Archive for June 2010
June 29th, 2010
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Ciao Bambino is not a hobby for me. It’s a business I’m thoroughly committed to growing. I often refer to CB as my second child (smile). In addition to loving what I do, a big part of what keeps me going is appreciation from our readers. I’m so grateful for the “fan” mail we receive from parents everywhere who value our content.
I received a note last week that made my day (my week!) … I thought it would be fun to share it on the blog as the author’s perspective and experience is very much in line with how I felt when our son was born. In fact, it was the reason I started Ciao Bambino!
A big thanks to our readers and subscribers who take the time to email us. We love hearing from you!
My inspiration to start CB enjoying Morges, Switzerland
A Note of Appreciation for Ciao Bambino
I just wanted to say thank you to the team at Ciao Bambino for inspiring my family. I’m 30 years old and pregnant with my first child, and prior to becoming pregnant I traveled pretty extensively throughout the world.
When my husband and I discussed starting a family in the past, my biggest fear was that we wouldn’t be able to travel as much or show our child as much of the world as we are hoping to. Part of this is for financial reasons (it obviously costs more for three people to travel than for two), for practical reasons (independent foreign travel can be complicated, and many tour companies do not allow young children), and because of my own inexperience with children and and fear about how my family would be treated by others (some adult travelers hold hostile attitudes toward children on planes, etc.).
Reading the articles on your site has been very helpful. They have a much different tone than I have experienced on other sites; for example, one family travel site that I recently visited seemed to focus on all of the “hazards” one could encounter in various countries, as well as listing food items in the countries that they profiled that they felt American kids wouldn’t like. I found this to be extremely condescending and ethnocentric, and it made me wonder how the authors viewed children in general (inflexible, picky, whiny?). Surely this isn’t always the case. If children are presented with an aspect of a different culture and are told that they won’t like it by a trusted adult, of course they will balk. Presentation is key; if parents are open-minded and enthusiastic, children will be as well. Thank you for not perpetuating these stereotypes about children, for not talking down to parents, and for not assuming that families would be unhappy without American-style everything – otherwise, what’s the point of leaving the country?
I am hoping to take my child to more off-the-beaten-path destinations in the future and am curious about how families have fared in areas without the resorts and amenities that are typically suggested on family travel sites. I am also curious to learn more about what family travel companies are best (not just Disney) in terms of offering authentic cultural experiences, and also which escorted tour companies offer itineraries that are age-flexible (especially multi-country tours).
It would also be great to learn more about family-friendly activities and cultural excursions in less common destinations such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, various countries in Africa and South America, etc.
Thanks again for your site, and I will continue to follow it.
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June 28th, 2010
Conjure up the typical English countryside scene: think of a patchwork landscape of fields laden with crops or dotted with sheep and cattle, interspersed with stately homes, church spires and quaint little villages. Not much of rural England looks like this anymore, but The Cotswolds really does.
It has something to delight everyone, whether it’s one of the many manor houses, which have been turned into luxurious country house hotels and spas; the village high streets largely made up of teashops, gastro pubs, beautiful shabby chic homeware stores, Willy Wonka-style sweetshops with shelves of glass jars crammed full of colourful sweets bought by weight and toyshops majoring on traditional wooden toys; or the countryside itself, which has the lure of dozens of outdoor pursuits.
Where are The Cotswolds?
‘Wolds’ are gentle hillsides, and this collection of shallow terrain stretches across south-west England. A ninety-minute drive north-east of London will take you to The Cotswolds. It’s perfectly doable in a daytrip from the Capital, but it’s sandwiched between Gloucester, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and Bath – all fantastic cities to visit in their own right, you could easily spend a week exploring and enjoying the region.
Where should we base ourselves?
The Cotswolds probably has the highest concentration of luxury country house hotels in England and wherever you choose to stay once you’re in the area nothing is much more than a forty-minute drive away. It is also pretty easy to get around via public transport, but to save a lot of hanging about, you’ll need to make a note of the timetables. This Cotswold transportation site has some interesting bus route suggestions, however, you might want to check the timings still stand.
My favourite village is Bourton-on-the-Water, which is often ridiculously described as The Cotswolds’ little Venice. The River Windrush flows very gently through it. Historic cottages, built in the beautiful honey-coloured local limestone common to most Cotswolds’ buildings, butt up against its banks and it’s criss-crossed with cute little footbridges and paddled in by ducks and kids with rolled up trouser legs. Venice it isn’t, but it is charming. And once you’ve seen the life-size version, you can delight at the Model Village of the village, in the gardens of the Old New Inn. There is even a model village of the model village in the model gardens of the model Old New Inn.
Stow-on-the-Wold, Woodstock and Broadway
Stow-on-the-Wold, Woodstock and Broadway are other beautiful villages that are worth lingering in for a coffee, pub lunch or afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is somewhat of an event wherever it is served in England. Kids tend to delight in the structured formality of it and if you time it for five-ish you can get it to serve as supper too. Hotels tend to be the best place to stop for afternoon tea. If it’s done right, dainty sandwiches arrive first, followed by scones, which you must pile with jam and clotted cream and then the cakes follow.
So once my kids get village fatigue what next?
This is where your hotel will come into it’s own. Look for one with an indoor pool and acres of grounds with opportunities to cycle, horse ride, play tennis and water ski. It’s not hard to find places that tick all these boxes and more, plus many have excellent kids clubs and crèches as well. And don’t forget the spa for yourself too.
Source Ciukes Photostream on Flickr
If you can tear yourself away from the English country house set, head for the Cotswold Wildlife Park, to say ‘how do you do’ to penguins and pythons, meerkats and monkeys, camels and crocodiles, amongst others. There is also a fantastic adventure playground, a railway and if you visit over a summer weekend or during the UK school holidays, you can all try your hand at Brass Rubbing in the park’s manor house.
If the sun’s shining, which it does quite often, the Cotswold Country Park and Beach is another lovely day out. Bring your bucket and spade and swimming-cossies, because it’s home to the UK’s largest inland beach and this borders a lake that offers year-round swimming for the brave. While you’re here you can also hire bikes of all sizes, including child seats; and pedal or row boats. Oh and you can barbecue too.
Is there a best time to visit?
If you can coincide your arrival with the sun whatever time of year, it will be perfect. If you can’t arrange this, come prepared. Make sure that your accommodation has so many indoor pursuits that the kids won’t actually want to leave the premises. With a cream tea and a log fire in front of you, who cares what it’s like outside!
We’ll have a few reviews on Ciao Bambino shortly, but in the meantime, here’s a short list of some of my favorite options.
Cotswold Water Park hotel – good aparthotels are few and far between in the UK, but this one is smart, clean and offers plenty of sporting activities.
Calcot Manor – fantastic luxury family hotel ticks all the boxes I mentioned above
The Priory Inn Tetbury – great for babies and toddlers
Barnsley House Hotel – sister hotel to Calcot, slightly more sophisticated with more subtle child-friendly touches, but a lovely place to stay with well behaved kids.
Ciao Bambino recommended England family hotels
Visiting Dover Castle with kids
London sightseeing with kids
London Eye photos and tips
London food tour with kids
London Double Decker Bus photos and tips
Favorite London toddler playground
Kids attractions London, free family-friendly museums
Guide to London with kids on Peter Greenberg
Great family friendly guides and walking tours in Europe
VisitEngland - official website for English tourism
, The Cotswolds
, United Kingdom
June 25th, 2010
Cagney from The Chickpea Studio
This is a guest post from Cagney Jarvis, a professional photographer living in Southern California with husband and two young daughters. Cagney is a special part of Ciao Bambino. She was one of my first clients and subsequently came on board to do trip planning for families traveling to Italy.
Cagney’s photography is amazing and many of her photos are featured on Ciao Bambino (in fact, she took that glorious shot of her daughter we use on our new venture, Best Family Travel Advice).
For this edition of Photo Friday, I asked Cagney to choose a set of her favorite travel photos and one of her studio shots. My favorite is Venice Mirrors followed by Umbria, what’s yours?
The summer that I was sixteen, my dad gave me a used 35mm Canon camera. The camera was in good shape and, after a quick lesson from someone at the town’s camera store about how to load film and use the internal light meter, I was ready to start shooting.
I spent that summer my parents’ bed and breakfast on the coast of Maine. My photos from that period consist of images of the rocky seacoast and the beautiful New England cemeteries with their granite tombstones and macabre but humorous messages from colonial times. Small American flags at each tombstone placed by the Daughters of the Revolution add the small punch of red that I still love in a color photograph.
A few years ago, after many years of enjoying a hobby of travel and landscape photography, I decided that in order to become a more well-rounded photographer I needed to study studio photography and lighting. Sure that I would not enjoy it, I proceeded with a sense of obligation to fill a void in my education more than anything else. I was surprised to find that there was a great amount of creativity involved in setting up and achieving a beautiful studio portrait and the light that I intuitively understood so well outdoors was an exciting challenge in the studio. I started to feel for the first time that I wanted to pursue photography professionally. Eight months ago, another photographer offered me the opportunity to take over her studio space and now I find myself with my own tiny portrait studio, in a cool little neighborhood-in-transition in the heart of Los Angeles. Now, nearly 30 years after receiving that first camera, I am challenged and creatively fulfilled everyday by what I am doing.
In a few weeks I am embarking on a three-week trip to Europe with my daughters and I look forward to getting back outside in the natural light and seeing how my time in the studio has influenced my eye in the natural world.
Early morning fog sits on the hills of Umbria, Italy. You never know where or when inspiration will strike. This was taken from our bathroom window.
Daybreak in Amalfi, Italy. I love the lone fishing boat and how the sun’s reflection resembles a whale’s tail.
Title: Venice Gondolas
A classic view from a bridge in Venice
Title: Empty gondolas
That spot of red that I mentioned early is what attracted me to these two gondolas bobbing on the canal
Waiting in line to board a vaporetto, a sensed that someone was looking at us so I snapped this picture of a bored gondolier
Title: Ponte Vecchio
The Ponte Vecchio in Florence is easily identified from a distance when you see it’s arches but I was interested in it’s windows and shutters
Title: Mary in Venice
An unexpected surprise in a tiny passageway in Venice
Title: Venice Mirrors
I always joke that the surest way to win a photography prize is to capture a cool reflection
Title: Kaanapali Sunset
Sunsets in Hawaii can be cliché but to the person who takes the photograph there are always wonderful memories associated with them. This was shot on an evening walk with my family
Title: Studio Portrait
At The Chickpea Studio, I specialize in portraits: pregnancy, newborns, children and families.
For more Photo Friday pictures, head over to Delicious Baby.
Ciao Bambino’s family travel destinations
Photo Friday: Italy with kids, Tuscany
Photo Friday: Amalfi Coast sightseeing
Photo Friday: Exploring Lucca
, Photo Friday
June 24th, 2010
California Academy of Sciences
I’m lucky enough to call the Bay Area home. And for almost seven years I lived in the center of it all, San Francisco. I was young, and newly married with a great job. The city was the place to be.
Then I had a baby.
But instead of packing up and moving out, I quickly discovered raising a “city kid” had major perks.
San Francisco is a kid-friendly city. Countless families visit every day from all over the world. And any good guidebook will give you the basic tourist track: Pier 39, Alcatraz, North Beach and Chinatown. Once you’ve made the rounds of all the known must do’s, take some time to play in San Francisco like a local. Amie has her list of favorite things to do in the Bay Area with kids, and so do I. If you’re in the city and you’ve got kids you should head to Golden Gate Park.
Since kids moods (and parents for that matter) can change in a heartbeat, having options is never a bad thing. Larger than New York’s Central Park, Golden Gate Park offers a calm one thousand plus acres for the city to play in. Leave the car parked at the hotel. Jump in a taxi or use MUNI, the city’s public transportation system. Circling over and over again to find a place to park is a sure fire way to ruin your day. On Sundays, the park is closed to cars, so multiply the parking frustration times 100.
Bouquets to Art at the de Young Museum
Where to Start
Do a little bit of homework, or have the concierge at your hotel do it for you. Take a map, trust me on this one. There’s a good chance you’ll need it at some point in the day.
The de Young Museum may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a fun day with the kids. But exhibits at the museum are constantly changing and you never know what you might see. My 11-year-old thought the King Tut Exhibit was one of the coolest things ever. (She wants the next family trip to be to Egypt!) One day when I was playing in the park with my 9-year-old, we stumbled upon an exhibit called “Bouquets to Art.” The annual week-long celebration of spring features floral interpretations of art on display in the de Young. Think big, beautiful and completely kid-friendly. An added perk, kids under 13 are free.
Tired of being inside? Take a break next door at the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, and the tea house is a perfect place to have a snack and regroup.The peaceful gardens are home to more than just plants. There are ponds full of koi fish, bridges and paths that make even tired legs excited about doing some exploring.
The Living Roof
If the Japanese Garden isn’t your cup of tea, the Living Roof at the California Academy of Sciences might be just what your family has in mind. Directly across from the de Young, the newly re-done Academy is bustling with more than 40-thousand animals, a 4-story rainforest, planetarium and natural history museum. That said my kids could spend all day on the roof. The Living Roof’s 1.7 million plants were specially selected because they could thrive in the Park’s unique climate. You can’t beat the view either!
As odd as it might sound, bison live in San Francisco. Often mistaken for buffalo, the American Bison live in a meadow off John F. Kennedy Drive, just east of 41st Avenue. They’re by far not the most exciting thing in the park, but for some reason, it’s something you just seem to have to see. The San Francisco Zoo takes care of the animals.
Sliding in Golden Gate Park
So many choices so little time. If I had to choose just one, there’s no question. I’d head right to the playground. There are a number of playgrounds scattered throughout Golden Gate Park, but the grand-daddy of them all is the Koret Children’s Quarter and Carousel. Opened in 1888, it’s believed to be the oldest playground in the nation. I discovered it when friends threw my baby shower there. Preparing me for the countless hours I would spend there in the future I guess!
Climb the spider web, grab a piece of cardboard (there’s plenty for the taking) and fly down the old style concrete slide. I’m talking to parents too! When you need to catch you breathe go for a ride on the fully restored carousel. I’m still talking to parents. Every attendant I’ve ever met acts as if they love their job. Last time I was there with my youngest daughter, it was a slow, foggy day. The attendant asked my daughter if she wanted to learn more about carousels. She got the complete lowdown – how to start it and how to stop it. I never thought about it, but I guess I feel better knowing there’s an emergency brake.
Golden Gate Park is bordered by the Sunset District neighborhood to the south and the Richmond District neighborhood to the north. Both are residential neighborhoods where few tourists rarely wander. What awaits the lucky ones who do is a variety of delicious, kid-friendly food. Some of my family’s favorites: Vietnamese at PPQ, grilled cheese and curly fries at Pluto’s and some of the best sushi we’ve ever had at Ebisu. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? Just stroll down Irving Street. There’s something for everyone, even the pickiest eater!
There’s no way you’ll be able to hit everything in one day, probably not even two. Pick what sounds good to you, and plan on coming back on the next trip. I didn’t have time to talk about the flowers or windmills. Next post I guess?
Ciao Bambino recommended San Francisco family hotels
San Francisco Bay Area Summer Camps
Favorite San Francisco attractions with kids
Favorite San Francisco Spring activities with kids
Visiting Mount Diablo with kids
San Francisco with kids – Ciao Bambino guest post on Two Kids and a Map
, San Francisco
June 23rd, 2010
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Have a family travel-related question? Ask an expert!
I’m thrilled to announce our participation in an exciting new project, Best Family Travel Advice. We’re collaborating with the top family travel bloggers to offer families an invaluable resource. You can ask any question you want and one or more of us will answer it!
The beauty of Best Family Travel Advice is that you can ask questions relevant to an upcoming trip and get a customized response. Since multiple bloggers may answer a single question, the advice will represent a few opinions. Travel is highly personalized and hearing from multiple people on any given issue is important. Moreover, you’ll be hearing from experts with extensive family travel experience and perspective.
Participating bloggers cover a variety of destinations, age groups, and topics. If we can’t answer something, we’ll do our best to find someone that can.
The other family travel experts participating on BFTA include Michelle Duffy of Wandermom, Mara Gorman of The Mother of All Trips, Jennifer Miner of The Vacation Gals, Meg Keogh of Backpack to Buggy, Debbie Dubrow of Delicious Baby, Linda Kramer of Travels with Children, Colleen Lanin of Travel Mamas, Amy Whitley of Pit Stops for Kids, Carol Cain of NY City Mama, and Anne Taylor Hartzell of Hip Travel Mama. We’ll be adding more experts to the group over time.
I’m one of the business partners in this venture. Special thanks to my partners Jennifer Miner, Michelle Duffy, and Mara Gorman for all the hard work (and fun!) we’ve had developing this venture over the last several months.
Come on over and check it out!
June 21st, 2010
Amie from Ciao Bambino
We usually stick posts authored by parents on Ciao Bambino—one of the reasons our content is both credible and useful. Today, we’re going to do something different. I was contacted by Baltic Travel a few months ago around doing a guest post on off-the-beaten European cities to explore with kids. I asked them to send me the list and thought it looked great.
I’ve been everywhere on the list but Bigra Na Moru in Croatia, although I have not explored these destinations with kids. The information presented is general; we’ll follow up in the next few months with with first-hand reports on what to do with kids in each destination. If you’ve been to any of these cities and have great tips, we’d love to hear your thoughts via comments.
If you are planning a holiday with little ones, consider these five unexpected European cities to explore with children:
Bergen has devised wonderful attractions so families can explore from the mountain tops to the depths of the sea. Ride the Funicular cable car up to the top of Mount Floyen to see the breathtaking view of the coastal city and the beautiful fiords and nearby islands. At the Bergen Aquarium, watch the seals and penguins play in their fresh sea water pool before—and after—exploring the extensive collection of marine fauna and fish from all over the world. From the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf, catch a cruise to explore the winding fjords from a sea level vantage point.
Underneath Oxford’s scholarly façade lurk exciting family adventures. Spend the day on a self-guided walking tour that explores locations used for blockbuster movies like Harry Potter and the Golden Compass. Another day can be spent at the Science Oxford Life which features interactive exhibits that teach children—and adults—with presentations like the Fire show that demonstrates the amazing properties of fire. A short ride on a tour bus or private taxi can take your family to visit the Oxford Castle, where you can enjoy shopping and dining while learning the fascinating history of this infamous building.
Families who enjoy sharing musical events together will have a blast in Salzburg, home of the Sound of Music, where you can visit the actual locations in the movie and learn the true story of this family classic. Regardless of what time of year you visit, musical events in the city’s castles and palaces are always in season. The Hohensalzburg Fortress is open to visitors and down the road you can tour an ancient salt mine by boat and discover a spectacular underground kingdom of living crystals.
For families who love to learn while they explore, the city of Glasgow provides a wealth of museums, from historic glimpses of times gone at the “Braveheart” castle to the ultra modern Museum of Transport. Spend the day at the Glasgow Science Centre featuring Imax presentations and learning centres full of fun exhibits and demonstrations. Admire the modern art gallery or tour the classics at the Kelvingrove Art Museum.
Bigra Na Moru, Croatia
For families who love outdoor fun, the Adriatic coastal city of Biogra Na Moru is a perfect place to land. The quaint city is surrounded by sandy beaches and the crystal clear sea is dotted with islands just waiting to be explored. Discover the rich history of this formally royal city while you enjoy the many family fun activities that abound either on land or in the water. Hike through the countryside and camp overnight at Lake Vrana, where legends tell of fairy tale castles just beneath the waves.
Discover together, with your children, how delightful treasures are often discovered in the most unlikely places.
Ciao Bambino Europe family travel guide
Family travel Croatia
Scottish Highlands travel with kids
Visiting Dover Castle with kids
London sightseeing with kids
Guide to London with kids on Peter Greenberg
Great family friendly guides and walking tours in Europe
June 18th, 2010
Amie from Ciao Bambino
We spent last weekend in San Diego and had the opportunity to check out the new Legoland Water Park. My favorite thing about Legoland in general is that it’s so optimized for toddlers and school-aged kids. You don’t have to worry about rides that are too scary (using your judgement based on your kids) and unruly teens.
The Water Park has the same appeal with water-focused fun.
The park is built around a tower with slides coming off of it and a “build-a-raft” lazy river (pictured above) where kids can add giant legos to their own inner-tube raft.
There’s a big orange open slide for 6-person rafts. I like that families have the opportunity to have fun together on a single raft. There are also one-person tube slides (see the blue tube above), but I didn’t manage to get any good shots of it. Thumbs up on both slides from my 7-year-old!
A mini-version of slides with a giant-sized wading pool is perfect for toddlers.
There’s even a mini-version of a lazy river for little kids.
And, a sandy area for families that want to chill and take a break outside of the water.
The “splash tower” creates lots of giggles.
Good news, the park is chock-full of lifeguards and overall it feels like a safe, well-managed attraction.
Bad news, I was disappointed to discover that the Water Park costs an additional $10 for every member of the family that enters – even if you are not in the water. For our party of 4 including a 78-year-old grandmother (I was not swimming either), that meant we had to cough up an additional $49 (lockers are $9) for 2 kids to spend an hour at this attraction. When the average family of 4 already pays $248 in tickets to get into the park, an “I’m being nickel and dimed” feeling emerges. I understand paying extra to participate in a special activity, but don’t charge the parents and grandparents that are there to supervise only.
That negative tidbit aside, the Water Park is a kid-pleasing addition to Legoland. For more Photo Friday fun, head over to Delicious Baby.
Ciao Bambino Recommended San Diego family hotels
San Diego family vacations
San Diego family travel, top kid-friendly activities
San Diego with kids, favorite winter family activities
San Diego Surf Camp for kids
Visiting Legoland with kids
Fun at the San Diego Zoo
, Photo Friday
, San Diego
, School Age Travel
, Toddler Travel
June 16th, 2010
This is our second post in a series about Las Vegas with kids.
So you’ve decided to take the leap and take the family to Vegas. Maybe it’s to see a show, there’s hundreds to choose from. Maybe it’s for a wedding. They happen around the clock there … just ask Elvis. Maybe it’s just because you want to go to Vegas. Whatever the reason, Las Vegas with children can be a lot of fun.
The Strip is like a giant amusement park. You could spend days just wandering and staring. Be sure to check out my favorite things to see and do in Las Vegas with kids. But there’s more to Vegas than gambling and glitz. There’s a calmer, dare I say educational side. Don’t tell the kids about the learning thing. Just tell them you’re going somewhere cool and head to the Hoover Dam.
Hoover Dam Tour
Close to a million people visit the Hoover Dam every year. The dam is located just 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas at the Nevada-Arizona border. The Powerplant Tour is the way to go for most families. After watching a short film, you’ll take an elevator ride 530 feet down to begin your tour. At the Hoover Dam there are 17 hydroelectric generators. If all the generators are working at full capacity, they can create enough electricity to power a city of 750,000 people. Learning about the actually making of the energy will give your kids reason to stop and stare (check out this PBS video on how the dam makes power). My kids also found a bike parked among the hydroelectric generators. I guess all those generators require covering a lot of ground fast.
Plan on a couple hours to see everything. If you’re the type that likes to be organized, you can buy tickets online, but you can also purchase tickets at Hoover Dam. If you can get everyone out of bed, go early. The crowds are lighter and the weather is cooler.
I would have liked to take the Hoover Dam Tour. It includes everything in the Powerplant Tour plus some exploring into the passageways with the dam itself. It just sounds cool. (It’s also more than double the price.) But no children under 8 are allowed so that ruled my family out. If you’ve got older kids, go for it. No reservations for this tour, it’s first come-first served.
When you enter the Visitor Center, you will go through a security checkpoint. Small backpacks are allowed, but if you’ve got a parent-sized pack on your shoulders, you may be told you have to put it in the car. My experience was they’re also pretty strict when it comes to food and drink. No food, gum or drinks, except water bottles.You’ll need water for everyone if you visit during the hot summer months.
Be sure you eventually make your way up to the street level displays and exhibits. The Winged Figures and a walk along the top of the dam are worth the sweat.
Red Rock Canyon Drive
The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA) is just a few miles west of Las Vegas. It encompasses 197,000 acres within the Mojave Desert. I had never heard of it until I started planning out Vegas adventure. What an incredible find. Red Rock is the type of place geology buffs dream about. For the rest of us, it’s like a giant playground in the middle of the dessert.
Teeming with all sorts of wildlife, little ones will enjoy hunting for desert tortoise, roadrunners and jackrabbits. Luckily, my kids did not find any scorpions or tarantulas, but they’re out there. Depending on your energy level, you can hike bike, even camp.
Not feeling quite so adventuresome. Red Rock Canyon has a one-way 13-mile scenic drive. See it all in the comfort of your air conditioned car. Stop by the Visitor Center. The Red Rock Interpretive Associative offers all sorts of family-friendly programs, ranging from hikes to fossil fun to art classes.
Chances are you’ll get hot and dirty. Drink a lot of water but keep smiling, knowing that plush, tropical pool back at the hotel is waiting for you.
Montelago Village Resort review
Things to do in Las Vegas with kids
United States family travel
, Las Vegas
June 15th, 2010
Paul of Shermans Travel
This is a guest post from Paul Eisenberg, the family vacation blogger at ShermansTravel.com a guide to the best travel deals and destinations.
Up until the room service cart was trundled into our room at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza a few years ago, my then six-year-old’s only exposure to Boston Cream had been the filling of a chain-store donut. And despite my having gone to school in the area, I too only knew of Boston Cream in this way until the waiter whisked away the silver dome to reveal an impossibly tall and flamboyant slice of Boston Cream Pie, which my daughter and I shared to the last bite (my younger daughter, alas, had fallen asleep five minutes before the food arrived).
So not only were we paying through the nose for room service, but we were ordering a food that had the name of our destination in its title. There are few things more insufferably touristy than that. But it also happened to be my daughter’s first real Eloise moment. She had never had room service, and she also noticed that the back-to-back “P logo on the headboard was the same one from Eloise, in which the fictional character resides in the Fairmont’s better known sister hotel, The Plaza in New York City.
Much like Eloise, my daughters traipsed through their Plaza in Boston, enjoying its grandeur while at the same time managing to loosen up the tight smiles on some of the more uptight guests. And that describes Boston, too. It’s a city that at times feels and acts important and proper, but like many popular towns has the capacity for casual and meaningful moments if you know where to find them.
Faneuil Hall. Photo credit Harshlight on Flickr
Fun Things to Do in Boston with Kids
Nothing says touristy like Quincy Market, the middle strip of food stalls and vendors that runs down the middle of Faneuil Hall Marketplace. But the spot also has special meaning for our family: If not for this bustling bazaar, I tell my kids, they probably wouldn’t be here – I met their mother in the nearby suburb of Waltham, and we’d visit the marketplace as many college kids did and still do. Nostalgia and steep prices aside, it’s still worth strolling through the food stalls as well as lingering between Faneuil Hall and the marketplace to watch street performers.
My friends Mike and Sharon recently relocated to the Boston area with their daughter and speak well of the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Mike says he and his family “love walking around this new — and still growing — 15-acre, mile-long linear park that occupies the footprint of expressways that were buried during the Big Dig. Our favorite area is near State Street and Atlantic Avenue — close to Boston Harbor, the North End, and Faneuil Hall — where there’s a carousel, a huge lawn perfect for picnicking, and an AWESOME fountain-filled plaza that kids can run around in.”
North End. Photo credit TJ Ryan on Flickr
Mike also notes that they “love walking around the North End—it’s something that is on most tourist itineraries, but when you leave the main drags you really start to see the authentic, still very Italian face of the neighborhood.”
Fewer activities reap greater benefits in Boston than simply walking around. During one visit, while my wife was stuck in a business meeting elsewehere in town, my daughters and I chanced upon the Vendome Memorial on Commonwealth Ave. and Dartmouth Street in the Back Bay. The black marble semi-circle looks pretty nondescript until you notice the fireman’s hat and coat sculpted to appear as though it’s casually resting on top of the circle. The memorial recalls nine firefighters who died putting out a 1972 fire at the nearby Vendome Hotel (since rebuilt). Death is always a tricky thing to explain to kids this young, but that’s one of the benefits of graceful memorials like this one – it makes your job easier.
Not for nothing, there are many major, must-see things to do in Boston. But as you’re walking around with your family, also make time for the smaller moments, especially if it involves a slice of pie.
Boston Travel Guide at ShermansTravel.com
Ciao Bambino recommended Boston family hotels
Summer things to do in Boston with kids
Spring things to do in Boston with kids
Boston with kids – top attractions
Things to do in Boston on Uptake.com
June 14th, 2010
Nancy from Ciao Bambino
I know packing lists are long for summer getaways, however, be sure not to miss Tales2Go. An application for the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, Tales2Go plays an unlimited number of children’s stories and songs. It’s like the favorite app Pandora Radio with kid-focused content.
I was testing out this application and quickly fell in love. We use it daily on our drives to and from school and sports. It’s the one thing that brings peace and quiet to my car. The stories are broken up by length (2 minutes to 6 hrs), age, rating, and popularity, making it very easy to find stories that are perfect for your crew. All my kids—ages 11, 9, 7 and 2—love the variety of stories available. Our family favorites include, “Miss Mary Mack,” “The Monkey & the Crocodile,” “Gorf: My Hat!” the “Diary of a Whimpy Kid” series, just to name a few.
The first 30 days are free and then you have to pay an easily justifiable annual fee of $24.99. For the cost of two CDs, the fee that is well worth the value you get from the excellent selections of content available.
Be sure to add this to your list of travel item “must haves!”
Nancy’s kids travel book list
Travel activities for kids
Travel packing tips – packing light
Travel packing tips – the perfectly packed carry-on
Little Passports – travel games
Cute in flight activity for ages 3-8
Traveling with kids, trip preparation – reading
BestKidsApps reviews of iPhone and iPad games
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