Archive for June 2011
June 28th, 2011
Nancy from Ciao Bambino
Like clockwork, the night before we are heading out of town I hear the, “Mom, I have a sore throat.” Given that I have four kids, aka mini petri dishes, it’s not uncommon for one of them to be sick, or brewing some sickness at all times.
Over the years, we’ve discovered that being prepared and having a plan of action saves both time and worry while traveling with kids.
Be thoughtful about where you choose to travel with kids
Be thoughtful about where you chose to travel. Have a realistic understanding of your family’s medical needs. Keep in mind that the more secluded a destination, the higher the likelihood that medical care will be difficult to reach. Some remote rural destinations don’t have anything more than simple clinic. In that case, you’d have to be flown out for any major issues — worrisome for infants or grand-parents are more likely to require speedy care.
Language can also be a problem. Medical facilities in or around large urban destinations are more likely to have English-speaking staff, but fluency often decreases with distance in many countries.
Understand drinking water safety ahead of time
You have to manage meals and in-room practices (like brushing teeth) carefully with traveling in an area where the local tap water is not safe for drinking. With school-age children where you can explain the rules, it’s not as much of an issue; however, traveling with babies and toddlers in an area like this requires more diligence.
I always reference the CDC web site which provides detailed information on most destinations along with great general health tips on traveling with children.
Packing tips and list
The most important item I pack is my well-stocked medical kit. I’ve learned this the hard way! Most trips I don’t need it, but when I do, it’s normally at some inconvenient time like in the middle of the night when someone spikes a fever.
When you have basic supplies, not only can you treat the most common ailments, but you also don’t have to waste you precious vacation time tracking down medicine. When abroad, the brands you know and trust might not be available; plus, the ingredients can be listed in a different language making it difficult to find what you need.
We usually pack: Motrin, Tylenol, Benedryl, Dramamine, Swimmer Ear drops, Adult Sudafed, Band-Aids, Neosporin and a thermometer. When traveling internationally I add a general antibiotic prescribed by my pediatrician, Dent Temp (temporary dental glue), anti-diarrhea and re-hydration solution (this way I have the accurate dosing), DEET bug repellant and sunscreen.
What to do if you need medical care on the road
Even with the best preparation, you still might need medical care. When this happens, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Don’t Wait: If you sense that an injury or illness is getting more serious, address it sooner than later. Proactive care reduces the risk of spreading the sickness and most importantly, trips to the ER. This is especially important before holidays or on Fridays, heading into a weekend.
Find a Local Doctor: Whether I’m traveling within the US or abroad, I would rather use local doctors over clinics or hospitals. Most hotels will suggest or call in a doctor, however, keep in mind that in countries where bribing is common, you may want to call your local embassy or consulate and get the list of recommended doctors.
Additionally, review the hospital choices ahead of time to select better rated options. This hospital information is available in most guidebooks.
Verify Medicine: If you are not dealing with a reputable pharmacy, purchase sealed containers of medicine, even if you only need a small portion. If possible, check the name of medicine with your pediatrician.
A few years ago when my three-year old needed medicine, a local doctor came to our hotel room with a suitcase of lose pills- unnerving, right?
Thinking about your family getting sick or hurt is not pleasant. This is a small part of our preparation, however, it allows me to relax knowing I have some first steps prepared should we need it.
Tips for international travel with an infant
Flying overseas with babies
Tips for traveling to Europe with babies and toddlers
Family vacation trip planning – tips for using a tour operator
, Toddler Travel
, Trip Planning
June 27th, 2011
Kristi from Ciao Bambino
“I’m booking that scavenger hunt in the Louvre for the Paris trip” is the snippet of a conversation I overheard at my son’s elementary school a month ago. That “scavenger hunt” turned out to be the Paris Muse Clues: A Louvre Tour for Young Treasure Hunters. It’s a private guided family tour of the Louvre.
The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out the best strategy for a visit. Even a seasoned family traveler and Ciao Bambino writer found her visit to the Louvre with kids challenging.
Ciao Bambino has recommended Paris Muse to many clients over the years and we include them on our short list of best European tour guides for families.
When one of our readers offered to share her family’s Paris Muse Louvre tour experience with us, we jumped on the chance to set up an interview.
The Rich family traveled to Paris at Christmas time with their two boys, ages 6 and 9, and extended family. Here’s their report.
How did you choose the Paris Muse Louvre tour?
My cousin went last summer with his kids and they loved it.
Tell us about your tour.
We didn’t have to wait in a line to get in the Louvre. The kids received a book for a treasure hunt with clues inside. The guide was very knowledgeable and would talk about something educational and then have the kids find it in a painting.
For example, with the Mona Lisa, she told us about the tricks they used to make Mona Lisa’s eyes follow you. When we looked at the Egyptian area, she told us about what life was like during that time period.
Two hours was a perfect amount of time to keep the kids engaged. At the end of the tour, after they had all the clues, they found a prize. When friends asked our kids what they liked best about Paris they always said the Louvre tour!
What were the highlights of your tour?
The guide had an art degree and told us so many interesting facts about the painters and the artwork. You could tell that she liked having kids on the tour and knew how to keep them interested. Although the Louvre tour is labeled as a family tour, both the kids and adults liked it equally and I would go back and take the tour again as an adult without the kids!
Do you have any tips for other families considering a Paris Muse Louvre tour?
Tour group size is limited. The Louvre does not allow tours larger than five people. They were very strict about this rule; we had six people so the adults took turns participating to make it work.
The tour was worth the price. The tour costs 290 Euros for 2 hours. It’s expensive but worthwhile; moreover,I wouldn’t want any more time than that.
Shortly after we interviewed the Rich family, another reader let us know that she had taken both Paris Muse family tours while in Paris; the Louvre tour and the If Buildings Could Talk walk for families. She raved about both!
Ciao Bambino recommended Paris family hotels
Tips for visiting Paris with babies and toddlers
Off-the-beaten-path things to do in Paris with kids
Favorite online resources for Paris with children
Savoring the simple pleasures of Paris with children
Things to do in Paris on Uptake.com
June 24th, 2011
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Giraffes at breakfast. This photo was pulled from the Giraffe Manor website
My first exposure to an article about the hotel Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya was followed by a flurry of emails to friends with an all caps WOW in the subject line. There are unique hotels all over the world, but the list narrows quickly when you identify truly one-of-a-kind experiences.
Unless you know of other hotels where giraffes can and do literally poke their head into open windows in the morning, Giraffe Manor qualifies.
Built in the 1930, the property turned into a giraffe sanctuary after it was purchased by Betty Leslie-Melvilles in 1974 and she learned that the last remaining Rothschild giraffes in Kenya were in danger; the manor was transformed into a boutique hotel by her family in 1983.
Unfortunately, I ran out of time during recent family safari to East Africa and was unable to stay the night. However, I did manage to spend a wonderful afternoon having tea and touring the property with the delightful General Manager, Jessica Pattison.
Meet Helen. The star of any visit is the herd of Rothchild Giraffes who roam through the gardens and grounds.
Although we had been on a safari for a week and saw many giraffes, it’s another experience all together to stand so close to them, let alone feed them!
With just seven rooms on 12 acres of private land, the manor house is an oasis from busy Nairobi. Moreover, it’s a mere 15-minute drive from the main safari departure airport (Wilson), so this location is also ideal for a night or two before or after heading out into the bush.
Giraffe Manor looks somewhat formal and imposing on their website. It is indeed grand, but it is much more approachable — i.e. kid-friendly — in person that I thought it would be. Public areas and guest rooms are homey and comfortable.
Grounds and gardens are expansive to say the least, although kids need to be monitored at all times given the onsite wildlife.
I can’t speak to more guest details yet as I haven’t stayed there — but what I experienced was compelling. I’d go back in a heartbeat! You need to book early given the very limited capacity, but living with giraffes for a night or two in a place so strongly tied to wildlife conservation is an experience to remember for all.
For more Photo Friday fun, visit Delicious Baby.
Photos courtesy of Giraffe Manor and Amie O’Shaughnessy
Africa with kids, family safari basics
Africa with kids, planning a family safari
AndBeyond Africa lodges, review of Bateleur Camp for families
Luxury family safari at Sanctuary Retreats Olonana Tented Camp
Family safaris in Africa, lion hunt for photo friday
Ngorongoro Crater with kids
Birds in Africa for Photo Friday
, Family Safaris
, Luxury Family Hotels
, Luxury Family Travel
June 22nd, 2011
What is a Canuck?
After spending three days in Vancouver, I really still wasn’t sure. So I googled it. Canuck is a slang word for Canadians. It’s also refers to the wildly popular NHL hockey team the Vancouver Canucks. Folks in Vancouver love their hockey team. The only thing they may love more is their city.
125 Years Young
Vancouver is the 5th largest city in Canada. It’s West End neighborhood is one of the most densely populated areas in North America. The Olympic fever that put China on the map in 2008, brought the same fire to Vancouver in 2010, and the flame is still burning bright.
Vancouver sparkles like a young San Francisco. It’s confident, cosmopolitan and comfortable all at the same time. And families fit right in.
The Great Outdoors
“We’re an outdoor city,” said one grandpa.
Mother Nature spent time on Vancouver. Massive mountains, an easy drive from downtown, provide ski slopes and hiking havens along with an unbeatable backdrop for colorful bridges. Water hugs the city, providing a playground big enough for everything from swimming to rowing to piloting seaplanes. What’s waiting on land isn’t too shabby either.
Start at the Convention Centre. Don’t go inside, just look up. The six-acre “living roof” is home to thousands of indigenous plants. Just next door is the Olympic Cauldron seen burning bright around the world during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Snap a picture, but then make plans to head straight to Stanley Park.
This is where you need to make a family decision. The walk to Stanley Park along the water is an attraction in its own right. You can watch seaplanes take off and land as you walk by sculptures, playgrounds and jaw dropping boats. But unless your kids are serious walkers, I’d save those walking feet for what will no doubt be a great day.
You’ve got plenty of options for the trip to and through the park. Just below the plaza where the Olympic Cauldron sits, you can rent bikes and roll through the park. Or you can go the more traditional touring route. Open-air buses and San Francisco style trolleys constantly run the circuit, connecting popular locations for visitors. They all pick up and drop off near the Convention Centre, you can’t miss them.
If you need help trying to organize your day, TourismVancouver (the official tourism board) is just across the street. It’s worth the stop to pick up a good map of the city and Stanley Park.
My trip to Vancouver was different than most of my trips, because I was alone. No husband, no kids. It was weird actually and there were many times I wished they were with me because I found so many things they would have loved like the Vancouver Aquarium.
It was cold and raining when I had the option to hop off the trolley tour. I hadn’t planned on stopping, but I hadn’t planned on steady rain either. The Vancouver Aquarium is Canada’s largest, but what makes it stand out is the animals that call it home. Along with the expected fish, seahorses and jellyfish, there are Belugas, pacific white-sided dolphins and Steller sea lions.
My kids and I have done sleepovers in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but the Beluga exhibit in Vancouver made me smile, even in the pouring rain. I only spent a couple hours, but with kids in tow, I would have stayed longer. It was still raining pretty hard when I headed back outside, but my timing couldn’t have been better. Instead of waiting for a trolley, I got picked up by Bud and Weiser.
Alternate transportation, or thinking outside the bus is high on my list when visiting new cities, so I didn’t hesitate to take a Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tour. You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate the fun of riding in a horse-drawn carriage. The carriage is big enough to hold about 20 people, but Bud and Weiser, the two Clydesdales on duty had it easy on my loop of the park. There were only five of us on board. And though the horse were definitely getting wet, the canopy kept us nice and dry. An added rainy day bonus, there were plenty of blankets on board to snuggle up in during the ride.
The slower moving carriage ride only makes one true stop at Brockton Point to see the totem poles. You get about 10 minutes to wander around the totems, but that’s probably all you and the kids will need. They tell stories or serve as the mark of British Columbia Indians, similar to a coat of arms. Carved in the late 1880s, most of the totems are replicas. The originals have been moved to various museums for indoor display and preservation.
The carriage tour lasts just over an hour, and you’ll learn about the roughly 500,000 cedar, fir and hemlock trees in Stanley Park, the seemingly endless number of sculptures scattered throughout the park and have fun waving back to all the folks who wish they were on the carriage with you.
A Place to Cool Off
By now your kids probably need some time to run around and burn off some steam. Pick a playground, there’s plenty of them, or better yet head to the waterfront Variety Kids Water Park. (Ask your bus or trolley driver. They should be able to drop you off pretty close.) The park is made out of a cluster of colorful tubes and will leaving the whole family happily dripping.
If you’re really looking to get wet, head to the Second Beach Pool. The heated fresh water pool sits right on the beach and offers an area for lap swimmers, some colorful slides for kids and lifeguards for parents’ piece of mind. There’s also plenty of tables to have a picnic.
If you’d rather put your toes in the sand, head to the beach. There’s plenty of stretches of sand to choose from, but if having a lifeguard is important, head to Second Beach or Third Beach. (Second Beach is next to Second Beach Pool, making it easy to do both. I love it when things work that way.) In addition to summer lifeguards, both beaches have bathrooms, concessions and parking.
Tired yet? You should be. At 1000 acres, one visit to Stanley Park isn’t enough. Don’t try to do it all. You can’t. Take the time to enjoy the places you stop in the park. If you like it as much as I did, spend another day of your vacation there or promise yourself you’ll plan another trip. Bigger than New York’s Central Park, there’s a vacation memory hiding somewhere in all those trees and it won’t be hard to find.
Photos courtesy of Dana Rebmann
Vancouver was the venue for the 2011 Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX). See what the Travel Blob Mob has to say about Vancouver and the conference highlights.
11 Lessons Bloggers Can Learn from TBEX on Bootsnall.com
Travel Bloggers Conference TBEX Improves in Vancouver by The Vacation Gals
Best of Vancouver on Wanderlust and Lipstick
3 Cool and Affordable Places to Stay in Vancouver on Spot Cool Stuff
Food Porn: A Photo Tour of Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market by Sharing Travel Experiences
June 20th, 2011
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Family travel bloggers stay at an extraordinary number of hotels with their kids. It’s not unusual to stay at a few properties in a single destination for the sole purpose of comparing and contrasting experiences.
We are constantly evaluating hotels with a critical eye. In fact, I’m not sure I have the ability to relax on vacation and not observe every detail.
With this in mind, I invited family travel writers from around the web to highlight a favorite kid-friendly hotel. Note the intentional use of “a” favorite – at this point we all have a long list of hotels we enjoy and recommend to our readers.
One of the things that make family travel bloggers so valuable for travel planning is our credible perspective. We all have children and offer guidance based on real travel experiences.
That said, families have different needs and expectations. What I love about this list is how diverse it is … from hostels to full service luxury resorts, these kid-friendly favorites include a bit of everything.
What they share is an atmosphere that is comfortable for all where kids and parents have fun. Bravo to the hotels that are featured on this list – traveling families appreciate you!
If you publish a family travel blog and have a hotel you want to add to the slideshow, please leave a comment below.
Montage Laguna Beach by Amie O'Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino!
Montage Laguna Beach in Southern California offers exceptional amenities for every age in a spectacular oceanfront setting. It’s the ultimate family-friendly luxury hotel experience where no request goes unheeded, yet the atmosphere is relaxed enough that you don’t need to tiptoe around with your kids. Our son still raves about their camp-style kids’ club, Paintbox (ages 2-12), where he engaged in a non-stop array of creative fun and games.
Grand Wailea Resort by Nadia Carriere of Child Mode
Offering the perfect balance of luxury and family-friendliness, the Grand Wailea Resort makes it to the top of our favorite hotels for families. Not only do they provide exceptional customer service, they are also located on one of the most coveted beaches in Maui. Regardless of whether you are a single family looking for a getaway or if multi-generational family looking to vacation together, the Grand Wailea provides something special for everyone!
Hotel Lancelot by Mara Gorman of Mother of All Trips
I can’t think of a lovelier or more kid-appropriate place to stay in Rome than the Hotel Lancelot. The international staff is accommodating and friendly, you can ask for a portable crib, the breakfast spread can’t be beat, and the courtyard is a great place for you to enjoy a drink while the little ones play. And very best of all is the location: Just a few blocks from the Coliseum.
Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk by Debbie Dubrow of Delicious Baby
On Oahu, many families head out of Honolulu to find space to spread out, but if the shopping, restaurants and glamour of Waikiki are a draw for you like they are for me, the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach Walk is a great choice. Located just a block from the beach, this all suite hotel has all the services you'd expect (room service, a gym, business center, valet parking) plus an extra huge breakfast buffet, a rooftop pool, and lanai.
Four Seasons Resort Vail by Kara Williams of The Vacation Gals
At Four Seasons Resort Vail, full-day child care - in a brightly colored room near the extraordinary spa - is complimentary for guests. Plus, kids are welcomed with a little amenity - typically a stuffed animal and some sweet treats. Add in a huge outdoor pool that's open year-round, plus free dining for kids under 5 in the on-site restaurant Flame, and you've got quite the family-friendly property in the glorious Colorado mountains! This photo is of the outdoor pool and fireplace - robes and towels are in a "warmer" next to the fireplace, so you can get out of pool hot/tub in winter and snuggle into toastiness!
Great Wolf Lodge by Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators
Great Wolf Lodge (Traverse City, MI) is our favorite because it's fun for the whole family. There's an indoor waterpark (especially wonderful during the cold Michigan winters). Great Wolf Lodge always has fun events - whether it is Snow Land in the winter, Howl-O-Ween in October, or other events year-round. There's a magical treasure game, MagiQuest - our daughter loves it (especially fighting the dragon at the end). There's a spa (two, actually - an Aveda spa for grownups and a kids spa, called Scoops), an arcade, a Kids Club where there are daily activities, and nightly bedtime stories down in the lobby by the animated clock. I love that we create family traditions, by heading there again and again. We love the friendly staff and the welcoming atmosphere.
The Plaza by Kim Marie Evans of The Luxury Travel Mom
The Plaza has re-opened as a hotel and it is as fabulous as ever. Located directly across from Central Park and boasting a Rolls Royce Phantom as the house car, it's the ultimate luxury get away for a family headed to New York City. Eloise now has her own themed room and menu, you can even bring your little dog if you choose. The concierge is well equipped to help snag tickets to Mary Poppins or Wicked and direct you to Serendipity for a world famous frozen hot chocolate. They'll even book a babysitter for the wee ones and a massage for mom at the Claudalie spa. Now that's a family vacation.
Rooms Deluxe Hostel by Heather Cowper of Heather on her Travels
Rooms Deluxe Hostel in Valencia, Spain is one of a new breed of hostel/hotel hybrid that are great for families. You get a suite hotel rooms with the benefit of a hostel style kitchen so you have the flexibility to cook your own meals, and there's free wifi so your teenagers can keep up with their friends on Facebook. We loved the fact that each of the rooms is decorated by a local artist with some wierd and wacky themes - we stayed in the Venice Room and the Bali Room. If you have younger children, check out the serviced holiday apartments that are on the floors above the hotel and would be ideal for families.
Westgate Park City Resort and Spa by Amy Whitley of Pit Stops for Kids
With three pools (including one indoor-outdoor number with a glass roof), children's programs, luxury suites with kitchens, playgrounds, and on-site dining all at the base of one of Park City's premiere ski resorts, we love Westgate Park City Resort and Spa in all seasons. Mountain bike, horseback ride, and visit the site of the Park City Olympics in summer, and ski and sled in winter!
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa by Colleen Lanin of Travel Mamas
My family is gaga for the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa for many reasons, but as hotel pool enthusiasts, the highlight is its River Bluff Water Experience - an on-site water park complete with a zero-entry pool, fountains, a winding lazy river, and water slides galore. After plenty of together-time in the water, a treasure map leads youngsters (ages 4+) to the Range Riders kids’ camp so parents can indulge in a massage at the heavenly Lantana Spa or play 18 holes on their PGA Tour Golf Course. It’s not just the amenities at this resort that make it stand out, it’s the warmth of the staff and the way we always felt cared for and comfortable here (no matter how noisy we were!).
Wigwam Motel by Glennia Campbell of The Silent I
If you'd like to get your kitsch on Route 66, stop by the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Arizona. The white, cone-shaped wigwams are actually cozy, comfortable rooms with TVs, a tiny bathroom, and a comfortable bed. Kids will love the round rooms and collection of vintage cars in the parking lot that give you the feeling of another time. The Cozy Cone Motel in the Disney-Pixar movie Cars was based on this authentic Route 66 motel.
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni by Holly Rosen Fink of The Culture Mom
We stayed at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni when my daughter was 1-1/2 and the visit stands out as one of our favorite family travel experiences. The rooms were spacious and well equipped for a baby's visit, the pool was gorgeous and they had boat rides and all kind of organized activities for kids. It was a trip I'll never, ever forget.
Tyler Place Family Resort by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher of WeJustGotBack.com
My family's all-time favorite vacation spot is the Tyler Place Family Resort, a summer camp on the shores of Lake Champlain in northwestern Vermont. A week here delivers the perfect mix of family time, alone time, kid time, and couple time. The children's program and counselors are the best I've ever encountered: nine age-staggered groups for babies through teens, each with its own clubhouse and program of activities. Parents get plenty of their own fun, from kayak trips and sailing to pottery and yoga classes, plus wonderful meals and a cocktail hour every evening. Marvelous!
Clay Brook Residences by Dana Freeman of FindandGoSeek.net
"Be Better Here" isn’t just a tag line at Sugarbush. They really want you be the best you can be and have the best of everything while you are there. Being Better is not just about extravagance, not to say it isn’t luxurious, because the Clay Brook Residences are all that and more. It’s about how your experience at Sugarbush can be unique to you and your family’s needs. On and off the slopes our family loves to spend time here.
Posada Salentein by Michelle Duffy of Wandermom
The Posada Salentein is my new favorite location in Argentina. The vineyard had some truly excellent wines, a world-class restaurant and a stunning location in the foothills of the Andes. You won't want to leave, and, if you stay at the Posada you don't have to. The comfortable, spacious rooms are in a quiet location near the back of the vineyard property. The two-bedroom apartment is a wonderful hideaway for a family of four. Prices are all-inclusive of meals at the smaller, but just as excellent, restaurant within the Posada - and complimentary wine.
Smugglers' Notch by Mary Turner of Travel with Teens
Smugglers' Notch is a four-season resort that makes a major effort to offer day and evening programming for teens and tweens, as well as younger kids. Families can choose when to play together and when to split up. The area is small enough that teens can take off on their own, but big enough that they can always find a challenge. The resort offers a number of lodging options so each family can find something that works for their specific needs.
Ho'olei at Grand Wailea by Anne Taylor Hartzell of Hip Travel Mama
The Ho'olei Grand Wailea on Maui is one of HipTravelMama's favorite luxury hotels on Maui. Grand Wailea offers endless fun and entertainment for families with its endless aquatic playground, water slides, award-winning spa, and beachfront access. For large families, or families traveling together, stay at one of the luxury villas at Ho'olei to have all the comforts of a home with access to the Grand Wailea's pools and restaurants and full service luxury amenities.
Hotel Monaco Portland by Lora Shinn of Cascadia Kids
A teddy bear on the bed, kids' bathrobes in the closet, video games at the happy hour reception and (yes!) a separate room for mom and dad. The fun-loving, thoughtful touches at the Hotel Monaco Portland make this boutique stay one of our family's favorite destinations. P.S. The premium bedding was delightful for both sleeping and (cover your ears, hotel management) leaping.
The Peninsula New York by Elizabeth Thorp of Poshbrood
I just got back with the brood from The Peninsula Hotel New York. I mean, there's posh and then there's POSH. Think chauffeured Mini Coopers, Peninsula cupcakes, mini-Frette robes, activity packs, kids' menu, pool, babysitting, kids eat free on weekends! We're in love.
Affinia Shelburne by Carol Cain of New York City Mama
My favorite family-friendly hotel is any of the Affinia Hotels in NYC. I love them most because of their larger-than-average rooms, full kitchenettes, grocery service, and "Experience Packages" that can range from type of pillows to city tours.
Babington House by Courtney Adamo of Babyccino Kids
Our favourite is Babington House (in Somerset, England located about 2 hours outside of London). It's such a beautiful countryside hotel, and always such a wonderfully relaxing weekend. It's kid-friendly without being obnoxiously so - and somewhere fun for the kids and cool for the grown-ups.
Gaylord Opryland by Jody Halstead of Family Rambling
I'm going with Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN. It's an entire city under one roof; with shops and restaurants, gardens and fountains, 3 pools and even a river complete with river boat ride! In April Gaylord properties announced an alliance with DreamWorks; beginning in July more kid friendly activities will be taking place including character breakfasts and movie screenings.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge by Amy Querido of The Q Family Adventures Travel Blog
Our favorite is Disney's Animal Kingdom Adventure Lodge in Walt Disney World Resort Orlando, Florida. We love it for the fun, African safari inspired theme. There are many fun activities for kids like night time movies in the pool and night visions of the animals. The photo is of a friend we met outside our balcony.
The Fairmont Kea Lani by Lorainne Akemann of Keeps Me Smiling
The location, the spacious room, the pools, the proximity to the ocean, and the kids' club all contributed to a top-notch vacation for our family of 4 at The Fairmont Kea Lani in Maui, Hawaii. By using a few hours with the kids club in the morning, my husband and I were able to snorkel together and spend some time relaxing by the pool before we spent the afternoons on outings with the kids. Overall there was nothing I could have improved upon - Wailea is one of our favorite locations!
The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa by Sharlene Earnshaw of Trekaroo
The The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona is a kid-friendly paradise for many reasons. The pool area, with its water slides, lazy river, beach entry, and frequent organized activities coordinated by the resort's FUN team, is a desert dweller's paradise unto itself. Throw in golf, remote control car races, the Digital Kids Zone, s'mores by the fire, and free slumber parties at the Kids Club while mom and dad enjoy a nice adult meal at Deseo, and your family may never want to leave.
Smugglers' Notch by Traci Suppa of Go Big or Go Home
I have a mental checklist of what the perfect family-friendly property includes. Smugglers' Notch, or "Smuggs," in Jeffersonville, Vermont tickes off ALL the boxes. Roomy condos? Check. Supervised children's activities? Check. Pools with water park features? Check? Character meals, evening entertainment, and an on-site Ben & Jerry's? Check! Bonus: the state-of-the-art childcare center - Treasures - welcomes infants from 6 months old, allowing new parents downtime too.
JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa by Dana Rebmann of Ciao Bambino!
Two hours on a bumpy road is worth the pain when you can walk on the beach for even longer and never see another soul. The JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort & Spa is an immense property where you can take the family horseback riding on the beach, zipling or hunt for a turtle nest in the tropical bird and wildlife sanctuary. The fluffiest towels I’ve ever felt are within arms length, if you ever decide to get out of the largest infinity pool in Central America.
Pensione Accademia by Sonja Key of To Europe with Kids
I have a favorite kid-friendly hotel: Pensione Accademia Villa Maravege in Venice, Italy. The number one reason this hotel is so great for families is it's large private garden - a rarity in this busy bustling city. The junior suite which can accommodate a family of four opens up to a wide, shady brick patio where the kids can play. The hotel is centrally located, too.
Mena House Oberoi by Monique Rubin of Mo Travels
Presidents and heads of states have stayed here, so kid-friendly isn’t the first thing to come to mind when you think of Mena House Oberoi in Cairo, Egypt. But my children still talk about the friendly smile from “Pharaoh” at the hotel entrance, the hotel’s vast lobby and public areas, with its dark corners and secret nooks were perfect for their spy games, the room overlooking the pyramids of Giza, which my oldest daughter had just recently studied and the jasmine-scented garden where they did cartwheels and ran through the sprinklers to get some relief from the hot Cairo sun. Based on the glowing reviews from these experts, Mena House Oberoi is without a doubt one of my favorite kid-friendly hotels.
Bacara Resort & Spa by Jennifer Miner of The Vacation Gals
Bacara Resort & Spa is 10 minutes from Santa Barbara, giving this wonderfully family-friendly resort a sense of luxurious remoteness. Santa Barbara is incredibly accessible, of course, along with its renown shopping and fine dining. Bacara's 78 oceanside acres allow for lots of outdoor activities like whale watching, bike riding, and (most kids' favorite) running amok on the beach. The Bacara Kid's Club occupied children while parents visit the spa or golf course as well. Bacara is also pet-friendly; children won't have to miss their dogs while on a family vacation along the California coast.
Hotel Cipriani by Katrina Garnett of My Little Swans
Our son Alistair loved Hotel Cipriani in Venice so much, we are taking him back this summer. It is like an oasis for Ali. Between the café poolside and the pool, he was in heaven. I didn’t mind being there either. The photo says it all. Given how hot it gets in Venice, I cannot imagine a better place to be!
Franklyn D. Resort & Spa by Corinne McDermott of Have Baby Will Travel!
I adored the Franklyn D. Resort & Spa in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. Vacation Nannies and five star service in a resort so casual I rarely wore shoes. Lush vegetation, a calm baby-friendly beach, awesome jerk chicken, and symphonic tree frogs added to the appeal. Within two minutes of our arrival, both my kids were sunscreened, swimsuited and at the beach, meaning I could unpack in peace. My daughter constantly asks when we’ll be returning, and I’m asking myself the same thing!
Paradise Point Resort & Spa by Erica Dublin of See Jane Fly
At Paradise Point Resort & Spa in San Diego, Mom and Dad can pamper themselves at the spa, enjoy restful slumber in their own bedroom (connecting and adjoining rooms available), and sip cocktails from the peace and quiet of their own waterfront patio, while the kids are fast asleep in their own room. Tots love the five pools (some with baby wading areas), ducks and fish that roam the property, and sand and surf just steps away. Ready to venture out? Bring their look & feel books to life at the San Diego Zoo or Sea World. Both offer plenty for tiny explores to see and do. To make your trip even more relaxing, the property has bike rentals (ask for one with a baby seat), mom-approved cribs, and some of the nicest staff we’ve ever met. Where do I sign up?
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort by Jennifer Close of Two Kids and a Map
The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is a luxurious resort on Florida’s Gulf Coast with family friendly amenities like kayak and bicycle rentals, zero entry pool, and beach access. We spent hours exploring Jolee Island, an island that has trails and play structures for children. There are accommodations to meet all family needs and budgets ranging from single family homes, condos, studios and villas throughout the 2,400 acre property. Our accommodation of choice is the Grand Sandestin which is only steps away from the Village of Baytowne Wharf, a family friendly hangout full of entertainment options, restaurants, and shops.
Little St. Simons Island by Sue Rodman of Field Trips with Sue
Little St. Simons Island is a private island along the Georgia coast and only accessible by boat. It's a nature lovers paradise. You're sure to see ghost crabs, armadillos, alligators and a variety of shore birds. The weekend we were there staff naturalists were putting oyster catcher chicks they had incubated back in their nest. My boys loved searching for sand dollars, wading in the tide pools and riding bikes on the seven miles of beach. There is even a marooned tugboat to investigate. We explored the marsh on our own skiff and fished from the doc next to an alligator! Planned activities and resources for your own activities are all included. Also included are three meals each day. Those meal often include fresh ingredients from the on-site garden and rival some of the best restaurants inland, but can also include mac and cheese for the picky child.
La Costa Resort and Spa by Debbie Kaplan of Frisco Kids and Jersey Kids
La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California was the perfect spot to meet up with several other families. The kids loved the water slides and multiple pools (including the no-barrier entry pool with sand, and the water play area). We loved the spa, and the ability to book your kids at their cheery day care/camp. The hotel offers different fun activities, like making your own s'mores over a fire pit, and a reptile show. We had to pull them away to go to Legoland!
Hacienda San Lucas by Marina Villatoro of Travel Experta
Hacienda San Lucas, a family owned hacienda and farm, was lovingly renovated into one of the best boutique hotels in Copan. It overlooks the valley and the famous Copan Mayan Ruins. However, staying here is what really adds to the experience of the trip. The 8 room hotel has huge grounds to hike on that lead to a small ruins site. With a few dogs that my kids became instant best friends with we explored and explored. And when we arrived back to our room we had a refreshment waiting for my oldest son and 2 chilled beers for us to sip on while swinging in the hammocks. Service, great atmosphere and happy kids makes me a happy traveler!
Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston by Carolina Papa of Kids Go West
It's difficult to find hotels in big cities that will give traveling families a little bit of a breather from all the hustle and bustle. I found our stay at the Royal Sonesta Hotel Boston during a busy Fourth of July weekend, a pleasant surprise. The hotel is located on the Cambridge side of the Charles River, so it boasts gorgeous views of the Boston skyline and of the Fourth of July firework displays from its river front rooms. During the summer, the hotel offers a program with complimentary use of bicycles (kids' helmets available) to take a cruise on the bike path along the Charles River, free ice cream in the afternoons, and coupons for a free harbor boat tour. If that weren't enough, it has relaxing atrium-style pool for kids to unwind at after a day of city sightseeing.
Hotel Esencia by Anne Patrone of 500 Places with Kids
Hotel Esencia along the Mexican Riviera coast is a small, family-friendly, luxury hotel that my kids can't stop talking about. With a spa that offers mini-manicures and a "chocolate" bath for their younger guests to a world-class restaurant with cooking classes for kids, Hotel Esencia has something for every family. DVD players in each room along with a large library of family-friendly movies provide inside entertainment when the Yucatan sun gets too hot. A children's menu that allows kids to explore the region's cuisine while still offering comforting favorites is another plus. The best part of Hotel Esencia? From the busy Cancun-Tulum road, you'd never even know it existed!
Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo by Cristina Patel of Galavante
The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is the "it" getaway for families with an adventurous spirit. My wildlife-crazed boys woke up to the guttural cries of howler monkeys and rubbed ankles with a family of coatis (the Brazilian aardvark) on their way to the pool. Zip-lining through forests and hiking a volcano will test any family's stamina, so the kids will appreciate the freshly baked snacks waiting in your room. Families with small children need not fear - the kids' club kept our boys entertained with tennis lessons and hermit crab expeditions. Make your vacation have a lasting impact on the little ones and the community by volunteering together at a school in a local village. The hotel's unique volunteer program is a great way to teach the kids the importance of giving back.
Bella Baita by Anna Godley of LoveBaby LoveTravel
Bella Baita in the Italian Alps is one place that I absolutely must go back to. While it doesn't market itself as accommodation particularly designed with families in mind, the owners are amongst the most friendly and welcoming people I have ever met and the food they prepare is out of this world. Bella Baita is for you if you love the outdoors and are looking for somewhere a bit different to visit with your family.
June 16th, 2011
Amie from Ciao Bambino
Every once in awhile we do a Photo Friday post that has nothing to do with traveling with kids. This week is one of them. For a good reason …
I’m a moon junkie and will drive long distances to watch the full moon rise. This week I didn’t have to go far to get a dose of moon magic.
We are lucky enough to live on the shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman) and have a view of France (Evian) from our bedroom window. The full moon setting across from us was so bright that it woke me up.
This turned out to be a huge gift as I was able to record the moon’s stunning journey out of sight. These photos are un-doctored — the reflection on the lake was as vibrant as it looks in this image.
The real treat arrived when the moon was very low and turned bright orange. I was like a little kid rubbing my eyes in utter disbelief.
The final phases happen unbelievably fast.
For more Photo Friday joy head over to Delicious Baby.
Ciao Bambino recommended Switzerland family hotels
Lake Geneva, Switzerland boat tours
Switzerland tourist attraction resources
Photos of sunrise in Murren, Switzerland
Photos of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland
Photos of Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Fields of Narcissus in Switzerland for Photo Friday
, Lake Geneva
, Photo Friday
June 16th, 2011
Holly of The Culture Mom
This is a guest post from Holly Rosen Fink, the founder and editor of The Culture Mom, a guide to the best family cultural and travel experiences in New York City and beyond. Holly lives in Larchmont, New York with her husband and two children.
If you’re headed to New York City this summer with your child-in-tow and want to take in some quality theater, we’ve got you covered.
Here are a few of my favorite New York shows for kids:
Set against the backdrop of a coal miners’ strike that took place in Northern England in the mid-1980s during Margaret Thatcher’s reign, Billy Elliot is about a motherless young boy who wants to give up boxing and learn to be a dancer. His family rebels against his wishes at first until they realize that his dancing will actually give him the chance of a better life.
The play is very true to the film it was based on, and the music and dancing skillfully narrate and tell the story of a boy who is so passionate about dancing that he feels it running through his blood stream. Read more of my review of Billy Elliot on The Culture Mom.
Billy Elliot is playing at the Imperial Theater on 249 W 45th Street
(btwn Broadway and 8th Ave). Tickets prices range from $41.50 to $151.50 and are available at Telecharge.com or the Imperial Theater box office.
Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana
Directed by the internationally acclaimed François Girard (The Red Violin, Silk), Cirque Du Soleil’s Zarkana features 71 international artists from 15 different countries and follows Zark, a magician on a quest to find his lost powers. He finds himself plunged into a world inhabited by surreal and mesmerizing creatures.
The music of Zarkana is composed by Nick Littlemore, a protégé of Sir Elton John. It is playing at Radio City Music Hall at 50th Street and 6th Avenue. Ticket prices range from $47 to $250.00 and are available at Ticketmaster.com or the Radio City Music Hall box office.
ImaginOcean is a magical undersea adventure for kids of all ages. Tank, Bubbles and Dorsel and three best friends who just happen to be fish, and they’re about to set out on a remarkable journey of discovery.
And it all starts with a treasure map. As they swim off in search of clues, they’ll sing, they’ll dance, and they’ll make new friends, including everyone in the audience. Ultimately they discover the greatest treasure of all: friendship.
ImaginOcean! is playing at New World Stages at 340 West 50th Street. Ticket prices range from $55 to $75 and can be purchased from Telecharge.com or the World Stages Box office.
If you have a daughter age 12 and under, particularly one who loves the color as much as mine does, I am sure you have heard Pinkalicious. The play is based on a book by Elizabeth Victoria Kahn.
It’s about a little girl who can’t stop eating pink cupcakes, despite warnings from her parents. She then develops an ailment called Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe. At first she is thrilled, but when reality sets in, she has to figure out a way to return to normalcy.
Pinkalicious is playing at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center. Tickets prices range from $29.50 to $44.50 and can be purchased online.
Wicked is the untold musical story of the Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good … before Dorothy dropped in.
Based on the imaginative Gregory Maguire novel, Wicked is a journey through the unseen side of Oz, sharing a tale of unexpected friendship and love between the two characters. It’s a magical theatrical experience that kids will embrace. Read more of my review of Wicked on The Culture Mom.
Wicked is playing at the Gershwin Theatre at 222 West 51st Street. Ticket prices range from $65 to $150. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com or at the Gershwin Theatre box office.
For information on how to find cheap theater tickets for plays, concerts and more in NYC, visit TheCultureMom.com.
Ciao Bambino recommended New York family hotels
Tips for visiting New York with kids
Top kid-friendly excursions with kids in New York with kids
New York museums favorites with kids
New York family vacation best online resources vacation
New York Family activities on Uptake.com
Visiting the Statue of Liberty
, New York City
, North America
June 15th, 2011
Amie from Ciao Bambino
It is a sad week for those of us who had the great fortune of knowing Chris Lytle. She lost her horrific battle with cancer on Saturday and we miss her terribly.
Chris had a deep impact on me personally, as well as on Ciao Bambino. She was my very first client after I launched the company around offering family-focused trip planning services to Italy in 2004. Although I had no prior travel industry experience and had only been to Italy once with my own child, Chris put her faith in me and let me plan her holiday with her mom and toddler-aged daughter.
The rest is history. Chris loved her trip; her positive feedback and encouragement empowered me to work tirelessly to develop Ciao Bambino over the past seven years.
Our relationship didn’t end there. Chris found Italy with kids to be so magical that she decided to work with me to help other families travel to Italy. Chris was my first employee and subsequently planned trips for a long list of happy and grateful Ciao Bambino clients.
We became fast friends. It was impossible not to be drawn to Chris. Her laugh was infectious. Her charm was ever-present. You could talk to Chris for hours and never run out of things to say.
I wrote to a few of Chris’ clients to let them know the news and want to share a few snippets from the responses:
“I was beyond pleased to receive my first email from Chris and what followed for the next 6 months were the most helpful emails and phone conversations a travel newbie could ever ask for. She was professional, funny, patient, and so well-written.
You need to know that Chris made the planning of this trip enjoyable and something to look forward to. I have said to my husband many times that half the fun of this has actually been the planning and if it wasn’t for Chris, I don’t think I would feel this way.”
Chris developed meaningful relationship with people far and wide. Despite the negative events in her life, Chris miraculously managed to be upbeat and focus on others.
Even after Chris was bed-ridden, she still read our blog and lived vicariously — not bitterly — through our adventures. It takes a very special and strong person to do that.
Another client wrote the following:
“Chris was the loveliest person and I had the best time ever planning with her. I liked her voice and looked forward to her calling me. I could tell she loved her work with Ciao Bambino – it came through in every way, from the places she recommended to the people she knew there.
There was one restaurant in Positano that she set up for us where she knew the owner and waiters and told me who to look for and even funny stories about them. Honestly, she planned the best trip my family has ever had and my boys who are now 12 and 14 want another adventure just like the one we had throughout Italy.
Chris was a pleasure to know and made the world a better place. Her life is a reminder to me that we have to cherish the time we get and spend it with the ones we love.”
That last sentence says it all. We never know what life has in store for us; it can and will change in an instant. “Cherish the time we get and spend it with the ones we love.” I’m going to paste these words onto my computer.
The incredible benefit of travel is the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time together. Whether you travel to that same favorite spot or visit a new destination each year, family trips are the best way to connect as everyone can break away from routine and ruts.
Chris loved visiting Europe. Her last trip was to the Amalfi Coast. I’m so glad she was able to be in Italy again before she become very sick and unable to travel. I can hear Chris’ voice as I’m re-reading her post. Her joy is palpable.
I prioritize travel in my life and encourage everyone I know to do so. You don’t need to go as far as Italy to experience the power of getting away from it all and experiencing the unknown. Thank you Chris for the potent reminder about what is important in life. We are grateful for the gift of knowing you.
June 13th, 2011
Fourth of July is synonymous with summer fun.
Parades loaded with kids on decorated bikes, fireworks, barbecues, warm pie with ice cream and sunshine. The list could go on, but you get the idea. Even having lived through years of cold patriotic celebrations in San Francisco, one thing I don’t think of on Independence Day is snow.
This year things are different.
In early April, I spent a spring weekend with the kids at Squaw Valley, in Lake Tahoe, California. I typically don’t do well in cold, but even with fresh snow and chilly temperatures it was a great weekend. Record snowfall had folks buzzing about the possibility of an extended ski and snow boarding season.
Ski Dreams Do Come True
Keep the gear handy, because slopes at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows resort will be open 4th of July weekend. Even if you’re not a skier, you have to understand this is a big deal. When summer arrives in Lake Tahoe, the snow gear gets pushed to the back of the closet and summer items like bikes and hiking gear move to the front. The last time Squaw was open for skiing on Independence Day was the 1998-99 season. It’s the fourth time in the resort’s history they’ve opened the slopes on the 4th of July.
Independence Day Experience Like No Other
For those of us who are less than advanced skiers or riders (yes, I include myself in that category), there will be plenty of options. Squaw plans to operate five lifts from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 2 through Monday, July 4th. 2011-12 season passes will be honored, but holiday lift tickets are a good deal for families at $49 per day for adults and $12 for kids 12 and under. Oh yeah, all tickets for the weekend will include a free commemorative T-shirt.
Skiers and snow boarders at Alpine Meadows can hit the slopes from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Pre-sale holiday weekend lift tickets start at $40, but if you take part in their 4th of July Fan Quest challenge, you might be able to score lift tickets for as low as $25.
You Don’t Have to Ski
One of the reasons my family enjoyed our weekend at Squaw was that it doesn’t only have to be about skiing and boarding. There’s something for everyone. Families can easily spend a kid-friendly summer weekend in Lake Tahoe, never hit the slopes and still go home very happy. There won’t be time for anyone to be bored.
Squaw Valley Selections
If you’d rather catch some rays than air, head to Squaw Valley’s High Camp Swimming Pool and Hot Tub at elevation 8200’. While you are there, you can take the kids roller skating, play disc golf, tennis or check out the small, but historic Olympic Museum. The 4th of July Arts and Crafts Festival will be in full force over the weekend. If you’re lucky enough to be there, check out the 21st Annual Lake Cushing Crossing. Essentially, contestants skim the lake on skis, but keep in mind, it’s summer, so the lake is a lake, not a sheet of ice. It’s the first ever summer crossing, so I’m thinking eventually everyone gets very wet, some just might have a bit more grace doing it than others.
Alpine Meadows Activities
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is hosting what they are calling “the ultimate Independence Day celebration.” Along with skiing and snowboarding, the resort has plans for barbecues, live music and family friendly games like a hula-hoop contest, beanbag toss, dance-off and a “Slip & Slide.”
It was a long, cold and wet winter for folks in Northern California. Fourth of July skiing and snow boarding is a well deserved reward for all those snow days … and the shoveling that came with them. As for the rest of us that will invade for the holidays, I think we’re just extremely lucky.
, North America
Make a Comment
June 10th, 2011
Kristi from Ciao Bambino
Ciao Bambino was recently invited for a two-day media event to check out what’s new for summer 2011 at Disneyland Resort. If you haven’t been to the park in awhile, now is a great time to visit!
New rides, a “soundsational” parade in Disneyland, and a huge expansion at Disney’s California Adventure mean families with kids of all ages can partake in new experiences.
Star Tours at Disneyland
What’s new at Disneyland
Star Tours. The first time I rode Star Tours, I disembarked thinking “never again.” Star Tours uses a flight-motion simulator vehicle, video, and in-cockpit special effects to transport you to a “galaxy far, far away.” I’m a Star Wars fan, and love that I’m able to share this connection with my kids — but I don’t love bumpy rides that have me sliding from one side of my seat to the other.
I never did ride it again until last week, when the new Star Tours in 3-D opened. The ride is as bumpy as the original, but this time I sat in the middle of the car for a gentler ride, instead of the extra bouncy back. With 54 possible ride combinations, you’re almost guaranteed to get a different adventure each time.
There are 6 different planets, 10 different characters and 3 different endings. Make sure to look on the smaller side screens at the beginning of the ride because they’ll show a photo of the “rebel spy” on board and it could be you! We had a fantastic ending that left me wondering how I survived such an adventure …
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade
Mickey’s Soundsational Parade. “This parade is all about the music,” said Steve Davison, VP, Parades and Spectaculars, Walt Disney Imagineering. “We wanted flavor and looked to the Caribbean and South America. The parade is longer than others, but moves at a fast tempo.” (A normal parade is about 15 minutes and this one is 20.)
Nine floats and ninety performers make their way down Main Street with a mix of older and newer Disney characters. Disney parades are always easy with kids, and Mickey’s Soundsational Parade is no exception.
Mickey Mouse Suite
Disneyland Hotel. Even a classic like the Disneyland Hotel needs a makeover once in a while. The resort retains its nostalgic feel, but has new restaurants and an updated pool—with two new water slides that kids will love. And as always, the convenience of staying at Disneyland is huge: no parking hassles, early entrance on some days, and the option to come back and nap if you need it.
In addition to newly renovated rooms, I had the chance to see a few specialty suites. (At $3,700 a night they have to be special!) The Mickey Mouse Suite is my favorite. It’s all about the Mouse, with a round bed in the kids’ bedroom, Mickey Mouse phones, and bright red and yellow tiles in the bathroom.
Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure
What’s new at California Adventure
California Adventure has some of the most popular rides and attractions, yet most people don’t linger in the park. They go from attraction to attraction, and then head back to Disneyland. The park expansion, which will continue through 2012, is about linking these individual experiences together to make California Adventure a destination – a place where visitors want to hang out and spend the day.
According to Disneyland Resort President, George Kalogridis, when visitors were asked what they wanted to see at California Adventure they said “a more immersive experience that takes them somewhere, more family attractions, and more Disney.” If you visit California Adventure over the next year, you’ll see these changes taking place. First to open is Ariel’s Undersea Adventure at Paradise Pier. Goofy’s Sky School and additional restaurants are coming July 1. A new entrance is also in the works, and construction on Cars Land (which will open next summer) is quickly changing the landscape at California Adventure.
Little Mermaid, Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. For me it was reminiscent of the Pooh Pots ride, but with a Little Mermaid theme and minus the neon colors. Familiarity is the key here — the kids already know the Little Mermaid story, so they are into this ride before they ever hop into their clam shell.
The scenes with Ursula are dark and possibly the only “scary” area for a younger child. But again, most kids are familiar with the story, so they know the happy ending is coming soon. Both my 5 and 8-year-old liked the ride; if I had toddler-aged children, I would be riding this over and over, as it’s a well done attraction that’s easy to repeat.
Note: The Cove Bar at Ariel’s Grotto across from Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, is a very relaxing place for a drink and snack or meal, but there’s no kids menu and only 6 items on the bar menu, so if you have picky eaters this is not a good choice.
The view of the carousel and roller coaster are picture perfect. For more substantial offerings, including a prix fix meal that allows you to have reserved seats for the World of Color show, eat at Ariel’s Grotto restaurant below. If you just want a good view of the World of Color show, there is a $10 per person food/drink minimum to sit in the Cove Bar.
Ariel’s Undersea Adventure review on The Silent I
Disney dining and food allergies
Disney World with tweens
Choosing between Disneyland Hotels
Getting ready for the Disney Dream cruise ship
Disney Cruise Line vacation review
Tips for an optimal Disney Cruise
Visiting Euro Disney with kids
, North America
Make a Comment