Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

Family Fun on a Houseboat on Lake Mohave

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

An Excerpt from Margot Black’s Jet Set article

houseboat Family Fun on a Houseboat on Lake Mohave

There was a beautiful moment as I was sitting on the back deck of our houseboat, enjoying the glorious sunset overLake Mohave in Nevada, when I glanced over at my husband and son splashing around in the water and thought life couldn’t get more perfect.

Renting a houseboat in the middle of the desert during the second week in August could have been the biggest misstep; instead, it turned out to be the most wonderful, joyous, incredible surprise.

I’d booked the boat, which we dubbed “Biggie” because it was able to sleep 12 very comfortably, from Forever Resorts on a last-minute getaway for the three of us plus my dad and stepmom

As we drove toward the Cottonwood Cove Resort & Marina, which is a short drive from Laughlin, Nevada, and Bullhead City, Arizona, the sheer beauty of the region completely overwhelmed us.

By the time we got to our boat we were just excited to get onto the lake, a reservoir formed by the Davis Dam on the Colorado River—especially as the temperatures seemed to skyrocket by the minute…


Read the rest at Jet Set Extra

Destination: New York City

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
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New York is all hustle and bustle: crowded sidewalks, horn-happy traffic and impatient office workers vying for attention at deli counters. So how do you enjoy this vibrantly crazy city with a toddler in tow? Is it possible to find a truly family-friendly hotel and keep a 22-month-old amused when they’re forced to spend most of their time in a stroller avoiding potholes in the rain (and boy, did it rain!)? And what about us adults? We deserve to have some fun too!CENTRAL PARK
As the hotel was a mere hop, skip and a jump away from Central Park, we planned most of our days around this vast open space. Strapped into a stroller all day isn’t my son’s idea of fun, so factoring in some running-off-steam-time was crucial to the trip’s success (and our well-being!). It’s well documented that Central Park has been regenerated in recent years so to wander around and enjoy the shaded walks, the lake, Strawberry Fields and the international melting pot of skaters, musicians, break-dancers, bikers, soccer players and tourists was truly fun. Central Park is full of surprises; snow leopards are the newest arrivals at the zoo, there are concerts throughout the year and on the East Side you can find Cleopatra’s Needle, the oldest public monument in North America. But topping my list of things to do was a romantic horse and carriage ride around the park. This is a must-do, even with a toddler, and my advice is that you splurge for the big ride but know that prices haven’t increased in 20 years, so please tip your driver well!

I had some of my fondest childhood memories of this place, Serendipity, but now that I’m a mom, I think it’s ick and probably one of the least family-friendly restaurants I’ve ever visited — unless of course, your family consists solely of eight-year-old girls. Our waiter seemed irked that our party contained children aged from toddler to ten, and there were no changing stations, no high chairs and I had to yell four times before someone would give me my son’s milk bottle. Other child-free diners looked at us with disgust every time our children made, um, children noises. Really, if they wanted to plan things better, they could easily separate families from everyone else as they have two floors. There was nowhere to store our strollers either and nearby, a huge glass vase balanced on a pillar: a heart-attack waiting to happen for every anxious parent. And if they don’t want to attract kids, why offer foot long hot dogs? Their Frozen Hot Chocolate was still delicious but frankly, we wished we’d gone to Mickey Mantle’s.

The trip was a huge success … yes, I’m still on the happy pills! A lot of that had to do with staying at the Hotel Beacon. It was such a pleasure to return there every day knowing we had all we needed close at hand to keep everyone happy. I was worried about bringing a toddler to New York City but the simplest things seem to please him – the train and bus rides were especially fun, probably because we live in Los Angeles and he only ever gets to ride in the car. My advice would be to plan your ‘toddler time’ each day — as long as Jett could run around somewhere for a couple of hours, he was happy. So what was the hardest part about traveling in New York City with a toddler? Having to explain to him every time we got into a cab that the TV in the backseat doesn’t play Elmo. Oh well. You can’t please ‘em all the time!


Idaho Panhandle

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
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When the glaciers of the last great ice age melted, they left a wonderland of lakes, mountains, rivers and valleys across North America. Lush evergreens sprouted up on the mountains and summer sunshine warmed the waters. Modern man came along and added a few theme parks, a brewery and a stunning lakeside luxury resort and spa. Okay, now I’m enticed and eager to explore. I pack my family up and head off on a good old-fashioned road trip to the Idaho Panhandle.

The Idaho Panhandle offers a rich diversity of family fun with abundant outdoor activities, from world-class water parks and theme parks, spectacular lakes and mountains to first-class resort hotels and spas.

A family vacation is always an exciting idea, but slightly terrifying at the same time. The start of our trip involved taking two connecting flights with our one year-old son. Would he cry the entire time? Would fellow passengers hate us? Would I have to buy drinks for every passenger on the plane? Turns out our son was a champ and I was able to save my drinking funds for my husband and me.

Surprisingly, the entire airplane was filled with families with kids of all ages. We made friends and we shared Cheerios. I was so relieved I wanted to hug the other parents. And Alaska Airlines gets a huge high-five for being so helpful. They offer family pre-boarding, they don’t charge for strollers and they even shuffled another passenger so we could have more room in our row. We were off to a good start.

We flew into Spokane International Airport, rented a car and drove about 30 miles to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Our first stop was the Triple Play Family Fun Park, which includes a go-cart track, a 20-lane bowling alley, a miniature golf course and its flagship attraction — a 25,000 square-foot indoor water park called Raptor Reef. The water park features a wave pool and children’s lagoon along with waterslides, water guns and a huge tipping bucket that kids seemed to be insanely attracted to. There’s also a family arcade where guests can test their ability on the nine-hole miniature golf course, suit up for a galactic game of laser tag, or try to reach the top of the rock-climbing wall. Day passes run between $15 and $115, depending upon how many attractions you want to include.

Family Travel: Santa Barbara

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
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Picturesque Santa Barbara, California has an irresistible charm that you can’t help but notice from the moment you arrive. The city has spectacular beaches, abundant scenic waterfront walkways and an elegance and sophistication that comfortably co-exists alongside a casual beach vibe. The area is packed with attractions, activities, restaurants, parks, festivals, marinas, hiking trails, shops, award-winning wineries, impressive architecture and historical monuments.

Everywhere you look you see natural beauty and breathtaking vistas as pretty as a picture postcard. It’s a great place to bring the family to dig in to a wide variety of outdoor activities from whale watching, boating, cycling, scuba diving and surfing to kayaking, horseback riding, golf, tennis, beach volleyball and hiking. And there’s world-class strolling around this upscale village perched on gentle coastal hillsides. With a number of family-friendly beaches, near perfect year-round temperatures and ample public parks, it’s also a great place to simply kick back and relax.

Eager to explore some of the stunning mountains of Santa Barbara, we called upon the Santa Barbara Adventure Company for a guided hike. We were picked up in style in one of their well-equipped shiny red vans. We headed towards the nearby mountains with our knowledgeable guide whose narrative was filled with interesting anecdotes about the land’s history and geography. He also pointed out all the poison oak along the way, and for this I dubbed him my hero. We hiked a good hour or so up to an ocean view vista that was worth the sweat. The hike features lots of great streams and resting spots and makes it a terrific, first foray into the mountains if you’ve never explored them before. TIP: Call The Adventure Company: they’ll get you in and out safely and easily. They’re the prominent outfitter in the area and they also lead guided kayak adventures to the Channel Islands, guided rock climbs, wine country tours by mountain bike or van and they offer group surfing lessons. Pick anything and you’ll be pleased; they’re all pros and we had a great day.Santa Barbara Adventure Company, 410 Anacapa St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101, Tel: 805-898-0671.

The Flying Fish Festival

Thursday, August 1st, 2013
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Santa Catalina Island, (more commonly, just Catalina), rises visibly above the horizon 22 miles off the Southern California coast — but it feels a world away. This quaint, 22-mile-long island with Mediterranean charm has a population of about 4,000, but receives nearly one million visitors each year to its rocky shores.

This spring, Catalina Island debuted its first ever Flying Fish Festivalin celebration of the annual return of their famous flying fish. I realized I had never seen a flying fish before, much less the famous ones at Catalina. And so there was only one thing to do — we boarded the Catalina Express and headed off to a four-day festival packed with family fun.

The Flying Fish Festival kicked off with a Taste Around of Avalon.Avalon is the main town center of Catalina, a picturesque seaside town featuring cute restaurants and shops and the island’s main harbor, filled with visiting yachts in season. Taste Around was a chance to explore some of Avalon’s eateries (it felt like almost all of them) and taste their heralded menu items — all in one night. As we purchased our tasting tickets, we were handed a scorecard. Restaurants were judged on either food or drink. One entry was far and above all others in the competition, both in taste and presentation — the Restaurante Villa Portofino. There, bartender Aaron Pitts created a decadent drink called a Raspberry Lemon Drop. I voted for it and I’m happy to say it won. Ristorante Villa Portofino, 101 Crescent Avenue, Santa Catalina Island, CA, Tel: 310-510-2009.