8 Cool Indoor Waterpark Hotels!

Families looking for a quick get away without the cost of flying south may want to look at spending a couple nights at an indoor waterpark hotel. Located all over the US and Canada, these full featured resort-like hotels are a great destination for families who want to get away but don’t want to go far.  They are perfect for a 2 day vacation and offer more excitement than most 5 star resorts! With some of these waterparks offering hundreds of thousands of square feet of play, they are a destination, not just a place to stay. We have listed some that have that impressed us.  Here are our 8 favorites! 1.  Dubbed ‘America’s Largest Indoor Waterpark’, Kalahari Resorts has locations in Wisconsin, Ohio and soon to be – Virginia. Families can relax in their own private indoor cabana or catch some rays under the Texlon transparent roof while enjoying the 12,000 sq. ft. wavepool! Thrill seekers will love the Swahili Swirl 60′ diameter bowl raft ride, Zip Coaster uphill water rollercoaster waterslide, Cheetah Race 4 lane mat slides, Rippling Rhino or Victoria Falls raft rides.  In addition to all of the excitement poolside, this authentic African themed resort offers a variety of suites that can accommodate families from 4 -8 people. 2. Fallsview Indoor Water Park, Niagara Falls – The Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is Niagara’s newest and largest indoor waterpark. This waterpark offers an impressive 3 acres of indoor water fun including sixteen thrilling waterslides (some as high as six stories), a massive indoor wave pool, year round outdoor sundeck, an activity pool, the mammoth “Beach House” Aqua Play area and much more. For your convenience, the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark features direct indoor connections to three of  Niagara Falls hotels, the Sheraton on the Falls, Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls-Fallsview Hotel and the Skyline Inn.

3. Great Wolf Lodge -With 12 locations, Great Wolf Lodge is the biggest chain of indoor waterparks in North America.  And while not every location offers the same features each one has an expansive water play area that includes huge water slides, pools, a giant water fort and a lazy river to ensure that the whole family has a good time.  When bedtime comes your family can join all of the other pajama-clad kids down at the Clock Tower in the lobby to wind down with Story Time.  Some suites are decorated to feel like you are at camp.   Your crew will love sleeping in their own a private and cozy tent right inside your room, complete with bunkbeds and their own TV! 4.  Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark – located in Frankenmuth, MI. this amazing hotel offers  30,000 square feet of aquatic fun for the whole family. Enjoy the Splash landing play area, Dumping bucket or for the more adventurous take a wild ride on the Giggling gorge and Perilous plunge 4 story tube slides. Relax in the whimsical whirl hot tub or just float along the Crooked Brook Creek lazy river.

5.  Caribbean Watercove Indoor Waterpark – Attached to the Holiday Inn at the pyramids in Indianapolis, this amazing entertainment complex offers a warm and summery vacation on the coldest day!  Families will enjoy  50,000 sq. ft. of waterplay.  A splash pad, 3 massive water slides, a plunge pool, lazy river and a pirate ship with a dumping bucket of water await your water loving crew.  Also on site is an arcade and 4 restaurants. 6.  KeyLime Cove – Located in Illinois, KeyLime Cove Waterpark Resort is also situated conveniently across from Six Flags Great America, which offers two great destinations for family fun(season permitting).  Their 65,000 square foot indoor ‘Lost Paradise’ Waterpark has so many waterslides that they had to run the chutes outside the building to have enough space for all of the fun. On top of that they have a wave pool, lazy river, adults-only grotto and a play pool for your little swimmer.  Family Friendly rooms accommodate parties up to to 12 people with connecting rooms. 7.  Named as America’s Largest Waterpark Resort the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells has over 500,000 sq.ft. of indoor and outdoor waterparks. That is over 12 football fields of water fun to explore. Where will you begin? Well you could start at the Wild WaterDome, a 70,000-square-foot indoor waterpark that features the nation’s largest indoor wave pool, Dueling Mammoths, a thrilling family raft racing ride that allows families to race against each other through twisting and turning tunnels and a 2,200 square foot ‘zero-depth’ play lagoon for the smaller ones.  After that you could move on to Klondike Kavern another 65,000 square feet water park with a 180-foot body slide, two 500-foot tube rides which drop five-stories, a 400-foot lazy river and Bonanza Bluff, a huge play feature which includes 50 play & spray features, a 750-gallon tipping bucket, a 20 foot body slide and a 4 foot side by side children’s slide.  They apparently don’t mess around in Wilderness territory because this expansive resort also has 2 – 3D mini golf courses, laser tag, a kids club, an arcade and a park for play. 8.  CocoKey Waterpark – This Indoor Waterpark chain has 10 locations in 9 states.  Like with Great Wolf Lodge, CocoKey’s different locations all offer different play options.  Families, however, can look forward to a multi-level interactive play island with 4 slides for younger children, an activity pool for kids 6+ that features water basketball and a lily-pad adventure and three 40-foot thrilling body and raft water slides. Other amenities include private poolside cabana rentals, 5 dining options and an arcade.

2011 Traveling With Kids ~ Cruise Vs An All-Inclusive Vacation

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One of the questions that I get asked often by friends and family who know that we love to vacation is what is better for a family – a cruise or resort vacation? While both vacations are very different, each one offers a lot of great opportunities for vacationing families. For us, a cruise is a good way to see a lot of places, where a resort vacation allows you to experience everything an island or destination has to offer. For years we have used cruising as a way to figure out where we would like to go back and stay. Cruising is a nice way to experience everything, without the week long commitment. Vacationing at a resort is nice because you don’t have to go anywhere. There is no schedule, no expectations and no risk that a trip to the other side of this island could leave you stranded if you’re not back in time. You’ll often hear cruisers say that they need a vacation from their vacation and it’s true. So much to do and see, you don’t want to stop even for a second. Dining A staple at most all-inclusive resorts is the buffet. And while they aren’t always gourmet cuisine, many resorts make their a-la-carte restaurants available to guests for at least 2 meals a day. Food on a cruise is not only tasty but plentiful. At breakfast, lunch & dinner, diners have every choice available to them and when there isn’t a restaurant open – there’s always room service. My husband has been known to wake up in the middle of the night to order room service – just because he can. Value For families, an all-inclusive vacation can often cost less because kids of a certain age stay free or at a reduced rate , whereas many cruise lines don’t offer discounts for little cruisers. On most cruises, your accommodations, meals, snacks, and onboard activities/entertainment are all included. Extras like shore excursions, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) gratuities and transportation to and from the airport are usually not part of the deal and can add up quickly. An all-inclusive vacation normally include meals, transportation, beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), non-motorized water sports, and gratuities. Excursions, spa treatments and the kid’s club are normally extra. Both vacations offer value but in different ways. We don’t drink, so it isn’t a big deal to us that alcohol isn’t included. Parents who like to enjoy wine with dinner or daquari’s by the pool will see the bill add up as staff adds a 15% gratuity to all bills. Accommodations When booking a cruise you will quickly realize that rooms at almost any resort will be bigger. A couple will find an inside or oceanview acceptable, but a family will be cramped in both spaces. When we cruise with our boys, we always opt for a balcony because it gives us an extra 20 or 30 sq.ft of space for them to play in. Yes, I just suggested that a space that is the size of a bathroom is a bonus and a selling feature. When you figure that the average size of a cabin comes in at a meagre 170 sq. ft. – a balcony is a gift. With that being said, sitting out on your balcony at night after the kids are in bed is worth the lack of space. At a resort, rooms average 400 sq. ft with sitting areas, which is much more comfortable for a family of 4 – especially if you need a crib. This can be the deciding point for a family on a budget as it can get expensive if you need to move into a suite to get more space and amenities like a bathtub. Activities From themed cruises to kid’s clubs, waterslides to splash pads, some cruise lines have really stepped up their family friendly activities over the years. This is a big selling point for parents who want to make sure that their kids have lots of do while away. All of these amenities are not available on all ships but some of the new ships are stacked with options right down to skating rinks. The majority of all-inclusive resorts have not taken the same initiative. While most have kids clubs and smaller pools, not many have added extras like splash pads, watersides or kid friendly areas. This, however, can be made up with the presence of a sandy beach – something you can get on a cruise, but you have to travel a bit of a distance to find. In short, your family will have a great time on a cruise or at a resort. If it does come down to price a resort vacation will more than likely be a better deal as there aren’t as many add-ons. A cruise can also be had at a great deal, but it might take a bit of research to get it done. – Lisa, Editor

Traveling With Kids – Health Tips for Caribbean Travel

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The winter blues prompt many to escape to the Caribbean for a week or two at this time of year.  How can you blame them?  Day after endless day of dull, cold, grey weather will drive you crazy after a while.  If you are planning to bring young children on your island break this winter, there are a few precautions you may want to take. First and foremost, ensure that everyone has adequate health insurance for the trip.  You know what they say, ‘if you’re ready for anything, nothing will happen.’  Better safe than sorry. Pack all necessary medications, in their original packaging.  It doesn’t hurt to bring along a copy of the prescription too. Make sure that your child’s immunizations are up to date and check with your doctor to see if any additional inoculations are recommended or required for the trip. Surf the World Health Organization’s website and the website for the Centers for Disease Control.  These sites will let you know if there are any special health advisories for the region you are planning to visit. Malaria is present throughout the Caribbean, but is more prevalent in certain regions and at certain times of year.  Anti-malarial medications may be recommended for your chosen destination.  More likely than not, you will simply be advised to protect against mosquito bites.  During the periods of dawn and dusk, use an insect repellent that is safe for your children.  Avoid spraying the repellent near the child’s mucous membranes.  Instead spray the repellent on your hand and wipe it on the child’s face.  Long pants and sleeves are also a good idea, at dawn and dusk. Stick to bottled water for drinking and brushing teeth.  It is very possible that the water will not be potable in your hotel room.  The food in the restaurants, of a reputable resort, should be cleaned and prepared with purified water.  Off the resort, choose cooked foods and fruits that need to be peeled (bananas, oranges).  Anything that is raw and has been cleaned with contaminated water could be a source of disease. As an extra layer of protection, travelers may want to take Dukoral; an oral vaccine that protects against the most common causes of travelers diarrhea.  It also protects against cholera, which has made its way from Haiti into the Dominican Republic, in isolated cases.  Children over 2-years can take Dukoral, but it doesn’t protect against everything.  You still need to use common sense when deciding what you and your child are going to eat and drink. It never hurts to consult with a doctor or a travel health nurse before you depart on a trip.  Prepare, take reasonable precautions and then stop stressing and enjoy your vacation.  You’re there to relax, after all. – Jen R, Staff Writer
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Cruising With Kids ~ Carnival Cruiselines

The first ‘big’ ship I cruised on was Carnival’s Fascination. I will never forget the fun our family had on that cruise. Not only did I get engaged, but we had a blast on the watersides, at the pool and eating day and night at the 24-hour pizza bar. Now, many years later, Carnival is still one of the leading family cruiselines with 22 ships in their fleet. Still famous for their onboard water activities, their ships offer a long list of exciting amenities for cruisers of all ages. Every year Carnival welcomes an impressive 650,000 kids. To keep their little cruisers busy they created a children’s program, “Camp Carnival,” which caters to kids ages 2 to 11. In addition to a full schedule of fun, morning-til-night activities, “Camp Carnival” features such amenities as expansive indoor play areas – some as large as 5,500 square feet — stocked with a wide variety of games and toys. Arts and crafts centers, including spin and sand-art machines, “activity walls,” indoor climbing mazes and computer labs are also featured on several vessels. The line has also added a number of new activities, including programs emphasizing reading, art, music, geography, physical fitness. Kids who prefer to play outdoors will have a blast playing on the jungle gyms and other playground equipment. Additionally, they offer outdoor games and activities such as ping-pong, volleyball and shuffleboard, along with multiple swimming options, including children’s wading pools and main Lido deck pools offering the line’s signature “Twister” water slides, some as long as 300 feet. Something I like about Carnival is that they offer cruises starting from 3 days to accommodate families of all budgets and vacation schedules. Spacious staterooms, adjoining rooms, babysitting (for a fee), and a special children’s menu are also great features that make their ships attractive to families. Parenting looking to visit Europe this Summer will also be happy to know that Carnival’s newest ship – Magic will be sailing there from May to November. The 3,690-passenger cruise ship will also have expansive family-friendly spaces including more than 19,000 square feet of space catering to kids and families. If you can’t make it the Mediterranean, look for Magic to make her home in Galveston, TX where she will sail to Cayman, Cozumel and Jamaica.

Disney Introduces New Tour ~ Wild Africa Trek

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Your next trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando could easily seem like a trip to Africa as the creators of the park are all set to launch a new tour called Wild Africa Trek. The real attraction of this new tour for visitors will not just be the theme that has been thought to revolve around Africa, but the real life experience of going over the river and through the woods to previously restricted areas of Animal Kingdom’s Pagani Forest and Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Visitors will also be able to see animals like hippos and crocodiles as close as they can get, by hanging on to a cliff attached with a lifeline. Because of the elasticity of the cord, the trekkers will be able to stretch towards the animals without leaving the ground. The tour also offers passing a rickety rope bridges positioned above the Safri River, a croc-filled ravine, and dirt trails, through the real and living forests. The initial tour price has been set as $ 129 per person with tours happening at regular intervals. A group has been limited to 12 people aged 8 years and above. It would be a 3 hour long adventure. The starting point is an outfitters shack in the Harambe village, where visitors will be strapped into a harness vest with clamps. They will also be provided with earphones and a transmitter to be in touch with their two tour guides. The unique thing about the adventure is that trekkers will be able to enter the restricted areas of the park unlike other visitors. They will also get to see the animals more closely than the guests taking the Kilimanjaro safari. The bush trail eventually will lead to the savanna where trekkers will board a specially designed open-air truck to view giraffes, gazelles, elephants and wildebeest. The trekkers might also take a break at a fancy open-air safari camp platform equipped with tables and chairs, watching animals as they munch on food. The new Disney tour has surely been created to give visitors as real a wild African experience as possible. – Atula, Staff Writer

Five Awesome U.S. Destinations You Should See With Your Kids – Part 5: Death Valley National Park

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It seems fitting, somehow, that our final Awesome U.S. Destination is Death Valley National Park in California. They call it Death Valley for a reason.   It’s an extreme environment; one of the few places in the US where nature will actually try to kill you.  It is the hottest and driest place in North America and nearly the world.  But, don’t let that put you off.  It’s the extremes of the place that make it an Awesome Destination.  It’s a challenge and it’s a point of pride to say you’ve been. Death Valley is on a lot of bucket lists.  I know this because every time my husband wears his Death Valley t-shirt, he is approached by people asking, “Have you been there?”  “What was it like?”  “I’ve always wanted to go.” My husband is a, not particularly closeted, weather enthusiast, and environmental extremes are his raison d’être.  So naturally we traveled to Death Valley with our two-year-old son. It may seem nutty to take children on a vacation to such a severe place, but if Death Valley is a place you’re excited to see, your enthusiasm will spill over to your kids and an amazing adventure will be had by all. We planned our trip, into the valley, during the ‘dog days’ of summer.  What would have been the point in seeing the second hottest place on Earth if it wasn’t searing hot?  The temperature hit a shocking 116°F (47°C). We stayed right in the middle of the park, at a beautiful oasis called Furnace Creek Ranch.  We lucked out and nabbed one of the semi-detached cottages in the older section.  It was like a quaint little neighbourhood. The ranch is decked out with plenty of amenities.  It has a store, a couple of nice restaurants, a museum and air-conditioning galore.  They have a swimming pool, but it isn’t particularly refreshing.  It’s spring-fed; to keep it cooler than it would be if it was baking in full sun all day, but it still does very little to cool swimmers down.  Nevertheless, it was interesting to try it out. There are a few other anomalies to get used to when you’re staying in the dessert.  First, there is no such thing as cold water.  Turn on the cold water tap, run it as long as you like, and it will never cool down.  I brushed my teeth with a hot toothbrush; it was weird. During the day, the sun is so blazing hot; the playground equipment is too scorching to use.  There are actually signs posted in the playground, at the ranch, warning parents to keep their kids off the equipment during the afternoon.  Our son got to play in the evening, after the sun went down. Young children shouldn’t be exerting themselves at all, in temperatures like that.  They can over heat pretty quickly.  We had a bit of a scare with our little guy shortly after we arrived in the valley.  He had been too active, in the heat, and had started looking ill, like he might faint.  After that, we had him sitting in a stroller, holding a cold bottle of water, anytime we were outside, during the day. There are a number of beautiful places to investigate in Death Valley National Park, but the most popular stop is a place called Badwater.  It is the hottest and lowest point in the park at 282 feet below sea level.  There is a small pool of very saline water and then a massive salt flat that stretches out for miles.  I don’t normally eat off the ground, but in this case, I was inspired to eat the ground itself; or to taste it at least.  It was salty – go figure. Death Valley is an extreme place, and you have to take precautions, especially during the summer months.  Always follow the advice and guidelines handed down by park officials. It’s a lonely place, in a way.  There are few other motorists on the roads, there are no plants and the animals are hard to spot.  The highway is just a string of warning signs.  But, the trip is an honest, mind-broadening adventure.  It’s a journey that will be remembered by anyone who dares to take it.  Death Valley is a truly awesome destination, and one you should see with your kids. – Jen R, Staff Writer Related Articles:
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Travel Gear for Parents – Our Top 7 Picks!

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Traveling with kids can be stressful – especially if you haven’t brought the right gear. Carrying a heavy baby through the airport, paying extra to check gear and having your little one get lose on the plane can get an relaxing vacation off to a rocky start. From experience, these are my top picks for travel gear for parents.  Cleanliness, convenience and safety are all important to every parent.  Having a couple pieces from our list will help with this!
  1. My Carry Potty($25) -Designed for roadtrips or outdoor excursions, the my carry potty will ensure that your child always has a clean place to pee. Once their done it’s airtight seal will keep it leak free until you can find a bathroom to empty it.  Portable, clean and convenient!
  2. Kokopax Carrier($99 – $180) – I am in love with my Kokopax Carrier. It is the most stylish way to carry your little one while out sightseeing or navigating through the busy crowds. It’s clever design allows your child to sit up high enough to see everything without putting a strain on your back. I can’t recommend this carrier enough. I have used mine everywhere – grocery store, park and even around the house when Mr. Fussy won’t let me get anything done. Comes in 3 styles
  3. phil&teds lobster travel highchair – Designed for kids 6 months to 3 years, this portable clip-on highchair is both compact(weighs 3.9lbs) and convenient.  It can fit easily in your carry-on or can be packed in your suitcase.  The included tray will also ensure that you never worry about your child eating off a dirty public table again.
  4. Gogo Kidz Travelmate($79) – This convenient ‘travelmate’ is the perfect option for parents who want to bring their own car seat instead of renting one when they reach their destination. The board attaches to any seat easily, allowing it to be rolled through the airport like a suitcase. We have used our gogo Kidz Travelmate on many occasions and love it.  It always gets a lot of attention from other travelers as we roll our little one through the airport.
  5. Safe2go Child Safety Harness($25) – This cute character backpack, which conceals that it is actually a child safety harness. The backpack/safety harness is equipped with adjustable padded shoulder and waist straps. It comes with a retractable 38″ tether which can hold children up to 50 lbs and can be retracted into the pack when not needed. There is room in the backpack for a small toy or snack.
  6. Alpha Sherpa($80) – This full featured backpack is perfect for traveling parents. You can load all of your necessities into it, throw it on your back and then have your hands free to push a stroller or hold your child’s hand.  Features a soft sided cooler uniquely integrated into the diaper bag backpack to store bottles, snacks, beverages, medication (holds 6-8 canned beverages)Change pad included as is a cell phone/IPod pouch slot and a sunglass case.
  7. CARES Airplane Harness($60) – If you don’t have room for a car seat but want your child to be in a secure harness on the airplane CARES is the piece of gear for you.  It comes in a travel bag, installs in seconds and keeps your little on secure in their seat.  Also adjusts to fit almost every size airplane seat and is designed for children 1 year and older weighing 22-44 pounds and up to 40″ tall.

Five Awesome U.S. Destinations You Should See With Your Kids – Part 4: Washington DC

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Our series on Five Awesome U.S. Destinations is compiled in no particular order.  I say that because there are some who will argue that Part 4: Washington DC is the most important of the five.  Washington DC is, of course, the capital of the United States and a nation’s capital is always an important place to visit, particularly for children. The DC area has no shortage of important sights.  The White House, the Capital Building, The National Mall, The Washington Monument and all within the distance of a nice evening stroll. The Lincoln Memorial is a must see.  On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King jr. delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech from those very steps.  At the top of the steps is the Great Emancipator himself.  Many people have come to reflect at the foot of Honest Abe.  My son, however, is fairly sure that it’s a statue of Santa Clause. Arlington National Cemetery is just over the Potomac River.  A vacation visit to a cemetery may sound a bit depressing, but there’s a famous name or two in Arlington, to be sure. One of the great things about a visit to Washington DC, is how affordable it can be. Public transit is inexpensive and easy to navigate and just about everything else is free!  (excluding food and lodging, of course)  That goes for the Smithsonian too.  It’s the largest museum in the world and it’s all free, free, free!  Who doesn’t love free. Now, they say that it’s the largest museum in the world, but in practice, it’s several museums and a zoo, all under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institute.  You’ll need to plan your visit to ensure that your family sees the exhibits that are most important to you. Some of the museums tend to be more popular with kids, than others.  The Natural History Museum is always a huge hit.  The displays are amazingly lifelike.  Keep hold of your little ones as you enter the dinosaur exhibit, though.  It can be a little intimidating for kids.  My son made a break for it. The Air and Space Museum is a lot of fun for airplane enthusiasts and fans of the space program. The American History Museum houses the original ‘stars and stripes’ and pop-culture artefacts like Kermit the Frog and Seinfeld’s puffy shirt. There’s something for everyone at the Smithsonian and history galore in Washington DC.  You should definitely see it with your kids. – Jen R, Staff Writer
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Traveling With Kids ~ Our 7 Picks For Best Kid Gear!

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Parents know that an unhappy child during travel can make a 30 minute trip feel like 10 hours. Arming yourself with the best gear to keep your kids organized and comfortable, can be the difference between a smooth trip and one where your fellow travelers are asking to be moved to a different section of the plane. We’ve all been there and it’s not fun. Here are our 7 picks for best kid gear:
  1. Zoobies – A cute friend that doubles as a pillow and blanket – perfect for travel, especially on a cold airplane or overnight car ride!  Available in 29 animals including Paddington the Bear, Olivia the pig and The Hungry Caterpillar.
  2. Kushies My Bag – available in both pink and blue, Kushies My Bag is the best bag for an overnight trip to grammas or to give your child his/her tote for that trip down south. My Bag contains everything your child needs to make your life easier! Each tote comes complete with  cool compartments for your stuff including 1 insulated snack box, 1 insulated medicine box, 1 clean clothes bag, 1 dirty clothes bag, 1 soiled clothes bag with laundry insert, 1 spare shoes bag, a pillow and blanket and a handy hook for hanging.
  3. Kidz Gear– Headphones that are designed to fit little heads and they come with an external volume control and a volume limited to prevent hearing issues to little ears. They provide a comfortable way for your kids to enjoy the airplane featured movie or Blue’s Clues in the back of your vehicle. A STEAL at $17
  4. Trunki – a child’s suitcase that doubles a ride-on car for that boring trip through the airport! Available in 5 colors/styles including a lion and lady bug! Holds up to 100 lbs, has wheels stabilizers to prevent it from toppling over. $30
  5. Cuties & Pals – This pint sized hard shelled suitcase in the ideal size for a little traveler. Available in a many fun animal styles, this wheely bag also comes with a backpack!  Interior features polyester lining with dividing pocket, zip compartment and garment strips for efficient packing. $90 for suitcase/matching backpack
  6. Noodlehead kid’s travel pillow – Whether you are taking a roadtrip or a traveling by plane, these pillows are designed to comfortably support sleepy heads.
  7. Snack and Play Travel TrayKeep your toddler’s toys in one spot and within reach while on the road or on an airplane. The Travel Tray is built with two large side pockets conveniently located within easy reach, as well as a two-inch wall to stop toys or food from falling off. Easy and safe to use, it is also washable. $20

Five Awesome U.S. Destinations You Should See With Your Kids – Part 3: Yosemite National Park

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Hands down, the most beautiful place I’ve ever been is Yosemite National Park.  Mother Nature configures herself in some beguiling ways, let me tell you. With sweeping valley views, magnificent mountains and reality defying groves of giant sequoia trees, Yosemite is a spectacle at every turn. Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the abundance of wildlife throughout the park, including bear and cougar.  Climbers love the park too.  The Half Dome and El Capitan, a couple of the most recognisable climbing locations in North America, are found in Yosemite.    While the park has a lot to offer adventurous travelers, it is also a wonderful destination for families. The park is very accessible, so families traveling with young children should find it easy.  Shuttle buses take you from the parking areas to various hotspots within the park.  A lot of the hiking trails we encountered were manageable with a stroller.  There are restaurants, and well equipped campgrounds as well as a lodge and a hotel.  So, your stay will be comfortable. Children will enjoy the interactive displays in the education areas.  There are a number of points within the park that are design to explain the history and the natural composition of Yosemite.  Children aged 3 to 6 will enjoy participating in the Little Cub program while their older siblings take part in the Junior Ranger program. Yosemite is a photographer’s dream.  The great Ansel Adams was the most famous photographer to capture the park on film.  If you appreciate photography, you should plan to visit the Ansel Adams Gallery before you leave.  After visiting the exhibits, head into the park and take a few family photos.  You’ll never find a lovelier backdrop. Yosemite is huge.  It is 761,268 acres, to be exact.  That means, the best way to appreciate the length and breadth of the park, is to travel through it by car.  There are plenty of places to pull over for photos along the way.  Note, however, that there are only a few roads through the area and weather, rock slides and wildfires can all cause disruptions, so check into the road situation before you make your way to the park. My family had the pleasure to driving through Yosemite, the summer before last.  It was truly amazing.  Yes, we were inconvenienced by a rock slide and yes, we were held up by a wildfire, but it was all worth it.  While the whole trip was beautiful, the best part of the drive was the last hour and a half.  It was a road trip I’ll never forget. We began our drive to Mammoth Lakes, via the Tioga Pass, in the early evening.  The 90 minute journey flew by in a moment as vista upon vista came and went outside my window.  As the sun slid down the sky the light became a soft and filtered glow.  That is when Yosemite became a true enchantress.  Photographers call this the golden hour. We stopped the car and snapped some of the most stunning photographs I’ve ever seen; no fancy camera or training necessary.  With all due respect to Ansel Adams, if you have a camera, you can’t help but take beautiful pictures.  It’s just a very photogenic place, plain and simple. My son enjoyed his time in Yosemite, but he was only two, so I doubt he’ll remember it.  It doesn’t matter, though.  It was a beautiful family vacation in a beautiful place and it is a memory I’ll cherish for a lifetime.  I encourage everyone to see Yosemite and create their own memories. – Jen R, Staff Writer
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