Touring a Football Stadium With Kids

September 25th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

Football stadium tours are great activities for when on vacation or for an afternoon of fun. Family Vacation Critic highlighted eight stadiums to tour with kids in a recent article and my family has actually visited one first-hand.

Arial shot of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in DenverFor my son’s 8th birthday we took him and his friends on the tour of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver. We’d done pizza parties and bowling and picnics before, so we wanted to do something different. We invited six 7- to 8-year-old boys. With my younger son and the birthday boy, we had eight kids and four adults in total.

Before the tour, I called and made a reservation and was not required to pay ahead of time. I also made each boy a custom shirt with a Broncos’ logo on the front and their name on the back. I half did this for the kids to have a souvenir, but also so I’d know which child to yell at if he got away from us! I knew this was the first time any of them had been to the stadium and I wanted it to be special.

Before the tour there’s a room with sports uniforms and equipment for the kids to play with. They took turns putting on the helmets and pads. When our tour started, they separated us from the regular tour and gave us our own guide. They mention this when making reservations for a group. As we started I wondered if the boys would stay interested for the 90-plus-minute tour — I had nothing to worry about. The boys were engaged from the start. We saw the press level and the suites and the different areas assigned to each level of ticket holder all the while being given bits of trivia about the Denver Broncos. The guide was patient with the kids while answering the barrage of questions they showered on him.

Anticipation was building for when we’d get to the player areas. First we got to the visiting team locker room. The boys were very excited and ran around the big, mostly empty, room and each of them sat in a locker for a fun group photo. After that we hit the tunnel to the field. The boys were high fiving each other and trying to get to the field first. It was an amazing moment to step out into the sun and see those 86,000 seats. The boys were in awe. They don’t let you go onto the actual field of play but you can walk along the paved area and reach down to feel the grass. We took tons of pictures and each boy did their own touchdown dance.

As a bonus, when we were walking back through the team areas, the Broncos cheerleaders were showing up for practice and the boys got hugs and high fives from all the girls. They had smiles from ear to ear. Our sons and their friends said it was the coolest birthday party they’d ever been to and they went home asking their parents when they could go back. For us it was a perfect family outing to celebrate our son’s birthday.

– Cecilia Freeman

A Day in Annapolis With Kids

September 24th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

Just 40 minutes east of Washington, D.C., and home to the U.S. Naval Academy, is Annapolis — a small, quaint and family-friendly community situated right along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The streets are filled with parents walking their little ones in strollers or their beloved beasts on leashes, and there is always a plethora of fun things to do. From farmers markets filled with the freshest breads and jams to live music playing on every corner, Annapolis is the perfect place for you and your family to explore for a day or even a long weekend. Here are three things to do and see with kids while in Annapolis.

Picture of man making balloon animals in AnnapolisBalloon Man of Annapolis
Wandering around Annapolis is the Balloon Man, otherwise known as ABCtheClown. He’s been making kids laugh for more than 25 years, and he can’t wait to make yours laugh, too. In addition, he’s ready and willing to make them a balloon dog, cat or whatever they want — you just have to find him! And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch him on a day when he’s strumming away on his Ukulele.

Chick and Ruth’s Delly
Exterior view of Chick and Ruth's Delly in AnnapolisStop by this Annapolis staple in the midst of your day’s journeys if you’re craving a delicious and hearty meal at a fair price. From omelets to deli sandwiches to pizzas, Chick and Ruth’s Delly is sure to have something to satisfy every belly (and will serve you whatever you want regardless of the hour — I got a chicken salad sandwich at 8:30 a.m.). While you can’t bring a stroller inside, there’s plenty of space to park them on the street; high chairs are offered upon request; and gluten-free options are available. We recommend getting there as early as possible as the line almost always ends up out the door (especially on weekends).

Exterior view of water taxi in AnnapolisWater Taxi
Getting from point A to point B by foot or car is so yesterday, so spice it up and hop on the water taxi! It will take you anywhere throughout Annapolis Harbor, otherwise known as Spa Creek, and is located right across the street from the Harbormaster’s office in Ego Alley. Tickets start from $3 per person. Call 410-263-0033 for more information.

– Morgan Agesen

6 Fall Escapes at the Kingsmill Resort & Spa

September 23rd, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Exterior view of the Kingsmill Resort & Spa near Busch Gardens WilliamsburgIt may be close to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg, but the Kingsmill Resort & Spa offers multigenerational families a spacious, luxurious retreat from the crowds. This fall, enjoy one of the six escape packages they offer for a weekend of relaxation, historical fun and even scary events in honor of Halloween.

Stay and Play Package
Enjoy lodging for two nights in a spacious guestroom, with breakfast for each guest, each morning. After fueling up, enjoy a discounted round of golf at the Plantation Course, complimentary court time at the Tennis Club, access to the indoor and outdoor pools, complimentary use of the non-motorized water sports and fishing poles, or hop on the shuttle to Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg for free. Rates start from $70 per person, per night, based on a family of four. Offer valid now through Oct. 14, 2014.

Howl-O-Scream Package
If you dare, book the Howl-O-Scream package and enjoy accommodations for two nights, access to Busch Gardens Williamsburg and breakfast daily in the Elements 1010 restaurant. You’ll receive complimentary shuttle access to Busch Gardens, too. Rates start from $130 per person, per night. Offer valid now through Oct. 27, 2014. Note: Busch Gardens Halloween events may not be suitable for children under 12.

Bed & Breakfast Package
Enjoy a peaceful weekend away with the kids while enjoying deluxe overnight accommodations and a complimentary breakfast each morning. You’ll have unlimited access to the sports club, pools and the shuttle service to and from Colonial Williamsburg. Rates start from $90 per person, per night. Offer valid now through Dec. 31, 2014.

The Williamsburg Package
Spread out with a two-night stay in a one-, two- or three-bedroom suite this fall and receive single-day passes to Colonial Williamsburg for each guest. Fuel up with a complimentary breakfast before you go and take the free shuttle service to and from the attractions. Guests will also receive access to the Fitness Center and one hour of biking and court time at the Tennis Club. Rates start from $149 per person, per night. Offer valid now through Dec. 31, 2014.

Suite Escape Package
Parents will really be able to relax with the Suite Escape package, which includes overnight accommodations in a one-bedroom suite, breakfast daily, a late check-out time of 1 p.m., and two 50 minute massages. Kids can play in the pool area while parents relax in the serene spa area. Rates start from $215 per adult, per night. Offer valid now through Dec. 31, 2014.

Stay More & Save
Bring Grandma and Grandpa along on your next vacation and have them book the Stay More & Save package. Guests 60 years and older can save up 10, 20 or 30 percent off a one-, two- or three-night stay, with golf, hiking, biking and breakfast included in their rate. Complimentary shuttle service is also available for the entire family to and from Colonial Williamsburg. Rates start from $63 per person, per night. Offer valid now through Mar. 14, 2015.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

6 Fall Festivities for Families in Pennsylvania

September 22nd, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Parents and kids ride in a horse-drawn wagon at the Apple Butter Frolic event in Harleysville, PennsylvaniaMontgomery County, Pennsylvania, located just 18 miles west of Philadelphia, offers beautiful fall foliage during the autumn season. Families won’t want to miss the breathtaking scenery and can enjoy fall activities along the way. Here are seven fun festivities for families to enjoy in Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, this fall.

National Public Lands Day
Get the kids outside while the weather is still fair for National Public Lands Day on Saturday, September 27, at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Families can help clean up the park and can take part in projects to help maintain the popular area. When the work is done, enjoy a guided nature hike before the barbecue starts. Events run from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Families should sign up in advance if looking to volunteer.

Upper Perkiomen Bird & Wildlife Festival
Educate the kids on birds and wildlife at this annual outdoor event on Saturday, September 27, at Green Lane Park. Live demonstrations will take place and hands-on activities and games for kids, like nature crafts and hayrides, will be offered. Food and drinks will be for sale, as well. Admission is free, and the event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Asher’s Chocolates 17th Annual Fall Fest
Enjoy live music, moon bounce houses, games, face painting and more at the 17th Annual Fall Fest, hosted by Asher’s Chocolates of Souderton, Pennsylvania. Hot dogs and drinks will be free, too! The fun starts at 11 a.m. and runs through 3 p.m. on Saturday, September 27, at the retail store on Wambold Road. Admission is free.

Annual Apple Butter Frolic
Enjoy all things apple at the 41st Annual Apple Butter Frolic hosted by the Mennonite Heritage Center in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, October 4, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids activities, an apple baking contest, horse and wagon rides and more will take place and excite guests of all ages. Admission is $8 for teens and adults 13 and older, $2 for kids between 6 and 12, and free for kids 5 and under.

Scarecrow Making
Do you want to make a scarecrow? Learn how at Norristown Farm Park in East Norriton, on Sunday, October 5, at 1 p.m. Families and kids can have fun making and dressing their very own scarecrow (be sure to bring clothes from home!), which may even be featured in the Park in the Dark night hike event on October 17. Admission is free, but costs $5 per scarecrow. Pre-registration is required.

Skippack Days
Head to Skippack Village on Saturday, October 4, and Sunday, October 5, for the 41st annual Skippack Days event. Enjoy food and craft vendors, as well as kids’ activities and live music during this annual town wide celebration. Activities start at 10 a.m. and end at 6 p.m. on both days.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

7 Banned Books Week Events for Families

September 21st, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

Three young boys read books outside in the grassToday kicks off the 32nd Annual Banned Books Week and events for the young and old will be held throughout the country, with readings and storytime for babies to celebrations in honor of Lord of the Rings with costumed characters for teens. Here’s a list of family-friendly events taking place in large cities around the U.S. this week in honor of all those banned books!

Chicago
Banned Books Week

Sept. 21-27, 2014
Glen Ellyn Public Library

All week long kids in grades four through eight can stop by the Glen Ellyn Public Library in Chicago and have their picture taken with their favorite banned book, which will also be featured in the library’s special Facebook album. Readings will also take place daily.

Providence, R.I.
Free Tattoo with Checkout of Banned Book

Sept. 21-27, 2014
Providence Community Library

Families who check out a banned book this week in Providence will get a free temporary tattoo!

Nashville
Hobbit Day Celebration

Sept. 22, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Coffee County Lannom Library

Located about an hour from Nashville, the Coffee County Lannom Library in Tullahoma, Tennessee, is hosting a celebration in honor of Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth’s very own Bilbo and Frodo! Families can enjoy costume contests, scavenger hunts, riddles, trivia and hobbit snacks.

Portland, OR
Celebrate Banned Books at Wild Lilac

Sept. 24, 2014 at 11 a.m.
Wild Lilac Child Development Community

Listen to parents and teachers as they read from their favorite banned children’s books in Portland this Wednesday.

Charleston, S.C.
Banned Books Week DIY Festival

Sept. 25, 2014
College of Charleston – Addlestone Library

Families can make their own buttons, magazines and more at this DIY Festival in Charleston this week. A photobooth will be available all week long for photos with your banned book, too.

San Francisco
Baby’s First Banned Book Club Meeting

Sept. 25, 2014 at 3 p.m.
Books Inc. in the Marina

Sing songs, clap your hands and read books that have actually been banned for the little ones in San Francisco this week! Who knew storytime for baby would or could be banned?

Book Bites Banned Books Storytime
Sept. 25, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.
Books Inc. Laurel Village

Bring kids ages 6 and up to this event, which offers little ones who are just learning to read a storytime of banned books.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

#AllStarParents: Results From Embassy Suites Fall Sports Travel Survey

September 20th, 2014 by Hilarey Wojtowicz No comments »

The kids are back in school and fall sports are upon us. Are you a team parent? If so, then you’re also what Embassy Suites likes to call an All-Star Parent. According to the chain’s most recent survey on sports-related travel, which was released on Sept. 10, 2014, away games and tournaments require parents to travel about 1,000 miles and to spend more than $1,400 on hotels, meals and more.

The survey also revealed that parents tend to be just as dedicated to their children’s teams as the athletes themselves. Ninety-three percent of parents surveyed said they have skipped one of their own obligations for a child’s game and 92 percent are willing to give up a family vacation or gathering for their child’s sports travel, too. Additionally, 95 percent of parents surveyed said they even use the away games or tournaments as a way to turn the sports-related travel into a family getaway and 64 percent have even taken days off from work in order to travel for their child’s team.

In an Embassy Suites’ Twitter chat with celebrity team parent Brooke Burke-Charvet on Thursday, September 18, parents shared tips on what to pack, what to do and what to look for when booking a hotel. Here’s what we found #AllStarParents saying during the discussion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The number one response for why parents travel with their child and the team was because it is a bonding experience for the whole family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The number one response for what to pack in order to be prepared was healthy snacks and lots of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When looking for a hotel, parents answered that free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and a pool were on their list of must-have amenities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the game or tournament is done, parents said they like to relax by the hotel pool and watch a family-friendly movie together.

 

 

 

 

 

And in order to guarantee that the weekend is a win for everyone, parents said they always try to do one fun activity or visit one attraction, like a museum or zoo, on which the the whole family can agrees.

BONUS
All-Star Parents can enter to win weekly prizes through Embassy Suites Facebook contest, which runs through Oct. 10, 2014. Enter to win by nominating yourself or another parent who is dependable, reliable, knowledgeable and always prepared when it comes to traveling with their child’s team. See if you fit one of the three profiles – The Road Tripper, The Mommy/Daddy Poppins or The Unofficial Official – and you could win a VIP getaway for two at an Embassy Suites in the U.S. Plus, your child’s team will receive a complimentary stay at an Embassy Suites on their next road game or weekend tournament. Enter to win on the Embassy Suites Facebook page.

Are you an All-Star Parent who will be traveling with your child and their team this season? If so, what tips do you have for making it a successful getaway? Leave your tips in the comment section below!

Disclosure: Embassy Suites surveyed 400 parents between Sept. 2 and Sept. 9, 2014, via an e-mail invite and online form. The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research. Results from any survey are subject to sampling variation.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz