4 Family Pkgs. at The Peabody Memphis

September 15th, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Exterior view of The Peabody Memphis hotel at nightIf you missed The Peabody Memphis hotel’s 145th anniversary celebration on September 4, don’t worry. The historic Memphis hotel was recently named to our 2014 Favorite Hotels list and it has four great family packages just waiting for you to book this year.

Peabody Bed & Breakfast Package
Enjoy an overnight stay in a deluxe guestroom, breakfast in the Capriccio Grill in the morning and complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle. Rates start from $230 per night.

It’s a Zoo Out There
Families can stay at the Peabody while visiting the Memphis Zoo this year. Package includes four tickets to the zoo; breakfast for two adults and two children 12 and under in the Capriccio Grill; complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle; and free W-Fi access during your stay. Rates start from $269 per night.

Family Fun-cation Package
Kids will stay and eat free at the Peabody with this package. Enjoy a 30 minute carriage ride through Memphis; a kids’ welcome amenity; free Wi-Fi access; complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle; and breakfast for two adults in the Capriccio Grill. During your stay, kids 12 and under will always eat free from the kids’ menu with the purchase of an adult entrée. Rates start from $289 per night.

Ducky Day Family Package
Enjoy an overnight stay at the Peabody with your family and bring home a few special souvenirs. Package includes an official brass-head Duckmaster Cane; a Peabody Duckmaster Celebriduck collectible rubber duck toy; Peabody Duck Cookies; and complimentary self-parking in the garage for one vehicle. And kids will love the last part of the package: kids can be honorary Duckmasters during the daily duck march in the lobby. They will help the Duckmaster guide the Peabody Ducks to and from the lobby fountain at either 11 a.m. or 5 p.m. during your stay. Rates start from $340 per night.

For more information, read our review of The Peabody Memphis.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

October is Kids Free Month in San Diego

September 14th, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Kids Free San Diego October logoDuring the entire month of October this year, kids are free in San Diego. Yes, free. Kids can stay, play, eat, ride, go, and more for free at more than 100 hotels, attractions and restaurants in the San Diego area between October 1 and 31, 2014. Want to know where to go and what to do? Here’s a list of our favorite family hotels, attractions and restaurants that are participating in the month-long event.

Kids Travel Free
Looking for a fun way to get to San Diego to take advantage of these great deals during the month of October? Kids 12 and under will ride the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner for free between October 1 and 31, 2014, with the purchase of at least one adult ticket.

Kids Eat, Stay or Play Free
Kids 12 and under will eat select meals for free when staying at one of these family-friendly hotels in San Diego. Plus, they may even receive free bicycle rentals, welcome amenities and more!

  • Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa
  • DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego Mission Valley
  • Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Del Mar
  • Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego/Del Mar
  • Hotel del Coronado
  • Bahia Resort Hotel
  • Bay Club & Marina
  • Embassy Suites San Diego – La Jolla
  • Sheraton Mission Valley San Diego Hotel
  • Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
  • Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
  • Paradise Point Resort & Spa
  • Westin Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego
  • Embassy Suites San Diego – Downtown
  • Hyatt Regency Mission Bay
  • La Valencia Hotel
  • Loews Coronado Bay Resort
  • Hilton San Diego Bayfront
  • The Dana on Mission Bay

For more family-friendly properties, see all of our San Diego hotels.

Free Admission for Kids
More than 35 museums and 20 attractions are offering free admission for kids ages 12 and under during the month of October. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • USS Midway Museum
  • Museum of Making Music
  • San Diego Botanic Garden
  • Stephen Birch Aquarium-Museum
  • California Surf Museum
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • Belmont Park
  • LEGOLAND California
  • SEA LIFE Aquarium
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park

For more kid-friendly activities, see all of our San Diego attractions.

Kids Eat Free
Currently nine restaurants in the San Diego are offering free meals for kids 12 and under. Here’s the list of participating eateries:

  • Casa Guadalajara
  • Cosmopolitan Restaurant
  • Croce’s Park West
  • Barra Barra at Fiesta de Reyes
  • Chi Chocolat Liberty Station
  • Pinzimini
  • Rei do Gado Brazilian Steak House
  • Vigilucci’s Coronado
  • Wave House San Diego

For more family-friendly eateries, see all of our San Diego restaurants.

Rules and restrictions may apply. Deals vary based on availability. For more information, visit the San Diego website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

A Weekend in Nashville With Kids

September 13th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

Nashville is not only the capitol of Tennessee. It is also a vibrant town packed full of culture, art and a deep appreciation of music. It’s a great place to spend a weekend with the kids, too. If you have a few days to spend in Music City, check out these attractions; grab a bite at these restaurants; and stay at this hotel:

What to See

Dressing room at the Grand Ole OpryOpryland is possibly the most famous spot for all of Nashville, and it is an area that families will truly enjoy and find something for everyone. Of course a visit to the Grand Ole Opry is most necessary. Tickets to shows, which are scheduled several times a week, are affordable and will leave families with a new appreciation of country music. But if seeing a show is not possible or those visiting with small children are nervous about committing to a show, a backstage tour is a must. Children and adults will both enjoy seeing behind the scenes, peeking in dressing rooms, and standing in the famed circle on stage where hundreds of legends have performed over the years.

There are plenty of other attractions in this area, as well. A large mall and movie theater will keep teenagers happy and families should also stroll through the famed Gaylord Opryland Resort to check out the waterfalls, gardens and river.

Cheekwood Botanical Garden
Cheekwood Botanical Garden offers trails through plants and flowersCheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art is a beautiful, unique respite from the typical scene of Nashville. Beautiful lush and winding paths allow visitors to take a leisurely stroll through the gardens on the 55-acre estate while enjoying beautiful plants and flowers with art and sculptures sprinkled in effortlessly. Children will love climbing over the treehouse and watching the trains while running to and from the various displays.

After touring the gardens, make sure to head to the Museum of Art (included in your ticket), which is the former residence of the prestigious Cheek family of Nashville. Throughout the museum, there is British and American decorative art, as well as a few contemporary exhibits. Families will enjoy the journey through time as they tour rooms of the mansion and view decorative artifacts and newer pieces.

Where to Grab a Bite

Loveless Cafe
This well-known restaurant is about 30 minutes from downtown Nashville and worth the drive. There is usually a fair wait, but the food is melt-in-your-mouth tasty. Kids will especially love the old-fashioned mac and cheese and adults will enjoy all the other Southern favorites on the menu.

The Cupcake Collection
The Cupcake Collection, located in historic Germantown, is a must-stop for anyone with a sweet tooth visiting Nashville — stop and pick out a couple treats for the road, too! Favorite cupcake flavors include Lemonade, Sweet Potato with cream cheese frosting and, of course, Chocolate.

Where to Stay

Residence Inn Nashville Brentwood
Exterior view of the Residence Inn Nashville BrentwoodResidence Inn Nashville Brentwood is a great budget option for families looking for a bit more space, as well as a few comforts from home at a good price. The hotel is located about eight miles from downtown. Families will enjoy the complimentary breakfast and manager receptions, as well as a pool, sports court, and gas grills available for guest use. A partial kitchen in guestrooms also allows for cooking on your vacation. The hotel provides travel cribs with washable covers for extra piece of mind, and even hands out bath toys to small children free of charge.

– Hilarye Fuller

Hilarye Fuller is a mama to three little girls, children’s book author and travel and lifestyle blogger at Dotting the Map.

Boardwalk Bunk-Down on Morey’s Piers

September 12th, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

View of Morey's Piers in Wildwood, N.J., with rides, games and activitiesWant to sleep under the stars and next to the ocean? Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, N.J., are hosting a brand new family-friendly camping event: Boardwalk Bunk-Down. This year on Saturday October 4, 2014, families can sleep in a tent while dozing off to the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach.

Boardwalk Bunk-Down offers families admission to the amusement rides on Mariner’s Pier between noon and 10 p.m. on Saturday October 4, as well as nightly accommodations in a tent on Adventure Pier, a morning breakfast at Rendezvous Beach and more.

Check-in at noon and set up camp upon arrival before riding the rides on Mariner’s Pier all afternoon and evening. Enjoy a complimentary movie on Adventure Pier at 9 p.m. (complete with popcorn!) and then play as many games as you can on Adventure Pier until midnight. A S’mores bar will also be open for campfire treats from 9 p.m. to midnight (make-your-own kits are $2.50 each).

After a restful night’s sleep from midnight to 6:30 a.m., parents can wake and enjoy a coffee station until 7:30 a.m. on Adventure Pier. Get your morning workout in with the Beach Fitness Walk from 7:30 to 8 a.m., and then enjoy a family breakfast at Rendezvous Beach until 9:30 a.m. The event ends at 11 a.m. on Sunday, October 5.

Rates start from $49 per person, if purchased by this Sunday, September 14, and from $55 per person, if purchased by October 1. Season pass holders receive discounted rates from $35 per person. The Boardwalk Bunk-Down is for families and kids of all ages, but Morey’s Piers does not recommend this event for children under 3. To register and purchase tickets, visit the Morey’s Piers website or call 609-522-3900, ex. 1195.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Junior Rangers Interview the Rangers at National Parks

September 11th, 2014 by Lissa Poirot No comments »

Ethan and Sophie stand in the Visitors Center with their Junior Ranger bookletsOn a nine-day journey across Utah, Arizona and parts of Colorado, Sophie and Ethan visited 12 national parks and monuments, collecting Junior Ranger badges at each park by completing a number of tasks. At every park, the duo learned about the specific wildlife and geology to the area, and were required to attend ranger-led programs, clean up trash, and take an oath promising to always take care of the parks.

While visiting Capitol Reef National Park and Timpanogos National Monument, the duo interviewed park rangers about their jobs.

Sophie: How did you become a park ranger?
Anna (Ranger at Capitol Reef): I went to college for four years and decided to work for the National Park Service and applied to be a ranger at Capitol Reef.

Ethan: How did you become a park ranger?
Steve (Ranger at Timpanogos): I always loved the outdoors so I obtained a Bachelor of Parks & Recreation and applied to become a park ranger.
Dylan (Ranger at Timpanogos): My mom dragged me to National Parks all of the time when I was a little girl. Back then, I didn’t appreciate it, but when I grew up and went to college, I guess it stuck with me and I decided to become a ranger and work at the parks.

Ethan: Describe a typical day at Timpanogos.
Steve: I begin my day by opening the gates and then I climb to the mountaintop caves (more than 1,100 feet) and check the trails and clean up trash along the way. When I get to the top, I turn around and walk back down and check on people making the climb to make sure they are doing OK. I climb up and down about three times a day, and at the end of the day, as I climb down, I make sure all of the guests are off the mountain and then lock the gates.

Sophie: Describe a typical day at Capitol Reef.
Anna: I work in the Visitor Center and greet guests who come to the park, give them ideas on what to see and where to go in the park, and lead one to three ranger programs a day.

Ethan: How many Junior Rangers do you see each day at Capitol Reef?
Anna: I see two to three junior rangers each day.

Ethan: How old are the rock formations at Capitol Reef?
Anna: They are between 70 and 200 million years old.

Sophie: Why do they call it Capitol Reef?
Anna: There is a white rock formation that makes a dome and looks like the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Ethan: When did people first find the caves at Timpanogos?
Dylan: Timpanogos was originally discovered by two boys who were about 14 years old. Their parents were exploring the original cave, which was discovered in 1887 by Martin Hansen, and they told their parents they’d wait outside — but would you wait? No, they didn’t wait. They discovered the middle caves and kept it such a good secret that they eventually lost the caves, but Martin Hansen’s son rediscovered the caves in 1921. The original caves had been vandalized by visitors, so he asked the National Park Service to protect the caves and in 1922, a year later, Timpanogos became a National Monument.

Sophie: What is the difference between a National Park and a National Monument?
Steve: Basically it’s the size and what needs to be protected. Actually, there are a lot of reasons decided by the government that determines the reason, but for the sake of making it an easy answer National Monuments are typically smaller than National Parks.

Sophie and Ethan earned Junior Ranger badges at Dinosaur National Monument, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelley, Hubbell Trading Post, Petrified Forest National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park and Timpanogos National Monument. They also earned a Junior Paleontologist badge and are working to earn their Junior Night Explorer badge, which they can do from home and mail in at a later date. There are more than 400 national parks and monuments they can earn Junior Ranger status in across the country.

– Lissa Poirot

Family Fun Day at Rocking Horse Ranch

September 10th, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

A woman allows a little girl to pet a golden horseOur favorite all-inclusive dude ranch is hosting a kid-friendly event this weekend that you won’t want to miss. Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, N.Y., invites parents and kids of all ages to its Family Fun Day and Country BBQ this Sunday, September 14, 2014. The daylong event will feature fun activities, and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the Food Bank of Hudson Valley.

From 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Rocking Horse Ranch will offer kayaking, bungee jumpers, mini golf, hiking, softball, beach volleyball, shuffleboard, bocce ball, tennis, rock climbing, archery and more. Oh, and horseback riding of course! Plus, families can enjoy access to the Big Splash Indoor Water Park, the outdoor heated pool and the Fun Barn, which features soft, foamy play areas that are perfect for little ones.

Activities, excluding horseback riding, are included with general admission, which is $50 per person. Horseback riding is $20 per person. General admission tickets should be purchased in advance, but horseback-riding tickets can be bought on the day of the event. Call 800-647-2624 for event tickets and reservations.

Rocking Horse Ranch is located approximately 90 minutes north of New York City. For more information on the dude ranch, read our review of Rocking Horse Ranch.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz