All Aboard America's Finest Historic Ships

Whether you're looking to add some variety to a family vacation, or you want to encourage enthusiasm if you've recently relocated to a new city with your family, sometimes looking to the past is the best way to live in the present. Why not show your family some of the oldest US ships and restored aircraft carriers on American soil (and waters)? Each ship has its own story, and visiting them is a great way to teach children in an interactive and fascinating way about the ships of our country’s past.

Maritime Museum of San Diego in California
If you find yourself in sunny southern California, check out one of America's most famous old sailing ships still afloat. Head to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, California, to see the Star of India ship. Dating all the way back to 1863, the Star of India's massive white sails and iron trimmings were a hit right from the start — but it wasn't always smooth sailing. On her voyages to India, the ship (which then went by the name Euterpe) survived tornadoes, pirate attacks and several crashes. She then became a cargo ship, carrying supplies to nations across the world, surviving harsh weather and conditions. Learn not just about the ship herself, but also about the sailors who were once on board, by reading the log and taking a tour with a guide.

USS Hornet in San Francisco, California
If you’re looking for battleships on display in the US, look no further than the historic floating giant, the USS Hornet. Head to the Bay Area in San Francisco, California, to see the ship that survived World War II and helped save American and Allied lives. Though it survived 59 attacks during the War, perhaps the USS Hornet is most famous for rescuing Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins and Neil Armstrong after they headed back to earth on Apollo 11 — the rocket that first landed on the moon. For space fans, the ship has one of the biggest collection of artifacts from the Lunar Voyage in the States. For the best battleships on display, get stung by the USS Hornet.

USS Intrepid in New York, New York
If you're more interested in seeing aircraft carriers on display, why not make the most of your trip to New York and check out the ultra-famous USS Intrepid? You will probably recognize the ship from its numerous appearances on the silver screen, but there's nothing like seeing something so famous in person! Though the USS Intrepid now lives on the Hudson River, she also had a great career as an astronaut recovery ship and served in WWII, the Vietnam War and the Cold War — this enormous floating wonder even lived through a torpedo attack. While you're at it, check out the rest of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum to learn even more about these vessels.

No matter how much you know about a place, it's always nice to brush up on your history. For fun the whole family can enjoy, make a weekend out of it and head to the high seas!

 

January 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whether you're a Houston native or are just answering NASA's recent open call for astronauts, there are as many reasons to visit Houston's Space Center as there are stars in the sky! Explore Houston, and everything the city has to offer, including the Johnson Space Center. Hotels are nearby, affordable and sure to give you a vacation that's out of this world!

Artifacts at the Houston Space Center

If you're interested in all-things-space, why not start by checking out the incredible collection of space-related artifacts owned by the museum? The Space Center is home to the Lunar Rover, the Mercury-Atlas 9, (which circled the Earth an astounding 22 times) the Apollo 17 command module (the last mission of the Apollo program) and many more incredible rovers and modules that have been on some of the world's most famous journeys.

Level Nine Tours

If you're looking for the perfect gift for the space nut in your life, you may want to check out the Level 9 Tour package, offered by the Houston Space Center. On your 240-minute tour, you're given behind-the-scenes access to the inner workings of NASA. You'll be able to see the areas and modules where astronauts are trained for space missions, get a close look at some historic hardware that's not available to the general public, and have the chance to ask every question you've ever wanted to know the answer to, which will be explained by your expert tour guide. (Don’t get too excited though; you probably won’t have too much luck asking about the secrets of Area 51!) Be sure to book your Level 9 Tour in advance, and keep in mind that tours start promptly at 11:45 in the morning.

When you're on the look out for space-themed places to visit in Houston, be sure to make time to visit the artisan store Space Montrose, which offers gifts created by local artists, many of which are space-themed. If you're looking for a funky, festive card for any occasion, you'll find the right choice on the famous wall of cards! The store also sells humorous screen-printed shirts and sweatshirts that play into some of the craziest theories about the Lunar Landing. A staple of the Houston community since 2010, Space Montrose is beloved for its commitment to promoting local businesses and craftsmen.

Whether you already know everything there is to know about space, or if you're just looking to sharpen your lunar knowledge, a trip to the Houston Space Center is one of the most unforgettable experiences in the galaxy.

January 7, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chicago's Best Museums

If you're planning a vacation to Chicago, you probably already know that the city is a celebrated cultural hub. If you're looking for things to do in Chicago, some of the most fascinating attractions are without question the city's incredible museums. No matter what period of art, collections or even unexpected surprises may interest you, you'll find something that stimulates your brain. Once you've booked your Chicago hotel room, read our list below to make sure you don't miss the top Chicago museums.

Art Institute of Chicago

On the hunt for museums to visit in Chicago? Let's start with the classics. Last year, Trip Advisor deemed The Art Institute of Chicago as both #1 museum not only in the world, but also in the US. Home to several famous Rembrandt paintings, priceless works of Manet, Degas, and, perhaps one of the most beloved paintings of all time, Grant Wood's American Gothic, the museum beat out notable institutes such as Paris’ The Louvre. And for the book lover in your life, be sure to check out the Ryerson & Burnham Research Libraries, home to both rare books and fascinating tomes. If you're heading to Chicago for Valentine's Day, be sure not to miss the collection of Van Gogh's Bedroom paintings, on display at Regenstein Hall in the museum to see some of the world's greatest paintings up close and personal.

The Adler Planetarium

If you've got your head in the clouds, make sure to take a trip to the Adler Planetarium, arguably one of the best museums in Chicago dedicated to the stars and the sky. Perfect for all ages, the planetarium was the first of its kind in the United States. The museum includes the famous "Mission Moon" exhibit, which allows visitors to experience the lunar landing for themselves — including the actual Gemini 12 capsule used by Buzz Aldrin to orbit the earth! Be sure to check out the celebrated Sky Theatre, which is beloved for its realistic, virtual-reality interpretations of space travel.

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Want to get your culture on, but feeling the financial hindrances of a starving artist yourself? Never fear, Chicago has plenty of options for you, too. One of the best free museums in Chicago is the Museum of Contemporary Photography, whose permanent collection includes photographs from Czech artists, world famous photographer Dorothea Lange and heartbreaking photographs of the 1930s dustbowl in America. There are plenty of ongoing projects and exhibitions designed to help new photographers hone their craft, and even have the chance to display their work.

If you're planning a trip to Chicago this winter, you can't go wrong by checking out some of the city's most celebrated museums. Whether you're a space nut, want to feel extra cultured or just want to check out some powerful photographs, the various museums of Chicago offer something for everyone.

January 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Family-Friendly New Year's Eve in Los Angeles

New Year's Eve is a time of celebration, of beginnings and endings, of gratitude and anticipation. While some insist there's nothing like New York City's Times Square, for a family-friendly vacation spot with just as much magic but without the crowded subway trains, book a vacation to spend New Years Eve in Los Angeles!

If you're looking New Years Eve family events in Los Angeles, the best place to start is by checking out the traditional Tournament of Roses Parade. Held on New Year's Day (so you'll have a good incentive to keep a steady head the evening before!) the Rose Parade is the precursor the world famous Rose Bowl Football game, which has been an American tradition since 1902. Most of the floats are made exclusively from flowers, so while your children can enjoy the excitement of seeing some familiar faces come to life, you can marvel at the craftsmanship of the creations, which take a combined 80,000 hours to construct. The parade also includes marching bands, live music, special surprise appearances, and, best of all, the chance for some fabulous street fare food.

If some of the younger members of your family aren't quite ready to stand and wait in line for hours leading up to the parade, there are plenty of rooftop restaurants where you can catch a glimpse of the floats, like the aptly named French bistro, Perch LA. Another option for viewing the floats? The city offers a Post-Parade viewing of all the floats you may have missed — or accidentally slept through! Head to Sierra Madre Boulevard and Washington Street to check out the floats in all their glory. Your children will love having the chance to get up close and personal with some of their favorite characters, while you'll appreciate not having to wake up at the crack of dawn on New Year's Day.

If you're looking for another type of New Year's Eve engagement, there's no better way to really feel like you're among the stars than by visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame! Home to over 2,500 of the famous stars celebrating Hollywood's legends, your whole family can have fun finding their favorite celebrities, posing for pictures with Hollywood impersonators, and, since it's New Year's Eve, partaking in many of the miniature booths and festivities set up along the avenue! If you're really dedicated, you can even pick up a "Star Map" and take a tour to see the outside of some of your favorite celebrities' homes!

Los Angeles is home to many kid-friendly New Years Eve events, from the thrill of the Rose Parade to the joy of the Hollywood walk, there's no reason to hold off on a memorable celebration because you're worried that the city won't offer something for every member of your family. Ring in the New Year with your children and loved ones alike, by celebrating in sunny Los Angeles!

December 27, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Crafts to Entertain the Little Ones at Home or Away

This holiday season when you're on the road or staying in a hotel room for the night, keeping your children busy, safe and entertained can be a challenge. But if you're looking to book a vacation with your little ones, you shouldn't have to worry so much that you won't be able to enjoy your time off. That's where we come in. We've compiled a list of easy paper crafts for kids that are transportable and creative. Best of all, our selections of art and crafts for kids requires little cleanup, to keep your child entertained both on the way to and once you reach your destination.

A Peaceful Trip Peace Chain

If you have more than one child, you probably already know that the key to keeping them focused and quiet is to make everything a competition. Before you go on the road, cut out tons of thin paper strips, grab a tape dispenser, and put a few colored pencils or markers in a box. Whichever child can make it to a certain number of paper chain loops, wins. If you're looking for seasonal holiday crafts for kid entertainment, you can have them inscribe each paper chain strip with a festive message, Christmas wish or special phrase.


Origami

Looking for a transportable craft with absolutely no cleanup that will help your children work on their precision and keep them entertained for hours? Origami is one of the most fun and easy paper crafts you can think of. Buy a basic origami book, or simply let your children watch instructional YouTube videos on your iPad, and within no time, you’ll have them folding pretty paper into almost anything! Make sure you've selected a variety of colors and patterns for your origami paper, and encourage your children to really be creative and write special messages inside.

Let It Snow!

If you're in the mood for some holiday festivities, take a minute to crank up some Christmas tunes and let your children create their own snowflakes. Use sheets of plain white paper and safety scissors show your children how to snip their way to unique snowflakes that they can hang on a tree or give to their friends or teachers. Line the floor of your car with newspaper so you can quickly gather up the paper scraps and toss them out at the next rest stop. If you’re really brave, pack some glue and glitter so they can embellish their one-of-a-kind masterpieces once you’re settled in at the hotel.

Don't let your fear trying to keep your kiddos entertained, calm and quiet while on the road and at your destination stop you from traveling this holiday season. Whether you're looking for crafts that can be done in the car or in your hotel room, we've got you covered.

December 21, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Ultimate Guide to New England's Best Clam Chowders

Planning your dream vacation to Boston? After you've booked your hotel room, it’s time to start penciling in what you’ll do during your trip. Among many other famous hot spots, Boston is well-known for Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail and the bar from the hit television show Cheers — but beyond these famous landmarks, it's also known for its famous, irresistible clam chowder! Read on for our top picks of where you’re sure to find some satisfying bowls of Boston’s best clam chowder.

Legal Sea Foods

If you're on the hunt for a bowl of the best clam chowder in New England, look no further than Legal Sea Foods, the birthplace of one of America's most popular chowder recipes. We recommend getting a taste of history by visiting the flagship location in Boston's Seaport. The restaurant is celebrated for its fresh ingredients, a tradition carried on from the very beginning — the father-son team ran both a fish market and, right next door, the first Legal Seafoods — so customers always get the absolute best catch of the day. It's so popular that Legal Sea Foods has opened up several restaurants across the United States — and their business is only growing.

Island Creek Oyster Bar

Looking for the best clam chowder in Bostom? Residents adore Island Creek Oyster Bar, located on Commonwealth Avenue. Owned by Skip Bennett and Jeremy Sewall, part of the goal of the restaurant is to give customers the feeling that they’re sampling from tried and true family recipes — so expect to see some dishes named after the owners’ close friends and family. Though the menu switches almost every day, depending on what was freshest at the seafood markets, you can always find clam chowder. Bonus? It’s served with a side of a buttermilk biscuit and adorned with slabs of the most irresistible bacon. Monday through Friday, the restaurant is open only for dinner, between four and eleven in the evening, but on the weekends, Island Creek’s doors are open all day.

Union Oyster House

A staple of the Boston restaurant scene since 1826, Union Oyster House has had over a hundred years to perfect their clam chowder recipe — and it shows. Whether you’re looking to host a banquet for friends, or are just interested in finding a historic place to dine with your family while on vacation in Boston, Union Oyster house has a table for every type of customer. A favorite of politicians, including J.F.K. and Daniel Webster, the restaurant may be famous for its oysters, but it’s celebrated for the clam chowder. Made with potatoes, pork and a few more secret ingredients, it’s a delight. Even better? For those who can’t yet make it to Boston, the recipe has popped up online, provided to star chef Bobby Flay by the chefs at the Union Oyster House themselves. Open nearly all day, every day!


Whether you're a foodie or just someone who appreciates a good meal, enjoying a steaming bowl of Boston’s best clam chowder should be a must-do on everyone's list! So book a flight, call your friends, and get ready to chow down!

December 18, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Best Christmas Markets in NYC

What if you found a way to get all of your holiday shopping done in one place — without the hassle, parking spot-fights and stress of a shopping mall? Enter the Christmas Markets of New York City, where artisan craftsmen, painters and mini booths from major retailers alike all come together to make one of the best Christmas markets in the US. So book a New York hotel room for a few nights in December, and get ready for a shopping experience you'll never forget.

Some of the best Christmas markets in New York City are directly across from The Shops at Columbus Circle, on the West Side. Whether you're looking for a customized Christmas ornament, the perfect candle to gift to your coworkers or neighbors or some stunning jewelry for the special sparkly one in your life, head to the Columbus Circle Holiday Market where you’ll find something for everyone on your list — and of course, a few little things for yourself. Afterwards, you and your family can even take a carriage ride across Central Park, and check out the incredible holiday window displays of Fifth Avenue.

If you're looking for something for the fashionista in your life, another great option to find local designers and more is a trip to the Holiday Shops at Bryant Park. Open from the end of October to January 3, the shops here cater equally to those who want to get their shopping done early as well as those who are chronically late. The Bryant Park Winter Village is especially loved for its international flair, so if you're looking to impress the people on your list, you don't actually have to fly all the way to Istanbul to find the perfect gift. Afterwards, you can go for a spin on the famous Bryant Park Ice Skating Rink, where, best of all, admission is free.

Are you looking for German Christmas markets in the US? Luckily for you, Manhattan still has a thriving and welcoming German community. Check out the Upper East Side neighborhood of Yorkville, home to some of the earliest immigrants to Manhattan, whose descendants still sell the holiday wares their grandparents taught them to make. And you can enjoy traditional treats such as Stollen cake and gingerbread cookies while sipping on a cup of Christkindl’s Winterdrink at any of the four German Delights Christmas stands across the city. Also, be sure to check out the one and only Schaller and Weber, where you can pick up the best in German Christmas fare to take back to your hotel room for snacks when you’re too tired to go out again!

Holiday shopping doesn't have to be exhausting, even in New York City, home to the best Christmas markets in the US. You’re sure to find what you're looking for, whether it's one-of-a-kind jewelry, a craft from an international artisan or even some handmade soaps from a local vendor, you're sure to actually enjoy your Christmas shopping this year at the holiday markets

 

December 15, 2015 | Permalink | Comments (0)