Posts Tagged ‘
family vacation ’
Wednesday, June 4th, 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 DESTINATION: Disney World Resort, in Florida
Fall is a great time to visit Disney World: lower temperatures, fewer crowds, holiday celebrations, and discounts, like this special deal that gets you free meals if you stay for six nights. If you’ve got young kids, grab this opportunity. For one thing, the older they get, the harder it is to take them out of school for that long! But also free meals takes a huge burden off you; whether your kids gobble half a buffet or turn all picky, you’re not shelling out money for food.
HERE’S THE SPECIAL! Purchase a non-discounted 6-night, 7-day Magic Your Way package, including a room and theme park tickets, and for each night you stay everyone in your family gets one quick-service meal, one table-service meal (go ahead and make reservations once you know when you’re going), and one snack per person. Read all the details and check availability. Or talk to a vacation planner by calling 407-939-7709.
BOOK IT! Rates vary widely but we jumped online and saw that it would be about $2,000 for a family of four to visit the week of Labor Day at the All-Star Sports Resort (a value resort on the park’s bus line). It would be about $4,820 for them to stay at the Bay Lake Tower at Disney’s Contemporary Resort (one of the more posh properties, a walk from the Magic Kingdom). Note that this special is good for arrival August 31 to October 3, 2014; arrival October 26 to November 1, 2014; arrival November 9 to November 20, 2014; and finally arrival December 12 to December 23, 2014. All of travel must be booked by August 8, 2014.
New at Disney World: Magic Bands! Learn about this sanity-saver from our editor who recently visited.
Add a Comment
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 DESTINATION: Grand 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:
Add a Comment
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 EmbassySuites.com
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.
Add a Comment
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!
Add a Comment
Brooke Burke-Charvet, Embassy Suites, family travel, family vacation, outdoors, summer activities, summer fun, travel tips, travel with family, traveling with kids, vacation planning | Categories:
celebrities, GoodyBlog, Travel
Friday, January 10th, 2014
** Guest-edited by Sherri Eisenberg, Editor in Chief of Bon Voyage magazine, an online travel magazine for cruisers that’s published by Cruiseline.com.
The February issue of Parents magazine announced the Best Family Cruises. A cruise vacation is one of the easiest ways to travel with children of multiple ages, since there are activities to keep them — and you –- entertained for days on end. It’s also great for multi-generational groups, when you’re interested in bringing the grandparents (or aunts and uncles) too. Here’s what you need to know before you plunk down that deposit:
1. Not all cruise lines are created equal.
It’s important to research your cruise line thoroughly before making a commitment, since some are geared especially for families with kids and others, not so much. Don’t let only price determine your ship choice: You may find that choosing a line that costs a bit more is a better choice because they cater to your family.
2. Evaluate the onboard activities.
While some lines focus more on adult-oriented activities like wine tastings and port lectures, others offer crafts for children and pajama parties, and some offer … bingo, afternoon tea, and crossword puzzles. It’s important to evaluate what your days will look like on sea days (especially if there’s more than one) before you make a final decision. Is there a kids’ club, or ideally several, devoted to different age groups? Pay special attention to the ranges of ages catered to, and how extensive the offerings are during the day and in the evening. You may not choose to drop the kids off or hire a babysitter, but knowing what’s available will give you a sense of the onboard demographic.
3. Review the shore excursions.
Does the ship offer kid-focused, or at least family-friendly activities? Even if you think you will most likely make your own way on port days, the list of offerings will give you a sense of whether this cruise is primarily for families or more appealing to retirees.
4. Review what amenities are available.
Make a list of the things you’ll need. Do you have a child still in diapers? What about one that’s still in a crib? Or, do you have video game-addicted teens that won’t want to completely ignore their habit while at sea? Some cruise lines make a wide range of products and services available for different age groups, and others just don’t, depending on the types of passengers they typically cater to.
5. Check out the food options.
Depending on your budget, you may want to eat in the main dining room every night or try out the specialty restaurants (with usually have fees attached). Most lines offer sample menus on their sites, and that will give you a sense of whether your family will enjoy the food options. In addition, if they have children’s menus, look at a sample of one before booking.
You can do lots of planning at Cruiseline.com.
And see Parents magazine editors’ videos of the Disney and Royal Caribbean lines!
Add a Comment
Friday, December 20th, 2013
The winter chill may have finally settled in the northeast, but my mind’s still on memories of warmer climes. Thanks to Wyndham Vacation Rentals, I had the opportunity to visit South Carolina during the summer. (Watch my video at the end of this blog post to see more photos from the trip.)
Over four days, I stayed at a Gone With the Wind-esque rental house on Kiawah Island with a small group of journalists, and we got the chance to explore the historic sites of Charleston. Along the way, we took a photo with actor Bill Murray at the airport, consumed enough biscuits and sweet tea to make Scarlett O’Hara blush, and even spotted a real alligator hanging out in the street.
As a Yankee exploring southern delights for the first time, I was charmed by Charleston: the restored and ornate architecture, the buttery food (deep fried or not), and the friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Kiawah Island has plenty of quiet, low-key beaches (and golf courses) while Charleston is teeming with more active family-friendly attractions. To help you plan your next laid-back weekend getaway, here are 10 family-friendly things to do around Charleston:
1- Hang Out at Kiawah Island Beaches – No matter which Kiawah Island beach you end up visiting, you’re guaranteed to find white, hard-packed sand (great for strolls along the shore!) and Jacuzzi-warm waters. Kiawah Island is also surrounded by marshes teeming with wildlife, so you may see ospreys, herons, and alligators on your scenic drive to a beach. We ended up at Royal Beach, with gorgeous views of the ocean on one side and views of castle-like houses on the other.
2- Grab Dinner at the Fat Hen – Get initiated into Lowcountry cuisine at the Fat Hen, a neighborhood fave on Kiawah Island. Start by ordering tried-and-true southern dishes like fried green tomatoes, boiled peanut salad, She-Crab soup (Casey, fellow diner and blogger of Moosh in Indy, gave this rapturous praises). You’ll also be well-stocked with warm biscuits and lemon-laced sweet tea from the gregarious staff.
3- Visit the Sea Turtle Hospital, South Carolina Aquarium – The amazing veterinary staff at the South Carolina Aquarium rescue sick and injured sea turtles and nurse them back to health. Kids will get to meet and touch (small) turtles and learn about the turtles’ ailments and recovery process before they’re released back into the wild. The adjacent aquarium boasts equally impressive sights, including an albino alligator (named Alabaster), an American bald eagle, and a two-story tank filled with fish, coral, and sharks.
4- Eat Lunch at Poogan’s Porch – Poogan’s Porch is a cozy, light-filled eatery transformed from an 1888 Victorian house and named after a neighborhood dog. Once you see pimento fritters and fried alligator on the menu, you know you’re in for a culinary ride; you can’t go wrong with the buttermilk fried chicken and the airy biscuits. Plenty of celebs have visited Poogan’s (there’s a wall of photos), but what really makes it stand out are the spirits that still live there: Poogan the dog and schoolteacher Zoe St. Amand.
5- Stroll Through the Charleston City Market – For families who want an easy, relaxing afternoon, head to the 206-year-old Charleston marketplace, two long, green-roofed buildings that house artisans selling American Classic Tea sourced from the Charleston Tea Plantation, sweetgrass wreaths and baskets (made by the descendants of West African plantation slaves), and other handmade goods. Or stop by the other shops outside the marketplace, such as River Street Sweets for warm, slightly gooey pralines.
6- Ride a Carriage Tour of Historic Charleston – All tours are designated along three separate routes to avoid traffic, and every carriage must stop at a small shack before the tour begins. Kids will love watching a cage-like machine toss out a colored ball that indicates the carriage route. Our Palmetto Carriage tour highlighted sites such as Cabbage Row (which inspired the setting for “Porgy and Bess”), several Civil War-ear mansions, and Rainbow Row (pre-Revolutionary buildings renovated and repainted in pastel colors). You’ll also notice a ton of churches with tall steeples; in fact, no building in Charleston is allowed to be taller than the highest church steeple. Along the way, your guide may even point out spots where The Notebook and The Patriot were filmed.
7- Take a Walking Ghost Tour of Charleston – Charleston is considered one of the most haunted cities in America, so for families who like a good dose of spooky and supernatural stories, a walking ghost tour is a must. Even though we got a toned-down private ghost tour with Lindsay Beard from Bulldog Tours, our Charleston insider and local guide, the stories were still spine-tingling enough to stay with us for a few hours. Just make sure to check with the tour group to see if the outing will be too scary or too extensive for young kids.
8- Go Horseback Riding on Seabrook Island – The riding path on Seabrook Island starts on a residential street and then meanders through a plant-dense path until it opens onto a breathtaking, wide, flat beach. The sand is firm, making it easy for the calm, slow, gentle horses to walk on. Even though the horses are well-trained enough to know where to go and when to stop, horse rides are probably best for kids 8 and up who have some experience riding on their own.
9- Set Sail to Watch Dolphins – Dolphins are abundant along the South Carolina shore – just make sure to go during high tide to spot them. But even if you don’t encounter any dolphins, there is still plenty to see – like shorelines dotted with antebellum homes, islands teaming with pelicans, and boats with fishermen casting nets. Our group set sail on a small charter boat with Captain Robb of Lowcountry Inshore Charters, a South Carolina native who knows the ins-and-outs of the ocean, and kids who ride on his boat are given the chance to haul up a cage full of blue crabs. Depending on the tour, rides may also be best for kids 8 and up who know how to swim and who are comfortable on a fast boat.
10- Stroll Magnolia Plantation and Gardens – Magnolia Plantation has been around for over 330 years, and it’s one of three big plantations that still remain in Charleston. The rice plantation has passed down through 15 generations, and it is now open to the public. There are a variety of walking and vehicle tours. Beautiful garden tours lead through romantic paths with lush trees and flowers while other tours include separate train and boat rides that highlight alligators and turtles, slave cabins, and the plantation house.
For more sites to see, things to do, and places to stay in Charleston, check out the Family Vacation Guide to Charleston, South Carolina from our sister magazine, FamilyFun.
Special thanks to: Phillip Tumminia of Wyndham Vacation Rentals and Gina Anderson of Weber Shandwick for organizing the South Carolina trip; Body and Skin by Rachel for providing soothing massages; and personal chef Mark White for cooking a delicious five-course meal of local Lowcountry favorites.
Add a Comment
Monday, July 1st, 2013
Thinking about taking a trip with the kids this summer, but don’t have anything booked yet? Then read my new story on the 10 best cities for families to visit. Not only will you get a list of must-see attractions, you’ll also find exclusive deals and perks for hotels in many of the top cities. $1,500 worth of savings! To make it more convenient for you, we’ve put the details on all the offers below. Which place are you dying to visit? Chicago is on my bucket list for this summer!
Omni San Diego Hotel
Get 10 percent off and free parking with promo code PARENTS; Book from June 30, 2013 to January 20, 2014. Subject to availability.
Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel (shown at right)
Enter promo code PMAG for free kids’ meals with the purchase of an adult meal at Vela Restaurant. The offer is valid July 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013. Based on availability. Certain restrictions apply.
Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa
Use promo code P15 for a 15 percent discount; book by August 1, 2013 for stays that occur between July 8, 2013 and September 30, 2013. Offer is not available August 30, 2013 through September 1, 2013. Subject to availability.
Use the promo code PARENT for a 10 percent discount; book by December 31, 2013. Subject to availability.
Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek
Book at www.wyndham.com/hotels/florida/orlando/wyndham-grand-orlando-resort-bonnet-creek/information-parents-magazine for 15 percent off a two-night stay plus a $50 resort credit. Book by September 1, 2013 for stays between August 1, 2013 and October 31, 2013. Subject to availability.
Call the hotel at 855-514-8112 and mention Parents for a 10 percent discount. Book by December 31, 2013 for rooms from September 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014. Subject to availability.
Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile
Use promo code PARENTS to receive a 10 percent discount for stays between July 1, 2013 and September 6, 2013. Subject to availability.
Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf
Stay 3 nights or more and receive 2 percent off your room rate using promo code PARMAG. Promotion is available for select dates between July 1, 2013 and December 30, 2013. Subject to availability, black-out dates apply. Advance reservations are required. Maximum occupancy is 4 guests per room with 2 double beds and 2 guests in a room with 1 king bed. Not valid with any other discounts or promotions. Cancellations must be made 24 hours or more before arrival. Cancellations made less than 24 hours prior to arrival will be charged one nights room and tax charges.
Mention Parents magazine when you check in at Hotel Diva from July 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013. Your kids will receive a goody bag while you’ll snag a special welcome amenity. Subject to availability.
NEW YORK CITY
When making a reservation, use the code PARENTS to get Jacques Torres chocolates at check-in. Valid for stays between July 1, 2013 and September 30, 2013. Subject to availability.
Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa
Rooms with two queen beds start at $169 per night with promo code PARENT. You also receive a free breakfast daily for 4. Book by August 31, 2013 for stays between August 1, 2013 and October 31, 2013. Subject to availability.
Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk-Downtown
Go to embassysuites.com/parents to book a room with a 10 percent discount. Book by December 31, 2013 for rooms from June 12, 2013 to December 31, 2013. Subject to availability.
SpringHill Suites Indianapolis Downtown
Book at room at marriott.com/specials/mesOffer.mi?marrOfferId=815075&displayLink=true for a 15 percent discount. Book by December 30, 2013 for rooms from August 1, 2013 to December 30, 2013.
Loews Philadelphia Hotel
Get a 10 percent discount by using the promo code READER; book and use between now and December 30, 2013. Subject to availability.
The Rittenhouse Hotel
Add a Comment
Use the promo code N28C between July 1, 2013 and September 8, 2013 to receive a 10 percent discount. Subject to availability.
Monday, April 1st, 2013
Editor’s Note: In a post for an ongoing series, Dr. Harley A. Rotbart, a Parents advisor, will be guest blogging once a month. He will be offering different advice, tips, and personal stories on how parents can “savor the moment” and maximize the time they spend with kids. Read more posts by Harley Rotbart from this series.
Back when Great Sand Dunes National Park was still just a national monument, and our graduate student daughter was still just in kindergarten, the National Parks system became our partner in parenting. Our family “collected” national parks. We spent spring breaks, summer vacations, and fall breaks photographing our three kids standing astride the welcome signs outside dozens of national parks and monuments, from Arches to Zion, Badlands to Yellowstone, Capitol Reef to Yosemite.
It was in the parks that our kids learned about fragile cryptobiotic soil and the tundra, the desert and Death Valley, petrified forests and ancient redwoods. They heard rangers talk about fossils, geodes, and glaciers; they watched bison, wolves, bear, elk, moose, ptarmigans, and caribou in their natural habitats. They saw an owl capture and eat a mouse, salmon swimming upstream to spawn, and eagles fishing for those same salmon in the same stream. Along the way, they heard stories about Native Americans and the mysterious Ancestral Puebloans, about dinosaurs and wooly mammoths. But the lessons our Junior Rangers learned far exceeded those the park rangers could teach them: They learned about life.
It’s become a cliché to talk about life lessons gained through childhood experiences, but the ones our kids learned in the national parks were anything but cliché. They were only 3, 5, and 7 years old on our first visit to the Sand Dunes in southwestern Colorado, the home of the highest dunes in North America. The base of the dunes rests at 7,500 feet above sea level, and the climb from the base to the top of the highest peak is another 750 feet. On hot sand with unsure footing, boots and sandals are usually abandoned for stocking feet. The climbing is tough even for fit adults, but our 7-year-old son was determined to make it to the top with Mom, the parent with good knees. His sister, the 5-year-old, wasn’t as sure, so we encouraged her to stay behind with her little brother and me to play in Medano Creek at the base of the dunes. The creek “runs” in a wide splay that resembles a wading pool more than a flowing body of water, the perfect milieu for building sand castles. She had to choose: Climb the hot sand on a hot day to a faraway peak few young children ever reach, or wade and splash in the cool stream.
Our daughter had always been a little fearful about trying new things. Sleepovers at friends’ houses, tennis classes in our neighborhood park, overnight class trips, and even the monkey bars on the school playground all started out scary. So we were more than a bit surprised when, a little tearfully, she opted for the climb. She seemed determined not to let her big brother outdo her or claim bragging rights alone this time. I trained my binoculars on the threesome as they started the climb, zigzagging along switchbacks that changed with each windstorm of the year. There were lots of pauses along the way for snacks and water, but in just over four hours they made it to the summit, where the weathered guest book waited for triumphant climbers’ autographs. I couldn’t make out the kids’ facial expressions through the binoculars as they stood at the peak with their arms raised, but there was no question about their jubilation as they rolled, surfed, and pranced down the steep sandy slopes on the way back.
That night, while the boys played nearby, we sat at the campfire with our daughter, cold packs around her mildly blistered feet, and talked about what her climb meant in the big picture of her young life. Her sense of accomplishment and the pride she felt for conquering her familiar little fear demon showed her that nothing could stop her if she put her mind to it. No obstacle, no challenge, no barrier, no self-inflicted ceiling should stand between her and her dreams. That was the Sand Dunes lesson she learned and never forgot. In the 18 years since, she has had many, many small Sand Dunes moments, and a few really big ones, where the achievements of that day on the dunes sustained her.
It was also in the national parks that our oldest became a role model and nurtured his leadership skills and ability to inspire. He developed a sixth sense about how his sister and brother were feeling about our wilderness exploits, when it should be their turn to lead, and when they had had enough for the day. In doing so, he learned to consider, respect, and advocate for the needs of others. He also discovered his fear of snakes and his propensity to see bears while everyone else saw big rocks. Our youngest didn’t play in the creek forever, either. After more than enough years watching his siblings undertake adventures he was too little for, his turn finally came. Delicate Arch at Arches National Park will be known forever in our home as “Sammy’s Arch” because at age 7, he led the rest of us on the very challenging (and somewhat treacherous) hike. He did this with a mixture of pride, fear, and (ultimately) profound relief at shaking off the “baby” burden from his shoulders.
The national parks have become a lasting legacy for our family. Our now-adult kids still tease us about the legendary 11-hour bus ride in Denali, laugh about the mama bear who charged the obnoxious tourist, and sing Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” whenever we’re in the car together. If you’re looking for your own family legacy, or just ready to plan your summer vacation, visiting www.nps.gov/index.htm is a great place to start.
Dr. Harley A. Rotbart is Professor and Vice Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. He is the author of three books for parents and families, including the recent No Regrets Parenting, a Parents advisor, and a contributor to The New York Times Motherlode blog. Visit his blog at noregretsparenting.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter (@NoRegretsParent).
Image: A photo collage of Arches National Park in Utah via Shutterstock.
Add a Comment