Ask T+L Family, March 1999
q. We need a family reunion spot out West. Where will our 75-person clan feel welcome?--K.R., Tulsa, Okla.
a. You might as well buy the ranch-- or at least borrow one. Off the Beaten Path (800/445-2995 or 406/586-1311) can arrange for your crew to take over a guest ranch; they'll find somewhere within your budget to suit everyone's needs. Most ranches can fit smaller groups of 30 to 40 people, but two in Arizona might work for you. Tucson's Tanque Verde Ranch can house 125 guests in adobe casitas and lodges. It offers guided rides and birding hikes, a program of kids-only activities, and great bass fishing on the grounds. Rancho de los Caballeros in Wickenburg holds 150 people. After a day at the 18-hole golf course, four tennis courts, or trapshooting range, y'all can do-si-do the night away at a square dance. Check out the company's Web site at http://www.offbeatenpath.com for more ideas.
q. I'd like to take my two sons on a dinosaur dig. How can I get information?--M.L., Salinas, Calif.
a. A great place to start is the Dinamation International Society (800/344-3466). This nonprofit organization runs five-day Dinosaur Discovery Expeditions in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Wyoming; kids of at least six and their parents work alongside paleontologists at sites such as Colorado's Mygatt-Moore Quarry to unearth fossils, bones, and possibly even a nodosaur egg. The Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis (307/864-2997) offers three-day weekend digs with special activities for children ages 8 to 13, including dino art classes and tours of the Sundance fossil formation. In July and August, Canada's Royal Tyrrell Museum (888/440-4240) will lead three-day trips of Dinosaur Provincial Park; children age 10 and older, accompanied by their parents, can explore this legendary Red Deer River Valley site-- where more than 300 complete dinosaur skeletons have been found-- with museum scientists.
q. What are the best amusement parks in Europe?--S.A., Rye, N.Y.
a. Although most people don't go all the way to France to meet Mickey, many kids will insist on a stop at Disneyland Paris (407/934-7639). Here they'll find the Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (that's Sleeping Beauty's Castle), guarded by a slumbering dragon, and Orbitron, a spaceship they can pilot through an animated galaxy. For something different, try the nearby Parc Astérix (33-3/44-62-34-04), based on the popular French comic-book character Astérix the Gaul. Visitors can take a death-defying ride down the river Styx, or attend an impromptu meeting with the Three Musketeers in 17th-century Paris. In the heart of Copenhagen, the Victorian-era Tivoli Gardens (45/3315-1001) offers the usual bumper cars and roller coasters, as well as ballet performances at the Concert Hall. On Saturdays, the sky erupts with fireworks at 11:45 p.m., just before the park closes.
We're looking for a family resort in the Hamptons. Beach access is a must. --B.V., Brooklyn, N.Y.
a. Amagansett's Hermitage (516/267-6151; two-bedroom units $105$575) sits right on Napeague Beach. Each of the 56 apartments has spectacular ocean views, a full kitchen, and a private deck; there are two tennis courts and a pool with lifeguard at the resort. The Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina (516/668-3100; suites from $149$299) has three wonderful 1920's waterfront cottages with suites, on the grounds of the former Florenz Ziegfeld estate. Two pools, two restaurants, and nine tennis courts should keep everyone happy.
send us your questions
Fax queries to 800/926-1748, E-mail them to AskTL@amexpub.com, or mail them to: Ask T&L, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, 10th floor, New York, NY 10036. We regret that questions can be answered only in the column.