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News Kid on the Mall: Washington D.C.’s Newseum

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The Newseum, an interactive museum in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to the role of journalism in history.  Sound dull and preachy?  Not at all.  In fact, it was declared the “best museum ever” by my three under-10 companions this past weekend.

Where else can you peer inside Unabomber Ted Kaczynski’s stark cabin?  Or stand in front of a real television camera and give your own fast-paced sports report?  Or feel the breeze on your face as you ride the ferry to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island alongside investigative reporter Nelly Bly?

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Family Detour in Baltimore

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Taking that long drive down I-95 over the holidays?  If you have kids in the car and you’re passing Baltimore, consider a detour to the Walters Art Museum to see the Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic show before it closes January 2.

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Experience an Old-Time NYC Commute on a Vintage Subway Train

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There's nothing I love more than authentic experiences, whether I’m on the road or just exploring my own backyard. So naturally I was excited to learn that, once a year, NYC celebrates the holidays by celebrating its history. The MTA pulls still-working, retired subway trains out of hibernation and puts them back into service.

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Have You Seen T+L's Best Travel Gifts for 2010?

Still not sure what to buy for those travelers on your gift list? Whether they’re nature-lovers, new parents, or nose-in-the-air fashionistas, the Travel + Leisure “Best Travel Gifts” for 2010 is here to help. Find the complete list here. Or, enjoy this a sneak peek—which just happens to feature my recommendations.

Keep Calm and Travel On

“Keep Calm and Travel On”
Inspired by the WW2-era posters that urged Brits to "keep calm and carry on," this modern update couldn't come at a better time. Worried about a TSA patdown? Keep calm, friend. And, yes, travel on. Available in several colors. Unframed: $15.95; buy 3, get 1 free; etsy.com.

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45-Pound Marshmallow Chick to Herald the New Year

PEEPS Fest

Don’t forget the PEEPS™ when planning this year's New Year’s Eve celebration. That’s right—they’re not just for Easter any more.

From December 29-31, PEEPS Fest will be held in the center of historic Bethlehem, PA. Surely destined to rival Burning Man, this celebration of the age-resistant marshmallow treats will feature live music, art, performances, a recipe competition, a 5K run, ice-sculpting, glass-blowing, and a PEEPS diorama competition (with scholastic and corporate divisions!).

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VisitOrlando.com to Add Travel-booking Engine

Orlando Sentinel |  The Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau has cut a deal with Travelocity.com L.P. that allows visitors researching an Orlando vacation to book their stay right on the agency's website.

201009-w-afc-orlandojpgThe area's tourism promoters say they wanted to offer one-stop shopping on the site, VisitOrlando.com, which draws millions of potential visitors a year. The agency said that, after it talked with various online travel operators and other companies, Travelocity brought the "best total package" to the table.

The bureau site currently provides information about local attractions and hotels, but online visitors have to switch to other websites to act on their plans. (...) When the newly redesigned website launches early next year, the booking engine for flights, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages will not only make it easier for guests but will generate added revenue for the CVB through advertising and a share of any sales.

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Three Kids Fly Southwest Without Parental Permission, Without I.D., Paying Cash for One-Way Tickets

How did three children manage to buy tickets and board a Southwest airliner from Jacksonville to Nashville last Tuesday without identification or parental permission? That’s the question on many parents’ minds as the incident begins to get the sort of publicity you might expect.

The three—ages 15, 13, and 11—apparently had $700 in babysitting earnings, took a taxi to the airport, and managed to buy the tickets and get through security without showing I.D. Their goal was to visit Dollywood, but when they arrived in Nashville and discovered that the amusement park was several hundred miles further away, they became disenchanted by their escapade and phoned a relative, who paid for their return airfare.

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Safety Board Says All Children on Flights Should Be in Seats

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New York Times
|  Airlines should no longer allow children under the age of 2 to fly in the laps of adults, according to a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board sent to the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday. The group urged the F.A.A. to require that every occupant of an airplane, regardless of age, have a seat on all flights—commercial, charter and private planes. Photo credit: iStock.

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How to See D.C. in Summer Without Killing Your Kids

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Budget-style family trips to Washington, D.C.—everyone sleeping in one hotel room with tiny bath towels doing double duty at a tiny hotel pool—can still be fun, don’t get me wrong. But just don’t try one in summer. 

Summers in D.C. are brutally hot and relentlessly crowded. The museums along the Mall, because they are free and air-conditioned, invite larger than usual huddled masses yearning to breathe free air-conditioning. The crowds dully shuffle past Lincoln's top hat and Apollo space capsules and Plains Indian weavings, and what seemed exciting and inspiring begins to seem stultifying and meaningless.  Your kids start to talk about the hotel pool.  Frequently, and in increasingly thin voices. Your feet hurt and there’s too much more to see before you head back to the featureless hotel room.  Budget no longer seems worth the savings. 

This thoughtful package from the Mandarin Oriental (parents note: sun-lit 50-foot indoor pool, guestroom views of the Jefferson Memorial or the Tidal Basin) makes some sense if you can splurge and would like to avoid all that huddling and loud yearning.

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Party Like Eloise at the Plaza

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Last year, my kids invited one friend each over for a slumber party.  I walked them to Economy Candy with exactly $7.50 to spend on “refreshments” for the evening, ordered a pizza, and let them stay up late for the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.   By all accounts, the party was a wild success.  One kid got sick from washing down Sour Patch candies with milk (Who would have guessed there was anything as natural as citrus powder in candy?) and one kid fell off the sofa laughing, both of which events have provided fodder for a million jokes.  I share this party-planning success story not because I see myself as the next Colin Cowie, but to illustrate that it doesn’t take a lot to excite most kids.

That said, the Plaza Hotel has a Live Like Eloise slumber party package for up to six children that costs upwards of $3,700.

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