Four Educational Offerings in Santa Fe this Summer

June 24th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

Santa Fe might not be at the top of your list for spots to visit this summer, but the New Mexico city has so much for families to do and see — and they’re all educational! Get your kids out and about this summer with one of these four Santa Fe experiences, all of which will teach them something new.

OK to Go, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Kids can create their own art masterpiece in relation to the current exhibits at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum this summer with the new OK to Go program. The OK to Go program take place on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. And this summer, on select Saturdays, families can view the museum’s exhibits before normal business hours and the make their own work of art all together. This special family program takes place on June 28, July 19 and Aug. 2, 2014, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Additionally, the museum also offers kid-friendly packets that challenge children to think about the different pieces of art they see throughout the various rooms. These Discovery Guides are available year-round. Participants are encouraged to sign up in advance. Admission rates vary per program.

Kite- and Mask-Making, Museum of International Folk Art
Explore the Tako Kichi: Kite Crazy in Japan and Wooden Menagerie: Made in New Mexico exhibits with your kids before making your own kites and masks at the Museum of International Folk Art this summer. Children of all ages can learn about the different styles of kites and masks from different cultures and then make their own. An area to listen to animal stories is also available, which is great for little ones. For a less hands-on experience that is just as fun, pick up an iPod touch and head to the Girard Wing of the museum for an interactive tour.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $6 to $9 for adults and free for kids age 16 and younger.

Geocaching Challenge, Santa Fe Convention & Visitors Bureau
Grab your GPS and Santa Fe Adventure Passport at the visitors’ bureau before embarking on a treasure hunt throughout the city. Kids will be asked to find clues at each destination and will need to get their passport stamped before moving on to the next spot. After gathering all the clues and having the passport stamped at each location, families can return to the bureau where the challenge concludes with a prize.

The Geocaching Challenge is free for all participants. A GPS can be rented for $25 per day if needed. The visitors’ bureau is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Family Culinary Experience, Chef’s Table at Terra Restaurant
Cook together as a family at the Chef’s Table at Terra Restaurant, located at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe. Together, your family will create eight kid-friendly courses before sitting down to eat the freshly cooked family meal. The experience is available for families with children ages 5 and up. The culinary experience costs $150 per adult and $75 per child for the eight courses, though the child’s price can be negotiated based on how many meals he or she participates in preparing. Reservations must be made 24 hours in advance.

Read more on what you and your family can do in Santa Fe this summer by visiting our Santa Fe Destination Guide.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz





Summer Packages at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples

June 23rd, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

The Ritz-Carlton brand exudes luxury, and with it, often pricier accommodations. But this summer, don’t sweat it at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. Enjoy packages that allow your family to soak up the sun on the resort’s three-mile beach, practice your putting on the golf green for free or surf the Internet (when you’re not surfing the waves) at no extra charge.

Find which package at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples works for your family on its next trip to Naples and Marco Island.

Family Package, with Two Rooms
Enjoy luxury accommodations spread across two separate rooms this summer. Relax and reap the benefits of the extra space. Plus, enjoy a $50 daily dining credit for lunch or dinner at Lemonia or Terrazza restaurants, a complimentary breakfast for two adults and two children daily at Lemonia, complimentary use of two beach chairs and one umbrella, complimentary valet parking and free in-room Internet access.

Rates start from $399 per night. Offer valid now through Sept. 30, 2014.

Florida Escape Package
Enjoy overnight accommodations, complimentary valet parking and in-room Internet at no extra charge with this package. Your family will have all the amenities they need for a comfortable stay, and will also receive access to the resort’s three-mile beach. What more do you need?

Rates start from $229 per night. Offer valid now through Sept. 30, 2014.

Summer Beach Package
Enjoy the sun, sand and surf this summer at the beachfront resort with this package, which includes overnight accommodations, a $50 daily dining credit for lunch or dinner in Lemonia or Terrazza restaurants, a complimentary breakfast for two in Lemonia daily, complimentary use of two beach chairs and one umbrella at Vanderbilt Beach, complimentary valet parking and free in-room Internet.

Rates start from $249 per night. Offer valid now through Sept. 30, 2014.

In addition to these great packages, children age 18 and under will receive a free round of golf when accompanied by a paying adult. With this complimentary golf offer, one additional child under 18 years old will only pay $20 to play with a paying adult. This offer is valid now though Sept. 30, 2014.

The Ritz-Carlton also offers its Ritz Kids program and for $80 or $150 per day, children between 5 and 12 can enjoy scheduled activities and outings focused on the environment and nature. Kids can get close to animals, learn about dinosaurs, see butterflies and take hikes and walks in search of exotic birds. The Ritz Kids program is available year-round.

All offers based on availability. Additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.

For more information on the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, read our review or visit the resort’s website.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz





CityPASSES Perfect for Summer

June 22nd, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

Vacations to major metropolitan cities in the summer are great for families. With so many attractions and activities, both inside and out, and hotel options that fit every budget, a trip to New York City, Chicago or Houston may be perfect for your next family getaway. This summer, when visiting one of the big cities in North America, be sure to sign up for a CityPASS and enjoy more while paying less.

CityPASSES are available in 11 major cities across North America, including New York City, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Seattle, San Francisco and Southern California. No matter which one you visit, a CityPASS will allow you and your family to access at least five attractions easily. According to its website, CityPASSES are recommended by 97 percent of travelers who have used them in the past. They allow guests to skip most ticket lines at busy attractions; are valid for up to nine days at a time (14 when visiting Southern California); and are all of your attraction tickets in one. And when added together, travelers who use the CityPASS can save up to 50 percent off admission to each of the included attractions.

See what you can do and see in the 11 major cities across North America with your CityPASS:

New York City
CityPASS Attractions: Empire State Building, American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Top of the Rock or Guggenheim Museum, Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island or Circle Line Cruises
Cost: Adults (18 and older) – $109 per person. Children (6 to 17) – $82 per person.

See more attractions in New York City.

Boston
CityPASS Attractions: New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Skywalk Observatory, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Harvard Museum of Natural History or Old State House
Cost: Adults (12 and older) – $54. Children (3 to 11) – $39 per person.

See more attractions in Boston.

Toronto
CityPASS Attractions: CN Tower, Royal Ontario Museum, Casa Loma, Toronto Zoo, Ontario Science Center
Cost: Adults (13 and older) – $61.50 CAD per person. Children (4 to 12) – $39.60 CAD per person.

See more attractions in Toronto.

Chicago
CityPASS Attractions: Shedd Aquarium (VIP Entry), Skydeck Chicago, Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry or 360 Chicago, Adler Planetarium or Art Institute of Chicago
Cost: Adults (12 and older) – $94 per person. Children (3 to 11) – $79 per person.

See more attractions in Chicago.

Houston
CityPASS Attractions: Space Center Houston, Downtown Aquarium, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo or Kemah Boardwalk, Children’s Museum of Houston or Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Cost: Adults (12 and older) – $49 per person. Children (3 to 11) – $39 per person.

See more attractions in Houston.

Atlanta
CityPASS Attractions: Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, Inside CNN Studio Tour, Zoo Atlanta or Atlanta History Center, Fernbank Museum of Natural History or High Museum of Art
Cost: Adults (13 and older) – $74 per person. Children (3 to 12) – $59 per person.

See more attractions in Atlanta.

Philadelphia
CityPASS Attractions: The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia Trolley Works and big Bus Company, Adventure Aquarium, Philadelphia Zoo or National Constitution Center, Eastern State Penitentiary or Please Touch Museum
Cost: Adults (13 and older) – $62 per person. Children (2 to 12) – $39 per person.

See more attractions in Philadelphia.

Tampa Bay (NEW!)
CityPASS Attractions: Busch Gardens Tampa, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Chihuly Collection or Museum of Science & Industry
Cost: Adults (10 and older) – $119 per person. Children (3 to 9) – $99 per person.

See more attractions in Tampa Bay.

Seattle
CityPASS Attractions: Space Needle (two visits), Seattle Aquarium, Argosy Cruises Harbor Tour, EMP Museum or Woodland Park Zoo, Pacific Science Center or Museum of Flight
Cost: Adults (13 and older) – $64 per person. Children (4 to 12) – $44 per person.

See more attractions in Seattle.

San Francisco
CityPASS Attractions: Muni & Cable Car (seven-day passport), California Academy of Sciences, Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, Aquarium of the Bay or Monterey Bay Aquarium, Exploratorium or De Young Museum
Cost: Adults (12 and older) – $86 per person. Children (5 to 11) – $64 per person.

See more attractions in San Francisco.

Southern California
CityPASS Attractions: 3-day Disneyland Resort Park Hopper ticket to Disneyland Resort & Disney California Adventure, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld San Diego
Possible Add-Ons (additional fees): San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, LEGOLAND California
Cost: Adults (10 and older) – $331 per person. Children (3 to 9) – $289 per person.

Read more on what you can do in California.

Visit the CityPASS website for more information.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz





Surf City USA Celebrates 100 Years

June 21st, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

This year marks the 100th anniversary of surfing and Huntington Beach, Calif., otherwise known as Surf City USA, is celebrating with events all weekend long. Whether you’ve been dropping-in on gnarly waves for decades or your children just received their first boards, you’ll be sure to enjoy the reenactments, competitions, activities and events in honor of the sport that truly made waves back in 1914.

Events on Saturday, June 21, 2014

Surfing Demonstrations – Huntington City Beach, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“When Men Were Men and Boards Were Wood” will feature 50 experienced surfers on old-fashioned wood surfboards. Wetsuits won’t be allowed, as surfers did not wear them in the earlier part of the 20th century, and awards will be presented. A professional surfer will also perform a reenactment of George Freeth’s first ride on a replica of his original wood board.

Museum Exhibits – International Surfing Museum, 10 a.m.
The new “Century of Stoke” exhibit opens at 10 a.m. today at the International Surfing Museum. Guests and visitors can see and learn about the past 100 years of surfing through memorable events and milestones mentioned in the exhibit, all curated by the first World Champion of Surfing, Peter Townend, and the museum’s Exhibit Director, Dave Reynolds. Admission to the museum is $2 per person.

Events on Sunday, June 22, 2014

Pier Commemoration Ceremony – Huntington Beach Pier Plaza, 10 a.m.
In conjunction with the 100 years of surfing celebrations, Huntington Beach is also celebrating the 100th anniversary of its first concrete municipal pier. During the event, performers and actors will be dressed in period costumes and historical images will be on display. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will also take place.

The History of Hanging Ten
In 1914, Henry Huntington invited Hawaiian George Freeth to the grand opening of the Huntington Beach Pier. In honor of the event, Freeth displayed his aquatic skills on a wooden board in the ocean. From that point forward, locals and people around the world began venturing to Huntington Beach to ride the waves like Freeth. Now known as Surf City USA, the Orange County city is home to famous surfing contests and the popular Huntington Beach Pier.

For more information on today’s events and for a listing of events taking place throughout the year in Huntington Beach, visit www.100YearsOfSurfingHB.com.

– Hilarey Wojtowicz





Kid-Friendly Fun in Chicago This Summer

June 20th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

I have always wanted to visit Chicago. The Windy City seems to have a history and culture all its own, with Wrigley Field — which celebrated its 100th birthday this year — and the famous “Bean” in Millennium Park. Although I haven’t been to the Midwest city yet, I do know that it is filled with family events and hotels that offer awesome kid-friendly amenities.

If you’re thinking of visiting Chicago this year, be sure to book a suite at The James Chicago. The hotel has a kids’ program unlike any other in the city and it is located close to all of the events, festivals and main attractions. This summer, a stay at The James Chicago will surely put a smile on your little ones’ faces.

The Lil’ James Program offers kids amenities, activities and more, including:

- A James backpack filled with special welcome amenities;
- A kid-friendly library of movies and DVD’s for in-room entertainment;
- Delicious menu options just for children at the David Burke’s Primehouse restaurant;
- Books and board games for more in-room fun;
- A wide selection of Nintendo Wii games to play on your personal console;
- Paul Frank-themed bicycles and helmets for exploring the city;
- And a milk-and-cookie turndown service.

Plus parents will be happy to know that cribs, car seats and bathtubs for infants and toddlers are available at no extra charge.

A Hot Summer Deal to Go Along with the Fun
The James Chicago has a summer deal perfect for all of this family fun, too. The Lil’ James Family Adventurer Package offers families all of the amenities of the Lil’ James Program, plus four tickets to the Chicago Children’s Museum and one children’s jump rope by Urban Infant. Package rates start from $280 per night. Offer valid now through Dec. 31, 2014.

Enjoy even more fun at one of these Chicago events or festivals this summer, too!

Tiny Giants 3D at the Field Museum
Now through December, enjoy the Field Museum’s feature film that profiles the lives of the world’s smallest furry creatures. Kids will love watching a chipmunk race against time to collect his nuts before the winter weather sets in and they will learn how these forest animals survive. Admission prices start from $18 for adults, $15 for students (with ID) and $13 for kids 3 to 11. Children under 3 are free.

Fireworks at Navy Pier
Enjoy weekly fireworks over the water at Navy Pier this summer. Catch the free, colorful show on Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:15 p.m. now through Aug. 30, 2014. Fourth of July fireworks will take place Friday, July 4 at 9:30 p.m.

Taste of Chicago Festival
The annual food festival packs more than 60 restaurants into Grant Park for a flavorful experience the whole family can enjoy. The festival runs from July 9 to July 13, 2014 and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free.

Lollapalooza Music Festival
If your family is in to music, be sure to check out this annual festival, which offers it very own kids section. Kidzapalooza offers its own stage with kid-friendly acts and different activities tailored for little ones. This year’s festival runs from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, 2014. Children 10 and under get in for free.

 

– Hilarey Wojtowicz

 

 

Swimming with Dolphins on Grand Bahama Island

June 19th, 2014 by Guest Blogger No comments »

If you’re heading to Grand Bahama Island in the Bahamas this summer, there’s an experience you must have: swimming with the dolphins. It’s a unique experience that will not be forgotten any time soon. The place to go is UNEXSO, the Underwater Explorers Society, which offers professionally led dolphin experiences. They provide highly trained instructors who will make you feel right at home with any of their 14 Atlantic dolphins.

There is one caveat: UNEXSO has strict rules. The height requirement for an actual swim is 55 inches, but there is no requirement for the “Encounter” experience, which your little kids will love. It is a good idea for your kids to get used to the idea of being in the water with dolphins at a young age, too. There was a 13-year old girl on our tour who swam with the dolphins several times and you should have seen how the dolphins gravitated toward her for swims and kisses.

The tour starts out by boat. Both groups of tour goers are taken to a 9-acre, protected lagoon about 20 minutes away from the port to meet a group of Atlantic dolphins. Once there, the groups and dolphins are taken to different pools.

During the “Encounter,” kids and adults get to go into the pool with the dolphins and watch them feed and perform tricks, and then play with them. They are very well trained and there isn’t much to be afraid of. Younger kids will love the experience — particularly getting a kiss at the end from the dolphins.

For older kids and parents who choose to participate in the “Swimming with Dolphins” experience, enjoy diving in to and moving around the pool, playing and performing tricks with the well-trained dolphins. I opted for the swimming tour on this trip.

Within minutes of our arrival, I was in the pool, swimming side-by-side with the two dolphins. They were such a delight to swim with. I didn’t need a life jacket since I can swim reasonable well, so I dove right into the deep water with the dolphins. We were racing each other, and it was just as fun as swimming with a real person. Then we gently tapped the water, spun our bodies around, to prompt them to turn around, speak, splash and wave.

I was able to really feel the speed and agility of the ocean’s most memorable inhabitants by swimming between the two dolphins. I literally had one hand on each and sped across the pool. To top it off, I was told to pucker up my lips and one of the dolphins landed a lovely kiss on my lips. I was probably in the water with them for about 20 to 30 minutes, as there was another group who went after me (they take six people into the water at a time). It was exhilarating. The instructors were patient and didn’t rush any of us, either.

The price of the “Encounter” is $85 per person and the swim is $179 per person. UNEXSO is located in Freeport across from the Grand Lucayan. For more information, visit unexco.com or email info@unexso.com.

– Holly Fink

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