Looking for late-breaking family travel ideas?
Check out these deals for a great escape to see the Grand Canyon in a way you might not have imagined. And the timing is right because the Centennial celebration for one of the world’s most famous natural wonders is underway.
The deal is simple: save 30% off round-trip train fare in conjunction with a one- or two-night package.*
The offer is valid for the rest of 2019, and includes hotel stay, breakfast and dinners, round-trip transportation on the train and entertainment. The savings increase with upgrades in class of train service.
Take note, on the first Saturday of each month through October, the train is pulled by a real steam engine so consider that unique option when planning.
For more information and reservations: www.thetrain.com/offers/centennial-getaway-package or call 1-800-834-8724.
*Centennial Getaway offer valid for 30% off the train portion only of this package when traveling between 2/7/19 – 12/31/19. National park entry fee is not discountable. Package rates are subject to change. This offer cannot be combined with other discounts/promotional offers and other restrictions, including blackout dates, may apply.
1-night Itinerary Package
2-night Itinerary Package
In winter, this well known hot spot miraculously morphs into a desert paradise. And when you visit the Oasis at Death Valley —with its AAAFour Diamond Inn at Death Valley and family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley — you’ll discover a place transformed. If people know one thing about Death Valley, they know that it’s hot. Fry an-egg-on-the-pavement hot (although don’t try that, because it makes a mess).
Death Valley is officially the toastiest place on the entire planet, thanks to a scorching day back in 1913 when temperatures reached 134 degrees, the highest ever recorded anywhere on the globe. And with 21 days over 120, this past July in Death Valley was the hottest month all-time at a single location. The second hottest month? The previous July in Death Valley.
So Death Valley comes by its sizzling reputation honestly. But that’s only during summer. In winter, Death Valley miraculously morphs into a desert paradise. And when you visit the Oasis at Death Valley — with its AAA Four Diamond Inn at Death Valley and family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley — you’ll discover a place transformed.
During winter, average temperatures range from the mid-60s to the low 70s with overnight lows frequently dropping into the upper 30s. Those cooler conditions combine with clear, sunny days to make winter the perfect season to get explore Death Valley National Park. When the most of the country is shivering, you can be basking in warm, dry days with endless sun.
Here are a few special ways you can enjoy winter and spring in Death Valley.
With even the day’s lowest temperatures hovering around 100 or more, you shouldn’t even think about hiking at lower elevations in Death Valley National Park during summer. But winter weather provides the perfect conditions to follow trails into the park’s canyons and see its incomparable geology.
You’ll find easy-to-reach trailheads near the resort along Badwater Road, including the classic hike into Golden Canyon, just five minutes away. But many visitors miss the much less crowded trek that explores nearby Desolation Canyon. It’s an easy-to-follow cross-country route (just look for the footprints) that leads into a canyon, which gradually narrows and reaches colorful formations similar to the brilliantly hued Artist’s Palette (farther south off Badwater Road along Artist’s Drive).
Except at higher elevations, you won’t see any trees at Death Valley. But what you will see is sky — and lots of it.
If you love photography, winter offers optimal shooting conditions. Storms from the Pacific Coast send billowing clouds out over the desert that create an impressive backdrop for pictures of Death Valley’s expanses. The low-angle winter light also helps reveal details in the landscape that harsher sun conditions wash out, and things get especially dramatic when the clouds leave 11,049-foot-high Telescope Peak, the highest point in the park, covered in snow.
After dark, Death Valley boasts some of the best stargazing anywhere in the world. The dry desert air and distance from sources that spew light pollution helped Death Valley earn prestigious designation as a Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park from the International Dark-Sky Association.
Even if you don’t have high-end optics of your own (although basic binoculars enhance viewing), during events with park rangers and local astronomy associations you can gaze into the universe through high-powered telescopes. For example, the Las Vegas Astronomical Society holds complimentary star parties at the Ranch at Death Valley.
In most of the country, frigid winter weather forces golfers to take a hiatus. After all, a green certainly isn’t green when it’s covered by snow.
But for golfers, winter is prime time in Death Valley.
Many visitors are surprised to discover that Death Valley, the driest spot in North America, actually has a golf course. But thanks to a highly efficient irrigation system, water sourced from nearby natural springs, and tough Bermuda grass that can withstand the area’s weather extremes and salty soil, the Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valleyis a duffer’s delight.
Add to your bragging rights at the world’s lowest elevation golf course, a par-70, 18-hole circuit that’s 214 feet below sea level. As unique as the experience may be, Furnace Creek Golf Course is no mere novelty. A beautifully designed and challenging layout, Furnace Creek earned honors as one of America’s toughest courses from Golf Digest. And don’t expect your drives to carry as far: The heavier, low elevation air means that you’ll surrender distance on your shots.
If temperatures in the 30s or 40s hardly sound appealing for a swim, the cool winter nights create ideal conditions for one of the most sublime experiences awaiting guests at both the Inn at Death Valley and the Ranch at Death Valley. Both of these lodging choices have pools filled by natural springs that deliver water that stays in the 80s, even on the chilliest nights. The contrast between the balmy pool and the cold air is positively heavenly. The inn’s historic pool has been beautifully restored, and if you need a little warm-up after a dip, get toasty in front of one of two wood-burning fireplaces along the deck.
From mid-February to mid-April, when the conditions are right, Death Valley is painted with an explosion of color from a carpet of wildflowers. Golden evening primrose, notch-leaf phacelia, sand verbena, purple mat, gravel ghost, and brown-eyed evening primrose brush the arid landscape in Easter egg colors — especially the expansive fields of desert gold for which Death Valley is famous. To appreciate the diversity of blooms, get out of your car and walk. You’ll be rewarded with a spread of color blanketing the desert floor — perfect for Instagram moments.
The Oasis at Death Valley in Furnace Creek is situated in a lush oasis surrounded by the vast and arid desert of Death Valley National Park — just 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas and 275 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The resort encompasses two hotels — the historic AAA Four Diamond, 66-room Inn at Death Valley and the family-oriented, 224-room Ranch at Death Valley. The entire resort is undergoing a complete renaissance with an extensive renovation to be completed in the fall of 2018. The resort includes natural spring-fed pools, an 18-hole golf course, horse and carriage rides, world-renowned stargazing, and is surrounded by Death Valley National Park’s main attractions. For information and reservations, visit The Oasis at Death Valley or call 800-236-7916. Oh and kids eat free, yep, they do!
Oh and kids eat free, yep, they do! To discover a world of unfogettable experiences available from Xanterra Travel Collection and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.
Each year, Spring Break offers the opportunity to explore new places and deepen family bonds. Here are five ideas to consider this year:
International Adventure with Intrepid.
The way the folks at Intrepid Travel see it, most kids are master ice-breakers, eager to ask questions and make new friends. That’s why they’ve created a series of family adventures that include homestays with a multigenerational family in Morocco or meals at a tucked away trattoria, known only to resident Tuscans.
Many departures are keyed to school holidays so families can plan a cross-cultural experience to dreamy destinations like Brazil and Botswana. English speaking, kid-friendly, local guides will assist your small group in uncovering the most authentic experiences in your chosen destination.
Contact: 800-970-7299; IntrepidTravel.com.
Whistler Blackcomb. Whistler, BC, CA.
Enjoy a high altitude holiday with the kids in this pristine mountain enclave where kids can tap into a ski school experience designed for their specific age group. The whole family can check out the tubing park, cat skiing, and scenic sleigh rides as well as dog sled and snowshoe tours. For those eager to up the thrill factor, ask about winter zip lining and heli-skiing.
Have you ever built a seaside castle from pink sand? You and your family can do that and much more when spending your Spring Break at this luxurious island resort situated on 100 lush, flower-strewn acres. The Family Getaway package includes a complimentary adjoining room for the kids, a welcome amenity for the family and complimentary access to the Explorer’s Camp for kids. Hop aboard a jet ski, play golf and tennis and explore historic forts.
Contact: (866) 540-4497; Fairmont.com/southampton-bermuda
Movie nights, game nights, Twinkle Toes pedicures, ice cream socials and pizza-making with the resort’s Sicilian Chef, are all in your family’s future when you book the Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa’s Family Spring Break Spectacular. Plan to spend plenty of time outside in the art and nature lover’s mecca USA Today called the most beautiful place in America. Check in with the Adventure Concierge to plan off-road Jeep tours, balloon rides, mountain biking or a helicopter tour of the stunning red rocks for which the region is famous.
Contact: 1.877-273-3762; www.hiltonsedonaresort.com.
Check into the Geronimo Trail Guest Ranch in the heart of the Gila National Forest for a genuine old west adventure. Ride the same trails once traveled by Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid as well as famed Apache Warrior Geronimo. Stay in a cozy cabin and play games next to a warming fireplace. Ask about special family discount weeks.
Contact: 575-772-5157; www.geronimoranch.com.
Sea Kayaking in the Sea of Cortez. Loreto, Mexico. Snorkel with brilliant king angelfish and lobster, watch plunge-diving blue-footed boobies, and search for 90-ton blue whales. Discoveries abound as you paddle your sea kayak through the islands of Baja’s Sea of Cortez and the Loreto Bay National Marine Park. Because of their volcanic ash layers, unique rock formations, crystal waters, and teeming wildlife the area has been compared to the Galapagos Islands. Discounts for those under 18. Contact: Sea Kayak Adventures, 800-616-1943; www.seakayakadventures.com
Why wait for Spring Break to explore the world?
Traveling with multiple families can add up to loads of Spring Break and summer fun. Proper planning for family trips can go along way toward keeping friendships and expectations intact.
Here are five tips to consider:
Give careful consideration to the families and friends with whom you choose to share your precious vacation time. Parents you know from the sidelines of the soccer field might show different colors in a holiday setting away from your hometown. Consider hosting a planning party to discuss specific destinations and details before making final plans.
Family groups often choose to share a beach house, condo or cabin. That can mean divvying up expenses, transportation, room assignments, cleaning and cooking. Be sure to have a clearly defined plan before your holiday gets underway to avoid misunderstandings about how time and resources will be allocated. If you sense close quarters could be uncomfortable, suggest staying in a resort or hotel where individual rooms will provide each family more time on their own.
With a covey of kids under roof, bringing along helping hands can save sanity. Your favorite neighborhood teen might jump at the chance to help out in exchange for a few dollars and the opportunity to experience your chosen destination. Trade time off during the day for evening duty, so that grown ups can enjoy a quiet dinner or a night on the town.
Not everyone’s parenting style is in sync. Before departure, consider discussing issues ranging from bedtime and use of technology to strategies for handling mealtime and household chores with the other parents. Then share expectations with your family before the fun begins. If your children typically make their beds, minimize TV time and eat what they are served, it can be awkward if their travel pals are watching cartoons while waiting for a parent to create a custom waffle and squeeze special orange juice.
Plan private time.
No matter how much you are enjoying your vacation buddies, carve out private time with your own family as a group and individually. Whether you take walks on the beach, shop, grab a sandwich or visit a local museum on your own, don’t head for home without catching up with your clan. You’ll be glad you made the special effort once your regular routine resumes.
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