Kidventurous http://kidventurous.com Making Family Travel an Adventure Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:54:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.1 10 Things to Do as a Family at Death Valley National Park http://kidventurous.com/10-things-family-death-valley-national-park/ http://kidventurous.com/10-things-family-death-valley-national-park/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 17:54:46 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10757 I love Death Valley. Especially in November. While temps can easily rise into the 100s (even 110s) in the summer, it was a balmy 69 degrees when I was there in late-fall, at least according to the thermometer display set up just outside the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. I stayed in Beatty, NV and entered the park from the east […]

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I love Death Valley. Especially in November. While temps can easily rise into the 100s (even 110s) in the summer, it was a balmy 69 degrees when I was there in late-fall, at least according to the thermometer display set up just outside the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

I stayed in Beatty, NV and entered the park from the east side where there is a lot to see, like the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Artists Palette. Still, I had less than a day to explore and was jealous of my friend Karilyn who was just there and was able to see and do so much more. You can see her itinerary here. If you plan a visit to Death Valley National Park, here are 10 things to see and do. Have fun. 🙂

1. Stay Near the Park Entrance. I stayed in nearby Beatty at the Stagecoach Hotel & Casino. It’s about 45 minutes to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. It can get very dark after sunset, so it’s best to stay close, if you can. Stop at the Goldwell Open Air Museum on your way into the park. It’s very cool.

2. Go Sledding at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Bring along a snow saucer to sled down the sand dunes at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (though I’m sure a flat cardboard box would work too). While I didn’t get a chance to sled here, I did go sledding at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico and can attest that it is so much fun.

3. Walk Across Badwater Basin. At Badwater Basin, you’re 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in North America. You can even see a sign marking sea level way up high on the cliffs. Walk across the salt flats. It’s a vast expanse and you’ll want to get out far enough to see the salt crystals across the flats.

4. Cruise Along Artists Drive. Go early to drive the one-way route along Artists Drive. The colorful rocky landscape is worth the drive, and if you get there early enough (especially in the off-season), you may have the road to yourself. That way it’s easy to hop out and take photos without causing a back-up.

5. Take in the Views from Zabriskie Point. One of my favorite stops at Death Valley is Zabriskie Point. These badlands are just incredible. I could have taken a dozen photos. If you have time, hike along the Badlands Loop, a 2.5 mile trail that goes down, in and around the badlands.

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 the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.  There’s both a summer booklet and a winter booklet. Earn a badge upon completion of the activities. 

7. Take a Photo with the Thermometer. Outside the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, look for the thermometer display (it’s not hard to find). It was just 69 degrees when I was there. Not especially impressive, but I think it would be fun to snap a pic there when temps are in the 100s.

8. 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. The morning Golden Canyon Walk with a ranger is a must-do.

9. Listen to the Silence. When I arrived at Death Valley, it was around 6:30 am. No one else was around and it was completely silent. No car noises. No wind rustling. No wildlife moving. Total silence. It was almost eerie, but the sun was getting ready to rise and it was beautiful.

10. 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.

 

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25 Most Instagram-Worthy Roadside Attractions http://kidventurous.com/25-most-instagram-worthy-roadside-attractions/ http://kidventurous.com/25-most-instagram-worthy-roadside-attractions/#respond Mon, 16 Jan 2017 16:37:56 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10741 There’s just something about road trips and stopping to take photos at fun and quirky roadside attractions, like Cadillac Ranch in Texas and Foamhenge in Virginia. One of my personal favorites is South of the Border, a road stop in South Carolina. You’ll see colorful billboards, like “Pedro’s Weather Report: Chili Today, Hot Tamale!,” for miles and miles. If you’re planning […]

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There’s just something about road trips and stopping to take photos at fun and quirky roadside attractions, like Cadillac Ranch in Texas and Foamhenge in Virginia. One of my personal favorites is South of the Border, a road stop in South Carolina. You’ll see colorful billboards, like “Pedro’s Weather Report: Chili Today, Hot Tamale!,” for miles and miles.

If you’re planning a family road trip this summer, check out RoadsideAmerica.com, which highlights roadside attractions worth a visit all across the United States. There’s even a Roadside America mobile app to help you find must-see roadside attractions and points of interest.

If you like to snap photos in front of wacky statues, museums and attractions (who doesn’t?), then take a look at the 25 most Instagram-worthy roadside attractions (in my opinion) that you and your kids will love.

1. Idaho Potato Museum
How can you not love a museum dedicated to the potato? Located along I-15, we made a stop at the Idaho Potato Museum on our way from Boise to Yellowstone National Park in 2015. And yes, I had to snap a pic of the kids standing next to the giant baked potato in front of the museum.

2. Wall Drug
My daughter, Clare, and I spent a few days in South Dakota a few years ago. I’d never heard of Wall Drug before we arrived in the state, but now I want to go back, like right now. Ride a jackalope, see the T-Rex roar, splash around in the outdoor fountains and try the maple-frosted donuts. Yum.

wall drug

3. Cadillac Ranch   
Located in Amarillo, Texas, if I could have squeezed in a visit to Cadillac Ranch during our cross-country road trip, I would have, for sure. It’s a bunch of brightly painted old-school Cadillacs, half-buried nose down in the dirt. It’s probably one of the most photographed roadside attractions in the country.

cadillac ranch

4. Foamhenge
If you’re planning a visit to Natural Bridge in Virginia, which is a must on its own, make a stop at nearby Foamhenge. It’s a replica of England’s Stonehenge, only made out of foam. Why travel to the UK when you can snap a selfie with this world-known attraction so close to home?

foamhenge

5. Corn Palace
Listed as one of 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up, it’s clearly a must to make a stop at Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. Look for free guided tours during the summer, murals made out of corn, even a festival in August with carnival rides, food trucks and entertainment.

corn palace

6. South of the Border
We traveled by car along I-95 from Virginia to Florida several times when I was in elementary school, and once, we even stopped at South of the Border. Just south of the North Carolina-South Carolina border, I love Pedro, the billboards for miles, mini golf and everything about this “highway oasis.”

south of the border

7. Four Corners
Where else can you stand on four states (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico & Utah) at one time? Yup, at Four Corners. Run by the Navajo Nation, it’s not far off the highway and may be worth a quick pic, but be prepared to pay $5 per person (cash only). Children six and younger are free.

four corners

8. Leaning Tower of Niles
No plans to travel to Italy? No problem. Take your photo with the Leaning Tower of Niles. Originally built to store water for outdoor swimming pools, the Leaning Tower of Niles is a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa located just minutes from Chicago.

leaning tower of niles

9. Big Beau
On our way from New Orleans to Galveston, we stopped for a quick pic with Big Beau. This 135-foot alligator welcomes visitors to Beaumont, Texas. Located on the grounds of Gator Country, we even got to wade with baby alligators (yikes).

big beau

10. World’s Largest Baseball Bat
In Louisville, Kentucky, look for a baseball bat taller than the adjacent five-story Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. For baseball fans, it’s a must-visit. You’ll also want to stop in the museum to check out the exhibits and take a short factory tour to see how Louisville Slugger bats are made.

worlds largest baseball bat

11. Chloride, Arizona
If you plan to make the drive between Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, it’s a must to stop in Chloride, Arizona. The oldest mining town in Arizona, it’s been a wild west ghost town since 1944, though you will be able to find a restaurant, convenience store and several gift shops today.

chloride

12. Santa’s Workshop
Less than 25 minutes from Lake Placid, you’ll find Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, New York with plenty of Christmas-themed rides, games and shows. Enjoy Breakfast with Santa all summer long, as well as rides like the Peppermint Swings and Santa’s Sleigh Coaster.

santas workshop

13. Southernmost Point
In Key West, Florida, strike a pose with the huge buoy that marks the Southernmost Point in the United States. It’s just 90 miles to Cuba and offers fabulous views. You may need to wait in line, but you’ll find plenty of people willing to snap your photo.

southernmost point2

14. Cathedral of Junk
In a small backyard of an Austin, Texas home you’ll find a work of art made out of ordinary junk, like TVs, bicycles, glass bottles and toys.  Take your time exploring the “junk” and don’t forget to take a few pictures. The Cathedral of Junk is open weekends and by appointment on weekdays.

cathedral of junk

15. LOVE Sculpture
Take a break at John F. Kennedy Plaza (also known as LOVE Park) for a few selfies with the famous LOVE sculpture. Perfect for the City of Brotherly Love, right? It’s no surprise that this iconic sculpture is one of the 10 most photo-worthy spots in Philadelphia.

love sculpture2

16. Make Way for Ducklings
Yup, make way. Less a traditional roadside attraction since it’s in the middle of a park in Boston, it’s a must to snap a pic with your brood posing atop the bronze duckling sculptures from Make Way for Ducklings. You’ll find them in the Boston Public Garden. 

make way for ducklings

17. World’s Largest Cowboy Boots
In San Antonio, Texas, look for the World’s Largest Cowboy Boots just outside the North Star Mall (next to Saks Fifth Avenue). Since they’re the “world’s largest,” you shouldn’t have trouble spotting them for a quick snapshot.

worlds largest cowboy boots

18. Fremont Troll
Not so much a grumpy old troll as a friendly concrete giant who’s been living under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle since 1990. He may be clutching a Volkswagen Beetle, but don’t worry, the Fremont Troll is harmless. There’s plenty of area parking, so spend some time climbing and taking pictures of the troll.

fremont troll

19. Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
There’s a lot to do with kids in Las Vegas, and if you go, it’s just kind of thing to snap a selfie with the world-famous Welcome to Las Vegas Sign. For more neon, take a guided tour of the nearby Neon Museum, which offers one-hour tours every morning and evening.

las vegas sign

20. World’s Largest Thermometer
People just love the World’s Largest Thermometer in Baker, California, a small town considered to be the “Gateway to Death Valley.” At 134-feet tall, the thermometer is a tribute to the 134-degree temperature record set in Death Valley in 1913. It’s also next to Bob’s Big Boy. Yum.

worlds largest thermometer

21. ET Fresh Jerky
Take a drive along the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada, but before you hop on, make a stop at ET Fresh Jerky in Hiko. It’s basically a small convenience store, but the real attraction is the cowboy alien mural adjacent to the shop. It’s practically begging for you to take a selfie.

22. LL Bean Boot
Just outside Portland, ME, it’s a must to stop at LL Bean’s massive flagship store in nearby Freeport. Before you go inside, be sure to take a photo of the 16-foot tall duck boot out front. Sign up for a class, like archery or fly fishing, with the LL Bean Outdoor Discovery School.

23. Phantastic Phils
Take a weekend and head to Punxsutawney, PA, home to the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil. While in town, pick up a map and take photos with more than 30 six-foot tall ground hog statues around town that are a part of the Phantastic Phils public art project.

24. Big Blue Bear
This past summer, I hooked up with Mile High Bike Tours in Denver for a guided bike ride to see all that’s great about the Mile High City. Along the way, we made a stop to see Big Blue Bear, a 40-foot tall blue bear sculpture that’s been peering into the lobby of the Colorado Convention Center since 2005.

25. Seven Magic Mountains
Located 20-30 minutes from Las Vegas, the Seven Magic Mountains are worth the quick trip and the diversion. When you arrive, dial into the free audio tour to learn more about this public art, which represents Las Vegas and is a cross between the natural and the artificial.

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10 Awesome Things About the LEGOLAND Hotel http://kidventurous.com/10530-2/ http://kidventurous.com/10530-2/#respond Mon, 09 Jan 2017 21:01:16 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10530 Two years ago, my kids and I spent the day at LEGOLAND Florida. This was our first visit and, as you can imagine, it was awesome. We loved everything – the rides, the shows, the attractions – even the fact that LEGOLAND Florida has more than 180 benches, each made from 800 recycled milk jugs. Awesome. So, as you can […]

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Two years ago, my kids and I spent the day at LEGOLAND Florida. This was our first visit and, as you can imagine, it was awesome. We loved everything – the rides, the shows, the attractions – even the fact that LEGOLAND Florida has more than 180 benches, each made from 800 recycled milk jugs. Awesome.

So, as you can imagine, we were beyond excited to be able to stay the weekend at the LEGOLAND Hotel about a month ago. The hotel was six months from completion when we were at the theme park in late-2014, and of course, it had been on my mind ever since.

There’s no question that the LEGOLAND Hotel lived up to my expectations (they have a disco elevator…need I say more…). Take a look at 10 things about the LEGOLAND Hotel in Florida that make it so incredibly awesome.

1. There’s an In-Room Scavenger Hunt. When we first entered our hotel room, the kids were greeted with a short scavenger hunt. Use the clues in the room to solve puzzles and open the safe. Inside the safe, kids will find juice boxes, snacks and small packets of LEGO sets.

2. The Free Breakfast Buffet is Amazing. A hot breakfast buffet comes with your stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel. It’s not make-your-own waffles and blueberry muffins. Instead you’ll find a massive spread of hot foods including omelets, potatoes, French toast and fruit cups. And oh so much bacon. Yum.

3. The LEGOLAND Times is a Must-Read. The first morning of your stay, look for a copy of – not USA Today – but The LEGOLAND Times outside your front door. It looks like an actual newspaper and has all kinds of LEGO-related “news” stories inside. Don’t forget to bring it downstairs to breakfast.

4. The Hotel is *This* Close to LEGOLAND. Seriously, it’s like 50 feet away. No shuttle bus. No need to drive and park. I literally could have gone back to my hotel room to use the bathroom if I didn’t want to use the restrooms in the park. We were that close to the hotel.

5. You’ll Be Awed by the Themed Rooms. At the LEGOLAND Hotel, there are four different themed rooms, including Pirate, Adventure, Kingdom and LEGO Friends. We had a Kingdom themed room. The bunk beds, the shower curtain, the “surveillance video.” The room was so well thought-out.

6. You Can Book Mindstorms Classes from the Hotel.  No need to go into the park to book one of the Mindstorms workshops that let you build computerized LEGO robots. You can book from the kiosk in the hotel lobby. No need to worry about classes getting booked up before you reach the Imagination Zone.

7. There is a Disco Elevator. The elevator is cute and colorful, what I would expect from the LEGOLAND Hotel. When the doors open, typical elevator music plays. But…when the elevator doors close, it’s a whole new scene. The lights dim, the disco ball spins and “YMCA” starts to play. So. Much. Fun.

8. You Can Make S’mores. Did I have you at s’mores? Yum. On the property of the LEGOLAND Hotel, there’s a fire pit and staff are out there every night with marshmallow-roasting sticks. You can buy a s’mores kit from the Bricks restaurant for $10. Totally worth it.

9. You’ll Enjoy Early Entrance. Guests of the LEGOLAND Hotel enjoy early entrance to the theme park. That means you get in 30 minutes before every other guest. While not every ride is open before the official park opening, you can take a spin or two on the Lost Kingdom Adventure before everyone else.

10. There are Free Character Meet & Greets. Check the schedule when you arrive to find out when the characters come out to play. During the morning hours, LEGO characters meet and greet breakfast guests in the restaurant at 9 am.

Disclaimer: My kids and I were overnight guests of the LEGOLAND Hotel in Florida. However, I was not paid for this article and all opinions expressed here are my own.

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Best Places to Travel with Kids in January http://kidventurous.com/places-travel-kids-january/ http://kidventurous.com/places-travel-kids-january/#respond Fri, 06 Jan 2017 23:18:32 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10508 The holidays have come and gone. Everyone in the house is back to work and school. Already you’re starting to hear an “I’m bored” here and there (now that the novelty of holiday gifts has worn off), so now is the time for a getaway. Here are 10 of the best places to visit with kids in January. Have fun. […]

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The holidays have come and gone. Everyone in the house is back to work and school. Already you’re starting to hear an “I’m bored” here and there (now that the novelty of holiday gifts has worn off), so now is the time for a getaway. Here are 10 of the best places to visit with kids in January. Have fun. 🙂

New Orleans
Head to New Orleans to ride on a streetcar for a look at antebellum mansions and historic monuments before learning to cook with insects at the Insectarium. Explore the history of Mardi Gras at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. As a bonus, you’ll get a free slice of King Cake. Yum.

Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands
Home to fantastic ski resorts, like Seven Springs and Hidden Valley, there’s a lot for snow lovers in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. There’s even a Snow Days road trip itinerary to help you make the most of a long weekend in the region. And, don’t forget to sign your 4th or 5th grader up for a Snowpass.

Miami
I love South Florida, especially in January. Once the holidays are over and there’s nothing left to do but wait for snow (then shovel snow), I love to head south and Miami is a great place for a getaway with kids. Explore sea life at the Miami Seaquarium or go on a safari at Jungle Island. Plus, there’s the beach. 🙂

Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs just this week saw more than two feet of snow, making it an ideal time to head out for skiing, snow tubing and snowboading. Even better, thanks to direct flights from a dozen cities, including Atlanta and San Diego, you and the kids can reach the slopes more quickly than ever.

Puerto Rico
While airfares are relatively low, hop a flight to historic San Juan in Puerto Rico. Pay a visit to the old forts, including Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Castillo San Cristobal. Try a 45-minuted guided Segway tour around town or simply wander the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan’s pastel colonial neighborhoods.

Austin, TX
There’s a lot to do in Austin and the weather should be perfectly pleasant in January. Wander the Cathedral of Junk, take a pedicab tour of the murals around town or take a dip at Barton Springs, which is always a delightful 68 degrees. Climb Mt. Bonnell at sunset for 360 degree views of downtown.

Quebec City
We loved exploring Quebec City over the summer, but a getaway in January can be just as fun. That’s when the Hotel de Glace opens back up for the season. Each year, this ice hotel is re-created, enabling the curious to snuggle into a Nordic sleeping bag for the night. During the day, enjoy ice skating and dog sledding.

Belize
For eco-adventures, Belize is the place to go. The Lodge at Chaa Creek offers an all-inclusive Eco-Kids Rainforest Adventure that your kids won’t soon forget. Children will learn all about the tropical rainforest, explore Maya temples and canoe on the Macal River to meet a local family in the village of Christo Rey.

Long Beach, CA
Just south of Los Angeles and west of Disneyland, you won’t want to overlook Long Beach as a must-visit destination to spend time as a family. From whale watching to renting bikes to splashing on the beaches, there are a lot of things to do in this Southern California town. Book a stay at the Queen Mary. It’s a must.

Iceland
It’s so deliciously cheap to fly to Iceland, especially if you can book a flight to Reykjavik with WOW. Take a trip around the Golden Circle, making stops for geysers, waterfalls and volcanic craters, and of course, enjoy a soak in the famed Blue Lagoon. As a bonus, there’s no better time to seek out the Northern Lights.

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‘Frozen’ Norway: 7 Places to Visit as a Family http://kidventurous.com/frozen-norway-7-places-to-visit-as-a-family/ http://kidventurous.com/frozen-norway-7-places-to-visit-as-a-family/#respond Mon, 19 Dec 2016 13:00:02 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=5890 It may be more than three years since the release of the movie Frozen, but Frozen fever is still alive and well. In fact, I was recently at Walt Disney World and the new “Frozen Ever After” ride at Epcot is one of the most popular (as in, book your FastPass+ now). This new ride replaced “Maelstrom” in Norway. Still the same […]

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norway

It may be more than three years since the release of the movie Frozen, but Frozen fever is still alive and well. In fact, I was recently at Walt Disney World and the new “Frozen Ever After” ride at Epcot is one of the most popular (as in, book your FastPass+ now). This new ride replaced “Maelstrom” in Norway. Still the same floating logs, but now with a brand new story.

So, it’s no surprise that Norway continues to see growth from visitors from the United States. Adventures by Disney even has an eight-day/seven-night tour across Norway just for families. Or, you can create your own itinerary, taking in fjords, mountains and classic architecture along the way. Here are seven places to visit in Norway to feed your love (er, your children’s love) of all things Frozen.

akershus fortress

1. Akershus Fortress. Located in the center of Oslo, Akershus Fortress is a lovely place to explore the history and culture of Norway’s capital city. Guided tours take place between May and August. As a quick side note, Akershus is also the name of a popular restaurant in the Norway pavilion at Epcot (good to know if a trip to Orlando is a bit more manageable than a getaway to Oslo).

nidaros cathedral

2. Nidaros Cathedral. While not a short distance from Oslo, you may enjoy relaxing and taking in the Norwegian countryside on the scenic seven-hour journey to Trondheim to explore Nidaros Cathedral. The cathedral is the largest in all of Scandinavia and it’s built over the tomb of St. Olav. Take a guided tour or simply stand back to take in the beauty of the stained glass windows that make up Rose Window.

bryggen

3. Bryggen. Bryggen, the wharf of Bergen, is one of the town’s most popular attractions. You’ll find artists’ studios, boutiques, gift shops and tasty seafood restaurants. Located seven hours from Oslo, this town has two museums that hosts art works and themed exhibitions. In the town of Bergen, children will also enjoy the Bergen Aquarium, VilVite (a science center) and Vannkanten Waterworld.

naeroyfjord

4. Naeroyfjord. The inspiration for Arendelle, the name of the kingdom in Frozen, Naeroyfjord is one branch of the Sognefjord, the largest fjord (a narrow inlet between high cliffs) in Norway. A few must-dos here include fjord cruises, hiking and kayaking. You may also want to take a ride on the Flam railway, one of the steepest rail lines, which goes past waterfalls and in-between mountains.

viking ship museum

5. Viking Ship Museum. For Frozen fans, no trip to Norway would be complete without seeing and learning more about Viking ships at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo. The museum displays two well-preserved wooden Viking ships, as well as a variety of smaller boats and tools used to build and maintain the ships in the 9th century. The museum is open daily and children under 16 enter for free.

borgund stave church

6. Stave Churches. You’ll find unique wooden churches dotted throughout Norway. Norway’s oldest wooden church, Urnes Stave Church, is located in Luster (near to Naeroyfjord) and has a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Or, check out Borgund Stave Church, which is likely one of the most photographed stave churches.

fjord horses

7. Tjostheim Farm. Head to Tjostheim Farm in Ryfylke (210 miles from Oslo) to ride on a fjord horse. They are easy to ride and you can take lessons and go on trips through mountain scenery at Tjostheim Ridesenter. While in Ryfylke, there are also a variety of other activities to explore, like kayaking and cruising on the Lysefjord.

Photo Credits: Michael Gwyther-Jones (Norway), Darcy (Akershus), Cristina Schultz (Nidaros Cathedral), Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho (Bryggen), Jean-Baptiste (Naeroyfjord), CeBepuH (Viking Ship Museum), xynt4x (Borgund Stave Church), Jennifer Slot (Fjord Horses)

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10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip http://kidventurous.com/10-stops-make-vermont-road-trip/ http://kidventurous.com/10-stops-make-vermont-road-trip/#respond Wed, 14 Dec 2016 13:00:47 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10485 For such a small state, there’s a lot to see and do in Vermont. Make your own teddy bear at Vermont Teddy Bear Company, sample some of the best apple cider donuts in the country at Cold Hollow Cider Mill or hike to the Stowe Pinnacle Summit for incredible views of the Green Mountains. And don’t forget to stop in […]

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For such a small state, there’s a lot to see and do in Vermont. Make your own teddy bear at Vermont Teddy Bear Company, sample some of the best apple cider donuts in the country at Cold Hollow Cider Mill or hike to the Stowe Pinnacle Summit for incredible views of the Green Mountains.

10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip

And don’t forget to stop in a sugar house for maple syrup and all kinds of maple-flavored concoctions. Fall is a great time for a road trip across Vermont, so take a look at 10 stops to make as you explore the Green Mountain State.

Vermont Teddy Bear Factory (Shelburne)
Kids and adults alike will love the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne. The 30-minute tour with a Bear Ambassador costs just a few dollars, but be ready for loads of bear puns. The behind-the-scenes tour shows visitors how the teddy bears are made, dressed, even repaired at the on-site teddy bear hospital.

10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip

Lake Champlain (Burlington)
From biking to hiking to exploring the coastal wine trail by way of a self-guided driving tour, there’s a lot to see and do in the Lake Champlain region. On the lake itself, there are plenty of opportunities to get out on a stand-up paddleboard, a sailboat or a canoe. One popular past time is to island hop, taking the ferry to Burton Island or kayaking to North Hero Island.

Ben & Jerry’s Factory (Waterbury)
Of course, it’s a must to stop in the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury. 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. Before you leave, snap a selfie with the “Cowmobile.” In winter, add on a 45-minute snowshoe tour to work up an appetite before finishing up with a sample or a visit to the Scoop Shop.

10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip

Cold Hollow Cider Mill (Waterbury Center)
For apple cider donuts, Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center is the place to go. 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. Order “Vermont to the Core,” a grilled panini topped with local bacon, cheddar, cider jelly and apple slices.

Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa (Stowe)
Stay the night in Stowe at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa. Plan to hike, bike and swim in the summer, then ski and snowshoe in the winter. Look for the Stoweflake Discovery Programs, which includes llama walks and farm tours. Charlie B’s is a great pick for on-site dining. It’s also a very short drive to Stowe Golf Park for mini golf and Stowe Bowl for family bowling night.

10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip

Stowe Pinnacle Summit (Stowe)
For incredible 360 degree views, hike the Stowe Pinnacle Trail. It’s a relatively short, but steep, hike up to the summit but you will be awed by the views of the Green Mountains. Take a lunch and sit on the rocks to enjoy the views. If you’re eager to get to the top, you can take off about a mile from the hike by parking at the Pinnacle Meadows Parking Lot further up the trail.

Bragg Farm Sugar House (East Montpelier)
When in Vermont, visit a sugar house, even if it’s out of season (sugaring season usually lasts six weeks sometime between February and April). At Bragg Farm Sugar House in East Montpelier, you can taste maple syrups, take an educational tour and hike along the maple walking trail. There’s also an ice cream parlor on-site where you can get a milkshake or a maple creemee (a soft-serve cone).

Vermont State House (Montpelier)
The smallest state capital in the country may have the most beautiful state capitol building. The gold-domed Vermont State House in Montpelier offers guided tours from July through October, but you can explore the legislative chambers and visitors galleries on your own. Wander the streets of this quaint town, including the Vermont Historical Society Museum, which is next door to the Vermont State House.

10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip

Killington Mountain Resort (Killington)
Regardless of the season, there’s plenty to do at Killington Mountain Resort. When the weather is warm, look for all kinds of outdoor activities at the Adventure Center, including an alpine coaster, ziplines, scenic lift rides and a ropes course. There are also plenty of trails for hiking and mountain biking. In winter, there’s skiing and snowboarding, but there’s also fat biking, sleigh rides and snowmobile tours.

Downtown Rutland ArtWalk (Rutland)
In Rutland, loads of oversized murals decorate buildings all across town, primarily along Merchants Row. Murals range from a beautiful garden of flowers to a colorful depiction of the town and prominent buildings, including Christ the King Church. There’s even a giant mural of Batman. Before you go, print out locations of each mural from the Downtown Rutland website so you know where to find each one.

10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip

Have you been to Vermont? I’d love to hear about some of your favorite must-stop places on a road trip across the Green Mountain State.

10 Stops to Make on a Vermont Road Trip

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Family Hotel Suites You Need to Book Right Now http://kidventurous.com/family-hotel-suites-need-book-right-now/ http://kidventurous.com/family-hotel-suites-need-book-right-now/#respond Mon, 12 Dec 2016 13:00:59 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10474 It’s every SpongeBob watching kid’s dream to stay in a pineapple under the sea and now they can at the new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. LEGO fans, you’re covered too, thanks to multiple suites, and soon, bungalows at the LEGOLAND Florida Resort. Take a look at five fabulous family hotel suites that get booked […]

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It’s every SpongeBob watching kid’s dream to stay in a pineapple under the sea and now they can at the new Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. LEGO fans, you’re covered too, thanks to multiple suites, and soon, bungalows at the LEGOLAND Florida Resort. Take a look at five fabulous family hotel suites that get booked up months in advance. So reserve them right now.

Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Sure, you could book a swim-up suite or a super villa that’s perfect for six people, but when you book a stay at the Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts in Punta Cana, you want to book “The Pineapple.” Yup, as in the pineapple under the sea inhabited by SpongeBob SquarePants. And you’d better book well in advance.

Photo Credit: Dina Rosenberg

Photo Credit: Dina Rosenberg

Inside the resort’s signature stay, you’ll find two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a pull-out sofa bed, an infinity pool and a private butler who can arrange everything from gourmet meals to pajama parties. For families traveling with babies, look for “Gotcha Covered” amenities, like strollers, cribs and baby bottle warmers.

Click here for more details and the latest rates at Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Punta Cana.

LEGOLAND Florida Hotel
Winter Haven, Florida

It’s not enough to explore all that LEGOLAND Florida has to offer, like Heartlake City and MINILAND USA. Take the experience to the next level with a stay at the LEGOLAND Florida Hotel. Choose from four different room themes, including LEGO Friends, which has bunk beds and brightly-painted walls with each of the five LEGO Friends characters.

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida Resort

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida Resort

Or, come summer, families can stay at one of 83 beach-themed bungalows at the LEGOLAND Beach Retreat. Set to open April 2017, the new beach retreat will be adjacent to the theme park alongside Lake Dexter. Look for a sandy beach to play, a daily all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet and a kids’ clubhouse.

Click here for more details and the latest rates at the LEGOLAND Florida Hotel.

Fantasyland Hotel
Edmonton, Canada

Book a stay at the Fantasyland Hotel to make your kids’ dreams come true. Located in Edmonton, Canada, not at Walt Disney World, this hotel boasts one-of-a-kind family suites with fun kid-friendly themes. Try the Igloo Luxury Theme suite, which includes a round queen-size bed in an igloo and a set of bunk beds.

Photo Credit: Fantasyland Hotel

Photo Credit: Fantasyland Hotel

Another favorite is the Western Luxury Theme suite, which includes a queen bed in the back of a wagon and bunk beds that are situated in the “County Jail.” In all, there are more than two dozen different theme rooms at the hotel. As a bonus, there’s an indoor amusement park, ice rink and waterpark inside the same entertainment complex.

Click here for more details and the latest rates at the Fantasyland Hotel.

Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade
San Antonio, Texas

Inspired by Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark, the Aquatica Suite at the Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade is an ocean-lovers paradise complete with an aquarium, a pair of “stingray” bean bag chairs and loads of sea-themed books. A brightly-colored entertainment wall features two TVs–one for movies, the other for video games.

Photo Credit: Omni Hotels & Resorts

Photo Credit: Omni Hotels & Resorts

Or, book a stay in the Discovery Kids Suite, a colorful suite with a basketball court and San Antonio Spurs basketball jerseys to wear while you shoot and dribble. For parents, an adjoining room with a cut-outs allows for check-ins on children at play. As a bonus, look for dive-in movies and snacks after dark.

Click here for more details and the latest rates at the Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade.

Adventure Suites
Conway, New Hampshire

A stay at Adventure Suites in New Hampshire is just that, an adventure like none other. Every room at the hotel is a fun, over-the-top, completely tricked out suite. Even better, you can upgrade your hotel booking to include add-ons like breakfast in bed, a family s’mores pack or a pizza for your dog.

Photo Credit: Adventure Suites

Photo Credit: Adventure Suites

The Adventure Suites has 10 different family suites, including the Treehouse, which features a “front yard” with Mr. Tree Trunk and a carousel house for kids to ride. Another popular suite is the Jungle, which has a luxury hut with a thatch roof and a glow-in-the-dark Gorilla Villa for kids. For breakfast, head to the on-site 50’s Diner for make-your-own-waffles and breakfast sandwiches.

Click here for more details and the latest rates at the Adventure Suites.

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Holiday Gift Guide: Best Road Trip Games for Kids http://kidventurous.com/best-road-trip-games-kids/ http://kidventurous.com/best-road-trip-games-kids/#respond Fri, 09 Dec 2016 13:00:08 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10463 The holidays may be here, but road trip season will be back in just a few short months. It’s a time when many of us will be hopping in our cars to head out to explore big cities, national parks, family beaches and theme parks. Given the amount of time you’ll likely be spending in the car (ah, togetherness…), you’ll […]

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Best Road Trip Games for KidsThe holidays may be here, but road trip season will be back in just a few short months. It’s a time when many of us will be hopping in our cars to head out to explore big cities, national parks, family beaches and theme parks.

Given the amount of time you’ll likely be spending in the car (ah, togetherness…), you’ll want to be prepared with snacks, drinks, activity books, and of course, road trip games. From Mad Libs to Auto Bingo, there are a lot of easy ways to keep the kids entertained when you want a little screen-free fun.

We’re also planning another big road trip this summer. Thus, entertainment for me is key. So I looked far and wide for fun road trip games to play in the car to keep kids occupied or at least take them away from Subway Surfers for some chunk of the drive. Here’s what I found. Maybe one or more of these road trip games will do the trick for you.

Games on the Go
Games on the Go is a collection of 50 road trip games that you can easily tuck into your purse our backpack. There are 50 games attached to a key ring, so it’s totally portable and good for kids ages four and up. Every card has a different game, like guessing games, word games and memory challenges. No need for paper, pens or crayons. These games are all about creativity and can be played anytime you’re on-the-go.

Games on the Go
List Price: $9.99
Price: $9.99
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Travel Scavenger Hunt for Kids
This is another fun game that everyone can play and enjoy. Each player takes five cards to start the game. On each card is an image, like a red car or a school bus, that each player must find during the drive. There are also several other cards, like “Feel It” and “Smell It” to encourage players to use all of their sense, like feeling for bumps and sniffing for something that smells “nice” or “bad.”

Travel Scavenger Hunt Card Game
List Price: $9.99
Price: $7.49
You Save: $2.50
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Auto Bingo
We used to have the wooden Melissa & Doug Travel Bingo cards, but I think we’ve graduated to Auto Bingo from Regal Games. The game comes with four different bingo cards and each person must find roadside items, like a church, a cow or a no parking sign. No need to mark each square with a marker or a button. Just pull the little red window over the square when you’ve spotted an item on your bingo card.

Rubberneckers
Yes, it’s everyone’s favorite travel game (at least that’s what it says on the box). The game is called Rubberneckers because it basically requires you to stick your neck out and closely watch what’s outside your window. Players earn points when they spy items, like a fire engine or cement mixer, or when they do something, like get a trucker to blow his horn. From what I hear, it’s quite an addictive game.

Rubberneckers: Everyone's Favorite Travel Game
List Price: $12.99
Price: $12.47
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Would You Rather…?
I love fun road trip games that encourage conversation and Would You Rather…? from Zobmondo is definitely a game that does so. Inside the pocket version of this classic game, there are dozens of wacky questions, like “Would you rather have five bottles stuck on the fingers of one hand for a year or a bucket stuck on your foot for a year?” It’s definitely fun to hear everyone’s answers and why they answered as they did.

For more fun road trip games, check out 7 Must-Have Travel Games for Family Road Trips and 5 Must-Have Activity Books for Family Road Trips.

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

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Going Solo: Driving the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada http://kidventurous.com/solo-driving-extraterrestrial-highway-nevada/ http://kidventurous.com/solo-driving-extraterrestrial-highway-nevada/#respond Mon, 05 Dec 2016 18:01:10 +0000 http://kidventurous.com/?p=10457 As a mother of four, I know that sometimes us moms need a break – a break from carpools, a break from school lunches, a break from laundry. We just need to get away to relax and recharge in order to be an even better mom when we return home. I can’t say I get a chance to explore on […]

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As a mother of four, I know that sometimes us moms need a break – a break from carpools, a break from school lunches, a break from laundry. We just need to get away to relax and recharge in order to be an even better mom when we return home.

I decided to explore the Extraterrestrial Highway on a solo adventure in Nevada.

I decided to explore the Extraterrestrial Highway on a solo adventure in Nevada.

I can’t say I get a chance to explore on my own as often as I’d like, but when I do I make sure to go somewhere that both piques my interest and has a lot to see and do, whether quirky roadside attractions (which I love, by the way), engaging scenery or simply interesting people to meet along the way.

Last month, I flew to Las Vegas on my own, hopped in a rental car and set off to spend a few days exploring Central Nevada by way of the 98-mile stretch called the Extraterrestrial Highway. I was already planning to be in Vegas to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon with my husband, but opted to fly out a few days earlier to see what else was in Nevada (besides Las Vegas, of course).

I got to Las Vegas in the evening, but then was off to road trip early the next morning.

I got to Las Vegas in the evening, but then was off to road trip early the next morning.

The start of the Extraterrestrial Highway is less than two hours from Las Vegas. Really, it’s just a desolate section of State Route 375 that runs between Hiko and Warm Springs, but given its proximity to the mysterious Area 51 it was dubbed the Extraterrestrial Highway. And it’s worth the drive for the fantastic desert views and stops to make along the way, including:

1. National Atomic Testing Museum
Before you leave Las Vegas, make a stop at the National Atomic Testing Museum. It’s just a couple of blocks off The Strip and is home to “Area 51: Myth or Reality,” an exhibit that will leave you questioning the existence of aliens, UFOs, and of course, Area 51.

2. ET Fresh Jerky
Fill up with gas because your next stop isn’t for another 100 miles when you reach ET Fresh Jerky in Hiko. It’s basically a small convenience store and gift shop that sells gum, souvenirs and lots of beef jerky (apparently beef jerky is a thing in Nevada). But the real attraction is the cowboy alien mural adjacent to the shop. It’s practically begging for you to take a selfie.

Driving the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada

It’s a must to pose for a selfie in front of the cowboy aliens mural at E.T. Fresh Jerky.

There literally is nothing else out there aside from ET Fresh Jerky. Not even a gas station. But there is a bathroom, lots of snacks and two PokeStops at ET Fresh Jerky. So that’s a win all the way around. It was a double win for me because the owner gave me an alien driver’s license free of charge. 🙂

3. Extraterrestrial Highway Sign
Stop #3 is less than half-mile down the road. It’s simply a sign marking the start of the Extraterrestrial Highway, but it’s a much-visited and much-photographed sign, so stop and snap a pic. There’s a pull-off area too, making it very easy to park and safely take a photo.

4. Alien Research Center
Drive maybe another mile down the road and you’ll hit the Alien Research Center. I really should put “Research” in quotes because it’s not so much a place of research. It’s more of a kitschy gift shop with a 30-foot tall metal alien out front that may or may not be open. It wasn’t open when I drove by, but it was a Wednesday in mid-November.

Driving the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada

The Alien Research Center. Definitely more of a kitschy gift shop than a “research center.”

5. Little A’Le’Inn Restaurant & Bar
About mid-way down the Extraterrestrial Highway, the Little A’Le’Inn Restaurant & Bar is a great spot to stop for lunch. They have free wi-fi and clean restrooms, but no gas, so hopefully you filled up before you left Las Vegas. There’s a wooden alien out-front holding up a sign that reads “Hello Earthlings.” There’s also a spaceship out front. Totally photo-worthy. And the salad I had for lunch was pretty good too.

You can take photos, but no video, at the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel.

You can take photos, but no video, at the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel.

6. Area 51
The Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, Nevada is about the closest you’ll get to Area 51. For 35 cents, one of the waitresses will sell you a map that will lead you to the back gate of Area 51 (I think I got one for free at ET Fresh Jerky). It’s about 12 miles from the main road. It’s not exactly a tourist attraction and the military police are not especially fond of alien-hunters, so keep that in mind if you choose to pay a visit.

Nope, not Area 51. But it's a very cool spaceship outside the Little A'Le'Inn.

Nope, not Area 51. But it’s a very cool spaceship outside the Little A’Le’Inn.

Beyond Rachel and Area 51, it’s another hour to the end of the Extraterrestrial Highway, which stops in the town of Warm Springs at U.S. 6. From there, I drove another hour to the small former mining town of Tonopah where I stayed the night at the historic Mizpah Hotel.

All told, driving the Extraterrestrial Highway was a great solo adventure. I love the open road and there was a lot of it in Central Nevada. I can’t wait to drive more of their roads another day.

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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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