Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

8 Halloween Happenings for Families in Baltimore

October 13th, 2014

Kids dressed in costumes celebrate Halloween at the Port Discovery Children's MuseumFall in Baltimore is filled with haunted ghostwalks and history tours. Although great for teens and adults, little ones might find these activities too frightening. Instead, enjoy costume parades, trick-or-treating and Halloween-inspired arts and crafts with your kids. Check out one of these eight family-friendly Halloween happenings that are taking place this October.

Glow-In-The-Dark Hula Hoop Making & Lantern Parade
Saturday, Oct. 18, at noon and Saturday, Oct. 25, at 3 p.m.
Kids can make a one-of-a-kind Hula Hoop on Saturday, Oct. 18, complete with glow-in-the-dark tape and decorations at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson. Return with little ones on Saturday, Oct. 25, for the Great Halloween Lantern Parade, where they can show off their Hula Hoops in a special choreographed dance before the parade begins. Admission is $70 per person and all materials are included. Admission is valid for both days. All ages welcome.

7th Annual Harbor Festival
Sunday, Oct. 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The free, family-friendly Harbor Festival is back again and guests can enjoy a pumpkin patch, a hay maze, live music, food and beverages, and more. Kids will love getting their faces painted, petting the zoo animals and riding a real pony. The festival will be held at the West Shore Park at the Inner Harbor. Admission is free.

Friday, Oct. 24 to Sunday Oct. 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is hosting its 30th annual ZooBOOO! and families can enjoy free trick-or-treating, carnival games, food and drinks, live entertainment, and more. Kids should wear costumes for the contest, too! Admission to ZooBOOO! is free with zoo admission ($18 for adults and kids 12 and older; $13 for children 2 to 11; members and children under 2 free).

Friday, Oct. 24, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Visit the Cylburn Arboretum for trick-or-treating on the nature trail, carriage rides, costume contests, pumpkin carving contests and more. Kids will love exploring the spooky garden and touring the historic mansion. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

Falloween Family Festival
Saturday, Oct. 25, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Port Discovery Children’s Museum encourages families and kids to dress up in their costumes for this year’s Falloween Family Festival. Make your own mummy, hear live music from Here Comes Trouble and join in on a drum jam session. Plus, the Port Discovery Children’s Museum has so much more to do! Falloween Family Festival activities are included with admission to the museum ($14.50 for guests 2 and older; infants under 2 free).

Spooky Science
Saturday, Oct. 25, noon to 4 p.m.
The Maryland Science Museum’s third annual Spooky Science event includes hands-on activities like chemistry experiments and spooky crafts. Make slime, decorate pumpkins, and trick or treat. Be sure to wear your costume. Activities are free with museum admission ($19 for adults and kids 13 and older; $16 for children 3 to 12; kids under 3 free).

Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The National Aquarium’s annual Hallowmarine will offer families arts and crafts, costume parades, animal encounters and more this year. Wear costumes and learn how to make yours more environmentally friendly. Activities are free with admission to the aquarium ($35 for adults and kids 12 and older; $22 for children 3 to 11; kids under 3 free).

Toddler Time Halloween Celebration & Costume Parade
Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 10:30 a.m.
Join Choo Choo Blue, the mascot of the B&O Railroad Museum, in his home for a morning of Halloween fun specifically for little ones. Recommended for children ages 2 to 5, activities include a costume parade, kiddie train rides and story time. Toddler Time Halloween Celebration and Costume Parade will take place at the B&O Railroad Museum and all activities are included in museum admission ($16 for adults and kids 13 and older; $10 for children 2 to 12; free for infants under 2).

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Pop-Up Orchard Brings Apples to Boston

October 10th, 2014

When families think of apple picking, they may not think Boston. But this October, kids and parents in the New England area can pick their apples at the pop-up orchard inside The Ritz-Carlton Boston Common on 10 Avery Street.

The pop-up orchard in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common has apples, apple cider and baked goodsEvery Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., now through the end of the month, the Ritz-Carlton will have its orchard set up inside its lobby where visitors can purchase apples, apple cider donuts, spices and pastries. All pastries and ciders are made with locally sourced apples, too. The Belkin Family Lookout Farm in South Natick, Massachusetts, delivers the goods to the hotel so that people who are stuck in the city can enjoy some of the country, too.

Additionally, part of the proceeds from this urban orchard will go toward the Food Project. The Food Project is an organization that gathers people and volunteers to farm acres of land in eastern Massachusetts. The food that is grown and harvested is then distributed to local communities in hunger relief efforts, as well as to farmers markets around New England.

The pop-up, urban orchard is open to guests of the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common, as well as Boston residents and city visitors.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

A Day at the Mohonk Mountain House With Kids

October 9th, 2014

Exterior aerial view of the Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New YorkAs a Hudson Valley resident, one of the items near the top of my bucket list was Sunday brunch at the Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills in New Paltz, New York. This past weekend, I got to check it off, having spent a wonderful day there with my husband and two kids. Mohonk Mountain House regularly appears on lists of North America’s best all-inclusive properties. However, if overnight accommodations are beyond your budget, you can still enjoy it by purchasing a meal, spa treatment or grounds pass. We ate, did a little hiking, explored the beautiful gardens, and even took a boat ride.

Celebrating its 145th anniversary this year, this National Historic Landmark is a Victorian treasure set into a Shawangunk Mountain ridge. It’s surrounded by thousands of acres of preserved land. Brunch was served in the Main Dining Room, with expansive windows overlooking the mountain ranges. The buffet items were varied and plentiful, with a station for omelets and other breakfast foods, as well as stations for hot foods, salads and desserts. There was a small children’s station with chicken nuggets and fries. This is not an inexpensive meal, but the atmosphere lends itself to special occasions.

The hiking is fantastic, because there are numerous, well-manicured trails. There are choices for all ages and ability levels, and everyone will have their fair share of amazing mountain and lake views. One of the most popular is the steep, 300-foot trek up to Sky Top lookout tower, which takes about 30 minutes. We chose instead the Pine Bluff, which offered my kids the experience of climbing and exploring the interesting nooks and crannies built into the rock cliff, with stops at several rustic wood gazebos.

View of the dock at the Mohonk Mountain House where families can rent boatsWhile only overnight guests are allowed to swim in Lake Mohonk on the property’s small sandy beach, day guests can still enjoy the water by renting a rowboat, paddleboat, canoe, or kayak. We chose a paddleboat, and my daughter and I quickly claimed the back seat, leaving “the boys” to do the paddling. All children 12 and under are required to wear provided lifejackets, and everyone else is required to bring one aboard. We thoroughly enjoyed the views from the lake, and found this to be one of the more affordable activities, at $13 per 30 minutes.

Although our original plan included horseback riding at the property’s stables, we found the scheduling system to be inflexible and disorganized, so we skipped it. Though we weren’t able to fit it in our schedule, there is also a Barn Museum on the property, with items dating back to the 1800s, including farm and kitchen equipment, carriages and automobiles, which families visiting Mohonk should see.

– 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.

Pumpkin-Themed Family Fun in Atlanta

October 3rd, 2014

Exterior view of the Ritz-Carlton, Reynolds PlantationWhether you’re planning a fall getaway to Atlanta or just looking for something fun to do with the family in the area, The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation will be the spot for you to visit. This fall, the resort is hosting some pumpkin-themed fun, which your family won’t want to miss.

Plates of Pumpkin
Grab a bite to eat at the onsite Linger Longer Steakhouse and then enjoy the eatery’s fall treat: Pumpkin Pie Soufflé with Cinnamon Ice Cream. If you’re looking for something just as sweet, but more casual, try Gaby’s by the Lake, also located onsite, for Pumpkin Crème Brule. And for even more pumpkin dishes, enjoy a meal at the onsite Georgia’s Bistro, where a three for $33 pumpkin-themed menu is offered. And if your family loves pumpkin, dine at all three! Dishes available now through Oct. 31, 2014.

The Great Pumpkin Festival
Celebrate the season at the Great Pumpkin Festival this month, starting tomorrow Every Saturday in October will be filled with fall festivities for families and children of all ages. Enjoy hayrides, pumpkin carving areas, S’mores and more! The festival runs every Saturday now through Oct. 25, 2014.

Pumpkin Pampering
Parents who love pumpkin won’t want to the leave the spa at the resort this season. Enjoy a Pumpkin Caramel Body Scrub and Wrap, a Pumpkin Hydrating Facial, or a Caramel Coffee Manicure and Pedicure. Children under the age of 18 can also enjoy the pumpkin pampering – just be sure to accompany them! (Isn’t that a win-win?) Seasonal spa treatments offered now through Nov. 30, 2014.

Plus, book the Autumn Embrace package now and save on your stay at the resort!

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

4 Giant Jack O’ Lantern Celebrations in the Northeast

October 1st, 2014

It’s just not Halloween season without Jack O’ Lanterns, although I prefer to go see them over having to make my own. There’s been a boom in all things Halloween, especially haunted attractions and related events. For young kids, a Jack O’ Lantern festival is a less scary alternative. These are some of the largest we’ve found in the northeast. Bundle up and go see hundreds — or even thousands — of glowing gourds at these outdoor events this year.

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular 2014
Jack O' Lanterns at the Roger Williams Park ZooRoger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, R.I.
Oct. 2–Nov. 2, 2014

Every October, the zoo transforms its wetlands trail by lining it with 5,000 glowing pumpkins. This year’s theme is “Jack-O-Lanterns from A to Z.” Scenes filled with intricate pumpkin art will be arrayed in alphabetical order, with highlights from history and popular culture. For example, D is for dinosaur, F is for fantasy, H is for horoscope and J is for jungle. Giant carved pumpkins — some more the 1,000 pounds — are positioned at the Laughing Tree at the end of the trail with spooky fog and music.

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze
Guests take photos of the Jack O Lanterns at the Great Jack O' Lantern BlazeVan Cortlandt Manor, Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Oct. 4-Nov. 16, 2014

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Blaze features more than 5,000 illuminated Jack O’ Lanterns covering the grounds of an 18th-century historic site. The elaborate outdoor walk-through experience includes atmospheric music, sound effects, and professional lighting. You’ll find pumpkins hanging from tree limbs, perched on rooftops, and staged as a giant spider web, a dinosaur “Jurassic Park,” and characters from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

Keene Pumpkin Festival
Jack O' Lanterns at the Keene Pumpkin FestivalMain Street, Keene, N.H.
Oct.18, 2014

After reclaiming the world record in 2013 for the most Jack O’ Lanterns (30,581 in one location!), this celebration isn’t resting on its laurels. They will attempt to set a new record this year, too. What’s nice about this event, which is now more than 20 years old, is that many of the pumpkins are carved by local children. The day’s schedule includes the Great Pumpkin Mile Race, a craft court, costume parade and live entertainment.

Great Pumpkin Fest 2014
Jack O' Lanterns at the Great Pumpkin FestThe EcoTarium, Worcester, Mass.
Oct. 25. 2014

Held on the grounds of a children’s science and nature museum in central Massachusetts, about one hour from Boston, and featuring 1,000 Jack O’ Lanterns, this event is geared towards children 10 and under. There is a new “Fallout Zone” attraction this year for older kids. The day includes games, animal encounters, carving demonstrations and crafts. Guests can also have full access to the museum and the shows in the Alden Digital Planetarium.

– 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.

North Carolina’s Tweetsie Railroad Turns Spooky

September 27th, 2014

Tweetsie Railroad train rideIn honor of the 25th Anniversary of North Carolina’s Tweetsie Railroad Wild West Theme Park Halloween event, the Wild West amusement area turned into a spooky attraction (not for all ages) last night and your family will have the chance to scream every weekend now through November.

The Annual Ghost Train Halloween Festival kicked off last night and made its way through the Blue Ridge Mountains, weaving in and out of frightening phantoms. Passengers and guests can travel back in time and relive the worst [fictional] railroad accidents in history, walk along the Freaky Forest and visit the Boneyard, where they can – if they dare – venture through the 3D Maze, Black Hole and the brand new Warp Tunnel. Check out the Haunted House, Haunted Palace Saloon and Creepy Carnival, before enjoying trick-or-treating through the park.

Tweetsie’s Ghost Train Halloween Festival is located in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, about two hours from Charlotte. It is open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. now through November 1. Admission is $31 per person and children under 2 are free. A limited number of tickets are sold for each night and advanced purchase is recommended. The event is open to all ages, but the park recommends that children under 8 do not ride the Ghost Train or go through the Freaky Forest or the Haunted House.

For families who are afraid of the Halloween haunts, Tweetsie Railroad’s regular attractions and rides are open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. now through November 9.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz