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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.

yellowstone soupy and steamy?

What's this about a super volcano turning the roads inside our treasured national park into a "soupy mess"?

Park officials have closed a 3.3 mile long stretch of Firehole Lake Drive because the pavement has become too soft for vehicle traffic.

A spokesperson for the park explained that Yellowstone, our first national park, sits on top of the caldera of an ancient super volcano. That's the source of the heat that spews steam from geysers like Old Faithful. That same heat has melted the roadway. Last year, geologists discovered that the volcano was more than twice as large as previously determined.

Established in 1872, Yellowstone is the wonderous home to grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk. It is the core of one of the last, nearly intact, natural ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.

Visitors can find travel and other Park updates here.

320 Guest Ranch Post Card

Wish you were here to join us for a horseback ride under these great Montana skies.

There is so much to do here at the historic 320 Guest Ranch. Families are hiking, fly-fishing, checking out the zip line over at Big Sky and heading into Yellowstone Park for the day. Our favorite National Park is just a few miles down the road!

We enjoyed a pig roast the other night, are planning on a hay ride and fuel it all with a hearty ranch-style breakfast each morning. 

We love our riverside cabin. It’s great to fall off to sleep to the sound of water tumbling over rocks.

Next time, you’ll have to join us!

Hiking in Montana FamilyTravel.com

Do you love to hike?

Taking to the trails is a great way to introduce youngsters to the benefits of fresh air and the natural world.

Here are five hikes to enjoy together: 

1 Sioux Charley Lake, Nye, Mont.

This 6-mile round-trip hike is scenic from start to finish. The initial views include tumbling waterfalls through a canyon-walled section of the Stillwater River known locally as the washtubs. The river braids and the canyon widens as hikers move toward the Beartooth Mountain peaks, ambling through forest and meadows dotted with wildflowers. The lake area or the nearby rock outcroppings provide the perfect setting for a picnic.  

Contact: visitmt.com; MTHikes.com 

2 Lory State Park, Fort Collins, Colo.

A popular northern Front Range destination, Lory State Park offers 26 miles of hiking (and biking) trails, which are rich in wildflowers during the summer. Wind your way through rocky hills and green valleys. Savor the aroma of the ponderosa pine forest. Opt for ranger-led hikes under the full or almost full moon during the year’s warmest stretch, for a memorable family outing. 

Contact: cpw.state.co.us  

3 Washington, D.C., and Virginia, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

Take a break from hiking between museums and galleries and stretch your legs on a scenic path just 20 minutes from the Capitol. The trail begins at the Angler’s Inn and follows the canal towpath for 2.3 miles to the Great Falls Tavern, passing old locks along the way. The outing provides an opportunity to discuss the way locks once lifted boats 600 feet during the years — from the 1830s until 1924 — it was in use. On weekends, the park service offers rides on canal boats pulled by mules. 

Contact: nps.gov/choh/index.htm 

4 Grotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn.

Does your family love waterfalls? If so, Trillium Gap Trail will be a hit. The trail provides access behind the 25 feet of falling water where salamanders scamper about, to the delight of trekkers. The 3-mile round trip takes families through an old-growth hemlock forest. Caution is advised on slippery rocks near the cooling waterfall. 

Contact: nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/grotto-falls.htm  

5 Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

The kids will feel like real mountaineers when they venture along the Sourdough Ridge Trail, located in the subalpine zone of this northwestern park. The 21/2-mile loop trail offers stunning vistas of deep green valleys and snow-capped peaks. With only a 400-foot elevation gain, the hard-packed route provides high-altitude ambience with relatively little effort. Be on the lookout for mountain goats and the occasional elk herd in the distance.  

Contact: nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/day-hiking-at-mount-rainier.htm

There is plenty of family fun to be found in mountain towns during the summer. Cool temperatures. Hiking, biking and fly fishing abound. 

Ready to rodeo in Steamboat Springs, Co.?

Your whole crew will enjoy witnessing the American tradition where the rough and tough iconic cowboy meets good, old-fashioned family fun.

Check out these epic mountain towns while you are in the mood for high altitude fun.

USA TODAY Top Bloggers list!

It's our lucky day!

We are among a small group nominated for USA Today's Ten Best Family Travel Bloggers list.

Our adventure and outdoor focus, combined with a commitment to provide healthy, smart and off-the-beaten path family travel options, is a passion we hold dear.

Thank you, dear readers, for your ongoing support!

Feel like casting a vote? You can do so here. Thanks so much. 

Family Travel Curtain Bluff

Single parents looking for time with the kids might welcome the chance to connect with other adults while traveling.

Here are five ideas to consider: 

1 Check out a dude ranch. 

. Join a cattle drive, learn to rope a calf, play games or enjoy a picnic in the hills. You’ll savor time together in a pristine setting with as much activity as suits your personal style. Join other families at mealtime or around an evening campfire to share stories and plan the next day’s adventures. Many ranches have kids-only programs that give grown-ups a chance to learn a new skill or recharge on their own. 

Contact: bestduderanches.com.   

 2 Stay in an all-inclusive.

Leave the credit cards behind and feel comfortable on the beach, at dinner, and pursuing paddle boating, water-skiing, sailing and snorkeling with and without the kids. At Curtain Bluff, a relaxed yet luxurious family-owned resort in Antigua, you can pamper yourself at the spa or sway under the palms in your hammock while the youngsters enjoy a tennis clinic or Creative Camp. 

Contact: 1-888-289-9898; curtainbluff.com 

 3 Raft a river.

Cast a line in the water in between rapids in on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Warm up in hot springs along the way and check out Indian pictographs. Join other parents and kids in camp for a short hike, organic seasonal fare and conversation around the campfire. For a luxury-in-the-wilderness experience , parents can treat themselves to a riverside massage.

Contact: 832-755-7661; far-away.com

4 Volunteer together.

Forge a parent-child bond while giving back to others. Learn about community-based tourism through a cross-cultural exchange that includes home stays, family-style meals, exploration, adventure and time with locals in indigenous communities. Opportunities include building schools as well as assisting with the pressing need of the moment in Peru, Guatemala, Kenya, India and beyond. Closer to home, venture into America’s breathtaking backcountry to rebuild or create trails, shelters and cabins in more than 50 locations with the American Hiking Society.

Contact: crookedtrails.com; americanhiking.org  

 5 Plan an adventure.

Interested in exploring the rain forest in Costa Rica? Perhaps you’d rather cycle together through Ireland, see lions and leopards in Africa, or learn about the natural world in Yellowstone. When joining small-group family adventure trips, the details are handled and you can enjoy time with the kids, other families and the destination at hand.

Contact: austinadventures.com; tauck.com

 ice cream month family travel

 

It is reported that nearly 90 percent of Americans love ice cream.

Whether in our home town or on the road, a trip to the local sweet shop is often on the itinerary.

If you and your family are in the majority, consider incorporating the cool confection into your next holiday. 

Here are nine places where ice cream takes center stage:

Salt & Straw, Portland, OR.

  Billed as  “farm-to-cone ice cream”, the delectable and creative flavors regularly result in lines out the door, as patrons debate their new favorite concoction. Launched by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek, the pair uses local, sustainable and organic ingredients to deliver hand-made, small batches of Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero, Cinnamon Snicker Doodle and Double Fold Singing Dog Vanilla.

Contact: 971-271-8168; www.SaltandStraw.com. 

Velvet Ice Cream’s Ye Olde Mill. Utica, OH.

  This 99-year-old, family-owned spot celebrates the month with activities that include 99-cent cone day, music from a barbershop quartert, magicians, clowns, tastings and a special sundae celebration. Pets even get in on the action during the 4Paws Dog Show

The company, fittingly located in Licking County, churns out more than 5 million gallons of ice cream each year on the 25-acre grounds of Ye Olde Mill where visitors can tour the ice cream and milling museum. The playground, picnic area and catch-and-release fishpond are popular with families. 

Contact: www.VelvetIceCream.com 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial. SD.

Thomas Jefferson is well known for service to his country, efforts that included writing the Declaration of Independence and serving as President of the US.  But few know he is considered to be the first to craft an ice cream recipe.  Xanterra Parks and Resorts serves the same vanilla recipe that Jefferson offered his guests at a state dinner held at Monticello home.  Monumental scoops of “TJ’s Ice Cream” are available throughout the summer at the Memorial Team Ice Cream shop.

Contact: www.nps.gov/moru; www.mtrushmorenationalmemorial.com

Little Man Ice Cream. Denver, Co.

  Visit this Coney Island inspired creamery for hand-made and locally sourced taste treats, crafted within a 28-foot tall silver cream can. In addition to providing an experience for their local customers, Little Man is committed to a Scoop for Scoop program. For every scoop of ice cream purchased, the organization provides a scoop of rice or beans to those less fortunate in developing parts of the world.

Contact: www.littlemanicecream.com  

Birchwood Dairy, Abbotsford, BC.

Koralee Teichroeb, author of Everything Goes With Ice Cream, taps the 150-acre Birchwood Dairy as her go-to spot for the creamy confection. “This little neighborhood farm and dairy sells the best homemade ice cream ever,” declares the frozen treat aficionado. Visitors can take a farm tour or enjoy petting small farm animals before enjoying a scoop of Candy Cane or Caramel Wave.

Contact: http://www.birchwooddairy.com/

Waterbury, Vt. –  Two guys named Ben and Jerry have turned their mail order ice cream business into this state’s number one tourist attraction. The kids will have fun outside engaging in fun activities that include spin art, a tie-dye tent, temporary tattoos and a playground. Inside they will be mesmerized by the “cow to cone” process. Everyone’s favorite focus seems to be taste testing. Don’t miss the ice cream graveyard where has-beens and wanna-be flavors are given their due with colorful grave markers.

Contact: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tours; 1 (802) 882-1240; www.BenJerry.com

Fairbanks and Denali, AK – If the urge for ice cream strikes in between animal sightings, camping, climbing, biking and  kayaking, head straight to Hot Licks for some premium cream. Launched more than 20 years ago by two brothers from Boston, Hot Licks offers locally inspired flavors including Aurora Borealis (local blueberry and cranberry purees swirled into vanilla ice cream), Alaska Birch Walnut (local birch syrup and California walnuts) and Nanook Nosh (vanilla, melted milk chocolate and caramel.)

Contact: www.HotLIicks.net; :1- (907) 479-7813 

Fort Lauderdale, FL -- 

At the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa you can enjoy in-room ice cream sundae service. During July ( National Ice Cream Month ) you can go overboard with free toppings. Watching your calories? Indulge in a 50- minute ice cream pedicure, customized to your taste. Will it be vanilla, kiwi or mango? 

Contact:  www.marriottharborbeach.com; 1 (800) 222-6543. 

 San Antonio, TX

After a stroll on the Riverwalk or a visit to the Alamo, indulge in a cool, refreshing ice cream sundae for your feet!  At the luxury Watermark Hotel and Spa you can climb into the chair for a 50-minute ice cream pedicure treatment that promises to nourish, relax and beautify your legs and feet. Your special take home gift: more ice cream.

Contact: 1 (866) 605-1212; www.watermarkhotel.com.

arabelle vail family travel

Ready for some high altitude fun?

Check into a guest room or one of 25 private residences within the Arabelle at Vail Square and you’ll be perfectly located to enjoy a high altitude stay in one of the country’s most popular and family-friendly resorts.

Hop on to the Eagle Bahn gondola just outside the hotel to access mountain top hiking, biking, Adventure Ridge family activities, music, dining and jaw dropping sunsets.

Fly fish Gore Creek or cool off on a kayak or raft trip. Coming soon: a 1200-foot zip line.

Contact: www.Vail.comhttp://arrabelle.rockresorts.com.

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