The American Civil War, a conflict of considerable scale, was fought on home soil.

Sixty percent of the battles were fought in Virginia. Communities, parks and museums, primarily in the East and South, will continue to offer living histories, lectures, and tours noting this era in our history.

Gettysburg. Gettysburg, VA.

Visit what is perhaps the best known of the Civil War battlefields where many believe the outcome of the war was determined. Free Ranger led tours are available for various areas of the park. You and the kids will enjoy driving tours through some of the more significant areas including Little Round.Top, Culp’s Hill and Pickett’s Charge. This is the well known scene of Abraham Lincoln’s famous address marking the victory and the creation of a new nation. Contact: 866-889-1243, www.nps.gov/gett; www.gettysburgfoundation.org

American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. Richmond, VA.

Situated on eight acres on the James River in downtown Richmond, this is the first museum to tell the war story from the African American, Confederate and Union points of view. Through multi-faceted education programs, including their signature exhibit, In The Cause of Liberty, the organization seeks to tell the whole story of the conflict that continues to shape the country. A National Historic Landmark, the Tredegar iron works site was the primary armament producer for the Confederacy. Contact: 804-780-1865; www.tredegar.org.

Antietam National Battlefield. Sharpsburg, MD.

In what is deemed as the bloodiest one day battle in American history, more than 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing at Antietam. Join a park ranger for a battlefield talk and learn how the twelve hour conflict ended the Confederate Army’s first invasion into the North and resulted in President Lincoln’s first step toward the Emancipation Proclamation. It was here, in the Maryland cornfields, where the First Texas Infantry lost 82 percent of their soldiers, the highest Confederate casualty rate in a single battle. Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge and may enjoy taking part in the driving tour scavenger hunt. Contact: 301- 432-5124; www.nps.gov/anti/ 

Civil War Museum. Fort Worth TX.

Learn about the 90,000 Texans who served in the military in the Battles of Antietam, Gettysburg and beyond. View civilian and military artifacts from the era, including a Confederate flag collection, and Victorian dress. The film “Our Homes, Our Rights”, detailing Texan’s involvement, is shown every half hour. Children under seven are admitted free. Contact: 817-246-2323; Resource: The Texas Historical Commission publishes a brochure noting Civil War sites. It is downloadable at no charge at www.thc.state.tx.us Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge. Contact: 703-361-1339; http://www.nps.gov/mana

Resource: www.civilwartraveler.com; www.CivilWar.org; www.CivilWarTrails.org.

Published in Explore

Port Aransas, Texas Offers a Reasonably-Priced Beach Vacation during These Economic Times

 


Many families in Texas (and beyond) enjoy vacationing in Port Aransas, as the island on the southeast part of the state offers a truly economical trip for families of any size.

Historically, Port Aransas (referred to as “Port A” by Texans) has been one of the state’s top beach destinations. Not as far south as South Padre, Port Aransas is approximately 4 hours from Austin/ Central Texas so the distance is drive-able for most (which is appealing for many families). The island offers quite a few options for family accommodations. An ideal location to park your family for a visit is at Port Royal, situated out of town on Highway 361.

port royal

Located on the more secluded beach, the walk from condo to beach spot is a quick jaunt over the boardwalk (close enough for a quick bathroom trip while on the beach). Another option I highly recommend is Beachgate, which is located on the busy public access beach. Beachgate III, the most recently-renovated building on property, is the best bet. You have several options, depending on the size you need. You can reserve just one condo, which is 2 bedroom/2 bath, and can sleep up to 8 people (2 king beds, 2 futons and an air mattress). Also, you can reserve two condos on the same floor, which are adjoining, and you have 4 bedrooms/4 baths. This option is ideal for multiple families traveling together or a family reunion. There are 4 floors in Beachgate III (2 condos per floor).

You’ll find a lot of benefits to both locations for a family vacation. You can drive up, park your car, and not get back in until it’s time to leave (a huge plus for us families with young kids!). Both condo properties have fully stocked kitchens and plenty of space to entertain, including spacious dining areas and living rooms. I recommend bringing all your food and drinks and feeding your family in your condo. That way, you have plenty of food, snacks and drinks to take down to the beach with you, as well.


If you’re at Port Royal, it will be a 20-minute roundtrip to the grocery store in Port Aransas. When your troops get tired of the beach, you also have the option of swimming in the two Beachgate pools, which are great for young kids because they are fairly small and shallow. There are also hot tubs next to each pool. My kids enjoyed hanging out on the beach all day and finishing up the evening in the pool. At Port Royal, you’ll find this a perfect spot for off-season, also. We visited in February and, although we could not enjoy the beautiful palm-tree lined pool, we could certainly enjoy the three hot tubs alongside the pool area. Each one is large enough for a family to enjoy.

port royal

Highlights of Port Royal:

1. Quiet section of the beach and very peaceful during off-season.

2. Beautiful pool area with slides, hot tubs and poolside dining (in the summer). 3. Spacious and modern condo unit that could easily sleep a family of six. 4. DSL plug-in Internet access.

Highlights of Beachgate:

1. Easy access to the beach (no boardwalk or dangerous streets to cross with kids)

2. Large renovated condos with full kitchen, dining area, living area and 2 bedrooms with king bed in each. Each bedroom and living room has a flat-screen cable TV. 3. The property offers an array of different sizes and styles of accommodations, from large condos to small suites. 4. For those of us that work while on vacation, there’s high-speed wireless Internet in each condo.

A few important points to consider:

 1. At Port Royal, each condo is individually owned. Therefore, you can’t be sure what type of unit you will end up with unless you’ve been there before and can request a certain unit. Some will be more modern and comfortable than others, depending on the furniture, furnishings and kitchen. They have 1, 2 & 3-bedroom condos.

2. If you like a busy beach, you’ll prefer Beachgate. If you like a more peaceful location on the beach, you’ll prefer Port Royal, which is at marker #68.

3. The exterior is less appealing than the interior at both (I’d always rather have a nicer interior than exterior, if I had to choose). But the condo we were given at Port Royal was beautiful and modern. Beachgate III is nicely renovated.

 4. Don’t forget plenty of sunscreen, buckets and shovels for the beach. You’d rather not have to purchase these items onsite.

My top two suggestions on your family vacation to Port Aransas are: Fins Grill & Icehouse is a relaxed restaurant if you enjoy eating right on the water. The grill has laid-back options such as appetizers, seafood and burgers. You can ask for a table outside that puts you right on the back patio, overlooking the bay. From here, you can watch the boats come and go out of the marina.

During your stay, make sure and rent a golf cart dune buggy from Coastal Ed’s in town. Coastal Ed is a great guy and very helpful. Your kids will love riding the dune buggy on the beach and around town. Coastal Ed’s has open-air carts (versus others that will be more closed) and is gas-powered vs. battery-powered.

You’ll have a great day cruising the beach in your bright yellow ride!

Port Royal Ocean Resort

6317 State Hwy. 361,

Port Aransas, TX 78373

 800-242-1034

www.port-royal.com

Beachgate CondoSuites & Resort

2000 On the Beach Dr., Port Aransas, TX 78373

361-749-5900

www.beachgate.com

Fins Grill & Icehouse

420 W. Cotter, Port Aransas, TX

361-749-8646

www.finsgrillandicehouse.com

Coastal Ed’s Coastal Cruisers & More

513 N. Alister St.,

Port Aransas, TX 78373 361-749-7001

www.PortAGolfCar.com

Marika Flatt has been a freelance travel writer since 2002, writing for publications such as GoodHousekeeping.com, Austin Lifestyle magazine, Austin Woman magazine, ChickVacations.com and Plate & Vine. She lives with her husband and 3 children (who love to travel) in Austin, Texas.

Published in Destinations

Port Aransas, Texas Offers a Reasonably-Priced Beach Vacation during These Economic Times

Beachgate CondoSuites, the Ideal Location for Families

Many families in Texas (and beyond) enjoy vacationing in Port Aransas, as the island on the southeast part of the state offers a truly economical trip for families of any size. Historically, Port Aransas (called “Port A”) has been one of the state’s top beach destinations. Not as far south as South Padre, Port Aransas is approximately 4 hours from Austin so the distance is drive-able for most (which is appealing for many families).

The island offers quite a few options for family accommodations but an ideal location to park your family for a visit is at Beachgate CondoSuites. Located on the public access beach, the walk from front door to beach spot is just about 100 yards (close enough for a quick bathroom trip while on the beach).

You’ll find a lot of benefits to Beachgate for a family vacation. You can drive up, park your car, and not get back in until it’s time to leave (a huge plus for us families with young kids!). Beachgate condos have fully stocked kitchens and plenty of space to entertain.

I highly recommend Beachgate III, the most recently-renovated building on property. You have several options, depending on the size you need. You can reserve just one condo, which is 2 bedroom/2 bath, and can sleep up to 8 people (2 king beds, 2 futons and an air mattress). Also, you can reserve two condos on the same floor, which are adjoining, and you have 4 bedrooms/4 baths. This option is ideal for multiple families traveling together or a family reunion. There are 4 floors in Beachgate III (2 condos per floor).

The condos are very spacious, clean and the property tries to accommodate guest’s needs as much as possible. I recommend bringing all your food and drinks and feeding your family in your condo. That way, you have plenty of food, snacks and drinks to take down to the beach with you, as well.

When your troops get tired of the beach, you also have the option of swimming in the two Beachgate pools, which are great for young kids because they are fairly small and shallow. There are also hot tubs next to each pool. My kids enjoyed hanging out on the beach all day and finishing up the evening in the pool.

Highlights of Beachgate CondoSuites:

  1. Easy access to the beach (no boardwalk or dangerous streets to cross with kids)
  2. Large renovated condos with full kitchen, dining area, living area and 2 bedrooms with king bed in each. Each bedroom and living room has a flat-screen cable TV.
  3. The property offers an array of different sizes and styles of accommodations, from large condos to small suites.
  4. For those of us that work while on vacation, there’s high-speed wireless Internet in each condo.

A few important points to consider:

    1. The exterior is less appealing than the interior (I’d always rather have a nicer interior than exterior, if I had to choose). But do not be scared off by the photos on the website. Beachgate III is nicely renovated.
    2. Make sure and ask for items not found in the condo that you need, such as shampoo/soap, cleaning supplies, etc.
    3. In each of the Beachgate III condos, there’s one large bathroom and one smaller (for the kids).
  • The Beachgate III condos have an exterior wood door with a bolt lock but the sliding glass doors off the patio do not lock (the office said none of them do but we got one of the two to lock). But if you are worried about this as a safety issue, ask for a condo/suite that is completely locked up. However, Port Aransas is a safe area, on the whole.

Beachgate CondoSuites & Resort

2000 On the Beach Dr., Port Aransas, TX 78373

Phone: 361 749 5900

 www.beachgate.com

Published in South

 Diving boards and the deep end have been replaced by slippery slides, raging waterfalls and lazy rivers.

Today’s resort pools and water parks offer enough excitement to keep the kids engaged for a weekend or longer.

Here are a few cool pools worth the plunge:   

Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, Hawaii.

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 check out 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. The tropical 40 acre resort also includes an infant pool.

Contact: www.GrandWailea.com


Fairmont Scottsdale. Scottsdale, AZ.

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. Nearby a large sandbox with Tonka trucks and a bounty of beach toys beckon, keeping the kids entertained. Have fun slipping down two of Arizona’s largest slides. Come nightfall, enjoy dive-in movies from deck chairs or while floating on your raft.

Contact:  www.Fairmont.com

ftatlantists 1-24-2010 12-27-38 pm

Atlantis Resort. Paradise Island, Bahamas.

With more than 141 acres of water rides and pools, who has time to hit the beach? From the Mayan Temple to the ominous Power Tower to fun-filled Splashers Island, water play lovers will find 18 adrenaline-pulsing slides for kids of all ages. Ride the waves and rapids in the Current. Lounge around your choice of 11 different pools. Twist and turn through tunnels and emerge in an acrylic tube deep within a shark-filled lagoon. The thrills never end in this water-filled fantasy park.

Contact:  www.Atlantis.com

Marriott World Center, Orlando, FL.

Think 1,000,000 gallons of cool water. That’s what you’ll find at this Orlando resort where indoor pools, outdoor pools, whirlpools, waterfalls and a 106 foot slide make for an enticing recreation area. Pool side fun includes sidewalk chalk, ping pong and pool tables, limbo contests and scavenger hunts. Lounge on deck or join in a game of water volleyball.

Contact:  www.marriott.com

Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort, San Antonio, TX.

Float through the resort’s beautifully landscaped grounds aboard a trusty inner tube, making your way 950 feet along the Ramblin’ River. Stop by the activity pool and join in a game of water volley ball or basketball. Or make it a beach day and settle on the private, sandy man-made beach. Lounge on the sundeck before heading to the golf course or an afternoon at the spa. Grown-ups can enjoy the Texas-shaped adults only pool, while the kids take advantage of Camp Hyatt activities or teen-focused Underground events.

Contact:  hillcountry.hyatt.com

Published in Resorts