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Wednesday, 27 August 2014 11:58

Ways To Save On Family Travel

By Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Scottsdale Princess FamilyTravel.com

Choose an off-peak package. 

Whether you visit midweek or off-season, you’ll save. For example, the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa offers a Drive, Dine and Dream package, available for stays Sunday through Thursday. Located in Southern California’s San Bernardino National Forest, guests receive room discounts and resort credits as well as guided hikes, mountain bike adventures and s’mores on the beach. 

Or, check into the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess during Arizona’s warmer months for value-rich family activities including the new Splash Rider X-treme water ride, dive-in movies, tennis, golf and zip-lining.

Contact: www.Scottsdaleprincess.com; www.lakearrowheadresort.com

Your next family vacation: Wyoming

At Brooks Lake Lodge, the vast Wyoming wilderness is right outside your door. High mountain lakes, miles of hiking and horseback trails and magnificent views will enhance your experience. One and two bedroom rustic but restored cabins are nestled among the Spruce and Pine trees of the Pinnacle Mountains. Enjoy the sweet smell of the forest from under your goose down comforters. (307) 455-2121; www.BrooksLake.com;

Sunday, 17 August 2014 10:19

Visit Glacier!

By Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Family Vacation Family Travel Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park.

It’s a must see: stunning vistas, more than 200 lakes, 175 named mountains and 40 glaciers, tucked within one million acres of natural beauty. That’s Glacier National Park.

The last time I visited it was a multi-generational outing - my Dad, my son and my niece and it was a great destination for all of us.

Established in 1910, by an act of Congress, this extraordinary recreational playground is also home to more than 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

With so much to see, if you go, it is important to plan in advance.

Here are a few suggestions to jump start your visit:

Ride the Red Bus.

The historic red buses are a symbol of another age, providing a commanding overview of the park’s magnificent history and scenery. The vintage vehicle carries 17 passengers. Tours range from three hours to a full day. Children under 12 are half price.

Contact: Glacier Park, Inc. ; www.GlacierParkInc.com; 406.892.2525.

Explore on foot.

With more than 800 miles of maintained hiking trails, there are plenty of opportunities for families to learn about the flora and fauna. A favorite among families, we enjoyed the beauty of the Avalanche Lake trail. Within four miles round trip, and a gain of just 500 feet in elevation, trekkers will enjoy a rich forest environment, tumbling waterfalls and a majestic lake with more waterfalls at the turnaround point. Take a picnic and enjoy. Easily accessible, the trailhead is five miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Scenic Boat Tours.

Step aboard historic boats and glide across the pristine alpine lakes nestled amid majestic peaks. Enjoy the colorful commentary provided by the skilled crew. Available from four locations. Fares under $20. Children under four are free. Children 4-12 are half price.

Contact: www.GlacierParkBoats.com; (406) 257-2426.

Float the River.

Venture down the wild and scenic middle and north forks of the Flathead River with professional guides who will share their knowledge of the river. Half and full day scenic floats or whitewater adventures. Paddle a raft or an inflatable kayak. Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1 (800) 235-6781.

Base Camp.

Glacier Outdoor Center’s log cabins provide a comfortable and well-located retreat just outside the gates at West Glacier. One and two bedroom cabins sleep from six to fourteen people. Enjoy full kitchens, covered decks, a gas grill and full guide services on site.

Contact: www.GlacierRaftCo.com; 1(800) 235-6781. For reservations inside the park contact:www.GlacierParkInc.com; (406) 892-2525.

 

For additional information about Glacier National Park contact: www.nps.gov/Glac; 1 (406) 888-7800.

Friday, 18 July 2014 15:05

Summer Brain Boost

By Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Movie Night:  Summer Brain-Power Boost

After a day in the summer sun, take a break with the family. Curl up on the couch and learn something new. You'll find these titles on Netflix. For your big kids:

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1. Lewis & Clark: The Journey Out West
2. Walking with Dinosaurs
3. Secret Yellowstone
4. The Blue Planet
5. When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions

Find out what's bubbling in Yellowstone. Then discover more brain-boosting titles. The folks at Common Sense Media shared 12 age-appropriate documentaries that encourage kids to explore worlds they may not normally encounter, all currently streaming on Netflix – check out the list here.

Monday, 14 July 2014 10:51

Once A Year An Only Child

By Lisa Tucker McElroy

The McElroy Family

Once a year, around the second week of June, my younger daughter revels in being an only child.

Her older sister, an astronaut wannabe, heads to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, where thousands of her peers engage in simulated missions and try out what it feels like to bounce around in zero gravity. She's sure she's the luckiest kid on earth.

But my 13-year-old? She knows she's got it made.

My two daughters were born only 18 months apart, and neither of them ever forgets it. My older daughter loves to taunt her younger sister about the fact that, for an entire year and a half, she had the benefit of my full attention. My little one celebrates every chance to remind us of the fact that, pretty much the minute she was born, she got hauled around in her big sister's wake.

That's why, several years ago, when my now-15year-old started flying off into space once a year, the 13-year-old announced that she was going to be queen for a week. It would be her week, she said. It would be the very best week of the year.

It would be Only Child Week.

We made it happen.

It's not that we're indulging her, really. My husband and I embrace Only Child Week, perhaps because we, too, feel we missed out on letting our little one be the only one. We're making up for lost time. We're giving her the chance to shine without the shadow of her older sister blocking our view.

And so, every year, as soon as we put our older daughter on the plane to Alabama, we start a journey of our own. A few years ago, we hit Charlottesville, Virginia, and took cooking lessons at the classic colonial Clifton Inn. The summer before that, we zip-lined our way through upstate New York and pretended to be genies in our pink sparkly suite at the funka-licious Roxbury Motel. Last June, we rode WaveRunners and kicked back on the beach at Florida's Sandpearl Resort.

This summer's Only Child Week? Couldn't have been better. Sure, while we relaxed to the max at Lost Valley Ranch, high in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, we yahooed our way on horseback through the trails. We do-si-doed at the weekly square dance. We drank milkshakes at the ranch's old fashioned soda fountain and ate pancakes by the creek after a morning hay ride.

But the greatest part of the week was hanging with our "only child."

We took a family ride, just the three of us and a wrangler, high up a hill where my husband almost hyperventilated and my daughter soothed his frazzled nerves. We made ice cream sundaes at a ranch social, letting our teenager dump as many M & M's on top of hers as she could fit. We cannonballed and splashed each other in the pool and made midnight treks to the main lodge to swipe homemade chocolate chip cookies from a giant jar the kitchen kept filled for hungry cowgirls.

We giggled with our daughter over her stuffed animals' antics (yes, even at 13, she goes nowhere without her oversized pals). We sat on either side of her on our cabin's porch swing and at the ranch's hayloft theater.

We made it all about her.

And in the process, we got the chance to really connect with who she was this year, how she'd changed from the last time she took on only child status. She'd gotten braver, we noticed, more willing to try scary stuff like galloping through a field on a horse she'd met only days before. She'd definitely let her more independent side emerge -- last year, she never would have agreed to go off with the teen supervisor for a pre-breakfast ride or an evening bonfire. She'd become shyer, in a way, resisting me when I tried to take her photo, but more outgoing and self-assured somehow, too, bonding with some kids from across the country and choosing her very own cowboy hat at the ranch store.

It wasn't that we didn't know our daughter. It was that Only Child Week gave us a chance to bring her into sharp focus, without the distractions of work and school and French horn practice and babysitting commitments.

Some of my friends comment, from time to time, that it's not fair that we take our little one on a week's vacation every year while we send the older one off to camp. But they're missing the point. Our big girl? She's convinced she's got the best end of the deal. She's at Space Camp, with zillions of kids just like her. Her baby sister's stuck with Mom and Dad.

And our little one? She's getting the chance to be what she's always wished she'd gotten the chance to be, even for just the eighteen months her sister had. For one week, every June, she's an only child.

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