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.
As morbid as a plane crash or sunken ship might be, there's something alluring about abandoned wrecks. Eerie, full of history, and possibly haunted, they can be truly captivating.
Moynaq Ship Graveyard, Moynaq, Uzbekistan
Believed to be one of the world’s worst ecological disasters, this desert use to be a busy Soviet fishing port. Once the rivers feeding it were diverted for irrigation, the Aral Sea (formerly one of the four largest lakes IN THE WORLD) dried up completely. Hence, the ships sitting on the old sea floor. Even crazier, the nearest shore is almost 100 miles away!
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:
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.
Throngs of people young and old gathered, many in full wizard robes, in 100-degree Orlando humidity. The Wizarding World’s much-anticipated expansion, Diagon Alley, was greeted with much sweat and even more tears of happiness when it opened its doors to fans earlier this month.
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 Ogden-Sedlak is Special Projects Editor at Travel + Leisure.
Cool off with your family at one of these top affordable water parks.
Texas Schlitterbahn, on Galveston Island, Texas, opened in 1966 and calls itself the world’s first “water resort”—but don’t write it off as old fashioned. The park opens new rides almost every year, and with more than 35 water attractions, family adventures, and thrill slides, there’s something for everyone. Teenagers will love the Cliffhanger, with drops of 81 feet and speeds approaching 40 mph, while younger visitors prefer the Treasure Island kids area, a shallow pool designed to entertain the smallest Schlitterbahn guests. Tickets for the park are $46 adults, $36 kids. Stay at the nearby historic property, The Tremont House, A Wyndham Grand Hotel, where rates start at $139 on weekdays and $199 on weekends.
People are feeling good. Job numbers are up today; consumer confidence is rebounding. That means more people spending on travel. AAA Travel projects that 41 million Americans travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend. That's a 1.9 percent increase from last year. The majority are hitting the road, with more 34.8 million driving. But if you’re flying, the goods news is that you probably paid five percent less for your ticket than last year, according to AAA.
Some advice for drivers: A lot of people start heading out right about now so expect heavier traffic from about 6pm tonight through tomorrow.