Nothing captures the true flavor of a city like its food. Can you really travel to Memphis without eating BBQ, or Key West and not have Key Lime Pie? To me, spending time with a local expert on a food tour is one the best ways to truly learn about the rich cultural heritage of a place. Not only do you come to understand how foods become regional favorites, it’s also an opportunity to learn about history and local traditions. Best of all, you enjoy a sampling of foods that take you to the roots of a city, while socializing with fellow travelers. I’ve reached out to family travel bloggers in the USA to round up some of their favorite experiences.
During our recent Maui family vacation, driving the iconic Road to Hana was at the top of our must do list, and now I understand why it's so highly recommended. Starting in the town of Paia, this popular stretch of highway heads east for 64 miles towards the small town of Hana, and showcases much of the natural beauty of Maui. Along the way you will find numerous waterfalls, a spectacular black sand beach and plenty of scenic vistas. The road is rather narrow in spots, with over 54 bridges, many which only allow for a single lane of traffic to pass, as well as over 600 curves with a minimal shoulder in many spots. You can choose to leave the driving to someone else as part of a tour, but I think it’s best viewed on your own time. Read on for 6 tips to help make the most of your drive, along with a short list of our favorite stops along the spectacular Road to Hana.
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.
Just a few short hours from Miami lies a place where palm trees sway in the breeze, restaurants and tiki bars line the water's edge, boats bob up and down in the blue-green water, and colorful signs are found at many of the local shops. It’s the Florida Keys, a chain of islands 120 miles long, that truly has something for everyone, with no passport required. Various family members had spent some time in the Keys over the years, but I had not, so we decided it was the perfect place for a tropical summer vacation. I’m excited to say that there were so many cool things to do, especially with teens, that we can’t wait to go back! Here are 10 things you should put on your list for a Florida Keys vacation.
New York City attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to see the magic of Broadway, the bright lights of Times Square, iconic tourist attractions and world class food and shopping. It has become a summer weekend getaway favorite for our teenagers, especially since we live close enough to drive. This summer we went with a special mission - to venture out of the city and explore nearby Brooklyn. And what better way to do that than with a pizza tour, specifically A Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour. So many reasons you should try this tour, starting with the convenient pickup and drop off location in Manhattan. Read on to see why I think it’s the best, and if you still aren’t convinced, check out the hundreds of reviews on Trip Advisor!
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.
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 a free educational guide, the Eastern State Challenge, which includes a scavenger hunt. Here are a few reasons why you should consider taking a tour of this popular attractions, especially with teenagers.
Boston is one of my favorite family-friendly cities to visit for several reasons: there are tons of things to do with kids, the food is delicious, and it’s easy to get around on foot. I also have family connections in the city, so when we visit we tend to enjoy more of the local flavor. If you have ever vacationed in Boston, you probably went to places like the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science, along with walking the Freedom Trail, riding the Swan Boats and visiting Faneuil Hall. So what’s next you ask? Here are five suggestions for other fun things to do in and around Boston.