Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

Liftopia’s National Play Hooky and Ski Week Deals

February 23rd, 2015

Families can always buy lift tickets at discounted prices via Liftopia. But in honor of the site’s fourth annual National Play Hooky and Ski Week, families can save even more – up to 75 percent off advance purchase lift tickets, rentals and packages at more than 250 ski resorts across North America. National Play Hooky and Ski Week is from March 2 to 6, 2015, so purchase your lift tickets now to save on your next family ski vacation. Here are a few family-friendly ski resorts participating in this year’s offer:

Family on a ski lift

Colorado Ski Resorts
Up to 52 percent off lift tickets at Arapahoe Basin
Up to 50 percent off lift tickets at Sunlight Mountain
Up to 45 percent off lift tickets at Granby Ranch
Up to 45 percent off lift tickets at Copper Mountain
Up to 41 percent off lift tickets at Loveland
Up to 25 percent off lift tickets at Crested Butte
Up to 20 percent off lift tickets at Winter Park
Up to 20 percent off ski rentals at Keystone
Up to 20 percent off ski rentals at Breckenridge
Up to 19 percent off ski or board packages at Vail
Up to 19 percent off ski or board packages at Beaver Creek
Up to 12 percent off ski packages at Aspen/Snowmass

Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts
Up to 53 percent off lift tickets at Diamond Peak
Up to 44 percent off lift tickets at Sierra-At-Tahoe
Up to 31 percent off ski rental packages at Heavenly
Up to 20 percent off lift tickets at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows

Mid-Atlantic Ski Resorts
Up to 61 percent off lift tickets at the Omni Homestead Ski Resort
Up to 60 percent off lift tickets at Blue Mountain
Up to 54 percent off lift tickets at Shawnee Mountain
Up to 52 percent off lift tickets at Gore Mountain
Up to 45 percent off lift tickets at Whiteface

Midwest Ski Resorts
Up to 50 percent off lift tickets at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa
Up to 20 percent off flex passes and lift tickets at Boyne Highlands

New England Ski Resorts
Up to 73 percent off at Cranmore Mountain
Up to 67 percent off lift tickets at Jay Peak
Up to 66 percent off lift tickets at Attitash-Wildcat
Up to 64 percent off lift tickets at Smugglers’ Notch
Up to 54 percent off lift tickets at Okemo
Up to 50 percent off lift tickets at Mount Sunapee
Up to 49 percent off lift tickets at Sugarloaf
Up to 47 percent off lift tickets at Killington
Up to 30 percent off lift tickets at Sugarbush
Up to 22 percent off lift tickets at Sunday River
Up to 18 percent off lift tickets at Stowe

Utah Ski Resorts
Up to 61 percent off day and night lift tickets at Sundance Resort
Up to 40 percent off lift tickets at Alta
Up to 38 percent off lift tickets at Solitude
Up to 19 percent off ski or board packages at Park City
Up to 19 percent off ski packages at the Canyons
Lift tickets starting from $114 at Deer Valley

For more information and to purchase tickets and packages, visit Liftopia’s website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

3 Family Fun Packages in Charleston

February 22nd, 2015

Waterfront park in downtown Charleston, South CarolinaSpend spring break down south with your family in the charming town of Charleston, South Carolina. Beyond the historic sites and soft sand, the town has family fun waiting for kids to explore. Book one of these three packages at family-friendly resorts this spring and save on your vacation to Charleston.

French Quarter Inn
Book the Waves of Family Fun package at the French Quarter Inn and enjoy sightseeing and exploring all that Charleston has to offer. Package includes luxurious accommodations; one-night of free valet parking; two adult and two children tickets to the South Carolina Aquarium and Fort Sumter, with transportation to the latter included; one $50 gift card to Fleet Landing Restaurant; daily continental breakfast; an evening wine and cheese reception; freshly baked cookies and milk before bed; evening turndown service with a treat; and bicycle rentals. Rates start from $406 per night. Offer valid now through April 19, 2015.

King Charles Inn
Book the Family Fun Time package at the King Charles Inn and dig into two days of family fun. Package includes overnight accommodations, two adult and two children tickets to the South Carolina Aquarium, one $50 gift certificate to Sticky Fingers, one $10 gift card to Ben & Jerry’s and one deck of cards. Rates start from $249 per night. Offer valid now through April 19, 2015.

The Cottages on Charleston Harbor
Book the Family Summer Seascapes package at the Cottages on Charleston Harbor and enjoy spacious upscale accommodations in a waterfront retreat. Package includes overnight accommodations for up to six guests; one customized, two-hour water excursion; one Seascape Survival Kit, with sunscreen, bug spray, hat and sunglasses strap; one customized, gourmet picnic lunch; tickets to the South Carolina Aquarium; transportation to the aquarium; a complimentary breakfast each morning; and free parking. Rates start from $179 per person, per night. Offer valid March 1 through June 1, 2015. Two-night minimum stay required for weekdays, and three-night minimum stay required for weekends.

All packages are subject to availability. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

A Preview of the New Camelback Lodge

February 20th, 2015

Camelback Mountain in the Poconos is soon welcoming its much-anticipated lodge. Providing ski-in and ski-out accommodations with so many bells and whistles, we’re betting winter weekends will be packed with reservations. Here’s what can you expect at the new Camelback Lodge.

Rendering of the new Camelback Lodge in the Poconos

It’s rare to find guestrooms at a resort that can accommodate more than five people, but the 453-room Camelback Lodge will have space to sleep up to 14! The most traditional rooms will actually be suites, providing mini-fridges, microwaves, queen sofa beds, and a choice of double, queen or king bed suites with two sets of twin bunks available to sleep up to eight.

For the non-traditional options, the lodge provides one-, two- and three-bedroom accommodations. The smallest room is a one-bedroom suite with one king bed, queen sofa bed and queen Murphy bed that can sleep up to six, while the largest availability is a three-bedroom condo with one king bed in one bedroom and two additional bedrooms with two queen beds and a queen sofa bed. These rooms start housing eight people with a maximum capacity of 14, and families will further enjoy the full kitchen with dining space for six.

The main attraction of Camelback Lodge (beside its slopeside location) is the new 125,000-square-foot Aquatopia Waterpark. Included with every stay, the indoor water park will remain 84 degrees year-round and will house seven swimming pools, 13 slides, a lazy river, a splash zone, and an area for little ones. The water park will be broken down into areas like the Lost River, with the lazy river taking on a jungle river theme complete with waterfalls, and Kid-lantis splash area modeled after the underwater city of Atlantis. Storm Chaser is also not to be missed, as the new indoor water coaster will be the longest in the United States.

Guests of the lodge will be able to enjoy quick service dining at Colonial Commons or overlooking the water park at maritime-themed Neptune’s. Family-friendly buffet dining will be available at Hemisphere’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and those on the slopes can ski right in and out of Trails End Bar and Grille for lunch and late-night bites or mountainside dining with patio seating.

When looking for a break from all of the action, the lodge’s new spas will cater to all family members, even the kids. Oasis Kids Spa will be the place to be for manicures, pedicures, facials and more. For the adults, Serenity Spa’s relaxation and treatment rooms will be a calm environment for body treatments, massages, facials and more. If the action in the water park or on the mountain isn’t enough, the fitness center at the spa will provide cardio and strength-training equipment.

Families who book before the resort opens will save on 2015 rates. Book by April 1, and receive one $50 amenity credit, $20 off any spa treatment, 10 percent off retail purchases, discounts at the restaurants and a $50 return credit – up to $200 in discounts.

– Lissa Poirot

Houston’s Lunar New Year Bash for Kids

February 19th, 2015

Visitors make crafts in honor of the Lunar New YearHappy Lunar New Year! Today marks the start of the Year of the Ram according to the Chinese calendar and families can celebrate in Houston, Texas, at the Children’s Museum of Houston. Enjoy ongoing interactive performances and activities daily, today through Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015.

Head to the Brown Auditorium at 11 a.m. for the Lion Dancers, where costumed performers will move to the beat of the drums. At 1:30 p.m., traditional Pan-Asian heritage dancers will take the stage. And at 2:30 p.m., the special K-pop interactive dance group gets everyone on their feet for some fun. All performances take place at these scheduled times daily through Feb 25.

Visit the Kids’ Hall for hands-on arts and crafts. Try your hand at Chinese calligraphy on paper fans that kids can take home, or get your hands painted with traditional Henna art. Kids can also get their faces painted. Arts and crafts projects include making traditional flower leis, decorating Chinese lanterns and folding paper into various Origami designs.

Next, check out the Art Academy and Junktion areas, where kids can paint cherry blossoms, design miniature Korean dresses, fold Origami stars and create traditional Korean fans, known as Taegeuk Fans.

Before you leave, play an exciting game of Chopsticks where you’ll use the sticks to transfer poms-poms as fast as you can in the ExxonMobil Math Cart, or see if you can piece together a traditional parade dragon at the Parent Resource Library. All activities are available daily through Feb. 25.

All performances and activities are included with general admission to the Children’s Museum of Houston, which is $9 per person and $8 for seniors, ages 65 and older; children under 12 months get in for free. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday. For more information, visit the museum’s website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

New Winter Wonderlands National Park Guide for Families

February 18th, 2015

Last week, the National Park Service released its newest guide for families. The Winter Wonderlands guide is the sixth volume in the Owner’s Guide Series and it highlights family-friendly winter activities in 15 national parks. Here’s what the guide suggests families do when visiting national parks during the winter months:

Bighorn sheep at Rocky Mountain National Park

Acadia National Park
Maine’s Acadia National Park is great for ice-fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Trail maps are available at the Winter Visitor Center, which is located at park headquarters.

Bryce Canyon National Park
Located in Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park is great for snowshoeing and hiking, as well as stargazing. Enjoy ranger-led night programs that include stargazing and astronomy lessons with telescopes.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park has train rides, sledding and nature, art and music series for culture-lovers. Train rides are themed, with a special trip to the North Pole for kids in the winter. Parents will love the beer- and wine-tasting train rides, too.

Glacier National Park
Bring your camera along when visiting Glacier National Park in Montana, as the area offers a plethora of photogenic scenery. Sign up for a ranger-led snowshoe walk to see some of the best flora and fauna in the park.

Grand Canyon National Park
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round and families can enjoy hikes through the various trails without the crowds of summer during the winter season.

Grand Teton National Park
The trails are quiet at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park during the winter as many are closed to vehicles. However, they are still open for snowshoe walks, and families can sign up for ranger-led excursions where they’ll learn about the winter activity, as well as the environment in the park.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Enjoy sledding through snow and sand at Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park. Bring your sleds and snowboards from home and ride down the dunes during the winter months for a cool experience.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Spread across Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is great for families who like fly-fishing. Families can cast lines year-round here, with rainbows, browns and brook trout waiting for the bait.

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Northern California’s Lassen Volcanic National Park is closed to vehicles during the winter months, but open to all who want to snowshoe and ski. Families will enjoy the shorter trails, such as the Manzanita Lake Snowshoe Loop, which is just 1.6 miles long.

Olympic National Park
Downhill skiing and tubing are available at Olympic National Park in Washington state. And families who want to escape the snow can head to the coast of the park, where low tide allows for long walks along the beach.

Rocky Mountain National Park
See if you spot wildlife at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Moose are often seen along the Colorado River and bighorn sheep may be found at Fall River. Families may see elk and mule deer, too.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
You won’t want to miss a memorable shot of giant sequoia trees covered in snow at these national parks in California, so be sure to pack your camera. The Giant Forest Grove is home to the largest living tree on Earth: the General Sherman Tree.

Voyageurs National Park
Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park has year-round adventures available via its Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Sign up for cross-country ski excursions – rentals are available for all ages.

Yellowstone National Park
Visit one or all sides of Yellowstone National Park this winter; it’s spread across Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Whatever you do though, be sure to visit Old Faithful Geyser, as it erupts year-round.

Yosemite National Park
Grab your skates and go at Yosemite National Park in California. Families can enjoy gliding across the ice while taking in the winter scenery at the park’s Curry Village.

For more information, download the free Winter Wonderlands guide on the National Park Foundation website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

6 Wacky Texas Festivals for Families

February 16th, 2015

Two girls dance next to a couple at the Wurstfest in New Braunfels, TexasLocal fairs are fun, but they can get old pretty quick with kids. The same games, the same food and the same entertainment can only spark a family’s interest for so long. For an exciting experience, visit one of these six wacky festivals in Texas this year. From snakes and bats to sausages and hot sauce, there’s surely something for everyone.

Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup
March 12-15, 2015
If you can stomach seeing these slithering animals up close, then head to Sweetwater, Texas, for the Rattlesnake Roundup this March. See who is crowned Miss Snake Charmer, play games at the carnival, check out the Rifle and Pistol Club Gun, Knife and Coin Show, or take part in the snake eating contest (if you dare). Fees apply for each individual event. The Rattlesnake Parade kicks off the festival at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

Watermelon Thump
June 25-28, 2015
Kids can finally put those watermelon seed-spitting skills to good use at the Watermelon Thump festival in Luling, Texas. Join in contests, watch the Wild West Show at the children’s tent, ride the buckin’ bull and eat all the melon you want. Admission is free for all ages. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

Mosquito Festival
July 24-26, 2015
No one really likes mosquitos, but Clute, Texas, still holds an annual festival in the insect’s honor every year. Enjoy carnival games and rides, arts and crafts, mosquito-themed contests, the Mosquito Chase 5k and more. Admission is free, but additional fees apply for carnival rides, food and some entertainment. The carnival opens at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, 2015.

Aug. 22, 2015
Be sure to get to the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas, early this year for the 10th annual BatFest. About 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats will take flight from under the bridge – a sight that is not to be missed. Additional entertainment includes children’s activities, a bat costume contest, arts and crafts, food and drink vendors and three stages with live music. Admission is $10 per person, and children ages 8 and under are free. The event begins at 4 p.m.

Hot Sauce Fest
Sept. 19-20, 2015
If you like your food spicy, take the family to the Hot Sauce Fest in Houston, Texas, this year, where you’ll be able to taste a variety of award-winning dishes. Enjoy live music, face painting, sand art, kiddie games and more. Admission is $10 per person, and children ages 12 and under are free. The festival begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.

Nov. 6-15, 2015
New Braunfels, Texas, turns into a Bavarian party for 10 days in November and families won’t want to miss the food, drinks, live music, carnival rides, polka competition and more. The Wurst Wagen is the special shuttle that will take you to all the fun. Adult admission has yet to be announced, but children ages 12 and under are always free. The festival kicks off with evening events on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz