The simple pleasures of family life can be found at lakeside retreats.
Here are five places to enjoy gentle breezes and a book on the porch:
This winter, get cozy with the kids in a great American lodge. Sit by the fire, share stories and enjoy a winter family vacation. Here are five to consider:
Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Tabernash, CO.
Stay in a cabin or the lodge and get cozy near one of 45 flickering fireplaces. Enjoy local specialties in the lodge dining room where a three-story, three-hearth fireplace, comprised of hand-stacked stones, warms winter visitors. Grab the binoculars to catch a glimpse of wildlife roaming on this 6,000 acre expanse of Colorado beauty or set out on the Nordic trails for an up-close view of winter scenes. From now through May, stay two nights and get the third night free. Pet friendly. Contact: 970-726-5632; www.devilsthumbranch.com.
Skytop Lodge. Skytop, PA.
For junior boarders and skiers, this lodge in the Poconos offers crowd-free, gentle slopes on which to learn. Kids as young as three can enroll in ski school. Dog mushing, tobogganing, sledding, ice-skating and cross-country skiing add to the active pursuits available on this sprawling 5,000-acre estate. Later, stretch out in the indoor pool or bubbling hot tub and get ready for game night. Contact: 800 -345 -7759; www.Skytop.com.
Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, OR.
Located in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest, this magnificent lodge was built at the height of the Great Depression by unemployed craftspeople hired by the Federal Works Progress Administration. Located 60 miles east of Portland, the well-crafted lodge has long served as the centerpiece of this mountain playground. Take a guided, moonlit snowshoe tour, experience Snowcat skiing or simply relax in the historic lodge and enjoy the extraordinary views. Ask about weekday, ski-free deals. Contact: (800).547-1406; www.timberlinelodge.com/
El Tovar – Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.
Open since 1905 and registered as a national Historic Landmark, this charming, 78-room lodge is just steps from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Take in a nature talk, go for a mule ride or hike the famed trails that criss-cross down and through the park. Marvel at the extraordinary beauty of snow falling onto the multi-colored rock walls and into the canyon below. Contact: 928-638-2631; www.GrandCanyonLodges.com.
The Whiteface Lodge. Lake Placid, NY.
Located in the heart of the Adirondacks, this woodland lodge is spacious, with modern amenities. At the same time, it serves up rustic, with stone chimneys, antler chandeliers and handcrafted Adirondack furnishings. Nightly family bonfires, a skating rink, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing and indoor swimming programs, provide plenty to keep an active family engaged. A complimentary kids club makes it easy for the adults to take advantage of the full service spa on site. Contact: 800-903-4045; www.thewhitefacelodge.com
With the magnificent McDowell Mountains as a backdrop, families relish this oasis in the desert.
By day, keep cool within the 6000 square foot Sonoran Splash complex, featuring a zero deck area for the youngest set. Kids wade right into the water, just like at the beach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One hundred years ago, during February, Arizona gave up its Territory status. Known for abundant sunshine, towering saguaros and the Grand Canyon, our 48th state also offers a diverse landscape and a wealth of natural and cultural opportunities for curious families. Here are five ideas:
1. Experience the Arizona Trail.
Sample a section of this recently completed 800-mile scenic pathway that winds through deserts, canyons (including the Grand Canyon) mountains and mesas, stretching from the Arizona-Mexico border in the south, to Utah in the north. Explore the trail via foot, horseback, mountain bike, mule or snowshoe and tap into historic sites, geologic wonders and an extraordinary menu of wildlife and vegetation. Designated as a National Scenic Trail, small communities, abandoned mining sites, cliff dwellings and remote wilderness areas also lure adventure seekers. Contact: www.AZTrail.org.
2. Baseball Spring Training.
Each year, baseball fans unite in the Valley of the Sun to watch their favorite teams warm up their skills under the Southwestern sun. For example, Scottsdale is home to the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Games get underway during the month of March in downtown Scottsdale and at the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, along Scottsdale's border with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The crack of the bat, hot dogs and popcorn can also be found in the neighboring communities of Mesa, Surprise and Tempe. Packages available. Contact: www.ScottsdaleCVB.com/baseball; www.CactusLeague.com.
3.Visit Native American Lands.
Arizona has the largest percentage of Native American Tribal land in the United States. In Northern Arizona, travel through the much larger Navajo Reservation and visit the historic Hopi village of Oraibi. Built in 1100 and discovered by a lieutenant of Coronado in 1540, this small enclave is considered to be the oldest Native American settlement in the country. Shop for local crafts and visit with the native people. Consider a tour that includes visits with potters, basket makers and kachina carvers and to learn about the geology and cultural significance of the region. Contact: www.ArizonaRocksTours.com; www.Hopi-nsn.gov.
4.A Bird Lovers Paradise.
Southern Arizona is recognized as a world-renowned migratory corridor for birds and was declared the first Globally Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society. Families visiting Sierra Vista, the “hummingbird capital of the US”, have the opportunity to spot more than 14 varieties of the small, winged creatures. Nearby Ash Canyon is home to a rarely-sighted hummingbird, the plain-capped starthroat. Pack your sun screen, hiking boots and binoculars. More than 150 bird species, ranging from sand hill cranes to colorful flycatchers, await. Contact: www.SierraVista.com.
5. Travel The Salsa Trail.
Dip your chips in the spicy sauce that gives this trail its name. You’ll expand your culinary horizons while enjoying a Southeastern Arizona road trip. Visit with local farmers, ranchers and miners as you wind your way along the scenic Old West Highway that connects eight communities known for great Mexican food, derived from old family recipes and small-town, friendly service. Visit the local tortilla factory and sample fresh roasted chiles at a nearby farm. In the Fall, the annual SalsaFest features salsa-making and eating contests as well as music and family activities. Contact: 1-888-837-1841; www.SalsaTrail.com; Resource: www.ArizonaGuide.com
Gather your family to wish upon a star.
Here are five extraordinary places to view the night sky:
Check into Little Kulala, a desert eco-retreat within southern Africa’s Kulala Wilderness Reserve. Hop aboard a Land Rover to scope out springbok, ostrich and oryx or float above the dramatic landscape in a hot air balloon. Visit the world's tallest dunes amid Namibia’s famed “sand sea”. Then fall asleep on your rooftop Sky Bed and enjoy a late night show where shooting stars and the Milky Way serve as headliners. Contact: www.wilderness-safaris.com/safaris/index.jsp; www.TravelBeyond.com.
Winter Star Party. West Summerland Key, FL.
Every February, during the new moon week, amateur astronomers gather in the Florida Keys for six days to learn from guest speakers, observe an unobstructed clear night sky and share information with other star enthusiasts. Hosted by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society (SCAS), Inc., the Stellar Star Party also includes a Kids Kamp. Contact: 1-800-FLA-KEYS; www.fla-keys.com ;www.scas.org.
In 2001, the City of Flagstaff, in Northern Arizona, was designated the world's first "International Dark-Sky City" by the International Dark-Sky Association. Expect stellar stargazing as well as the chance to tour the Lowell Observatory. You’ll see the telescope where planet Pluto was discovered in the 1930's and look through the century-old Clark telescope. Further south, check into the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale where you’ll find high powered telescopes in your room and constellation charts on your pillow at turndown. Opt in for complimentary Friday evening stargazing with a local astronomer or a Celestial Picnic accompanied by a pro.
Red Rock Country.
By night, the dark skies of Utah provide ample opportunity for magnificent stargazing. Join astronomer Alex Ludwig atop a mesa to learn about star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. He will explain how Native Americans teach their children about the constellations, lancing the quiet night with stories that will entrance young and old. By day, a slew of parks, canyons and rivers provide outdoor adventure opportunities.
Contact: 435-210-0066; www.moab-astronomy.com; www.discovermoab.com/
Northern Lights From Norway.
Because of an increase in solar flares, NASA is predicting Northern Lights activity will be stronger this winter than any time in the last 50 years. Therefore cruising Norway’s coast high above the Arctic Circle could provide family travelers with the opportunity to experience the aurora borealis in a rare and extraordinary way. In addition to visiting ports that provide a glimpse into winter life in Norway, passengers will also be privy to lectures regarding the Northern lights as well as local culture and history.
Photo: Copyright Lynn O'Rourke Hayes - Little Kulala, Namibia
Consider sleeping somewhere spooky. If you dare, here are five hair-raising places to consider:
1.La Fonda. Santa Fe, NM. Located in the historic district of this storied state capitol, the hotel site has reportedly been the scene of important business meetings, legal wrangling, fur trading, gambling and even hangings, since it began welcoming tourists as early as 1607. The ghosts of a distraught salesman and a former Judge, as well as several other long term guests are said to walk the halls. The establishment has been rebuilt many times and today serves as an ideal central location from which your family can explore the art, culture and history of Santa Fe. Contact: 800-523-5002; www.lafondasantafe.com.
2.The Stanley Hotel. Estes Park, CO. Some say the chilling laughter of young children still fills the hallways of this 138-room historic inn that served as the inspiration for scare-master Stephen King’s popular book and film The Shining. Located within six miles of the Rocky Mountain National Park, outdoor activities abound. But don’t miss the history and ghost tour offered for families eager to hear more about Room 217, where King’s Shining story began. You will also stop by the hotel’s other most haunted spaces including an underground tunnel. Children must be five or older. Tour reservations required. Contact: 800-976-1377; http://stanleyhotel.com
3.Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Alberta, Canada. Put your ghostly fears aside and check-in to this expansive hotel set in a majestic mountain setting. Designed in the likeness of a Scottish Baronial Castle, the inn welcomes kids with prince or princess crowns, the offer of a castle scavenger hunt, and a coupon to stop by the Castle Pantry for milk and cookies. However, should your bags be delivered, know the ghost of “Sam”, a former bellman, is said to sometimes roam the halls, still clad in his 60’s style- uniform. Contact: 866-540-4406; www.fairmont.com/banffsprings/
4. 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa. Eureka Springs, AR. Take the nightly tour and hear of strange happenings, odd noises and creepy disturbances said to have transpired in what is known as America’s most haunted hotel. Hear about the Irish stonemason who fell to his death while building the hotel and is said to occasionally visit Room 218. Other ghosts, including a nurse, a gentleman in Victorian finery and a cranky Doctor, reportedly roam the halls and play innocent pranks. Forewarned: the tour includes a trip to the basement, a spooky space once used as a morgue. 877-342-9766, www.crescenthotel.com.
5. The Queen Mary. Long Beach, CA. Throughout October and beyond, the opportunities to learn about paranormal particulars aboard this 314-room, historic ship are plentiful. Former passengers, from sailors to socialites, met their demise on the Queen Mary or were somehow determined to return and keep their spirits alive. Take a self-guided tour (Don’t get lost!) or choose from a menu of options that include touring with the resident paranormal investigator. For visits during October, ask about Dark Harbor, an extra-scary Halloween extravaganza, and Dark Harbor packages. Bring your flashlights. Contact: 877-342-0742; www.queenmary.com/
As nature parades her fall colors, share the glory with your family. Here are ten spectacular places where the crisp air will invigorate every member of your crew:
1.Purity Spring Resort. East Madison, NH.
Check in to this family-owned getaway and enjoy apple picking, country fairs, and antique shopping in the picturesque White Mountains of New Hampshire. The kids will love racing through the Sherman Farms corn maze and exploring nearby hiking, mountain biking and sunset paddling on the Saco River; all with spectacular fall colors as your backdrop. Grab your cameras and visit nearby covered bridges and waterfalls. Contact: 800-373-3754: www.purityspring.com.
2.South Carolina Upcountry.
Choose from a wealth of scenic side trips off Highway 11, the 112- mile long Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway. Ride a zip line through the changing colors and picnic near Campbell’s Bridge, South Carolina’s only remaining covered bridge. Kayak at Paris Mountain State Park then stop for homemade fudge or visit local apple orchards. Don’t miss Devils Fork State Park for wildlife watching and to marvel at the half-dozen waterfalls that spill into Lake Jocassee. Contact: www.greenvillecvb.com; www.theupcountry.com; www.scenic11.com.
3. Oregon Orange.
Enjoy the changing hues as you and your family explore the 44-mile trail that winds through Oregon’s National Wild and Scenic Rogue River Canyon. The pathway, originally carved by miners, offers respite along the way in the form of five historic lodges that enable trekkers to explore by day and relax in comfort come nightfall. What’s more, your gear will be transported via river raft during the four-day, three-night outing, enabling hikers to catch a ride when weary and to enjoy the scenery with only a camera and binoculars to weigh down your packs. Contact: 1-800-336-1647; www.wildrogue.com
4. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. Arkansas.
Visit Ozark country for purple, gold, orange and red fall colors set against stunning sandstone bluffs. Make time for horseback riding, a rock climbing challenge, hiking, archery, family games, elk viewing, and skeet shooting. The whole family will enjoy time in the petting zoo. Family cabins make for a cozy retreat at day’s end. Ask about discounts for four or more. Contact : 800-480-9635; www.horseshoecanyonranch.com.
5. Spectacular Sedona.
Marvel at the splendor of the season in Northern Arizona, savoring the rich, visual treat from a Pink Jeep, a helicopter or a hot air balloon. With the Red Rocks of Sedona providing their own rich hues, take advantage of world class hiking amidst shimmering aspen leaves, check out canyon petroglyphs and shop for local arts and crafts. Stay at the pet friendly Bell Rock Inn and enjoy studio accommodations where families can spread out, cook in and enjoy a warming fireplace on a cool Autumn evening. Contact: 877-444-8044 www.arizonatourismcenter.com.
6. Southern Utah.
Pile into the car for a Fall foliage road trip that includes brilliant color set against the backdrop of some of our country's most stunning national parks. Travel along Utah State Route 143, a recently designated Scenic Byway. Also known as the Patchwork Parkway, the path runs from Parowan through Brian Head to Panguitch and commemorates a time when pioneer travelers used handmade quilts as protection from the winter cold. The region includes Cedar Breaks National Monument, Zion and Bryce National Parks, as well as lava fields, historic and petroglyph sites. Take advantage of scenic overlooks and pull out to view aspen stands. Contact: 1 (800) 354-4849; www.ScenicSouthernUtah.com.
7. Leavenworth, WA. Celebrate Fall at the Washington State Autumn Leaf Festival tucked in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. The kids will enjoy a Main Street parade, clowns, a climbing wall and air trampolines. The town's longest running festival also features Bavarian brass bands and other musical entertainment for all ages. Contact: 509-548-5807; www.autumnleaffestival.com.
8. Canadian Color.
Visit New Brunswick for spectacular fall foliage and family fun. The Miramichi River region is home to the elusive Atlantic salmon and a popular haunt for fishing enthusiasts. Doaktown's Fall Frolic festival includes a lumberjack contest as well as home tours, quilt shows, and canoe runs. Stop by the Atlantic Salmon Museum and the historic Doak House to see how early settlers to the area lived. 1 (506) 365-1105; www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca; www.Doaktown.com.
9. Empire State Beauty.
See New York State's fabulous Fall foliage from aboard a unique vessel. Get comfortable on the Esperanza Rose, an elegant 65-foot wooden boat offering leaf peepers dinner and lunch cruises on the waters of Keuka Lake. Or consider viewing the colors while traveling through century -old canal locks and passing through historic towns aboard vintage water craft. Take part in the non-profit and education focused Sam Patch and Mary Jemison Cruises and you and the family will learn about the legendary Erie Canal and adjoining Genesee River, the development of which many consider to be an engineering wonder. Contact: 315-595-6618; www.esperanzaboat.com ; 585-662-5748; www.samandmary.org.
10. Rocky Mountain Wonderland.
Glimpse Colorado's golden aspen leaves by taking advantage of a Fall bike packages that includes rooms in Breckenridge, rental bikes and a free shuttle ride to the top of a mountain pass so you and the family can enjoy a downhill cruise and stunning Fall scenery. Or change saddle strategies and appreciate the beauty of Fall in the Rocky Mountains on horseback. Beaver Creek-based one and two hour trail rides or a three hour picnic ride will provide the family the chance to enjoy the crisp mountain air and time to wander through the splendid aspen stands. Contact: (888)906-6303;www.breckenridge.com; 1(970)845-7770 www.vailhorses.com/
Each year, the month of February is deemed “plant seeds of greatness month” in an effort to encourage Americans to examine their goals and aspirations and make changes where desired.
Use this idea ( you don’t have to wait until February), to spark a conversation within your family. Then forge ahead. Learn a new skill, explore new territory or give back to your community.
Consider these ideas:
There is nothing so American as our national parks. The fundamental idea behind the parks is that the country belongs to the people. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
As a resident of both Montana and Arizona, in recent years I was pleased to note that President Obama and his family chose my "backyard" parks" - Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon- to spend precious family time.
In the end don't we all vote with our feet?
They will also followed in historic footsteps.
Park historians from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and the National Park Service shared the following anecdotes about the visits of previous U.S. Presidents:
Instead of staying in one of Yellowstone’s lodges, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose to stay at the private home of Harry Child, the owner of the Yellowstone Park Company, which operated the park lodges and other concessions. His reason: he did not want the general public to see him in his wheelchair. Designed by Robert C. Reamer, the same architect who designed the Old Faithful Inn, the large home is a single-floor prairie-style structure, so it can easily accommodate a wheelchair.
Bill Clinton visited both the Grand Canyon (in 2000) and Yellowstone (in 1995). President Clinton stayed in the Mary Colter Suite of the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar and had lunch at Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn. President Clinton and the First Lady also took a stroll around Old Faithful Geyser.
President Gerald Ford was already familiar with Yellowstone National Park when he visited in 1976; he had been a 23-year-old National Park Service ranger in 1936. Ford once said his time in Yellowstone was “one of the greatest summers of my life.” One of his duties was to meet and greet VIPs at the Canyon Lodge. He also protected other park rangers who fed bears at the bear-feeding truck, a popular visitor attraction at the time. The park long ago stopped feeding bears and other wildlife.
In 1883, President Chester Arthur rode a horse from the southern to the northern entrance of the park and met supporters at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel before departing the area aboard the newly completed Northern Pacific Railroad. Although it wasn’t quite completed and still lacked a complete roof, President Arthur dined at the Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room before his departure.
President Theodore Roosevelt made his final visit to Yellowstone National Park in 1903. Although he was on a two-week vacation, he managed to squeeze in some business too. Roosevelt, Harry Child and Robert C. Reamer reviewed plans for the Old Faithful Inn, which was completed the following year. During that trip he also laid the cornerstone for the Roosevelt Arch at the northern entrance to the park. The arch bears the inscription: “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” President Roosevelt also visited the Grand Canyon – in 1903, before it was a national park and again in 1911.
Calvin Coolidge visited Yellowstone in 1927. Although Yellowstone Superintendent Horace Albright tried to engage President Coolidge in park-related politics, Coolidge was more interested in fishing than talking.Howard Taft visited the Grand Canyon in 1911.I
n 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill that designated Yellowstone the world’s first national park. It was a move that has been called America’s best idea. Sadly, President Grant never visited Yellowstone.
During his visit, President Jimmy Carter traveled to one of the islands on Yellowstone Lake to fish with National Park Service officials. After his presidency, Carter returned to the park and had pizza in the employee pub at Lake Hotel. He even signed the wall of the pub, and his signature is still visible today.President Warren Harding visited the park in 1923, shortly before he died. Staff in the park named a geyser after him and observed a moment of silence in his honor. President George Herbert Walker Bush visited both the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. His visit to Yellowstone in 1989 was the summer after the historic Yellowstone fires. He was briefed by park officials about Yellowstone fire science.