Kidventurous http://kidventurous.com Making Family Travel an Adventure Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.4 Holiday Gift Guide: Best National Parks Books for Kids http://kidventurous.com/books-about-national-parks/ http://kidventurous.com/books-about-national-parks/#respond Fri, 02 Dec 2016 13:00:11 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=9139 Two summers ago, my kids and I visited more than a dozen national parks and monuments. It was truly epic to be able to sled down sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and explore a grove of giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park in California. As I began to plan out our trip, I had […]

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Best National Parks Books2Two summers ago, my kids and I visited more than a dozen national parks and monuments. It was truly epic to be able to sled down sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and explore a grove of giant sequoia trees at Sequoia National Park in California.

As I began to plan out our trip, I had a couple of trusty guides, including National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, and the kids’ companion, National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA. Honestly, I think I used the children’s book more since it includes helpful must-do’s (called “My Checklist” in the book) so I knew what we should not miss when at the parks. 

To celebrate this year’s 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, National Geographic introduced three new books and updated a favorite title, enabling kids to plan, explore and get excited about national parks. All of these books make great gifts for children, allowing them to re-visit favorite parks or read up on parks they hope to visit in the new year.

Junior Ranger Activity Book: We love completing Junior Ranger programs at national parks, and while you can’t earn a badge or a patch completing the puzzles and activities in this book, it is a fun companion to in-park programs. It’s also a great way to build on park experiences as children learn fun facts, find hidden animals and get ranger tips as they work their way through this fun activity book.

Funny Fill-In: My National Parks Adventure: If you like Mad Libs, then you and your kids will love this Funny Fill-In book from National Geographic. Kids will find more than 20 fun fill-in stories, about half of which are specific to national parks, like Denali and Yosemite. Add in nouns, adjectives, verbs, even days of the week and body parts, to create funny park-related stories.

Buddy Bison’s Yellowstone Adventure: Little ones will love this colorful paperback book that follows twins Elena and Christopher on a road trip adventure through Yellowstone National Park. In the book, Elena’s stuffed animal, Buddy Bison, comes to life and takes them all across the park. In the back of the book, kids can read up on the history of Yellowstone and learn how to help preserve this national park.

National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide USA: This colorful kids book was updated for the centennial and goes park-by-park sharing five ways to explore each one (e.g., take a hike, go stargazing). It also features a checklist for each park to make sure that you and your kids don’t miss the highlights, like watching Mexican free-tailed bats fly out of a cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

If you’re looking for more books about national parks, here are a few more guides that will help you and your kids best explore our national parks.

Secrets of the National Parks: This book from National Geographic is perfect if you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a bucket list park, like Yellowstone or Grand Canyon. Inside look for expert tips, most scenic view points and easy trails so you can make the most of your visit on your own or with your family.

National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States: As I noted above, we have this book and it was so helpful when I was planning our cross-country road trip last summer. For every national park, the book includes when to go, different routes to take around the parks and must-do hikes.

Your Guide to National Parks: I have this book too, and what I love about this one is that it includes campsites, park maps and things to do, like biking, paddling and horseback riding (including outfitters). The book also includes lots of places to stay, day-by-day itineraries and hiking trails, including distances and level of difficulty for every trail in each park.

Before you head out on your adventures, it’s a must to pick up some books about national parks in order to make the most of your time in our parks. Have fun. 

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links within this post. However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

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Best Places to Travel with Kids in December http://kidventurous.com/best-places-travel-kids-december/ http://kidventurous.com/best-places-travel-kids-december/#respond Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:00:10 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10423 The holidays are here, but there’s still plenty of time to travel as a family, as well as plenty of fun places to explore whether you like to ski, hike, cruise or simply see the sights and holiday lights. Here are 10 of the best places to visit in December with kids. Have fun. 🙂 New York City We’ve been […]

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The holidays are here, but there’s still plenty of time to travel as a family, as well as plenty of fun places to explore whether you like to ski, hike, cruise or simply see the sights and holiday lights. Here are 10 of the best places to visit in December with kids. Have fun. 🙂

New York City
We’ve been to New York City several times, but never in December when the streets and storefronts are decorated and all lit up for the holidays. Best bets include the Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and THE RIDE: Holiday Edition (we’ll be checking out all three in mid-December).

Best Places to Travel with Kids in December

Caribbean
December is a great time to visit the Caribbean, even better when you can hop off on a couple of different islands as part of a five- or seven-day cruise. Look to the brand new Carnival Vista, which will be cruising the Eastern Caribbean this winter, making stops in the Bahamas and Dominican Republic.

Orlando
In December, the weather is ideal in Orlando (generally in the 70s) and the theme parks are all decked out for the holidays. Head to Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Disney’s Hollywood Studios for Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! and LEGOLAND for Christmas Bricktacular.

Best Places to Travel with Kids in December

Williamsburg, VA
Williamsburg, Virginia is a fantastic place to visit year-round, but go during the winter holidays for the feel of a true colonial Christmas complete with costumed carolers, a holiday decorations walking tour and skating on the ice pavilion. You may also want to head to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens.

Death Valley National Park, CA/NV
Temperatures top the 100s (even 110s) in the summer, but in December, mild temperatures make it perfect to hike around and explore Death Valley National Park. I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was just 69 degrees. Stay in nearby Beatty, NV and head to the park for the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Zabriskie Point.

Best Places to Travel with Kids in December

Keystone, CO
Colorado is already getting loads of snow, so whether you’re a skier or more of an apres-skier, Keystone is a great ski destination for families. Go for Camp Keystone, a world-class ski school, a huge snow fort, ice skating and nature walks. As a bonus, look for the Kidtopia Mountaintop Spectacular in December.

Las Vegas
Just because Las Vegas is full of casinos doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of fun things to do with kids. Go for a hike at Red Rock Canyon, enjoy hands-on fun at the Discovery Children’s Museum, see the Seven Magic Mountains and watch free circus acts at Circus Circus. There are great family-friendly hotels too, particularly in nearby Henderson.

Best Places to Travel with Kids in December

Stowe, VT
Stowe is a great place for outdoor-loving families. We spent time there in summer hiking, fishing and kayaking. Go skiing and snowboarding at Smugglers’ Notch. Or, engage in any number of other family activities at the resort, like ice skating, snowmobile tours, snowcat rides and a weekly winter carnival.

Pocono Mountains, PA
In the Poconos of Pennsylvania, there’s a lot of winter fun to be had as a family. For those who like to get outside, book a dog sledding tour with Arctic Paws Dog Sled Tours. Stay at nearby Woodloch Resort for snow tubing, go-karts and ziplines. Or, head inside for waterpark fun at Kalahari, Great Wolf Lodge or Camelback Resort.

Best Places to Travel with Kids in December

San Diego
For lovely beaches and perfect weather nearly every day, San Diego is the place to be. As a bonus, there are lots of free things to do in San Diego, like strolling the Gaslamp Quarter and watching sunset from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Watch sea lions sun themselves and ride bikes along the boardwalk.

Photo Credit: Giovanni Volpato/Flickr (Radio City Music Hall)

Best Places to Travel with Kids in December

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Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane http://kidventurous.com/10-hersheypark-holidays/ http://kidventurous.com/10-hersheypark-holidays/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 13:00:32 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=8636 Going to an amusement park in the off-season is fantastic. Over the weekend, my kids and I drove two hours to Hersheypark in Hershey, PA. The weather was reasonable (in the upper-40s), the crowds were light (at least compared to summer crowds) and the shows were well worth the drive. Beyond Hersheypark, there’s a lot to do in Hershey, PA […]

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Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas CandylaneGoing to an amusement park in the off-season is fantastic. Over the weekend, my kids and I drove two hours to Hersheypark in Hershey, PA. The weather was reasonable (in the upper-40s), the crowds were light (at least compared to summer crowds) and the shows were well worth the drive.

Beyond Hersheypark, there’s a lot to do in Hershey, PA and it’s a great place to spend the weekend with kids, especially during the winter holidays. We took a free tour at Hershey’s Chocolate World and saw lots of great light displays at the drive-through Hershey Sweet Lights. Plus, we saw Santa. 🙂

Since we spent most of our time at Hersheypark, here are 12 fun things to do as a family at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane this holiday season (runs Nov. 11 – Jan. 1).

1. Go Ice Skating. Rent skates for $3 per pair and take a lap or two around the rink at Rudolph’s Skating Pond. It’s a fun activity that everyone can enjoy and a fun break after riding a few of the rides or taking in one of the festive shows.

2. Enjoy the Holiday Lights Show, NOEL. Starting at 5 pm, 200,000 holiday lights will dance along with holiday music like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The show takes place every 30 minutes. If you can wait until 5:30 (or later), it’s worth it to see the light show in the dark.

Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane

3. Watch A Music Box Christmas at the Music Box Theatre. I loved this colorful, musical show about a mysterious and magical music box that’s discovered up in grandma’s attic. It’s a 45-minute show that will keep your kids engaged and entertained the entire time. Plus, it’s warm in the Music Box Theatre (and they sell popcorn!).

4. Decorate Holiday Cookies. At The Cookie Workshop, choose from a snowman or a Christmas tree to decorate with icing and three cups of toppings, like sprinkles, chocolate chips and Reese’s Pieces. This is a great activity when you want to warm up and are hunting for indoor fun at the park.

Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane

5. Pose with Holiday Characters. Look out for popular Hershey’s characters decked out for the holidays ready to strike a pose with you and your kids. About mid-day, we spotted Mr. Hershey Bar wearing a festive Santa cap and a red and white scarf. Instagram-worthy, for sure.

6. Listen to a Christmas Story. Several times daily, one of Santa’s elves reads a holiday story to the boys and girls inside The Cookie Workshop. As a bonus, wait until storytime is over to pose with a friendly holiday helper, like Jingles the Moose. As a double-bonus, the storytime is in the same room as cookie decorating, so it’s a two-fer. 🙂

Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane

7. Drink Hot Chocolate. Sure, you can get hot chocolate anywhere, but only at Hersheypark can you get hot chocolate made with Hershey’s Chocolate. No Swiss Miss here. For $10.75, buy a red souvenir mug and drink all the hot chocolate you want for free the day you’re in the park. It’s perfect for chilly days.

8. Go on the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour. If you’ve ever been to Hersheypark, you’ve probably visited Hershey’s Chocolate World. And, you’ve most likely gone on the free Hershey’s Chocolate Tour (we love the singing cows), but since the tour was re-vamped earlier this year, you’ll want to check it out again (as a bonus, free chocolate!).

Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane

9. Visit with Santa. Wait in line at Santa’s Candy Cottage to meet with Santa and share all of your holiday wishes. Go early and make note of the times when Santa will be on a break. You can also see Santa at Hershey’s Chocolate World as part of Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus or at Hersheypark Place where you can eat breakfast or lunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus weekends through Dec. 18.

10. Meet Santa’s Reindeer. Where else can you visit with all nine of Santa’s reindeer? Certainly not the shopping mall. Head over to the stables inside Hersheypark for a meet-and-greet with a few of Santa’s most important helpers on Christmas Eve. 

Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane

11. Get a King-Size Milkshake. Trust me on this. We ordered just one Reese’s milkshake for the four of us from Simply Chocolate. It’s so amazing, and apparently well-known, since we had two families come up to us to ask where to get the shake. For the holidays, look for two special shakes, mint chocolate chip and frozen hot chocolate.

12. See Hershey Sweet Lights. Though technically across the street from Hersheypark, it’s a must to drive through Hershey Sweet Lights for all the fantastic light displays. There’s a separate fee, but there are a lot of displays to enjoy. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes driving through the displays. Here’s a 15-second preview.

Holiday Fun: Hersheypark Christmas Candylane

Disclaimer: My kids and I received complimentary tickets to check out Hersheypark and Hershey Sweet Lights. However, I was not compensated for this article and all views expressed here are my own.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Best Travel Books for Kids http://kidventurous.com/gift-guide-travel-books-kids/ http://kidventurous.com/gift-guide-travel-books-kids/#respond Fri, 25 Nov 2016 13:00:56 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=8630 The holidays are around the corner and if you’re eager to inspire wanderlust in your kids in the new year, there are a variety of travel books just for kids that are designed to do just that. Each book or book series is well-suited for children eager to learn about the world around them through these fun and colorful books. Here are five […]

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best travel books for kids

The holidays are around the corner and if you’re eager to inspire wanderlust in your kids in the new year, there are a variety of travel books just for kids that are designed to do just that. Each book or book series is well-suited for children eager to learn about the world around them through these fun and colorful books. Here are five of my favorites:

1. The Lets’s ExploreSeries. For young children, Lonely Planet Kids introduced three new books earlier this year, including Let’s Explore…Safari, Let’s Explore…Ocean and Let’s Explore…Jungle. Each colorful book feature a mix of hands-on activities, puzzles and sticker pages that teach children all about the planet on which we live.

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2. The Mission Series. I’ve long been a fan of scavenger hunts as a way to engage children when taking in the sights in your hometown or half a world away, so the Mission series is worth a look. Titles like Mission Rome, Mission London, Mission Paris, Mission New York and Mission Washington, DC making learning fun as you and your kids traipse across cities exploring attractions and learning the history behind landmarks.

3. The Kid’s Guide to… Series. Fellow family travel writer, Eileen Ogintz, has written a number of travel guides just for children as part of her The Kid’s Guide to… series, including The Kid’s Guide to Denver, Boulder & Colorado’s Ski Country and The Kid’s Guide to San Diego. Each book is designed so that kids can be involved in the trip planning process while learning fun facts and playing games. 

4. More Lonely Planet Kids Selections. Also from Lonely Planet Kids, look for The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book: Mind-Blowing Stuff on Every Country in the World and Adventures Around the Globe. Both books are chock full of colorful maps, photos and infographics designed to engage little ones with the world before taking a big trip overseas or just over the border.

5. National Geographic Kids Books. While not a new book, one of my absolute favorite kids travel books is the National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas, which has plenty of maps, must-do activities and fun facts for every U.S. state. Another one of my favorites is the National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A. This one really came in handy during our cross-country adventure in 2015.

Do you have any favorite travel books for kids? Let me know in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. However, the views and opinions expressed here are my own.

Best Travel Books for Kids

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10 Things to Do as a Family at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks http://kidventurous.com/10-family-sequoia-kings-canyon-national-parks/ http://kidventurous.com/10-family-sequoia-kings-canyon-national-parks/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 13:00:27 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10396 It’s hard to believe it’s already been two summers, but yes, two summers ago the kids and I explored Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. Along with Yosemite National Park, these three parks make up the Majestic Mountain Loop in California. Known for groves of giant sequoia trees, these National Parks are a must to explore with kids. […]

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10 Things to Do as a Family at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks It’s hard to believe it’s already been two summers, but yes, two summers ago the kids and I explored Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. Along with Yosemite National Park, these three parks make up the Majestic Mountain Loop in California.

Known for groves of giant sequoia trees, these National Parks are a must to explore with kids. Plan to enter from either the Ash Mountain Entrance of Sequoia (stay in Three Rivers) or the Big Stump Entrance of Kings Canyon (stay in Fresno). Take a look at 10 things you must do on your visit to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.

1. Stay Near the Park Entrance. We started at Sequoia National Park, so we stayed at the Comfort Inn & Suites in Three Rivers. It’s the closest town to the Ash Mountain Entrance and Foothills Visitor Center. It’s 20 miles from the park entrance and the Comfort Inn & Suites is one of the only hotels outside the park.

2. Hike the Big Trees Trail. Once inside Sequoia National Park, you’ll of course want to see as many giant sequoia trees as you can, so the place to go is the Big Trees Trail. It’s an easy one-mile loop. Start at the Giant Forest Museum and cross the street to the paved trail.

10 Things to Do as a Family at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

3. Go on a Crystal Cave Tour. I’ll admit, we did not go on a tour of Crystal Cave with a cave naturalist, but it is quite amazing to think that you’ll find both huge sequoia trees above ground and incredible stalactites and rock formations below ground. Book tickets online and be sure to bring along a jacket. 

4. Visit with Generals Sherman & Grant.  Located at Sequoia National Park, the General Sherman Tree is said to be the largest giant sequoia tree in the world. You may also want to go next door to Kings Canyon National Park to see General Grant, the second largest giant sequoia tree in the world.

10 Things to Do as a Family at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

5. Attend a Ranger-Led Program. As always, attending a ranger program is a must. You and your kids can learn about wildlife safety, geology, history and native animals. Pick up the park newspaper when you arrive or go online ahead of time to check out the schedule for the day(s) you’ll be at the park(s).

6. Become a Junior Ranger. My kids love earning badges and patches at various national parks through the Junior Ranger program. You can pick up a free activity booklet at any visitors center inside either park. There’s also an online WebRangers program.

10 Things to Do as a Family at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

7. Attend the Dark Sky Festival. The night sky at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is well-known for being one of the best places in the country for seeing the stars. If you can, plan a visit for late-July to coincide with the annual Dark Sky Festival for constellation tours and plenty of kids’ activities.

8. Stamp Your Passport. Getting stamps in my Passport to Your National Parks is always my favorite part of a national park visit. Keep your eye open for cancellation stamps at every visitor center. You’ll also want to buy the official park sticker to add to your passport.

10 Things to Do as a Family at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

9. Drive Through a Tree. If you’re looking for the opportunity to drive through a tree, you’ll find it at Tunnel Log at Sequoia National Park. It’s a car tunnel that goes through a giant sequoia tree that fell over the road in 1937.

10. Be Impressed by Grizzly Falls. Just off the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway, you’ll want to hike a short, easy trail to Grizzly Falls, a 75-foot waterfall. As with most waterfalls, it’s best viewed in the spring following the winter thaw when there is plenty more water going over the falls.

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20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC http://kidventurous.com/20-must-go-family-holiday-events-washington-dc/ http://kidventurous.com/20-must-go-family-holiday-events-washington-dc/#respond Mon, 21 Nov 2016 19:11:58 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10387 There’s a lot to do in and around the Washington, DC area with kids, almost too much to do. So, if you live in the area, or are planning to pay a visit during the winter holidays, here are more than 20 fun things to do with your kids.  1. See Model Trains. Go to the U.S. Botanic Garden for plenty of model […]

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20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DCThere’s a lot to do in and around the Washington, DC area with kids, almost too much to do. So, if you live in the area, or are planning to pay a visit during the winter holidays, here are more than 20 fun things to do with your kids. 

1. See Model Trains. Go to the U.S. Botanic Garden for plenty of model trains, which will chug around iconic national parks, like the Grand Canyon, made out of plants as part of the annual Season’s Greenings (runs Nov. 24 – Jan. 2). 

2. Go to an Outdoor Skating Rink. Get outside and skate a few laps at one of a number of outdoor rinks, like the Washington Harbour Ice Rink and the Pentagon Row Ice Rink.

3. See the Grinch. Take the kids to see Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical at the National Theatre (runs Dec. 13-31). As a bonus, save 25% through Certifikid.

4. Take the Kids to ZooLights. Head to the National Zoo evenings Nov. 25 – Jan. 1 for ZooLights. Be sure to enjoy the zoo tubing tracks and the National Zoo Choo-Choo.

5. Take a Selfie with the Capitol Christmas Tree. After your visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden, stop across the street for a selfie with the Capitol Christmas Tree. This year’s tree hails from Idaho.

20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC

6. Go to a Christmas Market. Head into the city for the Downtown Holiday Market, which runs from Nov. 25 – Dec. 23. Look for handmade gifts, music, hot drinks, even mini donuts and cream-filled Churros.

7. Take a Spin on the Capital Wheel. Head to National Harbor for a spin on the 180-foot Capital Wheel for a bird’s eye view of our Nation’s Capital. As a bonus, there’s also a new carousel.

8. Slide Down an Ice Slide at ICE!. Head to the Gaylord National Resort to slide down ice slides, watch sculptors make ice sculptures and see an ice depiction of Christmas Around the World at ICE! (runs Nov. 19 – Jan. 1). 

20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC

9. Enjoy Christmas at Mount Vernon. Through Jan. 6, tour the mansion, watch chocolate-making demonstrations and meet Aladdin the Christmas Camel at Mount Vernon.

10. Try a First Day Hike. First Day Hikes are part of a nationwide initiative started by America’s State Parks to encourage families to get outdoors. Look for a New Year’s Day First Day Hike near you.

11. Do a Family Fun Run. Run a 5K as a family. Try the Run with Santa 5K in Reston on Dec. 4 or the Ringing in Hope 5K in Ashburn on Dec 31.

20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC

12. Go on a Mansion Tour at Oatlands. Take a guided mansion tour at Oatlands in Leesburg throughout December to see the mansion all decked out for the holidays. You can also sit for an afternoon tea between 1-3 pm in the historic Carriage House.

13. See a Waterskiing Santa. Bundle up and head to Old Town Alexandria for the longest-running water ski Christmas show featuring a waterskiing Santa. The show takes place on Dec. 24 at 1 pm.

14. Drive Through a Lights Display. Enjoy a festive drive-through lights display. One to check out is the Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville (runs Nov. 23 – Jan. 8). Another good one is the Winter Lights Festival in Gaithersburg (runs Nov. 25 – Dec. 31).

20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC

15. Visit Union Station. Go to Union Station to see the annual Christmas Tree that comes all the way from Norway. Grab lunch in the food court or next door at Capitol City Brewing Company.

16. See the Giant Pandas. Head to the National Zoo to see giant pandas, Tian Tian, Bao Bao and Bei Bei. Bao Bao will be heading back to China in the first few months of the new year, so see him before he departs.

17. Go to a Holiday Parade. Take the kids to see floats, marching bands and dancers at a holiday parade. Two local favorites include the Reston Holiday Parade (Nov. 25) and Manassas Christmas Parade (Dec. 3).

20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC

18. Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Willard InterContinental. Enjoy tea sandwiches, fresh fruits, scones and sweets, as well as a hot cup of tea, of course at the Willard InterContinental. Served throughout December from 1-4 pm.

19. Watch a Boat Parade. Head to Old Town Alexandria for the annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights that takes place on Dec. 3 at sundown. Watch the harbor light up as colorful boats cruise the Potomac River.

20. See the National & State Christmas Trees. Need more Christmas trees? Head to the Ellipse to see the National Christmas Tree, as well as decorated trees for all 50 states (starting Dec. 1).

20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC

Now, here are a few more bonus must-do’s over the holidays for those eager to get out of town:

21. See Miracle on 34th Street. No, not the movie. Head up to Baltimore for Miracle on 34th Street, the annual holiday lights display in Hampden. It’s a real treat for everyone (runs Nov. 26- Jan. 1).

22. Visit Hersheypark. Get out of town and head up to Hershey, PA for Hersheypark Christmas Candylane (runs Nov. 11 – Jan. 1). Don’t forget to drive through Hershey Sweet Lights. My kids and I went last November, so take a look our list of 10 Things to Do at Hersheypark Over the Holidays.

20+ Must-Go Family Holiday Events in Washington, DC

23. Go to Christmas Town. Take the kids to Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. There’s lots to do, including Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole. Get discounted tickets now.

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Quebec City: To Take the Kids or Not Take the Kids? http://kidventurous.com/quebec-city-kids-kids/ http://kidventurous.com/quebec-city-kids-kids/#respond Tue, 01 Nov 2016 17:23:50 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10367 I’ll be honest, I probably would not take my kids back to Quebec City. We spent a few days there over the summer during our three-week road trip. I had wanted to visit Quebec City for quite some time and we were going to be in town over Canada Day. I was very excited. I will tell you that Quebec […]

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I’ll be honest, I probably would not take my kids back to Quebec City. We spent a few days there over the summer during our three-week road trip. I had wanted to visit Quebec City for quite some time and we were going to be in town over Canada Day. I was very excited.

Quebec City with Kids

I will tell you that Quebec City did not disappoint. It was all that I hoped it would be. I loved the outdoor cafés, the adorable streets and storefronts, and of course, the Chateau Frontenac, a hotel that is likely the most recognized landmark in all of Quebec City. However, if I were to do it again, I’d just go with my husband (during this part of road trip, it was only me and the kids).

We stayed at the Hotel Palace Royal Centre-Ville. I had no idea where to stay when I found and booked this hotel on Travelocity. It was perfect and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It was just a block from Old Quebec, so it was so easy to walk out of the hotel and explore the Upper and Lower Town.

Quebec City with Kids

Inside the hotel, you’ll find the Beffroi Steak House, a nice restaurant with a pretty wide selection of kid-friendly meals. When we checked in, we also got a 10% off coupon to use at the restaurant, so of course, we had to try it out one night. For quick meals, there’s also a Subway across the street and a McDonald’s about two blocks away (my kids loved using the touch screen kiosk there to order our food).

Okay, so back to Quebec City. There’s a lot to see and do, just not a lot to do in Old Quebec that is especially great for kids. One day we went to the Aquarium du Quebec and another day we checked out Montmorency Falls. The kids loved both and both were not far from Quebec City, but we had to go by car.

Quebec City with Kids

I would have liked to see and do more things in Old Quebec on foot with the kids. Truth be told, I would have liked to just sit in one of the outdoor cafés and people-watch all day. Now that would have been perfect. However, if you go, whether with a partner or with your kids, here are a few things you must do:

1. Wander About the Petit-Champlain District. In the Lower Town section of Old Quebec, you won’t find a more adorable area to spend a few hours exploring than Petit-Champlain. Look for cute restaurants, cobblestone streets and flower boxes on every window.

Quebec City with Kids

2. Take the Funicular to Lower Town. You could walk from Upper Town to Lower Town, but it’s very, very steep, so the Funicular railway is a perfect idea. Even better, you’ll be right in Petit-Champlain when the doors open up at the bottom of the hill.

Quebec City with Kids

3. Take a Selfie with the Chateau Frontenac. Go inside or simply take in the Chateau Frontenac from the outside. It’s a beautiful hotel that dominates the landscape of Old Quebec. Pretty much every photo you’ll ever see of Quebec City features this hotel, so it’s worth it to check it out for yourself.

Quebec City with Kids

4. Celebrate Canada Day. Sure, Canada Day (July 1) comes just once a year, but it’s worth it to be in Canada for this special day. I’m sure other cities, like Ottawa and Toronto, do it up even better, but we loved every part of Quebec City’s fireworks, parade and seeing Batisse, the Royal 22e Regiment’s goat mascot.

Quebec City with Kids

5. See 360-Degree Views of the City. One afternoon while in Quebec City, my 9 y.o. and I took in the 360-degree views from the Observatoire de la Capitale. Travel + Leisure even says this is the place to go for the best views in Quebec City.

Quebec City with Kids

These are just a few of my favorite parts about Quebec City. It’s definitely a city that’s just right for taking your time to explore, pop into shops and take a break in a sidewalk café for an hour or two. Not all of these are easy to do with kids who are ready to go-go-go. So just something to keep in mind.

I’ll definitely go back to Quebec City one day. I really did love it and visiting Old Quebec in summer was an absolute delight. The weather was perfect and there was nothing better than wandering the city, but next time I’ll probably just go with my husband. Those cafes were calling my name. I must heed the call. 🙂

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Grand Junction: Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret http://kidventurous.com/grand-junction-colorados-best-kept-secret/ http://kidventurous.com/grand-junction-colorados-best-kept-secret/#respond Mon, 17 Oct 2016 21:37:24 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10354 This past week, I had the opportunity to explore Grand Junction, Colorado. Living on the east coast, I love going out west. Everything is different, the climate, the culture, the landscape. And I especially love Colorado. Just over a year ago, the kids and I explored Steamboat Springs and Estes Park as part of our great big cross-country road trip. I […]

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Grand Junction: Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret This past week, I had the opportunity to explore Grand Junction, Colorado. Living on the east coast, I love going out west. Everything is different, the climate, the culture, the landscape. And I especially love Colorado. Just over a year ago, the kids and I explored Steamboat Springs and Estes Park as part of our great big cross-country road trip.

I didn’t know much about Grand Junction before I arrived, but I quickly learned that there’s a lot to love about this small desert town. From hiking to fruit picking to brunching at a restaurant that has Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes on the menu, I could see why locals might want to keep Grand Junction a secret.

In four days, I got to see a lot of Grand Junction, but I wanted to see more. The morning I flew home, I went on a 30-mile bike ride with some incredible views of the Colorado National Monument. I only wished that my kids could have been with me. Next time for sure. I’m already ready to go back.

If you’re looking for someplace new to take the kids, especially outdoor-loving kids, add Grand Junction to your list. Take a look at 10 must-do’s to make the most of a visit to what I consider Colorado’s best-kept secret.

1. Go Hiking at Colorado National Monument. Because Colorado National Monument doesn’t have the “national park” designation, it sees fewer crowds, which is a win for you. The rock formations are incredible and views are just as amazing. For a short hike, try the Canyon Rim Trail or the Devils Kitchen Trail.

Grand Junction: Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret

2. Get Your Dinosaur Fix. Colorado is well-known for its dinosaur fossils and kids will love exploring the Dinosaur Journey Museum in neighboring Fruita. At this hands-on museum, you’ll find plenty of interactive exhibits, paleontology displays, a sandbox for making dinosaur tracks and a “quarry site.” 

3. Cycle the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway. Nearby Palisade is known for fruit stands (peaches are especially popular) along the Palisade Fruit & Wine Byway. Rent a bike from Rapid Creek Cycles to explore the town. Pop in Sprigs & Sprouts, a lavender farm, for free balsamic oil and vinegar tastings.

Grand Junction: Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret

4. Go Whitewater Rafting. When the weather is warm, you’ll want to hit the rapids of the Colorado River for an afternoon of whitewater rafting. Or, go on a relaxing float trip downstream. Try Rimrock Adventures, which offers both guided rafting trips and self-guided raft rentals.

5. Get Your Passport Stamped. Because the Colorado National Monument is part of the National Park Service, you won’t want to miss out on getting your Passport to Your National Parks stamped at the Saddlehorn Visitor Center. There are two stamps, including one to celebrate this year’s centennial.

Grand Junction: Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret

6. Eat Breakfast in Downtown Grand Junction. Sure, there are several hotels in Grand Junction that offer a free hot breakfast, but plan to eat at Dream Café (did I mention the Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes?) and Main Street Bagels, which offers seasonal treats, like Pumpkin Crunch Bagels, at least once. 

7. Explore Grand Mesa. Grand Mesa is known as the largest flat-top mountain in the world, so be sure to take it in. There are great views of Grand Mesa from Palisade. More than just a mountain, there are miles and miles of byway through the national forest, as well as opportunities for camping, hiking and fishing.

Grand Junction: Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret

8. Go Mountain Biking at Lunch Loop. If you like to mountain bike, check out the Lunch Loop bike trails. There you’ll find a variety of trails for all different levels, including Kids Meal, which is a great trail for beginners. All trails take an hour or less to complete.

9. Bike Along the Riverfront Trail. For paved trails, rent a bike in downtown Grand Junction from Brown Cycles to explore the Riverfront Trail. It’s 15 miles to Fruita where you’ll find plenty of places to stop for breakfast or lunch. The Monument View section of the trail is especially spectacular.

Grand Junction: Colorado’s Best-Kept Secret

10. Take Your Dog to McInnis Canyons. Not every outdoor space is welcoming of pets, but McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is decidedly dog-friendly, so plan to give Fido a workout if you bring your dog to Grand Junction. You’ll find trails, canyons, caves, all perfect for exploring with a furry friend.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau. I was not paid for this article and all opinions expressed here are my own.

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10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids http://kidventurous.com/10-things-do-kids-stowe-vermont/ http://kidventurous.com/10-things-do-kids-stowe-vermont/#respond Mon, 10 Oct 2016 14:50:14 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10337 While many families flock to Stowe, Vermont for skiing and snow tubing, there’s so much to do in the area when the weather is warm, like hiking, kayaking and fishing. Over the summer, we spent time in Vermont as part of a three-week northeast road trip and we were not disappointed by the Green Mountain State. We stayed in a […]

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While many families flock to Stowe, Vermont for skiing and snow tubing, there’s so much to do in the area when the weather is warm, like hiking, kayaking and fishing. Over the summer, we spent time in Vermont as part of a three-week northeast road trip and we were not disappointed by the Green Mountain State.

We stayed in a townhouse rental at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa, which was perfect for the five of us. There were two bedrooms, a kitchen and a huge living area. Even better, the back of the townhouse opened up to a pond and an open grassy area where the kids could run around and play. It’s so nice to have loads of space to stretch out after a long drive in the car.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

At Stoweflake, there’s both an indoor and an outdoor pool, as well as an on-site restaurant, Charlie B’s, which was perfect for breakfast and dinner. If you want to venture off-property, we loved Piecasso Pizzeria, which is just a few blocks away. Stoweflake really is in the middle of Stowe, so it’s pretty easy to walk or take a short drive to most places in-town.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

If you’re thinking about an adventure in Stowe, take a look at my list of 10 things to do in Stowe with kids.

1. Hike the Stowe Pinnacle Trail. For incredible 360 degree views, hike the Stowe Pinnacle Trail. It’s a relatively short, though steep, hike up to the summit but you will be awed by the views of the Green Mountains, especially when fall foliage is at its peak. Take a lunch and sit on the rocks to enjoy the views.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

2. Stop for Ice Cream at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. In nearby Waterbury, you won’t want to miss the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, especially if you’re a first-time visitor to Vermont. Take a free 30-minute tour of the factory to learn how the ice cream is made before scooping up a full-size sample at the end of the tour.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

3. Get in a Round of Golf at Stowe Golf Park. Stowe Golf Park really is a “mini” golf course, complete with water hazards and sand traps. No windmills here. The kids had a great time putting around after dinner. Even better, they sell ice cream treats. Perfect for celebrating mini golf victories.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

4. Go Kayaking at Waterbury Center State Park. Check out some kayaks or stand-up paddleboards and get out on the water at Waterbury Center State Park. The reservoir was so clean and clear. An absolute delight on a perfect Vermont day. Your kids may also enjoy hiking along the Peninsula Nature Trail at the park.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

5. Learn to Fish at The Fly Rod Shop. We were lucky to be in Stowe on a Monday because that’s the one day of the week when The Fly Rod Shop offers its Junior Fishing Program. My kids loved this three-hour class that taught them the basics of fishing. They even caught quite a few fish in the on-site stocked pond.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

6. Get a Gourmet Snow Cone at Jackwax. Only open in the summer, it’s a must to stop in Jackwax for gourmet snow cones. Look for tropical flavors like guava, fresh lime and mango. Jackwax also has giant-size games to play outside, like Connect Four and Jenga. We could have stayed all afternoon.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

7. Take the Gondola to the Top of Mt. Mansfield. At nearby Stowe Mountain Resort, plan to take the Gondola SkyRide to the top (well, near the top) of Mt. Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont. The views are fantastic and you can take a steep hiking trail from the gondola to the very top of the mountain.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

8. Stop for Covered Bridges. Since Vermont is fairly well-known for its covered bridges, it’s a must to stop for at least one. I actually drove past one on the way back from a hike, turned around, stopped and took a photo of Gold Brook Bridge (which I later learned was haunted, yikes).

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

9. Indulge in Apple Cider Donuts. Cold Hollow Cider Mill in nearby Waterbury Center is the place to go for warm apple cider donuts. You’ll also want to sample the apple cider and the array of mustards set out upfront with oyster crackers. For lunch, walk across the driveway to the Apple Core Luncheonette.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

10. Visit a Sugar House. When in Vermont, visit a sugar house, even if it’s out of season (sugaring season usually runs between February and April). We stopped in at Bragg Farm Sugar House in nearby East Montpelier to taste the maple syrup and hike the maple walking trail, before kicking back to enjoy the views from the Adirondack chairs on the deck.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

Disclosure:My kids and I were hosted by Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa while in Stowe. However, I was not compensated for this article and all opinions are my own.

10 Things to Do in Stowe, VT with Kids

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Why You & Your Kids Will Love the Great Pumpkin Fest http://kidventurous.com/kids-love-great-pumpkin-fest/ http://kidventurous.com/kids-love-great-pumpkin-fest/#respond Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:31:42 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10323 My kids, especially my two younger ones, are not much for zombies and skeletons. So, of course, we loved that Kings Dominion’s Great Pumpkin Fest near Richmond, VA is all about painting pumpkins, costume parades, trick-or-treating and interactive shows. We had the opportunity to check out the second annual Great Pumpkin Fest over the weekend and we were not disappointed. […]

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Why You & Your Kids Will Love the Great Pumpkin FestMy kids, especially my two younger ones, are not much for zombies and skeletons. So, of course, we loved that Kings Dominion’s Great Pumpkin Fest near Richmond, VA is all about painting pumpkins, costume parades, trick-or-treating and interactive shows.

We had the opportunity to check out the second annual Great Pumpkin Fest over the weekend and we were not disappointed. Operating on Saturdays and Sundays through October 30 in the Planet Snoopy section of the park, there was plenty to do and all of our favorite Peanuts Gang characters were in on the fun.

Kings Dominion is part of the Cedar Fair family, so the Great Pumpkin Fest is taking place at several other parks as well, including Cedar Point in Ohio and Valleyfair in Minnesota. Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California is also hosting scare-free weekend celebrations, but as Knott’s Spooky Farm.

Get the kids in the car and head to Kings Dominion for the Great Pumpkin Fest. Not that your kids will need much convincing, but here are 10 reasons to love Kings Dominion during the Halloween season. Have fun. 

1. Paint Your Own Pumpkins. Little ones (up to 54” tall) can head to Sally’s Pumpkin Painting Patch to paint their own mini pumpkins (one per child). Consider doing this activity last unless you can put your pumpkin in a stroller or you want to carry around a wet, freshly painted pumpkin.

Why You & Your Kids Will Love the Great Pumpkin Fest

2. Trick-or-Treat Prizes. When you pick up your map at the Great Pumpkin Fest headquarters, little ones will also get a plastic treat bag. At each of the stops kids can pick out a Halloween-themed prizes, like paddleball sets, crayons, notepads and snap bracelets. No candy, just fun toys.

3. Cute Baby Animals. Who doesn’t love a petting zoo with baby animals? At Woodstock’s Barnyard Pals, there are bunnies, alpacas, sheep and miniature horses. You can buy a cup of food for only $1 and there’s plenty of hand sanitizer when you get all of your pets in.

Why You & Your Kids Will Love the Great Pumpkin Fest

4. Costume Parade. Twice-daily, your kids can walk alongside Peanuts Gang characters in a parade around the Planet Snoopy area of Kings Dominion. At 1:50 and 4:50, be ready to party with the Peanuts Gang as they all show up in their favorite Halloween costumes.

5. Halloween-Themed Rides. I love it when theme parks switch up the names of rides to coincide with the season. There were a few of those at Kings Dominion, including the Great Pumpkin Coaster and Van Pelt Derby, which lets kids ride around a track on miniature tractors.

Why You & Your Kids Will Love the Great Pumpkin Fest

6. Shorter Ride Lines. While not Halloween-related, one great reason to the take the kids to the Great Pumpkin Fest, and to Kings Dominion in the fall, is that the lines for rides are shorter than in the summer. Even better, the weather is cooler, which is nice when plans have you outside all day. 

7. Scarecrow Stage. Have a seat on a bale of hay for live shows that take place three times a day. On Saturdays, look for potions and magic with Mad Science. On Sundays, you’ll find snakes and lizards at Reptile Adventure. In between shows, they play It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Why You & Your Kids Will Love the Great Pumpkin Fest

8. Playing in Soapy Foam. Be sure to head to Pigpen’s People Washer, which is essentially a 20’ x 20’ area of soapy foam. Kids and adults loved this one. Where else can you just run around in soap bubbles as if you’re in a giant bubble bath? Um, nowhere.

9. Character Meet & Greets. Of course, there are character meet and greets every day at Kings Dominion, but  now the Peanuts characters are dressed up for the season. We saw Linus dressed up like a scarecrow and Sally dressed up as a fairy. They were always roaming the park, so there were lots of good photo opps.

Why You & Your Kids Will Love the Great Pumpkin Fest

10. Peanuts Playhouse. While the musical shows take place throughout the year, it’s still fun to sit for a spell and watch “Charlie Brown’s Happy Campers” and “Schroeder’s Sing-Along” at the Peanuts Playhouse. Live shows take place four times each day.

The Great Pumpkin Fest is open Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5 pm at Kings Dominion. Note that the park opens before noon and closes after 5 pm if you want more time at the park since there’s a lot more to do outside of Planet Snoopy.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand. I have been compensated for my participation. However, all opinions are my own.

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