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It's National Public Lands Day. 

Take advantage of our country's extensive natural beauty!

Commit to the #leaveitbetter philosophy and help preserve

our national treasures for centuries to come. 



Photo: Montana's Beartooth wilderness. Lynn O'Rourke Hayes


You won't want to miss the bold hues and striking silhouettes shared by celebrated glass artist Dale Chihuly’s stunning artistic extravaganza underway at the Denver Botanical Garden.

Expect a boatload of brightly colored glass baubles afloat amidst the garden’s lily pads, a 30-foot neon tower, and red glass reeds rising up with the prairie grass. The world-renowned, Venice-trained artist’s work is on view now through November 30, 2014.


Discover more about Denver here!


I recently spent some time rediscovering Denver.

And oh how things have changed in recent years! 

No longer a Western outpost, the Mile High City is now an internationally recognized community of arts, culture, and culinary adventure. 

Here are a few family favorites:

Crawford Hotel Union Station Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Union Station.

Recently opened, this historic transportation center has been reinvented as a social gathering place that also houses bike, taxi, rail and bus lines connecting the city center to outlying areas. Stay onsite, in one of the Crawford Hotel’s rail-themed guest rooms and choose from an array of dining options and shops including the Tattered Cover, a famed indie bookstore.

The station’s Grand Hall is a vibrant scene where visitors play shuffleboard, enjoy a snack, conversation and the parade of people passing through. 


The Crawford Hotel

The Crawford Hotel.

The trendy hotel's unbeatable downtown location within the Union Station, combines unique historic elements with up to the minute amenities and top notch service. 


chihuly denver

Denver Botanic Gardens.

Bold hues and striking silhouettes amaze families who visit celebrated glass artist Dale Chihuly’s stunning artistic extravaganza underway within the 24-acre urban oasis. Expect a boatload of brightly colored glass baubles afloat amidst the garden’s lily pads, a 30-foot neon tower, and red glass reeds rising up with the prairie grass. The world-renowned, Venice-trained artist’s work is on view now through November 30, 2014. Contact:  Denver Art Museum Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Indulge in Art.

From art classes and kid-focused camps to clever “create and takes”, the Denver Art Museum welcomes families into the artistic fold. Family backpacks are available for use during a visit, chock full of art making tools, games and puzzles. Kids will also enjoy the Mile High city’s extensive public art program. Don’t miss a photo op with Blue Bear, a 40-foot playful sculpture that depicts the creature peering into the Colorado Convention Center.


Linger Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Foodie Fun.

Introduce the kids to the world’s best street food at Linger, a trendy establishment that overlooks the city.  The founders circled the globe in search of the fare that defines regions from Mumbai to Manhattan. Built in an old mortuary, the quirky interior is made up of cleverly recycled items including tables constructed from rail cars, formaldehyde bottles for water service and specials printed on toe tags.  


Little Man Ice Cream

Sweet Treat

Pair your visit to Linger with a stop at the adjacent giant milk can for a sweet treat. The original Little Man ice cream shop is a local favorite known for their quality confections and the owners' community minded spirit.


Denver Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Bikes Abound.

Denver’s environmental focus and commitment to reduced obesity and affordable transportation are just a few of the reasons the city supports an extensive bike share program. Residents and visitors alike can pick up a bright red bike at any B-station, and ride to their destination. When it is time to move on to the next museum, park or restaurant, grab another bike and go. The Cherry Creek bike path, a 15- mile path along the creek, provides a great way to see the sites and the city skyline while avoiding traffic.



For information check out

 Loews San Diego FamilyTravel.comWhen the temperatures creep toward triple digits, those of us who make sunny Scottsdale our home, often hightail it to our breezy, beachfront neighbor to the West. 

You don’t have to be a desert dweller to appreciate San Diego’s year round appeal!  

Here are six places we like to stay and think you will too:  

Visit San Diego

1. The Hotel del Coronado, California 

We’ve loved our visits to the Del! The iconic hotel, with its signature red and white Victorian architecture, sits on a wide, sandy stretch of beach, a perfect blend of old and new. Since the doors opened in 1888, the Hotel Del has played host to celebrities, dignitaries, and reunions of every sort.

Family members will love the spa, the teen and kids club, beach volleyball and an assortment of seaside activities, Get out your boogie board, take surfing lessons or watch Navy seamen from the nearby base train along the beach. 

2. Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina 

 This 17-story, 429-room hotel offers views, views and views. Kids love the water wonderland where slides are plentiful and everyone has a splashing good time in the heated outdoor pools and hot tubs. 

The proximity to sea-faring fun is a plus too. The expansive marina provides easy access to kayaks, fishing trips, sailboats, jet skis and whale watching excursions. The adults will want to check out the eco-savvy spa and enjoy a waterfront cocktail while the youngsters look forward to sundown s’mores. 

La Jolla Beach and Tennis

3. La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

 Another family favorite, this iconic hotel offers oceanfront guestrooms and suites that make managing the clan’s vacation time a breeze. Do have hungry teens and toddlers? The mini kitchenettes solve that challenge. And with beachfront access, comped WiFi and a great location, everyone is happy.

I once enjoyed a great girlfriend getaway at this sunny spot, making great use of the 14 championship courts.  You’ll also want to plan for a romantic evening at The Marine Room where award-winning cuisine will provide the perfect topper to a terrific day.

4. L’Auberge Del Mar 

 You deserve to treat yourself, right? So if a luxury beach stay is on your bucket list, this plush spot is sure to please. The sea-salty air will envelope you upon arrival in the open-air lobby.  Make your way to your lavishly appointed guest room where you’ll find it challenging to choose between lounging by the pool, an afternoon at the spa or time on the tennis court. 

Loews Coronado

 5. Loews Coronado 

 Loews knows how to make kids and families feel welcome. With their handy location by the Bay, you can take advantage of movies and marshmallow roasts by the pool, as well as a comprehensive kids camp and well stocked game room. Youngsters can opt in for yoga classes and ride bikes along the water’s edge.

Eager for a day at sea? No problem! There are sailboats for hire. 

 6. Residence Inn San Diego Downtown 

 Are you looking for a family-friendly downtown option?  You can’t go wrong with Residence Inn where one and two bedroom suites make it simple for the family to spread out and get comfortable.  It also makes it easy to manage meal and snack time. Access a complimentary full breakfast before your day’s excursions and know that an in-room, completely outfitted kitchen (plus a grocery shopping service) means the gang will have options a plenty.  And of course, when it comes to pool time, you’ll head out to enjoy the sparkling water and steamy Jacuzzi.  


This post was sponsored by TripAdvisor and

mb swimming  floating

Did you know you can camp in one of the top family and beach vacation destinations on the East Coast?

The oceanfront resort of Myrtle Beach, SC is famous for miles of white sandy beaches, water sports, fantastic golf courses, amusement and water parks. You’ll also find great shopping and a wealth of dining options.

It’s also considered the “Camping Capital of the World!”

With warm sea breezes blowing and water temperatures around 80 degrees, a seaside camping adventure in Myrtle Beach provides the best of a sought after resort destination at rates you’ll want to write home about.

Camp Myrtle Beach

Choose from six family-friendly camping locations that offer amenities to suit your camping style ranging from hook-ups for your RV or a place to pitch your tent. 

No RV?

Not ready for the full camping experience?

Then the cottage or villa rental units might be the perfect fit for your family. You’ll have the option to enjoy all the facilities and amenities of the campground, and then retreat to the comfort of your fully furnished rental property for the evening.

There will be no shortage of onsite activities to entice your clan. Look forward to swimming pools and hot tubs, fishing from a pier or on the lake, water parks with lazy rivers, bike paths and evening hayrides.  Stay active with an afternoon of basketball, volleyball, bocce ball or miniature golf.

Families also like to take a break from the beach and paddle a kayak or canoe across one of many picturesque lakes. And the kids often go home with new friends made while enjoying the landscaped playgrounds and recreation areas.

mbcamping oceanfront

From the “trees to the sea”, each of the six campgrounds offers its own blend of family-friendly amenities:


pool side  Myrtle Beach Camping

No matter how you choose to stay, your family will enjoy sunny days in a fun-filled beach destination and warm nights under a star-filled sky.

ranch vacations

Ranch vacations are a great way for families to learn new skills, seek adventure and relax in the great outdoors. In the next few days we'll be sharing stories from our exploration of some of Colorado's best guest ranches.

Stay tuned!

apps for geocaching The right app can keep you and the kids happy. Whether you take family trips by car, boat or plane, add value to your family adventure with educational, problem solving and travel-friendly apps. 

Here are five to consider: 

The Oregon Trail.

Which supplies will you bring? How will you choose the best route? Kids will learn about the triumphs and challenges of life as a western pioneer in the late 1800s through this engaging app.The adventure begins in Missouri, and brave trailblazers make all the decisions that might be required for safe passage to Oregon via wagon train. Educational and compelling, players can talk to characters and opt in for minigames along the way. 



Real-world treasure hunts take place around the world, and your family can join in the fun. This app provides a great way to blend the use of GPS technology with the mission of finding caches. 

Choose your outing based on terrain difficulty, points of interest or the level of challenge.



Families on the go can access user-rated intelligence regarding diaper changing stations, kid-friendly restaurants, parks and play places. Tips regarding medical facilities including pharmacies and urgent-care locations are also available. The developers have tapped parents across the country to create an impressive database of locations. Available free for Android and iPhone.


Dr. Seuss Bookshelf. 

For a wealth of literacy-enhancing rhymes, games and stories, access this collection of Dr. Seuss’ whimsical wisdom. Kids of all ages will enjoy the interactive illustrations and the opportunity to hear some of the classics read aloud. 


Games On the Go.

For colorful, educational fun with planes, cars, trains, fire trucks, dinosaurs and ponies, access these beautifully illustrated apps designed to engage children ages 2 to 6. Through puzzles and other interactive play, kids will be entertained while they learn letters, numbers, patterns and relationships.


Scottsdale Princess

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.


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;;

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. ;; 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:; (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:; 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:; 1(800) 235-6781. For reservations inside the park; (406) 892-2525.


For additional information about Glacier National Park contact:; 1 (406) 888-7800.

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