4 Family Friendly Attractions in Atlanta

The southern metropolis of Atlanta needs no introduction. Its endless skyline proves it is large and in charge. In such a cosmopolitan area, families might think they are better suited to head to smaller cities for more family friendly attractions. However, Atlanta welcomes the whole family with a wealth of attractions for children, ones that even adults will appreciate. From expansive aquarium exhibits to soft drink heaven, you can take your family to these four attractions while in town.

World of Coca-Cola

Situated beside the Georgia Aquarium at Pemberton Place in downtown Atlanta, the World of Coca-Cola provides an in-depth look at the world’s most well-known soft drink. The fizzy soft drink first made its appearance in Atlanta in 1886 and has been quenching thirsts ever since. Admission provides a look at plenty of Coca-Cola memorabilia exhibits and even an art gallery. World of Coca-Cola also features a Taste It! beverage lounge where you can sample more than 100 flavors made by Coca-Cola from all around the world. Tickets costs $16 for those over 13 years old, $12 for those 3 to 12 years old, and admission is free for future coke-lovers two years and under.

The Georgia Aquarium

While you are in the area, you can also take the family to the Georgia Aquarium. The aquarium is one of the world’s largest with more animals than any other aquarium and more than 10 million gallons of water. Families can roam through more than 60 exhibits. In particular, the Ocean Voyager exhibit allows you to see whale sharks and manta rays in the largest viewing window in North America. General admission for adults costs $35.95 while a child’s ticket runs at $29.95. The Georgia Aquarium is located in downtown Atlanta.

 Center for Puppetry Arts

Set up in Midtown Atlanta, the Center for Puppetry Arts has been a fixture in town since 1978. The cultural destination shows off the spectacle and magic of puppetry to all ages. Year round performances are held on site. If you can’t make it to a show, you can visit the museum where you can admire puppets from around the world. Among the most celebrated are several Jim Henson creations.

 Stone Mountain State Park

If the family is ready to get out and experience Atlanta’s great outdoors, Stone Mountain State Park is your destination. The park boasts the largest high relief sculpture in the world, known as the Confederate Memorial Carving. The distinctive landmark is best seen from the ground, but you can also ride the Skyride Cable Car to the top and appreciate the views of Atlanta and the Appalachian Mountains. In addition to the Stone Mountain monument, you can explore the recreational area, encompassing 3,200 acres of lakes and parkland. Some highlights on site include the Stone Mountain Scenic Railroad and the Discovering Stone Mountain Museum. The park is often lauded as one of the best places to take a family because of the family friendly activities on site.

 Atlanta has a wealth of family activities to keep everyone in your group occupied. When the family needs to retire for the evening, Extended Stay America suites prove ideal for families looking to relax as they would at home. 

April 1, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

5 Common Travel Costs That Are Draining Your Budget and How To Eliminate Them

For many people, traveling is put off due to how expensive it can be. From plane tickets to hotel rooms to meals out, travel can in fact seem like a bank account drainer. However, many travelers save and save for travel, only to spend their savings on known budget drainers like the hotel’s costly Wi-Fi or the car rental insurance offered at the counter. If you want to travel longer and leaner with your wallet, there are a number of common travel costs you can lessen quite simply.

Hotel Wi-Fi and Parking

You might score a cheap room rate on your vacation to Chicago. However, when you arrive at your hotel, the charges keep coming in terms of amenities. Suddenly that budget-friendly room rate has blown your budget. Hotel amenities can drain travel budgets quickly, especially Internet and parking charges. If your hotel charges for both Wi-Fi and parking, you could be faced with paying upwards of $40 extra per night. In order to eliminate these additional fees, you should seek out properties that offer free Wi-Fi and complimentary parking. Also, as you search for hotels, keep track of any extra amenities charges listed and add them to your room rate. By doing a little math, you will better see what the hotel will end up costing you.

Baggage Fees

With escalating plane ticket costs, the last thing any traveler wants to do is fork over another $50 for their bag. Baggage fees are hard to avoid in this day and age, with most major U.S. airlines charging for a checked bag. You can combat this charge largely by flying carry-on only or with airlines that don’t charge for bags, like Southwest. Also, some airline-based credit cards now include offers such as a free first checked bag.

 Car Rental Insurance

You might find a pretty reasonable car rental rate, only to arrive at the counter and see a much greater charge than you booked. Many car rental companies will offer you insurance at the counter to be added on to your rental rate. Before you agree to the large amount, check to make sure you aren’t covered on your credit card. Many major credit card carriers cover car rental insurance if you book your rental on that card. Also, some rental rates already include most of the coverage you will need such as collision and damage waivers. You might be paying for double coverage and not even know it.

 Gas

If you are headed out on a road trip with the family for the summer or spring break, gas costs can majorly drain a travel budget. While you can’t completely dodge gas charges, you can lessen them. There are a number of apps such as Gas Buddy that will notify you where to find the cheapest gas on your route. You can also save gas by watching how you drive. Being a lead foot will mean more stops at the pump.  AAA also has a helpful tool that lists gas costs where you are with its Fuel Finder feature.

 Entrance Fees

No matter where you are traveling, you most likely will want to visit museums, galleries and other attractions. These entrance fees can quickly add up to unaffordable amounts. You shouldn’t be paying the full price in most cases. Many cities offer tourist cards that for one flat rate, you can visit most attractions in town and even ride public transportation for free.

One area you don’t want to overpay on your travels is your hotel suite. Extended Stay America offers affordable suites with loads of free amenities such as premium television channels and breakfast. 

March 27, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Taking a Bite Out of Big Apple Transportation Costs: How to Get Around New York on a Budget

When it comes to traveling around New York, your wallet can take a hit every time it opens. From hotel costs to food prices, New York City isn’t always kind to budget travelers. In particular, if you are trying to tour the city, getting around can take its toll. While taxis might be convenient, they are also costly for getting from one point of the city to the other. You can still have a fun and affordable time in New York City if you find little pockets of savings, starting with how you travel around the Big Apple. Here are just a few ways to save on transportation costs in NYC.

Go by Boat

Many travelers want to see New York from the water. While you could sign up for a touristy cruise around the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor, you can easily take this tour for free. The Staten Island Ferry offers views of New York Harbor on its 25-minute ride and five-mile journey. The ferry service links St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in Lower Manhattan. As you appreciate views of Lady Liberty, Ellis Island and the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan, you can rest easy knowing you didn’t even have to open your wallet for this ride - the Staten Island Ferry is free!

If you need to travel a bit more than from the Staten Island Ferry’s two points, you can also take a New York Water Taxi. Such a New York mode of transport allows you to see the skyline, bridges and waterfront parks along four stops in the city. The price tag for a ride on a New York Water Taxi is higher than the free Staten Island Ferry, but you can also travel to more points in town. Stops include Pier 79, Pier 11, Pier 1, Battery Park and Pier 45. An all-day access ticket costs $30.

Pedal Around Your Savings

Rather than taking cabs, you can also pedal around the Big Apple. Operated by NYC Bike Share, CitiBike presents thousands of bikes across hundreds of stations. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you can pedal around New York for very little cash. A 24-hour pass costs $9.95 while a 7-day pass runs at $25. A pass allows you to ride as many times as you like over your selected time period. For quick trips around New York City and to see a thing or two as you bike, CitiBike lends a viable budget-saving transportation option.

Head Underground With Your Budget

While somewhat intimidating to those not used to the New York City Subway system, traveling by metro is one of the best ways to get around the city without paying top dollar. With a MetroCard, you can ride subway trains and buses as much as you want. You will spend under $3 to head across town for a single ticket. For 7 days of unlimited travel on the New York subway, travelers will pay $30.

After spending the day exploring New York City, you can kick up those tired feet in your hotel suite. With budget on the mind, you’ll feel like your savings extend beyond transportation costs in the big city by checking into an Extended Stay America

March 19, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Four Off-the-Beaten-Path Attractions in Washington D.C.

Known for its memorials and monuments, Washington D.C. is home to marble attractions perched along on a well-traveled path. Hordes of travelers flock to America’s capital to see where bills are made, U.S. history is formed and some of the country’s most safeguarded museum treasures reside. While the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center and the White House are all well and good, D.C. offers a lesser-known side, one where you can mingle with locals and get away from the crowds. There is no politicking about it: These sights and sounds shine a different light on D.C.

 The Eastern Market

While it might be just a few blocks from the U.S. capitol, the Eastern Market is one of Washington D.C.’s flavorful secrets. Locals from the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood descend upon this food and art market on the weekends for good reason. The Eastern Market serves up local farm-fresh produce along with handmade arts and crafts. The best time to visit is on the weekends, when hundreds of D.C.’s artists set up shop at the market and sell their wares from pottery to jewelry. The weekends also feature an open-air food market comprised of local farmers and food vendors. By visiting the Eastern Market, travelers with a kitchen at their accommodations like those at an Extended Stay hotel can truly cook like the locals do.

 Dumbarton Oaks

The most famous house in Washington D.C. draws its fair share of visitors. If you want to get away from the masses, the Dumbarton Oaks estate in Georgetown lends a grand residence with more inviting grounds than the President’s digs. The grand 19th century mansion boasts a free museum on site with a collection of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art. What attracts many locals and travelers are the 16 acres of gardens. The Dumbarton Oaks gardens are covered in groves of cherry and magnolia trees, along with a host of other plant life. No matter your season for visiting – though springtime is the most appealing for blooms – you can check in with the Dumbarton Oaks website to find out what is blooming currently. The gardens are free to peruse in the winter but during spring, summer and fall, tickets cost $8.

 Nationals Park

Located just south of the Capitol in D.C.’s Capitol Riverfront area, Nationals Park isn’t always on the tourist radar. While the ballpark has struggled with drawing big crowds in the past, its intimate fan base has opened up the window for extremely affordable ticket prices and specials to see a Major League Baseball game. Ticket specials are offered throughout the season, including those with budget-friendly food deals such as $1 hot dogs and ice cream packages. This offbeat D.C. attraction allows friends and family to catch a major sporting event in a big city without paying a premium price to do so.

 Tidal Basin Paddle Boats

Most travelers wander around Tidal Basin, admiring the monuments along the way. However, if you tire of elbowing through the crowds, you can take to the water instead to appreciate this iconic location in Washington D.C. For a more off-beat way to see the sights, Tidal Basin Paddle Boats supplies bright blue paddle boats to pedal right up close and personal with the Jefferson Memorial and the surrounding cherry trees. A two-passenger boat costs $14 for the hour while a four-passenger boat runs at $22 per hour. You can even reserve your paddle boat online during busy times of the year.

 Once you have explored Washington D.C.’s lesser-known attractions, you can kick back in your hotel suite. Extended Stay America suites come fully equipped with personal kitchens, flat screen TVs and plenty of space for the whole family

March 7, 2014 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)