Archive for the ‘U.S. Travel’ category

Adventures by Disney in New York City

September 25th, 2015

There was a true sense of city pride for my teen daughters and I when we traveled with 30 or so tourists as part of an Adventures By Disney four-day/three-night tour aptly named “New York Dreams.” While the group was made up of repeat and first-time adults and children (ages 7 to 17) from Idaho, Wisconsin, California, Florida and other parts of the country, we were the only three who got there by local commuter train. With our warm and welcoming Adventure Guides at the helm, we easily became one big family.

One World Trade Center

The itinerary offered the perfect amount of must-see sites and backstage access, as well as many meals and three nights in The Manhattan Club on 56th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. The hotel has suites with kitchenettes and continental breakfast.

9/11 Remembrance
Our first day of the tour included a must-see attraction that pulled at our native New Yorker and American hearts. An emotional afternoon at the 9/11 Memorial Museum was followed by a beautiful view from One World Observatory at One World Trade Center.

Apollo Theater
A chance to learn a different part of the history of the city featured a walking tour through Harlem and included a stop at the famous Apollo Theater. Anyone in the group was invited to take the stage, and both my girls belted it out on the same spots where legendary singers such as as Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin entertained many.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum
A different kind of cultural odyssey took us downtown to an after-hours group experience that literally came to life at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. We met actors portraying three immigrant women — one Irish, one Jewish and one Italian — spanning the time period of 1868 to 1935, in their tenement homes. A presentation followed, telling the real-life journeys of these women and their children and grandchildren following their time living on the Lower East Side. As a grandchild and great-grandchildren of immigrants that came to New York City in that time period, we were fascinated by a glimpse of what their life must have been like.

The night ended with the tour being divided into smaller groups for a chance to sample international foods from neighborhood restaurants. We listened to the stories of the restaurant owners through video and our knowledgeable guide, Ruth (who happened to hail from our own neighborhood.) After all, New York City is still a city of immigrants.

My older daughter said the museum made her “especially proud to be a New Yorker,” but at the end of the four days and after even more exciting experiences I would say the adventure left the three of us not only more appreciative of our city, but just a little bit more knowledgeable about the amazing place we live and the many surprises it has to offer.

—Stacey Zable

Stacey Zable is an award-winning veteran travel writer. She specializes in family travel, spas, cruises and luxury travel. Visit her site at

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Cruise Themed Hotels for Families

September 23rd, 2015

If you can’t take a cruise, these nautical hotels are the next best thing. Heck, even if you can take a cruise, these properties — some of which actually resemble ships — are worth a visit with kids.

Fulton Steamboat Inn

Fulton Steamboat Inn
The Fulton Steamboat Inn, located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, resembles a steamboat both inside and out, and is even situated on a lake. Guests — referred to as “passengers” — stay in nautical- or Victorian-themed rooms, located on three “decks”: Promenade Deck, Observation Deck and Sun Deck. Children (“Junior First Mates”) receive sailor hats upon arrival, and enjoy free ice cream at the onsite restaurant, Huckleberry’s.

The Maritime Hotel

The Maritime Hotel
Guestrooms at The Maritime Hotel in New York City make guests feel as though they’re on a cruise ship, with circular windows that look exactly like portholes. Guestrooms also feature free Wi-Fi, and there’s an onsite restaurant by Mario Batali.

Argonaut Hotel

Argonaut Hotel
Located in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, Argonaut Hotel fittingly features a nautical theme — particularly in guestrooms and suites, which feature porthole mirrors. The hotel, formerly owned by Kimpton, is also located in the same building as the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park Visitor’s Center and Museum.

B Ocean Resort Fort Lauderdale

B Ocean Resort Fort Lauderdale
Formerly the Yankee Clipper, this beachfront hotel looks like a ship on land. It became B Ocean Resort Fort Lauderdale in 2014, and is undergoing extensive enhancements. Just like cruise ship cabins, many guestrooms and suites feature views of the ocean (plus in-room snack trays and free Wi-Fi).

–Amanda Geronikos

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4 Kids’ Activities for Alice 150

September 18th, 2015

“And what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversation?”

Alice in Wonderland Statue in Central Park

“Alice in Wonderland” is 150, and New York City is celebrating with Alice 150 Week, Oct. 2 to 11, 2015. Why New York City, you ask? Alice (whose full name was Alice Liddell Hargreaves) has ties to the Big Apple, having traveled to Columbia University in 1932, where the birth centenary of Lewis Carroll was celebrated. The city also has two statues inspired by “Alice in Wonderland,” both located in Central Park.

Alice 150, hosted by the Louis Carroll Society of North America, will include themed readings, talks, screenings, a conference and performances — some of them occurring past Oct. 11. It will also feature events and activities just for “curiouser and curiouser” kids. Consider a visit to one of these events honoring the beloved children’s tale.

Alice Live!
Alice Live! will explore the performance beginnings of “Alice in Wonderland,” displaying items such as watercolor costume designs from a sketch at Radio City Music Hall in 1933, and a puppet of the Mad Hatter. The exhibit will also feature a “children’s trail” with items mounted at eye level for kids, along with a treasure hunt, puzzles, games (including a giant chess set) and a real-life “magic lantern.” The exhibit will be available at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Sept. 18 and 19. Afterward, it will move to the Oenslager Gallery at the Shelby Cullom Davis Museum and remain open through January 7, 2016.

Sony Technology WonderLab
Kids will have a chance to create their own “wonderland” at the Sony Wonder Technology Lab, which will host a sci-tech workshop for aspiring filmmakers (designed for ages 8 and up). The Sony Technology Wonderland will also present screenings of the 1951 and 2010 versions of “Alice in Wonderland,” along with behind-the-scenes footage. Reservations are required for this event, which takes place Oct. 10.

“Alice in Wonderland” at the Players Theater
The Players Theater, a 50-seat Off Broadway venue, will present “Alice in Wonderland” Oct 11. to Nov. 8, and invites children to the family-friendly performances.

Alice Palooza
On Oct. 11, Alice Palooza will take place at New York University’s Global Center, and will focus on “Alice in Wonderland” in modern times, with video games, comics, movies, anime and more for all ages to enjoy.

For more information and additional event announcements, visit

–Amanda Geronikos

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Beaufort, S.C. With Kids

September 11th, 2015

Located less than an hour from Savannah International Airport and a little over an hour from Charleston, Beaufort, South Carolina is an absolute gem. It’s a tiny town full of charm, family-friendly activities, lodging and restaurants. What may surprise most is that when the summer travelers head home, there are still plenty of activities to keep you and your kids active, educated and fed through the fall.

Beaufort Marina in Beaufort, South Carolina

Explore the Shoreline By Kayak
Beaufort, South Carolina is rich in history. It is one of the only towns in America whose entire downtown area has been designated a historic district. Pre-Civil War homes that were spared destruction still sit along the bank of the Beaufort River and the Intracoastal Waterway. Head to Beaufort Marina, located in the heart of downtown Beaufort, and take a tour with Beaufort Lands End Tours. The tour is full of history, but still a lot of fun for kids. Guides, with plenty of experience with children, guide you and your kids along the banks of Beaufort, where dolphins play and osprey nests can be seen along the shorelines. The tour is $45 per adult and $30 per child and is worth every penny. Your kids will delight in watching the dolphins swim and jump, seeing crabs and learning about the ecology of the waterway from people who are on the water daily. The tours run year-round, but fall brings cooler weather making the kayaking experience a little easier for those who aren’t used to the heat.

Sail Aboard the Prince of Tides
If kayaking sounds a little too adventurous for your brood, head to the Beaufort Marina and climb aboard the Prince of Tides. The boat is, of course, named after the famous movie (“Forrest Gump”) that was filmed in Beaufort in 1991. The tour takes much the same route as the kayak tour, but offers a different perspective on the area. Captain Dick and his crew know the area well and fill the tour with tidbits on the history of the homes since their construction, as well as their modern day use. Interesting facts include seeing where Sally Field lived in Beaufort during the filming of “Forrest Gump,” as well as how the Woods Memorial Bridge was used to film one of the movie’s most recognizable scenes.

The tour continues as Captain Dick guides you through the Intercoastal Waterway, introducing you to the local dolphins that live in the waterway or — as he likes to refer to them — the “unpredictable Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.” On the tour, dolphin sightings are not guaranteed, but if someone will be able to find the wild mammals, it’s Captain Dick. We were introduced to a number of the local dolphins, whom Captain Dick was able to identify by markings on their bodies from a respectable distance away. The tour is $20 per person.

Toot Your Own Horn at the The Kazoo Factory
One of the coolest things to do with kids is visit The Kazoobie Kazoo Factory located in Beaufort. For only $5 dollars a person, you and your kids are given a tour of the Kazoobie Kazoo factory that has been assembling kazoos since 1999. The tour begins as you wander through a historical section of the factory filled with weird tidbits on how the kazoo came to be and its role in American history. The real fun for kids starts when the tour guide demonstrates how to use a kazoo and plays every variation of the instrument you can imagine. After the demonstration, you are welcomed into the factory where the actual employees show you their jobs, and provide mind-blowing statistics on the amount of kazoos that are assembled and shipped out across the globe. Kids, in particular, are delighted by the machine demonstrations and can’t wait to try it out for themselves. At the end of the tour, each person is given the chance to choose their kazoo parts and assemble their own kazoo under the watchful eyes of the staff. The tour lasts about an hour.

Go to the Beaufort Shrimp Festival
For a great fall festival and a perfect introduction to low country cooking and the restaurants in Beaufort, make sure to check out the Beaufort Shrimp Festival happening in October.

8 Fabulous Fall Festivals for Families

Tips: Where to Stay and Eat
When you visit Beaufort, there are a few options for where to stay as a family. Although the town is filled with gorgeous little inns and B&Bs, a particularly great place to stay is the BEST WESTERN Sea Island Inn. This two-floor hotel is located directly across the street from the Beaufort Marina and a short walk from a great pirate-themed park. Amenities include a pool that is open year-round, a complimentary breakfast buffet, and free Wi-Fi. Within minutes from the hotel, check out family-friendly favorites like Q on Bay, a barbecue joint where the food and service are great, and Southern Sweets Ice Cream & Market, an old-fashioned ice cream parlour.

— Sarah Pittard

Sarah Pittard is a freelance writer who loves to take her two small children on extended trips and exciting adventures. Sarah features her unique experiences traveling solo with her kids on her website Solo Mom Takes Flight.

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