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Paddington Trail Arrives in London

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Ever since the impeccably mannered Paddington left the deepest darkest Peru for London in 1958, his adventures have captured the imaginations of kids everywhere. Who can't help but adore the red-booted, marmalade-loving little guy? In celebration of his new movie out November 28th, London itself is being turned into a very bear-y town.

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Family Friday: Best Hotel Kids Clubs

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Every parent knows the beauty of the hotel Kids Club: free time for you and endless entertainment for your little ones. Now resorts everywhere are playing a serious game of one-upmanship when it comes to club activities, good old-fashioned sand castle building and arts and crafts just aren't enough to satisfy our lust for learning and adventure. Here, my favorites.

For inspiring young photographers, Wild Dunes Resort in Charleston offers the chance to work with award-winning photographers, including resident Tiffany Briley, to capture the city¹s historic sites and breathtaking lowcountry on film.

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Top Family Travel Tips from the Experts

Family Travel

I'm just back from a trip to Italy and like every long adventure with toddlers, it was a schizophrenic mix of life-could-never-be-better moments and how-am-I-going-to-get-through-this hell. There was Sebastian's meltdown at Heathrow because I wouldn't buy him the really big Paddington bear (thank god for the Terminal 5 play area); the relentless "I want milk" requests while driving through the milkless rolling hills of Tuscany; and the constant sticky faces and stained shirts from twice-daily gelato injections (Italian napkins just don't do the job). In anticipation of my next family excursion, I reached out to the pros for some tips on how to make the journey smoother. Here, my favorites:

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The Plaza Hotel Introduces "Plaza-opoly"

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New York's legendary Plaza Hotel has always inspired grand story-telling. There was the little girl named Eloise who lived on the "tippy-top floor" of the hotel. Then the great Jay Gatsby checked in to battle it out with Tom Buchanan. And years later, came the big bad movie Home Alone 2, which was filmed at the property in the 90s. 

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Hotel Offers Farm-to-Table Baby Food Menus

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If you bring your family to a top luxury resort, it's only natural to expect the finest culinary offerings. But while you feast on organic grass-fed filet mignon, your baby is usually stuck with the glass jar purees you brought from home. Esperanza, an Auberge Resort, in Cabo San Lucas, aims to change that. The property recently rolled out a farm-to-table menu just for little ones with ingredients sourced from local farms and the resort's gardens. Among the highlights: pear with banana and cinnamon, baby carrots and zucchini, and baked sweet corn and parsnip carrot. I wonder if they deliver?

Clara Sedlak

Clara Ogden-Sedlak is Special Projects Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Esperanza, An Auberge Resort

Uber Introduces Cars for Families

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You've read the headlines: Uber is being valued at $18 billion. And as a mom of two toddlers living in New York, I think that sounds about right. Why, you ask? The popular car-sharing service just launched UberFamily, which means getting around the city just became a lot easier (anything to avoid a schlep on the subway). For a $10 surcharge, your vehicle will pick you up with fully-installed car seats. This is a major game-changer, especially for city parents without wheels, and the company plans to roll out to other US destinations later this year. For info on downloading the app, go here.

Club Med Introduced City Stopovers

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The next time I want a stress-free family vacation, I'm going all inclusive. We all know the perks—kids clubs, babysitters, easy access to restaurants, powdery beaches within walking distance. But culture?  Not so much. Now Club Med is attempting to change that by reinventing the city stopover. Launching this summer, its City Stops program is perfect for families seeking an urban adventure, along with downtime at a resort. So far, the company has rolled out to 9 cities (Hong Kong, Bangkok, New York, Miami, Dubai, to name a few), partnering with top hotels such as Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La and Tribeca Grand. Guests have everything taken care of, from hotel bookings to transfers and flights, and can customize the length of their stay to either before or after their beach visit.

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Top photo by Christina Conrado; bottom photo courtesy of Club Med.

A Little Paris in NYC: "Madeline" Exhibit Opens Summer 2014 at New York Historical Society

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"In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines ..." I've never forgotten my introduction to Madeline. As a child, I'd binge on her stories. "One more, one more," I'd beg my mom at bedtime. While my boys are more into steroid-infused types wearing capes than the misadventures of a French school girl, I plan to drag them to the Madeline exhibit at New York Historical Society. On view will be more than 90 drawings, photographs, and paintings (including originals, such as Madeline at the Paris Flower Garden, 1955) by Austrian artist and creator Ludwig Bemelmans who started crafting his tales at Pete's Tavern, right here, in New York. The little girl from Paris is coming home.


Clara Sedlak is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo: "Madeline at the Paris Flower Market © 1955 by Ludwig Bemelmans. Oil, 34 1/2 x 45 1/8 inches. Collection of Barbara Bemelmans"

Little Passports Inspires Newbie World Travelers

Little Passports

A new kids program, littlepassport.com, promises to turn your toddlers into international pen pals. Here's how it works: your kids get real, actual, non-virtual mail every month from Sam and Sofia, two characters who travel around the globe embarking on various adventures. The first delivery is your Explorer's Kit, with a tiny suitcase, a personal letter from the mini-globetrotters, a world wall map, a passport, activity sheets, and special access to games online. Every time Sam and Sofia visit a new country-Italy, France, Brazil, Japan-you'll get another package with stickers and photos of famous landmarks, souvenirs, and a note detailing their journeys. It's sure to inspire wanderlust in you and your little ones.

Clara Sedlak is a mother of two and Special Projects Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @csedlak1.

Photo courtesy of Little Passports

Legoland Discovery Center Set to Open in Boston This May

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Lego mania cannot be stopped. In addition to being painfully underfoot in playrooms everywhere, there's a Lego movie in theaters, high-art Lego sculptures, a Lego hotel, and now a new Legoland Discovery Center, in Boston. The 44,000 square-foot space is due to open in May and will have more than 3 million pieces of plastic all snapped into place (expect a Lego laser ride, a 4D cinema, and mini-models of US landmarks). And for true Lego maniacs? A master builder is on hand to teach toddlers the secrets to creating sky-high towers.

Clara Sedlak


Clara Sedlak is a mother of two and Special Projects Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @csedlak1

 


Photo Credit: Merlin Entertainments Group

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