One weekend last April, T+L Family staked out New Jersey’s Newark airport and New York’s JFK. Our mission?To catch families on their way home from vacation. Where did they go?What was it like?Here, their field reports.
Two moms, each with 15-year-old twins—the girls have been friends since kindergarten. Sarah Cole, Alaine Jaworski, Alison Cole, Beth Cole, Farin Jaworski, and Susan Jaworski.
Ulster County, New York.
Just Back From
Everyone chose a must-see site. Some picks: the Picasso and Miró museums, Parc Güell, and the Ramblas—for clothes shopping.
Air Travel Mandate
To minimize their load: carry-on bags only.
“Our daughters have other siblings,” says Susan, “so it was fun to travel with just the twins. They got a lot of whistles they don’t get at home.”
A three-bedroom spread off the Ramblas that cost $1,900 for the week, from Apartmentsramblas.com. “Great location,” Sarah says, “and more affordable than a hotel.”
People-watching on Barceloneta Beach. Says Alison, “We needed that after waiting three hours to get into the Picasso Museum.”
Favorite GaudÍ Building
La Sagrada Família, the cathedral that’s been under construction since 1882. The girls have vowed to go back when it’s due to be finished, in 2020.
A train ride to the nearby seaside town of Tarragona, to see the Roman ruins.
Know more Spanish: “English isn’t widely spoken there, the way it is in other European cities,” says Sarah.
Rubbing toast with garlic and a ripe tomato.
The Golub brothers: Trevor, 12, and William, 14.
Long Island, New York.
Just Back From
Reason for Trip
To visit their dad, who lives on the island and owns a pool servicing company.
Tips for flying without parents
Go nonstop! And bring cards for solitaire, a DVD player, and trail mix.
Magens Bay, for gorgeous, calm, clear water, and Hull Bay, which has good surf.
Skurfing: when the waves aren’t big enough to ride, get towed behind a boat on your board.
Real pirate coins salvaged from St. Thomas’s shores, sold for $125–$9,000 at Pirate’s Chest (Paradise Point; 340/774-5279).
The boys’ dad votes for the Ritz-Carlton (ritzcarlton.com; doubles from $489), with its infinity pool, or the primo rental houses listed by McLaughlin Anderson (mclaughlinanderson.com; villa for four from $460 per night).
St. Thomas Treat
Johnnycakes, fried dough with powdered sugar, from streetcarts.
No skate parks—and not nearly enough sidewalks.
The Ananthanarayan, Garla, and Naga families, all related.
Just Back From
Hilton Hawaiian Village (hiltonhawaiianvillage.com; doubles from $479) in Honolulu, the resort with the biggest swimming pool on Waikiki Beach.
Eleven hours, direct from Newark to Honolulu on Continental. Unexpected bonus: seat-back TV’s!
“Every day we had a plan—parasailing and snorkeling, submarine rides, a visit to Pearl Harbor—we wanted to do it all,” explains mother of three, Padma Garla. “But we included two days of downtime.”
The all-day trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center (Laie; 800/367-7060; polynesia.com): seven re-created villages, with lessons in lei making and coconut cracking.
The helicopter ride over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (nps.gov) on the Big Island. “We could smell the sulfur and feel the heat,” says Varun Garla, 15.
The beach! “The resort has its own uncrowded corner,” Padma reports. “First thing every morning, the kids would run out to the water.”
Pittsburgh, to visit Sri Venkateswara, a Hindu temple.
An Alaskan cruise.
The Yamadas: Ken, Naomi, Katy, 10, Cole, 13, and Sachi.
En Route From
New York City— it was a sentimental journey for Ken and Naomi, who lived in Manhattan in the late 1980’s.
“The city feels cleaner and safer,” says Naomi. “We took my mother-in-law and the kids on the subway, night and day.”
A two-bedroom suite at the Hotel Stanford (hotelstanford.com; doubles from $229), on 32nd Street in Koreatown—“quiet and spacious, a good find,” Ken says.
Naomi and Katy’s “partial view” seats for Wicked, purchased for $55 each at wickedthemusical.com, turned out to be just six rows from the stage.
At Congee Village (100 Allen St.; 212/941-1818; dinner for four $52), the Yamadas hosted a Cantonese banquet for family and friends.
The Statue of Liberty is actually closer to New Jersey than it is to New York.
The Fishers: Joan, Sam, 7, and Dan (not interviewed—he was in the nearby taxi line).
New York City.
Just Back From
The Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino (marriott.com; doubles from $299), booked when they discovered that their Caribbean mainstay, Beaches Turks & Caicos, was full.
In the box
A boogie board from Caribbean Sea Sports, a dive shop and school on the resort property.
The island is known for its Dutch colonial architecture— and a youth baseball team that’s played in the Little League World Series for the past seven years.
Less crowded than many all-inclusives; nice, big rooms; okay food; broad beach; too much indoor time at the kids’ club.
“Not as good as Grand Cayman, better than Aruba,” says Joan. “We saw eels, a nurse shark, a sunken freighter, and coral formations on a pile of junked cars.”
Sam’s Favorite Moment
Getting to hose down the deck on his first outing in a dive boat.