As the summer gets underway, look to the starry sky for inspiration.
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.
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.
Heading into the holiday season, Trafalgar, a leading global guided travel company surveyed 2,500+ parents across the U.S. to discover just how stressful, costly and time-consuming the holidays are for them.
The results? Many American parents admit they would rather cancel Christmas this year… and travel instead:
Did you know that one of Santa’s favorite pastimes is actually surfing?
Floridian’s were the first to uncover St. Nick’s secret, which is why, each Christmas Eve, Cocoa Beach (the Surfing Capital of the East Coast) hosts its annual Surfing Santas event.
This fun and free event has proven to be a big attraction (and photo opp!), pulling in more than 800 Santas and 10,000 spectators annually. It gets better though - Surfing Santas has also raised more than $60K for local charities, most notably The Florida Surf Museum and Grind for Life.
Check it out!
While students find intellectual challenge in the formal classroom, here are five places where families can expand their knowledge through experience:
Denver Museum of Science & Nature. Denver, CO.
Through film, lectures, demonstrations and hands-on activity, your family will learn about ancient Egyptian civilization through clues scientists share from their mummy research. Tap into the latest information about our universe and our place in it through a Space Odyssey exhibit. Gain a greater understanding of Native American cultures. Plus, discover how precious gems are recovered from mines and the role they play in various cultures. All this, plus a permanent discovery zone where hands -on fun provides interactive educational opportunities for the youngest explorers. Contact: 303-322-7009; www.dmns.org.
Musical Instrument Museum. Phoenix, AZ.
This unique museum enables families to see and experience more than 3000 instruments and artifacts from around the world. Live performances, family-friendly festivals and a wide array of lectures and classes are available. Check out the Steinway piano on which John Lennon composed “Imagine” as well as the instruments of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and George Benson. Wireless head-sets allow guests to see and hear exhibits throughout the museum. Kids will enjoy the Experience Gallery where they can touch, play and hear instruments from far away cultures. Contact: (480) 478-6000; www.TheMim.org.
The Alamo. San Antonio, TX.
Located in downtown San Antonio, more than 2.5 million people visit each year to learn why it was suggested we “Remember the Alamo!”. Representing three centuries of history, families can learn the roles played by David Crockett, Sam Houston and James Bowie as they tour the 4.2 acre complex where beautiful gardens provide a backdrop for the old mission and exhibits detailing the Texas revolution and the state’s colorful history. Admission is free. Contact: 1-866-769-8419; www.thealamo.org
Glaciers and Climate Change.
Trek to Alaska, our largest state, but at number 49 among the last to join the union. Here you can team up with one of many companies that will introduce you to the mysteries of glaciers and how our changing climate is affecting them and the surrounding areas. Tours offer the opportunity to dog sled, hike, and ice climb all while learning about regional geology and geography and its importance to the rest of the world. Contact: www.flyk2.com; www.travelAlaska.com.
Monterey Bay Aquarium. Monterey, CA.
Founded in 1984, this world-renowned organization’s mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s oceans. Through a variety of interactive activities and exhibits designed for young children and families, your crew will learn about the delicate balance that exists in our seas today. The youngest visitors will be drawn to the 40-foot-long touch pool for an up close look at curious creatures like sea stars, urchins, kelp crabs and abalones. Contact: (831) 648-4800; www.MonterayBayAquarium.org
Are you looking for an alternative to traveling over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving?
Here are five ideas to consider:
Kingsmill Resort. Williamsburg, VA.
Leave the holiday bird preparation to the pros at this Virginia resort where you and your family will enjoy all the seasonal trimmings. Get settled in one of 425 recently updated guest rooms or stretch out with the clan in a three-bedroom suite. Either way you’ll enjoy views of the James River landscape and access to championship golf, tennis and world-class spa facilities. When you’re ready to expand your holiday horizons, hop aboard free shuttles to both Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.
Macy’s Parade, New York Hilton, NY, NY.
Have you always dreamed of capturing a bird’s eye view of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? More than three million people gather to see the iconic floats, bands and entertainment each year.
Choose from one of several parade packages that will provide you and your clan the opportunity to enjoy the seasonal show from the comfort of you room.
Snow Mountain Ranch, Winter Park, CO.
Plan an active holiday weekend that begins with a pre-feast Turkey Trot to get your clan warmed up. Other options include taking part in the Turkey Olympics, Noodle Jousting, Flag Football and even a pie-throwing contest (the staff has volunteered to serve as targets). Wind down the night with a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving moviefest.
There are plenty of snow-centric activities as well including dog-sledding, snow tubing and Nordic skiing.
Thanksgiving at Sea.
Give thanks for sunny days and adventures at sea when you set sail during the Thanksgiving holiday. Expect live entertainment, a kid-friendly Thanksgiving cooking class, holiday focused scavenger hunts, talent shows and costume parades as well as the traditional dinner you won’t want to miss.
For some, the holiday is not complete without a healthy serving of gridiron action. Catch your favorite football match ups on large screens throughout the ship.
Visit a Dude Ranch
Round up your family and friends and saddle up for some fun at a ranch where there will be plenty of fixins' and a large helping of outdoor activity. There will be no shortage of memories to be made for every member of the family no matter how young or young at heart. Contact: www.DudeRanch.org
There’s a lot to love about Britain.
From Shakespeare to shepherds pie … from Pink Floyd to Harry Potter. England, Scotland and Wales are home to a mix of historic heroes and happening haunts. And, in 2019, Globus and Cosmos are inviting travelers to see, taste and hear the brilliant experiences waiting for them in “Undiscovered Britain” with a series of nine tours – most new – that take travelers on cobblestones less traveled.
“Everyone knows that Great Britain is great place to learn about the royals, but it’s also the birthplace of the Rolling Stones,” said Scott Nisbet, president and CEO of the Globus family of brands. “Throughout history, it has served as the inspiring backdrop for fiction, fantasy and unimaginable art. With our new ‘Undiscovered Britain’ tours, we’re helping travelers see and experience the nooks and crannies of England.”
THE BRITISH INVASION
BANGERS & MASH & MORE
Tours spotlighting more of Great Britain in 2019 include:
Book early & SAVE! Save 10% on a 2019 Globus Europe vacation when booking now through November 27, 2018. For details, click here.
One of Boston’s most beloved holiday traditions – the annual Teddy Bear Tea at the Bristol – returns to Four Seasons Hotel Boston for the 21st year. More than a holiday event, Teddy Bear Tea is a special community benefit initiative of Four Seasons Hotel Boston, teaching young guests the spirit of charity. Guests are invited to bring a teddy bear to donate at Teddy Bear Tea, with Four Seasons gifting all collected bears to local organisations that benefit children in need.
According to Bill Taylor, Regional Vice President and General Manager, "tens of thousands of bears have been donated to local charities in the New England community during the holiday season.”
Teddy Bear Tea has one seating every day from the December 1 to 23. Tea begins at 3:15 pm, with a special reading from a local Boston celebrity at 4:00 pm. The event concludes each day at 5:00 pm. Tickets are USD 80 per adult and USD 43 per child with a bear to donate, or USD 48 per child without a bear. The celebrity readers vary each day and are not announced in advance.
Reservations are open to the public now by calling +1 (617) 351 2037.
Some bucket lists take years to complete but McHenry County’s Ultimate Autumn Bucket List can be done in one weekend. Families, couples and individual visitors alike can enjoy international ski jumpers, an afternoon at an apple orchard, get lost in a corn maze or find the best of the season at one of our many produce farms.
For a truly ultimate experience, the Norge Ski Club, one of the top learning centers for Olympic ski jumping in the USA, hosts the 33rd Annual Norge Autumn Ski Jump and Food Truck Festival on . Five jumps from beginner to advanced are available year-round since skiers can even jump without snow. Fans are encouraged to bring their cow bells and appetite while they watch ski jumpers from around the world compete on the 70-meter hill.
Royal Oak Farm Orchard has the country’s first maze composed entirely of mature apple trees. Named “Amaze-N-Apples,” it is planted with 3,000 apple trees in 4+ acres where you wander through 1.5-miles of walking trails while picking from nine different varieties of apples. After finding your way out, the bakery offers fresh apple cider doughnuts or shop for beautiful fall décor or Christmas gifts at the Country Gift Store. The farm has over 17,000 apple trees including 30 varieties of apples in the u-pick apple orchard along with pre-picked apples, pumpkins, giant pumpkins, gourds and squash for purchase.
All Seasons Orchard has everything for a day of family fun with more than 30 different activities. Visitors can pick apples or pumpkins, explore the 10-acre corn maze or play in the barnyard. Other activities include a jumping pillow, pedal kart races, pig races, magic shows, Bunny Village and there’s even a zip line. Apple cider and caramel corn are great for the ride home.
The annual Autumn Drive in Woodstock is held where residents offer antiques, crafts, food and fun. Local farms open their barns to offer fall produce, honey, jams, soaps and vinegar.
Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove has become an annual destination offering more than 30 activities. The World's Largest Corn Maze features 9 - 10 miles of trail winding through 28 acres of live corn. The maze is created from 4 smaller mazes with dedicated in and out paths. Multiple checkpoints throughout the maze and three bridges help find your bearings along with as map for a challenging and fun experience.
“This year’s corn maze theme celebrates the Illinois Bicentennial, honoring the 200th anniversary of the state’s founding,” said Wendy Richardson, family owner. “Once we settled on a theme, the design came naturally.” The maze features the Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, Navy Pier, Chicago skyscrapers, the state capitol and Abraham Lincoln dominates the center, along with symbols of Illinois agriculture with a barn, silo, tractor, row crops, apple trees and pumpkins.
Other activities include: 700' Zip Line, 50' Observation Tower, ORBiting! (Ride Inside a Giant, 11' Ball), Live Pig Races, Jumping Pillows, Giant Slides, Pedal Carts, Wagon Rides, Pumpkin Patch, Picnic Areas and Campfires (by reservation) with plenty of free parking.
Stades Farm and Market has been known for more than 40 years as a “farmtastic” theme park plus farm-fresh veggies and seasonal treats like cider donuts and pumpkin pie.
Von Bergens Country Market is an experience for the whole family with fresh autumn produce, pumpkin patch and activities for the kids, including getting their photo taken on the big red chair.
Tom’s Farm Market in Huntley offers evening fun with the “spook free” Moonlight Corn Maze and Hayride. Families bring flashlights and enjoy a night of exploring, bonfires and refreshments like s’mores, hot apple cider and hot chocolate.
“In addition to the farms and myriad mazes, there are so many fall festivals taking place in McHenry County,” according to Kristine Austin, a spokesperson for Visit McHenry County. “From the Johnny Appleseed Festival where you can meet Johnny himself, to the Huntley Fall Fest, Harvard Balloon Fest, Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Festival, Oktoberfest at Crystal Lake Brewing, Cary Main Street Fest, Richmond WineWalk, Woodstock Ale Fest, Cider Festival, and Wilmot Mountain Fall Fest, McHenry County has the ultimate autumn bucket list and we invite people to start checking it off!”
Road trippers can explore the autumn foliage. The McHenry County Conservation District is home to over 24,000 acres of woodlands, prairies, wetlands, ponds, creeks and rivers that come to life in autumn. There are 30 public sites where visitors can hike, bike, boat, fish, camp and enjoy watching wildlife.
For those hunting (or bobbing) for apples, pumpkins or simply a laid-back, colorful place to be, McHenry County is exceptionally beautiful this time of year.
Bucket list challenge accepted?
Tap into the family-friendly experiences recently launched within the 83 JW Marriott hotels around the world.
Crafted for children ages 5 to 12, Family by JW centers around three kid-friendly themes – creativity, activeness, and culture. These pillars infuse orginal programming created in partnership with cultural icons like the Guggenheim Museum and The Joffrey Ballet as well as resources within each local community.
Expect family vacations with interactive cooking classes led by culinary experts during which budding foodies will help prepare and sample nutritious cuisine reflecting the culture of the destination. In New York and beyond, the JW Marriott has teamed with the Guggenheim to engage young guests with activity guides and experiences that explore art, architecture and culture.
The Joffrey Ballet collaborated on suggested in-room exercises and stretches to help families wake up in the morning and wind down each evening during their stay. A new in-room dining menu features healthy, family-style dining options to share at meal time. Contact:
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.
There are plenty of reasons to find your way to Jackson Hole, a gateway to natural beauty and native wonders. And if you are about to enter the wild world of parenthood, there is no better place for a babymoon.
There is plenty of family fun to be found in mountain towns during the summer.
Hiking, biking and family fly fishing abound.
Ready to rodeo in Steamboat Springs, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.?
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.