Why do you travel? There are so many ways people answer this question - to relax with family and friends, to enjoy the beauty of nature and the outdoors, or to eat local food and experience how other people live in small towns and big cities. Discovering local favorites is a big reason for me, like finding the best food in town or learning a tidbit of little known history. Whether we are hitting the road for a day trip, weekend getaway or longer family vacation, I’ve found that I’m seeking out organized tours more and more. My family and I have enjoyed over half a dozen organized tours in recent years. Among other things, we’ve learned about history in Philadelphia, ghosts in Key West, architecture in Chicago and pizza in Brooklyn. My growing appreciation for letting someone else lead the way stems from a number of things, as outlined below. But it wasn’t always this way. My family can attest that I’ve been known on more than one occasion to play the role of tour guide the first day in a new city, like when we visited San Francisco or Seattle. Or the time in Los Angeles when I knew it would be cheaper to grab a map of the stars and drive aimlessly around Hollywood trying to glimpse behind the gates. But was it really time well spent? How do you know if you should book a tour or try the “do-it-yourself” method? To help, I’ve put together a short list of benefits and drawbacks to consider, along with some tips that might come in handy in the future.
Who doesn’t love a good day trip? Life often gets busy, and sometimes you need a change of scenery to recharge. Recently on a beautiful fall day, my husband and I ventured to Harpers Ferry with two dogs for a hike and lunch, and were reminded how refreshing a day trip can be. Luckily in the DC area it’s easy to escape, with many options that are just a short drive away. Here are 5 of my favorite places for a quick escape, each with something unique to offer.
Vacationing in Key West Florida brings to mind warm sunshine, palm trees swaying in the tropical breeze, delicious seafood and a fun local atmosphere. But with a fascinating history dating back to Civil War times, and the reputation as one of America’s most haunted cities, there is another side of Key West unknown to many visitors. It’s the one that is best seen after dark, once the sun has set and the performers in Mallory Square have packed up for the night. Consider the Ghosts & Gravestones Tour the perfect family night, especially when you are vacationing with 3 teenagers! It’s recommended for kids 13 and up.
So many things to do - it’s a tough decision to have to make when you visit Philadelphia. I’ve written several posts about Philly, but every time I go, I discover something new to share. Visitors to the city are overwhelmed just trying to cover some of the popular sites like Independence Hall and Reading Terminal Market. Summer brings plenty of outdoor activities like street festivals, outdoor music and movies, and more, in addition to all the amazing tourist attractions. But once you knock off the top 3 or 4 things on your list, consider one of these 5 unique attractions which you definitely won’t find anywhere else.
One thing I love about the US is that you can find unique cities from coast to coast. Each has its own charm, ranging from history, museums and local foods, to unique parks and playgrounds. Our family road trips have always included spending time in cities big and small combined with visiting attractions and National Parks. It’s an awesome opportunity to explore activities that you might not find in your home town. For this post, I reached out to family travel bloggers near and far to come up with a list of their top 3 things to do in cities around the United States. From coast to coast you’ll find many family friendly ideas, each linked to a more detailed post. Hope your favorite city is on the list!
This post was updated January, 2017.
Washington, DC is a wonderful place to visit, and we are fortunate to live in the suburbs of this popular city. How many other towns can boast about such an amazing collection of galleries and museums with no admission fees? Over the years, we’ve learned about animals, airplanes, American Indians and art by visiting many of the Smithsonian museums. But we’ve also had the chance to enjoy some of the other unique museum offerings in DC. Here are 6 favorites, popular with both tourists and locals.
Everyone loves to start the New Year with a resolution, so this year I decided mine would be to work harder to keep in touch with extended family. When I saw that the weather was looking perfect the first weekend in January, my daughter and I decided to make a quick road trip to visit my 94 year old aunt, who lives outside of Philadelphia. It was also a great excuse to continue our search for the best cheesesteak in Philly!
As I put the finishing touches on this blog post, I hear the weatherman say that is going to be close to 70 degrees this weekend! All the more reason you should consider visiting DC during the colder months. Most tourists, as well as locals, tend to visit between March and October. But December and January are often wonderful times to see some of the more popular attractions like the National Archives Museum and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum because the crowds are much smaller (excluding the week between Christmas and New Year’s). With that said, the weather is never predictable, with 70 degrees temperatures one week and snow the next, so be prepared. You should always check before you go for any closings or late openings due to weather. Besides staying warm in all the free museums, here are five fantastic reasons to head to DC during the colder months.
*This post was updated January 2017.
Visiting the Nation’s Capital is a wonderful opportunity to see history come to life, spend time in amazing free museums, and enjoy the view of the monuments that make the city so special. There is so much to see and do, but if often can be overwhelming for the first time visitor. For this reason, I decided to focus this blog post solely on tips and tricks to help make the most of a visit to DC. You can read my Guide to Visiting Washington DC page for recommendations and information on favorite museums, walking tours, food and other must-see attractions . And be sure to let me know if you have any other helpful tips to add to the list.
When people think of visiting Philadelphia, places like Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Museum of Art come to mind. But did you know that one of Trip Advisor’s top 5 attractions in Philadelphia is a prison? Not just any prison, but the historic, fortress-like Eastern State Penitentiary. Located in the Fairmount neighborhood, it’s just a short 5 or 6 blocks from the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art. My daughter and I decided to check it out during our recent visit to Philadelphia. Please note, it’s not recommended for kids under the age of 7. Admission includes a free audio tour, best for ages 12 and up. For kids in between those ages, they provide an educational guide, the “Eastern State Challenge” which includes a scavenger hunt and poster of Pep the dog. Here are a few reasons why you should consider taking a tour of this popular attractions, especially with teenagers.
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