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:

 

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.

 

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.

 

   

Buena Vista Colorado

Buena Vista Colorado

Buena Vista

Buena Vista Colorado or BV as the locals call it is one of the best places to be in the summer! The Collegiate Peaks tower over you in the valley of Buena Vista filled with so many activities for every age group.  This is a must visit for family adventure!

Here are my travel tips and suggestions for your next family adventure to Buena Vista Colorado:

Where to Go:

Buena Vista Colorado

When to Go:

Summer

How long should you stay:

5-7 days is ideal but it is not the easiest to get to so you may want to stay for a week minimum 

Where to stay in or near Buena Vista Colorado:

Recommendation: Mount Princeton Hot Springs & Resort – offers cabins or lodge rooms plus you can use the hot springs   

Best Western Plus Vista Inn – great hotel with pool, hot tub and free breakfast 

Pinon Court Cabins – small but eclectic cabins with kitchens. Close to a park and playground for the kids. 

There are lots of cabins available during the summer on VRBO or Vacation Home Rentals

 

Top things to do & travel tips for your family vacation to Buena Vista Colorado:

Hot Springs – check out the Mount Princeton Hot Springs. Soak in one of the pools, ride the 300ft waterslide or find a warm spot in the river. 

Rafting the Arkansas River – check out The Adventure Company 

Hiking in Buena Vista with kids

  • There are municipal trails just across the Arkansas River (at the foot of Main Street). You can hike anywhere from short to long with great views. Make sure to stop at K’s for an after-hike ice cream cone.
  • The Twin Lakes area has historic buildings and it is an easy hike to Interlaken’s old buildings.
  • Or check out this website for more hiking trails near Buena Vista

Mountain Biking- stop in at Trail Head Bike Rentals and explore with two wheels. There is mountain bike trails in the hills right behind Buena Vista. 

Zip Line Tours  – a full adrenaline rush!

Horseback riding at Harvard City Riding Stables 

Adventure Park for the older kids at Browns Canyon Adventure Park

Drive to the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Overlook 

Bouldering for the kids at the Buena Vista Boulder Garden

 

Restaurants in Buena Vista Colorado:

Eddyline Restaurant & Brewery – local hangout with wide variety of food for the entire family 

Pizza Works – great pizza 

Punky’s – BBQ and ice cream  

The Lariat Bar and Restaurant – great burger joint 

Brown Dog Coffee Company – morning coffee spot 

 

Contact me if you have any questions or would like additional Colorado travel information. I am here to help plan your family vacations.


Breckenridge

Ski Breck

Family (Winter or Summer) Vacation Destination to Breckenridge, Colorado

Grab your family and take a trip West to the mountains and Breckenridge!

 
Breckenridge is a wonderful winter getaway and a beautiful summer destination.
If you have an active family, this is a perfect destination for you with tons of activities to choose from.

Here are my travel tips and recommendations for a family vacation to Breckenridge, Colorado:

 
Where to go:
Breckenridge, Colorado
90 miles from Denver
 
When to go:
Winter or Summer
Note: Spring is called the Mud Season and a lot of places close for the month of May
 
How long to stay:
A week is perfect
 
Where to stay:
Condos, condos, condos – so many to choose from in Breckenridge and perfect for a family trip
 
Check homeaway.com or vrbo for availability.
Recommendations: 
 

What to do in the Winter:

Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding at Breckenridge Ski Resort
Dogsledding & Snowmobiling through Good Times Adventures
Breckenridge Nordic Center for cross country skiing and snowshoeing
Snow kiting through Colorado Kite Force
Shopping on Main Street in the fun boutiques
 

 

What to do in the Summer:

Horseback riding at Breckenridge Stables
Whitewater rafting through Breckenridge Whitewater Rafting
Country Boy Mine – the only authentic mine in Summit County
Hot Air Balloon Rides through Colorado Hot Air Balloon Rides
Shopping on Main Street in the fun boutiques
Kayaking, Hiking, Biking, Boating
Canopy Tour in Idaho Springs (less than an hour away) with Breckenridge Zipline Adventures
Bike the Peaks Trail from Breckenridge to Frisco
 
 

Where to Eat:

Downstairs at Eric’s is our favorite spot, there is even an arcade to keep the kids busy while waiting for your food.
The Dredge is a floating restaurant with surf & turf.
Empire Burger has great burgers.
Daylight Donuts for a great start to your morning.
Contact me for help planning your trip to Breckenridge!

Duluth MN

Lutsen

Winter Family Exploration Vacation to Lutsen and Duluth MN

 

Take a family trip to Lutsen and Duluth MN along Lake Superior.

 
A Must-Do in the Winter, only the strong and brave can survive but your kids will talk about it for years.
Duluth is located on Lake Superior and an outdoor haven for those who love to ski – downhill or cross country, snowshoe, dogsled, skijourn, hike, skate and play in the winter snow. Lutsen is 2 hours north of Duluth, towards Canada and along Lake Superior. Lutsen has the best downhill skiing in Minnesota in a beautiful, almost untouched area of the country. You will feel like you are a million miles away from it all in Lutsen. Plan your next winter family vacation to Duluth MN.
 

Here are my travel tips and recommendations for a vacation to Duluth and Lutsen:

Where to go:
Duluth, Minnesota
Lutsen, Minnesota
 
When to go:
December – February for a true Northern Minnesota winter experience
 
How Long to stay:
4-7 days
 
Where to stay:
In Duluth MN
The Suites Hotel is my family favorite since every room has a kitchen and you are right in Canal Park.
Note: Don’t get an inside room, very noisy.
 
What kids don’t want to stay at a waterpark!
 
The Mountain Villas at Spirit Mountain are great yurts for a real family experience.
 
In Lutsen MN
Eagle Ridge for ski-in/ski-out. Condos available.
Or one of the Lutsen Resort accommodations.
 

 

Winter fun to do in Lutsen:

Skiing and snowboarding at Lutsen Mountain
 
 

Winter fun to do in Duluth:

Contact me for your next winter family destination, I can help you plan.

Orlando Travel Information

Orlando Travel Information for a Perfect Family Vacation

Are you looking for Orlando travel information for your next family vacation?

There is so much to do in Orlando it can be overwhelming for anyone. I have put together recommendations to help you plan your Orlando vacation.

Here are my travel tips and recommendations:

Where to Go:

Kissimmee or Orlando

When to Go:

Fall or Spring

We went in October and had perfect weather and it was not too crowded.

How long should you stay:

Depends on how many days you want to spend at the theme parks. I would suggest adding a rest day for each day spent at the theme park so you can still relax and enjoy other fun things to do in Orlando.

Recommended places to stay:

Disney Resorts =Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge for the families that want the kitchen and extra room.

Or Disney’s Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge if you don’t need the kitchen but want to stay at one of the deluxe resorts at Disney.

The top moderate resort at Disney is Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter

Or check out the new value resort – Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

 

Outside of Disney Resorts = Emerald Island Resort

Minutes from Walt Disney World

We rented a house for 7 adults and 4 kids in Kissimmee. It was a great location and perfect getaway after a long exhausting day at the parks. We had our own pool which after being around so many people at the parks was ideal.

Note: If you have the option to heat the pool in October, I would recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the top things to do:

Makahiki Luau – SeaWorld’s Polynesian Feast and Celebration

Very entertaining for kids and adults.

Expensive but a unique experience.

Don’t expect too much from the food, the experience is what you are paying for.

Disney Theme Parks

My favorite is Epcot, not a surprise since I love to travel, Epcot is all about travel from country destinations to space travel and beyond.

Epcot is the largest theme park, you definitely need two days to cover it.

 

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.

Really fun for the whole family.

The dinner entertainers are great, very funny and they get the crowd involved.

The food is good and there is plenty of it.

Make sure to tell them if you are celebrating a special occassion.

 

Top travel tips:

  • Stay at a place with a kitchen. When you have young kids it saves time and sanity not sitting in restaurants.
  • Go to the grocery store and buy snacks and waters to bring into the theme parks. Then you don’t have to buy everything in the parks.
  • Parking at the Parks is for all day and you can come and go as needed. You can also park at all of the different parks in that one day so if you need to park at another place for dinner you won’t have to pay anymore. The parking lots are run so efficiently and are very easy to use. There is always a shuttle ready to take you into the park as soon as you get out of your car.
  • Pick your top must-do rides in each theme park before you go. Map out how you will go through the park. You will probably only get to half the rides you want to but at least you didn’t waste your day wandering around with no set purpose.
  • Fast pass the top rides if long waits.
  • Get the Disney app on your smartphone that tells you how long the waits are.
  • Downtown Disney for those that can’t get enough of Disney. There are lots of shops and restaurants.
  • If you are planning on having your kids do the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, do it at the Downtown Disney location instead of at Magic Kingdom when there is so many other things to be doing. Then your prince or princess will be ready to meet their favorite characters.
  • Must do for young girls or girls of any age that love the princesses = Cinderella’s Royal Table for Brunch at Magic Kingdom. It is the perfect way to start your day at Magic Kingdom and you can meet all the princesses. The princesses come around to each table and you can take pictures with every one of them during the brunch instead of trying to find them throughout the park. Added benefit – no lines.
  • Here are a few great options for quick dining at DisneyWorld – Columbia Harbor House, Pecos Bill Cafe or Pinocchio Haus
  • Watch the afternoon parade at Magic Kingdom in Frontier Land or Liberty Square
  • Watch the Magic Kingdom night parade across the street from Country Bear Jamboree or in front of the Hall of Presidents.
  • Watch the Magic Kingdom fireworks along the path to Crystal Palace or on the bridge to Tomorrow Land near the walkway to Rose Garden.
   Make sure to bring your own princess dress up for this event!                      Note: Must book 6 months prior to your trip. If you can’t get reservations for Cinderella’s Royal Table, try the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot.

Contact me if you have any questions or would like additional information. I am here to help plan your next family travel destination.