Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

Score a Family Vacation Package from Grand Traverse Resort and Spa

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

* This is part of a series of special travel deals. Most families take at least one vacay during the year; we’ll help yours be one of them.

THE DESTINATIONGrand Traverse Resort and Spa, in Northern Michigan 

Take advantage of this two-night Family Fun package at a 900-acre resort that’s consistently rated among the country’s best. It’s got a child-friendly lakeside beach and an indoor water playground to boot.

BOOK IT! From $457 for a two-night stay in the Hotel for up to four persons in one room during the summer season (now through August 30, 2014). Weekend rates are from $485 for two nights in the Hotel. Note: There’s also a $15/night resort fee and 11 percent tax, and some restrictions apply. 

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! The Family Fun package includes two nights, four breakfast coupons for the bistro, one in-room movie (not available in some accomodations), a pound of candy from Dylan’s candy bar, 20 arcade tokens, and either two ice cream cones or lolliopops. Click here to explore more. You can also call them at 800-236-1577.

Get your kids psyched for an upcoming vacation (or the end of school!) with this Countdown Caterpillar craft:

Vacation Countdown Caterpillar
Vacation Countdown Caterpillar
Vacation Countdown Caterpillar

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Score a Family Vacation Package from Embassy Suites!

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

* This is the first in a series of special travel deals. Most families take at least one long vacay during the year; we’ll help yours be one of them.

THE DESTINATION: Embassy Suites, participating hotels across the country

No matter where your family heads for the summer, this premiere chain has got you covered, with more than 200 hotels in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. Plus, all guests enjoy amenities like two-room suites, free breakfast, and complimentary drinks and snacks at the nightly Evening Reception.

BOOK IT! From $127 (subject to availability at participating locations); you can check your travel dates online at

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! Embassy Suites Hotels has an exclusive Family Fun package. If you book three nights or more at a hotel in the U.S. or two nights or more at a property outside the country, you’ll get complimentary Wi-Fi, breakfast for four daily, and late checkout at 2 p.m. You must book and complete your stay by July 30, 2014. Other restrictions may apply; call 1-800-EMBASSY for full details.

Plan on eating out with your little ones while traveling? These tips will help you teach them how to behave at restaurants.

Manners & Responsibility: Eating Out with Kids at Restaurants
Manners & Responsibility: Eating Out with Kids at Restaurants
Manners & Responsibility: Eating Out with Kids at Restaurants

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American Baby’s Babymoon Special: Visit Personality Hotels in San Francisco, CA

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

This is the eleventh in a weekly series of special travel deals. It’s our last for now focusing specifically on babymoons. About half of expectant couples say they take a pre-baby vacay; we’ll help you be one of them.

THE DESTINATION: Personality Hotels, San Francisco, California

Looking for an intimate urban getaway? This collection of boutique hotels in the Bay Area offers full-service accommodations, and each location has its own unique vibe, from art-deco inspired to sleek and modern. At any of them you’ll be only minutes away from the city’s best theaters and shops.

BOOK IT! From $179; you can check your travel dates online at

HERE’S THE SPECIAL! Personality Hotels is offering a super Pregnant & Pampered package at three properties: Hotel Diva, Kensington Park, and Hotel Union Square. For an extra $49, you’ll get sparkling cider on arrival, a cozy body pillow, a soothing massage therapy bar from Lush, a free ice cream sundae, a roll of Tums, a $40 coupon for a prenatal massage or facial, a copy of Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Green Toys’ play keys for Baby, and 20 percent off a future stay at Hotel Union Square’s Kids’ Suite or Hotel Diva’s Little Diva Suite. Other restrictions may apply; call 800-553-1900 for full details.

And in thinking about future outings with your baby, learn everything you need to know about investing in a Travel System. Also, check back next week for the start of our family vacation deals!

Meet the Travel System
Meet the Travel System
Meet the Travel System




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American Baby’s Babymoon Special: Visit the Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, NM

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

* Guest-edited by Laura Manske, travel expert

This is the tenth in a weekly series of special travel deals. For the first few months we’ll focus exclusively on babymoons. About half of expectant couples say they take a pre-baby vacay; we’ll help you be one of them.

THE DESTINATIONInn and Spa at Loretto, Santa Fe, New Mexico

This inn and award-winning spa has adobe-style architecture, kiva fireplaces, and Pueblo, Native American, and Spanish artwork throughout.

BOOK IT! From $179; you can check your travel dates online at

HERE’S OUR SPECIAL! Readers can request the two-night Babymag special featuring the spa’s signature 365 Minutes of Bliss: Native Reflections Ritual (a sage herb blessing with a ritual bath soak, followed by a Sacred Stone Massage), a Zen Flower Organic Facial, a manicure and pedicure, a milk-and-honey wrap, and chakra balancing. You’ll also get a $100 hotel credit, a bottle of custom-blended massage and bath oil, and one robe-and- slippers set, from $1,365 (about a $2,400 value). Other restrictions may apply; call 866-582-1646 for full details.

While you wait for Baby to arrive, catch this mom’s birth story on how to push!

Birth Stories:
Birth Stories:
Birth Stories: "My Water Broke..."

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Brooke Burke-Charvet: “We have a pretty good sense of adventure as a family.”

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

One celebrity mom who knows a thing or two about travel: Brooke Burke-Charvet. The Dancing with the Stars champ and mom of four has ventured all over with her family, from the states to Europe, even Africa. It makes perfect sense then that the TV personality recently teamed up with Embassy Suites Hotels to host a panel with her daughter Rain, 7, and son Shaya, 6, on the “Pretty Great Family Debate,” a discussion on tackling common family disputes like homework, bedtime and yes, vacation planning. Parents got the scoop on how Brooke keeps her cool while traveling and what she can’t wait to do with her kids this summer.

P: So your family likes to plan vacations together. What helps you all make decisions without butting heads?

B: I’m all for a family meeting, but it’s really tough. I have four very opinionated children. The little ones, Rain and Shaya, kind of go with the flow but my teenage daughters Neriah, 14, and Sierra, 12, always have their own plans in mind. We try to do one big family vacation a year, so what we do is we’ll sit down and agree on a destination. More so, it’s about them deciding how we want to spend the time once we’re there. I try to let everybody choose one thing that they want to do. You want to make sure that family travel is enjoyable for every member, so it’s not just all about the kids or all about the parents.

P: In your travels, what places have your kids found cool?

B: We have a pretty good sense of adventure as a family. My children love to be on an island; they love the water. This summer, we’re going to try scuba diving for the very first time now that the kids are old enough. We’re going on a family cruise too, which I’m really excited about. They even like to go to Europe and discover history. I’ve always felt like we make every destination family-friendly. We teach them how to conduct themselves in any environment.

P: How do you keep your children entertained on longer trips?

B: I really feel like that depends on the energy and nature of the parent. I mean, I took Shaya and Rain to Africa when they were 2 and 3, even though every other mother thought I was insane. It’s just a matter of trying to go with the sun rather than staying on your own time zone. Be flexible as a parent and try not to travel as Americans. Get into the mindset of the local people wherever you are. When you go into a trip expecting to have exactly what you have at home, you’re just going to be disappointed. And I’ve found red-eye flights can be really great for long trips because everybody can just shut down and go to sleep.

P: What go-to items are with you all the time on vacation?

B: Books! I’m a big believer of less is more, and I like to encourage my children to read. It’s a great way to wind down on the plane. I limit tech, but everybody likes to have some iPad time. They’ll play with a mix of educational and pure entertainment games. I also like arts and crafts that are containable, like everyone’s into these bracelet-making projects right now. The things that take up a small amount of space but are cute and nifty are great for me.

P: Family fights are never fun! How do you handle meltdowns during a trip?

B: With more kids, it’s bound to happen. There’s always one child not happy. I just think you have to nip it in the butt really quickly. I don’t tolerate a lot of family fighting.

P: With summer on its way, what activities are you most excited to do with your kids?

B: My two teenagers are into paddle boarding, and I also just started doing Soul Cycle with my oldest, Neriah. We have a trampoline in the backyard; that’s great exercise and super fun. Shaya is honestly determined to teach me how to do a back flip. God help me! We also like to be outdoors and go on hikes.

P: I’m sure you’ll have more free time this summer with your children out of school. What helps you unwind in your spare time?

B: For me, it’s really my workouts. That’s totally my only hour in the day that’s me-time where I really don’t have to think about anything else. It’s not just a physical benefit; it’s also great for mind, body, and soul. And I love to cook. I find that it’s really relaxing. It’s a huge bonus because my family loves to eat and there’s a lot of people to feed.

Planning a family roadtrip? Use these tips for a smooth ride!

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5 Cool Things About Sea World

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

“I am gowing to See Wyrld.”

That statement found its way into nearly every assignment my kindergartner worked on for the month leading up to our recent vacation in southern California. We had lots of activities planned for the week, but as far as Lila was concerned, it was all about Sea World in San Diego. My older daughter, in third grade, was equally excited–but interestingly, neither of them really knew much about the theme park. So when we arrived, they were blown away. If you’re planning a trip to Sea World, keep this in mind:

1.  Shamu gets all the attention, but the dolphin show is even better. The bottlenose dolphins star in a 20-minute show called Blue Horizons that’s pretty amazing. Not only do the mammals perform amazing gymnastic feats, but so do the trainers, diving from on high into the pools below. And we were all stunned when one trainer zipped around the pool with each foot on the back of a dolphin (picture water skiing but using dolphins instead of skis). The Shamu show, One Ocean, is impressive for sure–it’s incredible to see enormous killer whales soaring in the air–but because the animals are so huge, they’re not as limber as the dolphins, which makes for a slightly less thrilling experience. Plus the show is at least five minutes shorter than Blue Horizons (at least it was when we were there; the web site says the shows are nearly equal length).

2. Be prepared to spend some money on feeding the animals. For my kids, a highlight was feeding the sea lions, and trying to feed the bat rays. Whereas you basically drop the bait into the mouth of the sea lions, feeding rays is a slightly more complex process: You stick a tiny dead fish between your knuckles, plunge your arm into the tank, and keep it still while the ray glides over your hand and slurps it out. If your kids are anything like mine–and most of the ones around us–they’ll get spooked as soon as they feel the ray, then they’ll drop the fish, and be looking at you for another $6 tray of bait in no time.

3. Don’t feel bad if you don’t make it on the rides. There are several, including a few for younger kids in the Sesame Street Bay of Play. But we were under a bit of time crunch, so we skipped the rides, and my children still came away absolutely loving their Sea World experience.

4. If you like penguins, you’re in luck. The Penguin Encounter was a jackpot for us (okay, mostly me–I adore those  creatures), with nearly 300 penguins living together but separately: Gentoos with Gentoos, little Adelies with Adelies, huge Emporers with Emporers, and so on. You get to watch them hop in the water, swim briskly, and pop back up onto the ice as you’re transported down the exhibit via one of those “people mover” conveyer belts. And when you exit the building, you’re treated to a display of South American breeds, which thrive not in arctic temperatures but the warm San Diego weather. Who knew?

5. The sea lions will crack you up. We almost skipped Sea Lions Live, since we’d already seen two other shows that morning. I’m so glad we didn’t. Whereas Shamu and the dolphins have you oohing and aahing, the sea lions and otter in this show left us laughing. I can’t say it was the sea lion’s most dignified moment, but me and my family were howling when he clapped along to the beat of “Gangnam Style.”

We’ve been home from California for two weeks now, and Lila’s still finding a way to weave See Wyrld into her schoolwork.


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American Baby’s Babymoon Special: visit the La Quinta Inn & Suites Wellness Hotel in Trinidad, CO

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

* Guest-edited by Laura Manske, travel expert

This is the ninth in a weekly series of special travel deals. For the first few months we’ll focus exclusively on babymoons. About half of expectant couples say they take a pre-baby vacay; we’ll help you be one of them.

THE DESTINATIONLa Quinta Inn & Suites Wellness Hotel, Trinidad, Colorado

Located midway between Denver and Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this pet-friendly hotel makes a perfect home base for picturesque drives, scenic walks, and visits to local museums.

BOOK IT! From $99; you can check your travel dates online at

HERE’S OUR SPECIAL! Ask for the Yes Baby! package created for AB readers. From $265, it includes a bottle of sparkling cider, a platter of chocolates and fresh fruit, breakfast for two in your two-room suite, an organic facial, and a classic teddy bear basket of newborn goodies for your baby-to-be (about a $400 value). Other restrictions may apply; call 719-845-0102 for full details.

To celebrate your soon-to-be mommy status, have fun making this Mother’s Day bangle bracelet!

Mother's Day Paper Crafts: Bangle Bracelets
Mother's Day Paper Crafts: Bangle Bracelets
Mother's Day Paper Crafts: Bangle Bracelets


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Where to Go on Vacation

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Turks and Caicos-Kids-The-Somerset-at-Grace-BayI may be the food editor at Parents, but like other moms and dads I read the magazine for parenting advice and product tips. When I opened the March issue a couple of months ago I devoured every word of Beach Bliss, my colleague Karen Cicero’s story featuring the 10 best Caribbean destinations for families. It was cold—really cold—here in New York, and I was ready to daydream about a warm holiday. But, one thing led to another, and before I knew it my family and I had booked a long Easter weekend at The Somerset on Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos, the magazine’s top recommendation.

We’ve been home over a week now and I can confidently say that Karen had it right when she recommended Turks and Caicos. Here’s why:

The Sand and the Water: That sounds obvious, right? The beach should be a highlight of any tropical vacation, but Grace Bay is truly special. The sand is fine, white, and oh-so-soft. The sea was as turquoise as a swimming pool and just as clear. Most days it was also very calm, making it perfect for little ones to splash around in.

Turks & Caicos The SomersetFamily-Friendly Resorts: While numerous accommodations catering to a variety of budgets dot Grace Bay, we loved the beachfront Somerset. The suites were spacious (at least as big as our Brooklyn apartment, which I guess isn’t saying much…), with a well-stocked kitchen and washer and dryer. Water toys were available at the resort’s three pools; snorkels and flippers were free to borrow at the beach. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful, and the pool-side pina coladas were pretty spectacular. Bonus: The resort offers a free Kids Club on weekdays.

Kids Can Play With Dogs: If your kids are anything like my kid, a dog is a big draw. About a 15 minute walk from the Somerset is Potcake Place, a charity that rehabs the island’s many stray dogs for eventual adoption. Visitors can play with the dogs and even take them out for walks on the beach. We played a couple of times with Happy, a sweet butterscotch-colored puppy. American families frequently adopt dogs they meet at Potcake Place, and not a day has gone by that my daughter hasn’t lamented the fact we didn’t bring home Happy. (Truth be told, I feel the same way.)

Easy Adventures: For older kids like my eight year-old, a boat tour is an exciting way to experience sun, surf, and sand. Top on our agenda was snorkeling, and we booked a half-day trip with Island Vibes Tours. Since Turks and Caicos is near the world’s third-largest coral reef, we saw tons of colorful fish and even a cool-looking lobster lurking in a small underwater cave. After snorkeling, we sped towards a deserted island nearby where small lemon sharks circled in the surf and endangered rock iguanas posed for pictures.

Turks and Caicos - The Conch Shack

My daughter with the dog we actually bought her.

Fun Food: As you would expect, fresh seafood is everywhere on the island, especially conch. Fried into fritters or chopped into a salad, this mild-tasting shellfish is surprisingly kid-friendly. For a full-on island meal, a staff-member at the Somerset suggested we check out Da Conch Shack, a relaxed restaurant literally on the beach. We sat at picnic tables with sand under our toes watching the sun set and inhaling conch hush puppies, jerk chicken wings, and fried plantains. We bought my daughter a small painted conch shell there, which is now her favorite souvenir from the trip, especially since we didn’t come home with a (real) dog. We’ll save that for our next trip to Turks and Caicos, which I hope will be very soon.

The Somerset is offering Parents readers a 25% discount on lodging and free continental breakfast on stays of three nights or more through August 31. Use the promo code PARENTS.

The 10 Best Beach Towns
The 10 Best Beach Towns
The 10 Best Beach Towns

Images provided by The Somerset on Grace Bay

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