12 Trips the Whole Family Will Love!

Top 12 Vacations for Multigenerational Travel

Multigenerational travel is one of the hottest trends in travel. Last year, 32 percent of vacationing U.S. grandparents took their grandchildren along. In a recent study, Preferred Hotel Group found that 40 percent of U.S. leisure travelers – about 21 million people – took a multigenerational trip in the past 12 months.
For the next getaway, take the clan on a luxury safari, cruise, or resort vacation. These 12 trips have something for all ages from adventure to total relaxation.
And Beyond
Africa
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With &Beyond’s eight family lodges in South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, and Namibia, the children don’t have to stay at home.
For tykes: The WILDChild program lets kiddies try their hand at tracking animals and fishing, making traditional bows and arrows, beading, crafting and painting, and cooking in the lodge kitchens.
For teens and young at heart: Morning and afternoon game drives to spot the Big Five are the highlight of any safari, and days can be spent lounging by the pool or chatting with the rangers about their most interesting animal stories.
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers
Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
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The Farm at Cape Kidnappers is a luxury lodge located on a 6,000 acre working sheep and cattle farm on the spectacular east coast of New Zealand.
For tykes: Cuddle an endangered Kiwi bird on a Kiwi Discovery Walk (most New Zealanders have never seen one!), learn to milk a cow, or watch the sheep dogs in action.
For teens and young at heart: Hit the legendary Tom Doak-designed golf course, relax with a lavender-themed spa treatment (the property has lavender field on property with over 6,000 plants), or enjoy an adrenaline-filled quad bike tour of the cliffside farm.
Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa
Chiang Rai, Thailand
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Spend QT with the family in the heart of the jungle.
For tykes: The kiddies can spend a day learning to train and bathe an elephant at the resort’s signature Elephant Camp.
For teens and young at heart: Visit three countries in one day on a private tour through a bustling border market in Myanmar, followed by lunch in the historic Lanna Kingdom, and then an afternoon of shopping in Laos.
Crystal Cruises
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Both Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony feature a fully-supervised Junior Activities program for ages 3-17, each with dedicated areas for both young kids and teens.
For tykes: Tour the Bridge with the Captain, join in an ice cream pajama party before bed, or learn some chef secrets during kids-only cooking classes.
For teens and young at heart: Learn magic tricks from Hollywood’s Magic Castle superstar magicians, hit the video arcade at Waves, tee off at the golf driving range and putting greens with a PGA golf pro.
Golden Eye
Oracabessa Bay, Jamaica
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Ian Fleming’s former residence, GoldenEye, was the site where he penned all 14 James Bond novels. Stay in the five-bedroom Fleming villa with its own private pool, beach, and movie theater.
For tykes: Carve coconuts and go on nature walks with Ramsey (Fleming’s own gardener) and swim, snorkel and kayak in the hotel’s turquoise lagoon.
For teens and young at heart: Embark on a jet ski safari, join a staff-led bike ride through Oracabessa, or run up to Firefly (Noel Coward’s former home) and channel the relaxed island vibe with sunset yoga.
Pavillon de la Reine
Paris, France
Set in the heart of the Marais, Pavillon de le Reine is the ideal base from which to explore Paris. Originally built for King Henry IV, accommodations including spacious duplex suites.
For tykes: Included in the family package is a digital Polaroid camera – perfect for creating instant family memories. The little ones may be too young to appreciate the wonders of the Louvre, but a picnic among the statues and fountains of the Tuileries Gardens is sure to please.
For teens and young at heart: Tour the Louvre, Orsay, and Pompidou, shop at the nearby trendy boutiques, and sample iconic Laduree macarons.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Vail, Colorado
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At Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, a luxury ski and spa getaway tucked into the Rockies, families can have fun indoors or out with countless nonpareil offerings.
For tykes: Gather around the campfire for nightly s’mores happy hour featuring gourmet marshmallows or book a kids’ spa package, such as the “Diva Deluxe,” which includes bedazzled nail art and a take-home tiara.
For teens and young at heart: Get an adrenaline fix by land or water with activities such as horseback riding around Beaver Lake, hiking through mountain trails, or fly fishing on the Colorado river, followed by one of Allegria Spa’s signature treatments such as its lavender rose hot oil wrap, or participate in a cooking class.
The Cottages and Lofts at The Boat Basin
Nantucket, Massachusetts
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Almost like being on a boat, The Cottages & Lofts at the Boat Basin sit right over the harbor waters, offering unbeatable waterfront views.
For tykes: Complimentary fishing rods for children as well as nets and tackle boxes are available for daily use. Hop on the free beach bus and head to one of the nearby beaches (with the parents of course!). Following a day in the sun, enjoy complimentary icy snow cones back at the Boat Basin.
For teens and young at heart: Explore Nantucket’s 29 miles of unspoiled paved paths on complimentary bicycles. For those 21 and over – head to Cisco Brewery for tastings and live music. Visit the Whaling Museum, a key part of Nantucket’s history.
Royal Mansour
Marrakech, Morocco
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Tucked within the Medina Walls, the three-floor Riads offer plenty of space for a luxe Moroccan family getaway. Book the Riad D’Honneur, the hotel’s top suite with private gardens and swimming pool.
For tykes: Spend the day at the Jou-Jou kids club, the supervised play arena.
For teens and young at heart: Shop in the souk for handmade pottery and silk scarves, enjoy a signature Hammam treatment in the 10,000 square foot spa, tour Majorelle Gardens (Yves Saint Laurent’s former home), and venture to the Atlas mountains for a hiking expedition.
Chewton Glen
Hampshire, England
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Set within 130 acres of breathtaking countryside and just a quick jaunt to the coast, Chewton Glen is perfect for the adventurous family. Book the Spring Cottage, which can accommodate up to eight people, and enjoy a private garden and use of a river cruiser.
For tykes: Bike rides, pony treks in the New Forest, exploring the treehouse play set, and playing board games at the Kid’s Club will keep them busy for hours.
For teens and young at heart: Enjoy fly fishing in the three most famous English chalk streams, falconry on the grounds, and Apache Buggy racing followed by a relaxing afternoon tea and spa treatment.
Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort
St. Lucia
Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort offers adventures for all ages.
For tykes: Supervised glass bottom boat tours, arts and crafts, fish feeding, and educational tours of the volcano and botanical gardens await children between the ages of four and 12.
For teens and young at heart: Sugar Beach’s SNUBA program (a cross between snorkeling and SCUBA) is a great way to explore the reefs and sea life below the ocean’s surface.
One&Only Palmilla
Los Cabos, Mexico
One&Only Palmilla’s beautiful beachside location with myriad activities is perfect for families.
For tykes: One&Only’s KidsOnly club is the spot for kids to make friends, learn to make a piñata, practice their yoga moves, or make origami.
For teens and young at heart: Play 18 holes or take a few lessons on Jack Nicklaus’ first Latin American course or take a nap on a floating seaside daybed and have a picnic delivered.
Sibarth
St. Barth
With nearly 200 beautiful, multi-bedroom private villas to choose from, Sibarth offers a home away from home for guests of all ages and families of all sizes.
For tykes: Villas on the super calm shore of St. Jean offer a great set up for young children with safe, shallow waters and a great view of the little planes coming and going.
For teens and young at heart: While young kids play on the beach, older kids can stroll along the beach or into the shops lining St. Jean, or take out a windsurfer or paddleboard from one of the beach vendors. (The less adventurous can relax at a restaurant on the beach and watch the rest.)

How to Earn a Free Family Vacation From Shopping!

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We’ve all signed up for rewards credit cards to earn travel rewards and miles with our favorite airlines, but do you know the limitations and clearly understand all the fine print? Most programs have purchasing limits, blackout retailers, and other details that prevent us from earning the travel rewards we all hoped for. It’s never as easy as it seems, and we usually end up frustrated and losing reward points and miles that expire!
Matthew Goldman, CEO and co-founder of Wallaby, says with a few easy tips and online services, shoppers can actually earn a free vacation in just a few months by making the right credit card choices.
You must read this Q & A Matthew Goldman to learn some valuable tips to end the frustrations and earn a free family vacation!
-In addition to the Wallaby Card, do you have any other tips for ways travelers can maximize rewards when using credit cards?
Be diligent in using the card and paying the balance, so you can earn the most rewards with minimal expense. Pay attention to limited-time offers where you can earn two or three times points. Certain purchases such as gas or hotel stays often earn extra rewards.
Don’t spread spending across too many rewards cards, concentrate on the type of rewards that matter most to you. If you are a big spender, then be sure you read the fine print to see if reward points will be capped at too low of a level.
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-What are common mistakes people make when using their credit card for travel?
Some people don’t understand their benefits rules, so they blindly swipe their card without considering if another card is better for travel rewards. For individuals traveling internationally, it’s important to understand which cards might have international charge fees (which can approach three percent). Some travelers allow their miles to expire because they don’t keep their frequent flyer account active. Using the card for even a pack of gum is often enough to reset it. Letting miles expire defeats all of your planning and work. Understand the fine print. For example, if a card offers three percent cash back on gas, it might only provide rewards up to a certain amount. Once that cap is reached, it makes sense to move that spending to a different rewards card.
-Any other travel/credit card reward related tips you have are welcome!
Picking the right rewards card is difficult. You have to think about what you want to earn, whether it is cash back, miles, or hotel stays. Promotions run all the time, and keeping track of the optimal card for any given transaction is not easy. Tools such as Wallaby are available which can help consumers to organize their cards and earn maximum rewards. The average traveler has nearly four credit cards. It pays to eliminate unused cards and do research into the best rewards options. Always sign-up for loyalty programs and earn points on your stays or airline trips. Sign up the kids, too! They can have accounts and you can earn points towards future trips. Pay attention to benefits credit cards can provide towards stay levels for free services. For example, a hotel card might get you halfway to “silver” and Silver guests might receive free breakfast. Savings can add up fast.
For more information visit http://www.walla.by

Back to Paradise at Jake’s Resort

pelicanbarjamaica.jpgWhere do I begin? This is the second year we went back to Jake’s Resort in Treasure Beach Jamaica and all I can say is this time around, it was even better than our first visit. We spent seven days in paradise where we traveled by boat to a bar at sea, swung from vines into Black River, jumped off waterfalls, visited farms where we sampled some of the most delicious fruits on the planet; was awestruck by the ocean views from Lover’s Leap; sweat more than I ever did in my life while climbing into a cave and lived it up in the lap of luxury at a multimillion dollar villa that my kids are now begging to return to next summer.
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Rather than talk about my experience in a blog post, I put together a few videos that are sure to put a smile on your face. If you’re interested in visiting Jakes, visit their website at www.jakeshotel.com. There are so many amazing things to do while you’re there and the staff and residents of Treasure Beach are some of the kindest and most generous people we have ever met in our lives.

More videos to come…

5 Reasons to Visit Jamaica This Summer

SANY0374.jpegAs we head into summer, there’s one thing I always look forward to – VACATION!  It’s been almost a year since we’ve gone away as a family and typically, we take several road trips along the northeast.  This year, we’re mixing it up and throwing a bit of the caribbean into our vacation plans.  You see, last August, we were invited to check out Jake’s Hotel & Resort in Treasure Beach Jamaica and to say my family fell in love was an understatement.


So why are we going back to Jake’s this year?  Here are five reasons why we can’t get enough of southern Jamaica:

1.  We love the incredibly kind staff, the tropical cottage accommodations and the amazing ocean views.  

2.  Getting the opportunity to venture out to sea with Dennis, an expert boat captain who knows every nook and cranny of Treasure Beach.  Stick with Dennis and you’ll spot wild dolphins, explore a new fishing reserve, jump off a pier near Black Safari Jungle, spot crocodiles and sample local fare at the world famous Little Ochi.

3.  Participate in one of a kind sports camps with professional coaches from the United States.  This July, Jakes is offering its first ever sports camp for kids.  If your child is a soccer lover, then this could prove to be the ultimate camp experience for them.

4.  Dining under the stars with Jake’s Farm to Table dinner.  Every month under the full moon, Jakes invites guests to dine with the farmers of Treasure Beach who share some of the island’s most incredible fruits, vegetables and local dishes.  Favorite fruit we discovered in Jamaica:  Sweet Sop which tastes just like vanilla custard…YUM!

5.  Swinging from vines at YS Falls.  Another incredible experience complete with an amazing driver and tour guide, Darren, a picnic basket for four, spectacular waterfalls, swimming pools and a zip line that’s frightening and exhilarating all at the same time.

So if you’ve never been to the caribbean in the summer with your family, check out Jake’s – it’s become our kids’ favorite vacation spot and something tells me we’ll be going back for many more years to come. 
 
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The Ultimate Family Vacation – Part III

Our evening took us into the mountains of Jamaica where Jason, the owner of Jake’s introduced us to the farmers of Treasure Beach. As we traversed one of several winding roads, Jason made a turn into Flagaman, a stretch of land inhabited by hard working farmers and their families. From there, we began to see beautiful homes that had been built from the fruits of their labor.
During our evening journey, we met Ms. Maisy, one of the most prosperous farmers in Treasure Beach who has been a staple in the community for over 40 years. Ms. Maisy supplies fruits and vegetables to local businesses throughout the region and her generosity has helped support a number of community based initiatives being spearheaded by the Treasure Beach Breds Foundation.
IMG_0270.JPGWe then drove a bit further and met Doul, one of the few organic farmers in Jamaica who not only gave us a tour of his farm, but shared some of his most prized possessions, mouth watering mangoes, sweet sop – which tastes like custard and genips – my son’s personal favorite fruit that looks like a grape but tastes like lychee. Doul walked us through his field and what I noticed first was the striking red color of the soil. We then saw banana trees, sour sop (another delicious fruit treat), more genips, scallions, melons, avocados and mangoes. As we approached a clearing, the view was absolutely spectacular. At that moment, Jason explained that each month during the full moon, guests of Jake’s are invited to the Pedro Plains “Farm to Table” dinner at the bottom of Doul’s farm where they can enjoy an incredible caribbean meal under the stars. Jake’s plans to arrange farm tours for guests and families throughout the year so that you can meet the hard working farmers of Jamaica while helping them tend their fields. Jake’s also plans to expand the “Farm to Table” experience so that the farm dinner takes place on a regular basis with the ultimate goal of hosting a Jamaican food festival featuring the culinary talents of some of the best known and well-loved chefs throughout the region.
IMG_0281.JPGAs sunset approached, we arrived at Jason’s home and it literally took our breath away. Jason and his wife Laura’s home is nestled into a hill and offers sweeping views of southern Jamaica from two 40 foot long verandas that adorn the property. As four dogs raced up to greet us, Jason brought us inside to meet Laura and the Henzell’s two gorgeous children – Seya (named for one of their favorite artists) and Max. We also were introduced to their incredibly talented cook Sheila, who works for Jake’s and prepared a delectable dinner for all of us.
We spent the next few hours learning more about the Henzell’s and their incredible ties to Jamaica – Laura’s family created the wildly popular Red Stripe beer and Jason’s father, Perry, who passed away in 2006, produced the legendary film “The Harder They Come.” According to the Guardian, “The Harder They Come” is “one of the most the most outstanding films to emerge from Jamaica that has continually served as a reference point for film-makers in the Caribbean and Latin America.” Today, Jason’s sister, who is also a filmmaker, manages the film property and also spearheads the Calabash Literary Festival – one of the most popular events in the region which takes place each fall at Jake’s.
From the arts, to education, to the sea to the farms, Jason and Laura Henzell are committed to making their community a better place to live and visit for generations to come. So take my advice and spend a family vacation at Jake’s Resort, where you’ll get the chance to experience the magical allure of Treasure Beach. Once you visit, you’ll want to go back every year!
Related Posts:
Ultimate Family Vacation – Part I
Ultimate Family Vacation – Part II

Jakes Resort: Ultimate Jamaican Family Vacation – Part II

In my previous post, I shared my family’s off the beaten path adventure at Jake’s Hotel and Resort, located in Treasure Beach, Jamaica. When we first arrived, I was concerned the kids would be bored because they weren’t going to be enrolled in a traditional vacation camp program. Instead, my kids were going to explore the land, sea and culture of Jamaica and you know what? That experience proved to be one of the most exciting of their lives.
Since we already let you in on the details about our adventure at sea, let’s jump right into day three!
IMG_0205.JPGDay 3: We began our morning with breakfast at Jake’s restaurant – Becca and I opted for traditional porridge and Dylan went for the french toast. Meanwhile, Darin savored callaloo – which tastes like spinach – cod and ackee (the national fruit of Jamaica). As the kids went for an early morning dip, Darin made his way over to the Driftwood Spa for a Swedish massage. Meanwhile, I got the chance to chat with Jason Henzell, the owner of Jake’s about vital projects that will serve to strengthen the economy of Treasure Beach while supporting the entire community as a whole.
This fall, a fishing sanctuary will be unveiled off the coast of Treasure Beach to help revitalize the fishing industry. The sanctuary will be off-limits to fisherman, enabling fish to breed and grow for at least two years – thereby increasing the amount of viable fish available in the region.
Jason also shared details of a brand new 15 acre sports park that is currently under construction in Treasure Beach. The sports park, also slated to open this fall, will offer a formalized youth program for budding soccer athletes and cricket enthusiasts – with trained coaches who will guide players through instruction, practices, games and tournament play. The fields will also be utilized for local and international cricket and soccer tournaments. The project will be built in four phases and when completed, will also include tennis courts, basketball and netball court, community and cultural center and playground. Jason’s wife Laura is spearheading the development of the playground and is currently raising awareness and funds on behalf of the project.
“I knew what we should do with the land the moment I laid eyes on it,” says Director Laura Henzell. “It begs for some park benches where parents and grandparents can sit and enjoy watching the kids, a few swingsets and slides where children wide eyed and with toothy grins can run around safe and happy. It only takes a few tools to get kids going … by taking away commonly found sticks and stones and replacing them with simple but quality equipment, by just doing something as simple as that — you’re allowing kids to release some energy AND some imagination!”
Sponsors for the sports park project include businesses and banks located throughout Jamaica and Canada as well as residents of Treasure Beach. In fact, guests of Jake’s resort have even lent their support. In lieu of wedding gifts, one couple asked that their guests make a donation to Breds to support the playground build. Another promotion taking place at Jake’s is an initiative that will launch Sept. 15-Dec. 15 where guests will receive an upgrade in return for bringing a soccer ball (ie; 6 soccer balls would upgrade guest for 6 nights to a higher room category). Visit www.jakeshotel.com for details or the Treasure Beach Foundation online where you can find out more about the sports park project and make a donation to help support the project.
The idea for the sports park came from Darin James – a lifelong resident of Treasure Beach who lives directly across the street from Jake’s. Darin currently works for Jake’s as a driver and took us on a picnic to YS Falls. While Darin was driving to the waterfall, he told us about his love of sports – he was an avid cricket player in his youth and shared his idea with Jason about building a sports park in Treasure Beach to better serve the youth residing in their community. His vision is now being turned into reality with the help of Treasure Beach residents, the Jamaican government, sponsors such as Digicel and the Breds Foundation, which Darin had previously served as an executive board member.
SANY0374.JPGBefore we knew it, we arrived at YS Falls, a breathtaking waterfall comprised of eight cascades falling 120 feet. We first hopped aboard a tractor which transported us up the winding road to YS Falls and after viewing acres of farmland, cows, horses and goats, we finally made it and proceeded to follow a guide who escorted us to the falls.
From there, the guide encouraged all of us to swing from a vine and jump into the water below. My husband and kids instantly accepted the offer, while I stayed below on the rocks videotaping and snapping photos of their experience. The guide then directed all of us to swim directly under a waterfall and once I sought refuge on a large rock, the kids and my husband climbed above the waterfall and jumped into the water below.
SANY0384.JPGThe kids couldn’t stop talking about the exhilarating experience they had just had as we made our way over to a picnic table where we opened a basket packed for us by Jake’s and dined on smoked marlin, caribbean chicken and tuna sandwiches along with a fruit plate with watermelon, mangoes and pineapples. As we sat down to unwind, flying high above our heads were tourists who were riding a zip line through the trees. While we didn’t opt for that adventure, it definitely looked pretty exciting. For me, it looked incredibly scary…if I don’t jump into waterfalls, I obviously don’t go for zip lines either.
Following lunch, we walked over to a beautiful cold water pool where the kids took a dip before we headed back to Darin’s van and the kids and I took a nap in the back seat on the way back to Jake’s.
More to come…

Tour a Sleep-Away Camp in Maine… Make it a Vacation!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for mainecoast2.jpg The summer is flying by and it’s already time to think about your plans for next summer. If you are planning to send your child to overnight camp next year, the best insights on whether or not a camp is the right fit come from touring camps while they are in session. So plan your tours now! The concept can seem daunting, but with the help of Maine Camp Experience, you can easily schedule a camp tour AND experience a wonderful Maine vacation while you’re there!
“Maine is the Eden of camping. Maine sets the bar,” says Jim Gill, Director of Camp Fernwood Cove who suggests planning your tours/vacation mid-week if you can because it’s a little quieter and less crowded. According to Peter Kassen, Director of Camp Hidden Valley, “The best time of day to tour is the morning when the campers are there. You can even sit and have a meal with them to really get a feel for the community.”
Full of useful tips, the Maine Camp Experience website offers the following advice to prospective camp families:
SCHEDULING CAMP TOURS
• Always call the camp first to inquire as to availability and best times to tour
• Our summer camps provide personal tours and the directors want to spend time with you
• Organize your questions ahead of time
• Ask how long the tour will last
COMBINING SUMMER CAMP VISITS
• Call ahead for driving times between camps and your hotel
• Book one tour in the morning and one in the afternoon
• Dress comfortably! You’ll be doing a lot of walking and will spend much time outdoors
Once you figure out the locations of the camps you’d like to tour, start planning your vacation! 26 million people vacation in Maine each year. You can find a list of recommended hotels on the website as well. When you click on the “explore” section, you can learn more about the top places to vacation in Maine including Portland, Freeport, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Camden, Kennebunk and Ogunquit, just to name a few.
Acadia National Park offers a treasure trove of amazing experiences for the entire family. Do not miss watching the sun set on Cadillac Mountain. The views are incredible and the kids will love climbing the rocks. Two more must sees in Acadia National Park – Jordan Pond – where you can go on a nature hike and then relax at the restaurant where you’ll enjoy the best popovers in the state. Then, take a drive through the park and stop at Thunder Hole – where you can listen to the waves that crash into rocks made of granite and the sound that erupts bears a striking resemblance to thunder. Or you can check out Freeport Maine, home to the original and largest L.L. Bean store and fabulous outlet shopping. Parents and campers love to go there and explore the area. The website also provides a list of tourism links.
Whether you make the road trip part of the journey (which many families love to do), or hop on a quick flight, you will learn why it is easy to get here, but so hard to leave Maine!
Don’t just take my word for it. Read these true stories from camp parents and alumni who are all in on the secret…summers and camp belong in Maine!
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Five Northeast Road Trip Destinations

iStock_000011964153XSmall.jpgPlanning to hit the road this summer with your family and don’t know where to go? Here at Role Mommy, we’ve got you covered. Check out our fave five summer road trip destinations and get ready to make some memories!
1. Block Island, RI – We have been going back to this cozy, family friendly island with our friends for the last five years and I have to say, that every year we find something new – whether it be a Blueberry Mojito at the Spring House, fabulous jewelry, cakes and picture frames at the farmers market or just great conversation at an outdoor restaurant with a view of the ocean. Our friends, who are Block Island veterans, know every nook and cranny of the island and have introduced us to all their favorites including the Spring House, Mansion Beach, hiking trails, bonfires and much more. For an ultimate family vacation, go away with a few friends and make it one that you will never forget.
2. Nantucket, MA – There is nothing that quite compares to Nantucket. From the decadent restaurants (Le Chanticleer), the great brunch spots (Black Eyed Susie’s), bike trails, beaches, sailing cruises and shops, this is by far one of my favorite New England destinations. If you can’t swing a summer trip, then check out the island in the fall where you can still enjoy biking, eating, shopping, sailing and more. Best hotel on the island for families: The White Elephant — one of the most beautiful resorts on the island. If you have time for a weekend getaway without the kids, I highly recommend visiting Nantucket on your own too – my husband and I spent our first anniversary there and still remember it as if it were yesterday.
3. Bethany Beach or Rehobeth, DE – Rent a house with friends or family, hit the beach, play tennis, relax at the pool, bike ride and more. At night, the restaurants are plentiful as are the crabs and there’s a boardwalk filled with shops and activities for families. If you live in the tri-state area, the ride to Bethany Beach is just long enough before the kids start asking “Are we there yet?”
4. Smuggler’s Notch Vermont – The drive might be far, but once you arrive, the experience is well worth the trip. With several pools and slides for the kids, hiking and biking trails, lakes, pedal boats, canoes, water skiing (which I managed to do after not having tried it in more than 20 years!), Smuggler’s Notch has it all. And if you venture out of the family friendly resort, check out the Ben & Jerry’s factory nearby, Cabot Cheese, great shopping in Burlington and the Trapp Family Resort, Vermont has everything in a family vacation and more.
5. Explore Pennsylania – this pick takes me back to my childhood since I spent my summers at my parent’s home in Dingman’s Ferry, PA. If you’re looking to experience the simple life at its finest, then Pennsylvania is the way to go. From canoeing and white water rafting, to the Amish Country, Gettysburg, Milford, PA and more, Pennsylania is the place where history, adventure and memory making begins. To find out more go to VisitPA.com

Tips for the Perfect Roadtrip

IMG00091.jpgIt’s Labor Day weekend and that means it’s the last road trip of the season!!! But have no fear…if you haven’t left home yet for your “Are We There Yet” adventure, the folks at Nissan have some tips to help you pass the hours sitting in traffic in style:
Here are some of the car company’s fun stats and tips (and a few of my own) to make your trip safe and enjoyable:
Remember to load the car DVD player with some family friendly flicks. Some faves include “Finding Nemo”, “Night at the Museum”, and “Bee Movie.”
My tip: Also make sure that you charge your kids’ Nintendo DS’s and their iPods. Nothing puts a downer on a trip when the low battery light goes on 15 minutes into your journey.
Still not sure where to go? There are tons of scenic drives to choose from, including California’s Pacific Coast Highway or the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.
My tip: On the east coast, my favorite road trip destinations are Block Island, Mystic, Connecticut, Cape Cod, Bethanny Beach, Delaware, Vermont and of course, the Hamptons!
Look up more drives at www.byways.org or www.roadtripamerica.com.
For a last minute hotel, check out www.bookit.com, where you can get great deals on hotels and other travel needs for low prices.
My tip: My personal fave site is hotels.com – I’ve always managed to snag a good price on a last minute hotel booking.
Every good road trip needs some tunes. Try downloading fun soundtracks like “High School Musical” or Disney Broadway soundtracks like “Mary Poppins” or “Little Mermaid.”
My tip: Purchase a subscription to Sirius/XM radio and subject your kids to several hours of 80’s on 8. By the time the trip is over, your kids will know every long haired band from the 80’s and may even be able to sing the lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody.
Looking for ideas of things to do? GoCityKids.com is a great resource for finding family friendly places and events in almost any city in the country.
My tip: Whenever I’m looking for the 10 best places for families to visit in the U.S., I always check About.com first – they’ve got the 411 on all great vacation destinations.
And last but not least, the most important part of any family trip is safety. Make sure you have a car that is reliable, and comfortable for the family. The Nissan Rogue received a Top Safety Pick Award by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and was named one of the Best Family Cars by Parents.com for its roomy interior, storage spaces and its advanced transmission for a quiet ride. To learn more, visit http://www.nissanusa.com/rogue/
While I didn’t get a chance to test drive the Rogue, I did check out the Nissan Murano thanks to Traveling Mom and I do have to say, I did feel totally safe, plus I totally loved the electric trunk.
Anyhoo – have yourself a wonderful Labor Day Weekend and here’s hoping your kids are entertained and well-rested as you get them ready for the first day of school!

Another Beach Weekend

I officially feel like a beach bum this summer. In a matter of 3 weeks, we’ve hit Block Island, the Hamptons and this weekend, we decided to take a weekend trip to Long Beach Island in Southern New Jersey. Our friends go out there every summer and when my girlfriend shot me an email on Friday inviting us to spend the weekend with them, I figured, we didn’t have any plans so why not find a hotel, pack a bag and hit the road again.
And so, after plunking down a deposit for a swanky hotel in LBI, we packed up the kids, got our neighbor to feed the cat and hit the road bright and early Saturday morning. And without fail, as we inched closer to Jersey and the traffic slowed to a crawl, we wound up doing what we do best in the Garden State. We got lost. Yes, we got lost – even with our faithful Garmin guiding the way, we still couldn’t find the house where our friends were staying. After shooting a few emails and then sending an emergency, “call us now” text message, we finally were directed to their beach house and within minutes, we were hitting the sand and surf.
While the kids ran to the waves, my husband followed them like a hawk and I settled into my chair lathering my arms, legs and face in sunscreen. Of course, I missed several spots, like my back, the side of my leg, my nose and the tops of my feet and am now paying the price of splotchy sunscreen application, but it wouldn’t be summer if I didn’t get scorched.
Back to the beach – the surf was incredibly rough and every time I watched the kids, my heart went into my stomach as crazy thoughts of them being pulled out to the ocean raced through my mind. They finally came out to look for shells, mermaid nails and dead jelly fish (lovely) and after a while, we all decided to pack it in, have lunch and then head to our hotel to check in.
For some bizarre reason, I automatically thought the hotel had a pool but unfortunately, I was mistaken. And so, we hit the beach again and while I reapplied the sunscreen yet again, I missed my back entirely. I guess I’m a masochist or just not too swift. Anyway, as the kids and my hubby hit the water again, I called my good friend whose 40th birthday I missed a few weeks back and we caught up on lost time.
As the tide came closer to our towels and my Vera Bradley bag (thank goodness DH snatched it up before the sea water hit my brand new knapsack), we decided to leave so we could hit the showers. But when we got to our room, the kids raced to the shower and were stunned to find that hardly any water was coming out of the spiggot. The water pressure was so bad they had to wash their feet in the sink. And then when I tried to take a turn, the water nearly shut off completely. We of course complained about the shower problems and luckily, they decided to lower our room rate due to the aggravation they caused us because we couldn’t take a relaxing shower…how dare they?
We then met our friends for dinner at the hotel restaurant (which was quite delish) and then hit Fantasy Island – a cheesy amusement park with just enough rides to keep the kids entertained for at least an hour.
Today, we hit the beach again, ate lunch, packed up and headed home. And of course, as we left New Jersey behind, we still got stuck in all our favorite places (by the GW bridge) and made it home in a little over 3 hours.
So what’s on the agenda next week? Who knows…I may want to stay home and take a break from the beach…then again, maybe I’m on my way to setting a world’s record – how many beach resorts can you see in one year. Either way, it’s not a shabby way to spend our summer vacation.