Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

Get Outdoors During National Park Week

April 18th, 2014

This week, tomorrow through April 27, is National Park Week, a week to celebrate America’s national parks and monuments. On opening weekend, Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th, all national parks are offering free admission.

Throughout the week, parks will provide history talks, wildlife tours and special events. Tuesday, April 22 is Earth Day, so the parks are offering ways families can volunteer. Kids can also enjoy the special Ranger programming offered on April 26, National Junior Ranger Day. Visit the National Park Service’s website to find more information on events occurring in a park near you.

Disney is releasing its new nature film, Bears, today, and for every person who sees the film between April 18 and 24, Disneynature will make a contribution to the National Park Foundation.

For more on National Parks, read National Parks Family Vacations and see our slideshow of 10 Best National Parks for Families.

–Lissa Poirot

All-Inclusive Family “Glamping” in Montana

April 9th, 2014

For the first time, The Resort at Paws Up has developed an all-inclusive package for families visiting the Montana “glamping” resort.

While families sleep in tents, this is not camping, but glamping, with one- or two-bedroom tents that are outfitted in luxurious furnishings, including beds and bathtubs. Each tent ranges from 605 to 977 square feet and feature en-suite bathrooms with heated floors, a private outdoor deck, down comforters, and a private camp butler to cater to guests’ needs. Four tents feature two bedrooms with a king bed in one, and two ten beds in the other, just perfect for families. The new tents are part of Paws Up’s Cliffside Camp, its newest of five camps, offering the Blackfoot River.

Families can now enjoy an all-inclusive rate that includes horseback riding, river floats, canoeing, mountain biking, hiking, ATV tours, rappelling and ghost town town tours. For an additional fee, other activities include a cattle drive, fly-fishing tours, whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning and spa services.

The resort also features Kids Corp of Discovery supervised kids programming for kids 5 to 12. Rates include all daily meals, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as airport transfers from Missoula International Airport.

–Lissa Poirot

Finding Childcare When Traveling

March 27th, 2014

For many parents who plan vacations, all-inclusive resorts are one of the top choices because they provide kids’ clubs and childcare services so mom and dad can get a little one-on-one time during the trip. But what about vacations that don’t have all-inclusive resort options, such as a visit to San Diego or a getaway to the Jersey Shore? There are a crop of childcare service providers available now, to help parents find childcare options while traveling.
This service provider helps connects parents to childcare providers in destinations across the country, many with background checks. Parents can post a job and receive applications from a number of providers who will come to the hotel at a rate you choose. Providers have profiles you can review, including photographs, and can provide references. The site also provides pet sitters, to care for your pets back home while you’re traveling.
Similar to, parents can connect to sitters in the destination of their choice and review caregiver profiles, see references and review background checks. The site also provides pet sitters.
Also a site where parents can sitters across the country, SitterCity provides access to caregiver profiles and background checks.

Destination Sitters
With offices up and down California’s coast, parents can find childcare providers in San Diego, Palm Springs, Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Jose and San Francisco. Sitters are fully screened and vetted, so when you make a request, you’ll receive someone who has already gone through personal interviews, full background checks, drug screenings and reference verification — to sum it up, they have done the work for you!

American Childcare
This service provides hotel babysitting options in New York, Chicago and San Francisco, and can even connect families with travel nannies to accompany you on a trip. Babysitters have three already-screened references, while nannies undergo a criminal background check and are certified in CPR and First Aid.

Kid’s Nite Out
If you’re visiting a Walt Disney World resort, Disney Babysitting Services are available for in-room sitters. These sitters have been interviewed by and recommended by Disney, and are certified in CPR and basic First Aid. The service is available resorts such as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Yacht Club and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

–Lissa Poirot

Off the Beaten Path in Daytona Beach

March 24th, 2014

Families heading to the Florida shores for spring break already know the waters are warm, the sun is shining, and the beach has plenty of room for visitors. When visiting Daytona Beach for spring break or as a side trip from Orlando, there is more than just the beach to enjoy. Take a look at the places the locals like to visit:

Sun Splash Park
Local families have come to enjoy this 4-acre splash park at the southern end of Daytona Beach. Beat the heat with an interactive water fountain, shaded playground, picnic areas, Coca Cola-sponsored “cool zone” and more. Sun Splash Park is FREE and open from sunrise to sunset.

Cracker Creek
Cracker Creek is an environmental and historical treasure just south of Daytona Beach in Port Orange. Located on the western side of scenic Spruce Creek, this 20-acre sanctuary is a natural home for a variety of endangered plants and animals best seen by boat or on foot. Visitors can paddle or tour the Creek on a variety of boat tours and sunset cruises, or via hydro bike, canoe and kayak rentals.

Dunn’s Attic & Auction House
When on the hunt for one-of-a-kind finds, visit Dunn’s Attic & Auction House. Newly opened by one of the Daytona Beach area’s staple retailers, the Dunn Family welcomes you to 12,000 square feet of shopping excitement featuring everything from furniture and jewelry to handmade gifts and collectibles. Make sure to visit Rosie’s Café brimming with breakfast and lunch items, old fashioned sodas, beer and wine. And, stop by on Saturday for Mimosa Saturdays – all mimosas just $1. Dunn’s also includes a special Artist’s Corner, featuring local artists year-round. It’s a great way to find a truly special piece to remember a vacation.

Bonfires on the Beach
If you are a true beach bum, sunset should not automatically halt fun on the sand. Bonfires on the beach offer an alternative to family bonding in a hotel room. Open to residents and visitors, Volusia County provides fire rings for bonfires free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Wood for the fire is not provided. Beach visitors are also allowed to bring their own bonfire pit. Fire rings are available November through April during non-sea turtle nesting seasons. The last day for a fire ring this year is April 28.

Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail
Interested in exploring some of the most beautiful natural scenery in Florida? The Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail is a must-do experience – ride, cycle or hike along 30 miles of roadways with direct access to the Intracoastal Waterway, Atlantic Ocean, Tomoka State Park and Bulow Creek State Park. The Loop also includes museums, historic public buildings and private homes.

Cinematique Theater
For a cultural night out, follow the locals to Daytona Beach’s only art-house cinema, the Cinematique Theater of Daytona. This unique cinema serves food, beer and wine while movie-goers enjoy “hard-to-find” foreign and/or independent films. As a nonprofit organization, their mission is to bring the best international, national and local independent films to Daytona Beach.

Click here to find Family-Friendly Daytona Beach Hotels.

What’s New at the Jersey Shore

March 23rd, 2014

After Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore in the fall of 2012, you may be wondering how the rebuild is continuing and what’s new on the Jersey Shore. Here’s a look:

Seaside Heights
A new and improved 600-foot Boardwalk replaces Seaside Heights‘ old boardwalk, which was originally 20 feet wide. It will now be 65 feet wide with plenty of room for families. Casino Pier will reopens April 12th with new rides like the Air Race, where riders pilot planes up to 25 feet in height, and Jump Around, a Baja Buggy-themed ride.

Seaside Park
Seaside Park lost its pier, but the beach town will open a pop-up Carnival in its place in August. From August 1 to 15, the Carnival will have games and fun, as well as drive-in movies on the marina lawn and concerts by the beach; a sand sculpture of the boardwalk past, present and future; and activities for the kids.

Six Flags Great Adventure
Near the shore, Six Flags Great Adventure is reopening April 12 for its 40th season. The amusement park will celebrate its anniversary with the opening of Zumanjaro: Drop of Doom. The ride will connect to the 456-foot Kingda Ka roller coaster, with Zumanjaro lifting riders 41 stories before dropping them at 90 miles per hour as the roller coaster speeds by at 128 miles per hour. There will be three drop towers with gondolas holding eight riders.

Wildwood’s Morey’s Piers is also reopening on April 12 with a grand opening celebration. New this year is the Wave Swinger ride that will spin and swing riders 50 feet above the beach. Morey’s Piers operates three boardwalk amusement piers and two water parks, as well dining options.

–Lissa Poirot

Spring Breaking in Texas

March 19th, 2014

Families looking for warm temperatures but something new and different for spring break may want to consider Texas, which has a host of family-friendly fun. Need reasons? Check out these fun-filed ideas:

Western Adventures
Texas is known for its cowboys, and kids can channel their inner cowboy or cowgirl at a dude ranch, where they may ride horses and enjoy western entertainment. Some towns even feature cowboy events, such as Bandera, where cowboys spend their Saturdays re-enacting gunfighter battles. The Cowboys on Main event also features chuck wagons, musicians, and more.

Water Fun
Who needs the Caribbean when you can head to Texas’ Gulf Coast. From Galveston to Padre Island to Corpus Christi, kids can hit the water and beaches for traditional water fun. When looking for something off the sandy shore, visit Moody Gardens in Galveston, which just opened National Geographic’s “Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah” exhibit.

Wild Rides
Not all theme parks are found in Florida. Texas will provide thrills for your older kids at its three Six Flags theme parks: Six Flags Fiesta Texas, Six Flags Over Texas, and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park, which is opening a multi-lane water slide complex this season called the Wahoo Racer.

Wildlife Encounters
Many of Texas’ largest cities still provide ways for kids to connect with wildlife. In Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston, visit the local zoos, or pop into an aquarium in Corpus Christi, Houston or Dallas.

–Lissa Poirot