Celebrate Eeyore’s Birthday in Austin, Texas

March 23rd, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Everyone’s favorite donkey is celebrating another birthday this April and families are invited to join in on the festivities at Pease Park in Austin, Texas. The 52nd Annual Birthday Party for Eeyore on Saturday, April 25, 2015, is not to be missed.

Eeyore's 52nd annual birthday party logo

Starting at 11 a.m., activities and events in honor of Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore will kick off the 52nd celebration that raises money for non-profit groups in Austin, Texas. Food, drinks and commemorative Eeyore Birthday Party T-shirts will be sold by many of the non-profit groups throughout the day.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a special children’s area will be open for kids to run, play and dance. Families will enjoy face painting, henna and temporary tattoos, costume contests (with prizes!) and more. At noon, live music livens up the party until 6 p.m., though the party continues through dusk.

Admission is free for all guests. In the event of inclement weather, Eeyore’s Birthday will be moved to Saturday, May 2. There will be no parking near Pease Park, so guests are asked to take one of the free shuttles offered from parking garage E and lot 3 on Colorado Ave between 16th and 17th Streets. Dogs are permitted to join in on the fun, though owners must keep them on a leash. For more information, visit Eeyores.org.

Looking to plan a family vacation to Austin around Eeyore’s Birthday Celebration? Check out these great hotels in Austin for your stay.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Easter Weekend Fun in Wildwood, N.J.

March 22nd, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

The iconic Wildwoods signEaster is in just two weeks from today. If your family is looking for something fun to do with kids this year head to the Jersey Shore. Visit Wildwood, New Jersey, for Easter egg hunts all weekend long, plus a special Morey’s Piers celebration.

Elks Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Search for eggs in the sand on the beach at 19th Avenue in North Wildwood this year and see if you can win a prize! The Elks Annual Easter Egg Hunt begins at noon on Saturday, April 4. Children ages 11 and under can participate for free.

Greater Wildwood Jaycees Easter Egg Hunt
See how many eggs you can collect at the Greater Wildwood Jaycees Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 4. The hunt begins at noon on the beach at Lincoln Avenue in Wildwood. Children ages 12 and under are invited to participate. Every egg contains a toy inside, and golden eggs get children even bigger prizes.

Ed’s Funcade Easter Sunday Egg Hunt in the Hay
Children ages 12 and under can collect eggs and win prizes at Ed’s Funcade Easter Sunday Egg Hunt in the Hay on Sunday, April 5. The event is from noon to 1:30 p.m. Afterward, everyone in the family can try to win prizes by playing all of the arcade games at Ed’s.

Morey’s Piers Easter Celebration
Head to Mariner’s Landing on the Morey’s Piers Boardwalk this Easter Sunday and enjoy an array of festivities. Starting at noon on Sunday, April 5, kids can snap photos with the Easter Bunny at the Parents’ Pavillion, watch jugglers and stilt walkers along the boardwalk, get their faces painted and more. Throughout the day, kids can win prizes if they find Easter eggs, too! Festivities last until 6 p.m.

For more information on Wildwood, New Jersey, including suggestions for where to stay, play and eat, read our Wildwood Family Vacations guide.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

New Genius Cross-Country Road Trip Map

March 21st, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz 1 comment »

Have you heard about the new genius cross-country road trip map? Michigan State University computer science doctoral student Randal Olson recently developed a map that guides families across the continental United States, allowing them to stop at 50 must-see attractions.

Randal Olson's optimal road map across the U.S.

According to Olson’s website, the idea behind this map came from Discovery News reporter Tracy Staedter, who asked Olson if the algorithm behind his original “Where’s Waldo” project (yes, an algorithm that helps readers find Waldo faster in those classic books) could also be used to compute the optimal road trip map, covering all 48 continental states along the way.

Olson gladly accepted the challenge, and began planning the road trip. According to his website, Staedter and Olson agreed on three rules for him to follow: (1) the trip must make at least one stop in all 48 states in the continental U.S., (2) the trip would only make stops at National Natural Landmarks, National Historic Sites, National Parks or National Monuments, and (3) the trip must be taken by car and never leave the U.S.

Staedter chose the 50 landmarks that would need to be on the route, including one in each of the 48 states (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), with one in Washington D.C. and two in California. The list includes major attractions like The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, the White House in D.C., Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and the French Quarter in New Orleans. National parks and monuments, like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier and Mammoth Cave, also made the list.

Once Olson had all of the details planned out, he worked his magic with his algorithm and developed the optimal cross-country road trip map. Overall, the trip covers 13,699 miles, and would take approximately 224 hours of driving (or about 9.33 days). If families hit every stop on the list, the entire trip could last between two and three months!

Olson also recently completed two additional maps – one for the U.S. that offers a 12,290-mile route with stops in 47 of the major U.S. cities (as per TripAdvisor’s Best City to Visit list), such as New York City, Branson, Missouri, Park City, Utah, and Houston, Texas, and one for Europe that offers a 16,287-mile route through the continent with stops at 45 major cities, such as London, Paris, Copenhagen and Rome.

To read more about Olson’s genius cross-country road trip maps, visit his website, RandalOlson.com. And to learn how Staedter helped in the process, visit DiscoveryNews.com.

For more information on family road trips, visit our car travel section.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

Guide to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

March 20th, 2015 by Lissa Poirot No comments »

The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off today in Washington D.C., running through April 12, 2015. You already know you’ll witness the spring blossoms of hundreds of cherry trees, but what exactly takes place during the 24-day festival? Here’s a guide to all you’ll need to know when you visit Washintgon D.C..

National Cherry Blossom Festival parade

Why Do We Celebrate the Blooming of Cherry Blossoms?
Washington D.C. received 3,000 cherry trees as a gift from Japan in 1912. The annual celebration celebrates the friendship between the nations and serves as a symbol of the arrival of spring.

Where Are the Cherry Blossoms?
Cherry blossom trees line Washington’s Tidal Basin and the waterway paths of East and West Potomac Park. One of the most beautiful walks follows the Tidal Basin from the welcome center to the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the Roosevelt Memorial, and continues across a bridge to the Jefferson Memorial. A longer path follows the Washington Channel and Potomac River and encompasses the entire East Potomac Park. One of the best ways to enjoy the blossoms and the Tidal Basin is on paddleboats, which are $15 per hour for two people and $24 per hour for four people.

When Will the Blossoms Peak?
Because of this year’s harsh weather, the blossoms are expected to come late this year. Typically, the average peak bloom date is April 4. This year, the National Park Service is predicting April 11 to 14 for the peak bloom, during the festival’s final weekend. The National Park Service offers a Blossom Cam to keep watch over the blossoms.

What Are the Key Events?
While events begin today, the annual event officially kicks off with an opening ceremony tomorrow, Saturday March 21. Performers from Japan and other areas of the world descend upon Warner Theatre for a special evening performance.

Next Saturday, March 28, the annual Blossom Kite Festival takes place on the National Mall near the Washington Monument. The event includes kite flying demonstrations, competitions, tricks and a family Open Fly from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

On Saturday, April 4, the Waterfront Fireworks Festival is an eight-hour celebration at the Southwest Waterfront. Throughout the day, live music, cultural events, family-friendly activities and food tents are available before the fireworks finale at 8:30 p.m.

During the final weekend, visitors flock to the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, taking place on Saturday, April 11. From 10 a.m. to noon, the parade extends 10 blocks down Constitution Avenue with marching bands, dancers, floats, balloons and elaborate costumes. Grandstand seating is available between 15th and 17th Streets.

For a full list of events, visit the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.

How Do We Get Around During the Festival?
The festival attracts millions of visitors from around the world, especially on the weekends. You can arrive in D.C. by plane, train or automobile. When visiting Washington D.C., parking will be extremely tight and it’s best to use public transportation. The Metro is D.C.’s subway system and it’s clean, easy to use and offers a main stop at the National Mall. Consider a One-Day Metro Pass ($14.50) if you are planning to bop around for a full day. Water taxis are also a great way to reach the Tidal Basin, especially if you choose to stay in nearby Arlington or Alexandria, Virginia, just over the Potomac River.

Where Should We Stay?
Check out Family Vacation Critic’s list of family-friendly hotels in Washington D.C. The list has been curated to only include top-reviewed properties that families love, so no matter which you choose, you’ll feel comfortable staying with kids.

– Lissa Poirot