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Archive for the ‘Family Travel’ Category

Oct
25

Every year, Frommer’s releases their must-do travel list, and it’s always sure to include at least a few eyebrow-raisers. Beirut, Lebanon? You might not know that it’s a sophisticated coastal city bustling with energy. Kansas City, MO? The world-class Kauffmann Center for the Performing Arts just opened, attracting some of the biggest names in dance and music.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Photo credit: Flickr

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Photo credit: Flickr

Check out the full list here for some other surprising – and not so surprising – travel ideas.

Sep
27

LEGOLAND, Florida set to open on October 15, 2011

In just 17 days, LEGOLAND, Florida is set to open its doors to the biggest Lego park in the world. The park will offer a mix of over 50 rides, shows and attractions, including never before seen Lego models. Daytona International Speedway is re-created from more than 180,000 Lego pieces and 1000 “Minilanders,” as the Lego citizens are called, and allows visitors to race against each other by pressing a button to launch their cars.

Other interactive elements for families to enjoy together will include Pirate’s Cove with a live water-stunt show, and “Miniland” featuring New York City, Las Vegas, Washington DC and more, all created from hundreds of thousands of Lego pieces. You really have to see it to believe it!

Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND, Florida

Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND, Florida

Check out the huge countdown clock at http://florida.legoland.com and start planning a trip today to this unique family-friendly spot!

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Sep
23

The turbulent economy has many families taking a long hard look at future vacations. To take them or not, is often the question they face. But even if the decision is made to enjoy a staycation over a vacation, a staycation should in no way signify staying indoors. Especially when there is an abundance of places to explore and myriad new things to discover just outside our front steps.

Such is the philosophy of one pioneering outdoor parent-child nature program, Tiny Treks. Founded by Pam Worth long before the No Child Left Inside Act made it trendy, Tiny Treks was hitting the trails with families, encouraging a love of the outdoors in youngsters. The preschool program has been unplugging this generation of children and connecting them with nature for 13 years.

Tiny Treks Creek Journey

Creek journey. Photo courtesy: Tiny Treks

Instead of watching videos or playing Plants vs. Zombies on iPads, kids can watch migratory birds, play in meadows, splash in creeks or fly kites. Throw in arts, crafts and songs, and families now have souvenirs from their staycations as well. So when you plan your next staycation, keep in mind there may be discoveries waiting for you right in your backyard. Now, log off your computer and go outside!

Find a Tiny Treks near you, like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Guest post by Sue Fliess.

Find other family friendly things to do in San Francisco, Chicago or Seattle on TravelMuse.com.

Sep
21

Museum Day 2010: Plan your Free Trip to a Local Museum

If you’re wondering what to do this weekend, why not celebrate Museum Day 2010 and plan a trip to a local museum for FREE!

Over 1,200 museums across 50 states are taking part in Smithsonian magazine’s Sixth Annual Museum Day, on September 25, 2010. These institutions will follow the Smithsonian Institution’s free admission policy and open their doors gratis to visitors nationwide.

Smithsonian ticket

There are a wide range of museums to choose from. Here are some of our picks:

Check out the map to see what museums in your neighborhood have already signed on and easily print out an admission card, good for two people.

smithsonian museum map

If you love to plan trips to art galleries and museums, explore more options on TravelMuse.

Aug
26

Every year, summer comes and goes far too quickly—my sunscreen bottle is only halfway empty for crying out loud! Luckily when we all start to get the end-of-summer blues, Labor Day weekend saves the day by giving us one last change to soak up the sun, explore new destinations and say goodbye to everyone’s favorite season in style.

View from Dolores Park. Photo: Loose Charm Productions

View from Dolores Park. Photo: Loose Charm Productions

Vegas Pool Parties
If you feel like getting a little loco this Labor Day weekend, head to Las Vegas for some of Sin City’s infamous pool parties. Labor Day is one the busiest times of year for these pool parties, which isn’t a surprise considering that the temperature is still sweltering. Check out Rehab at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino on September 5 for strong mix drinks, private cabanas, celebrity guests and incredible DJs. Most of the major hotels in Vegas will have some sort of pool party, so research your favorites to find your perfect pool party.

San Francisco Picnics
Mark Twain allegedly said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. While that might seem to be an extreme statement (unless he lived year round in Hawaii), San Francisco can be quite foggy during the summer. Well, usually (*fingers crossed*) come Labor Day, San Francisco is enjoying some late summer sunshine. To take full advantage, pack up your picnic basket, a big blanket and your favorite lunchtime goodies and head to one of the city’s finest parks to enjoy your Labor Day in true San Franciscan-tradition. Dolores Park has great views and is known for its ample supply of sunshine, even if it’s foggy elsewhere. The park is small and can get crowded—so be sure to get there early so you don’t have to fight the hipster kids for blanket space. San Francisco has an abundance of awesome parks, so be sure to find one that fits your needs.

Chicago Jazz Concerts

Boogie down this Labor Day to Chicago’s 32nd annual Jazz Festival. With four days and three locations to choose from, this year’s event is taking place Sept. 2 through Sept. 5, with shows at Grant Park, Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center—plus admission is free. So get ready to see some national and international acts alongside some Chicago jazz greats.

Cleveland Air Shows
The Cleveland National Air Show takes flight over Labor Day Weekend, so gather the family and head over to the Burke Lakefront Airport on Sept. 4, 5 and 6. This year the Cleveland skies will be filled with the aerial skills and tricks of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Golden Knights, the U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle and more. With three days to chose from, you can pack some excitement into your long weekend and still have time to throw that barbeque you’ve been mentally planning.

Seattle’s Bumbershoot
One of my favorite parts of summer is rocking out at music and arts festivals, so it’s always a relief to see a few end-of-summer festivals trying to cling to the last days of warm weather and the carefree life. At Seattle’s Bumbershoot, you can  check out musical acts such as Neko Case, Bob Dylan and Weezer; watch indie films; get your jollies at a stand-up show; and peruse the crafts that are for sale.

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Aug
03

Motor Home Road Trip Summer 2010 is our newest winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide. Our winner built this road trip, which explores many of the great national parks, on TravelMuse for her family.

The Adorable Triplets!

The Adorable Triplets!

1. Why are you taking this Trip?

It was truly my triplet’s idea to rent a “car house,” as they call it.  Every time they would see an RV or camper or land yacht drive by, they would get so excited. So, the seed was planted and we started talking to friends who had done similar trips—all with the same reply:”go for it!” So, we decided to take their advice and hit the road!  (The girls turned 8 in June.)

2. What are you most excited about seeing/doing?

We took the trip in July 2010 for 27 days and loved every moment.  From waking up and seeing buffalo in Hayden Valley (Yellowstone, WY) to the spectacular hoo doos of Bryce. The highlights of the trip included the “re-route” from Flagstaff to Sedona for some business I had (Sedona is breathtaking, enchanting and the back country Jeep Tour was beyond exciting for the kids), Bryce Canyon and the Grand Tetons.  The kids would tell you that their favorite part of the trip was living in the car house; going to Sedona; horseback riding in Zion, Utah; and, of course, driving through the herd of buffalo.

Sunrise at Bryce.

Sunrise at Bryce.

3. Any other interesting facts/ considerations about the trip?

RVs are great for family adventures. We’d recommended renting a privately-owned RV (several companies do this). Cost is very good and they are well maintained.  Also, kids love having sleeping options in the RV (over the cab, on the dinette fold out, the pull out couch, back bedroom). Make sure you book your national park reservations in advance, if traveling in the summer: use a GARMIN (life saver) and buy an annual park pass (it’s a huge cost saver!). We’re going to do this again in two years—and have already shared our TravelMuse trip plan (in hard copy print outs and online) with lots of friends and family who want to do the same.

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Tell us about your Trips and you could be featured in Trip of the Week–win one of the new Frommer’s Day by Day Guide Books.

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Jun
22

Trip of the Week: Summer Holiday 2010

Congratulations to Nick from Lancashire, England, our third winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Italy.

Nick built this family-friendly trip to Orlando, Fla., on TravelMuse to enjoy with his spouse and two sons. It definitely looks like fun!

orlando11
Why are you taking this trip?
We have two sons, ages 15 and 10, who are pretty active and aren’t the types to laze by the pool for two weeks baking under the sun. After doing the Disney bit back in 2007, we realized that this style of holiday provided just the right mix of relaxation and excitement that would give the whole family the kind of break that we all needed, so we returned in 2009, this time focusing more on the non-Disney side of Orlando.

When considering the cost to take our family of four from England to the usual hotspots of Europe, a trip to Orlando, when planned right, can be more cost effective and we get to stay in a top class accommodation too. It was pretty much a no-brainer where we would end up in 2010. Add to the mix the new Harry Potter attraction and we’re sure to have a great time

What are you most excited about seeing/doing on your trip?

I’ve always loved Sea World and the great conservation work that they do there, plus the kids are quite looking forward to the new Harry Potter attraction at Universal. We have some friends staying a short drive away when we are there and we intend on taking a drive down to their villa to spend some time with them before they set off home.

Some new slides in Aquatica should help keep us entertained, and we can’t wait to get back on the Rip Ride Rocket at Universal, as it had only just opened last time we were there and we only got one ride.

Any other interesting facts you care to share?
Plan, plan, plan.

I’ve learned through plenty of research that you can have a great holiday at the Orlando theme parks without a great deal of waiting in line. The secret is to go on the right days because some parks are busier on certain days than others. The time of day is also important, so plan carefully.

Though it may sound ridiculous, many of the top restaurants like the fabulous California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Mama Melrose at Disney’s Hollywood Studios book up well in advance, so we phone ahead months before traveling to reserve our place.

Have fun in Orlando with your family, Nick! Sounds like you are quite the Orlando expert. Great tips!

*****

Tell us about your Trips and you could be featured in Trip of the Week–win one of the new Frommer’s Day by Day Guide Books and be entered to win a FREE, luxury Trip for 2 to Waikiki!

Hawaii_contest2

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Jun
15

Trip of the Week: Amsterdam & London

Congratulations to Laurie from Ringoes, N.J., our second winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Hawaii.

Laurie and her husband have never been to London or Amsterdam, so they built out this excellent European Trip on TravelMuse to help them along the way.

Amsterdamn and London2

I asked Laurie a few questions about her upcoming trip and here’s what she had to say:

Why are you taking this Trip?

My husband and I have not been to either Amsterdam or London and would love to see both cities.  We think it would be thrilling to see the vast histories and cultures of both places and hopefully relax on an overnight boat ferry in between.

What are you most excited about seeing/doing?

I am very interested in seeing the castles of England and having traditional tea. I also think it will be fascinating to see the houseboats in Amsterdam and, seasonally permitting, the famous show of tulips.

Any other interesting facts/considerations about the trip?

Luckily my husband and I enjoy similar activities on vacation and would both be excited to shop in the many boutiques and markets, try the various cuisines, take copious photographs, and peruse the art and history of various museums.

Hope you both have a blast, Laurie! All of us at TravelMuse wish you safe and exciting travels.

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Tell us about your Trips and you could be featured in Trip of the Week–win one of the new Frommer’s Day by Day Guide Books and be entered to win a FREE, luxury Trip for 2 to Waikiki!

Hawaii_contest2

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Jun
10

I went to London for the first time when I was 16 and immediately fell in love. From the sense of history that permeates the London streets to the simultaneously modern aura, London is a city where any traveler can be content. And for those intimidated by European travel (whether it be language barriers or any other reason), London is a great city for first-time Europe travelers. Here is a little crash course in navigating your way around the this regal city.

Photo: trodel

Photo: trodel

Timing
High season in London is June through August. That’s when the weather tends to be at its warmest, but consider a trip during the first three weeks in May (last week is school holidays in the United Kingdom) or in September—the weather is usually just as nice, but you’ll avoid the jostling crowds and have a better pick of lodging and restaurants.

What to Wear

  • Bring a waterproof jacket.
  • Comfortable shoes, since driving in the capital is a nightmare, I recommend you use public transportation, so you’ll be walking more than normal.
  • Even in the summer it can get cool, so bring a light sweater.
  • Get a money belt or wear a jacket with an interior pocket. Though London is a relatively safe city, there are opportunistic thieves in the tourist areas.
  • When you are there, carry some bottled water. The Brits don’t believe in public drinking fountains.

Getting Around
Getting around London can be a thrill, and the city offers a host of travel options that make navigating among sightseeing stops part of the fun. London is also a very walkable city, but for safety’s sake, always remember to look to the right when you’re crossing the road.

If traveling from Heathrow, the cheapest option is to take the Underground (London’s subway system, also called the “tube”), as the Piccadilly Line will deliver you to Central London in 45 minutes for less than £6 (about $12).

If you have a lot of luggage or small children, instead try National Express, which runs several buses per hour from Heathrow to Victoria Coach Station. The journey takes about an hour, and you can pre-book tickets online.

Once you are free from luggage, the Underground is the way to explore London. It is easy to navigate with a color-coded tube map, and if you buy a reusable Oyster Card, cost effective.

West End and Central London
If you are going for less than a week, focus your time on the West End and Central London. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Parliament, the Tower of London, the shops of Covent Garden, the theatre district near Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and the British Museum in Bloomsbury are all within a few tube stops of each other.

Plan your trip to London on TravelMuse.

Post based on “Exploring London” by Anna Marie Roos.

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Jun
03

I’ve always been a daddy’s little girl. In fact, I credit him with instilling in me my love for travel and adventure. At as young as four, I would accompany my dad on day hikes in Point Lobos, located three miles south of Carmel, Calif. At the age of 12, he had put me through scuba diving certification classes and was taking me wreck diving in the Cayman Islands. Father’s Day is the perfect day to thank him for all he’s done for me.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tress. Photo: mikebaird

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Photo: mikebaird

With the date fast approaching (mark your calendars: June 20), the pressure is certainly on to start planning your Father’s Day agenda. Here are four great Father’s Day ideas that can be shaped to fit your budget and needs. So whether you’re planning a fanciful foreign affair or keeping it low key and local, your dad is sure to recognize how much you appreciate him.

Wine Tasting

Sometimes, there is no better way to bond than over a glass (or a bottle) of exquisite wine.

  • Extravagant: Take your father to Napa County for the ultimate wine-lover’s getaway. With an ample amount of first-rate hotels, spas, restaurants and, of course, wineries, your father will enjoy the good life this Father’s Day.
  • Budget: Napa may be one of the premier destinations for wine lovers, but there are incredible wineries across the world. Check out the local wineries in your area or in a near-by town. Some offer free wine samples, while others charge-but even if you shell out some cash, at an average price of $30 per tasting, you’ll still be giving your father an affordable and enjoyable experience. Be sure to search for wineries that offer wine tasting dinners for a special treat.

Plan your wine tasting vacation on TravelMuse.

Camping
Taking your dad camping will not only make for a great Father’s Day gift, but it will enable you to bond and rehash all of those camping trips he dragged you on as a youngster.

  • Extravagant: Enjoy the great outdoors at Yellowstone National Park. Reserve a campground, dust off your camping gear and be ready to hike and explore with your father. Don’t miss Old Faithful! For some bonus points, surprise him with a cool camping gadget or a day of fly-fishing.
  • Budget: Wherever you are, a great state park or a near-by campground is never more than a drive away. Pack up the car, pick up some BBQ essentials and fill the cooler with some ice-cold brews for a relaxing and memorable Father’s Day.

Plan your camping vacation on TravelMuse.

Sailing
There’s nothing that makes a person feel more alive than the open water. This Father’s Day, plan a sailing adventure for your father.

  • Extravagant: The capital of the British Virgin Islands, Tortola, is a water lover’s paradise. Its pristine waters are perfect for all sorts of aquatic activities, but Tortola is known for being a sailing haven. Stay at the luxurious Nanny Cay Villa in the marina, the perfect outlet for popular sailing areas that include The Baths, Jost Van Dyke, and The Bight.
  • Budget: Plan a day trip to your nearest body of water. Investigate local companies that offer sailing lessons if you and your father aren’t exactly the seafaring types. Learning a new skill with your father will bring you closer together and provide fun memories for years to come.

For more tips on sailing in the British Virgin Islands, read “Learning to Sail in the British Virgin Islands.”
Plan your sailing vacation on TravelMuse.

Golf
Dads and golf go hand in hand, so why not hit the links this Father’s Day for a little friendly competition.

  • Extravagant: Orlando has certainly made a name for itself within the golf community. With more than 125 golf courses within 45 minutes of downtown, there will certainly be no shortage of places to impress your father with. Take him to play at some of the best known courses in the Unites States, such as the Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
  • Budget: Most towns these days seem to have a county club for its residents to enjoy. Take your dad out to hit 18 holes (or even just the driving range) early in the morning and follow the game up with brunch and mimosas at the clubhouse.

Plan your golfing vacation on TravelMuse.

What are you planning on doing for your dad this Father’s Day?

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