Afton State Park Winter Fun

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Afton State Park Winter Fun

for the whole Family

 

Where: Afton, Minnesota

When: Feb-March

How long: Friday-Sunday

 

Where to stay:

Recommendation: Afton State Park Camper Cabins for a full on winter experience

Or if that is roughing it too much, check out Afton House Inn

Things to do nearby:

Downhill ski at Afton Alps

 

Things to do at Afton State Park:

Cross country ski (18 miles of trails)

Snowshoe (4 miles of trails)

Winter hiking (6 miles of trails)

Here is a link to the trails.

Bring your dinner to make over the fire or campstove! Or you can always check out downtown Afton or Stillwater for some delicious food.

 

 

 

Family Cruises

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Family Cruises

 

Where: Port Canaveral or Miami, Florida

When: Spring, Summer, Fall

How Long: 5 nights

 

Recommended Cruise Line:  Disney Cruise Line

Disney does it right and they have made sure that holds true for family cruises too.

There is something for everyone in your family and extended family to enjoy.

The cabins are larger than most cruise ships and the majority of the cabins have balconies. The ships are top notch and everyone on board is friendly and ready to help with anything you need. Even the pickiest of eaters and travelers will be pleased.

Highly recommend upgrading your stateroom to have a balcony. The majority of staterooms on a Disney cruise have balconies and they are such a treat.

It makes the living space even larger and after putting the kids to bed it is a wonderful way to unwind and relax.

 

Things to do:

Dine & Play program

For the late seating, you can participate in the Dine & Play program where the kids meals will come out sooner and after 45 minutes they will be escorted by the staff to the Oceaneer’s Club so the adults can finish dinner and then pick them up afterwards. What a treat!

Nightly Shows

These are wonderful Disney plays that keep the kids & adults entertained.

Castaway Cay

Disney’s own private island in the Bahamas. Just pick from the list of activities:

  • Snorkeling
  • Floating on tubes or rafts
  • Bicycling around the island
  • Rent a paddleboat
  • Scuba diving
  • Rent a cabana (these are really hard to get unless you have a Concierge level cabin or are a returning guest).

Fireworks off the Ship

This is a not to be missed night even though they are late at night. I heard the fireworks dissolve into fish food in the ocean and Disney is the only cruise ship allowed to do it.

 

Travel Tips:

  1. The doors on the staterooms are metal and you can bring magnets to decorate your door. It is an easy way to find your door down the long corridors of staterooms.
  2. Disney family cruises are casual. For cruises over 3 nights, there is a dressy night but it is optional.
  3. Pack your suits in your carry-on bag so you can swim before you get into your stateroom.
  4. Pack your beer and wine in your carry-on bag or plan to buy bottles of alcohol in the duty-free store. (Note: the shops on the ship are only open when the cruise ship is not in port.) You can also bring snacks that have not been opened in your carry on bags. There is a small refrigerator in your stateroom. Note: You can’t carry your beverages you bring onboard in public spaces and if you bring one to dinner you will be charged a corkage fee. No coolers can be brought onboard and your carry-on bag must not be larger than 22”w x 14”h x 9”d.
  5. Bring a refillable bottle on board so you can fill it with water or soda from the soda station.
  6. For all character experiences, you need to go to Guest Services and request a ticket for a time and day. I suggest setting these up on your first day to make sure they are not all taken.
  7. Kids must be 42” tall to ride on the Aquaduck with an adult and at least 52” tall to ride alone. It is fun for all ages even the adults! Try to ride it first thing in the morning or at night when the lines will be the shortest. Same for the family pools, they are very crowded in the early afternoon.
  8. To really enjoy the ship without the crowds, skip one of the restaurant dinners or the nightly shows to swim, play on the top deck, mini-golf, watch an outdoor movie, movie in the theatre or just sit back and relax.
  9. For day excursions, I would check out resortforaday.com to see if there are any resorts you can visit for the day. Some include food and beverages. These excursions are way less crowded with other cruisers and a great way to check out resorts.
  10. Get your kids signed up for the Oceaneer Club, they will enjoy it and so will you.

Other tips:

Bring a multi usb plug in to make sure all of your electronics have a place to plug in. The outlets are limited in the staterooms.

There are clocks/alarms in the staterooms on the Disney Cruise ships so you don’t need to bring one from home. Same with a hair dryer, these are already there for you and have a special outlet to use.

Bring your own bathrobes, they are so nice to have while in your stateroom or for lounging on your balcony.

I highly suggest getting the motion sickness patches behind your ears or bands and bring peppermint essential oil & ginger in case the seas are rough.

It is nice to have a dirty clothes bag to keep in your stateroom closet.

Bring a watch, there are so many things going on that you will need to keep track of all the activities if you don’t want to miss something important.

 

Start planning for some family cruising this year! Contact me if you have any questions or would like more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cocoa Beach Family Vacation

Cocoa Beach Pier

Cocoa Beach Family Vacation

 

Looking for a great beach town in Florida that is less crowded, less expensive but with lots to do? Head to the Space Coast and plan a Cocoa Beach family vacation!

Here are some travel tips and recommendations for your Cocoa Beach family vacation:

Where: Cocoa Beach, FL (The Space Coast)

When: Fall, Winter, Spring

How Long: 5 days

Where to stay:

Recommendation: Resort on Cocoa Beach

These are timeshare condos but you can rent the condos on a nightly basis. The condos are huge and very nice. There are oceanfront and oceanview condos.

The pool is a very active and fun pool and there are lots of activities going on at the resort. The beach is a short walk on the boardwalk and it is a nice beach, great for families. You can rent chairs/umbrellas and even boogie boards or go to one of the huge beach stores and buy some if you are staying for a week.

 

Or checkout La Quinta Inn & Suites Oceanfront or Comfort Inn & Suites

 

Things to do:

Enjoy the beach – one of Florida’s Ten Best Beaches

Watch the cruise ships leave Port Canaveral

Visit Kennedy Space Center – plan to spend an entire day exploring, here is an itinerary they recommend for a one-day visit for families:

Space Shuttle Atlantis℠ with Shuttle Launch Experience®: 2 hours
General Bus Tour and exploring Apollo/Saturn V Center: 2 – 3 hours
IMAX® 3D Space Film: 1 hour
Angry Birds™ Space Encounter: 45 minutes
Lunch: 1 hour
Other Park Activities:
Exploration Space®: Explorers Wanted, Shopping,
Rocket Garden, Children’s Play Dome, etc.: 1 hour
Total time in park: 8 hours

The world famous Ron Jon Surf Shop

Golf N Gator– what would be a trip to FL without some mini-golf and alligators?

Visit the World Famous Cocoa Beach Pier and enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants

Eco-Tour, check out Grasshopper airboat ecotours

Visit Cocoa Village

Learn to surf in the surf capital of the east coast.

Look for sea turtles at night from May – November that come ashore to lay there eggs.

Try a Segway tour with Space Coast Segway Tours

Brevard Zoo

Horseback riding on the Canaveral National Seashore – Ace of Hearts Ranch

Jungle Adventures Animal Park

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Ride the Cocoa Beach Trolley

 

Where to Eat?

Here are just a few recommendations:

 

Girlfriends Retreat Cabo

 

 

The Arch

Looking for a Girlfriends Retreat Cabo San Lucas?

 

Find yourself on a girlfriends retreat Cabo style for a great girls getaway for beach, nightlife, shopping and so much more.

Here are some travel tips and recommendations for your girls trip:

Where: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

When: Anytime

How Long: 5 days

Where to stay:

Solmar/Grand Solmar/Playa Grande Resort/The Ridge or Quinta del Sol

You can choose whichever resort suits your budget and wish list. They are all in a great location to downtown but you are on the Pacific side and you can not swim in the ocean.

Hotel Mar de Cortez

You are right in town but not on the ocean. It is a reasonably priced and highly rated on TripAdvisor.

Casa Dorada Los Cabo

This is a great location, right on Medano Beach and close to downtown Cabo.

Villa del Arco Beach Resort

Is a great resort if you want to stay in San Jose del Cabo. You will be closer to the airport but further from Cabo San Lucas and the restaurants and nightlife.

NOTE: I would definitely recommend staying at an All-Inclusive since the food and drinks are very expensive in Cabo San Lucas.

 

 

 

Things to do during the day:

El Arco de Cabo San Lucas – view The Arch from a water taxi

Hit one of these beaches – Chileno Beach, Lover’s Beach or Medano Beach

Take a day trip with Panterra Eco-Expeditions

Tons of golf courses in Cabo.

Hike Mt Solmar

Shop at El Callejon for traditional Mexican crafts and Necri for gift buying

Or you can find a day party at The Office on the beach or at Mango Deck

 

Places to go for the nightlife:

Pink Kitty

Cabo Wabo – yes, Sammy Hagar’s place but fun life music and dancing

El Squid Roe – it is crazy with three floors to dance

The Giggling Marlin – there is a nightly dance show

Mandala

Looking for restaurants? Check out Trapper’s List for recommended places and prices.

 

Need more tips for a girlfriends retreat Cabo, baby? Contact me for help planning your girls getaway!

 

Paso Robles Girlfriend Getaway

Wine Tasting in Paso

Paso Robles Girlfriend Getaway

 

Where: Paso Robles, California

You can fly into either LAX (207 miles north) or SFO (204 miles south)

When: Spring, Summer or Fall

How Long: 3-4 days

Where to stay:

Rent a house in Paso Robles – Paso Robles Vacation Rentals, for a perfect Paso Robles girlfriend getaway and place to enjoy your wine after doing wine tours!

 

 

Things to do:

Wine tasting of course, click here for a list of wineries.

Here are a few recommended wineries:

IN PASO:

J Lohr

Castoro Cellars

JUSTIN Vineyards & Winery

Oso Libre Winery

Chronic Cellars

Wild Horse

Robert Hall

Peach Tree Vineyards

Niner Winery (wine class that you should sign up for)

Calcareous

Eos

IN SAN LUIS:

Edna Vally

Chamisal

Tolosa

 

I definitely recommend doing a wine tour so you don’t have to worry about driving.

Check out Uncorked Wine Tours, they are awesome!

 

Be sure to check out any upcoming events in Paso Robles.

 

Top restaurants:

Artisan for locally grown food

Fish Gaucho for Mexican

La Cosecha for Spanish and Latin American food

Restaurant at Justin

 

Other fun things to do on a Paso Robles girlfriend getaway:

Catch a summer concert at Vina Robles Amphitheatre

Visit the Hearst Castle, here is a link to the tours and to reserve online

Go olive oil tasting at Kiler Ridge

Tour the San Luis Lighthouse

Shop at Studios on the Park

Visit the Hot Springs and Spa

 

Plan a Paso Robles girlfriend getaway today!

Keystone Family Skiing Vacation

Keystone

Keystone Family Skiing Vacation

A Keystone family skiing trip is a great way to spend time together as a family and enjoy a winter wonderland. The village is small and easy to get around. You could not pick a more family friendly ski mountain.

Where:

Keystone, Colorado

When:

Spring Skiing is the best but anytime from December – March

How Long:

5-7 days

Where to stay:

River Run Village = Dakota Lodge, Buffalo Lodge or Expedition Station

Note: Be sure to check on VRBO to book directly through the owners, it may be less expensive.

You can even go back to your condo for lunch and skip eating in the chalet.

If you want to try to save some money, stay in East or West Keystone, Silverthorne or Dillon. You can also access other ski resorts if one is not enough for you. Be sure to pack your lunch otherwise you will spend your savings eating at the chalet.

Things to do:

 

Skiing/Snowboarding

Snow Tubing 

Cross Country Skiing

Snowmobiling

Dog Sledding

Ice Skating

Snowcat Tours

Sleigh Rides

 

A few family fun places to eat:

9280 Tap House for a relaxed after ski dinner spot

Bite Me Pizza is a family favorite

Alpenglow Stube for a special family celebration

Der Fondue Chessel right on the mountain, access via gondola

 

 

Have more questions? Need more travel tips and advice, contact me today! I am here to help plan your Keystone family skiing vacation.

 

Aspen Adventures

Aspen Adventures

Looking for your next Ski Destination? Aspen Adventures is it for an amazing ski trip.

Aspen Highlands the best kept secret ski destination for Aspen Adventures

Are you looking for a challenging ski destination in North America? Check out Aspen Highlands with 36% expert runs and a favorite for locals.
What are you waiting for?

Here are my travel suggestions for an Aspen adventures ski vacation in Colorado.

Where to Go:
Aspen, Colorado

When to Go:
Mid-December through Mid-April

How long should you stay:
5-7 days

Recommended places to stay during your Aspen adventures ski vacation:
Skiing with the guys or gals or by yourself, here is a deal for you:
Stay at the St Moritz Lodge where they have dorm style housing and a shared bath. Each room has a small frig and microwave, plus free continental breakfast. You can’t beat this deal for skiing in Colorado.
Here are some other great options:
Mountain Chalet, Aspen Meadows, Independence Square Lodge or Aspen Square Condominium Hotel

Or check VRBO for condo rental directly through the owners

Ski Resorts and Runs to Hit:

Aspen Highlands
Famous for the Highland Bowl where you can only get there by skinning in or snowcat. The B-zones are known for being the most difficult and steepest.
Experts only be sure to check out the P-Chutes and the No Name Bowl.

Aspen Mountain
Known for its black-diamond terrain and skis like a really big mountain even though only over 600 acres.

Snowmass 
Another great option for a day of skiing

Buttermilk

This is the family friendly mountain

 

Aspen Adventures for Apres Ski Activities

Restaurants:

There are so many great restaurants in Aspen to check out, here are just a few —- Pinons, White House Tavern, Chef’s Club and Matsuhisa

 

Looking for more fun on the mountain:

Cross-country skiing
Powder Tours
Snowshoe

Contact me if you have any questions or would like additional travel information for an Aspen Adventure. I am here to help plan your next vacation.

 

 

Glenwood Springs Colorado

Glenwood Springs Colorado

Family trip to Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs Colorado is another wonderful town full of family fun in the summer. Hot springs, hiking, adventure and caves. Find out why it was named Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally & USA Today.

Here are my travel tips and recommendations for a family vacation to Glenwood Springs Colorado.

Where to go:

Glenwood Springs Colorado

When to go:

Summer

How long to go:

4-6 days

Where to stay:

Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge – access to the hot springs pools ‎

Hotel Glenwood Springs – enjoy the indoor waterpark and gondola rides right outside the hotel to the Caverns Adventure Park on top of the mountain the

The Hotel Denver  – a unique stay in a historic hotel 

Or check out VRBO or Vacation Rentals for house or condo rentals in Glenwood Springs.

 

Things to do in Glenwood Springs Colorado:

You name it, every outdoor activity you could think of is in Glenwood Springs.

Where to eat in Glenwood Springs Colorado:

Just head to Downtown 7th Street aka restaurant row or try out these great options.

Great day trips from Glenwood Springs:

Within an hour drive is Aspen where you can go mountain biking, hiking, fishing, camping, ride the Aspen Mountain gondola or check out the Snowmass Rodeo.

Or head the other direction to Vail, another amazing summer destination with lots of outdoor fun for the whole family.

 

Enjoy a great family vacation to Glenwood Springs Colorado! Contact me for any questions or help with planning your getaway.

 

San Diego Family Vacation

MissionBayCA

San Diego is a perfect family vacation. The weather is the best in the country, the beaches are great, the people are friendly, it is easy to get around and tons to do for kids of all ages.

Here are my travel tips and recommendations for a great family vacation in San Diego.

Where to go:

San Diego

La Jolla 

When to go:

Anytime of the year but I recommend going in October for some of the best weather and no crowds.

How long to go:

A week

Where to stay in San Diego:

Mission Bay Near Seaworld

Recommended: Stay at The Dana on Mission Bay. Request a Water’s Edge Room for extra space and wonderful view of the bay.

The rooms in the older building, poolside have a nice patio and easy access to the pool. Free shuttle to Seaworld and close enough to even walk there (15 minutes).

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Bahia Resort Hotel

  

Pacific Beach Area

Crystal Pier Hotel & Cottages is very unique since all of the cottages are on the Pacific Beach Pier. The views are amazing and you could not be any closer to the beach plus you have your own kitchen.  Must stay here at least once! 

Best Western Plus Blue Sea Lodge 

Pacific Terrace Hotel 

 

La Jolla

The Lodge of Torrey Pines 

San Diego Marriott La Jolla 

 

Or check out a condo or house rental through VRBO or VacationRentals.com

 

Things to do in San Diego:

San Diego Zoo – start your day off with the guided bus tour to see 70% of the zoo in 35 minutes. 

San Diego Zoo Safari Park 

Seaworld – highly recommend the Breakfast with Shamu, perfect way to start your day and up close view of the whales and the breakfast is very good, nice variety.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park 

Catch a ballgame at Petco Park 

Visit the USS Midway Museum and step onto a real naval aircraft carrier 

Balboa Park 

Mission Beach and Belmont Park is a very busy, fun place. Lots of restaurants, shops, people watching and even rides.  

Old Town is filled with history. Fun place to explore.

Gaslamp Quarter for dinner otherwise more for adults after dark. 

Pacific Beach or PB as they call it is great for sunsets, shopping and biking along the boardwalk. Very beautiful beach. 

 

Things to do in La Jolla:

Shell Beach Tide Pools 

Children’s Pool Beach is very scenic and home to hundreds of seals. It is also open to the public to swim. 

La Jolla Caves for access into the cave. You can rent snorkel gear during the summer months.

La Jolla Cove for the real life zoo. You can see dolphins, sea lions, seals and sharks. There is a strong smell but this is the natural smell of sea animals and birds. For a real up close adventure, try the kayak tour.  

 

Family Friendly Restaurants:

San Diego is full of family friendly restaurants so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one but here are some of the top, more unique options to check out:

Corvette Diner – fun waitstaff, an arcade, rock & roll, burger and shakes. Of course your kids will love it.

El Indio – Birthplace of the taquito and great authentic Mexican food.

Station Tavern – it may be a bar but there is an outdoor playground for the kids to play at while you enjoy a burger at the picnic benches.

In-N-Out Burger – you can’t enjoy these burgers everywhere.

Mamma Mia – In Pacific Beach, great Italian food.

Ghiradelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop or Heavenly Cupcake in the Gaslamp Quarter for a sweet treat.

 

Enjoy your family vacation to San Diego! Contact me for any help planning your trip.

 

   

Los Angeles Weekend Trip

Los Angeles

Looking for a great couples long weekend trip?

Los Angeles is a perfect weekend getaway for you and your partner! You can find it all here:  great beaches, restaurants, cities, attractions, outdoor fun, glitz and glamour. You name it, you can find it!

Where to go:

Los Angeles, California

Beach Cities

Hollywood

When to go:

Summer, Fall

How long to stay:

4-5 days is perfect for a quick trip with no kids

Where to stay:

In Venice Beach

The Inn at Marina del Rey

Hotel Erwin

Venice Beach Suites

 

In Santa Monica

High End Options

Shore Hotel 

Viceroy Santa Monica

Moderate Options

Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows

The Georgian Hotel

Budget Friendly Options

Travelodge Santa Monica

 

In Hollywood for one of the touristy spots in LA but close to everything

High End Options

Loew’s

Roosevelt Hotel

Moderate Options

Holiday Inn Express

Hilton Garden Inn

Budget Friendly Options

Best Western Hollywood – motel style but great location and you can’t beat the price

 

Other options to stay for a romantic vacation for two:

In Manhattan Beach

Hotel Belamar

Sea View Inn at the Beach – free bike rentals included

 

On Catalina Island 

The Avalon Hotel on Catalina Island for a small boutique hotel

Hotel Vista Del Mar

Pavilion Hotel

 

What to do in and around Los Angeles:

In Malibu

Paradise Cove for lunch and stay for the great beach club $30 a day for parking for beach $6 for lunch

Hike in Solstice Canyon – amazing views of the Pacific Ocean

Drive the Malibu Coast on Highway 1 – make a day of it and enjoy a whole new view of California

 

In Hollywood

Eat in Thai Town – try Vim Thai Restaurant, make sure to order the Thai Ice Tea.

Shop at the Farmers Market and The Grove , located south of Hollywood Blvd and east of Beverly Hills. There are lots of food stands to choose from in the Farmers Market and so many shops at The Grove outdoor shopping area.

Shopping on Rodeo Drive , enjoy window shopping among some of the most exclusive and expensive stores in the world. 

Catch the Beverly Hills Trolley Tour to see some famous landmarks and homes. 

Sunset Strip for nightclubs and sidewalks full of party people.

Griffith Observatory 

Hollywood Sign Hike in Griffith Park.

See music at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park or the Hollywood Bowl .

Shopping at the Hollywood & Highland Center .

Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – see the handprints of the stars.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

 

In Nearby Beach Cities

Venice Beach where you will find out that anything goes here so don’t be alarmed in the sights you will see. 

Eat at The Sidewalk Cafe for the best people watching and great fish tacos.

Ride bikes along the boardwalk or learn how to surf (or watch the surfers).

Walk along the wide open beaches.

Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park is fun to take a ride on the ferris wheel and share a funnel cake.

Santa Monica beach is very beautiful. 

Take a sunset walk through Palisades Park .

Third Street Promenade is a fun street to walk down and enjoy the shops and cafes. 

Ride bikes along the South Bay Bicycle Trail .

Hike in the Santa Monica Mountains.

 

Enjoy your Weekend Trip to Los Angeles!