Philadelphia Tall Ships and a Rubber Ducky

June 26th, 2015 by Lissa Poirot No comments »

The four-day Tall Ships Festival arrived in Philadelphia yesterday with cannons booming, water spraying from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, and the billowing white sails of historic and replica masthead sailboats, as well as the world’s largest rubber duck.

The world's largest rubber duck at the Tall Ships Philadelphia Festival

The festival, which runs through Sunday, June 28, will take place along the Delaware River in both Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. A ferry service will operate between the two cities and connect visitors to the multiple sailboats and ships that welcome visitors to board and tour during the event. New Jersey’s banks will also be home to the world’s largest rubber duck, a 61-foot-tall, 11-ton sculpture that has been making its way around the world.

In Philadelphia, tickets to the event and additional attractions are available at the Independence Seaport Museum, which has opened the Tall Ships Tavern rooftop deck for enjoying the waterfront and the event. Neighboring Spruce Street Harbor Park is also a highlight, with multiple food trucks, pop-up wine and beer stands, and colorful Adirondack chairs and hammocks hanging from shady trees providing a respite from the tours.

The L’Hermione ship at the Tall Ships Philadelphia Festival

The Tall Ship Festival takes place annually, relocating to historic ports and alternating between East and West Coast destinations. This year the festival is the largest the East Coast has seen, with its main ship, the L’Hermione, a replica of the 145-foot-long Concorde class frigate that carried General Lafayette to the United States, aligning France and America during the Revolutionary War. The replica was built in the Poitou-Charentes region of France and a crew matching the General’s sailed across the Atlantic to America, stopping first in Williamsburg, Virginia, before making its way to Philadelphia. It will travel on to New York and Boston before heading back to France.

Admission for the event includes Single Day On-Board Tour Passes that provide entry and ship tours for one day, beginning at $16 per person. Multi-Day and FastPass options are also available.

For more information, visit the Tall Ships Philadelphia Camden website.

— Lissa Poirot

A Day in Coney Island and Brighton Beach With Kids

June 25th, 2015 by Guest Blogger No comments »

If you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids near New York City, head to Coney Island and Brighton Beach. The neighboring towns are really easy to get to on the New York City Subway via the R, N, F, D, or Q lines, and even by car.

The area has rebounded since the damage it endured during Hurricane Sandy, and a day out is a throw back to a boardwalk from another era — full of genuine fun. Since you’re headed to southern Brooklyn on the coastline, bring bathing suits, a picnic lunch, sunscreen — and lots of time. Coney Island has so much to offer that it demands a full day, allowing time to walk on the boardwalk, take a dip in the sea, and enjoy a Russian feast, plus so much more. We have the low-down on a perfect day in Coney Island with the kids.

The Cyclone roller coaster in Coney Island

Look for a lot to park your car, or get off the subway, and head to Nathan’s Famous, the historic and legendary hot doggery standing on the boardwalk since 1916. Grab everyone a dog with everything on it and a cold lemonade. When you’re done, head to the boardwalk.

1 p.m.
Go for a stroll on the boardwalk and be prepared to people watch. There are people dancing, having conversations and eating picnic lunches. With Brighton Beach in proximity, a community with a large Russian population, there is a lot of Russian culture on the boardwalk — old men playing cards, women chatting and little boys playing soccer.

When you’re ready, go for a swim in the ocean. The beach is nearly 3 miles long and has playgrounds, volleyball courts, and room to build sandcastles, as well as palm tree sprinklers to splash in.

Luna Park in Coney Island

3 p.m.
For some real old time fun, take the kids to Luna Park, an amusement park right off the boardwalk with rides, roller coasters, games, an arcade, go karts and food stands. Kids of all ages will be taken in by the fun of this park, open since 2010. With over 20 rides ranging from thrillers to family rides, there is a lot to do and you can easily spend two or three hours here.

There’s no fee to enter the park, but the rides are costly so plan ahead and either look for discounts online or set limits in advance with your children. Family-friendly rides include the Speed Boat, Brooklyn Barge, Big Top Express, Seaside Swing and Mermaid Parade, as well as the B&B Carousel. For adventure seekers, the park is home to the legendary Cyclone, and also the Thunderbolt roller coaster.

5:30 p.m.
With hungry tikes in tow, have your stroller ready to walk about a mile on the boardwalk towards Brighton Beach, otherwise known as “Little Odessa.” Tatiana Grill is a great choice for families and is one of the first restaurants you will encounter on the boardwalk. Request a table outside with a view of the ocean and pending sunset. The menu has traditional Russian fare, from herring to borsht to hachapuri to caviar to Russian stew, but for pickier kids, they offer a kids’ menu with hamburgers and fries.

7 p.m.
Top off the day with a dose of exercise at the nearby Brighton Playground and take your tired kids home, full of exciting, unique memories.

Special Coney Island Summer Events for Families

  • Coney Island is offering free fireworks every Friday through Aug. 21, 2015. For the best view, position yourself on the boardwalk or beach between West 10th Street and West 15th Street.
  • On Mondays during July and August, Coney Island Flicks on the Beach is being offered on a giant 40-foot inflatable screen, turning the beach at West 10th Street into an outdoor movie theater. Kids will love “The Goonies” on July 20, or “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” on July 27.
  • Coney Island offers traditional 10-in-one circus sideshows all summer. Shows are daily from 1 to 8 p.m.

— Holly Fink

Holly Rosen Fink is a mother, marketing consultant, writer and blogger for a number of sites, as well as her own, The Culture Mom.

Fourth of July Fun at Wild Dunes Resort

June 24th, 2015 by Hilarey Wojtowicz 1 comment »

Don’t have plans for Independence Day yet? Head to Charleston, South Carolina, for a true American celebration, and special nightly rates at the Village at Wild Dunes. The coastal resort is offering events for families in honor of the Fourth of July.

Families walking to the beach at the Wild Dunes Resort

Wild Wednesday Lowcountry Boil & BBQ
Kick off the celebrations on Wednesday, July 1, with the Lowcountry Boil & BBQ at the Palm Cove area of the resort. Wear red, white and blue and dig into Southern comfort food from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is $40 for adults and $15 for children.

4th of July Family Fun Run/Walk
Enjoy the beach and the scenery while exercising as a family at the Fun Run/Walk at the Grand Pavilion on Saturday, July 4. The run kicks off at 8 a.m. and all participants receive a T-shirt. Admission is $25 per person, and pre-registration is required.

4th of July Watermelon Eating Spectacular
Head to the Palm Cove area of the resort by 11 a.m. for a ton of fun activities and events on Saturday, July 4. Families will have fun on the waterslides, as well as watching the watermelon eating contest at noon! Activities and events take place through 3 p.m. Admission is $10 per person.

4th of July Cook-Out
Dig in to homemade hamburgers, hotdogs, BBQ chicken, pulled pork and more summer favorites at the Cook-Out at the Village Plaza on Saturday, July 4. Families can choose from two dinner times: 5:30 p.m. or 7 p.m. Admission is $40 for adults and $15 for children, and adults ages 21 and older can purchase a special unlimited house wine and beer ticket, starting at $17 per person.

4th of July Fireworks
What’s the Fourth of July without fireworks? Find your spot by 9:15 p.m. near the Isle of Palms front beach area, where fireworks will light up the sky for all to see. Admission is free for all.

Star Spangled Beach Savings
Book your stay at the Village at Wild Dunes by Saturday, June 27, and receive up to 10 percent off guestrooms, suites or select home and condo rentals at the resort. Guests will also receive a complimentary dinner, which can be enjoyed in their room or at the Lowcountry Boil. Rates start from about $399 per night.

— Hilarey Wojtowicz

A Family Guide to the Calgary Stampede

June 23rd, 2015 by Guest Blogger No comments »

If considering a trip to the Great White North this summer, you’ll be hard pressed to find an event more traditionally Canadian than the Calgary Stampede. First held in 1912, the Calgary Stampede offers the largest purse in outdoor rodeo at over $2 million, but also offers a surprising amount of family fun.

Opening July 3, 2015, but with special events on July 2, and running through July 12, the 10 day Stampede promotes and celebrates Western Canadian heritage and the cultures and communities of Calgary and Alberta.

Stampede Park entrance

Visiting Stampede Park
The home of the Calgary Stampede is Stampede Park, a huge facility just southeast of downtown Calgary. Stampede Park features a number of family-friendly zones where kids of all ages can play, learn and enjoy the Stampede. Make sure not to miss the Great FUNtier featuring rides and games for young children and the Agriculture Zone where kids can meet animals and members of the Canadian Military.

Other family-friendly areas include the Big Four Building, which is home to the SuperDogs for the Stampede; the steps of the Saddledome where you can find street performers, marching bands and more; and Buckaroos, an area for kids under age 12, featuring a play structure, giant inflatables and plasma cars.

For a lesson in Canadian history head to the Indian Village, which has been a featured part of the Stampede since 1912. Five First Nations Tribes welcome visitors to experience their traditions and cultures first hand. The area features 27 tipis as well as demonstrations of native traditions and daily life for the tribes.

Kids at the Calgary Stampede

Daily Events

Character Meet and Greets
Each day of the Calgary Stampede, kids are invited to head to the BMO Kids’ Zone to meet a variety of characters including Dora and Boots, Mike the Knight, Barbie, Diego, SpongeBob SquarePants, Iron Man and Super Man. For a complete schedule of when your kids favorites will be onsite, see the Calgary Stampede Family Schedule.

Kids Competitions
Kids attending the Calgary Stampede are also invited to join several free, kid-friendly competitions. These include a kids’ pedal tractor pull and a kids’ Chuck Challenge where teams of kids between ages 5 and 10 compete as Chuckwagon Drivers.

Agricultural Shows
The Calgary Stampede features agricultural shows where kids can join in on the fun. The Kids Wild Steer Team Penning show allows kids ages 4 to 8 to get up on stage and try to catch wild steers (made out of hay bales) while the crowd cheers them on.

Cirque Éloize
Straight from Montreal, Quebec, the Cirque Éloize will entertain your kids with modern circus acts, urban dance and acrobats. Kids will be mystified and entertained by incredible breakdancing, body contortionists and watching performances using a trampoline wall.

After all this, you can even take your kids to the Rodeo if you still have time. More than nine events take place over the 10-day Calgary Stampede, each kicking off at 1:30 p.m. daily.

Tipis at the Calgary Stampede

Value Days

Suncor Family Day
On Sunday July 5, families are invited to Stampede Park to experience Suncor Family Day. Families arriving between 6 and 9 a.m. receive free admission for the day to Stampede Park. There is also a complimentary family breakfast for the first 20,000 guests where families can enjoy the world famous Calgary Stampede pancakes. On Suncor Family Day, families have access to all the activities included normally with park admission and are also invited to experience a few variety shows on the Grandstand stage, which include an Extreme Dunk show by Acrodunk, as well as performances by a Ukrainian Dance troupe, the Calgary Tai Chi Martial Arts College and musical act Dylan Gillet.

BMO Kids’ Day
On July 8, 2015, the Calgary Stampede welcomes kids under age 12 to BMO Kids’ Day. All children under age 12 and their accompanying adults will receive free admission between 7 and 9 a.m. Kids’ Day also features a free pancake breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m., or while quantities last. Kids are welcomed into the park with free thunder sticks and are entered into free draws that take place throughout the morning. There are also deals on kids’ midway coupons for rides that day and a free variety show.

General Admission Costs
Admission to Stampede Park is $18 for adults and children over age 13, $9 for children ages 7 to 9, and free for children under age 6. Families can purchase admission tickets at all entrances to Stampede Park or online. To purchase tickets online in advance, visit the Calgary Stampede website.

— 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.