Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Lynn O'Rourke Hayes

Happy Independence day

Savor your independence, family travelers!

Are you considering a family trip to Europe sometime soon?

Here: data collected by KAYAK that may inspire your family travel plans.  

-          Reykjavik reigns as the top European destination to score an airfare deal. Over half (56%) of the airports reviewed offered this Icelandic hotspot as the cheapest European destination to fly to this summer.  

-          Now may be the time to experience the Nordic Countries’ famous midnight sun phenomenon. In addition to Reykjavik, Oslo, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen all appear on the list.

-          East Coasters can score the best deals. 6 of the 10 cheapest flights were in Eastern states including New York, Florida, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Find your city below: 

Cheapest European City by State

Origin State

Origin Airport

Destination City

Median Airfare (USD)

Alabama

HSV

Reykjavik

$735

Alabama

BHM

Reykjavik

$660

Alaska

ANC

Reykjavik

$693

Arizona

PHX

Reykjavik

$831

Arizona

TUS

Reykjavik

$662

Arkansas

MEM

London

$985

California

LAX

Barcelona

$614

California

SFO

Barcelona

$583

California

SAN

Copenhagen

$863

Colorado

DEN

Reykjavik

$618

Connecticut

BDL

Dublin

$682

Delaware

BWI

Lisbon

$686

Florida

MCO

London

$661

Florida

TPA

London

$661

Florida

MIA

Madrid

$550

Georgia

SAV

Amsterdam

$838

Georgia

ATL

Reykjavik

$754

Hawaii

HNL

Reykjavik

$612

Hawaii

KOA

Reykjavik

$619

Idaho

SLC

Reykjavik

$685

Illinois

ORD

Dublin

$721

Indiana

IND

Reykjavik

$720

Iowa

DSM

Reykjavik

$669

Kansas

MCI

Reykjavik

$616

Kentucky

CVG

Reykjavik

$681

Kentucky

SDF

Milan

$985

Louisiana

MSY

Reykjavik

$616

Maine

BGR

Reykjavik

$631

Maryland

BWI

Lisbon

$686

Massachusetts

BOS

Oslo

$596

Michigan

DTW

Reykjavik

$648

Michigan

FNT

Dublin

$798

Minnesota

MSP

Reykjavik

$487

Mississippi

GPT

Reykjavik

$646

Missouri

MCI

Reykjavik

$575

Missouri

STL

Reykjavik

$616

Montana

BIL

Reykjavik

$617

Nebraska

OMA

Reykjavik

$605

Nevada

LAS

London

$716

Nevada

RNO

Reykjavik

$754

New Hampshire

BOS

Oslo

$596

New Jersey

EWR

Dublin

$608

New Mexico

ABQ

Reykjavik

$635

New York

JFK

Madrid

$564

New York

BUF

Reykjavik

$616

New York

LGA

Helsinki

$523

North Carolina

CLT

Lisbon

$803

North Carolina

RDU

Reykjavik

$663

North Dakota

FAR

Reykjavik

$687

Ohio

CLE

Reykjavik

$453

Ohio

CMH

Reykjavik

$616

Oklahoma

OKC

Reykjavik

$656

Oklahoma

TUL

Reykjavik

$654

Oregon

PDX

Reykjavik

$638

Pennsylvania

PHL

Cork

$661

Pennsylvania

PIT

Frankfurt

$679

Rhode Island

PVD

Dublin

$441

South Carolina

CHS

Reykjavik

$667

South Dakota

OMA

Reykjavik

$605

Tennessee

BNA

Reykjavik

$656

Texas

AUS

London

$752

Texas

IAH

Luxembourg

$664

Utah

SLC

Reykjavik

$685

Vermont

BTV

Milan

$647

Virginia

ORF

Reykjavik

$616

Virginia

RIC

Reykjavik

$616

Washington

SEA

Manchester

$729

West Virginia

PIT

Frankfurt

$679

Wisconsin

MKE

Oslo

$694

Wyoming

BIL

Reykjavik

$617

Washington DC

IAD

Stockholm

$685

Methodology:

KAYAK considered searches on the US KAYAK site between April 15, 2018 through April 15, 2019 for travel between May 24, 2019 through September 2, 2019. All data was pulled from KAYAK’s internal database; prices may vary.

Historic festivals and cultural celebrations provide expansive experiences of a lifetime for travelers of every age. You'll gain insight into what matters to local communities paired with a bit of history. 

Here are several to consider: 

Nyepi, Bali.

While many celebrate a New Year with fireworks and frivolity, the Balinese choose to cleanse the spirit, meditate and bask in silence on Nyepi, or Silent Day.

On Nyepi Eve, observe local villagers as they play music, dance and parade colorful, hand-crafted “monster dolls” through the streets, while encouraging evil spirits to join the party, hoping they will then sleep through Nyepi. During the 24 hours of silence that follows, Bali’s airport, seaports, roads and all businesses are closed, steeping the island in a magical, pristine quiet. Lighting and the use of electricity are kept to a minimum and visitors and resort guests are encouraged to join islanders in a day of relaxation and reflection. It’s an ideal time for journaling, napping, quiet conversation, candle lit dinners and stargazing.

Ease into the day with morning yoga at the Four Season’s Jimbaran Bay’s peaceful, ocean-front pavilion. At the Four Seasons Resort at Sayan guests are invited to join in a meditation under the stars aside the roof-top lotus pond. Nyepi falls according to the lunar-based Balinese calendar and thus changes each year. The next Silent Day is March 25, 2020. 

Contact: http://www.fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay;https://www.fourseasons.com/sayan/

 Nadaam Festival Mongolia Mir

Nadaam Festival, Mongolia.

A sophisticated and elegant expression of nomadic culture, the Nadaam festival is popular  among Mongols and  believed to have existed for centuries. The core of the festival is comprised of “Danshig games” - wrestling, horse racing and archery - once reserved only for men. Today, women and girls participate in some aspects. With spiritual roots – both shamanist and Buddhist – the festival celebrates cultural identity with art, singing, dancing and ceremonies throughout the region in mid- Summer.

Contact: www.MirCorp.com.

Heiva Tahiti

Heiva, Tahiti.

The 137-year old, Celebration of Life, an annual, month-long festival of Polynesian song and dance, gets underway each July. Singers and dance troupes from 118 Tahitian islands gather for an annual competition highlighting ancestral traditions and legends. Live music accompanies the contenders,  using traditional instruments like the nasal flute or vivo, marine shells or pu, and more recently, the ukulele.   With meaningful choreography and costumes, it’s considered the centerpiece of the festival. Visitors can also take in traditional sports and games based on ancient athletic activities. Expect a stone lifting competition, a javelin- throwing event, va’a (outrigger canoe) races, a copra competition, and a fruit carrying contest.

Contact: https://www.heiva.org

Estes Park

Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival, Estes Park, CO.

Jousting knights, hoisting athletes and calling bagpipes have been entertaining families for more than three decades in this scenic mountain setting. One of the nation’s largest celebrations of the heritage, sounds, tastes, and the arts of Scottish and Irish cultures gets underway the weekend after Labor Day. You’ll be serenaded by bands - the marching kind, the rocking kind and everything in-between - hailing from Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Don’t miss the free parade down Main Street, a colorful preview of the festival’s glory. Contact:  www.VisitEstesPark.com.

Santa Maria

Obon, Japan. 

Obon, a matsuri, or Japanese festival, is held each summer to honor the ancestors’ spirits and to welcome 
them back for a brief visit with the living. A 500-year-old tradition  in Japan, the festival begins as small lanterns are lit to guide the spirits 
 home. There are offerings of food to nourish the spirits, either at household altars or at food stalls lining the streets. A most memorable 
sight is bon odori, the traditional dances that take place around a yagura (raised platform). Thousands wear yukata, a lighter summer 
kimono, dancing to the beat of the taiko drums. Many communities in the U.S. celebrate Obon. In California’s Santa Maria Valley, all are welcome for a festival that includes  taiko drumming,  traditional dancing and bonsai and martial arts demonstrations. 

Contact:  https://us.jnto.go.jp/top/index.php; https://santamariavalley.com

Day of the Dead Intrepid Mexico

Day of the Dead, Mexico.

One of the world's most lively cultural events, Mexico's Day of the Dead is a tradition that takes place each year from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. The ceremonies are thought to reunite the living with their deceased relatives with food, drink and other festivities. Intrepid's Mexico City: 
Day of the Dead Original trip combines culture and history for an immersive 5-day experience in the heart of the Dia de Los Muertos festivities and includes a visit the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan, a chance to witness Day of the Dead ceremonies and to help create a traditional Day of the Dead altar.

Contact: www.Interpid.com

As the summer gets underway, look to the starry skies for inspiration.

Oasis at Death Valley

In Death Valley National Park, a 3.4 million-acre expanse and the region’s clean, dry air combine to provide an ideal vantage point for observing shooting stars, meteor showers and constellations galore. And the Milky Way!

The conditions have earned the park the prestigious Gold-Tier Dark Sky status. The area shares a strong commitment to avoid light pollution and keep the night sky visible. Stay at the Oasis at Death Valley (choose from the Inn or the Ranch) and join the Las Vegas Astronomical Society for Star Parties on selected evenings or enjoy the gem-studded sky on your own. 

Find other star-filled destinations to consider here.

Are you headed to a guest or dude ranch soon?

Or perhaps you'd like to ride horses while in a western mountain town?

Get ready to ride with these tips offered by Germonimo Trail Guest Ranch. 

Dude ranch tips for horseback riding

The family travel season is about to be in full swing.  

Parents everywhere are gearing up for road trips, summer camps, national park outings and air travel.

Dad and travel expert Jim Mazza, Chief Operating Officer for TRAVELSAVERS, a retail chain of more than 2,500 independently owned, full-service travel agencies, offered a few words of wisdom for those who plan to board a flight in the weeks and months ahead. 

Book an early flight

As a dad, Mazza knows small kids are at their best earlier in the day before exhaustion sets in for them (and their parents).  More than that, and important for travelers of every age, delays often build as the day goes on, particularly in the Northeast.  

Understand the fare you are booking. 

For many travelers, especially cost-conscious families, price matters.  It may seem like the right thing to book the least expensive fare that pops up, but these are often “branded fares” which come with tough restrictions including seat choice, leg room and baggage allowance.  

You'll find more air travel tips here

 

Diving boards and the deep end have been replaced by daredevil drops and surf zones.

Here are five places where you and the family can splash together in cool pools and waterparks.  

Royal Caribbean, Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Visitors to the cruise line’s recently relaunched, 125-acre, private island, CocoCay, can choose to Thrill, Chill or both,  while the ship docks for the day at a newly built pier.  For those who opt for the Thrill Zone, the centerpiece is Daredevil Peak, a 135-foot high slide, said to be the highest in North America. A dozen other slides, a wave pool and assorted water play areas will keep youngsters and the young at heart busy for hours. Also, in the neighborhood you’ll find a helium balloon ride, a 1,600-foot long zip line and casual hang out zones from which to watch others tackle the heights.

On the Chill side, expect a long stretch of beach, options for snorkeling, wave running, paddle boarding, kayaking and simply soaking up the sun while floating on a royal blue raft.

Don't forget your sunscreen!

Contact: www.RoyalCaribbean.com 

jw Marriott familytravel.com

JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa, Aventura, FL  

This South Florida resort  recently opened the Tidal Cove Waterpark, an integral part of a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project. The new five-acre fun zone includes a 60-foot tower with seven water slides, a 4,000-square-foot kids pool with an aquatic play area, and a triple Flow Rider simulation pool, the first of its kind in the country. The 42-foot wide surf simulation machine incorporates elements of surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, skimboarding, snowboarding and wakeboarding. The new water features connect with current facilities that include a Lazy River, a zero entry pool and 25 luxury cabanas for privacy and relaxation.

Contact: https://www.jwturnberry.com

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, Ariz

A family stay at this Sonoran desert resort is full of fun surprises, beginning at the Kid's Check-in desk. In no time, your gang can dig your toes in the sand at the Sunset Beach pool or join the festivities at the Sonoran Splash pool where water slides, music, games and dive-in movies up the fun factor. Kids can fish in the lagoon, play golf or spend the day at the Trailblazers Kids Club where activities include ping pong, learning about desert wildlife, making s'mores in a solar oven and recreational games. The day ends with an ice cream social. Sweet treats aside, parents will appreciate the Lifestyle Cuisine menu for adults and children that focuses on providing healthy choices. 

Contact: fairmont.com/scottsdaleexperiencescottsdale.com.

Cool pools

Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, HI  

This island haven may be most famous for its beaches, but don't pass up the chance to explore what this resort has to offer. The whole family will be eager to explore the 25,700-square-foot area that includes nine free-form pools. Travel via a "river" to check out the slides, waterfalls, caves, water elevator, swim-up bar, rope swing and more that are part of this water wonderland. Adventurers will want to check out the 262-foot Lava Slide, a 14-second thrill ride that includes a 30-foot drop and speeds up to 22 miles per hour.

Contact: https://www.grandwailea.com.

Aquatica,  Orlando, FL. 

With 42 water slides, rides, rivers, and lagoons, this award-winning water park in Orlando is part of the SeaWorld family. Check out the Walhalla Wave, a family raft ride that includes more than 600 feet of drenching twists, turns, and drops into darkness. Earlier this year, Aquatica Orlando became the world’s first water park to be recognized as a certified autism center with the ability to offer resources and tools for families with members that have autism and other special needs.

Contact: www.aquaticaorlando.com.

Cruise fans have been waiting for the reopening of CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas. 

The time has come!

Royal Caribbean

We checked out the newly named “Perfect Day at CocoCay” next week. It’s a 125-acre fun zone (with a chill zone for those who would rather relax and soak up the sun) where families can frolick in a waterpark with 13 slides, a mega wave pool, and another pool with a built-in obstacle course. 

And then, there’s Thrill Waterpark, home to the tallest slide in North America, a 1,600-foot long zip line and a helium balloon ride. 

 Hope you caught some of the action on our social feeds!  

And you can read more about CocoCay and other fun water parks here. 

Planning your next family vacation?

Turn the tables and try something new and different.

Here are five ideas to consider: 

hike into the back country of a national park

 Trade a ritzy resort for the backcountry. 

Family camping can help stir a deep and lifelong interest in the natural world.  For the purest connection to nature, make your way off the beaten path. Hike, paddle or float into a pristine location where your family can learn or hone wilderness skills. Choose a destination suitable for the ages and abilities of your crew. Encourage each person to take responsibility for the adventure, whether that be early research, carrying a small pack, collecting kindling or serving as master storyteller around the fire.

If you are concerned about the youngest members of your clan, consider a practice round in the backyard or nearby park. That way, if the weather or unforeseen forces create a kink in your plans, warm and dry shelter is nearby.

Contact: backcountry.comnps.gov

Sofitel New York

Trade the country for the city.

For the ultimate New York experience join the Sofitel New York in their salute to Broadway and the Tony Awards. Check in to the Midtwon hotel’s  Tony Awards Suite, a luxury space with jaw-dropping views of the Manhattan skyline. You’ll be immersed in Broadway memorabilia and amenities including a Tony Awards songbook, scripts from award-winning plays, photographs, playbills, invitations and a video loop of of footage from this’s season’s most popular productions. Of course, with all that in-room inspiration you’ll want to catch a stage performance yourselves. Head to the TKTS booth in Time Square to snag last minute, discounted tickets. 

Contact: www.sofitel-new-york.comwww.TDF.org

  tennis at the resort

Put down the clubs. Pick up a racket.

Then head to the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont’s Green Mountains. Their new family programs include instruction at the Woodstock Tennis Academy where families can hone skills and strategies while participating in relaxed games and doubles matches. A team of pros will host sessions at the resort’s world-class facilities which include indoor and outdoor U.S. Open and Hard-tru courts. The program consists of four half-day sessions, Monday through Thursday. (Check the website for dates and details.) While visiting the 2,500-plus acre property, families can also enjoy hiking, mountain biking, fishing and gardening classes. Contact: https://www.woodstockinn.com

disney cruise

Trade terra firma for a boat that floats. 

Go all in and commit to a family adventure aboard a Disney cruise ship. Choose from four vessels, Disney Wonder, Magic, Dream and Fantasy, each designed to conjure a bygone era but with plenty of modern amenities. (And, a respectful hat tip to the mouse that got the whole thing started.) Expect top notch service from smiling staff members, character meet and greets each day, movies, performances, pool time and a menu of enrichment experiences. Disney aims to offer an elegant, yet family-friendly, experience on every ship.

What you won’t find: a casino. 

Contact: https://disneycruise.disney.go.com

Beartooth highways

Don't fly over. Make it a road trip. Drive through some beautiful country and stop often. Visitors who travel this extraordinary byway, experience the visual trifecta of Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, home to the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. The Beartooth Highway, a windy, cliff-hugging 68-mile stretch introduces road explorers to one of the most diverse ecosystems accessible by auto. It’s also the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, the All-American Road showcases wide, high alpine plateaus, painted with patches of ice blue glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife. Plan for many pull overs and perhaps a picnic, so the driver can take in the long views!

Contact: http://beartoothhighway.com

Canada, America’s neighbor to the North, offers families a wide range of vacation opportunities. You'll find history, culture and extraordinary natural beauty. And polar bears. 

Here are five regions to consider: 

Visit Calgary - family travel.com

Alberta  

 Home to super star national parks Banff and Jasper and more than 600 lakes, this massive western province is an outdoor adventurer’s dream destination. As it’s flag advertises, visitors can expect snowy mountains, golden plains, evergreen forests and endless blue skies. All that, plus more than 300 days of sunshine each year, enabling great days on hiking trails and ski slopes.

Canada’s fastest growing city, Calgary, a beneficiary of a cattle and oil boom, offers visitors plenty including the famous Calgary Stampede as well as the Heritage Park Historical Village where period clad staff spin tales of frontier life on the Canadian Prairies. Further north, along the North Saskatchewan River, Edmonton serves as the provincial capital and is considered the cultural soul of the region. Expect galleries, theatre, live music and shopping. 

Contact: www.TravelAlberta.com.

British Columbia 

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Inside Passage. It’s that scenic chain of channels, bays and islands that create Canada’s diverse Pacific coastline. It’s popular with kayakers, whale watchers, birders,boaters and adventurers. 

You’ll also want to put the cities of Vancouver and Victoria on your radar. Located on the edge of wilderness, both urban areas offer hip dining with fresh seafood and farm to table offerings as well as and museums of interest to every age group. Don’t miss the scenic drive from Vancouver to the mountain ski town of Whistler via the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Along what is also known as Highway 99, you’ll pass sheer rock faces, waterfalls, fjords, alpine forests and the snow-capped Coast Mountains. 

Contact: www.HelloBC.com 

Churchill Manitoba FamilyTravel.com

Manitoba 

If you yearn to see polar bears in the wild, Churchill, in northern Manitoba is the place to be. Located on the migration route between the bear dens and their feeding grounds, the town is ground zero for those who want the chance to learn about and glimpse the animals in their native environment.

Tundra buggies transport visitors into the vast landscape outside of town  to photograph and observe the seal hunters. Helicopter tours are also possible. Slot the destination onto your list for viewing the northern lights and  Beluga whale watching in the summer months. 

 Contact: www.TravelManitoba.com 

PEI family travel.com

Prince Edward Island  

Published in 1908, the novel Anne of Green Gables, has played a major role in drawing tourists to Canada’s smallest province.

Today, literary fans make their way to P.E.I to see the sites portrayed in the book and to learn more about is author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Visit the old farmhouse, where much of the famous novel was set and take part in activities at the Green Gables Heritage Place that include ice-cream making demonstrations, safe races, hiking on nature trails, carriage rides and tours offered by rangers dressed as characters from the book. 

Contact: www.TourismPEI.com

Yukon

Yukon  

This fabled territory, wild, mountainous and sparsely populated, attracts adventuresome souls eager for wide open spaces, outdoor adventure and quirky bits of history.

Make your way to Dawson City, at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, to learn about the gold rush days and the great stampede of treasure seekers who hastened north in search of fortune. Visit the Dawson City Museum and stop by the Robert Service Cabin during the summer months for daily poetry readings. Hiking, fishing, cycling, canoeing and dog sledding are among the popular activities in the region. Contact: www.TravelYukon.com

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