included with your regular admission ticket. Enjoy special events and activities like Snow Tubing, Snow Play, the Holiday Village Build in LEGO Clubhouse, live entertainment, holiday treats from the Fun Town Holiday Food Truck, and more. There will also be special characters like LEGO Santa and the LEGO Toy Soldier for kids and families to take pictures with.

This year, a new ice skating rink is set up near the ticket plaza and guests can enjoy an afternoon on the ice for an additional fee. Ice skating sessions are 90 minutes long and there will be six sessions available for families each day, except on Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17, when there will be only four. Skaters must be at least 3 years old.

Winter Nights
The holiday fun continues into the evenings at the theme park with Winter Nights – events and activities that are also included with your regular admission ticket. Enjoy the Snow Play and Snow Tubing activities, as well as live entertainment and magical trees decorated with lights, including the 30-foot LEGO Tree that lights up to music in Fun Town.

Winter Nights events will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 28 and 29, and Dec. 6, 13, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30.

The Winter Nights Holiday Fireworks event will take place at 7 p.m. from Dec. 26 to 30.

Kids’ New Year’s Eve
On Dec. 31, ring in the New Year with your kids at LEGOLAND California. The Kids’ New Year’s Eve events are included with your regular admission ticket and begin at 11:30 a.m. Enjoy live entertainment on the Holiday Stage in Fun Town from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then more live entertainment on the Miniland Stage from 2 to 6 p.m. At 6 p.m. fireworks and the Brick Drop ring in the New Year.

Snow Days and Winter Nights events and activities are available now through Jan. 4, 2015. General admission to LEGOLAND California is $90 for guests 3 and older. For a limited time, guests who redeem their ticket to the Our Gift to You Guest Service Kiosk now through Jan. 4, 2015, will receive a free ticket to return to LEGOLAND California and SEA LIFE Aquarium between Jan. 5 and Mar. 1, 2015. For more information, visit the LEGOLAND California website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Ring in the New Year at a Kalahari Resort

November 24th, 2014

For a special New Year’s Eve celebration, book a stay at a Kalahari Water Park Resort. Both the Wisconsin Dells and Sandusky, Ohio locations are offering a New Year’s Special deal for families. Splash, play and ring in 2015 at one of these water park resorts.

Kalahari Resort Wisconsin Dells
Boys sit in a circular raft on a waterslide at the Kalahari Resort Wisconsin DellsNot only will you be able to enjoy access to the resort’s indoor water park and indoor theme park, but the New Year’s Special offers comfortable accommodations, too. Book the package and receive a Hut or Desert Room for up to four guests, plus tickets to the New Year’s Eve Buffet for two adults and two children between 4 and 12 years. Additional tickets may be purchased upon arrival. Buffet reservations are required. The package is valid for a two-night stay starting on Dec. 30 or 31, 2014. Package rates start from $670.

Kalahari Resort Sandusky, Ohio
Young girl bodysurfs on ride at Kalahari Resort SanduskyThis location may not have an indoor theme park, but it is home to America’s largest indoor water park. Enjoy a two-night stay in a Hut or Desert Room for up to four guests, admission to the water park for each guest, each day of your stay, and tickets for the New Year’s Eve Buffet for two adults and two children between 4 and 12 years. Additional tickets may be purchased upon arrival. Buffet reservations are required. The package is valid for a two-night stay starting on Dec. 30 or 31, 2014. Package rates start from $600.

Room upgrades available upon request for a fee. Restrictions may apply.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Celebrate Grinchmas at Universal Studios

November 23rd, 2014

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

It certainly does mean more — that’s why Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando celebrate Grinchmas each year.

Universal Studios Hollywood
The Grinch and Whoville characters dance together at GrinchmasAt Universal Studios Hollywood, Grinchmas will take place on select dates, Dec. 6, 2014, to Jan. 3, 2015. Families will have a chance to meet The Grinch and his dog, Max, and get pictures with the beloved characters. They’ll also enjoy story time with another beloved character: Cindy Lou. Other highlights will include cookie and ornament decorating at Universal Plaza, and perhaps best of all, a Studio Tour Backlot Grinchmas Who-bilation of Who-Ville, where Whos will sing and dance!

Universal Studios Orlando
The Grinch sites with a young blonde girl at GrinchmasAt Universal’s Islands of Adventure – in Seuss Land, of course – Grinchmas will also take place Dec. 6, 2014, to Jan. 3, 2015. In addition to meet-and-greet experiences with the storybook characters, families will have a chance to attend The Grinch and Friends Character Breakfast at Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous (additional fees apply). At The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, visitors will witness a live retelling of the holiday classic, complete with whimsical music.

Standard park admission is required to attend all events.

– Amanda Geronikos

6 Festive Activities at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

November 21st, 2014

Families riding in a sleigh through snowA national park might not be at the top of your list of places to visit for festive holiday fun, but it should be. Yosemite National Park in California offers year-round activities, including magical winter ones at the Tenaya Lodge. This year, enjoy ice skating, craft workshops, sleigh rides, visits with Santa, and so much more!

Ice Skating
Tenaya Lodge’s ice skating rink opens on Wednesday, Nov. 26, at 5 p.m. with complimentary hot holiday beverages being served all evening long. Lace up your skates, sip hot cocoa, make S’mores and get in the holiday spirit.

Gingerbread Decorating Workshop
Bring the whole family to Tenaya Lodge on Nov. 28 and 29, or Dec. 20, for a Gingerbread Decorating Workshop. You’ll learn how to make your very own edible masterpiece before winners are announced. Afterwards, sip on hot holiday beverages while enjoying live entertainment into the evening. Gingerbread houses are $60 each.

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Light up your family’s holiday season with the Lodge’s annual tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 29. Live entertainment kicks off the evening at 5 p.m. with holiday beverages and cookies being served until the tree is lit at 6:30 p.m. Finish off the night with a family photo with Santa and a performance by the Sugar Pine Trio.

Ornament and Stocking Decorating Workshop
Kids will love decorating their own ornaments and stockings at the workshop on Dec. 20 and 23, this year. Enjoy an afternoon of arts and crafts, beginning at 3 p.m., before enjoying holiday drinks and snacks in the lobby at 5 p.m. Ornaments are $30 for a package of six and stockings are $10 each.

Kids Dinner With Santa
Children between 4 and 12 years can dine with Mr. Claus this holiday season on Dec. 22 and 23. Elves will help kids have fun with planned activities, crafts and more before they sit down for dinner with Santa. Dinner is from 6 to 8 p.m. and can be purchased in conjunction with the Kids Dinner With Santa Package or a la carte.

Sleigh Rides & Snacks
Visit the Tenaya Lodge on any day of the week for sleigh rides and complimentary holiday beverages and snacks. Sleigh rides are available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, weather permitted, now through the end of the year, and drinks and snacks are served from 5 to 8 p.m. every evening now through the end of the year.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Asheville Breweries for Families

November 20th, 2014

“I’ve never seen so many babies in bars.”

That’s what we overheard a woman say at Green Man Brewery, one of 20 breweries in Asheville, North Carolina. What she didn’t realize — and many others don’t know — is that breweries are a big part of local culture in Asheville (the town, though small, has more breweries per capita than any other U.S. city). No, you won’t find toddlers crawling around bars at 11 at night (some breweries aren’t even open that late), but you can expect to see families meeting other relatives or friends for lunch or even happy hour. Many breweries cater to them, too, with toys, games, and entertainment and events just for kids. These are some of our favorites:

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company
Families sit in the Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company near a movie theatre and arcade gamesThe town’s namesake brewing business has three locations, though the one on Merrimon Avenue is especially fun for families. Outside, the building appears as if a space ship has crashed into it! Inside, families find arcade games and a movie theater — kids’ movies are usually played in the afternoon. There’s also a restaurant that serves casual, kid-friendly fare — pizzas, chicken fingers, burgers — you name it.

Highland Brewing Company
Exterior of Highland Brewing Company in AshevilleHighland Brewing Company is huge in terms of size — it’s the largest brewery in North Carolina — as well as offerings for families. The brewery offers themed events throughout the year, including The Haunted Trail, a not-so-spooky maze that ends with arts and crafts, food trucks and of course, beer. On any given weekend, families can expect to find live entertainment, balloon artists and more in a grassy meadow behind the building. In fact, many families bring blankets and outdoor games to play there.

Toy chest for kids at the Green Man Brewing Company in AshevilleGreen Man Brewery
Aside from some of the best beer in Asheville, a toy box awaits young patrons at Green Man Brewery. In the near future, guests can also expect to find an outdoor beer garden with views of the surrounding mountains.

– Amanda Geronikos