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Don’t Pet the Animals: Planning a Family Safari

family portrait

When I began to plan a trip to Kenya, I knew my elegant “Out of Africa” fantasies would have to wait. We were going to Kenya as a family, and traveling with two boys, ages seven and eleven, pretty much precludes “elegant” anything. Still, I had hopes for close encounters with big cats, and sundowners with my husband while we gazed over vast expanses of savannah, perhaps with a picturesque giraffe in the distance.

And in fact while we did not attain Baroness Von Blixen levels of sophistication, we did manage something almost as wonderful: our family safari bridged that sometimes painful gap between “family trip” and “vacation,” and resulted in what our older son described as “the most epic vacation ever.” 

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Wave Hello to Furry Hollywood Stars

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If you wanted to entice a Hollywood actor, you wouldn’t feed him a slice of wheat bread, would you?  The Olympic Game Farm’s actors, however, will wave to you for all manner of carbs. But these retired Hollywood actors aren’t ordinary stars—they’re furry, 1,800-pound Alaskan Brown Bears.

August marks 40 years of business for the Olympic Game Farm.  Located in Sequim, Washington, the Olympic Game Farm opened to the public in 1972, when it began offering tours—both walking and driving—for people interested in viewing and feeding rescue animals, and retired Hollywood stars, along with their offspring.

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Suite Memories: Maine Inn Debuts Luxury Accommodations for Families

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Come summer, or fall, there’s no better place to be than Maine. I grew up in Vacationland, so perhaps I’m biased, but, it’s hard to argue with warm salt air breezes, overstuffed lobster rolls, and coastal scenery that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped into a postcard. And while there are some great seaside spots to stay in the Pine Tree State, few come close to offering what Inn by the Sea does—especially for families.

I recently checked into the Cape Elizabeth property with my husband and almost-two-year-old daughter as a way to decompress from a larger family gathering, get in some rare beach time, nose around Portland (just 7 miles away), and see first-hand what may be Maine’s first luxury suites designed with families in mind.

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Twin Farms Extends Family Weeks

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Darling cottages decorated with private art collections, bicycle trails through wildflow-strewn meadows, farm-to-table dinners of grilled halibut and prawn gnocchi in saffron broth are all part of the experience at Twin Farms, a luxury resort and spa in Barnard, Vermont.

Though this all-inclusive retreat has traditionally only opened its doors to families for select days throughout the year, they're now expanding their dates so that families can enjoy all the resort has to offer (2012 family days include July 29-August 3, August 31-September 4, November 19-25, December 7-10, and December 14-19). After all, Twin Farms has 300 acres of forests, streams, and fields—who else has enough energy to take advantage of it all besides kids? 

Corinne White is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure. 

Photo courtesy of Twin Farms 

Tweet-Up: Family Travel Tips

ann-shieldsjpgTraveling with the kids in tow can be quite the challenge. Where should you go? How do you guarantee a smooth flight? Can you make everyone happy? What about the adults? Is there something for them to do? It can be exhausting just planning the trip. That being said, there are myriad ways to smooth out the process and help guarantee a memorable trip for everyone involved. How? Well, just join us for a live tweet-up tomorrow, from 2–3 p.m. ET, hosted by T+L Senior Digital Editor (and mom of two) Ann Shields. (Or, as she’s known in the Twittersphere: @aegisnyc.) Joining her will be a panel of experts to help give you some essential tips to help you plan your next family getaway.

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Book Now: Family Dinners with Mario Batali's Chefs at New York Botanical Gardens

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Chef Andy Nusser of Tarry Lodge, and host of first Family Dinner on July 15.

Most New Yorkers would be happy to dine at one of Mario Batali's famous restaurants. And though Batali's dishes, like a 100-layer lasagne, are delicious to most palates, a white-tablecloth restaurant like Del Posto might not be the ideal place to take your six-year-old. Enter Family Dinners with Mario Batali's Chefs, a highlight of the The Edible Garden at The New York Botanical Garden. Geared for kids aged 4-12, this nearly 3 hour event includes hands-on gardening and craft activities, live cooking demonstrations by Mario's top chefs, and of course, hearty tastings of all the delicious creations. Four events are currently scheduled (July 15, July 26, August 2, and August 12). Tickets: $60 for adults and $30 for children at PRICELESSNY.com

Corinne White is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure. 

Photo courtesy of Ivo Vermeulen and The New York Botanical Garden 

 

TODAY Show: Family Travel Tips for Summer

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Traveling with kids doesn’t always feel like a vacation, but these tips for summer flights and road trips will make things easier for your family.

Plane Travel

When/What To Book: To pick the best seats for your family consult a site like SeatGuru.com. Planes will be more full this summer than before, so book your flight early—six weeks or more is a good rule of thumb—to improve your odds of getting seats together. If you use social media, follow @airfarewatchdog and @smartertravel on Twitter to learn about last-minute deals. Both carefully vet price drops and unadvertised sales. As for flying, Saturday mornings at airports are more quiet and flights can often be cheaper. Plus, the first flight out in the morning usually takes off on time.

Related: America's Best and Worst Airports

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'Cars Land' Starts its Engines at Disney California Adventure Park

201206-b-cars-land-disneyjpgUSA Today Travel | The centerpiece of Disney California Adventure Park's five-year, $1.1 billion tune-up is off to the races with thumbs-up reviews—but would-be visitors to the Anaheim park's new 12-acre theme land can expect a traffic jam of fellow admirers over the next few weeks.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the next two weekends are likely to be particularly crowded when up to a million annual passholders join regular park visitors at Cars Land before a summer blackout for the passes begins, and says Disney California Adventure could be forced to shut its gates and direct fans to its neighboring big sister, Disneyland.

Disneyland had to turn away visitors for several hours when crowds overwhelmed the park during a recent 24-hour Leap Day event, the paper notes. (Photo credit: Paul Hiffmeyer/Disneyland Resort)

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8 Gadgets to Keep Kids Busy While Traveling

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

More than 34 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home this Memorial Day weekend—and most are be driving. Pack these eight gadgets to keep your kids entertained while you’re on the go. 

Travel Kiddy Kids Travel Journal: Ages 5+
Older kids can personally document their journey with this customizable journal. With pages for maps, favorite places, daily activities, and favorite events kids can create their own unique souvenir of their adventure. $10
Travelkiddy.com


> Related: America’s Best Family Hotels

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United Airlines Ends Coach Preboarding for Children

CNN  |  As families prepare for air travel this coming Memorial Day weekend, United Airlines won't be offering early boarding to families in coach with small children.

Joining a handful of other carriers, United made the policy shift in late April with little fanfare.

Previously, families with small children flying coach were allowed on aircraft before general boarding, a convenience for moms and dads trying to herd their kids across the friendly skies.

"We figured it would be better to simplify that process and reduce the number of boarding groups," said United spokesman Charles Hobart. The airline does allow passengers with children traveling in first class or business class to board early. ...

Kate Hanni of flyersrights.org calls the move "very anti-family."

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