Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

New Attractions at the Newport Aquarium

January 19th, 2015

Newport AquariumLocated just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, in Newport, Kentucky, the Newport Aquarium is already home to one million gallons of water, three of the largest turtle species in the world and several hands-on experiences for kids. This year, the aquarium will debut three new attractions and exhibits, all of which promise to be exciting, engaging and educational.

Canyon Falls
Opening mid-March, Canyon Falls will occupy the area in the aquarium that is currently the Turtle Canyon exhibit, and will feature Asian, small-clawed otters. Otter talks will be held at the exhibit, which will allow guests to get up close to the critters, while learning about conservation of the species. Additionally, Canyon Falls will feature two new species of lizards – the yellow monitor and panther chameleon – that have never been seen at the aquarium before.

Shark Bridge
Scheduled to debut in mid-April, the Shark Bridge will be a 100-foot-long, V-shaped rope bridge that is suspended over the 385,000-gallon Surrounded by Sharks exhibit tank. Adults, children and teens will get a unique look into the lives of the various species of sharks, stingrays and the hundreds of fish in the tank. Additionally, coinciding with the new Shark Bridge, the world’s largest collection of on-display scalloped hammerhead sharks will be added to the exhibit in April. The Shark Bridge will triple the viewing area around the popular Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

Weeki Wachee Mermaids
After the popular 10-day visit in the fall of 2014, the Weeki Wachee Mermaids from Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida, will return to the aquarium in October 2015. More details will be announced closer to the mermaids’ arrival.

Scuba Santa’s Water Wonderland
Now in its 13th season, the aquarium’s popular Scuba Santa Water Wonderland event will return on Nov. 27, 2015, but with newly reimagined activities and features on display. More details will be announced later this year.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

An Arizona Escape After the Super Bowl

January 18th, 2015

Sonoran Splash area at the Fairmont Scottsdale PrincessSuper Bowl XLIX kicks off in Glendale, Arizona, in just two weeks. For football fans and families around the U.S., a trip to Arizona might be in the cards, but if you haven’t already booked your hotel, then you’ll most likely be out of luck, and will have to enjoy the game from the comfort of your own home instead. However, a trip to the Grand Canyon State is a great idea for families looking for a Southwest vacation this year, even after the Super Bowl is over.

Stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona, and your family will be just 30 minutes from where the Super Bowl is taking place. You can easily make a stop at the University of Phoenix Stadium to see the set-up and walk the grounds that some of your favorite athletes will grace this February before checking in to the resort. Once you arrive though, you won’t want to leave.

Firstly, guestrooms and suites offer sprawling views of the gardens, courtyards and Princess Plaza, with an outdoor, covered patio that is perfect for watching sunsets. And for families with little ones, cribs, highchairs, microwaves and mini-fridges are all available upon request. You can even have your room baby-proofed!

Next, the kids will love the resort activities. From the Trailblazers Family Adventure Center for 5- to 12-year-olds, to the playground, to the Sonoran Splash area, which features two, 200-foot waterslides, entertainment abounds. On Friday and Saturday nights the waterslides light up and feature fog, disco lights and music to make them even more exciting (offered seasonally). Additional activities and amenities include a sports court, lagoon-fishing area, four other pool areas, and dive-in movies.

When an appetite is worked up, head for one of the five restaurants, all of which offer children’s menus. Entrées for kids are classic, yet with a healthy twist; kids will enjoy nutritious versions of chicken strips, pizza, spaghetti with meatballs, and even chocolate mousse. And when parents want a romantic date-night dinner alone, babysitting is available right at the resort.

Sip, Savor and Sun Package
If you’ve now decided you need to visit the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort, book the Sip, Savor and Sun Package. Enjoy overnight accommodations in a luxurious Fairmont Room and receive a $100 daily resort credit. Rates start from $249 per night. Offer valid now through April 30, 2015.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

New York City Broadway Week Offers Two-for-One Tickets

January 17th, 2015

Broadway Theater District in New York CityTheater-goers rejoice: New York City’s Broadway Week 2015 is just three days away and tickets are on sale now! Whether you live in the Tri-State area, or are planning to visit the Big Apple in the coming weeks, purchase two-for-one tickets now for more than 15 Broadway shows.

New York City’s Broadway Week begins Jan. 20 and runs through Feb. 5, 2015. Two-for-one tickets allow audiences to purchase two or more tickets at 50-percent off the original price. Additionally, ticket upgrades are available, starting from $20 per ticket.

Family-friendly shows offering the special discount and upgrade option include “Aladdin,” “Chicago the Musical,” “A Delicate Balance,” “Disgraced,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “If/Then,” “It’s Only a Play,” “Jersey Boys,” “Kinky Boots,” “Les Miserables,” “The Lion King,” “Mamma Mia,” “Matilda the Musical,” “On the Town,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The River,” “Wicked,” and “You Can’t Take It With You.”

Purchase tickets through Telecharge.com, which will automatically enter the promotional codes for tickets for these select shows. For ticket purchases on BroadwayOffers.com or Ticketmaster.com, use promo code BWAYWK for two-for-one tickets, and promo code BWAYUP for upgraded tickets.

Offer valid for shows only during Broadway Week (Jan. 20 to Feb. 5). Some musicals may not be suited for younger children.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Winter Park Resort Celebrates 75 Years

January 14th, 2015

Girl holding skis on snow-covered mountainOn Jan. 28, 1940, Winter Park Resort opened for the first time, inviting families and guests to the Colorado mountain for fun in the snow. This year, the ski resort will be doing the same all while celebrating its 75th anniversary. In honor of this milestone, the resort is offering steals and deals on lodging and lift tickets, as well as fun events and activities for everyone.

Steals, Deals and Discounts
This season, families can book their Winter Park vacation and save up to 25 percent when staying at one of three resort options. Stay three or more nights at Zephyr Mountain Lodge, Fraser Crossing/Founders Founders Pointe, or The Vintage Resort Hotel and enjoy up to 25 percent off each nightly rate. Stay one or two nights at the same lodges and enjoy up to 15 percent off nightly rates. Book by Jan. 19, for three-night stays now through April 26, 2015. Book by April 26, for one- or two-night stays now through April 26, 2015.

Other steals and deals include a $75 tune up special for all your ski and snowboard gear; up to 7 percent off goggles and gloves at the onsite outfitters; a special $75, 45-minute massage at the spa; a $2 latte special at the Balcony House; and $7.50 food and drink specials at Doc’s Roadhouse restaurant.

Additionally, guests can enjoy discounts at the ski and ride schools, including a $128.40 full-day adult lesson or a $175 full-day child lesson, with lift tickets, rentals and lessons included. Both ski and ride school specials are valid now through Jan. 31, 2015.

Chair Lift Confessional
Make your way up the mountain on one of the various chair lifts, but be sure you know your Winter Park history. This season guests will be chosen at random for the resort’s Chair Lift Confessional series, in which a resort staff member will accompany guests on lifts and ask them a series of questions on camera!

Secret Cash Stash
While visiting the resort, be sure to look for the cash that is stashed on the mountain! In honor of the 75th year anniversary, the Winter Park Resort has hidden $75 at different areas of the mountain for guests to uncover. Clues are offered weekly to help guests find the stash. Upon finding it, take a photo and post it with the hashtag #SecretCashStash and the resort will deliver the money to you!

75th Anniversary Gala
Celebrate the resort in style at the 75th Anniversary Gala on Jan. 24, and enjoy dinner, drinks, dancing, gifts, and more at the Lodge at Sunspot, 10,000 feet above sea level. Tickets are $175 per person, and include drinks, a four-course dinner, one lift ticket, one photo and a resort gift bag to take home. While in attendance, be sure to enter to win a free summer weekend getaway at the Winter Park Resort, too!

Limited Edition Coffee Table Book
Before leaving the resort, pick up the limited edition coffee table book, “Winter Park Resort: 75 Years of Imagining More.” Learn about Winter Park’s history through more than 300 photos across 196 pages. Plus, when you buy a Winter Park Season Pass you’ll get $5 off the book and free shipping!

For more information on all 75th Anniversary celebrations, visit the Winter Park Resort website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Gators and Gardens in Sarasota, Fla.

January 13th, 2015

Two things you’ll find in abundance in Florida are alligators and green space in public parks and gardens. During my family’s December visit to Sarasota, the weather was perfect for outdoor exploration; sunshine, breezes, and low humidity! These were the three best places we found to discover gators and gardens in the area.

Myakka River State Park
Myakka River State ParkOne of Florida’s largest and oldest state parks, the Myakka River State Park is off the beaten path, but still technically within Sarasota. It’s worth seeking out and spending an entire afternoon enjoying a nature walk, canoeing or biking. The narrated seasonal Tram Safari tour through shady oak and pine forests is also a must. Make the effort to seek out the Canopy Walkway, a pedestrian bridge suspended 25 feet in the air connecting two wooden towers.

Our goal at this park was to take a ride on the world’s largest covered airboat. The Myakka Maiden and Gator Gal are twin vessels, both 53 feet long. During the 45-minute ride on Upper Myakka Lake, our captain and narrator Jamie pointed out visible wildlife along the way. We saw a lot of beautiful birds we don’t get to see up north, like egrets and herons, as well as osprey and bald eagles. Of course, the main attraction is the alligators, and since up to 1,000 gators live in this lake, it’s easy to spot a few peeking their heads above the water.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens
Sarasota Jungle GardensThe Sarasota Jungle Gardens, which opened in 1939, is one of those old-time Florida tourist attractions that offers more simple fun than high-tech adventure, which is exactly why we enjoyed it. My daughter adopted the make believe role of jungle explorer as she followed the red brick canopied pathways through the dense palm hammocks; there is a total of 100 different palm species in all. We stopped along the way to observe wildlife, both out in the open and in protected animal habitats. Highlights included the outdoor alligator pen and the indoor Reptile Exhibit with a collection of albino creatures — a turtle, cobra, and python — as well as a close encounter with a flamingo family.

There are also several daily wildlife, reptile and bird shows. Jeremiah, the animal trainer, introduced us to Cheyenne, the Red-Tailed Hawk, Francis, the Great Horned Owl, and Spike, the African Pygmy Hedgehog, providing plenty of information about their life habits, as well as giving the kids the opportunity to pet Spike.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens waterfallOn the shore of Sarasota Bay, the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a pleasant tropical surprise in urban surroundings. For families, the Ann Goldstein’s Children’s Rainforest Garden, which opened in November 2013, makes it worth the visit. The centerpiece is the 100-year-old Banyan Tree with an extensive root system that our kids enjoyed climbing over. There’s a challenging Canopy Walk and Rope Bridge that gives you a view of the rainforest from 27 feet above. Activity huts were scattered around the Kids’ Corner, offering them the chance to draw and make their own crafts. On a hot day, you can stand by the waterfall and get cooled off by the mist.

We also spent time strolling around the Butterfly Garden, and walking along the Mangrove Bay Walk, enjoying views of the Sarasota Bay and the Ringling Causeway Bridge.

– Traci L. Suppa

Traci L. Suppa drags her small-town family to see a quirky array of the world’s largest, longest, or tallest things, and blogs about it at Go BIG or Go Home.

Beginners Ski for Free in New England

January 11th, 2015

Girl holding skisWhether young or old, beginners will ski for free at three New England ski resorts on two Terrain Based Learning days this winter. Head to Vermont, New Hampshire or Massachusetts on Jan. 19 or March 15, 2015, and enjoy lift tickets, equipment rentals and introductory lessons for free!

Bromley Mountain, Peru, VT
The Start Fun, Start Free – Intro to Ski & Ride Free deal at Bromley Mountain in Peru, Vermont, includes a Learning Zone lift ticket, rental equipment (skis or snowboard, boots and helmet), lessons from 10:30 a.m. until noon, and all-day access to the slopes. Guests must be at least 6 years old to sign up for this deal, which is on a first-come, first-served basis and limited to just 75 guests. Offer valid for Jan. 19 and March 15, 2015 only. To book, call 802-824-5522, ext. 301.

Cranmore Mountain Resort, North Conway, N.H.
First-time skiers are invited to Cranmore Mountain Resort in North Conway, New Hampshire, for the Free Terrain Based Learning Days on Jan. 19 and March 15, 2015, where beginners ages 8 and older receive free rental equipment, one lower mountain lift ticket and a 90-minute class – all for free! The two Free TBL Days are open to the first 50 guests who register. Lesson times are at 9 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. To book, call 603-356-5511, ext. 333.

Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Hancock, Mass.
The Start Fun, Start Free deal at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort in Hancock, Massachusetts, offers beginners free rental equipment, free admission to an introductory lesson, and one free lift ticket for three easy lift chairs. Offer is valid for Jan. 19 and March 15, 2015 only, and is open to the first 75 guests who register. Guests must be at least 6 years old to participate. To book, call 413-738-5500, ext. 3002.

For more information, read about Family Ski Vacations.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz