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.
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.
CNN News | The day Harry Potter fans have been waiting for is here. On Friday, Universal Studios is opening its "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" attraction at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida.
The park-within-a-park, as it's being called, recreates various locations, scenes and other elements from the wildly popular book and movie series. Harry Potter has beaten out fellow Brit celluloid character James Bond as the top-grossing film series in history.
One of the reasons Harry Potter is so successful is its legions of fans, both young and old.
Photo credit: 2010 Universal Orlando Resort
I love baseball. Alas, as a Yankee fan without a major league income, I can rarely afford to see them, or even the Mets, play live. However, we’ve found a way to attend games: we see baseball when we travel to cities where ticket prices are cheaper. We favor urban ballparks because we try to roll other activities into these trips and stadiums tucked into busy downtowns afford fans a crack at museums and restaurants, too. Here are a few of my draft picks:
A travel agency in Finland is offering guided tours of the remote Lapland region—but for teddy bears only. No people allowed. But that’s okay. After all, it’s the bears that are coming out of hibernation, not you. Does your stuffed bruin seem a bit moody lately? Maybe what that sleepy Smokey needs is a change of pace, to be off on his own, in a land of ice and snow and pine trees and pickled herring. And Teddy Tours Lapland is standing by to help your plush Grizzly get that new perspective on life.
Saturday is National Train Day and what better way to celebrate than to win some free train travel? Not in the mood to get on board—then jet away with your betrothed for a eco-friendly destination wedding in the Cook Islands. And, if you’ve already done the love and marriage thing, the least you can do is get some peace and quiet by sending your teen off to Oxford for the summer. There’s something for everyone in this edition of ContestWatch.
As a young child, I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books. Rereading them as a parent, I’m charmed anew (but kind of stunned by what a single-minded nut job Pa seems to be). However homespun my reading material, though, I’m closer in temperament to Woody Allen than to Ma Ingalls. My family’s method of getting down to earth will have to come with an escape hatch. Like a farm vacation.
Feather Down Farms, a farm stay company from Europe that has set up housekeeping on three American farms in the past two years, offers curious city-dwellers a chance to experience a rarified and charming rural experience without any of the hardships that plagued pioneer families like the Ingalls and the Wilders (No locusts! No prairie fires! No wolves!), or even those that faced by modern small farmers today.
Despite Disney being the "Happiest Place on Earth," there are a few things—long lines, getting lost, and finding your parking spot, just to name a few—that can really put a damper on your good time...and if you've been to any theme park, not just Disney World, you've experienced at least some of these.
So, I was intrigued when I heard about this increasingly popular iPhone app developed by Undercover Tourist, a discount ticket and travel website, that would supposedly be able to alleviate—or at least provide a solution to—many of these woes. I downloaded the app and gave it a whirl.
The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, held in the historic tidal basin in Washington D.C., began last Saturday, March 27th and will continue through April 11th. The festival celebrates the cherry trees that were a gift from Tokyo in 1912 and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Given the harsh winter weather that hit the area in the past few months, buds are just beginning to peek out on the capitol's battered (and recently groomed) trees. The jubilant pink flowers should be in full picturesque bloom April 4th, just in time for Easter visitors.
Parents and kids alike will appreciate this roundup of spring contests. Now if only they could agree on appropriate clothes to pack.
Sceptre Tours “Luxurious Ireland Vacation Giveaway”
Win a 6-night 3-city Irish vacation with airfare and rental car (Mercedes 200 E series) from Sceptre Tours. Enter here to be eligible. Careful, the contest automatically signs you for to receive the Sceptre newsletter but for 2-nights each at Adare Manor, Ashford Castle, and the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, we think it’s worth it.