Tap into the graceful tradition of tea. Here are five special places to consider:

Alice’s Tea Cup. NY, NY. One family’s affection for sharing stories over a steaming cup of fragrant, fresh tea spawned these three neighborhood refuges for tea lovers. Children of all ages are happily perplexed by the nearly overwhelming list of specialty teas as well as temptations like fresh-baked blueberry, raspberry and pumpkin scones,

Published in Family Travel Blog

Sometimes we must find respite from our hectic, tech-saturated lives.

Here are five places with a powerful sense of place where you and your family will also find peace:

Northern Lights. Alaska.

In the deep reaches of Alaska, somewhere above 60 degrees north latitude, you and your family will have the opportunity to see a red, green, blue and purple light display known as an aurora or the Northern Lights. The best time to catch the show is around the spring and fall equinoxes (mid-March and mid-September) The lights are most intense from December through March when the nights are darker. Consider a tour that includes a dip in a hot spring, a climb to a hilltop where viewers can marvel at the magnificent light display and a Mongolian yurt in which you can retreat to stay warm.

Contact: www.TravelAlaska.com

Float The Grand Canyon.

Whether you travel by raft or dory, for a few days or a few weeks, the majesty of the Grand Canyon may well provide a transformative experience, as it does for many visitors. This national treasure stretches 277 miles across northern Arizona, and plays host to more than five million visitors each year. From your craft on the Colorado River, geologically diverse canyon walls rise as high as 9,000 feet toward the western sky. Hike the side canyons, plow through storied rapids, relax on sandy beaches and revel in the grandeur of one of nature’s finest accomplishments.

Contact: www.oars.com/grandcanyon.

Montauk, NY.

Visit this seaside enclave on the East end of Long Island. Just 100 miles but a world away from the bustling Big Apple, you’ll find secluded beaches, whaling tales and pounding surf. Deep sea fishing, hiking, seal watching and surfing are all available in this community, first settled by Europeans in the mid-1600s. Scramble to the top of the Montauk Point Lighthouse for magnificent views of the craggy coastline.

Contact: www.OnMontauk.com; www.GurneysInn.com.

Hike the Canyons. Springdale, UT.

Find your way into the canyon country of southern Utah. From curvaceous slot canyons to table-top plateaus, this peaceful yet grand countryside offers a visual bonanza of color, shape and form. Consider the Narrows, a spectacular 16 mile corridor that requires one rigorous day for fit family members. Most recommend an overnight. Better yet, choose the Bottoms Up hike enabling hikers to see the most stunning aspects of the canyon in four to six hours. Numerous day hikes and mountain biking options abound.

Contact:  www.nps.gov/zion

Boundary Waters Canoe Trips. Ely, MN.

Your family will enjoy the peace and tranquility that can be found within this pristine wilderness area. Listen to the waves lapping against the shore as you drift to sleep in one of 2,000 secluded campsites that dot the lake region. Wake to the sounds of birds chirping in the birch trees, enjoy breakfast over a campfire and then set out to explore the more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes that criss-cross the waterways.

Contact: www.boundarywatersoutfitters.com; www.ExploreMinnesota.com

Published in Destinations

 

Adding a culinary twist to your cultural exploration, can provide the whole family with a fulfilling experience. Here is a sampling of mouth-watering ideas to consider:

asparagus festival

AsparagusFest. Stockton,CA.

Learning about a food’s origin and the many ways it can be prepared, can turn a curious green vegetable into something of grand interest. Visit this northern California town to discover all things asparagus . The annual festival offers music, amusement rides for kids, Tyson the skateboarding bulldog, a full lineup of canine entertainers performing amazing dog tricks and of course recipes, competitions, tastings and talk about the vegetable of honor. Check web site for dates. Contact: 209-644-3740; www.AsparagusFest.com.

New Orleans, LA.

The kids will learn about more than just local cuisine when the family ventures to this coastal city that continues to survive against the odds. Snack on tasty beignets for breakfast. Savor po’boys or gumbo for lunch. Stroll through the French Quarter or visit the Children’s Museum to restore your appetite for dinner. Then sample from the wealth of Cajun or creole-style seafood that will be served with a smile in this friendly southern city. The adventuresome in your group might opt for alligator on a stick. Enjoy the flavorful food with the sound of local jazz as your backdrop. 800-672-6124; www.neworleanscvb.com

Visit Peru.

Teach the kids about super foods while sharing the amazing history of the Andes people. This country is home to grain-like and nutrient-rich quinoa and purple spuds, both considered sacred and said to have been cultivated for Incan royalty. The color in the anti-oxidant laden potatoes comes from the same enzyme that gives blueberries their healthy hue. Mix these Peruvian diet staples in to your menu when planning a trek on the Inca trail enroute to Machu Piccu. Contact: www.incatrailperu.com/; www.responsibletravel.com/holiday/2022/hiking-the-inca-trail; http://www.intrepidtravel.com

Artichokes in Albuquerque, NM.

Some go straight for the heart. Others enjoy dipping the leaves in tasty sauces. Learn how to eat artichokes every which way at the Artichoke Cafe, a charming dining spot set in this southwestern city’s historic east downtown neighborhood. Gather additional local intel by visiting the National Hispanic Cultural Center as well as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Taste the local New Mexican cuisine, combining native chiles, corn, beans and squash, at one of many restaurants you’ll find in Old Town, Albuquerque’s 300 year old city center. Contact: www.ArtichokeCafe.com; 1-800-284-2282; www.Itsatrip.org.

Eat Local. Experience Global.

Large U.S. cities are often home to cultural enclaves where small, family owned restaurants dish up healthy servings of authentic favorites, combined with a bit of history from the homeland. When traveling to cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco or Miami seek out dining options in Little Italy, Chinatown or Little Havana. There you can introduce the family to more than just a good meal. Contact: www.littleitalynyc.com; www.miamiandbeaches.com/visitors/little_havana.as

Artichokes in Albuquerque

Published in Eat

New exhibits, tours and thrill rides will make 2011 a year to remember. Here are five to consider:

1.Indiana Jones Exhibit, Montreal, Canada. The National Geographic Society and Canadian production company X3 have teamed up (with the cooperation ofMuseums opening George Lucas) to create the 10,000 square foot, Indiana Jones Adventures in Archaeology interactive exhibit. Premiering now through September 18, 2011 at the Museum of Science in Montreal, kids of all ages will be mesmerized by the wealth of enchanting items that make up the expansive collection. See your favorite Indy film props and set designs made available by Lucas Films. Embark on an interactive tour that explores the compelling myths of the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant. Children will enjoy the interactive quest game that tests their skills while they move throughout the exhibition. Consider opting for the handheld multimedia guide that allows visitors to skip sections and spend more time where their interest is most intense. Contact: www.indianajonestheexhibition.com; www.tourisme-montreal.org.

2. The Ride. New York, NY. Board the super-sized tour bus, which uses stadium-style seating facing the sidewalk, to provide participants with a wide angle view of the streetscape. During its first summer season, expect high-energy tour guides, street performers, and plenty of surprises. The 4.2 mile, 75 minute trip, which showcases the pulsing city from Times Square to Grand Central to Central Park, is part theatre, part comedic improv and part informational tour. The experience continues to evolve and on any given day may include jugglers performing on the sidewalk or a “businessman” who suddenly breaks into song and dance while standing on the street corner. The Ride departs from the Marriott Marquis at Times Square. Contact: 866-299-9682; www.experiencetheride.com.

3. Disney’s California Adventure, Anaheim, California.  Fans of Disney movie heroine Ariel will want to check out the debut of Voyage of the  Little  Mermaid at Disney’s California Adventure theme park. Its recent opening in Paradise Pier is part of the five year $1.1 billion expansion of this park that will include other new attractions and an evening program. The musical, underwater adventure begins when guests board a car resembling a large clam shell. The adventure is inspired by the major scenes and popular songs from the movie. Contact: (714) 781-4400; http://disneyland.disney.go.com/

4. Alabama Adventure, Bessemer, Alabama. New this season at this southern, family-friendly theme park is super-soaker BuzzSaw Falls. Cool off as you plunge five stories through a watery chute and finish with a splash that drenches riders and watchers. The theme park offered a prize to the consumer who came up with the best name for the new ride. The winner chose to remain anonymous and the prize, which includes full season pass privileges, has been donated to the local Ronald McDonald house. Ask about the park’s concert series and the Family Four pack savings. Contact: 205-481-4750; www.AlabamaAdventure.com.

5. Holiday World, Santa Claus, Indiana. Junior theme park goers were the focus of $5.2 million worth of new projects at this 100-acre Midwestern Park. Visit Splashland where body slides, shallow pools and other water play facilities will delight toddlers and young school age children. A new sleigh ride, Rudolph’s Round-up, located in the park’s Christmas area, is custom designed for young children to ride with older park goers. Also new: free Wi-Fi hot spots throughout the park. Contact: 1-877-Go-Family; www.HolidayWorld.com.

Published in The Whole Family

My wife Denise and I, along with our twin girls Dominique and Danielle, escaped the New York City metro area for a few July days of relaxation at The Sagamore on Lake George at Bolton Landing in the Adirondacks. Our destination was bout a 4-hour drive straight up the New York State Thruway and the Northway. The Sagamore is a 70-acre, 350-room year-round luxury resort located on a private island in the heart of the Adirondacks and has something for everyone. Whether it's activities you want or peace and serenity, you will have plenty to choose from at The Sagamore. When it comes to vacationing along Lake George, there is The Sagamore and then there is everyplace else.
The following is how our family of four spent our time at The Sagamore. Hopefully it will give you an idea of what is offered and what to expect on a typical day.

SUNDAY:
We arrive a little after 3:00. Our lodge consisted of two rooms, two televisions, a terrace with a view of Lake George, a fireplace, a kitchen, air conditioning and a spacious bathroom. A wraparound sofa makes for comfortable television viewing, so much so that Denise has placed it on her "things to get" list when we get back home.

The accommodations met all our needs as it offered enough room to stretch and relax and allowed late sleepers peace and privacy. A kitchen is a must when traveling with children since they seem to get hungry and thirsty at most any hour. The fireplace was a treat and something we don't get to enjoy at home. I particularly liked the terrace overlooking Lake George, as it was the perfect place to enjoy a morning coffee or an evening glass of wine.

As Denise and I unpack, the girls get busy putting on their bathing suits. They want to go in the outdoor pool. I remind them that there is not an outdoor pool, only an indoor pool, and if they want to go swimming out doors they'll have to do so in the lake. They are unfamiliar with lake swimming, having developed their fins in pools, bays, and oceans. They are excited about the venture. I then tell them if they want to go swimming, they'll have to help with the unpacking. They agree and immediately attack the suitcase and start placing the clothes in the drawers. I proceed to bring the rest of the stuff in from the car. The Sagamore offered their help but I hate having others do for me when I can do just as well. Yes, even on vacation. Note: If your children offer to unpack the clothes, let them watch TV instead because they will put all their stuff in the top drawers and all your stuff in the bottom drawers. You may think it cute to watch them help with the chores but by the second day you've had enough bending to the bottom drawer to find matching socks. Do it yourself and you'll be guaranteed the top drawer. It'll be worth the effort.

We head to the lake with pail and shovels. The swimming area was small and enclosed by a deck and was right beside the boat dock. I was somewhat disappointed by the offering. There was not many beach chairs available right in front of the swimming area and for a parent that can be a big problem. I had to sit down a ways and was a bit of a struggle to keep a close eye on my 7-year-olds. There is always a lifeguard present, plus my girls are strong swimmers, so I really had no worry at all, but you still would like to have them right in front of you.

After a few hours they were looking for new adventure. When I asked what they had in mind, they declared, "The indoor pool!" So on this beautiful summer day in the Adirondacks, we head inside for the indoor pool. They enjoyed this as much as the lake. In the corner was a whirlpool, which they both loved. Many hotels and resorts we've visited do not allow children to go into the whirlpool so this was a big treat for them. In addition to that, there was a ping pong table and a shuffleboard to enjoy.

It was getting late and our stomachs were calling for dinner. We returned to the room to shower and dress, which for some reason always takes much longer than I allot for. The clock was nearing 8:45. Lucky for us, Sagamore's Mr. Brown's Pub serves food till 11:00 PM. Mr. Brown's is extremely nice, clean, and child friendly, not at all like the pubs I'm familiar with back home. And the view from the terrace over-looking the lake was lovely. We all ate very well.

Back at the lodge, we lay back and fall asleep to the Yankees vs. the Power Puff Girls. I want to watch the Yankees. Dominique and Danielle want the Power Puff Girls. What did we decide? Well, I had to find out if the Yankees won from the next morning's newspaper.

MONDAY:
I overslept and missed the 7:00 AM fitness walk. Each morning there is offered a 3 ½ mile fitness walk "at an invigorating pace" through Green Island and into the town of Bolton. Somehow I managed to miss the 7:00 AM fitness walk each day. I think it had something to do with wanting to sleep instead. There is a second 3 ½ mile fitness walk "at an invigorating pace" later in the day, which I made sure to miss too. I'm 45 and a one-time athlete and I can't bring myself to the realization that walking actually is exercise. I still see myself in my youth of running for miles with the wind blowing through my hair. Sadly, those days are behind me (both the running and the hair.) Yes, I know I should start exercising again and a walk "at an invigorating pace" would probably be a great way to start. Next year when I come back to the Sagamore, I'm going to take those 3 ½ mile A.M. walks. Really I will. I have it written down in my "What To Do Next Year" diary.

I did get up for breakfast, though. Danielle and I quietly got dressed and let mom and Dominique continue their sleep. We were very pleasantly greeted by the hostess and led to our table in the Sagamore Dining Room. The view of Lake George was calming and peaceful. The food from the Adirondack buffet was both plentiful and delicious. What I liked most about the breakfast was they served till 11:00 A.M. Denise likes to start her day slowly and not having to rush to breakfast each morning is a welcome relief. On vacations I usually have to bring a tea and a pilfered danish back to the room for Denise since she rarely makes it to breakfast, but with servings till 11:00 at the Sagamore Dining Room this wasn't necessary. Plus, even if 11:00 A.M was too early, Denise could have taken advantage of the room service.

After breakfast, Danielle and I checked back with the two sleepers just to make sure they were up and about. When they were ready to head for breakfast, Danielle and I went to play a round of miniature golf. I attempted to pass down my vast miniature golfing knowledge to my daughter but she was in too much of a rush to hit and rehit and run on to the next hole. My plea of patience and timing were met with "I know," "C'mon," and "Hurry up!" I suggested she wait for her ball to stop rolling before hitting again but she would have none of it. By now it was obvious to me that while I was in charge at breakfast, Danielle was in charge at miniature golf. She was making the rules and I thought it best to let her.

Nearby the mini golf were six championship tennis courts and one indoor court. Also inside was a racquetball court. I was angry with myself for not bringing my racquets until I remembered that I don't play either game.

We peaked in the game room and Danielle quickly felt my pockets for quarters. I had none but she made sure I saw the change machine. Cashing in the singles I had, I gave her a fistful of quarters and watched as she ran to the nearest auto racing video game. In the game she was hitting more trees and guardrails than missing but it didn't seem to bother her. She just wanted to go fast and heaven help anything that got in her way. Using up her allotment of quarters, Danielle and I headed back to the room to meet up with Denise and Dominique. The twins wanted to go to "Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom", an amusement park/water park, about 20 minutes away. It was on our list of things to do so we loaded the girls into the car and head out to Great Escape. On the way to Great Escape, we drive through the town of Lake George, which includes lots of shops, restaurants, hotels, water activities, and shops? Touristy, but clean. There were a lot of shops there, too. Did I mention the shops?

We made it to Great Escape and planned on spending a few hours. Five hours later the girls still wanted more but we had to say no. Imagine that: parents saying "no" to their children. It's so "last century." Anyway, an hour and a half after we put our foot down and said we had to go, we finally left. The girls had a great time, as did the parents. The rides were exciting, clean, and safe and the staff all friendly. On the way back to Sagamore, we passed a drive-in movie theater. I hadn't been to a drive-in movie since I hid in the trunk to see a "Planet of the Apes" marathon 25 years ago. (Good gosh, was that really a quarter century ago?) If we had time later in the week, I would try to get us to the Drive-in. "The Hulk" was playing.

On the ride back I could tell we were all good and tired so to make things easy I decided to make it a pizza pie night. We stopped in Bolton right outside Green Island and the Sagamore and picked up a pizza to bring back to the room. While waiting for the pizza, we walked across the street for some Ben and Jerry's. Ice cream before pizza? Sure, why not? We're on vacation!

Once back at the room we ordered a movie and sat back with our pizza. We all ended up falling asleep in front of the TV.

TUESDAY:
I overslept and missed the 7:00 A.M. fitness walk, the one with the 3 ½ hour fitness walk "at an invigorating pace." I missed the one offered later in the day as well. Danielle and I made it to breakfast and I taught her how to place the napkin on her lap when dining at such a swell restaurant. After breakfast, we went back to the room just as Denise and Dominique were making their way to for their morning meal. We decided to meet an hour later by the lake. Meanwhile, Danielle and I strolled the grounds. I was taken by the Sagamore landscape and gardens. I checked on more than one plant for its nametag, taking a mental picture of how it would look around our house at home. I lied to myself more than once, thinking, "Yeah, I'll plant this exact garden on the north side of the house as soon as I get back." I really believed it at the time. We met up with the other half of the family and made plans for the afternoon. At 12:30, we would enjoy a buffet lunch while cruising the lake on The Morgan, Sagamore's replica of a 19th century touring vessel. Until then, the girls and I would go back to the game room while Denise would scout out the Fitness Center and Spa for an afternoon of relaxation.

The Morgan was a delightful experience. Casual and relaxing, the cruise was smooth and the food plentiful. With a running narration, one learns much of the history of the area as well as enjoying its beauty. Lake George spread wide surrounded by the rolling Adirondacks made for an idyllic trip on a perfect day. The girls were excited to see some of the locals jumping from the rocks into the lake. The girls waved and the kids waved back. I imagined how absolutely gorgeous the ride must be with the autumn foliage later in the year. It really was an eyeful. As we returned to dock an hour and a half later, I was able to view the Sagamore from a distance for the first time and fully appreciate its magnificence. It really stands out like a jewel amidst the trees.

Upon our return, the girls were itching to get back into the water while Denise had her eyes set on a relaxing body massage. I grabbed a book and the girls theirs suits as we made it back to the lake. We left Denise in the room as she leafed through the wide selection of massages and treatments offered at the spa. She would find us later.

While Denise was at the spa, the girls and I filled our time at the lake swimming and building castles in the sand. The girls became interested in a boy fishing off the dock and were offered a few casts. Without immediate results, the girls quickly became bored and were soon doing cannonballs back into the lake. The lake was busy with activity as I watched plenty of water skiing, parasailing, kayaking, boating, and scuba divers heading out for the day. All this is available at the Sagamore but I was very content in simply sitting back and enjoy my girls enjoying their youth. While they built a castle in the sand, I finally got some time to read my book, which was soon resting on my belly as I took a much un-needed nap.

Two hours later, the girls and I found Denise enjoying a Pina Colada on The Veranda over looking Lake George. She had the Swedish Massage and from the relaxed look on her face, I could tell it worked. She highly recommended it, but I'm not the type who likes to be touched. She can't believe I don't like massages. "I would have one every day if I could," she murmurs.

I ordered a Cream and Kaluha for myself and a couple Shirley Temples for the girls. My Cream and Kaluha was so delicious I was able to convince myself that it was good for me. I think the girls enjoyed the calm too as we softly talked about school, summer plans, and favorite cartoons. I asked if they wanted to try some shrimp, oysters, clams, or sushi from the raw bar but they decided to stick to the bowl of peanuts on the table.

There was much activity all about but very serene as well. Everyone seemed busy pursuing fun at a casual pace, and we kept ourselves busy simply watching their pursuit. After an hour of people watching, Denise suggested we go back to the room to clean up and plan for dinner. I wanted to stay until I saw an ascot. Denise thought that to be a fine idea. A few minutes later we spotted one on an elderly and very proper gentleman and we then gathered our things and headed back to the room.

Denise and I considered going for some elegant dining at The Trillium, offering Contemporary American Cuisine and a world class wine selection. Children must be 7 years of age to dine at this outlet and jackets and collared shirts are required for gentlemen 13 years of age and older. The girls just made the cutoff mark, but they seemed to have gained a second wind and were back to running on all cylinders of activity.

We decided to go back to Mister Brown's Pub for the relaxed and casual atmosphere.

After dinner, we took a walk into town for more Ben and Jerry's. The girls got a taste of the Cookie Dough ice cream from the other night and were eager to get back for more. I couldn't really blame them.

Have you tried their cookie dough?

WEDNESDAY:
It's our last day. I woke up in time for the 7:00 AM fitness walk, the one with the 3 ½ hour fitness walk "at an invigorating pace," but decided not to go. Instead I made myself a cup of coffee and watched the rising sun from the terrace. Much to my surprise, Dominique and Danielle were soon awake, followed by Denise. As they slowly greeted the day, I quickly packed up as much as I could. Left were just a few odds and ends I could get to after breakfast. We went together for our final breakfast and before I could remind the girls the proper way to place the napkin on their lap, they had already done so. They were really getting the hang of the Sagamore.

After breakfast we went on a Surrey ride, a leisurely 15-minute ride around the island in a horse-drawn carriage. We met a couple from Ohio who were just arriving. They too were impressed with the beauty, elegance, and serenity supplied by the Sagamore. We told them they would surely enjoy their stay.

As Denise was checking out, I leafed through a brochure of the Sagamore. Though I felt our days were busy and full, I saw that there was much more the Sagamore had to offer. Their nearby award-winning 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course is of championship quality. Their fitness center and exercise classes are popular and always in use, but never crowded. There are many many water sports and activities nearby, ranging from scuba diving the depths of Lake George to parasailing high above it. There are tennis courts, hiking trails and bike trails, horseback riding, a Chef for a Day program, yoga classes, and a huge spa to meet your every need.

The Sagamore also offers a children's activity group called the Teepee Club where children can create puppets, jewelry and crafts, or play miniature golf, go swimming, go on a picnic, meet other children, go on a scavenger hunt, nature walks and so much more. And they can play in the 18-foot teepee. There is a half/day morning program (9AM - noon), a full day program (9AM - 4PM) and an evening program (5PM- 9PM). So if you need free time to play a round of golf, a game of tennis, to get that massage, or to try parasailing, The Teepee Club is a great escape for you and the kids.

It is hard not to become spoiled by all that is offered at The Sagamore. Everything is first rate and top of the line. Of course, the price will reflect that. When it comes to the finest at Lake George, it's The Sagamore.

For more information, check out their website at www.thesagamore.com.

Published in Resorts

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization works to preserve significant and inspirational places worldwide.

Designated World Heritage sites, they're as diverse as Yellowstone National Park, Shark Bay in Australia and the historic center of Vienna, and they symbolize the world's collective history, culture and landscape.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization works to preserve significant and inspirational places worldwide.

Designated World Heritage sites, they're as diverse as Yellowstone National Park, Shark Bay in Australia and the historic center of Vienna, and they symbolize the world's collective history, culture and landscape.

Reviewing the list of 911 World Heritage locations provides an impressive history lesson.

Here are five your family would enjoy.

 

Statue of Liberty, New York City. Calling Lady Liberty "a bridge between art and engineering," UNESCO emphasizes the symbolic value of this gift given to the U.S. by the French in 1886. Since then, Americans and immigrants have revered this symbol of freedom, democracy and peace.

Today, the statue's torch continues to shine on New York's harbor, and tours of the figure remain highly popular. Reservations are required to enter the pedestal or climb to the top of the crown.

Kids can learn why liberty is important to preserve and protect and can earn a Junior Ranger badge.

Contact: 212-363-3200; www.nps.gov/stli


Great Wall of China. The serpentine wall meanders 5,500 miles across northern China, spanning more than 2,000 years of history. Constructed primarily during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as a defense against invasion, the wall was designated by UNESCO for its "architectural grandeur and historical significance."

Parts of the wall now are damaged, disappearing or gone altogether. However, the segments that modern travelers can visit provide a window into Chinese culture and past. A variety of tours, from hikes to overnight or archaeological visits, gives families many options.

Contact: www.travelchinaguide.com; www.chinahighlights.com/ greatwall

 


Taos Pueblo, N.M. Continuously inhabited for more than 1,000 years, this remarkable community remains a prime example of American Indian culture, tradition and architecture. UNESCO notes the Pueblo Indians' ability to retain long-held traditions despite pressure from the outside world. More than 1,900 Pueblo Indians live full or part time in adobe homes in the community. Take a walking tour and learn the pueblo's rich history, view native crafts and see a unique way of life.

Contact: 575-758-1028; www.taospueblo.com;
www.nps.gov/history/world heritage/taos.htm


Carcassonne and Canal Du Midi, southern France. Step back in time on the cobblestone streets of Carcassonne, a medieval, fortified town on a hilltop in the Languedoc region. Children of all ages will be awed by the walled city, the castle and a Gothic cathedral complete with gargoyles. Tour the town, then head for a second World Heritage site just minutes away. From the Port of Carcassonne, embark on a barge tour of the scenic Canal Du Midi. Noted as an outstanding example of civil engineering and landscape design, the waterway was built between 1667 and 1694. Today's travelers enjoy day trips as well as longer cruises on the 150-mile-long canal, which connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic via locks, bridges, tunnels and aqueducts.

Contact: www.carcassonne.org;
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/770;
www.franceguide.com


Historic center of Riga, Latvia. Budding architects and design students will marvel at the art nouveau buildings that moved UNESCO to add this 800-year-old city to its list of heritage sites.

A charming capital alongside the Daugava River, Riga offers a mix of old and new, historic and creative. Visit the opera house, Vermanes Park for the kids, St. Peter's Cathedral and the outdoor markets. Riga is often called the "Paris of the North."

It's said the first Christmas tree was introduced here, in 1510.

Contact:  www.rigalatvia.net


View the entire list of World Heritage sites at http://whc.unesco.org.

UNESCO's World Heritage mission:

  • encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage;
  • encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List;
  • encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites;
  • help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training;
  • provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger;
  • support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation;
  • encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage;
  • encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage.

Photo Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes, Canal di Midi, France. 2010

Published in Global Excursions

Whether expecting your first child or your fifth, those days and months before the new baby arrives can be hectic. So why not plan a relaxing and romantic getaway so that parents can greet the new family member with renewed vigor.

Here are five places to enjoy a Babymoon:

1. Baby Me. Expectant parents who book the Baby Me package at one of 12 W Hotels, will be treated to a copy of Bump it Up, Amy Tara Koch's pregnancy style bible for the chic mommy-to-be. You’ll also garner a pair of Baby Mocs and a cotton Onesie for the new arrival. Craving a little something to snack on? Order delectable goodies from the “Womb Service” menu.  Mom-to-be can also relax with a bump-friendly massage designed to relieve tired muscles and sluggish circulation. Contact:  888-625-4988; www.whotels.com.

2. Relax at Biscuit Hill. Take time for yourselves in Texas Hill Country. Stay at this charming bed and breakfast nestled in a wooded hillside and overlooking a picturesque lake.   Tuck your toes into microwaveable, herb-filled slippers designed to provide relief for the expectant mom’s aching feet. Enjoy fruit, chocolate, sparkling juices and a spa bath tote filled with soothing products to take home. Relax by the fireplace or the cozy outdoor sitting area. Contact: 888-998-9909; www.biscuithill.com/babymoons.htm

3. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa. Off the Florida Keys. For the ultimate pre-baby holiday, get cozy in an oceanfront, thatched-roof bungalow within this luxurious, 5 ½ acre resort only accessible by seaplane or boat.  Enjoy his and hers spa gifts and treatments. Then meet for an 80 minute couple’s massage. Relish in the television, telephone-free environment where the only sounds that may interrupt your rest are waves lapping outside the door or birds chirping overhead.  Contact:  1(800)343-8567; http://www.littlepalmisland.com/LittlePalmIsland_BabymoonPackage.aspx

4. Canadian Seaside Getaway. Just 20 minutes from downtown Victoria, observe whales, seals and otters frolicking in the ocean from your perch at Amore By The Sea.  Relish your stay within this award-winning bed and breakfast where elegant rooms, fine linens, jetted tubs, fireplaces and the quiet ambience combine with luxurious spa treatments, rich chocolates, and specialty lotions and soaps to relax and prepare parents-to-be for the arrival of their new baby. Contact: 1 (888) 828-4397; www.amorebythesea.com/index.html

5. Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa. Birmingham, AL. While future Dad explores the Robert Trent Jones Trail and the inherent championship golf,   Mom-to-be might indulge and relax within the resorts sprawling, 12,000 sq.ft. European Spa. The “Baby Love” massage will restore her energy enough to take in a night on the nearby town.  Before heading for home, enjoy an afternoon by the pool, and doze to the rhythmic pulse  of the signature waterfalls and fountains.1-888-236-242; www.marriott.com

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