Archive for October 2009
October 30th, 2009
Amie from Ciao Bambino
We learned an important lesson this year: a pumpkin patch is not just a pumpkin patch. Choose wisely!
These photos are from last year when we visited a pumpkin patch with train rides, pony rides, face painting, and a corn kernal sandbox. Bay Area families, bookmark G&M Farms in Livermore. It’s a haul, but worth it.
This photo is indicative of the the time we had this year at Ardenwood Farms. The head-scratcher is that this pumpkin patch is much better known.
Fun it was not. The heat and crowds didn’t help. But the straw that broke the camels back was what my husband lovingly refers to now as the “hayride from hell.” A 45-minute ride that consisted of stopping every few feet and talking about organic farming and vegetables. Yes, educational, but not what we signed up to do given that we were tied to a tractor with 20+ toddlers who were not fascinated by the latest and greatest in agricultural development.
For more Photo Friday posts, visit Delicious Baby.
October 29th, 2009
Nancy from Ciao Bambino
Looking for a little armchair travel or for a way to get kids engaged and excited about a new destination? Check out my favorite history and geography sites created for kids.
National Geographic Kids: Beautiful website and easy to navigate. Countries around the world are listed with facts, maps, and photos.
Time for Kids: Useful information includes a History Timeline and Sightseeing Guide for a wide variety of destinations.
Kidipede: History for Kids covers historical details about cities and sights. When we were planning our trip to London last year, we used it to look up information on the Tower of London.
The World Factbook: Very straightforward facts on every country.
Castles of the World: Find and read about castles around the world.
Lucy Travels: The ads on this website are distracting, but the activity sheets are fun and and they have some useful travel journal writing tips and advice.
Do you have favorites that aren’t listed?
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October 27th, 2009
Journaling in a Beijing hotel
Whenever we travel there are a list of things my family always does. We always pack light. We always bring peanut butter. And we always keep a travel journal. We got the idea years ago on a trip to Japan. My youngest daughter was a little over 2, but she loved to draw and she was fascinated with all the leaves falling from the maple trees. My 4-year-old got the idea to glue them in a notebook and a tradition was cemented.
We still have those crumbling leaves. They’re next to the journal stuffed with wrappers from Swiss chocolate bars and paper dolls from Scotland. As my girls have gotten older, the journals have gotten more sophisticated. But even the early versions are a treasure. I can’t count the number of times I’ve found my daughters paging through, laughing, either at what we did, or how they spelled what we did. And, if you’re missing any school to go on your adventure, a good travel journal will soften the blow with your child’s teacher.
Chances are you can get everything you need wherever your destination may be, but a little organization before you take off can go a long way.
Picking the journal is important. Whether it’s stuffed in a backpack, or just carried from plane, to train, to automobile, chances are your child’s journal will take a fair amount of beating on the trip. Look for a journal that will stand up to challenge. The cover needs to be sturdy, and made of something that takes work to bend. A water resistant cover material is also a plus. Inevitably something always gets spilled.
A good journal needs to be big enough to hold all the great stuff your kids are going to want to put in. The pages need to be made of paper heavy enough to glue things like pictures, maps and postcards. If it has a pocket, typically on the front or back cover, that’s a plus.
How the journal is bound is also something to think about. My experience has been spiral binding is better than library binding. Your kids are going to be gluing in all sorts to things and the journal is going to need room to expand. It also makes ripping out the occasional page a much simpler task.
Don’t go overboard. If you’re only going away for two weeks, you don’t need a 200 page journal for your aspiring writer. All those extra pages are just extra weight that you at some point will wind up carrying.
Getting that perfect shot in China
Along with the obvious pencil, it’s handy to carry a few extras. My 11-year-old has a pencil case that holds a pair of scissors, a glue stick, and a small set of color pencils. My 9-year-old carries some gel pens and sticky notes. Markers stay at home—they often bleed through journal pages. The girls tend to cross check supplies before we go, so they can avoid duplication and share. They’re also very fond of buying art supplies as souvenirs. Tartan pens from Scotland, paint brushes from China and pencil sharpeners shaped like the Eiffel Tower are just a few of the things they’ve got in their collection.
Filling the Journal
Now the fun really begins. Got a long flight? Ask your kids to start writing or drawing. What do they think will be the best part of the trip?Is there anything they absolutely have to do? Have them make a vacation top 10 list.
As your adventure unfolds, you’ll find all sorts of mementos along the way just perfect to stick in a journal. Ticket stubs, programs, leaflets and maps from tourist information offices. Anything that can be glued down is fair game. My girls also like to take pictures to include in their journal. Print when you get home or on the go, whatever works best for you.
The more your kids write in their journal, the better it will be. If your kids can write something every day, that’s great! (Remind them to always put the date). A good time to crack open journals is before everyone goes to sleep. My girls have gotten into the habit of stretching out on their beds and making a mess. The result is always worth the clean-up.
If they’ll let you, read about your kid’s day, but try not to influence what they write. There’s no telling what they will say or draw. What you thought was the highlight of the day, might not even get a mention. It’s funny how sometimes kids can write pages about feeding the birds in the park, but forget to mention they climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower. It will happen. Trust me. When it does, maybe just persuade them to glue in a picture.
, Trip Planning
October 26th, 2009
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Holiday market in Italy
It’s been several years since we last spent the holidays in Europe and managing our accommodation reviews is a constant reminder of what I’m missing.
Most families visit Tuscany in the warmer months when they can travel for longer periods of time and outdoor activities are plentiful. Despite the rain and cold weather typical of the winter months, I love the opportunity to get closer to the local way of life, as countryside villages are not packed with tourists. Even the Christmas period is comparatively quiet, although there are always special themed activities like holiday markets and restaurants featuring festive menus.
La Foce apartment over the Christmas holidays
There are a handful of our rural properties that are open over the Christmas/New Year’s period in Tuscany. One of my favorite options for a cozy experience is La Foce in the UNESCO-protected Val D’Orcia. This vast historic estate has wonderfully atmospheric apartments decorated in an authentic local style with large and open wood-burning fireplaces. One of our clients described her holiday experience there as the best family bonding time they had in years playing games by the fire and reading together between excursions to the gorgeous local villages.
Further North in the heart of Chianti, the apartments at La Poggiolaia and Al Gelso Bianco will be open during the holidays and are offering a 10% discount to Ciao Bambino clients. They are not featuring special onsite activities, but both properties provide easy access this area’s plentiful tourist attractions including Florence, Siena, and San Gimignano.
For families looking for luxury and gourmet cuisine, Alain Ducasse’s L’Andana in the Maremma is offering a 4-night Christmas Flavour Package including Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Lunch.Packing pricing starts at 1,384€.
Some properties offer special New Years Eve dinners too. One notable option for families is Monsignor Della Casa, located 45-minutes Northeast of Florence. These apartment-style rooms provide ample space for celebrating and their 4-night packages including the New Year’s Eve dinner start 1,284€ for a family of 3.
For an up-to-date list of up-to-date offers, see our Special Offers page.
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October 23rd, 2009
Paris by bike
It doesn’t matter where you go. The United States, Europe, Asia; there’s never enough time to do everything. Kids and guidebooks often don’t understand each other’s idea of a perfect day. With my girls, ages 8 and 11, the philosophy has always been use the first trip to help plan the second.
That doesn’t mean you have limit yourself to all too often lackluster bus tours, just because you’re traveling with kids. It just means getting creative. There are lots of ways to cover more ground without a good pair of running shoes.
On a recent trip to Spain, traveling by horse drawn carriage was a popular choice for families. In Nerja and Sevilla, carriages offer access to places buses can’t and can be quite affordable for a family. Find a driver who speaks fluent English, and you’re likely to discover hidden gems, such as great restaurants and local parks. Since you hire them by the hour, you can see as much or as little as you’d like. Throw in a bit of chocolate or a stop for ice cream, and your kids will think you’re the greatest.
Bikes are a blast and can be a tired family’s best friend. Throughout most of Europe, renting a bike is an easy, affordable option. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can plan your own itinerary, or go on a tour and let someone else handle the details.
Fat Tire Bike Tour
I booked a tour for my family with Fat Tire Bike Tours to try and help us get a feel for the layout of Paris. We were in town for a family wedding, and our tourist time was at a minimum. The hardest part of the day was choosing a bike. Big ones, small ones, ones with bike seats and tandems – there was a bike to fit every size, every age.
With water bottles tucked in tight, we were off. The guides, mostly U.S. college students on break or doing a semester abroad, were fabulous. Paris is a bustling city, but we never felt unsafe on our bikes. A good two dozen riders strong, we moved in mass through the city. Rolling at an easy pace, my kids didn’t have any trouble keeping up. Nobody complained, nobody got tired, and most importantly nobody wanted to stop.
On a snack break in the Tuileries Gardens we stumbled upon a summer carnival complete with Ferris wheel. After polishing off the world’s largest cotton candy, my girls were ready to roll again. In about 4 hours we covered almost 7 flat, fun-filled miles. We liked the tour so much, we booked the night tour for the next day.
Kids on bikes at night is not usually a good mix. But don’t let the name scare you off. We didn’t do much riding in the actual dark. (During the summer, it’s light until really late at night, adding substantial time to your touring day).
Louvre Pyramid by bike
With my youngest daughter on a tandem with dad, and my 10-year-old going it on her own, we took off. As we rode, we watched the city slow down and light up. One turn lead to another and soon we were biking around the Louvre Pyramid. Then there was the ice cream. And not just ordinary ice cream. Berthillon ice cream. You kids will never look at Baskin Robbins the same way again.
When darkness actually started to set in, we headed for the waterfront, locked up our bikes and hopped on board a boat cruise up and down the Seine. My husband and I sipped wine as we sailed past the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre. The girls screamed as the Eiffel Tower turned blue and lit up the sky.
Dordogne by Canoe
We had such good luck on bikes, when we made it to Sarlat, we decided to test drive a canoe. There are plenty of rental places to choose from in the Dordogne. We went with family-friendly Canoe Vacances.
No guide this time. Just us and a couple of paddles. There weren’t any worries about getting lost. The current was going our way, we had a good map and a waterproof box. We were novices, but it didn’t matter. When we saw a cool castle, we beached the canoe and went exploring. When we were hungry, we pulled ashore to eat. When we wanted to watch the crazy teenagers on holiday from Britain, we stopped and enjoyed the show.
What was supposed to be a few hours on the river, became a day long jaunt. Prepared with plenty of snacks and a picnic lunch, we spent almost 8 hours, swimming, eating and taking in the scenery around us, as we paddled along. No one got tired, no one whined. My 8 year-old wanted to go again. And if the sun wasn’t going down, she probably would have convinced us.
China by rickshaw
Our visit to China had us on more tour buses than any trip we’d ever taken. But to see Beijing’s Hutongs, ditching the bus was a must. Large vehicles won’t fit down the narrow, maze-like alleyways. Knowing the littlest legs in our group weren’t up for the long walk ahead we got our taste of the neighborhood via rickshaw.
Even Grandma came along for the pedal-powered ride. We just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed watching the locals go about their busy day, as our driver pedaled with a purpose. The ride stopped a few places along the way, giving the kids a chance to stretch their legs. Our visit ended with lunch in a local family’s home. My girls couldn’t get enough of the crunchy, stir-fried green beans. I consider that a bonus.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the bus. Alternative transportation can save, even make a vacation. And in many cases, you’ll find it’s less expensive than buying typically tour tickets. The adventure you make could wind up being the highlight of your trip.
For more of this week’s Photo Friday posts, check out Delicious Baby.
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October 21st, 2009
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Skyline view from the Chicago River
Chicago is one of my favorite American cities. Although I went to Northwestern and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in and around the city, I was completely blown away on my last visit by the quality of the development and renovations to parks, buildings, and recently, the riverfront walk.
We just added two fantastic hotel options for families on Ciao Bambino. Our goal is to highlight the best accommodation options in a given destination vs. all the possibilities. We are well on our way in Chicago!
The Affinia Chicago is a hip hotel in a phenomenal location off the Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile. This growing chain has a laundry list of special amenities for kids. Read our complete family-friendly review.
To be honest, I was shocked to discover this next option caters to families, but the Trump International Hotel & Tower created the Trump Kids program with over-the-top treats for kids like the personalized ‘kid’ business cards. Rooms have full kitchens plus one stand-out feature is the indoor swimming pool—an ideal way to take breaks between activities. I interviewed the family that stayed here a few weeks ago and they absolutely raved. After putting the Trump hotel review together for the website, I can see why! I’m a view gal and the views from those rooms look outrageous.
The main attractions in Chicago are accessible via walking, public transportation, and taxis. Although the city overall is enormous, it’s easy to navigate. The heart of the city is urban, although, the vast lakefront development, as well the parks, provide excellent opportunities to be active with kids.
Esther Lee of Trekaroo and the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile
Our friends at Trekaroo had their KidsMobile stop in Chicago last week. Here’s a summary of the great tips and advice from moms around the country.
First up, Minnemom shares how to have Fun in Chicago with Young Kids. This is a mom extraordinaire who has traveled through big and small towns all over the midwest with her 4 kids. If you need advice about how to have a lifestyle of travel with a large family, she’s your go-to gal and you can follow her adventures on her fantastic blog: Travels With Children
Amie O’Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino brings us some Family-friendly Tips from a Local Mom for Exploring Chicago. Ciao Bambino is a one of Trekaroo’s favorite partners because we share a common passion – inspiring families to travel. Ciao Bambino provides vetted reviews of the best accommodations when traveling with children of all ages around the world.
Free and Cheap Entertainment in the Suburbs of Chicago - sign me up! The bargain hunting mom behind Bargains Rock has no hesitation sharing her best finds in her home town of Chicago. She’s passionate about saving money and loves passing on good deals to her blog readers. If you like deals too, be sure to bookmark her blog.
Bridget Stern also has a list of the Best FREE attractions in and around Chicago. Bridget works with families day in day out capturing the most wonderful photos of children and families as a professional photographer. She is also an active mom who loves exploring with her daughter. To see great pics and read about their family’s adventures, hop on over to Bridget Stern’s blog.
Other Chicago Resources:
Next stop, we’ll be heading to Seattle, Washington for another big launch the week of Halloween.
The Trekaroo KidsMobile is a blog carnival with a twist. It’s designed to provide a unique opportunity for mom and dad bloggers to be featured on Trekaroo while
1) expressing their unique point of view
2) getting a web of link exchanges.
Join us for one of our next stopovers.
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October 19th, 2009
Diana from Ciao Bambino
Traveling with children in Japan can be intimidating. All that structure and serenity. I have visions of my children rearranging the rocks of a zen garden or putting their little fists through the traditional rice paper shoji screens that make up the walls of our ryokan. However, it is also one of the most beautiful, poetic cities in Japan and our children, age 3 ½ and 2, love running up the temple steps and seeing the koi fish swimming in the river along philosopher’s walk.
Kyoto for kids depends on the weather, with spring (cherry blossoms) and autumn (fall leaves) the best times to visit the city, though also the most crowded. The public transportation system, especially the busses, are top notch with a 500 yen per day pass that gets you to all major sites. And the city is slow-paced enough that people are willing to stop and show you where to go on a map or point out a nearby noodle shop where you can fill your children’s bellies.
Dragon fountain for hand washing at Kiyomizu-dera
Just walking around Kyoto is a treat and the tourist information office has a “Kyoto Walks” pamphlet that covers many of them. I’ve also heard that the walking tours given by Johnnie Hillwalker are good; however, they run from 10a to 3p and are too long for young children.
On a beautiful day, wandering through my favorite temple, Kiyomizu-dera, then past the snack shops for some mochi and lunch in a tea house off the cobblestone streets is a perfect half day. Kiyomizu-dera has lots of steps, so strollers can be a burden for this particular walk. As you enter the compound through the Chinese-influenced crimson gates and past the three-tiered pagoda, there is a dragon fountain with long-handled ladles where everyone washes their hands. Later, a three-channel water fountain provides spring water conferring wisdom, health, longevity. My children enjoyed looking at the many wishes written on wooden paddles on the wishing trees and ringing the giant bells. Love-sick teenagers might appreciate the Jishu love stones where you can try walking between the two stones with your eyes closed. If you can make the trip you will find true love.
The pedestrian-only cobble stone streets near to Kiyomizu will take you past some beautiful shops and tea houses. A hidden gem in Kyoto is the Italian food, a boon for kids tired of sushi, noodles and rice. The pizza and pasta is light and delicious and not any more expensive than the local food.
Ginkakuji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion, and the Philosopher’s Walk
This mile-long walk starts at the Silver Pavilion with its pocket-sized gardens dedicated to tea ceremonies and moon viewing for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. Philosophers of old would walk alongside the beautiful maple and cherry-lined canal to think deep thoughts. It’s also a nice flat path for a stroller if you need a rest. As the path winds to an end you can continue walking in to town to the Kyoto Handicraft Center, where you can have a try at making your own handicraft or purchase souvenirs.
A short 5 minute drive will take you to this grand castle built by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu where he took residence. The castle grounds are a great romp and the nightingale floors, which are designed to chirp to let the Shogun know of intruders, are a hit with kids.
Nishiki, the 400 year old food market of Kyoto, is a great place for a rainy day with over 100 covered food stalls ranging from the green tea ice cream parfait and kumquat juice parlors, to pickles and fried fish on a stick. It’s a great place to replenish your snack pack with everything from lego-shaped candies to dried beans and the tea houses there are a welcome place to rest your feet or lay down tired kids while the grown-ups refuel.
Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum
Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum
This turned out to be a hit of the trip for our kids and makes a particularly good trip for a rainy day. They have locomotives you can climb over, an old roundhouse, dioramas and lots of indoor play areas. The steam locomotive only goes 3 times a day so check ahead for timings.
Other great side trips:
Arashiyama Monkey Park where monkeys roam free and kids can view them through a cage. Beware of the steep walk up to the top.
Nara is famous for its palace grounds with deer that you can feed (half an hour train ride away).
How to get there:
Flying in via Osaka is the easiest way. The airport is easy to navigate and the Haruka Express train leaves every half hour from a station connected to the airport. The ride takes an hour and 15 minutes.
If you come up from Tokyo, you can take the famous Shinkansen bullet train.
Where to stay:
Hotel Granvia Kyoto is located just above the famous Kyoto station building and is within walking distance to many popular sites and a short bus ride to many others. The complex houses so many little restaurants and food stalls you can find anything you need.
A lovely garden feel outside of the Central area but close to the temples and on the subway line. They also have baby-sitting services and all of the amenities you would expect from an international-standard luxury hotel.
Ryokans are traditional Japanese inns which are generally geared more to adults and can be quite expensive. While we have not had the guts to stay in any of them with our kids, some general rules apply. You sleep on a futon on tatami mats on the floor. Children share a room with their parents and the charge is per person. Some ryokans just charge an extra bedding fee for kids.
You can find a guide to ryokans on the Ryokan Association of Japan’s website, as well as a ryokan that was recommended in some of the listservs on Kyoto ryokans with children called the Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo.
What to eat:
Japan can be intimidating for parents of picky eaters. We found that the vending machines and vending machine restaurants were a huge kick to our kids. Restaurants often had good value combos of tonkatsu rice and ramen that would feed both of their picky tastes (one only eats rice, the other noodles). Below, a guide to the various possibilities:
Sushi & Sashimi (note: best value is the set lunch)
Kushi Katsu (fried meat, fish, and veggies on sticks. “in kushi katsu, the veggies stay crisp and fresh inside their breadcrumb casing, and meat/fish is perfectly tender and done.”)
Tonkatsu (a pork cutlet rolled in panko breadcrumbs, and then (like kushi kastu), fried to absolute perfection)
Beef (Wagyu, Hida, Kobe)
Tempura (fried veggies with a variety of sauces)
Shabu Shabu (Japanese style hot pot (meat, veggies, noodles, tofu.cook the meat first to create “base” for other ingredients)
Pan-ice (vanilla ice cream inside french bread!)
Things to do in Shanghai with kids
Tips for traveling in China with children
Top activities in Hong Kong with kids
Exploring Singapore with kids
October 16th, 2009
Nancy from Ciao Bambino
Fall in the Northeast is a true highlight. The trees become brilliant shades of reds, oranges, and golds making the views everywhere magnificent. It’s a joy to just drive around this time of year. I particularly love how the seasons set a pattern of family rituals. For us, Fall means a trip to the local apple orchard. Not only do we come away spending a great day together and loaded with apples, but let’s admit, there are great photo opportunities!
Here are links to a few family favorite orchards west of Boston. I always look for an orchard that offers some additional kid activities. Cider donuts and fresh cider are also a big hit.
Honey Pot Hill Orchards (Stow, MA): The hedge maze and indoor box maze are always are a great challenge.
Shelburne Farm (Stow, MA): Offers pony rides on the weekends. Don’t miss the house cheddar!
Lookout Farm (Natick, MA): Tons of animals, a tram ride and great store.
Tougas Family Farm (Northborough, MA): Offers a wide variety of apples, like Honey Crisps, my personal favorite.
Please check out Delicious Baby for more Photo Friday posts.
Boston with kids – Spring activities
Boston with kids – Summer activities
Boston with kids – top attractions
Ciao Bambino recommended Boston family hotels
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October 15th, 2009
Kara from The Vacation Gals
When you live outside Colorado, planning a ski trip to go there is intimidating. There are simply too many options. Moreover, deciphering where to go with kids is a challenge. Skiing is so popular with families that every resort ’says’ they have great facilities and programs for kids.
I decided to get the real scoop from a local. Kara Williams lives in Carbondale, CO with her husband and kids (7 and 9). She is the co-publisher of The Vacation Gals and is an amazing resource and travel writer. I interviewed her a few weeks ago and got the lowdown on skiing in Colorado with kids.
Photo of Kara and her son on his very first ride up a chairlift!
What are the ski areas for toddlers and really young kids that need a great daycare/introduction to skiing program?
I’ve got to give props to my hometown mountains of Aspen/Snowmass, comprised of four ski areas: Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. Now, youngest children new to skiing won’t ski Aspen or Aspen Highlands, but they can get introduced to the sport at Snowmass and Buttermilk.
At Snowmass, child care called “Snow Cubs” is for babies as young as 8 weeks up to age four. It takes place at the vibrant Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center at the base of the mountain. This is a state-licensed child care program and has a licensed nurse on staff. At age 2½, potty-trained children can enroll in the full-day “Big Burn Bears” program, with a special beginning ski area just for them, including a Magic Carpet ride that brings them up a small hill. A similar program at Buttermilk is called “Powder Pandas,” also with a Magic Carpet; kids here get towed to the top of a “bunny hill” on the back of a snowmobile, as well. Instructors are specially trained and have the patience to deal with small children!
What are the best ski areas for school age kids with fun, well-run ski school programs and ideal terrain for post-lesson skiing with Mom and Dad?
Snowmass and Vail come to mind. Both are huge ski areas, with plenty of varied terrain and top notch ski schools for all levels. Beaver Creek just introduced a new children’s learning area and kid-friendly gondola called the Buckaroo Express, but this resort is also one of the state’s most expensive in terms of lodging and dining (it isnice, though!).
Which resorts areas have the best set-up for skiing with kids? i.e. convenience plus a nice selection of kid-friendly restaurants and accommodations?
All of Colorado’s major ski resorts offer great accommodations for families – and in my book, that means a condominium or vacation home rental. Staying in standard hotel room with all of that winter gear just sounds like a nightmare (even if a hotel ski valet keeps your skis/poles/boots overnight, you’ve still got puffy parkas, wool socks and wet après ski shoes in your room). Better to have plenty of room spread out and have a full kitchen for breakfast and storing snacks in a condominium (save money, too, by eating some meals at “home.”)
Especially overall family-friendly ski resorts include Steamboat Springs, Snowmass (with more dining/lodging options in Aspen, 10 minutes away), Crested Butte, Breckenridge, Keystone and Beaver Creek.
Do you have any insider Colorado skiing logistics tips to share? i.e. periods of the season to avoid and conversely, fantastic times?
Ski resorts are crowded (and lodging more expensive) during kids’ school holidays: Christmas break, Martin Luther King Day Weekend, Presidents’ Day Weekend and spring break in March. Avoid local crowds by skiing mid-week; early season (between Thanksgiving and Christmas) and late season (April) are other good times to have the slopes to yourselves.
You really don’t need a rental car if your vacation is focused on a Colorado ski resort. In fact, if you are not accustomed to winter driving conditions on snow and ice in the high country, you really shouldn’t be driving a car! Fly into Denver (DEN) and take a shuttle to your ski resort; mountain towns have their own airports, but flights will be more expensive, and again, you can just take local transportation to your mountain accommodations.
You might also consider Colorado’s Gems. These nine resorts are smaller than the big-name ski mountains and have a more laid-back, genuine feel. Ski lodges might be rustic, with fewer bells and whistles, but lift tickets are much cheaper than the large resorts, and they’re less crowded, too.
What are your favorite winter activities with kids in and around the ski resorts other than skiing?
Tubing (sliding down the hill in an innertube) is a hugely popular non-skiing activity for families. Resorts make it super-easy with a tow-lift that takes your tube (and often you, the rider, too) up the hill. Vail, Copper, Steamboat Springs, Durango, and Fraser (near Winter Park ski area) all have tubing hills; there’s also a great hill at the YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch.
Outdoor ice skating is fun; Keystone and Beaver Creek come to mind for that: their rinks are humongous. A dog-sledding tour would be a real splurge for the whole family – they run about $200 to $250 per person with an included lunch; one spot to do that is Krabloonik in Snowmass. Snowmobiling tours and snowshoeing tours are other fun outdoor options.
Discounts at Colorado ski resorts
Little Ripper ski tips
We’ve added a dedicated page for Ciao Bambino recommended ski hotels and resorts.
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, Rocky Mountains
October 13th, 2009
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Fear not, there is still time to get away with your kids before the holiday madness starts! Here are a few ideas from our portfolio in places that are fun to visit over October and November.
Le Parker Meridien/New York City. In an unbeatable New York City location for families, Le Parker Meridien is offering Ciao Bambino clients a 10% discount off the best available weekend rates through December 27th. There is an additional 10% discount from November 20-25th and December 20-27th (total is 20% off best available weekend rates). The perfect excuse to get holiday shopping out of the way, not to mention spend Christmas in the Big Apple.
Squaw Valley Lodge/Lake Tahoe. A terrific value-oriented property with 1-3 bedroom condo rooms at the base of the Squaw Valley ski area. Autumn is a great time of the year to visit the Lake Tahoe area to enjoy fall foliage and crowd-free activities. You never know, you may even get an early ski opportunity. The Fall Season Promotion features 20-30% discounts off nightly rates, starting at $111.30.
Loews Miami Beach/Miami. A Florida family favorite, Loews is running a Fall for Loews package with a $20-$500 food and beverage credit depending on your length of stay.
Boston Harbor Hotel/Boston. This fantastic new addition to our portfolio is offering a Family Fun Package including hot cider and warm harvest cookies delivered to your room, 4 tickets to the New England Aquarium, free valet parking, and overnight accommodations for 2 adults and 2 children. Rates start at $350 per night.
El Capitan Canyon/Santa Barbara. An outdoors-oriented resort on the California Coast. Extend what would otherwise be the end of the official camping season by staying at one of their luxury tents or cabins. Their Fireside Dinner Package includes all the fixings for a barbeque dinner and s’mores. Rates start at $175 per night.
Last month, I wrote an article for Peter Greenberg on Back-to-School Vacation Ideas—see that article for additional destination suggestions and promotions. To get a firm quote for your dates, use the Check Availability button on the review page for each hotel. We also list current promotions for our complete portfolio on our Special Offers page.
Deals & Giveaways
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