Children have big dreams. Usually, these dreams seem so far-fetched that grow ups will say, “That’s impossible,” but the heart of a child knows better. Even if the youngest of my companions during a screening of the animated film Leap! could see all best friends Felicie and Victor really need is the courage and the faith to take a leap if they want to realize their dreams of reaching Paris to become a ballerina and inventor.
You’re headed to the Big Apple, and you’d love to take in a show, but you’re limited on time and budget. You want to explore Lower Manhattan, but the weather isn’t exactly cooperating.
Or maybe you’ve got your kids with you and they are not interested in hiking all over looking at old buildings and statues while you read from a guide book. Let’s be honest, you’re fed up from wrestling the devices out of their hands when they get even slightly bored.
I could list dozens of reasons why you might be interested in The Downtown Experience, Powered by The Ride. Any one of them would be valid, but it would be window dressing for the real reason: It’s a blast.
Swamps, alligators, snakes, big cats and lemurs never get old, and if you find yourself in south Florida, tear yourself away from the shopping at Sawgrass Mills for a few hours to do a tour. Not only can you hold a baby alligator and pet some epic snakes, but there are many other rare animals to encounter. As a National Geographic Kids Insider, I have learned a bunch about big cats, but this is certainly the place to see them in person. I was pretty sad seeing them in cages, but hoped they get to roam and run freely as much as possible in order to keep the species healthy.
Nearly everyone who comes to New York City makes a point of visiting Central Park. It is, quite literally, the heart of Manhattan, and any guide to NYC will direct you to explore this green oasis, which is so full of wonders, it can make you feel like a kid again.
But for those of us with actual children in tow, sometimes you just need the relative sanity of a fenced in playpark, where you can sip a coffee while the youngsters burn off some energy. For us, some of the greatest gems sprinkled throughout Central Park are the 21 different playgrounds—all 100% free, open from dawn to dusk, many of which have been renovated by the Central Park Conservancy over the last few years. As a resident of Manhattan since my children were two and three years-old, I’ve done some serious investigation of at least two-thirds of those parks and have whittled down my favourites to these five Central Park playgrounds.
Road trip season is upon us and while we understand why you’re considering faking a flat tire to avoid the imminent whining from the back seat— we challenge you to put aside your fears and create lifelong memories along the ribbons of roads that cross North America. CTV Morning Live invited me on set to chat about these trip tips, and—while organizing for the segment—the nostalgia swept over me and I wanted to share some of my personal family road trip tips with you.
Although I love saying, “Have toothbrush, will travel,” I need more in my suitcase than oral care tools and a passport! If you find packing for vacation scary enough to put you off leaving your house, check out how I pack with ease, then start planning your next vacay.
As far as traveling with young children goes during spring break, Fort Myers Beach, Florida is about as good (and easy) as it gets. After taking one of the many available non-stop flights to the Southwest Florida airport, you’ll find a small, narrow island off the gulf coast, with vast stretches of soft, pale pink sand, clear ocean water, and not a single high-rise hotel in sight.
I travel often with my kids and while it’s much easier now as they’re getting older, I still remember the horrific time with one baby in a carrier, the other standing beside me trying to manoeuvre in a tiny airplane stall. And then there’s the flight where at least one child has cried for 9 straight hours. Yes, I have experienced flights from hell, and lived to tell the tale.
Mardi Gras is an exciting celebration, known around the world for its colourful parade floats and beads thrown into the crowd. This exciting event is a great time to experience the personality and culture of vibrant New Orleans, held every February. The colourful masques, costumes and parade floats are only one of the reasons to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It’s a once in a lifetime trip, and to make it happen for 2017, you need to start planning now!
For many families, Las Vegas is an inexpensive and easy destination for travel, but are there enough kids activities in Las Vegas? I believe that kids can learn and have fun in any destination as long as parents are attentive to their needs and do a bit of homework. While smoky casinos and shooting ranges may be off the activity lists, there are loads of kids activities in Las Vegas that are thrilling for the whole family.
Here are a few Sin City activities that I’ve experienced that make me itch for a family trip!
1. Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay features tropical fish, sharks and turtles.
2. The fountains with lights and music at Bellagio (you may want to watch Oceans 11 first!) Image: Flickr via Tim Parkinson
3. A gondola ride at the Venetian is way less expensive than a trip to Italy.
4. M&M’s World encompasses four floors – just make sure you set candy limits!
5. Duelling Pianos at the bar at Times Square at New York, New York if a favourite of mine and any little budding musician is sure to love it.
6. The Mob Museum is a gorgeous building filled with gangster lore.
9. North Premium Outlet Mall – With loads of kids stores from Strasburg Kids to Juicy Couture, I never miss the outlet mall.
10. Live shark tank pool and slide at the Golden Nugget
11. Tournament of Kings, Excalibur
12. Circus shows at Circus Circus – free shows begin daily at 11am and run every half hour